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THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE LAZYBONES AND OTHER STORIES

by

MRS. W. J. HAYS

Author of "Princess Idleways"

Illustrated

Harper & Brothers Publishers
New York and London

1884







[Illustration: "GOOD EVENING, MY DEAR PRINCE."]




CONTENTS


THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE LAZYBONES

PHIL'S FAIRIES

FLORIO AND FLORELLA: A CHRISTMAS FAIRY TALE

BOREAS BLUSTER'S CHRISTMAS PRESENT




ILLUSTRATIONS

"Good-evening, my dear Prince" (Frontispiece)

"Approach of the swanlike boat"

"Look! There's an eagle"

"Making the sturgeon useful"





THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE LAZY BONES




CHAPTER I


Of all the illustrious families who have shone like gems upon the
earth's surface, none have been more distinguished in their way than the
Lazybones family; and were I so disposed I might recount their virtues
and trace their talents from a long-forgotten period. But interesting as
the study might prove, it would be a difficult task, and the attention I
crave for Prince Leo would be spent on his ancestors.

Of princely blood and proud birth, Leo was a youth most simple-minded.
He knew that much was expected of him, and that he was destined to rule;
yet so easily was he satisfied that his greatest happiness was to lie
all day basking in the sun or dawdling through his father's park with
his dog at his heels, the heels themselves in a very down-trodden state
of humility, watching with languid gaze the movements of the world
about him.

And the world just where he lived was very beautiful. On a fertile
plain, surrounded by mountain-peaks of great height, threaded by silver
streams, and so well watered that its vegetation was almost tropical,
was the estate of Leo's father, Prince Morpheus Lazybones. It had been
in the family for ages, and was so rich in timber and mineral resources
that none of its owners had cared to cultivate the land. Timber was cut
sparingly, however, because the market for it was too distant, and the
minerals remained in their native beds for much the same reason.

The family throve, notwithstanding, and were well supplied with all
manner of delicacies, for the servants were many, and there was never a
lack of corn or wine.

Leo was most fair to see. To be sure, his drooping lids half concealed
his azure eyes, and his golden locks sometimes hid his snowy forehead;
but his smile was charming; his face had such an expression of calm
satisfaction, such a patient tranquillity, that his smile was as the
sudden sunshine on a placid lake. It was the smile of the family, an
inherited feature, like the blue hood of a Spanish Don. And then it was
given so freely: the beggar would have preferred it to be accompanied
with the jingle of a coin, but as the coin never came and the smile did,
he tried to think that it warmed his heart, though his wallet went
empty.

There were those who said a smile cost nothing, else it would not have
been bestowed. It had a peculiarity of its own which these same critics
also objected to--it nearly always ended in a yawn.

But Leo heard none of these ill-natured remarks, and, if he had, would
not have minded them any more than he did the burs which clung to his
garments as he rambled through the woods. Poor fellow! he would gladly
have shared his coppers with a beggar, but he had none to share.

Morpheus Lazybones never seemed to think his son required anything; so
long as the boy made no demands, surely nothing could be wanting, and
every one knew _he_ was not equal to any exertion. For years he had
lived the life of an invalid, shut up in his room most of the time,
venturing from it only in the sunniest weather, and then with great
caution. He had no particular malady except that he was a poet, but
surely that was burden enough. To have to endure the common sights and
sounds of this earth when one is composing poetry is indeed a trying and
troublesome thing. So Morpheus found it, and therefore he frequently
stayed in bed, and allowed his fancy to rove at its own sweet will.

They lived in what had been a monastery. There had been houses and farms
on the Lazybones property, but the money not being forthcoming for
repairs, they had been each in turn left for another in better
condition, until the monastery--what was left of it--with its solidly
built walls, offered what seemed to be a permanent home.

Here Morpheus lined a cell with tapestries and books, and wrote his
sonnets. Here Leo slept and ate, and housed his dogs. The servants
grumbled at the damp and mould, but made the chimneys roar with blazing
logs, and held many a merry carousal where the old monks had prayed and
fasted. The more devout ones rebuked these proceedings, and said they
were enough to provoke a visit from the Evil One; but as yet the warning
had no effect, as the revels went on as usual.

Besides being a poet, Morpheus was conducting Leo's education.
Undertaken in the common way, this might have interfered with the
delicate modes of thought required for the production of poems, but the
Lazybones were never without ingenuity. Morpheus so arranged matters
that Leo could study without damage to his father's poems. The books
were marked for a month's study, and Leo's recitations consisted of a
written essay which was to comprise all the knowledge acquired in that
time. Thus writing and spelling were included, and made to do duty for
the higher flights of his mind.

I do not tell how often Leo made his returns, neither do I mention how
many papers Morpheus found no time to examine, but I may urge that Leo's
out-door exercise demanded much attention, and that his father's
excursions in Dream-land were equally exacting. But Leo, though he hated
books, did not hate information. He knew every feathered thing by name
as far as he could see it. He knew every oak and pine and fir and nut
tree as a familiar friend. He knew every rivulet, every ravine, every
rabbit-burrow. The streams seemed to him as melodious as the song-birds,
and the winds had voices. He knew where to find the first blossom of
spring and the latest of autumn, the ripest fruit and most abundant
vines. He could tell just where the nests were and the number of eggs,
whether of the robin or the waterfowl. He knew the sunniest bank and
shadiest dell, the smoothest path, with its carpet of pine-needles and
fringe of fern, or the roughest crag and darkest abyss. He could read
the clouds like an open page, and predict fine weather or the coming
storm. He knew where the deer couched and where they came to drink, and
when the fawns would leave their mothers, and no trout was too cunning
for him.

But he did not know the use of a rifle. He had all sorts of lures for
the creatures he wanted to tame, but no ways of killing them. For why
should he kill them? There was always food enough; he was seldom hungry,
and these were his friends. He liked to look them in the eyes; he liked
to win them to him, soothe their fears if they had any, and then watch
their pretty joy when their liberty was regained. And how could he have
done this if their blood had been upon his hands? How could he have
quieted the throbbing little hearts if murder had been in his own?

Thus Leo spent his time, delightfully and innocently. If life were only
a summer's day! But already winter was approaching. Discontent was
brewing on the estate. Taxes were unpaid; tenants were grumbling at high
rents; laborers were threatening and their wives complaining.

Frequently, in the very midst of composing a poem, Morpheus would be
called to adjust a difficulty, settle a dispute, or revise an account.
This so disturbed his delicate nerves that illness, or the appearance of
it, was sure to follow. He would then take to his bed, refuse all but a
little spiced wine, allowing no coarse food to pass his lips, and strive
to remember the beautiful words of which he had intended to make verses;
but, alas! the words had flown, as well as the ideas which had suggested
them, like so many giddy little butterflies.




CHAPTER II


The monastery had been a grand old pile in its day; it was not one
simple building, but a cluster of habitations which had grown with the
growth and resources of the order which founded it. Like all feudal
structures it had its means of defence--its moat and drawbridge, its
tower of observation, and in its heavy gates and thick walls loop-holes
and embrasures for weapons.

But grass grew now in the moat and birds nested in the embrasures, while
Leo's dogs bounded through chapel and refectory and cloister, parts of
the latter being converted into a stable.

Many of the walls had tumbled in hopeless confusion, but those of the
buildings yet in use had carved buttresses and mullioned windows, on
which much skill had been displayed.

Leo knew, or thought he knew, every nook and cranny of his home, for
when it rained, or heavy fogs hung threateningly about, his rambles were
confined to the various quarters of the monastery.

On such days the stone floors and bare walls were very inhospitable,
but he would sometimes find a new passage to loiter in or a window-ledge
to loll over and look from as he watched the rain drip from the carved
nose of an ugly old monk whose head adorned the water-spout.

I don't know whether it ever occurred to Leo that this world is a busy
one. The very persistence of the pouring rain might have suggested it,
as well as the beehives down in the kitchen court, where some of his
many friends were storing their winter provision, for bees as well as
birds were familiar to him; but he had the true Lazybones instinct of
not following a thought too far, and so he looked and lolled and yawned,
wishing for fine weather, for a new lining to his ragged old coat, or
soles to his slipshod shoes, but never once supposing that any effort of
his own could gain them.

When it was cold the kitchen was apt to be his resort. It was a long and
low apartment on the ground-floor, and its wide fireplace, with stone
settle beside the hooks and cranes for pots and kettles, had doubtless
been as cheery a corner for the old monks to warm their toes after a
foraging expedition as it was for Leo, who liked to smell the savory
stews.

On the day of which I write the rain had fallen incessantly, and Leo had
been more than usually disturbed by it, for cold and dreary though it
was, the servants had turned him out of the kitchen. They would not have
him there.

"Idle, worthless fellow!" said the cook; "he lolls about as a spy upon
us, to repeat to the master every word he hears."

This was quite untrue and unjust, for Leo rarely conversed with his
father, and seldom saw him since Morpheus took his meals as well as his
woes to bed with him, as he had done at the present moment.

But the household was in revolt; the uneasiness from outside had crept
within, and there was quarrelling among the servants.

"What shall I do?" said Leo to himself. "The rain is too heavy, or I
would go out in it; but I have no place to get dry when I become soaked,
and I can't go to bed in the daytime, as my father does. I wonder what
he'd say if I went to him? Probably this: 'You have given wings to the
finest of rhymes, and spoiled the turn of an exquisite verse; now, sir,
what atonement can you make for so great an injury? It's the world's
loss, remember.' That's the way it always is when I disturb him.
Heigh-ho! what a dull day!"

"A very dull day indeed, your highness."

Leo started, his yawn ending abruptly, and he turned more quickly than
he had ever done in his life towards the sound which saluted him. Surely
he had been alone. Who ever came to this corridor? He looked up and down
its dingy length, but saw no one. He must have been mistaken. Then he
listened. The wind swept wailing through its accustomed approaches;
shutters and windows shook with the blast, but no footfall was to be
heard. He turned to the diamond-paned lattice, and again watched the
drops trickling from the nose of the water-spout. No one had spoken.
Again he yawned prodigiously, but brought his jaws together with a snap
which might have damaged his teeth; for, to his great surprise, a voice
said,

"I think I could amuse you."

"And pray who are you?" asked Leo, feeling very queer, and as if he were
talking to himself.

"That is of little consequence, so long as I do what I have proposed,"
was the reply.

"Very true," said Leo; "but I never before heard of a ghost in the
daytime."

"I am no ghost, your highness; I'd scorn to be such a useless thing."

"What are you, then, and where are you?"

"You will find out what I am after a while; and as to where I am, why, I
am here beside you. Do you suppose you human beings have all the world
to yourselves?"

"Not quite, to be sure; the birds and beasts have their share. But one
can see them."

"So could you see me if your vision were not imperfect. How about all
the living things you swallow every time you drink?"

"I have heard of something of the kind, but it was too much trouble to
understand it."

"Poor boy! It's a pity some old ghost of a monk could not interest
himself in your education; but, as I said before, ghosts are absurdly
useless, except to scare people whose consciences are bad, and nothing
more is needed to make me doubt their existence than the fact of your
living here in what should be their stronghold, and they never raise
hand or foot to help you. It's quite in keeping with their ridiculous
pretensions. Believe in ghosts? No, I never did, and I never will."

The voice, small and weak though it was, grew quite angry in tone, and
it seemed to Leo as if it were accompanied by the stamp of a foot; but
he saw nothing, not so much as a spider crawling over the stone
corridor.

It was very peculiar. He pinched himself to see if he was awake. Yes,
wide-awake, no doubt of that; besides, he seldom dreamed--indeed, never,
unless his foot had slipped in climbing a crag to peep into a nest, when
the fall was sometimes repeated in his sleep. Who was this speaking to
him? As if in answer to his thoughts, the voice went on:

"So far from being a good-for-nothing old ghost, I am one of the
founders of the S.P.C.C., a very old society--much older than people of
the present day imagine."

Leo was quite ashamed to be so ignorant, but he ventured to ask,

"What is the S.P.C.C.?"

"Is it possible you have never heard of it?"

"Never," replied Leo, still feeling as if he were talking to the walls.

There was a queer little gurgling "Ha! ha!" which was at once
suppressed.

"Well, how could you know away off in this remote region?"

"I am sure I don't understand you at all," said Leo.

"No, I see you don't; and it's by no means remarkable. You live so
entirely alone, and are so wretchedly neglected, that it is a wonder you
know anything."

Leo began to be angry, but it was too much of an effort; besides, what
was there to be angry at--a voice? So he remained sulkily silent until
the voice resumed, in a changed tone:

"I beg your highness's pardon; I quite forgot myself. I am very apt to
do that when I am much interested; it is a great fault, for I appreciate
fine manners. But to explain. In the faraway cities where people live
like ants in an ant-hill, all crowded together, there is often much
cruelty and oppression, as well as vice and poverty. Now for this state
of things they have laws and punishments, means of redress; but they
relate principally to grown people's affairs; so the kind-hearted ones,
noticing that little children are often in need of pity and care and
protection, have an association called the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children. It is as old as the hills, but they think it a
modern invention. I am one of the original founders of that society,
little as they know me; but human beings are _so_ vain."

"Indeed!" said Leo, lazily; he was already tired of the whole matter.

"Yes, vain and pretentious. Look at your father and his poems; he thinks
his doggerel verses a mark of genius."

"What has my father done to you that you attack him so rudely?" asked
Leo, angrily.

"Ah! you are aroused at last. I am glad. What has your father _not_
done, you had better ask. But I acknowledge that I am rude, and I won't
say more than just this: Your father has failed to prepare you for your
duties. Trouble is coming, and how are you to meet it?"

"Don't know, and don't care," came out with characteristic Lazybones
indifference.

"Ah! my dear Prince, do not speak so; it is quite time you knew and
cared. Do you study geography?"

"Sometimes."

"All surface work, I suppose?"

"Probably."

"Now my plan of study comprehends an interior view of the earth's
formation."

Leo gave a tremendous yawn, and said,

"Oh, please don't bother any more; I am awfully tired."

"So I should think. Well, do you want to be amused?"

"No; I don't want anything."

"Come with me, then."

"Where?"

"No matter where; just do as I bid you."

"How can I, when I don't even see you?"

"True. It will be necessary to anoint your eyes; shall I do it?"

"Just as you please."

Leo felt a little pressure forcing down his eyelids, and the pouring of
a drop of cool liquid on each.

When he opened his eyes again there stood before him the quaintest,
queerest being he had ever beheld.




CHAPTER III


Leo had heard of kobolds and gnomes and elves, but in all his wanderings
over the Lazybones estate in the brightness of noon, the dewy dawn, or
dusky eve, or later when the moon bathed every shrub in silver, he had
never so much as caught a glimpse of fairy folk.

Here, however, was a real elf--a most peculiar person. He was extremely
small, thin, and wiry, about two and a half inches high, and his costume
a cross between that of a student or professor and that of a miner, for
on his bushy head was a miner's cap with a lantern, and on his back was
a student's gown, while his thin legs were incased in black silk
stockings, and his feet in rough hobnailed boots. Slung over one
shoulder was a leather bag, and in his hand was a curious sort of a
tool.

"The Master Professor Knops has the honor of saluting Prince Leo
Lazybones," was the way in which this extraordinary person introduced
himself, making at the same time a deep bow and a military salute, but
with no raising of the cap from which the little lantern gleamed with a
bright blue flame. Leo returned the salutation with a lazy grace,
smiling curiously upon the queer little object before him, who proceeded
to say:

"And now let us go; I lead--you follow."

"Forward, then," responded Leo, rising from his lounging attitude.

The elf went nimbly down the corridor, as if accustomed to it, and
paused before a door which led to a flight of stone steps.

"Are you going down cellar?" asked Leo, who knew where the stairs led.

"I am," replied Knops; "but these huge doors and heavy hinges bother me.
Be so good as to open and close them for me. By-the-way, you may get
hungry; shall we find food down here?"

"Perhaps so," said Leo, following, and doing as requested.

They went down step after step, and it was wonderful how much light came
from that little blue flame.

On skipped the elf, his gown puffing out, his nailed boots pattering
over the stones, and Leo found himself quite breathless when they
reached the cellar, so unused was he to any rapidity of movement.

"Suppose we meet some one," said Leo.

"And what have we to fear if we do? No one can see me, and if you are
afraid of a scullion or house-maid you are not the Prince I take you
for. Tut! tut! don't be afraid--come on."

The cellar was damp, and great curtains of cobwebs, like gray lace, fell
over the empty bins and wine-vaults. From a heap of winter vegetables
Leo filled his pockets with apples and turnips.

They came at last to a door which Leo remembered having opened once, but
finding that it led to a passage which was dark, dismal, and unused, he
had not cared to explore it. He now followed the elf through it, but not
without misgivings, for as he groped along he stepped on a round object
which, to his horror when the little blue flame of the elf's lantern
revealed its empty sockets and grinning jaws, proved to be a skull.

Knops turned with a smile when he saw Leo's agitation, and said,
blandly,

"You are not interested in this form of natural history, I see." Then
taking up the skull, he placed it in a crevice of the wall, saying,
"Here is another proof that there are no ghosts about. Do you think any
one would be so careless of his knowledge-box as to leave it to be
kicked around in that way? Oh, those old monks were miserable
house-keepers; the idea of stowing away their skeletons so near their
kitchen closets!"

Leo smiled faintly, and went on after Knops, who every once in a while
gave a tap on the walls with his tool, starting the echoes.

"There!" said he, "do you hear that? This is the way we make old houses
haunted. I don't do it for fun, as do the elves of folly. I have a
sensible purpose; but they like nothing better than to frighten people,
and so they make these noises at all hours, and get up reports that a
house is bewitched; but even a common insect like the cricket can do
that, human beings are such ridiculous cowards."

Leo made an effort to assume the courage which he did not feel, and
asked his guide how much farther he intended to lead him.

"Now," said Knops, stopping, and putting on an air of intense gravity,
as if he were about to deliver a lecture, "I must beg you, my dear
Prince, to place perfect confidence in me. I promised not to harm you.
As a member of the S.P.C.C., I am pledged to protect you; besides, you
have no idea how much I am interested in you; this expedition has been
planned entirely for your benefit. Trust me, then, and give yourself
entirely up to my control. Ask as many questions as you wish, provided
they are useful ones. Just say, without ceremony, 'Knops, why is this?
or, Knops, what is that?' and I, in return, if you will be so good as to
allow me, will say, frankly, 'Leo, this is this,' or 'that is that.' But
here is the entrance to our habitations. You will have to stoop a
little." Striking again with his tool, a panel slid open in the wall,
through which they crept.

It was still dark, but the air had changed greatly; instead of the musty
dampness of a vault, there was a soft warmth, which was fragrant and
spicy, and a beam as of moonlight began to illuminate the passage, which
broadened until they stood at its termination, when Leo found himself on
a ledge or gallery of rock, which was but one of many in the vast cavern
which opened before them.

On its floor was burning an immense bonfire, which flashed and flamed,
and around which was a bevy of dwarfs, shovelling on fuel from huge
heaps of sandal-wood. Every gallery swarmed with elves and dwarfs in all
sorts of odd costumes, but all bore little lanterns in their caps, and
tools in their hands. Some were hammering at great bowlders, others with
picks were working in passages similar to the one Leo had left, and
others seemed to be turning lathes, sharpening knives, cutting and
polishing heaps of brilliant stones. Every once in a while a party of
queer little creatures much smaller than Knops would trundle in
wheelbarrows full of rough pebbles, and dumping them down before those
employed in cutting and polishing, would be off again in a jiffy for
another load.

Leo was so astonished that he stood perfectly silent, gazing now at the
flashing fire which reflected from all sides of the brilliant quartz of
the cavern, and now at the tier upon tier of galleries full of busy
little people.

"This is one of our workshops," said Knops, "but not the most important.
Now that you have rested a moment I will take you to that."

Line upon line of red and green in rubies and emeralds were at the base
of the grotto, and then he found that the emeralds sprang up into long
grasses, and the rubies into flaming roses, and on slender spears were
lilies of pearls and daisies of diamonds, and blending with these were
vines of honeysuckle and strawberries, gleaming with sapphires and topaz
and amethysts, wreathing and flashing up to a ceiling of lapis lazuli
blue as a June sky. The floor was a mosaic of turquoise forget-me-nots
on a turf of Egyptian jasper.

When Leo had looked at all this bewildering beauty, Knops pushed open
the mica door again, and they began to traverse the galleries of the
rock cavern. He was surprised that none of the elves noticed him, nor
even looked at him, and he asked Knops the reason.

"I have rendered you invisible to them, my dear Leo, for two reasons:
one is that you may be undisturbed in your examination of their work,
and the other is that they may not be interrupted; for of course your
presence would be a source of lively interest to them, and yet any
stoppage of work would necessitate punishment."

"Punishment?" repeated Leo, questioningly.

"Oh yes; most of our hardest workers are elves of mischief and it is
only by keeping them thus constantly employed that we prevent disorder.
You have no idea what pranks they play."

"And what is your authority among them?" asked Leo.

"I am one of our King's cabinet; my title is Master Professor. My
learning qualifies me to decide upon the plans of work, where to search
for precious stones, and how best to prepare them for man's finding.
Nothing is more amusing than the wonder and surprise men exhibit at what
they consider their discoveries of minerals and gems, when for ages we
have been arranging them for their clumsy hands."

"How do you do this?"

"Ah! it's a long story. Here you see the result of our long searches,
and were it not for the processes we conduct none of these stones would
ever be found. We can penetrate where man has never been; we can
construct what man has in vain tried to do. Come with me to our
diamond-room: we do not make many, preferring to find them; but as an
interesting scientific experiment we have always liked to test our
ability."

So saying, Knops turned down a little lane lighted by what looked like
small globes of white fire.

"Electric light," said Knops, with a gesture of disdain, as he saw Leo
blinking with wonder--"the commonest sort of a blaze; and yet men have
nearly addled their brains over it, while we made it boil our kettles.
It's the simplest and cheapest fuel one can have; but having utilized it
so long, I am on the lookout for something new. Here, this is the way;"
and again he opened a mica door.




CHAPTER IV


Blow-pipes and retorts, crucibles and jars, porcelain and glass vessels,
of all odd sorts and shapes, confronted them on tables and shelves, and
seated before small furnaces, with gauze protectors for their faces and
metal ones for their knees, and queer little rubber gloves for their
hands, were the very queerest of all the elves Leo had yet seen. They
were thinner and much less muscular than the miners and stone-polishers,
with eyes too large and legs too small for their bodies, so that they
resembled nothing so much as spiders.

"See how in the pursuit of the beautiful one can lose all beauty," said
Knops, confidentially.

"How hot it is here!" said Leo, gasping for breath.

"Yes, my dear fellow, there's no doubt of that; the heat is tremendous.
Now some of your thermometers go no higher than one hundred and thirty,
while ours can ascend to three and four hundred; that is, for the common
air of our dwellings. Of course the heat demanded by many of our
experiments is practically incalculable; for instance--"

"Oh, get me out of this!" entreated Leo.

"Here, step into this niche, put your mouth to this opening"--and Knops
pointed to one of many silver tubes which projected near them--"now
breathe. Is not that refreshing?"

"Yes," said Leo, reviving, as he took a long draught of fresh cool air.
"How do your people endure such heat?"

"They are used to it; besides, they can come to these little tubes, as
you have done, whenever they please."

"Where does this air come from?"

"It is pure oxygen; we manufacture it, and here is a lump of pure
carbon which we also manufacture," and he laid in Leo's hand what looked
like a drop of dew. It was a diamond of exquisite lustre.

As Leo looked with surprise and admiration at it, an elf came staggering
up to the niche. After breathing the oxygen he turned to Knops with a
heart-rending cry.

"I have lost it--lost it, Master Knops."

"Lost what, Paz?"

"The finest stone I ever made, and I have been years at it."

"How did that happen?"

"Burned it too long--look!" and he produced in his spidery hand a small
mass of charcoal.

"Never mind, Paz; better luck next time," said Knops, kindly.

"No, I am no longer fit for the profession; such a mistake is
inexcusable. I cannot hold up my head among the others. I meant that
diamond for our King's tiara or the Queen's necklace--bah! Please,
Master Professor, put me among the miners, or take me for your valet. I
care not what I do."

"You are depressed just now; wait awhile."

"No, I must go. I have broken my crucible and put out my furnace. I
will not stay to be scorned."

"Come with me, then, and I will see what I can do for you."

"He may be useful to us," said Knops to Leo, adding, "we never allow
these diamonds to be put in the quartz beds; they are all reserved for
our own particular uses. It takes so long a time to make them that only
elves of great patience and a certain quiet habit of mind are trained to
the task. Look!"

He pointed towards what appeared to be a glittering cobweb hanging from
a projection on the wall. It was composed of silver wires, on which were
strung numbers of small but most exquisite gems, each of which sparkled
and flashed with its imprisoned light.

"In the same way," he resumed, "all the pearls we use are of our own
cultivation, if I may use the term. We secure the oysters and insert
small objects within the shells, generally a seed-pearl of insignificant
size, leaving it to be worked upon by the living fish; when enough time
for the incrustation has elapsed we find our pearls grown to a
remarkable size, of rarest beauty and value. These processes are not
unknown to man, but men are so clumsy that they seldom succeed in
perfecting them."

Leo by this time was quite exhausted both by what he had seen and by
what he had heard, and he begged Knops to allow him to rest.

"Certainly, certainly, my dear," said Knops. "Pardon me for wearying
you. I am more scientific than hospitable. Come to our sleeping
apartment. I think I shall allow Paz to see you, for, as he is so
unhappy, it will divert him to serve you while you remain with us, and
perhaps, too, he can suggest something suitable for your food. I ought
to have thought of this before."

Leo had, with three or four bites, disposed of an apple, and had already
begun on a turnip, when Knops, giving Paz a peculiar sign, the spidery
little fellow reached up and snatched the turnip from Leo's hand.

"What's the matter now?" asked Leo, too tired to regain it, easily as he
could have done so.

"I can't see anybody eat such wretched stuff as that; wait till I cook
it," said Paz.

"Well, Paz, I am glad you can help me out of my difficulty," said Knops.
"I really am puzzled what to do for Prince Leo's hunger. My breakfast
is a wren's egg; for dinner, a sardine with a slice of mushroom is
enough for four of us; for supper, a pickled mouse tongue. How long
could you live on such fare, Leo?"

"Not long, I fear."

"So I supposed. Well, here is the dormitory; by pushing up a dozen or
more beds, you can stretch out awhile. Meanwhile I can attend to some
professional duties, after I have despatched Paz for your food. What are
you going to do with that turnip, Paz?"

"An elf who can make diamonds from charcoal can perhaps produce
beefsteak from a turnip," said Leo.

"Ah! don't remind me of my bitter humiliation, kind sir," said Paz, in a
sad tone. "I will do what I can for you. Do you like soup?"

"Immensely."

"And roast quail?"

"Delicious!"

"Apple tart?"

"Nothing better."

"Adieu, then, for an hour."

Knops too departed, leaving Leo to look about him, with curious eyes,
upon rows of little beds, each with a scarlet blanket, and each having
its pitcher and basin conveniently at hand. But he soon was fast asleep.

While all this was happening to Leo, at the monastery there was great
confusion. The servants had gone in a body to Prince Morpheus's bedroom
to demand their wages. With tearful eyes and wailing voice he had
protested that he had no money, that his life was hanging by a thread,
and that his brain was on fire. They loudly urged their claims,
declaring they would instantly leave the premises unless they were paid.
As they could not get a satisfactory reply from their master, who hid
his eyes at the sight of their angry faces, and put his fingers in his
ears to keep out their noisy voices, they concluded to go; so, packing
their boxes and bags, and pressing the mules and oxen into their
service, they one by one went off to the nearest village.

One old woman, who had never known any other home, alone remained, and
when the storm subsided and the house was quiet, Morpheus, being
hungry, crawled down to the kitchen fire to find her boiling porridge.

"Where is my son?" asked Morpheus.

The old woman was deaf, and only muttered, "Gone--all gone."

"Alas! and has my son also deserted his father?" cried Morpheus.

The old woman nodded, partly with the palsy, and partly because she knew
of nothing to say. Morpheus smote his forehead with a tragic gesture,
and allowed himself to fall--gently--upon the floor. When he had
remained in an apparent swoon long enough he was revived by some hot
porridge being poured down his throat, and his hair and hands sprinkled
with vinegar. Rousing himself as if with great effort, but really with
great ease, he stood up, and finding the kitchen warmer than his cell,
concluded to remain there; but the old woman was too stiff with
rheumatism to wait upon him, so he had to ladle out his own portion of
porridge, get his books and candle for himself, and finally bring in
some fagots for the fire.

When he sat down to study he found himself in a more cheerful mood than
he had been in for many a day, though he could not help wondering what
had become of Leo. As he went on thinking where the boy could be he was
inspired to write what he called a sonnet upon the subject. Here it is:

  "My boy has fled his father's home,
   No more he treads these halls;
   In vain my voice invokes his name,
   In vain my tears, my calls.
   The night winds sigh, the owlets cry,
   The moon's pale light appears,
   The stars are shivering in the sky--
   I tremble at my fears.
   Has then the Knight of Shadowy Dread
   My Leo forced away
   From his fond parent's loving heart
   In Death's grim halls astray?
   I bow reluctant to my fate;
   'Tis mine to weep and mine to wait!"

He counted the lines over carefully; the eighth and tenth seemed short,
but it scanned after a fashion. On the whole it suited him, and was
rather better done than many of his verses, so with soothed nerves he
sought his pillow.

The old woman had slumbered all the evening in her chair. Indeed her
snoring had been even and regular enough to act as a measure in marking
the time for the musical cadences of the sonnet.

Morpheus, having a pretty good appetite, ate some bread and cheese and
drank some ale before retiring.




CHAPTER V


Leo was awakened by being rudely jostled about and tumbled upon the
floor. When he opened his eyes the cause was apparent. The elves had
found their beds in disorder, and not being able to see him, had, in
their efforts to restore order, pitched him out. Hardly had Leo reached
the floor when in came Paz to the rescue.

"I beg your pardon, sir, for being so long absent," he said, "but the
hunters had not come in with any game, and the cooks had use for all the
skillets, so that I was obliged to go to the laboratory for a vessel
large enough to hold your turnip. Soup is made in great quantities for
our work-people, and by adding a few sauces I hope I have made it so
that it will please you. If you come with me now I think you may relish
your meal."

Leo followed Paz to a small cavern hung with a velvety gray moss, on
which were clusters of red berries. A small electric light burned in a
globe of crystal, set in bands of turquoise, and shone upon a table
which, like the bed he had used, was composed of several small ones,
covered with a cloth of crimson plush, over which was again spread a
white fabric of the thinnest texture and edged with lace. On this was
laid a dinner service, so small that it was evidently more for ornament
than use. Plates of crystal were bordered with gems, and jars and cups
of embossed metal glittered with precious stones. He was obliged,
however, to eat his soup from the tureen, and the turnip, now cooked in
a sort of _pate_, was presented on a silver platter. Slices of smoked
rabbit, with salted steaks of prairie-dog, were offered in place of the
quail, which had not come; but Leo, having a fondness for sweets, saw
with wonder one tart made from about a quarter of an apple. This proved
to be such a sweet morsel that he kept Paz running for more until he had
eaten a dozen. No wine was offered, but ices which looked like heaps of
snow with the sun shining on them were dissolving in glass vases, and
water as pure as the dew filled his goblet. Rising refreshed from his
meal Leo met Knops coming towards him. He had exchanged his dress for
what looked like a bathing suit of India rubber.

"Are you rested?" he inquired, kindly.

"Oh yes, very much, and I must thank you and Paz for so good a dinner,"
responded Leo.

"Don't mention it. If I had not acted on the spur of the moment, when
the impulse to amuse you seized me, I would have been better prepared.
We use many things for food which you would disdain, but I might have
secured antelope meat or Rocky Mountain mutton, and by way of rarity
something from Russia or China. Have you ever tasted birds' nests."

"Never."

"But I suppose you know why they are thought so great a delicacy?"

"No."

"It is merely the gluten with which they are fastened together, so to
speak, by the birds, which renders them agreeable. The Chinese like
rats, and in this we agree with them. Well dressed, stuffed with
chestnuts or olives, and roasted, they are delicious."

Leo made a wry face.

"Ah! you are not cosmopolitan."

"What is that?"

"A citizen of the world, a person free from national prejudices. Ah,
these words are long for you; I will try to be simple: you have not
learned to eat everything that is good."

"But rats are not good; they are vermin."

"Bah! yes, because you let them feed like your hogs on anything. We do
better; we pen them, and give them grain until they are fat and sweet,
and make them eatable."

Leo could not disguise his dislike, so Knops, shrugging his shoulders,
did not attempt any longer to convince him, but said,

"Are you interested in what I have shown you?"

"Certainly I am," said Leo, with more spirit than he had ever put into
words.

"And you care to go on?"

"Very much."

"Prepare then for great exertion. As you are so large it will be
necessary for you to creep through many passages. I am going to take
you to see our water-work. The visit may be tiresome, but I think you
will be repaid. It is generally supposed that giants have greater power
than we. It may be that it is true, but I think it is doubtful. But you
may wonder why I speak now of giants. It is because they have originated
the opinion among men that the great water-falls and cataracts, such as
those of the Nile and Niagara, are entirely of their producing, but we
all know the familiar adage, 'Great oaks from little acorns grow.' I am
going to show you where the little springs and rivulets have their
rise."

Leo's attention had flagged during this speech--he was so unaccustomed
to many words--now his interest revived.

"Do you remember a certain shady spot about half a mile from the
monastery, beneath a group of birch-trees, and overhung with alders?"
asked Knops.

"Do I not, indeed?" responded Leo, eagerly. "It is the sweetest, coolest
water on the estate. The moss around that spring is just like green
velvet. Many a time I have plunged my whole head in it. The birds know
it too, and always come there to drink. I sometimes find four or five of
them dipping in at once; it is a pretty sight to see them bathe; they
throw the water up under their wings until they drip, and then they are
hardly satisfied."

"Well," said Knops, "we have the supplying of that spring."

All the time they had been talking, Knops had been leading the way
through long passages and down steep steps, of which Leo's long legs had
to compass several at a stride.

Now they came to a low tunnel through which Leo had to creep for what
seemed to him miles. Strange to say, the weariness which so often
compelled him to rest or doze seemed to be leaving him. He felt an
altogether new impulse, a desire to explore these recesses, and a great
respect for Knops's learning also made him desirous of conversation,
which was something he had always avoided by answering questions in the
shortest possible way.

The tunnel was not only long and low, but it was dripping with moisture,
and the air oppressive with what seemed to be steam. Leo heard wheezing
and groaning sounds, which, though not frightful, were very peculiar,
and then the thump-thump, as of engines.

Very glad was he when the tunnel opened into another large cavern, at
the bottom of which was a lake. He could not have seen this had it not
been for the electric fluid which blazed like daylight from a great
globe overhead. On the margin of the lake were all kinds of hydraulic
machines, small as toys, but of every conceivable form; derricks and
wheels and screws and pumps, and all under the management of busy little
elves, who panted and puffed and tugged at ropes and wheels and pipes as
they worked, and kept up a constant chant not unlike the song of the
wind on a stormy night.

Leo watched them intently. Once in a while one restless little sprite
would turn a hose upon his companions, when the chant would stop long
enough for the rest to dip him head and heels into the lake, which had a
very quieting effect. Leo noticed great numbers of pipes running up the
sides of the cavern in all directions, but Knops soon opened the door of
what he called "the model-room," and here were new wonders displayed.




CHAPTER VI


The model-room of the elves' water-work department was a grotto of
salt--glittering, dazzling, sparkling, and flashing--divided into two
equal parts, or as if a huge shelf had been placed across it.

On the top of the shelf was a tiny park or forest, with all the natural
differences of the ground exactly represented by grasses, plants,
flowers, rocks, and trees, living and growing, but on a scale so small
that Leo was forced to use a microscope to properly enjoy its beauty.
Even the herbage was minute, and the trees no larger than small ferns,
but as his eyes grew accustomed to the glass he was amazed to find the
hills and dales of his home here reproduced in the most familiar manner.

It was truly an exquisite scene. Field upon field dotted with daisies,
woodland as dense and wild as untrained nature leaves it, and hill upon
hill clambering over one another, all so minute and yet so real, and
dashing down from the tiny mountains was a stream of foaming water,
winding about and gathering in from all sides other tributary brooks,
so small that they would hardly have floated a good-sized leaf.

And now Leo understood the meaning of it all, as he looked underneath
the shelf where tiny pumps and rams were forcing up the water for this
stream.

Knops touched a spring and set a new series of wheels in motion, when,
instantly, a gushing fountain flowed up in a small stone basin beneath a
rustic cross; then a little lake appeared, on which were sailing small
swans; and finally a rushing, roaring flood started some mill-wheels and
almost threatened destruction to the tiny buildings upon its banks.

"This," said Knops, "shows you how we use the power of our reservoirs,
but it can give you no idea of the immense trouble we have in laying
pipes for great distances. Some of our elves find it so difficult that
they beg for other work, and many run off altogether and live
above-ground, inhabiting the regions of springs and brooks, and so
muddying them and filling them up with weeds that men let them alone,
which is just what they desire."

"Do fish ever clog your pipes?" asked Leo.

"Never. We have none in our lakes; the water is too pure and free from
vegetable matter for fish. It is doubly distilled. Taste it."

Leo took the glass which Knops offered, and confessed he had never
tasted anything more delicious.

"We sometimes force carbonic gas into mineral springs, but that, as well
as the salts considered so beneficial, is left to our chemists to
regulate. Paz, do you know anything about this?"

"Not much, Master Knops. I have seen iron in various forms introduced,
but think that is usually controlled by the earth's formation."

Leo sighed at his own ignorance, and vowed to study up these matters;
but Knops, seeing his look of dejection, asked, "How would you like a
bath?"

"Delightful. Where? Surely not in the lake; it looks so cold and glassy
I should not dare."

"Oh, no, no," laughed Knops. "Do you think I'd let you bathe in a
reservoir? Never! We are too cleanly for that, begging your pardon. Here
is our general bath. It's quite a tub, isn't it?"

"I should think so," said Leo, surveying quite a spacious apartment,
about which were pipes and faucets, clothes-lines and screens.

Here his friend left him, and he was glad to doff his garments for a
plunge. He found that he could make the water hot or cold at will, and
so luxurious was it that he would have stayed in any length of time had
not a crowd of elves come chattering in, and with whoop and scream
surrounded him. Though they could not see him, they were conscious of
some disturbing force in the water, and in an instant a lot of them had
scrambled on his back, and were making a boat of him. They pulled his
hair and his ears unmercifully, and because he swam slowly, with their
weight upon him, they whacked and thumped him like little pirates. But
he had his revenge, for with one turn he tumbled them all off, and
sprang from the bath, leaving them to squirm and squabble by themselves.

Laughing heartily at their antics, he rejoined Knops and Paz, whom he
found poring over some maps spread out before them.

"We have been discussing the length of a journey to the Geysers of
Iceland, also to the hot springs of the Yellowstone, but I am afraid
either would require too much time. Was your bath agreeable?"

"Very," said Leo, describing how he had been pummelled.

"Those were the fellows from the steam-rooms--stokers probably. Rough
enough they are. Do you care to have a glance at them at work?"

"Don't care if I do," said Leo, in his old drawling manner; then,
correcting himself, he added: "If it suits your convenience, I shall be
very happy to take a look."

"That is all it will be, I promise you," said Paz; "the heat is awful."

Leo thought as much when Knops, having tied a respirator over his mouth,
opened another door. Such a cloud of vapor puffed out that he could but
dimly discern what seemed to be a tank of boiling, bubbling water,
resting on a bed of soft coal, about which stark little forms were
dancing and poking with long steel bars until flames leaped out like
tongues of fire.

"Oh," said Leo, as he quickly turned from his place, "how do they endure
it? It is dreadful!"

"They are used to it; they all came from Terra del Fuego," replied
Knops, calmly. "And now, as a contrast to them, look in here."

A hut of solid ice presented itself. Long pendants of ice hung from the
ceiling, snow in masses was being formed into shapes of statue-like
grace by a company of little furry objects whose noses were not even
visible, and others were tracing out, on a broad screen of lace-like
texture, patterns of every star and leaf and flower imaginable.

Leo was so delighted that, although shivering, he could not bear to
leave them, but begged Knops to lend him a wrap.

Taking from a pile of furs in a corner several small garments, Paz
pinned them together and threw them over Leo's shoulders, and as he
continued to watch the beautiful work Knops explained its character.

"This is our place for working out designs for those who are unskilled
in frost-work. Frostwork is something too delicate for human hands, but
in it we excel. Have you never seen on your window-pane of a cold winter
morning the picture of a forest of pines, or sheets of sparkling stars
and crystals? I am sure you have. Well, we do all that work on your
windows, not with artificial snow and ice such as you see here, but by
dexterous management we catch the falling flakes and mould them to our
will, sometimes doing nothing more than spangling a sheet of glass, and
again working out the most elaborate and fantastic marvels of
embroidery. But in art our productions are almost endless. We color the
tiniest blades of grass and beds of strawberry leaves until the moss
upon which they rest look like velvet with floss needlework. We polish
the chestnuts till they appear as if carved of rosewood. We strip
thistles of their prickly coat, and use the down for pillows. The
milk-weed, as it ripens its silken-winged seeds, serves us for many
beautiful purposes. We tint the pebbles of a brook till they compare
with Florentine mosaics. We wreathe and festoon every bare old bowlder
and every niche made barren by the winds. Indeed, the list of our works
would fill a volume."

Leo listened and looked, though his feet were getting numb and his
fingers nearly frozen. Many a time he had seen just such cappings to
gate-posts and projections as were here being moulded, and just such
rows of pearly drops on a gable's edge; but when, as if to specially
please him, the busy workers carved a little snow maid winding a scarf
about her curly locks, he clapped his hands in admiration, making such a
noise that each little Esquimau dropped his tool in alarm.

"Gently! gently!" said Paz and Knops; "they are easily frightened.
Though they do not see you, their instinct is so fine that they can
nearly guess your presence."

"I am sorry if I have frightened them," said Leo. "Can't you say
something to soothe them? Tell them how lovely their things are. I long
to try and imitate them."

Knops said a few words in a language Leo did not comprehend, and the
little people gathered up their trowels again. But it was time to go,
and Leo had to follow his guides and leave the snow people with more
reluctance than anything he had yet seen.




CHAPTER VII


Knops now led Leo through so many places full of machines and
contrivances which the water-power kept active that he was glad when
they went up a long inclined plane, and came out into a wide gallery
lined with mother-of-pearl, and paved with exquisite sea-shells.

Here was a luxurious couch of beautiful feathers, the plumage of birds
he had never beheld, and he was not sorry to see Paz bringing out
another dozen of tarts for his refreshment. As he ate them, he asked of
Knops, who was peeling a lime, "Have you no women and children among
your elves?"

"Oh yes," said Knops, smiling; "but they are not to be found near our
workshops."

"Where, then, do they live?"

Knops put on an air of mystery as he replied: "I am not permitted to
reveal everything concerning us, dear Leo. Our private life is of no
public interest; but I may tell you that our children are bred entirely
in the open air. Many an empty bird's nest is used as an elf cradle, for
so highly do we esteem pure air, sunshine, and exposure as a means of
making our children hardy, that we even accustom them to danger, and let
them, like the birds, face the fury of the weather."

"And do they all work as you do?"

"They do, not at the same employments, nor is all our labor done by
hand, as you might suppose. The songs which you hear are not all sung by
birds or insects, the crying child has often a pretty tale whispered in
his ear to soothe his grief or passion, and your garden roses are
witness to many a worm in the bud choked by the hand of an elf. But we
have many tribes, and the habits of each are different. I do not conceal
that much trouble is made by some of them. But look at the Indians of
North America and the Afghans of Asia."

Leo was yawning again fearfully, when a little "turn, turn, turn," came
to his ears, and as Knops ceased speaking a band of elves, habited as
troubadours in blue and silver, with long white plumes in their velvet
caps, climbed over the balustrade and began to play on zithers.

The music was a gentle tinkle, not unlike a rippling brook, and appeared
to be in honor of Master Knops, who listened with pleased attention, and
dismissed them politely.

Then came a message for Knops. A council was awaiting his presence; so,
leaving Leo to Paz, with promise of a speedy return, he departed.

"How do you get about so fast?" asked Leo. Paz took from his pocket a
tiny pipe, curiously carved from a nut; then he opened a small ivory
box, showing Leo a wad of something which looked like raw cotton
sprinkled with black seeds.

"One whiff of this, as it burns in my pipe, and I can wish myself where
I please."

"Let me have a try," said Leo, taking up the pipe.

Paz smiled. "It would have no more effect upon you than so much
tobacco--not as much, probably, for tobacco makes you deathly sick, does
it not?"

"Yes," said Leo, listlessly, disappointed that he could not go to the
ends of the earth by magic.

Paz noticed the disappointment, and said, by way of diversion, "Where do
you like best to be?"

"At home I like the kitchen," said Leo, with a little shrug.

"Good! Come, then, to one of ours: we can be back by the time Master
Knops returns." So saying, he started off, and Leo followed.

Paz trotted down a winding staircase that made Leo feel as if he were a
corkscrew, and in a little while ushered him into a place where jets of
gas gave a garden-like effect, sprouting as they did from solid rock in
the form of tulips and tiger-lilies, but over each was a wire netting,
and from the netting were suspended shining little copper kettles and
pans of all sorts and shapes.

Busily bending over these was a regiment of cooks, but instead of paper
caps on their heads, each wore a white bonnet of ludicrous form, which
they could tip over so as to shield their faces from the heat. It gave
them a top-heavy appearance which was extremely funny.

In the centre of the kitchen was a long table, before which were seated
a number of elves testing each compound to see if it were properly
prepared, and examining the cooked dishes as they were brought in that
all should be served rightly.

"I had an idea," said Leo, "that elves and fairies lived on rose leaves
and honey, and that you never had to have things cooked."

"The truth is," answered Paz, "we do both; it all depends on what are
our employments, whether we are living in the wild wood or down in
these caverns. I would ask nothing better than to dine off honeysuckle
and a bird's egg, or fill my pockets with gooseberries; but I must adapt
myself to circumstances, and while toiling here have to share the more
solid food provided for us." As he said this he handed Leo a pudding of
about three inches in the round, iced on the top.

Leo swallowed it down with such zest that Paz asked him to dispense with
ceremony, and help himself to anything he saw. The tasting-table was
full of puffs and tarts, and in a twinkling Leo had eaten two or three
dozen of them. They were really so light and frothy that they were
hardly equal to an ounce of lollypops such as an ordinary child could
devour, but Paz cautioned him, telling him that the sweet was so
concentrated he might have a headache.

While he was doing this, Leo watched with interest the bringing in of
some squirrels and rabbits, skinned and ready to be roasted. It took six
elves to bear the weight of an ordinary meat dish on which these were;
then they trussed and skewered them, and put them in small ovens.

"How do you kill your game?" asked Leo.

"We trap everything, and then have a mode of killing the creatures
which is entirely painless."

By this time Knops would have returned, so Paz hurried Leo off, not,
however, without first filling his pockets with goodies. Up they
clambered, until it seemed as if they might reach the stars by going a
little farther, and now Leo was really so tired that when he sank down
on the feathery couch in the sea-shell corridor he was asleep before he
could explain to Knops the cause of his absence.

He must have slept a very long while--a time quite equal to an ordinary
night, if not longer--for when he awoke he was thoroughly rested and
refreshed, and ready for any exertion he might be called upon to make;
but he found himself entirely alone.

At first this did not affect him, for he supposed his elfin friends had
taken the opportunity to rest themselves, but after minutes lengthened
into hours he began to be uneasy. What should he do if they never came
back? How would he ever find his way out of these caverns? The thought
was frightful, and to relieve his fears he began to call. His calls
became shouts, yells, and yet no answer came; nothing but echoes
responded.




CHAPTER VIII


After a long and impatient listening the echoes of Leo's calls seemed to
prolong themselves into musical strains, which, faint and far away at
first, gradually came nearer and nearer.

Soft as the sighing of the wind was this elfin music, but swelling into
mimic bursts of harmony and clashing of small cymbals.

Leo leaned over the balustrade of the corridor, and gazed down into the
depths of a cavernous abyss. Instantly the space seemed filled with
sprites in every conceivable attire. Some were dressed in the
party-colored habits of court pages, some in royal robes of ermine,
others as shepherds with crooks, and again others as cherubs with gauzy
wings; but all were whirling like snow-flakes to the strains of the
music.

Leo looked in vain for Paz or Knops. Indeed, so many were the fantastic
forms, and so rapidly did they move, that it was like watching a
snow-storm, and this effect was heightened by misty wreaths, upon which
were borne aloft the more radiant members, who danced and flashed as
heat-lightning on the clouds of a summer's night. The light, instead of
being a bright glare, was soft and mellow, and fell from crescent-shaped
lanterns on the staffs of pages, who moved in a measured way among the
throng, producing a kaleidoscopic effect.

Leo watched them with eager eyes. Beautiful as the sight was, he yet was
oppressed with fear, for he knew not how to reveal himself to these
sportive beings, and he could not imagine how he should ever be released
from his imprisonment.

Suddenly the dancers fled as if pursued, the music became martial, and
the steady tramp of a host of elves was heard. They were clad in mail,
with helmets and shields of flashing steel, and armed with glittering
lances; half of them had blue plumes and half had crimson. And now began
their mimic warfare. Ranged line upon line, facing each other, with
shouts and drum beats and bugle blasts, they fell upon each other in the
fury of combat. Swords clashed, javelins were hurled, and the slain fell
in heaps; but still the leaders charged, and still the martial blasts
were heard; and over and over were repeated the manoeuvres of the
advance, the retreat, the parrying of blows, the redoubled ardor of
assault, until Leo's breath came short and hard with the excitement of
the scene. It seemed a veritable battle-field, and to add to the glamour
rays as of moonbeams, shone now and again clouded by the shadows of an
approaching storm.

Gradually the rage of the combatants subsided. Those who were able
withdrew with those of their companions who were disabled, leaving the
prostrate forms of the dead and dying.

And now the music portrayed the rising of the wind, the falling of rain,
the roar of thunder. This was succeeded by low, plaintive strains, as of
people weeping, and a party of elves in the garb of monks headed a
procession bearing lighted tapers and carrying biers, upon which they
placed the inanimate forms of the warriors. Slowly they paced about,
chanting in low tones, and constantly accompanied by the funeral dirge
of the musicians.

And now to Leo's almost overtaxed vision came a picture of a lonely
graveyard in the mountains, where the procession stopped. Even as he
looked it faded away; the sun streamed forth, shining upon a field of
grain where merry reapers swung their scythes and sang with glee. Trees
sprouted from fissures in the rock, birds flew about and perched
undismayed, and little hay-carts, piled high with their loads, came
creaking along, led by peasant elves, who were also seated on top of
their fragrant heaps of hay. Then the sun beamed upon a party of
drovers--elves in smock-frocks or blouses, driving flocks of sheep and
horned cattle, while the bleating of the sheep and the blowing of the
cattle were well imitated by the music. All this was succeeded by
vineyards, grape trellises, and arbors, with busy elves gathering the
fruit which hung in purple clusters, and beneath the arbors other elves
rattling castanets, beating tambourines, and dancing.

Again the scene changed. Snow fell; the birds disappeared; the tree
boughs were glittering with ice, and were bending over a wide field of
the same glassy substance. On it were elves in bright costumes, merrily
skating. They glided about, cutting curious figures, pausing to bend
and bow to each other, or to warm themselves at bonfires blazing on the
banks.

Then night came again, and the darkness was only broken by twinkling
stars. The music became softer and more plaintive; it sounded like
little flutes.

A church tower loomed up, and then a blaze of light issued from its
arched doors. Two by two, in white array, came forth the elves, and from
the floating veils Leo saw that it was meant to represent a bridal
procession. Garlands were on their arms, and ribbons fluttered from
their caps. Roses were strewn in their path.

Again, these were followed by a company of elves in the habit of nuns
and Sisters of Charity. The music became a hymn. The church grew dark
and vanished. The space filled again with shadowy forms, as if all the
little actors had poured in. The sound of their coming was like that of
a bevy of birds with wings fluttering. Suddenly a starry cross appeared;
it flashed and flamed with a light which was as if it were composed of
myriads of gems, and then a clear radiance streamed from it, revealing
the whole multitude of elves kneeling in devotion. This lasted but a
few moments, and again all was still and dark, and Leo was alone.

But he was no longer afraid. His mind was filled with the beautiful
scenes he had witnessed, his imagination stirred to activity. Why might
he not behold these things again as a reality, instead of only a
semblance of it? How grand it would be to travel and see novel and
beautiful sights, to learn also wonderful things! And as he quietly
thought, he heard the click, click of little boots, and Knops was beside
him, followed by Paz. Leo greeted them warmly.

"Did you suppose that we had deserted you?" asked Knops, sitting down by
his side on the couch as if exhausted.

"Yes, I was a little alarmed; it was so strange to find myself alone in
such a place, for of course I had no idea which way to turn or what to
do."

"You were so soundly asleep that I had not the cruelty to disturb you,
and it was necessary for Paz to go with me. From what you have witnessed
you may guess how we have been employed and how much we have had to
detain us; but you may rest assured that nothing would keep me from
finishing what I have undertaken. You have now had a Vision of Life and
a Vision of Labor, for such I call our two pantomimes. Am I wrong in
supposing that they have pleased you?"

"No, indeed," said Leo, quickly, his usual drawl giving place to a tone
of bright animation. "I thank you a thousand times for your
entertainment and instruction. I have been so pleased and delighted that
I can hardly express myself as I ought to do. I am afraid I seem a very
good-for-nothing fellow to you."

"Indeed you do not. Don't suppose I would waste time on a
good-for-naught. Paz can tell you what attracted me to you--can't you,
Paz?"

"Yes, sir; the Prince Leo's kindness of heart is the secret of his power
with us."

Leo blushed as he looked up and asked, "How did you know I was
soft-hearted?"

"By your kindness to animals and all living things. Ah! we are close
observers, are we not, Paz?"

"Necessarily, Master Professor."

"Our powers of observation have revealed to us many of the mysteries
which man longs to solve. There's the Gulf Stream, for instance. But you
are not up in science yet. No matter. You have time enough before you if
you will only apply yourself. Has anything you have seen made you
anxious to know more?"

"Oh, don't mention it!" exclaimed Leo. "I am so awfully ashamed of my
ignorance that I would do anything to get rid of it. I want to know all
about those curious things."

"Good! the seed is sown, Paz," said Knops, complacently, with the
nearest approach to a wink Leo had seen on his grave little countenance.
"Now you must rest again before we start for home."

Leo would have been very willing to do without more rest, remembering
his alarm, but he could not be so selfish as to deprive his companion of
it; so he at once assented, tempted to ask only that he might not be
left quite so long again alone. But fearing this would imply distrust,
and being really no coward, he said nothing. He was relieved, however,
to hear Knops command Paz to remain with him.




CHAPTER IX


Leo tried to go to sleep; but after doing everything he could think of,
such as imagining a flock of sheep jumping a fence, and counting a
hundred backward and forward, he gave it up as useless. All the strange
things he had seen would come back, and his eyelids were like little
spring doors that bobbed open in spite of his attempts to close them. As
they lifted for the hundredth time he saw Paz doubled up in a heap, with
his knees drawn up to his chin, his elbows resting on them, and his face
in his hands. He was intently watching Leo.

"Hallo!" said Leo, "can't you go to sleep either?"

"No need at present."

"Why not?"

"I was going through a formula in D."

"What under the sun is that?"

"Something relating to my pursuits. Don't trouble yourself to try and
find out everything. In my opinion Master Knops has crammed you too
hard. What do you say to my telling you a story or two?"

"Splendid! I'm ready when you are."

"No, you are not; you're hungry. You must have a bite first; what shall
it be? Oh, no matter; I'll get you something if you promise not to ask
any questions."

"All right," said Leo, inwardly cringing at the thought of stuffed
rats.

Paz was gone but a little while. When he came back he was carrying a
basket, from which he produced a small flask of a very sweet, fruity
sirup, a dish of something that looked like little fish swimming in
golden jelly--salt and savory Leo found them--and a sort of salad
garnished with tiny eggs. These were followed by nuts of a peculiar
flavor, and small fruits as exquisite to look at as they were delicious
to taste.

When Leo had done ample justice to all these things Paz looked relieved,
as if he had feared they might not suit.

"Never ate anything better in my life," said Leo.

"I am glad to hear it; tastes differ so. Now these things come from all
parts of the world--the fish from Spain, the eggs from Africa, the nuts
from Italy, the fruits from France, and the sirup from Portugal."

"Oh dear!" said Leo, wondering how their freshness was preserved.

"Yes, I suppose you have no idea of our canning business."

"None in the world."

"I presumed as much," said Paz, wisely, "nor am I going to bore you
with any more information."

Leo looked quite shocked.

"Oh, well," said Paz, profoundly, "there's a limit to all things, and
I'm not a Knops."

"But have you been to all parts of the world?" asked Leo.

"Oh, yes," answered Paz, carelessly. "I have wandered far and wide in my
time. Until I caught the diamond fever I was used as an envoy."

"Indeed!" said Leo, having but a faint idea of what an envoy was. "What
did you do?"

"I went on errands of importance."

"Who for, and where did you go?"

"I was sent generally to carry messages from our King to the Queen of
the Wind Fairies or the Herb Elves, or the Sylphs, sometimes to warn
them of trouble or danger, sometimes to tell them that imps were
rampaging or giants were about to make war, but oftener to inform them
of some plan for assisting man, or some good to be done for a child: in
these things we delight."

"How kind!" said Leo.

"Kindness has so much power, if people only knew it. But you are
waiting; I must not detain you." So, without further preface, thus began


PAZ'S STORY

"It was a time of trouble to mankind--a year of strange events, and yet
so stupid are ordinary mortals--begging your pardon--that none were
making preparations either to meet or to avoid disaster. The King of the
Kobolds had been negotiating with our King for the purchase of some
immense tracts of iron ore, and in the course of conversation said he
had received news from Italy that there would soon be a volcanic
outbreak, that the giants there were quarrelling fiercely, and had not
hesitated to declare that unless matters were arranged to suit them they
would bid Vesuvius pour forth its death-dealing fires.

"Now on the side of that well-known mountain were living some friends of
our King--two children, a girl and a boy, Tessa and Tasso, daughter and
son of an Italian peasant.

"In their little vineyard one day our King's son, an infant, was
swinging in his leafy cradle; it looked like a bird's nest, and so I
suppose they thought it, but a rude playmate of theirs tried to tear it
down from its airy height, and would have succeeded had not both Tessa
and Tasso resolutely opposed him.

"First they sought to make him stop by appealing to his feelings, asking
him how he would like to have his cottage ruined, his home desolated;
but at this he only mocked and jeered. Then they urged that birds had
the same right to live and rear their young as had human beings; which
having no more effect, they openly forbade his attempt, saying that the
ground was theirs, the birds were their friends, and they should defend
them. Blows followed, Tessa and Tasso bearing their part bravely, and
compelling the young ruffian to take himself off. Little did they know
whom they were defending.

"Our King heard of the occurrence, and vowed unending friendship; so
when the King of the Kobolds told him of the danger impending at
Vesuvius I was at once sent for to convey the information, and do what I
could to save the lives of Tessa and Tasso. It took but a whiff of my
pipe to bring me to the desired place, but so calm and bright and
peaceful was the scene that I found it hard to believe in the
threatening evil. Never had I seen a bluer sky reflected in a more
silvery mirror than were the clouds and bay of Naples that day. The
people were merry and careless, tending their cattle, gathering their
fruit, singing their songs, and as indifferent to their old enemy as if
he had never harmed them.

"How should I approach the object of my mission? how put fear into the
hearts of joyous innocence? Their father had bidden them go to the city
with a load of oranges. These were to be conveyed in large baskets, or
panniers, on the back of a faithful donkey. If I could keep them away
from home, delay them by some pretext from returning for at least a day,
I might aid them. So with this determination I proceeded to act.

"At every place or with every person to whom they offered their fruit I
whispered objections, asked if their prices were not very high, or if
the fruit were not picked too early. So well did I succeed that I had
nearly upset my own plans, for poor Tessa, becoming discouraged, wanted
to return home at once, but Tasso stoutly declared he would sell every
orange before going back--that his fruit was good and ripe, and it
should be appreciated. I was pained to see Tessa's tears, but what could
I do? Already thick smoke was pouring down the mountain's side, and so
many were the rumbling sounds that although these children were
accustomed to such disturbances, fears began to assail them.

"They were now well away from home, and had paused at the roadside to
eat their bread-and-cheese. People were becoming unusually numerous.
Excitement was prevailing, and Tessa saw with alarm women and children
hurrying past. At that moment a travelling carriage appeared. One could
see at a glance from its neat compactness that it was English. I put my
head in the window, and whispered something. At once a gray-haired lady
leaned out, and beckoned to Tessa, who tremblingly obeyed.

"'My child,' said the lady, kindly, 'I want some oranges. Can you give
them to me quickly? You know we have no time to spare.'

"'Yes, madame,' said Tessa. 'But what is the matter? You and every one
look so anxious.'

"Instantly, as she spoke, there was a terrible quivering of the earth,
which made every one shudder. The driver could scarcely hold his horses;
they plunged and reared and trembled.

"'Ah! we cannot wait,' said the lady; but seeing the terrified looks of
the children, she paused to ask, 'Are you children alone?'

"'Entirely so, signorina.'

"'And where are you going?'

"'Home, to the mountain.'

"'You cannot go there; it is too late.' Then with a sudden resolution
she turned to the maid beside her. 'We will take them with us; their
load is too heavy for them to get on fast enough. Quick! quick! Leave
your donkey; he is tired; every one is so frightened he will not be
stolen if he escapes. Come in here,' pushing open the carriage door.

"Tessa turned irresolutely to Tasso, who was also uncertain what to do;
but the tone was imperative; they were accustomed to obey. Crowds were
now jostling them; women were crying; children were pushed hither and
thither, their little toys trodden underfoot, more a grievance to them
than the quaking earth. With a regretful glance at the donkey, Tessa and
Tasso jumped into the carriage, which drove away as fast as the
frightened horses could get through the throng. Miles and miles away
they went until the horses could go no farther. Then they stopped for
the night at a little inn overflowing with strangers, where they heard
that Vesuvius was pouring forth lava, and where they could see the lurid
glare of its flames reddening the evening sky. They were saved. My
mission was fulfilled."

Paz stopped; but Leo was unsatisfied.

"And what became of them? Did they ever go home again? Were their father
and mother killed?"

"No; their parents escaped, but their home was buried in ashes. The
children were cared for by the English lady until it was safe to return.
All that was left them was the one poor donkey which, unharmed, strayed
back to the place of its past abode, and with it they began a trade in
lava which proved very remunerative."

"Trade in lava?" repeated Leo, inquisitively.

"Yes; the people pour melted lava in moulds before it cools, and so
fashion ornaments out of it--perhaps they also carve it. I know they
color it beautifully, for I have had to carry bracelets made of it to
various people with whom we are on friendly terms, and they were blue as
a bird's egg or turquoise."

"How curious!"

"No; they were not remarkable, not half as singular as coral
formations."

"What are they?"

"Don't tell me you know nothing of coral!"

"I believe I have seen it, but that is all."

"Coral is made by wonderful little animals who live and die in its cells
until their structures are big enough for islands; but I will leave that
to Knops: my plan is not to cram."




CHAPTER X


"Well," said Leo, "you are not going to stop, I hope."

"Oh no," said Paz, cheerfully, "I can spin yarns with any sailor. What
will you have now?"

"Something funny."

"I wish I could oblige you, but fun is not my strong point. I went from
Greenland to the South Seas one day in search of a laugh, but I failed
to find it; indeed I came near doing worse, for in getting into the hoop
of a native's nose-ring for a swing--just by way of a new sensation--I
forgot to make myself invisible, and he caught me, thought I was a
spider, and would have crushed me, had not a baby put out its little
hands in glee to play with me. I can assure you I was for a time averse
to trying new sensations."

"How did you get out of your scrape?"

"I travelled down that baby's back in a hurry, and hid in an ant-hill;
he poked about with his little black fingers for a quarter of an hour,
but he did not find me. Ah, those were the days of my youth!"

"Do you ever have anything to do with witches?"

"Mark my words, ghosts and witches live only in the imagination of silly
human beings. We useful people scorn them. Now imps might be said to
belong to the same family were it not for the proofs we have of their
existence. They are everlastingly getting children into trouble by
suggesting things to them they never would have thought of--"

"Such as what?"

"Do you suppose I am going to tell you? No, indeed; they can do it fast
enough for themselves. Persons who take too much wine are their most
constant companions; they pounce upon them and twitch and tease and
torment them until the poor wine-bibber trembles from head to foot. They
won't let him sleep or eat or think, and fairly drive him crazy. Oh,
imps are really to be dreaded! But I must now begin my second story."


PAZ'S SECOND STORY

"There was to be a grand birthday festival among the Fays, who inhabit
the tropics. The wind fairies had brought us news of it as well as
urgent invitations for our royal family to be present; but so deeply
engrossed was our King at that moment in supplying the oil wells of
Pennsylvania with petroleum that he could not absent himself. The Queen
never goes from home without her liege lord.

"The princes and princesses were all too young, and could not be allowed
to leave their lessons; so the regrets were inscribed on lotus leaves,
and sent by special messenger--a bird of the Cypselina family. He was a
great sooty-black fellow, with a tinge of green in his feathers,
strong, well able to fly, as his family generally do from America to
Asia. But the gift could not be intrusted to him. I was chosen as bearer
of that.

"Much discussion had taken place as to what this gift should be. It was
desirable that nothing ordinary should be offered, for the Fays are, as
a rule, fastidious. Gems they possess in abundance. Flowers are so
common that their beds are made of them. Their books are 'the running
brooks,' and their art treasures hang on every bough. The Queen had
woven a veil of lace with her own fingers; it was filmy and exquisite,
but my heart sank within me when she declared that nothing less than a
wreath of snow-flakes must accompany it. To obtain this wreath and carry
it to the Fays as a birthday gift was to be my duty.

"How should I accomplish it? I dared not suggest the difficulties, for
at once I should have been displaced, and another elf chosen for the
performance of this arduous task. Besides, if it could be accomplished
by any one, I must be that person, having always been unwilling ever to
allow difficulties to deter me from any duty. Pride of the right sort
is a great help. I went to the frost-workers and told them what I
wanted. They said they could imitate any flower; but the Queen had
expressly said that the wreath must be of snow-flakes. Now the fantastic
impulse of a snow-storm is well known, but it is not so generally known
that there is a scientific accuracy even in the formation of
snow-flakes."

Here Paz stopped, shook his head, smiled, and said, "I do believe I am
as bad as Knops."

"Please go on," said Leo.

"Well, you must forgive me, for I shall have to tell you that the
frost-workers said there were no less than a thousand different forms
among the crystals of which snow-flakes are made.

"Now how could I tell what pattern to choose? It was impossible; so I
told them I should have nothing to do with the pattern. 'Make the
wreath,' said I, 'box it, and I will carry it, or die in the attempt.'

"They did so. The crystals were more beautiful than diamond stars. They
put it in a solid square of ice, which was packed in charcoal and straw,
and then cased in cocoa matting. To this I attached cords, and slung it
about my neck. The veil, in a satin case half an inch square, was in my
wallet.

"I started in the track of the marten that carried the despatches, but
changed my course many times, striving to keep in cold currents.
Finding, however, that as I neared the Equator this was impossible, I
took to the sea, and went down to its highway. Of course I had on
garments impervious to water--that is to say, water-proof--and my wallet
was as dry as a bone; but not being in the habit of travelling under
ocean, my eyes were a little affected by the salt, and I became
conscious that I was being followed.

"Fishes, you know, are not down on the hard rocky bed of the sea, and I
had passed the homes of mermen, so I was puzzled to know who could be my
enemy. I would not so much as betray my fears by looking behind, and I
had enough to do in looking forward, for at every other step there were
fissures which had to be leaped, deep abysses to be avoided, chasms to
be crossed, and sands which might ingulf me.

"Still, as I struggled on, I could hear the sound of other feet
following mine, now nearing me, now farther away, as my speed asserted
itself. It made me shiver to think what might be my fate, and I can
honestly say that the thought of failing to fulfill my errand bore as
heavily upon me as the sense of personal dangers; for it is a great
thing to be trusted, to be looked upon as honest and true, and deemed
capable of transacting affairs even of small moment.

"But this was not a trifling matter. The neglect to deliver this gift
could bring about serious trouble. The Fays were our friends, and
friendship is never to be slighted. It is not kind to allow selfish
matters to stand in the way when we are bidden to a joyous celebration,
and had not our King felt that the claims of man were more urgent than
those of the Fays he would have attended this feast in person. As he
could not, the gift was to represent him. I trust I have made it clear
to you."

"Quite so," said Leo. "But I am crazy to know who was following you."

"So was I at that time, and I resolved to get into the first empty shell
I could find where I might hide. There was soon an opportunity. A heap
of cast-off shells presented itself, and I popped into an enormous crab
cover, where I waited for my unknown companion to overtake me.

"As the steps came near I peeped carefully out, and what should I see
but an ugly South American river-wolf, about three and a half feet long,
with a short, close fur of a bright ruddy yellow. I could not imagine
what had brought him after me, but the ways of the wicked are often
difficult to explain. There he was, and if once he could get me within
reach I was lost. On he came, snuffing and barking like a dog, making my
very hair stand on end. I waited for him to pass, but I think his
instinct must have told him I had paused, for he began to turn over the
shells with his ugly nose, as if searching for something. My single
weapon was a small dirk, as we kill only in self-defence.

"Bracing myself against the wall of my slight shelter, I stood in
expectation of an assault, and I had not long to wait. With an angry cry
he rushed upon me. His size seemed to me enormous, but my little knife
was a trusty blade, and with a great effort I drew it across his
dreadful throat.

"I will not dwell on these particulars. I had overcome my enemy. I
resumed my journey, and soon came to a region of the most beautiful
water-plants growing in greatest profusion. I knew by these that I was
not far from the home of the Fays.

"I neglected to tell you that before starting out the chief frost-worker
had given me a small vial of clear liquid, which, in case of any danger
from heat, I was to use for the preservation of the snow-wreath. In my
tussle with the wolf this vial must have become partly uncorked, for I
became aware of a strong odor diffusing itself about me, and an
overpowering sleepiness getting the better of me. I had drawn the bottle
out, recorked it, and put it away again; but this was no sooner done
than I fell in a sleepy swoon on the roadside.

"I have no idea how long I slept: there is neither day nor night down
there, only a dim sort of twilight, which at times becomes illuminated
by the phosphorescent rays of fishes, or the fitful gleam of ocean
glow-worms. I was startled from my swoon by a rattling, dragging noise,
and came very near being scooped up by an uncouth-looking iron thing
which was attached to a cable. It flashed upon me, stupid as I was, that
this must be a deep-sea dredge; and as I was not at all inclined to be
hauled up on shipboard, in a lot of mud and shells as a rare specimen of
the sea, I got as quickly out of the way as possible.

"But it was now time for me to get on _terra firma,_ as Knops would say,
or dry land, as I prefer to put it. Among the beautiful vermilion leaves
or tentacles of the curious half animals and half flowers I observed a
vine not unlike the honeysuckle, only of tougher fibre. On this I
clambered up to take a look about me, and discovered that I was much
nearer shore than I supposed. Hardly had I done this when, to my horror,
I saw the arms of an octopus stretching towards me, its horid beak
projecting from between its ugly eyes. More alarmed than at any previous
danger, I strove to retain my self-command, but the fearful creature was
already touching me. Remembering, with wits sharpened by distress, the
effect of the drug in my little bottle, I drew out the cork, and making
a sudden lunge, dashed the ether in its face--if you can so call any
part of its disgusting head.

"Instantly it lost all power over its members, curled up in a writhing,
wriggling mass, and I with a bound reached the sandy shore."




CHAPTER XI


Paz, taking a long breath, and looking at Leo to see the effect of his
narrative, went on:

"It was quite time for me to be on land, for in the moonlight, which
bathed everything in silver, were to be seen troops of fays hurrying to
the festival. Some sailed along the shore in mussel shells, others were
on the backs of black swans whose bills looked like coral, and others
were skimming along with their own gauzy wings, or lolling luxuriously
on the feathers of flamingoes.

"I joined the ones on foot, and with them reached the plantation, which
presented a scene of great brilliancy. Gold and silver ferns hedged the
rose-leaf path which led to the bower of beauty; on every leaf were
myriads of fireflies, and glowing from higher plants bearing many-hued
flowers were Brazilian beetles. Plunging into the thicket, I made a
hasty toilet at a brook-side, and then rejoined the advancing guests.
The bell-bird could be heard clearly summoning our approach, while
sweetest warblers poured out their melody. The throne was formed of the
Santo-Spirito flowers, and beneath the wings of its dove-like calyx was
the lovely fay in whose honor was all this gayety, surrounded by her
young companions.

"Approaching quickly, I unstrapped my package, took the satin case from
my pocket, and fell upon my knees in the customary manner; perceiving
which, the beautiful being motioned for me to rise, and with the most
unassuming grace received my burden. As she unfolded the lace from its
silken cover a cry of delight escaped her, and shaking out its gossamer
folds she threw it over her head. With all the care I could use I had
laid bare the block of ice, which shone like silver in the moonbeams,
and now with a sudden blow of my dagger I cleft the ice, and lifted out
the wreath, placing it as I did so on the head of the fay.

"There was no time for ceremony. Had I waited to pass it from hand to
hand of the attendants it would have been gone. There was a hush over
all as I crowned the fay. Each snowy star stood out in perfect beauty.
She alone could not see its peerless charm. But I had provided for this.
Chipping off a thin layer of the ice-block, I laid a silver-lined leaf
from a neighboring bough behind it, and held this mirror before the
fay's wondering eyes. Never have I seen anything so beautiful or so
fleeting. Even as I held the reflected image before its reality, drops
as of dew began falling over the lace, and in a moment the wreath was
gone.

"Like a little child robbed of a treasure, the look of wonder and
delight gave place to one of bewildered disappointment. She turned a
questioning gaze upon me.

"'Alas!' said I, 'most sovereign lady, 'tis not in elfin power to
reproduce this wreath; it was the emblem of human life, as brief, as
fleeting. My Queen desired me to bring it. I have met with great
difficulties in so doing, but none has saddened me like your
disappointment.'

"With eager sweetness she bade her cavaliers respond. They assured me of
her gratitude and delight, and bade me welcome. The warbling birds again
started their liquid strains, and a mazy dance began which resembled a
fluttering band of snowy butterflies tangled in a silvery web. Slipping
off, I came to the side of a lake on which were boats and Indian canoes
of the moccasin flower. Here I rested, watching the measures of the
dance, and taking little refreshing sips of cocoa-nut milk. A
swift-winged night-hawk having been placed at my disposal, I had a safe
and speedy journey home."

"And is that all?" inquired Leo.

"Yes," said Paz, "for here comes Master Knops."

Leo thanked Paz warmly, and turned towards Knops, who, with hat in hand,
stood gravely waiting to speak.

"Is it the wish of Prince Leo to make further explorations, or will he
now return to his father and his home?"

With some self-reproach at having quite forgotten that he had a father
and a home, Leo said he was ready to return.

"And may his humble servants, the distinguished savant Paz and the
Master Professor Knops, have the pleasant assurance of Prince Leo's
satisfaction at this visit?" asked Knops, still in the most formal
manner.

"I cannot thank you half as I should like to do," replied Leo, "but I
hope to be able to show you that your entertainment and instruction have
not been wasted."

"Come, then, we will go."

"Adieu," said Paz. "Look out for me some fine frosty night when you are
skating. You may think you see some of your furry friends startled out
of their winter sleep, but just give a whistle, and say 'Paz,' and I
will be with you."

"Good-bye," said Leo. "I hope it will be soon that I shall see you."

But Knops was off and he had to follow. Away they went, climbing and
clambering, slipping and sliding, crawling and jumping, through forests
of coal, over mines of iron, and beside walls glittering with silver.
Presently, however, Leo found himself where they had started from, viz.,
his own cellar door, and Knops preparing to leave him. Dropping his
ceremonious manner, he said:

"I am sorry to bid you farewell, my dear boy; I have become heartily
interested in you and your welfare. The only souvenir I have to offer is
this little compass; it is a mere trifle, but the needle has the power
of finding precious metals. Learn how to make it useful. Good-bye."

Leo found himself alone. He pushed open the cellar door, and mounted the
steps to the kitchen. It was early morning, and the cocks were crowing
lustily. The one old deaf woman was striving to make a fire burn, but
the wood was wet and she found it difficult.

"Where are all the people?" shouted Leo in her ear, for he well knew her
infirmity.

"Gone--all gone," she answered.

"And my father, where is he?"

"In bed yet, and he had better stay there, for I've no breakfast for
him."

Leo suspected what was the matter. Taking a basket from a peg, and a
bowl from the dresser, he went out into the fields. Everything was
sodden with the rain, but the birds were singing with all their might;
those that were not were repairing the ravages of the storm.

"Even the birds are busy at their nests," thought Leo; "everything,
every creature, has its work to do. Shall I alone be idle? Never."

Putting aside the wet boughs, which sprinkled him well, he sought an old
tree-trunk for its store of honey. Filling his bowl with this, and his
basket with fresh eggs, he returned to the monastery. Here he helped the
old woman with the fire, and between them they soon had the kettle
steaming. The tray with his father's breakfast was made ready, and with
his own hands he took it to him.

"Leo, my long-lost son," exclaimed Morpheus at sight of him, "where have
you spent the night?"

"In Dream-land," was Leo's reply; and then, without preface, he asked of
his parent the privilege of looking over his accounts, and doing what he
could to assist him in his difficulties. Morpheus smiled indifferently,
but gave Leo his keys, with permission to do as he pleased.

All the morning Leo puzzled his brain examining books and papers, with
little result. Then he saddled his horse, rode into the nearest town,
and sought a lawyer whom his father knew. To him he related their
grievances, telling him that he was sure their property, well managed,
could be made to yield handsome returns, and informing him of his
wonderful compass, which could indicate the presence of minerals. The
lawyer was not very sanguine, but he put a young clerk in charge of the
matter, who, becoming much interested, looked up his residence at the
monastery, and went to work with diligence. Under his guidance Leo
studied and strove to regain their former prosperity. Laborers were
eager to resume their duties as soon as they saw the prospect of
payment. Crops became abundant. By the aid of Leo's compass--which was
only a scientific novelty yet to be discovered--mines were opened and
vast wealth displayed.

And Leo had become a different lad. No longer idle and careless, with
slow and lingering tread, he was now alert, vigorous, and manly. The
servants were glad to return and obey his wishes. The monastery was
rebuilt and repaired. Lawns and gardens were in trim array. Warm
tapestries and curtains lined the bare walls and windows, while ivy and
rose clambered without.

Even Morpheus, roused from his invalidism, rewrote his poems, sent them
to a publisher, and favored all his friends with copies bound in blue
velvet, with his monogram in silver on the covers. His pride in his son
became so great that at Leo's request he undertook to renew the library,
and the time that he had spent in bed was devoted to the step-ladder. It
was in this way he discovered that their name had been incorrectly
written. For his own part he did not care to make any change, but he
insisted that Leo should use the portion omitted, which an old copy of
the Doomsday-book had revealed to him, and sign himself in full, "Leo
Sans Lazybones."

Christmas was approaching; not a green Christmas, but an icy, snowy,
frozen one, with holly wreaths on his shoulders and a plum-pudding in
his hands.

The monastery was full of guests, relatives of Morpheus. These guests
were all poor--in one way--but they had a wealth of their own which made
them delightful to Leo. They were poets and painters and scribblers, and
as merry as larks; and as they all admired each others productions,
there was no end of cheerful nonsense. The children, however, were the
brightest of all. Each child was as merry as it was lovely, and the
painters were almost frantic in their efforts to make Christmas cards of
them, while the poets cudgelled their brains for rhymes.

To prevent too much industry in that way, Leo had induced them all to
put on their skates on Christmas-eve, and glide over the frozen ponds,
while he made ready the tree which stood in the great hall.

It was an immense spruce, all powdered with silvery fringe, and Leo had
only to tie on the little gilt tags numbered to correspond with the
packages of gifts, which were heaped on surrounding tables, and fasten
on the candles of red and blue wax. When this was done he put on his own
skates, for it was yet too early to light the tree, and away he went
skimming after the shouting, laughing crowd of friends and relatives.

Suddenly a squirrel darted from its hole, and went scudding across the
river. Leo started in pursuit, giving a low whistle. Instantly it
stopped, sat upon its haunches, threw off its skin, and out stepped Paz.

"Good-evening, my dear Prince, good-evening; we are well met; just in
time to exchange Christmas greetings. I have been looking for you
lately, but you seemed always so occupied that there was no chance for
me. You have no idea how pleased Knops is to hear of your prosperity. He
has sent for me a dozen times lately merely to express his satisfaction;
and he wants me to ask a favor of you, which I know already you will
grant."

"Anything in my power, dear Paz," replied Leo, eagerly.

"Of course; and we know how good a use you make of your power. Times
are greatly changed. You are benefiting every one about you; I hear it
on all sides. We are proud to be your friends. All that Knops asks is
that in clearing up your property, and cutting down all the rank growth
of weeds, you will spare a patch of wild-flowers here and there, and all
the empty birds' nests. Leave these for the use of our children, and we
will be greatly obliged."

"But that is a mere nothing; can I in any other way serve you?" asked
Leo.

"No," said Paz, "not that I know of. I am on my way now to see some new
minerals supposed to be similar to those of the moon. I haven't much
faith in them."

"How about the diamonds?"

"Don't mention them. I shall never try my hand at those again; and you,
if you are wise, will be contented to let Nature remain her own chemist.
Adieu. A very merry Christmas to you."

"The same to you," echoed Leo, but Paz was already muffled in his furs
and running rapidly away.




PHIL'S FAIRIES




CHAPTER I

THE WIND HARP


"Oh, Lisa, how many stars there are to-night! and how long it takes to
count just a few!" said a weak voice from a little bed in a garret room.

"You will tire yourself, dear, if you try to do that; just shut your
eyes up tight, and try to sleep."

"Will you put my harp in the window? there may be a breeze after a
while, and I want to know very much if there is any music in those
strings."

"Where did you get them, my darling,"

"From Joe."

"Joe, the fiddler?"

"Yes; he brought me a handful of old catgut; he says he does not play
any more at dances; he is so old and lame that they like a younger
darkey who knows more fancy figures, and can be livelier. He _is_ very
black, Lisa, and I am almost afraid of him; but he is so kind, and he
tells me stories about his young days, and all the gay people he used to
see. Hark! that is my harp; oh, Lisa, is it not heavenly?"

"I don't know," said poor, tired Lisa, half asleep, after her long day's
work of standing in a shop.

Phil's harp was a shallow box, across which he had fastened some violin
strings rather loosely; and Phil himself was an invalid boy who had
never known what it was to be strong and hardy, able to romp and run, or
leap and shout. He had neither father nor mother, but no one could have
loved him more or have been any gentler or more considerate than was
Lisa--poor, plain Lisa--who worked early and late to pay for Phil's
lodging in the top of the old house where they lived, and whose whole
earthly happiness consisted in making Phil happy and comfortable. It was
not always easy to do this, for Phil was a strange child; aside from the
pain that he suffered, he had odd fancies and strange likings, the
result of his illness and being so much alone. And Lisa could not always
understand him, for she lived among other people--rough, plain, careless
people, for whom she toiled, and who had no such thoughts as Phil had.

From the large closet that served as her bedroom Lisa often heard Phil
talking, talking, talking, now to this thing, now to that, as if it were
real and had a personality; sometimes his words were addressed to a
rose-bush she had brought him, or the pictures of an old volume she had
found on a stall of cheap books at a street corner, or the little
plaster cast that an image-seller had coaxed her to purchase. Then,
again, he would converse, with his knife and fork or plate, ask them
where they came from, how they were made, and of what material. No
answer coming, he would invent all sorts of answers, making them reply
in his own words.

Lisa was so used to these imaginary conversations that they did not seem
strange to her.

Phil had, too, a passion for music, and would listen intently to the
commonest strains of a hand-organ, and Lisa had given him a little toy
harmonica, from which he would draw long, sweet tones and chords with
much satisfaction.

Old Joe, who blackened boots for some of the lodgers, had heard the
child's attempts at music, and had brought his violin and played for
him. One day, happening to leave it for a while on the window-ledge,
Phil's quick ear had detected a low vibration from the instrument. This
circumstance, and something he had read about a wind harp, had given him
the wish to make one--with what success he was anxious to find out, when
Lisa laid it in the open window for him.

A soft south wind was blowing, and, as Phil spoke, it had stirred the
loose strings of the rude Aeolian harp, and a slight melodious sound had
arisen, which Phil had thought so beautiful. He drew his breath even
more softly, lest he should lose the least tone, and finding that Lisa
was really asleep, propped himself up higher on his pillows, and gazed
out at the starlit heavens.

He often talked to the stars, but very softly and wonderingly, and
somehow he could never find any answers that suited him; but to-night,
as the breeze made a low soft music come from his wind harp, filling him
with delight, it seemed to him that a voice was accompanying the melody,
and that the stars had something to do with it; for, as he gazed, he saw
a troop of little beings with gauzy wings fluttering over the
window-ledge, and upon the brow of each twinkled a tiny star, and the
leading one of all this bevy of wee people sang:

  "Come from afar,
  Here we are! here we are!
  From you Silver Star,
  Fays of the Wind,
  To children kind."

"How lovely they are!" thought Phil. "And so these really are fairies. I
never saw any before. They have wings like little white butterflies, and
how tiny their hands and feet, and what graceful motions they have as
they dance over my harp! They seem to be examining it to find out where
the music comes from; but no, of course they know all about it. I wonder
if they would talk to me?"

"Of course we will be very glad to," said a soft little voice in reply
to his thoughts.

"I was afraid I would frighten you away if I spoke," said Phil, gently.

"Oh no," replied the fairy who had addressed him; "we are in the habit
of talking to children, though they do not always know it."

"And what do you tell them?" asked Phil, eagerly.

"All sorts of nice things."

"Do you tell them all they want to know?"

"Oh no," laughed the fairy, with a silvery little voice like a
canary-bird's. "We cannot do that, for we do not know enough to be able
to: some children are much wiser than we. I dare say you are."

"Indeed I am not," said Phil, a little sadly; "there are so many things
that puzzle me. I thought that perhaps, as you came from the stars, you
knew something of astronomy."

"What a long, long word that is!" laughed the fairy again. "But we are
wind fairies; and yet the Father of the Winds is called Astraeus: that
sounds something like your long word, does it not?"

"It sounds more like Astrea, and that means a star."

"Why, where did you learn so much?"

"I saw it in a big book called a dictionary."

"Another long word. Doesn't your head ache?"

"Sometimes, not now. I have not any books now, except picture-books."

"Did you ever have?"

"Oh yes; when papa was living we had books and pictures and many
beautiful things; but there was a great fire, and all sorts of trouble,
and now I have only Lisa. But Lisa does not understand as papa did; it
was he showed me that word in the dictionary."

"Oh, don't say that great ugly word again! Shall I tell my friends to
make some more music?"

"Yes, please."

The wind fairy struck her little hands together, and waved her wings. In
a moment the little white troop danced over the strings of the harp, and
brought out sweet, wild strains, that made Phil nearly cry for joy. They
seemed to be dancing as they did it, for they would join hands and sway
to and fro; then, parting, they wound in and out in graceful,
wreath-like motions, and the tiny stars on their foreheads flashed like
diamonds. Up and down they went, the length of the strings, then across,
then back again; and all the time the sweet wild music kept vibrating.
"How lovely! how lovely!" said Phil, when there was a pause.

"I am so glad you like it! we often make music for people, and they
hardly hear it," said the fairy.

"I do not see how they can help hearing," said Phil.

"Why, I'll tell you how: we frequently are in the tree-tops, or whirling
about low bushes; every soft breeze that blows has some of our music in
it, for there are many of us; and yet very few people pay attention to
these sounds."

"When the wind screams and roars in winter, is it you, then, who does
that too?" asked Phil.

"Oh no," said the fairy, rustling her wings in some displeasure. "We are
of the South Wind only, and have no such rude doings; I hope I may never
have any work to do for the North Wind, he is so blustery. Now it is
time you went to sleep, and we cannot stay longer, for if the moon rises
we cannot see our star-beams, and might lose our way. We will just fan
you a little, and you will soon be in Dream-land."

As she spoke, Phil saw her beckon to her troupe, and they all flocked
about him, dazzling him so with their starry coronets that he was forced
to shut his eyes, and as he closed them he felt a gentle wafting as of a
hundred little wings about his forehead, and in another moment he was
asleep.




CHAPTER II

PHIL'S NEW FRIEND


Old black Joe had not always been either a boot-black or fiddler. In his
youthful days he had been a house-servant, and had prided himself on his
many accomplishments--his dexterity at dinners, his grace at evening
parties, the ease and unconcern with which he could meet embarrassing
emergencies at either. But times had changed for him: his old employers
had died, a scolding wife had made his home unhappy, he had lost the
little money he had saved, and he was no longer the bright, cheerful
young fellow he had been. Age and rheumatism had made him crusty; but
beneath the outward manner, which sometimes was very cross, he had a
tender heart and a pitiful nature.

Of late years he had picked up enough for his support in the many little
ways incident to city life. He could whitewash, sweep chimneys, run on
errands--or rather walk on them, and that, too, very slowly. He
shovelled snow and carried coal, sawed wood and helped the servants at
whose homes he was employed.

His occupations took him about to many houses, but he always irritated
the people with whom he came in contact by invariably assuring them that
their masters and mistresses were not of the real stuff that ladies and
gentlemen of _his_ day were made of; that fine feathers did not make
fine birds; that people nowadays were all alike, and had no manners.

He made one exception only, in favor of a maiden lady whose parents he
had known, whose servants were kind to him, and whose retired and
dignified way of living quite suited his fastidiousness.

This was a Miss Schuyler; and nothing pleased Joe more than to have this
one person, whom he regarded with unqualified admiration, send for him
to bestow the monthly allowance she was in the habit of giving him. On
the day that he expected this summons he always gave an extra touch to
his toilet, exchanged his torn coat for a patched one, his slouch hat
for a very much worn beaver adorned with a band of rusty crape, and out
of the pocket of his coat, but never upon his hands, was to be seen an
old pair of yellow kid gloves.

In the course of Joe's wanderings he had chanced to, hear of the
invalid boy Phil, who liked to listen to his fiddle, and it did not take
long to strike up an acquaintance between them.

Often on a rainy day, or when work was dull, Joe would spend an hour or
two with Phil, relieving his loneliness, soothing his pain, and cheering
him with his music and his rambling talk about "old times" and the
people he had seen.

It was the latter part of May, and had been very warm; but Joe buttoned
up his best coat and donned his beaver, for his pay was due at Miss
Schuyler's. She lived in a large house, rather imposing and handsome,
and in the gayest part of the city; but she was by no means imposing or
gay in her own person. A little figure, simply dressed, a kind face
without beauty, a gentle manner, and a certain gracious kindliness and
familiarity had endeared her to Joe. On this day she was not, as usual,
sitting with her work in the library, where the sun poured in on the
bronzes and richly bound volumes, on the old engravings and the frescoed
ceiling--for Miss Schuyler liked light and warmth and color--but she was
away up in the top of the house, directing her maids in the packing of
blankets and woollens and furs, preparatory to leaving her house for the
summer. Joe had mounted stair after stair seeking her, and by the time
he reached her was quite out of breath; this, and the odor of camphor
and cedar-wood, made him sneeze and cough until Miss Schuyler said to
one of the maids in a whisper, "The poor old soul would have been black
in the face had he ever been white."

To Joe himself she said, very kindly, "My good old friend, you need not
have taken so much trouble to see me; I could have come down to you."

"Laws, Miss Rachel, I knew you was busy, and nuffin's ever a trouble to
do for you; I go to the tops of houses often--just come from one where
poor Phil's a-groanin' with pain. That chile'll die if somebody don't do
suthin' fur him soon."

"What child?" asked Miss Schuyler, whose tender point was her love of
children. "You haven't any grandchildren, Joe, have you?"

"No, Miss Rachel, de Lord nebber trusted me with any chil'en."

"Well, who is Phil?" said Miss Schuyler, absently; adding, to one of
her maids, "Take care of that afghan; wrap it in an old linen sheet; it
was knitted by a very dear friend, and I do not want it moth-eaten; I
had rather lose a camel's-hair shawl." Which evidence or regard seemed
very extravagant to the girl who was obeying instructions, but which Joe
thought he appreciated.

"Haven't I tole ye about Phil, Miss Rachel?"

"I don't know. I don't think you have. But come down to my room, Joe,
and then I can listen to your story."

Giving a few more directions, Miss Rachel led the way to a lovely sunny
room, with flower-baskets in the windows, soft blue draperies, and
delicate appointments. Seating herself at a desk and pointing Joe to a
chair, upon which the old man carefully spread a silk handkerchief lest
his clothes should soil the blue cushions, she counted out the money due
him, and placed it in an envelope, saying as she did so, "Now tell me
about that child."

"It's a white chile, Miss Rachel."

"Well, I like white children, Joe, though I must confess the little
colored ones are much more interesting," said Miss Rachel, smiling.

"I thought you liked my people, Miss Rachel; but this poor Phil's a
gentleman's son, very much come down far's money goes. He is too young
to know much about it, but the girl who takes care of him was brought up
in his family, and she says they was well off once."

"But what about the boy?" asked Miss Schuyler, a little impatiently.

"He's a great sufferer, but he's a wonderful chile. He loves to have me
play for him, and then he tells me the thoughts that come to him from
the music. I's no great player, Miss Rachel," said Joe, modestly, "but
you'd think I was, to hear him talk. He sees fairies and he dreams
beautiful things, and his big brown eyes look as if he could a'most see
'way up into heaven. Oh, he's a strange chile; but he'll die if he stays
up in that garret room and nebber sees the green fields he's so hungry
for."

Miss Rachel's eyes were moist, but she took a card and pencil from her
desk. "Where does he live--in what street and what number?"

"I'm sorry, Miss Rachel--You jess go up the Avenue, and turn down the
fourth or fifth street, and up a block or two, and it's the fust house
with a high stoop and green shutters. I allers go in the alleyway, so I
forgit numbers."

Miss Schuyler bit her lip to keep from smiling, thought a moment,
scribbled a memorandum, rang the bell, and gave some more directions;
left the room, and came back with her bonnet on. "Can you show me the
way to Phil's house, Joe?"

"Course I can, Miss Rachel," replied the old man, delighted that his
words had aroused his listener's sympathies.

"It's not very far; he's all alone, 'cause Lisa has to be away all day.
And I shouldn't wonder"--here he dropped his voice to a whisper--"if
sometimes he was hungry; but he'd nebber say so."

This latter remark made Miss Schuyler bid Joe wait for her in the hall,
while she went to a closet, found a basket, in which she placed a snowy
napkin, some biscuit, some cold chicken, and a few delicious little
cakes. In her pocket she put a little flask of some strong cordial she
had found of service on her many errands of charity.

How proud Joe was to be her escort! but how meekly he walked behind the
lady whose footsteps he thought were those of a real gentlewoman, the
only one to whom he would accord this compliment, although he passed
many elegant dames in gay attire.

The little gray figure, with its neat, quiet simplicity, was his
embodiment of elegance, for somehow Joe had detected the delicate
perfume of a sweet nature and a loving heart--a heart full of Christian
charity and unselfishness.

They walked for some distance, and the day was so warm that Miss
Schuyler moderated her usual rapid pace to suit the old man's feebler
steps. Off the Avenue a long way, up another, down a side street, until,
amid a crowded, disagreeable neighborhood, Joe stopped.

"You had better lead me still, Joe. The boy might be frightened or
annoyed at seeing a stranger: I dare say he's nervous. Go up, and I will
wait outside the door while you ask him if I may come and see him. Wait,
there's a flower-stall a little way from here; I will get a bunch. Take
my basket, and I will be back in a few moments. I am glad I thought of
the flowers; children always like them."

She hastened off, while Joe leaned on his cane and muttered blessings
upon her; but some rude boys beginning to chaff him, he turned on them
with his usual crustiness, and quite forgot his beatitudes.

Miss Schuyler came back in a few minutes with a lovely bunch of bright
blossoms embosomed in geranium leaves.

"Now, then, Joe, this shall be my card; take it in, and tell Phil I am
coming."

"God bless you, Miss Rachel!" was all Joe could reply.

Miss Rachel had her own way of doing things. It was nothing new for her
to carry flowers and dainties to the sick poor. She had been much with
sick people, and she knew that those who have no luxuries and few
necessaries care for the things which do not really sustain life quite
as much as do those who can command both.




CHAPTER III

PHIL HAS A VISITOR


Phil was alone, as indeed he was always, except on Sundays, or the few
half-holidays that came to Lisa. Once in a while Lisa begged off, or
paid another woman for doing an extra share of work in her place, if
Phil was really too ill for her to leave him. The hot sun was pouring
into the garret room, though a green paper shade made it less blinding,
and Phil was lying back in a rocking-chair, wrapped in a shawl. On a
small table beside him were some loose pictures from a newspaper, a
pencil or two, and an old sketch-book, a pitcher of water, and an empty
plate.

The boy opened his closed eyes as Joe came in, after knocking, and
looked surprised.

"Why, Joe, what is the matter?" he asked. "You do not come twice a day
very often."

"No," said Joe, "nor are you always a-sufferin' as you was this mornin'.
I've come to know how you are, and to bring you _that_," said he
triumphantly putting the nosegay before the child's eyes.

The boy nearly snatched the flowers out of Joe's hand in his eagerness
to get them, and putting them to his face he kissed them in his delight.

"Oh, Joe dear, I am _so_ much obliged! Oh, you darling, lovely flowers,
how sweet you are! how delicious you smell! I never saw anything more
beautiful. Where did they come from, Joe?"

"Ah, you can't guess, I reckon."

"No, of course not; they are so sweet, so perfect, they take all my pain
away; and I have been nearly smothered with the heat to-day. Just see
how cool they look, as if they had just been picked."

"It's a pity the one who sent 'em can't hear ye. Shall I bring her in?"

"Who, Joe--who do you mean?"

"Joe means me," said a soft voice; "I sent them to you, and I am Miss
Rachel Schuyler, an old friend of Joe's. I want to know you, Phil, and
see if I cannot do something for that pain I hear you suffer so much
with. Shall I put the flowers in water, so that they will last a little
longer? Ah, no! you want to hold them, and breathe their sweet
fragrance."

Miss Schuyler had opened the door so gently, and appeared so entirely at
home, that Phil took her visit quite as a matter of course, and though
astonished, was not at all flurried. He fastened his searching gaze upon
her, over the flowers which he held close to his lips, and made up his
mind what to say. At last, after deliberating, he said, simply, "I thank
you very much." His thoughts ran this way: "She is a real lady, a kind,
lovely woman; she has on a nice dress--nicer than Lisa's; she has little
hands, and what a soft pleasant voice! I wonder if my mother looked like
her?"

Miss Schuyler's thoughts were very pitiful. She was much moved by the
pale little face and brilliant eyes, the pleased, shy expression, the
air of refinement, and the very evident pain and poverty. She could not
say much, and to hide her agitation took up the sketch-book, saying,
"May I look in this, please?"

Phil nodded, still over the flowers.

As the leaves were opened, one after the other, Miss Schuyler became
still more interested. The sketches were simply rude copies of newspaper
pictures, but there was no doubt of the taste and talent that had
directed their pencilling.

"Have you ever had any teaching, Phil?" she asked.

"No, ma'am," answered Joe for Phil, thinking he might be bashful. "He
hasn't had no larnin' nor teachin' of anythin'; but it is what he wants,
poor chile, and he often asks me things I can't answer for want of not
knowin' nuthin' myself."

"And what is this?" said Miss Schuyler, touching the box with violin
strings across it, which was on a chair beside her.

"Please don't touch it," answered Phil, anxiously; then fearing he had
been rude, added, "It is my harp, and I am so afraid, if it is handled,
that the fairies will never dance on it again. You ought to hear what
lovely music comes out of it when the wind blows."

Phil spoke as if fairies were his particular friends. Miss Schuyler
looked at him pitifully, thinking him a little light-headed. Joe nodded,
and looked wise, as much as to say, "I told you so."

Just then Phil's pain came on again, and it was as much as he could do
not to scream; but Miss Rachel saw the pallor of his face, and turning
to Joe, asked:

"Does he have a doctor? Is anything done for him?"

"Nuthin', Miss Rachel, that I knows of. I never knew of his havin' a
doctor."

"Poor child!" said Miss Rachel, smoothing his forehead, and fanning him.
Then she tucked a pillow behind him, and did all so gently that Phil
took her hand and kissed it--it eased his pain so to have just these
little things done for him. Then she poured a little of her cordial in a
glass with some water, and he thought he had never tasted anything so
refreshing. She sent Joe after some ice, and spreading her napkins out
on Phil's table, set all her little store of dainties before him,
tempting the child to eat in spite of his pain.

Phil thought it was all the fairies' doing and not Joe's--poor pleased
Joe--who looked on with a radiant face of delight. Phil would not eat
unless Joe took one of his cakes, so the old fellow munched one to
please him.

Meanwhile Miss Schuyler gazed at the boy with more and more interest; a
something she could hardly define attracted her. At first it had been
his suffering and poverty, for her heart was tender, and she was always
doing kind deeds; but now as she looked at him she saw in his face a
likeness to some one she had loved, the look of an old and familiar
friend, a look also of thought and ability, which only needed fostering
to make of Phil a person of great use in the world--one who might be a
leader rather than a follower in the path of industry and usefulness.
The grateful little kiss on her hand had gone deeply into her heart.
Phil must no longer be left alone: he must have good food and medical
care and fresh air, and Lisa must be consulted as to how these things
should be gained. So while Phil nibbled at the good things, and Joe
chuckled and talked, half to himself and half to Phil, Miss Schuyler
wrote a note to Lisa, asking her to come and see her that evening, if
convenient, explaining how her interest had been aroused in Phil, and
that she wanted to know more about him, and wanted to help him, and was
sure she could make his life more comfortable, and that Lisa must take
her interference kindly, for it was offered in a loving spirit. Then she
folded the note, and gave it to Phil for Lisa, and arranging all his
little comforts about him, bade him good-bye.

Phil thought her face like that of an angel's when she stooped to kiss
him; and after Joe, too, had hobbled off, promising to come again soon
with his violin, he took up his pencil, and tried to sketch Miss
Schuyler. Face after face was drawn, but none to his taste; first the
nose was crooked, then the eyes were too small, then the mouth would be
twisted, and just as Lisa came in, with a tired and flushed face, he
threw his pencil away and began to sob.

"Why, my dear Phil," said Lisa, in surprise, "are you so very miserable
to-night?"

"No, I am not miserable at all," said Phil, between his tears; "that is,
I have had pain enough, but I have had such a lovely visitor!--Joe
brought her--and I wanted to make a little picture of her, so that you
could see what she looked like, and I cannot. Oh dear! I wish I could
ever do anything!"

"Ah, you are tired; drink this nice milk and you will be better."

"I have had delicious things to eat, and I saved some for you, Lisa.
Look!" and he showed her the little parcel of cakes Miss Schuyler had
left. "And see the big piece of ice in my glass."

"Some one has been kind to my boy."

"Yes; and here is a note for you; and you must dress up, Lisa, when you
go to see our new friend."

Lisa looked down at her shabby garments; they were all she had; but she
did not tell Phil that her only black silk had been sold long ago. She
read the note, and her face brightened. There seemed a chance of better
things for Phil.

"I will go to-night, if you can spare me."

"Not till you have rested, Lisa; and you must drink all that milk your
own self. Did you ever hear of Miss Schuyler?"

"I don't know," said Lisa, meditating; "the name is not strange to me.
But there used to be so many visitors at your father's house, Phil dear,
that I cannot be sure."

"She is so nice and tender and kind--Have you had a tiresome day, Lisa,"
added Phil, quickly, fearing Lisa might think herself neglected in his
eager praise of the new friend.

"Yes, rather; but I can go. So Joe brought her here?"

"Yes; and see these flowers--yes, you must have some. Put them in your
belt, Lisa."

"Oh, flowers don't suit my old clothes, child; keep them yourself, dear.
Well, it is a long lane that has no turning," she said, half to herself
and half to Phil. "Perhaps God has sent us Miss Schuyler to do for you
what I have not been able to; but I have tried--he knows I have."

"And I know it too, dear Lisa," said Phil pulling her down to him, and
throwing both arms around her. "No one could be kinder, Lisa; and I
love this old garret room, just because it is your home and mine. Now
get me my harp, and when you have put it in the window you can go; and I
will try not to have any pain, so that you won't have to rub me
to-night."

"Dear child!" was all Lisa could say, as she did what he asked her to
do, and then left him alone.




CHAPTER IV

A PROMISE OF BETTER TIMES


When Phil was alone again, he waited impatiently for the long twilight
to end in darkness, and the stars to come out. It seemed a very long
time. Once in a while a faint murmur came from his harp, but it was a
mere breathing of sound, and he turned restlessly in his chair. Then he
closed his eyes and waited again, and his waiting was rewarded by a
small voice in his ear whispering,

"Here we are! here we are!"

"Oh," said Phil, "I thought you never would come again."

"Tut, tut, child, you must not be so doubtful," said the little voice
again, and the starry coronet gleamed in his eyes. "I have brought you
some sweet odors of wild-flowers, and spicy breath of pine and hemlock,
for I thought you needed a tonic."

Phil smelled something exquisite as she spoke, but all he said was,

"What is a tonic?"

"Something the doctors give when children are pale and thin, and do not
have enough fresh air. I don't pretend to know what it means, but I
often go to see sick children in hospitals, and so I hear about such
things."

"Hark! is that my wind harp?--why, it sounds like water dropping and
gurgling over stones."

"It is the song of a mountain brook that my friends are singing as they
dance over your harp. Look!"

Phil looked, and saw the flock of fairies like white butterflies
swarming again over his harp, and heard the soft, sweet singing which
kept time to their steps.

"Oh, how beautiful! how beautiful!" said Phil.

"When you hear a brook singing, you must remember us," said the fairy.

"Indeed I will; but I am afraid I shall never hear one: only the hoarse
cries of the street and the rumbling of wagons come to me here."

"Ah, better times are coming; then you will not need us."

Phil lay still in his chair, listening intently; the white figures
glanced in shadowy indistinctness across the window, only the starry ray
from each little brow lighting their dance. They swept up and down, and
swayed like flowers in a breeze, and still the little clear notes of
their song fell like dripping water in cool cascades. Now it flowed
smoothly and softly, again it seemed to dash and foam among pebbly
nooks.

"Does it rest you? are you better?" asked the one little fairy who did
all the talking.

"Oh, so much!" said Phil.

After a while the song stopped, and the fairies drew all together in a
cluster, and were quite still.

"What does that mean?" asked Phil.

"They are disturbed; there is a storm coming. We shall have to return."

"I am so sorry! I wanted to know more about you, and to see what you
wear."

"Mortals must not approach us too nearly. We may draw near to you. See,
I will stand before you."

"You seem to be all moonshine," said Phil.

"Yes," said the fairy, laughing merrily; "these robes of ours are of
mountain mist, spangled with star-dust so fine that it makes us only
glisten. We have to wear the lightest sort of fabric, so that we are not
hindered in our long flights."

"Do you know flower fairies?"

"Yes; but we are of a very different race. I suppose you thought we
dressed in rose-leaves and rode on humble-bees, but we do not; we are
more--now for a long word--more ethereal." And again the fairy laughed.

"Ether means air," said Phil, quite proudly. "Do you know any fairy
stories?" he asked.

"Yes; shall I tell you one next time I come?"

"Oh do, please. So you _will_ come again."

"Yes, if I can. Now I must go. I thought I heard distant thunder. We
must fly so fast--so fast! Good-bye--good-bye."

There was a long rumbling of thunder far off in the distance, and a
cooler air in the hot, close room. Phil lay and dreamed, wondering how
long it took the wind fairies to reach their home. Then the sweet, spicy
odors came to him again, and he lifted the languid flowers Miss Schuyler
had brought him, and put them in his glass of water.

He dreamed of fair green fields and meadows, of silent lakes bordered
with rushes, out of which sprang wild-fowl slowly flapping their broad
wings; of forests thick and dark, where on fallen trees the green moss
had grown in velvet softness; of mountains lifting their purple tops
into the fleecy clouds, and of long, shady country roads winding in and
out and about the hills; of lanes bordered with blackberry-bushes and
sumac, clematis and wild-rose; of dewy nooks full of ferns; of the songs
of birds and the chirp of insects; and it seemed to him that he must put
some of all this beauty into some shape of his own creation--picture or
poem, song or speech; and then came a sudden sharp twinge of pain, and
the brightness faded, and the room was dark, and he was hungry, and only
poor little Phil, sick and sad and weary and poor.




CHAPTER V

LISA VISITS MISS SCHUYLER


"So you are Phil's good friend Lisa?" said Miss Rachel Schuyler, sitting
in her cool white wrapper in the dusk of this warm May evening. "I want
to hear more about Phil. The dear child has quite won my heart, he looks
so like a friend of mine whom I have not seen for many years. How are
you related to him, and who were his parents?"

"I am not related to him at all, Miss Schuyler."

"No?" in some surprise. "Why, then, have you the care and charge of
him?"

"I was brought up in his mother's family as seamstress, and went to live
with her when she married Mr. Randolph, and--"

"Who did you say? What Mr. Randolph?"

"Mr. Peyton Randolph."

Miss Rachel seemed much overcome, but she controlled herself, and
hurriedly said, "Go on."

"There was no intercourse between the families after the marriage, for
Mrs. Randolph was poor, and they all had been opposed to her. I suppose
you do not care to hear all the details--how they went abroad, and Mr.
Randolph died there; and while they were absent their house was burned;
and there was no one to take care of Phil but me, for Phil had been too
sick to go with his father and mother; and Mrs. Randolph did not live
long after her return. I nursed them both--Phil and his mother; and when
she was gone I came on to the city, thinking I could do better here, but
I have found it hard, very hard, with no friends. Still, I have pretty
steady work now as shopwoman, though I cannot do all that I would like
to do for Phil."

Miss Schuyler was crying.

"Lisa, you good woman, how glad I am I have found you! Phil's father was
the dearest friend I ever had."

"Phil's mother gave the child to me, Miss Schuyler."

"Don't be alarmed. I do not wish to separate you. How can I ever thank
you enough for telling me all this? And what a noble, generous creature
you are, to be toiling and suffering for a child no way related to you,
and who must have friends fully able to care for him if they would!"

"I love him as if he were my own. Sometimes I have thought I ought to
try and see if any of his relatives would help us, but I cannot bear to,
and so we have just worried along as we could. But Phil needs a doctor
and medicine, and more than I can give him."

"He shall have all he needs, and you too," said Miss Schuyler, warmly.

At this Lisa broke down, the kind words were so welcome. And the two
women cried together; but not long, for Miss Schuyler rose and got Lisa
some refreshing drink, and made her take off her bonnet and quiet
herself, and then said:

"Now we must plan a change for Phil, and see how soon it can be
accomplished. And you must leave that tiresome shop, and I will give you
plenty of work to do. See, here are some things I bought to-day that I
shall have to wear this summer."

She opened the packages--soft sheer lawn and delicate cambric that gave
Lisa a thrill of pleasure just to touch once more, for she loved her
work. "I shall be so glad to sew again, and I wish I had some of my
work to show you."

"Oh, I know you will do it nicely. I am going out of town in a few days,
and I want you and Phil to go with me. Do you think you can?"

"I am a little afraid," said Lisa, hesitating, "that we are not fit to;
and yet--"

"I will see to all that. Now I suppose you cannot leave Phil alone much
longer--besides, there is a shower coming. To-morrow I will bring a
doctor to visit the dear boy, and we will see what can be done"; and she
put a roll of money in Lisa's hand, assuring her that she should be as
independent as she pleased after a while, and repay her, but that now
she needed help, and should have it, and that henceforth Phil was to be
theirs in partnership.

Lisa hurried away with a light heart. She had indeed toiled and
suffered, striven early and late, for the child of her affections, and
this timely assistance was a source of great joy.

She was too happy to heed the dashing shower which was now falling.
Herself she had never thought of, and her dear Phil now was to be
helped, to be cheered, perhaps to be made strong and well, and able to
do all that his poor weak hands had tried to do so ineffectually.

She opened the door softly when she reached her room. A little shiver of
sweet, sad sounds came from the wind harp. She lighted a candle, and
looked into the pale face of the sleeping child as he lay in an attitude
of weariness and exhaustion, with hands falling apart, and a feverish
flush on his thin cheeks.

"My poor Phil! I hope help has not come too late," she whispered, as she
began her preparations for his more comfortable repose.

The next day Miss Schuyler came, as she had promised, and brought a
physician--a good, kind surgeon--who examined Phil, and pulled this
joint and that joint, and touched him here and there, and found out
where the pain was, and what caused it, and said nice, funny things to
make him laugh, and told him he hoped to make him a strong boy yet. And
then they whispered a little about him, and Joe was sent for, and a
carriage came, and Phil was wrapped in a blanket and laid on pillows,
and taken out for a drive alone with Miss Schuyler, who chatted with
him, and got him more flowers; and when they came back there was a nice
dinner on a tray, and ice-cream for his dessert, and Joe was to stay
with him until Lisa came home; and before Lisa came there was a nice new
trunk brought in, and several large parcels. And Phil thought he had
never seen such a day of happiness. After his dinner and a nap, and
while Joe Sat and played on his violin, Phil sketched and made a lovely
little picture of flowers and fairies, in his own simple fashion, to
give to Miss Schuyler. And then Lisa came home, and the parcels were
opened; and there were nice new dresses for Lisa, and a pretty, thin
shawl, and a new bonnet; and for Phil there was a comfortable flannel
gown, and soft slippers, and fine handkerchiefs and stockings; and Phil
found a little parcel too for Joe with a bright bandanna in it, and the
old man was very happy.

"It seems like Christmas," said Joe.

Phil thought he had never seen quite such a Christmas, and said, "It
seems more like Fairy-land, and I only hope it will not all fade away
and come to an end, like a bubble bursting."

"To me," said Lisa, "it is God's own goodness that has done it all, for
it was He who gave Miss Schuyler her warm, kind heart."

"And, Joe," said Phil, "we are to go to the country, and you are to go
with us; is not that nice?"

"Very nice, Phil. I'm glad Miss Rachel's found out your father was her
friend."

Then Joe took up his violin again, and played "Home, Sweet Home," and
"Auld Lang Syne"; and Phil fancied the violin was a bird, and sang of
its own free-will, and thinking this reminded him how soon he would hear
the dear wild birds in the woods, and he wondered if the fairies would
come to him there.

Then Joe went home, and Lisa had errands to do, and again she put the
wind harp in the window, and left Phil alone, keeping very still in
expectation of another visit from his fairy friend.




CHAPTER VI

THE FAIRY'S STORY


"I promised you a story," said the little voice, to his ear again.

"Yes, I know you did; can you tell it now?"

"To be sure I can, if I only have time. I did not bring any of my
people to-night; they are helping some of the herb elves. It is a little
late in the season, and some blossoms have been slow in opening, so that
we have to urge them."

"How?" asked Phil.

"By coaxing and persuasion for some of them; others we have to blow upon
quite forcibly."

"I am ready for the story when you are," said Phil.

"It is a wild affair, and one that all children might not care to hear;
but to you, I fancy, nothing comes amiss."

"No, I like almost everything," said Phil.

"I shall begin just as my grandmother used to. Once upon a time, in the
days of enchantment, there was a dreadful old ogre--"

"Do not make him too dreadful, or I shall have bad dreams," interrupted
Phil.

The fairy laughed and flapped her little wings. "Now you must not be
afraid; it will all come out right in the end. When I said the ogre was
dreadful, I meant he was ugly-looking; we fairies like everything
beautiful. Shall I go on?"

"Oh yes, and please forgive me for stopping you."

[Illustration: THE APPROACH OF THE SWANLIKE BOAT]

"This ogre was ugly, with a shaggy head, a shaggy beard, and fierce
eyes, and he lived all by himself in a great stone castle on the shore
of a large lake. His principal pleasure consisted in tormenting
everything and everybody he came near; but if he had any preference, it
was for boys; to tease and ill-use them had the power of affording him
great happiness. Lazy, loitering little fellows were in especial danger,
for he would catch them quite easily by throwing over their head's the
nets he used in fishing, drag them off to his castle, and keep them in a
dungeon until there would be no chance of discovery, and the boys'
parents would think them lost forever. Thus he would gain a very useful,
active set of laborers for a stone wall he was building, for so afraid
were they of his displeasure, and so fearful that they might be starved,
since the only food they received was dried and salted fish, that these
boys worked like bees in a hive, only it was a sullen, painful sort of
working, for they never sang or shouted, whistled or talked, and they
were thin and wretched, and more like machines than boys.

"Now in this lake, on the shore of which was the ogre's castle, was an
island, where lived a Princess whom the ogre had bewitched, but who had
also regained her liberty, and near whom the ogre could never again
come; even to land on her island or bathe in the water near would at
once change him into a shark.

"This Princess, passing the ogre's castle in her beautiful swan-like
sailing-boat, had seen the unhappy little boys at work on the stone
wall; her sympathies had been aroused at so sad a sight, and she
determined to wait her chance, and do what she could to relieve them.
The chance came one day when the ogre had gone on a fishing excursion,
from which he would not return till night. He had given the boys their
rations of salt fish, and had commanded them in the gruffest tones to be
sure and do an unusual amount of work in his absence, or they should all
have chains on again; for when they were first caught he always chained
them for fear they might try to escape; but they so soon lost all spirit
and all desire for freedom that their chains were removed to enable them
to work more easily.

"He had no sooner disappeared in his great clumsy craft, laden with
seines and harpoons, and baskets and jugs, than a whispering began
among the boys, a sad sort of sighing and crying, almost like the
whispering of wind in the tree-tops, which changed again to looks and
glances of surprise as a beautiful vessel with silken sails floated up
to the wharf, and a lovely, gracious-looking lady clothed in white
stepped from the boat, and came rapidly towards them.

"'Boys,' said she, addressing them in a very soft, sweet voice, 'I have
come to release you from this cruel bondage; will you trust me, and go
with me?'

"'Yes, yes,' came from more than a dozen little tongues.

"'Come, then, at once. Drop your work, get into my boat, and we will be
off. We have no time to lose, for your cruel master might possibly
change his course and overtake us; then we should be in great danger.'

"The boys crowded about her, and with a wild cry followed her to her
little vessel, and almost tumbled into it in their delight. It was with
some difficulty that she kept them balanced, and prevented their falling
out; but once packed, there were so many of them that they could not
move. The vessel seemed to start of itself; its sails swelled out and
spread themselves like wings, and away they dashed over the rippling
waves, which rose and fell and hurried them on their way. The ogre's
castle was quickly left far behind, and the tired boys breathed more
freely as it disappeared entirely from their view. In another minute
they fell fast asleep, and did not waken till the motion of the boat
ceased, and they found themselves gliding into a quiet harbor, fringed
on each side with lovely shrubs that dipped their beautiful flowers into
the calm water. Then the lady bade them follow her as she stepped from
the boat on to the soft grass, and led them past fruits and flowers, and
winding walks and fountains, up to the dazzling crystal palace in which
she lived. Here the boys were halted while she made them this little
speech: 'Boys, this is my home, these are my gardens; for a while you
will have to remain here. We may have trouble with the ogre, but I want
you to have no trouble among yourselves. Kindness, good-humor, pleasant
looks and words, must prevail. There must be no envy, no selfishness, no
desire to get the better of each other in any way. I demand obedience.
If I receive it, all will be well; if I do not, you will have to suffer
the consequence. Now I have said all that I need. These flowers, these
fruits, are yours to enjoy in moderation.'

"As she ceased speaking she clapped her hands, and a troop of servants
appeared. They led the boys to marble baths, where waters gushed and
flowed in liquid beauty, and groves of orange-trees made a dense thicket
about them. Here each boy was made sweet and clean, and provided with a
suit of white clothes. When they emerged from the baths, they saw before
them on the lawn tables filled with tempting food--roasted meats,
broiled birds, pitchers of milk and cream, biscuits and jellies and
ices.

"The utmost order prevailed. Starved as the poor boys were, the grace
and beauty of their surroundings made them gentle and patient. At each
plate was a tiny nose-gay held in the beak of a crystal bird, the body
of which was a finger-bowl. Every plate was of exquisite workmanship.
Some had birds of gay plumage; some had fierce tigers' heads or
shaggy-maned lions; others bore designs of tools or curious instruments;
but that which most delighted the boys was a dish of crystal, an exact
imitation of the _Swan_--the _Fairy Swan_--in which they had sailed
to this lovely island. It was laden with choice fruits. While the
boys feasted as they had never before, strains of sweet music became
audible; they could also hear the soft splash of the waves on the shore,
or the dripping of fountains, as the waters sparkled and fell in their
marble basins.

"After they had feasted, the boys wandered off in most delightful
idleness to all parts of the island. They climbed the trees, which bore
blossoms, fruits, and nuts, all at the same time; they fished in the
little coves; they waded in the shallow basins; and nothing would have
marred their happiness had not one tall boy, with unnaturally strong and
keen vision, declared that he saw the ogre's sail coming in the
direction of the island.

"This was terrible, and had the effect of bringing all the boys together
from their various amusements, just as chickens run from a hovering
hawk. Together they crowded for a moment in mute dismay, unable to
speak, to even hide, waiting the approach of their cruel foe.

"Nearer came the sail, and now they could all discern it. Its great
clumsy shape, its heavy lumbering action, were not to be mistaken.

"What should they do?

"'Run for the Princess,' said one.

"'Too cowardly, that,' said another; and indeed their good, abundant
meal had begun to put strange courage in their little hearts.

"'Let's meet him, and fight him,' said one.

"'Let's upset his boat,' said another.

"'How?'

"'By pelting him with stones when he comes near enough.'

"'Good!' cried they all; and they began gathering all the bits of rock
and pebbles they could find.

"Now came a roar of ogreish rage from the boat as it neared them.

"'I'll have ye again!' screamed the ogre.

"Then began the attack--a volley of small stones, nuts, fruits, anything
they had in their pockets.

"One of the ogre's eyes was closed, so certain had been the aim of the
tall boy who acted as leader.

"But the boat came nearer, and they were very much afraid the ogre
would leap from it, when one of the boys whispered, 'I'll go out to
tempt him. Once get him in the water, and he's a goner. He'll be
bewitched.'

"So he off with his jacket, and out he waded, while the others looked on
in breathless admiration.

"The ogre looked with his one eye in eager derision; then forgetting his
danger, and regarding the boy much as he might do an unwary fish that he
would gobble up, he sprang from his boat into the shallow water,
preparing not only to snatch the one boy, but to seize them all in a
great seine he dragged after him, when suddenly the waves from the
centre of the lake began hissing and seething, a tremendous swell set in
towards the shore, driving the brave little fellow who had gone out to
tempt the enemy completely off his legs, and obliging him to swim to the
land, which he had no sooner reached than a great shout from all the
boys made him look back, when, lo and behold! there was no ogre, only a
great shark, with open jaws and a shining row of teeth, floundering
about, and dashing himself in angry transports against the sides of the
ogre boat, which he vainly attempted to board. And now could be seen
swarms of little fish attacking the great one, darting hither and
thither, now at his head, now at his tail, but keeping well away from
his open jaws. And the waves began to be colored with the shark's blood.
At last, wearied and wounded, with an angry snap of his jaws he dived
down, and was seen no more.

"Then the boys gave another loud huzza, when, like a broad flash of
sunshine, the lovely Princess came among them.

"'Boys,' said she, 'you have proved yourselves brave youngsters. The
ogre can never again trouble you. He will be a shark for three thousand
years, and he will not care to stay in these waters, with so many
enemies about him. Now, when you have regained your good looks and
strength, I will take you all home. Here is the key to my sweetmeat
closet. Run off, now, and have a good time.'

"The sweetmeat closet was a large enclosure where grew sugar-almond
trees, candied pears, candied plums, and where even the bark and twigs
of trees and bushes were of chocolate. In the centre was a pond of
quivering jelly. Mounds and pyramids of jumbles and iced cakes
abounded. They were too tempting to be long looked at without tasting,
and the boys helped themselves gladly.

"A long, sweet strain from a bugle called them away from this delightful
spot, and on a broad, smooth field they found bats and balls, tenpins
and velocipedes--in short, everything a boy could want to play with.

"After this they supped in simple fashion, each boy with only a great
bowl of bread and milk. Then to more music they were marched to their
beds--downy white nests, in a great room arched with glass, through
which they could see the moon and stars shining, and where the dawn
could awaken them with its early light.

"Such was their life for two of the most happy weeks of their lives, and
never did boys thrive better. They grew fat and rosy; they sang, they
danced, they played. Every time the Princess came among them they
shouted with glee, and nearly cracked their young throats in doing her
honor. But all fine things come to an end some time. Once more they were
packed in the _Fairy Swan_, and away they sailed for the land of reality
and for home. The Princess gave them each a beautiful portrait of
herself, of the island, and of the _Swan_. And each boy promised that
whenever he had a chance to perform a kind action he would do it in
remembrance of the gentle courtesy of the Princess. And so ends my fairy
story. Good-night, Phil."

"Good-night. Oh, how nice it was! I thank you so much!" and sleepy Phil
turned to see the little white butterfly wings skimming out of the
window, while a long, sweet sigh came from his wind harp, sounding like,
"Good-night--good-night," again.




CHAPTER VII

FAREWELL TO THE CITY


A day or two later, Phil, wrapped in shawls, was carried by Joe to a
carriage, and the carriage rolled away to a wharf where puffed numerous
steamboats; and here he was taken on board one of the river-steamers,
and safely placed in the midst of a heap of pillows on deck, where he
could see all the busy life about him--see the newspaper boys and the
orange women, and the hurrying hacks and the great teams, and all the
stir and tumult of the city's busiest hours. Miss Schuyler, in her cool
gray suit, was on one side of him, and Lisa, looking tranquil and
thoroughly glad and grateful, on the other, and Joe, just the happiest
darkey in the world, sat at his feet, ready to take charge of all and
everything.

They sailed and they sailed, away from the city and its many roofs, from
the factory chimneys and the steeples, from the cloud of smoke which
hung between the sky and house-tops, until they came to the hills and
dales of pasture-lands and villages. Then they landed, and were whirled
away in the cars, and Phil enjoyed it all, even the fatigue which made
him sleep; and Joe carried him about as if he were a baby.

It was quite dark when, after a drive over a rather rough road, they
reached the lake-side cottage which was Miss Schuyler's summer home, and
Phil was glad to be put in bed, for the old pain had begun again.

When he opened his eyes the next morning, it was with a strange feeling
of wonder at his new surroundings. Birds were twittering out-of-doors,
and there was a soft lapping of water on the shore. The green boughs of
a cherry tree almost brushed against the window-panes. He was no longer
in his old garret room, but in a pretty apartment, with bunches of
rosebuds on the walls, and scent-bottles on the toilet-table, and muslin
curtains, and a bright carpet, and pretty book-shelves, and brackets,
and lovely child-faces in the engravings; and on a broad table was a
little easel, and a paint-box, and drawing-paper; and here too was his
old box with the violin strings.

"Oh," said Phil, softly, "I wonder if heaven is any better than this!"

He had closed his eyes as he said it, and went over his usual morning
prayer of thankfulness; and when he opened his eyes, there was Lisa with
his breakfast-tray--poached eggs and toast, and a goblet of milk.

"Lisa, Lisa, is not this too nice for anything?" asked Phil.

"Yes, indeed, dear, it is nice. Miss Schuyler says you must hurry and
get strong, so that you can make the acquaintance of the hens that laid
these eggs for you, and the cow whose milk is to do you so much good."

"What is the cow's name, Lisa?"

"I don't know," said Lisa.

"It is Daisy," said Miss Schuyler, coming in to say good-morning.
"She's a lovely little Alderney, and her milk is like cream. Oh, you
will soon be strong enough to row my boat for me."

"A boat! Have you a boat?"

"Yes, and you are going out on the lake in her this very morning."

"It is just too much happiness, Miss Schuyler."

"Well, we will not overpower you. For a day or two you must rest, and do
nothing but breathe the sweet air. I have to be busy getting things in
order and looking after my garden. Lisa will take her work on the
piazza, and you can lie in one of the easy-chairs. Joe is to wait on
you, and do a little weeding, and keep the paths in order, and bail out
the boat; and the old man seems to be very much at home already. So that
is the order of the day. Now good-bye, and don't do too much thinking."

"One moment, Miss Schuyler; do you believe in fairies?"

"Just a little," said Miss Schuyler, with a quizzical smile.

"Well, I believe in them," said Phil, "and I think you are one of the
best of them."

"Oh no, I am very human, dear Phil, as you will find out. And now I must
go look after my strawberry-beds. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Phil, waving her a kiss. "Only think, Lisa, we will
actually see strawberries growing! It is quite fairy-land for me."

After that he was carried down to the easy-chair on the piazza, where he
could see the lawn sloping down to the lake, and watch the birds
lighting on the rim of a vase full of daisies and running vines. He
could see that the cottage was low and broad, and painted in two shades
of brown; and that there were arbors covered with grape-vines on one
side, and on the other he knew there were flower-beds and fruit-trees,
for every once in a while Miss Rachel was to be seen emerging from there
in a broad straw hat and with buck-skin gloves, trailing long bits of
string or boughs of green stuff, with scissors and trowel and
watering-can.

Lisa had her work-basket, and with deft fingers and a little undertone
of psalmody was fashioning a pretty summer garment. Then Miss Rachel
came and tossed a basketful of early roses and syringa down beside Phil,
and put a little table beside him, with some slender glass vases and a
pitcher of water, and asked him to arrange the flowers for her. This he
was glad to do, and made the bunches up as prettily as his nice taste
suggested. But he was really wearied with great happiness. It was all so
new, so charming, every sense was so satisfied, that at last he closed
his eyes and slept.

It seemed to him only a little while, but when he opened his eyes again
Lisa was beside him with his dinner; and after dinner he slept again,
and when he awakened the lawn was in shadow, and the sun low in the sky,
and the birds were twittering and seeking their nests, and Miss Rachel
was telling Joe to put cushions in the boat, the _Flyaway_; and
presently Phil found himself floating gently on the lovely water of the
lake, and the cottage and lawn and arbors were looking like a pretty bit
of landscape he had seen in books.

He dipped his fingers in the clear water, and looked down at the pebbly
bottom, and listened to the even dip of the oars, as old Joe rowed
farther out from shore.

"It must be fairy-land," thought Phil, but he said nothing; he was too
happy to talk. And so the day ended--the first day in the country.




CHAPTER VIII

THE NEW COMPANION


Miss Schuyler was a very active, industrious lady, and her time was
fully occupied. She had her house and grounds to attend to, her business
affairs, her domestic duties, and her poor people--for paradise or
fairy-land, whichever Phil chose to call his present abode, was not
without its poor--and so, during the day, Lisa was mostly with Phil; but
he and Miss Rachel had always a pleasant chat after breakfast; and in
the evening many a long talk made known to Miss Rachel more of Phil's
character than he had any idea of; and the more she knew of the boy, the
warmer her heart became towards him, and the more thankful she was that
she had been able to do for him just what was wanted, and just at the
right time.

Already there was a little color in his pale cheeks, and an eagerness
for his meals. He could endure more fatigue, and he suffered less pain.
Indeed, Dr. Smith, who lived half a mile off, had promised to send his
son, a lad of twelve, down to see Phil in his stead. "For," said he,
"Graham does not know one bone from another, and will soon help Phil to
forget all about his, or whether they ache or not."

And so Graham Smith, a ruddy-cheeked fellow, full of life and spirit,
came to see Phil.

It was a warm June day when they first saw each other.

Phil was sketching, and Lisa was sitting beside him sewing. Joe was
Phil's model, standing patiently by the hour to be made into studies of
heads, arms, trunk, or the whole man.

Suddenly there was a loud bark of welcome from Nep, the Newfoundland
dog--who greeted tramps with growls--and Graham Smith came up the garden
path, followed by Nep, leaping frantically upon and about him.

He nodded in a brusque way to Lisa and Phil, and without a word bent
down over the sketch, gave a long, low whistle, and said, "Isn't that
bully?"

"If I knew what bully meant, I could answer you, perhaps," replied
Phil, gazing up with admiration at the brown and red cheeks, the clear
blue eyes, and the tough, hardy-looking frame of his new acquaintance.

"I'm not sure I can tell you; only you can beat all the boys I know at
this sort of work," said Graham. "Where did you learn how to do it?"

"Oh, I have not learned yet; I am only just beginning."

"Haven't you had any lessons?"

"No; it comes naturally to me to draw. I wish I could do it better,
that's all," said Phil, with a little sigh.

"I wouldn't want to do any better than that," said Graham.

"Oh yes, you would," replied Phil, very much pleased, however, with such
heartfelt admiration of his drawing.

Just then Nep made another leap upon Graham, and the two, after a
friendly tussle, had a race down to the lake, where Graham tossed a
stick, and sent the dog after it.

"That is something _I_ cannot do," said Phil, as the boy came up to him
again; "and yet you do it as easily as I draw."

"What--shy that stick off on the water? Then you don't play ball?"

"I don't even walk," said Phil.

Graham seemed both astonished and sorry, so he turned it off with, "But
you are going to, you know, when you get well--and you can do more than
any of us now. Let's go out on the water. May we?" he asked, turning to
Lisa.

"Oh yes," said Lisa; and Joe was glad to get the _Flyaway_ ready for a
start.

Phil was placed in the stern, where Graham promised to show him how to
steer. Phil was an apt scholar, and delighted to be of use. Joe
addressed Graham as "Captain," and complimented him on the fine
feathering of his oar. The lad was a good oarsman, and made the boat
respond to her name.

"Where shall we go, mate?" asked Graham of Phil.

"The Captain must give orders," was Phil's reply.

"Have you been down to Point of Rocks?" asked Graham, directing Phil's
eyes to a distant promontory.

"No, I have not been so far yet."

"There are lots of water-lilies there."

"Oh, do go there, then! I want some to copy."

"All right. Pull on your starboard oar, Joe; there, that will do. Now we
will soon reach it."

It was a lovely little nook where grew the lilies, after they had turned
around the jutting stones which gave a name to the spot, and Phil soon
had his hands full of fragrant buds. The water was so clear that he
could see their long green stems away down to the black mud from which
they sprang. They moored the boat, and Graham got out to ramble,
returning with ferns and mosses and wild-flowers for Phil.

"Now," said he, "if you don't mind, I'm going to have a swim just around
the rocks here where the water is deeper and not so full of weeds. I
wish you could come."

"So do I," said Phil, watching with admiration every movement of his
lively companion. Besides admiration, too, there was a twinge of envy,
which he really did not know to be that hateful fault; but it passed in
a moment, and he laughed loudly to see Graham's antics in the water.

The bath over, they turned homeward. Miss Rachel was entertaining guests
in the parlor. Lisa had gone off for a walk. Graham had to go home, but
promised frequent visits; and as Phil was tired, Joe carried him up and
laid him on his bed, putting his mosses on the table, and the
water-lilies in an oblong vase which was usually filled with fragrant
flowers. The wind harp was there, too, and as Phil, with closed eyes,
was resting in the half-twilight made by shut blinds, there came from it
a little murmur, which grew into a long, sad monotone. He dared not
move, and would not speak, but between his eyelids, partly raised, he
thought he saw the familiar little winged creature who had comforted and
entertained him in his wretched city home.

"How little people know what they are doing when they pull up ferns and
mosses in the woods!" said the soft voice. "I was sleeping soundly on
the nicest bed imaginable, having travelled far for just a whiff of
water-lily odor that I thought might refresh a poor little hospital
patient tossing with fever in the city, when with a violent wrench I
found myself borne off from my sheltered and dusky resting-place, and
tossed into a boat in the blinding glare of the sun. Fortunately, I had
wrapped myself in some broad grape-vine leaves, and was mistaken for a
moth cocoon; else, dear Phil, I had not been here."

"I am so glad, so very glad, to see you again!" murmured Phil, softly.

"And I am so glad you are in the country! You could not have lived long
in the city. What are you doing now?"

"Getting well, they tell me."

"Do you ever think of the ones who cannot do that?"

"No, I do not," said Phil, in some surprise.

"Ah, there are so many. I see them often--little creatures who are
friendless and helpless. You should not forget them."

"It is not that I forget, I do not think of them at all. I suppose I
would if I saw them."

"Well, you must think of them, and do something for them. Oh yes, I know
you do not believe you can, but the way will come if you try. All that I
do is to whisper soft songs in their ears, or give them a little waft of
summer freshness, but it sometimes stops their painful tossing, and
brings sleep to their tired eyes."

"I will think; I will try," said Phil.

"That is right," replied the fairy. "Now I will call some of my friends,
the flower fairies, hidden in these water-lilies, and you shall see them
dance." She clapped her hands softly together, and out of each lily
crept a tiny shape of radiant whiteness and lily-like grace, so pure, so
exquisite, that they did indeed seem to be the very essence and spirit
of the flower. And now began another of those fantastic movements which
Phil had before witnessed. Now in wreaths, now apart, and again in
couples, they swayed about in an ecstasy of mirth, and the wind harp
gave out strains of wild and melodious sound. They nodded to each other
in their glee, and Phil could hardly tell whether they really were
fairies or flowers, for they looked just as the flowers might when blown
about in a breeze. As he gazed, his eyelids began to droop. He was very
tired. The music grew fainter and fainter. He seemed to be again in the
boat, listening to the water lapping its sides, and Graham seemed to be
with him, reaching out for lilies; and then all faded, and Phil was fast
asleep.




CHAPTER IX

A VISIT FROM THE YOUNG DOCTOR


"Now, Phil," said Miss Rachel, "I am not going to be so busy for a
while, and though you cannot study yet, for the doctors say you must
not, I shall read aloud to you a little every day. Graham has promised
to come often to visit you, and with our boating and driving, and
pleasant friends coming to stay with us, I think we shall have rather a
nice summer. What do you think?"

Phil's face lighted up with a grateful smile, which grew into rather a
sober expression.

"I think it is all delightful; but--"

"But what, my dear; are you not contented?"

"Oh yes, more than that: I am as happy as I can be; but--"

"Another but."

"Miss Rachel, what becomes of all the poor sick children in the city who
have no such friend as you are to me?"

"They suffer sadly, dear Phil."

"Then don't you think I ought to remember them sometimes?"

"Yes, in your prayers."

"Is there no other way?"

"I am not sure that there is for a child like you. Perhaps there may be,
and we will think about it; but you must not let such a thought oppress
you; it is too much for a sick child to consider. Be happy; try to get
well; do all you can to make everybody about you glad that you are here,
by pleasant looks and good-nature. There, that is a little sermon which
you hardly need, dear, for you are blessed with a sweet and patient
temper, and are far less troublesome than many a well child."

"I suppose I do not deserve any praise if I was made so," said Phil,
laughing.

"No, not a bit; the poor cross little things who fret and tease and
worry are the ones who should be praised when they make an effort not to
be disagreeable. But I am not going to preach any more. I am going
down-stairs to make some sponge-cake for the picnic you and Lisa and I
are going to have to-morrow."

"A picnic! a real one in the woods?"

"Yes, and here comes Graham with a basket. I wonder what is in it.
Good-bye. I will send him up to you."

Graham came up in a few moments with the basket on his arm.

"Guess what I have here, Phil."

"How can I?"

"Oh yes, you can--just guess."

"Something to eat?"

"No, little piggy; or rather yes, if you choose."

"Well, chickens or eggs?"

"No, neither."

"Fruit?"

"Guess again."

"Medicine for some of your father's sick people?"

"No."

"Flowers? Oh no, one cannot eat flowers if they choose. I give it up."

"Well, then, watch," and lifting the cover slowly, three cunning white
rabbits poked their little twitching noses over the edge of the basket.

Phil gazed at them delightedly. "And you call those little darlings
something to eat, do you?"

"If you choose, yes."

"As if any one could choose to be such a cannibal! What precious little
beauties they are! Oh, how pretty they look!"

"They are for you."

"Really! Oh, thank you, Graham. But you must ask Miss Schuyler."

"I did, and I am to build them a hutch. Until I do, there is an empty
box in the barn where they can stay."

"And you can build--handle tools like a carpenter? How nice that must
be!"

"Oh, that's nothing; all boys can do that."

Graham forgot that Phil was one boy who could not, but seeing the shade
come over his friend's face made him repent his hasty speech.

"I beg your pardon," he said, in a low voice.

"No, you need not, Graham. I must get used to being different from other
boys. Well, these are just the loveliest little things I ever saw. What
do they live on?"

"Almost any green thing; they are very fond of lettuce. When you are
able you must come and see my lop-ears."

"Have you many rabbits?"

"Yes, quite a number. Let me see: there's Neb (he's an old black
fellow--Nebuchadnezzar), and Miss Snowflake, Aunt Chloe (after the one
in _Uncle Tom's Cabin_), Fanny Elssler (because she jumps about so), and
Mr. Prim--- he is the stillest old codger you ever saw."

"What other pets have you?"

"I've lots of chickens, three dogs, two cats, a squirrel, and a parrot."

"A large family."

"Yes, almost too large; they will have to be given up soon."

"How soon?"

"In the fall, I suppose; I am going to boarding-school."

"What fun!"

"You would be amused with Polly. She is a gay old thing--laughs, sings,
and dances."

"Oh, Graham, can she do all that?"

"Indeed she can; sometimes she sings like a nurse putting a child to
sleep, in a sort of humming hush-a-by-baby way; then she tries
dance-music, and hops first on one foot, then on the other--this way,"
and Graham began mimicking the parrot, and Phil laughed till the tears
came.

"She screams out 'Fire!' like an old fury, but she is as serene as a
May day when she gets her cup of coffee."

"Is that your parrot, Graham?" asked Miss Schuyler.

"Yes, ma'am, that's our green-and-golden Polly."

"We will have to pay it a visit. Can you join our picnic to-morrow? it
is Phil's first one."

"Really! why, he has a good deal to learn of our country ways."

"Yes, and I have a little plan to propose in which you may help us.
Promise you will come."

"Oh, I am always ready, thank you, Miss Schuyler. Shall we go by boat?"

"To be sure, to Eagle Island."

"Then we will go early, I suppose, as it is quite a long pull. What must
I bring, Miss Schuyler?"

"Only your arms, Graham, for alone Joe will perhaps find the rowing a
little too much in the warm sun. I am Commissary-General for the party.
That means, Phil, that I furnish the provisions: a Commissary-General
has to see that his troops are well fed."

"There is no danger about that, I am sure," said Graham, gallantly, "if
Miss Schuyler leads us."

"Well, then, to-morrow at nine, before the sun is too high--earlier
would not do for Phil. And now be off with yourself: and your bunnies,
Graham, leave them in the barn; and tell your good, kind father that you
are an excellent substitute for himself, that Phil is improving even
faster with your visits than he did with his."

"Good-bye, then, Phil; good-bye, Miss Schuyler. To-morrow at nine."




CHAPTER X

THE PICNIC


It was a perfect morning. Blue sky, with pure little snow-drop clouds,
as if the angels had dropped them from their baskets as they tended the
flowers in the heavenly gardens. The lake sparkled and glistened in the
sunshine, and every wave seemed to leap joyously as it broke in soft
foam on the shore. In one end of the _Flyaway_ sat Phil, on a pile of
shawls; in the other were stowed a large basket, a pail of ice, and a
pail of milk, and in between were Miss Rachel, Lisa, Joe, and Graham.
Phil had twisted up a little nosegay for each, and had pinned a broad
wreath of grape-leaves around Joe's straw hat, making the old fellow
laugh at his nonsense. They were just pushing off, when a sudden
rattling of chain and some impatient barks from Nep showed that he began
to feel neglected.

"I thought we could get away unnoticed," said Miss Rachel, "but I find
myself mistaken."

The boys pleaded for Nep. "Ah, let him come, please let him come."

Nep's leaps becoming frantic, Miss Rachel yielded, and Graham soon had
him loosened. He jumped at once into the boat, and crept under Phil's
feet, making a nice warm mat.

"Poor Nep," said Phil, patting him, "he felt neglected"; and the big
tail wagged thankful thumps against the boat.

The morning air was sweet with all manner of herbage yet fresh from the
morning dew. The trees were in their most brilliant green, and every
leaf seemed newly washed.

Graham began a boating song, and Miss Schuyler joined in the chorus. Old
Joe chuckled and grinned; even quiet Lisa hummed a little as the song
rose louder; and Phil, dipping his hands in the clear water, imagined
that the fishes were frisking a waltz in their honor. They glided past
Point of Rocks, past huge beds of water-lilies, past lovely little coves
and inlets, and spots where Graham said there was excellent fishing;
finally Eagle Island became more distinct, and its pine-trees began to
look imposing.

"Here we are!" said Graham at last, bringing the _Flyaway_ up nicely on
a pebbly beach, in good boating style.

Graham and Joe made a chair with their hands and arms, and so carried
Phil very comfortably to the place under the trees which Miss Rachel had
chosen for their encampment.

"Now," said Miss Rachel, as she brought out Phil's portfolio, a book,
her own embroidery, and Lisa's sewing, "I propose that Graham, being a
more active member of society than we are, go off with Joe and catch
some fish for our dinner."

"Just the thing!" said Graham; "but I did not bring a line."

"Joe has everything necessary--bait and all," said Miss Schuyler.

"Now," said Miss Rachel, when the fishermen had gone, seeing Phil's
longing look, and knowing well how much he would have liked to go with
them, "we must go to work too, so that we may enjoy our play all the
more afterwards. I could not let you go with Graham, my dear Phil; it
would have fatigued you too much; but I want you to try and draw me that
drooping bush on the edge of the water, and while you draw I will read
aloud for a while."

Miss Schuyler read, explained, talked to Phil about his drawing, and
gave him the names of the trees about him.

The time flew fast, and it seemed a very little while when Miss Schuyler
said to Lisa, "I think I hear oars; we had better be getting our feast
ready."

They brought out the basket and pails, spread a nice red dessert cloth
down on a smooth patch of grass, laid broad green leaves down for the
rolls and biscuits; golden balls of butter were in a silver dish of
their own, and so were the berries in a willow basket, around which they
put a few late wild-flowers.

"Now we want a good flat stone for our fireplace, and--Ah! here come
our fishermen just in time."

Graham and Joe now appeared with a few perch, but plenty of catfish.
They went to work with zeal, and soon had enough brush for the fire,
which they built at a good distance. And while Graham fed it, Joe
skinned his catfish, salted the perch, and laid them on the stone.

Then they all sat around their grassy table, and Joe served them in fine
style, bringing them their fish smoking hot on white napkins.

How merry they were over the good things, and how eager Graham was to
cook fish for Joe, and serve the old fellow as nicely as he had done all
of them! And Phil cut the very largest slice of cake for Joe.

"It is just the jolliest picnic I ever was at," said Graham, helping to
wash and clear away, and re-stow spoons and forks.

"Of course it is," said Phil. "There never can be another quite so nice:
it is my first one, you know."

"Yes; just think of it, and it's my fiftieth, I suppose; but then you
must not think all picnics like this. It is something really remarkable
to have everything go off so smoothly. Why, sometimes all the crockery
gets smashed, or the fire won't burn, or if it does, you get the smoke
in your eyes, or your potatoes get burned, and your lemonade gets in
your milk, or somebody puts your ice in the sun, and, to crown it all,
down comes a shower."

"Dear, dear, what a chapter of accidents, Graham!"

"Are you listening, Miss Rachel?" said Graham, with a quizzical look. "I
was only letting Phil know how much better you manage than most people."

"Well, when you and Phil are ready, I want to tell you about something
else I should like to manage. Come, put away all the books and work, and
listen to my preaching."

Miss Rachel sat on a fallen tree, leaning against some young birches.
"Phil was asking me, yesterday," said she, "what becomes of all the poor
sick children in the city, and he seemed to think he ought in some way
to help them; so I promised to think about what he had been
considering, and a little plan came into my head in which I thought you
could help us, Graham."

Graham looked up with a pleased face, and nodded.

"It is just this. In the city hospitals are many sick children who have
to stay in bed almost all the time. Now Phil and I want to do the little
that we can for them, and it seems to me it would be nice to send fresh
flowers and fruit--all that we can spare from our gardens--once or twice
a week to some of these sick city children. What do you think, boys?"

"It would be lovely, Miss Schuyler," said Phil, "only I do not see how
_we_ could help; it would all come from you."

"Not all, dear child. I mean to give you both a share of the work--you
in your way, and Graham in his. Are you interested? Shall I go on and
tell you?"

"Yes, indeed," both exclaimed.

"I propose that we set aside a certain part of our flower-garden and our
fruit-trees, you and I, Graham (for I know you have a garden of your
own), which we will call our 'hospital fruits and flowers,' and Phil is
to assist in making up boquets, hulling berries, and packing to send
away; besides that, he is to make some little pictures, just little bits
of sketches of anything that he fancies--a spray of buds, a single
pansy, Joe's old hat and good-natured face beneath, a fish, or a bit of
vine-covered fence--and we will sell them for him, and the money shall
help pay the express charges upon our gifts to the sick children, so
that Phil will really be doing more than any of us. How do you like my
plan?"

The boys were pleased, and had begun to say so, when a shout came from
the other part of the island from Joe, and Nep set up a violent barking.

"Hi! look up dar, Miss Schuyler!" called out Joe.

"Quick, Phil!" said Graham; "look! there's an eagle. How fortunate we
are! There he goes, sailing away in all his glory"; and sure enough, the
great bird floated farther and farther up in the blue sky.

Still Nep kept on barking, and Graham ran down to see what was the
matter. He came back with something dangling from his hand, Joe and Nep
following.

[Illustration: "LOOK! THERE'S AN EAGLE"]

"A black snake--oh, what a dreadful creature!" exclaimed Lisa.

"Yes, indeed, ma'am," said Joe; "and if Nep hadn't barked so, the
drefful cretur would have bitten me sure. That dog knows a heap; you'd
better allus take him with you in the woods, Miss Rachel. I was lyin'
off sound asleep, with this critter close beside me, when Nep come up,
and barked just as plain as speakin'. 'Take care,' says he, 'ole Joe,
you're in danger,' an' with that I woke in a hurry, an' jist then I saw
that big eagle come soarin' overhead, and then Marsa Graham come and
give that snake his death-blow."

"How did you do it, Graham?" asked Phil, excitedly.

"Oh, I pounded him on the head with a stone as he was making off. He is
a pretty big fellow, and he must have swum from the main-land, Miss
Schuyler."

"Yes, I never saw a snake on this island before."

"Come here, Nep," said Phil, "dear old fellow; good dog for taking care
of Joe. Your head shall be my first picture for our sick children."




CHAPTER XI

A PAIR OF CRUTCHES


Aunt Rachel's plan was entered into most heartily by both boys, and
Graham became so much interested as to act as express agent on his own
account, going to the city with what he called his first load of berries
and flowers; but on his return was so silent and uncommunicative that
Phil asked him if anything had gone wrong.

"Don't ask me to tell you what I saw," said he, in reply; "it was more
than I could stand." Then, as if sorry for his short answer, he added,
"It was the most pitiful thing in the world--such a lot of little pale
faces all together! and when I came to give them their share, as the
lady in charge told me to do, I cried right out like any baby--there,
now! But you have no idea how they brightened up, and how glad they
looked when they took the posies. I don't want to go again, though,
unless Miss Rachel asks me to. I shall see those poor wizened little
things as long as I live. I am going to sell all my pets this fall and
give the money to St. Luke's Hospital, and I shall sell every egg my
chickens lay, for the same purpose."

After that Phil asked no more questions, but worked harder than ever at
his drawings, and as the season advanced, and flowers and fruit grew
more abundant, they were able to despatch a basket twice a week.

Every day was filled with new life and pleasure. Increasing strength
alone would have been a source of happiness, but in addition to this
Phil had the benefit of Aunt Rachel's loving-kindness, Lisa's nursing,
Joe's good offices, and Graham's pleasant, friendly attentions. Then he
was learning constantly something new, with eyes and ears, from the book
of nature, with all its wonderful pictures, and from the other books
allowed him.

Driving behind old Slow Coach and floating on the lake in the _Flyaway_
were some of the delights, and when more visitors came, and two charming
young cousins of Aunt Rachel made the house resound with melody, Phil
thought his happiness complete. But a new surprise was in store for him
when, after repeated consultations and measurements and whisperings, a
huge parcel was brought to his room, and Aunt Rachel and Lisa took off
the wrappings. Neither of them looked particularly joyful as a pair of
stout crutches made their appearance, but their faces changed
wonderfully when Phil gave a cry of glee, and said, hilariously, "Now I
can walk! now I can walk!"

He was eager to use his new helps, but it took a longer time than he had
imagined to get accustomed to them, and it was many weeks before he
could go down the garden paths (followed by Nep with much gravity, as if
Phil were in his especial care) with desirable ease.

Coming in from one of these rather tiresome attempts one warm morning,
and hearing music and voices in the parlor, Phil strayed into the
dining-room, which was darkened and cool, and fragrant with fresh
flowers. He lay down on a lounge, with his crutches beside him, and was
listening to the pretty waltz being played in the other room, when he
thought he saw a tiny creature light upon one of his crutches. Supposing
it, however, to be a butterfly, he watched it in a sleepy, dreamy
fashion, until it approached more nearly, and these words startled him:

"You do not know me?" said a tiny voice, rather reproachfully.

"What! is it you, my dear little wind fairy?" he asked. "I never dreamed
that I should see you again. How did you get here?"

"Blown here, to be sure, as I always am, only I have to pilot myself, or
what would be the use of having wings? I came on some thistle-down this
time, for I wanted to have another peep at you, and I have had hard work
to follow you in here, I assure you; but the vibrations of that lovely
music helped me, and here I am. Do not talk--let me do it all. I never
have much time, you know, and I want to thank you for your goodness in
taking my advice, and helping some of my little sick friends. You do not
begin to know what good you have done--nobody does; but doing good is
very like the big snowballs that children make in winter--a little ball
at first, but as they roll, it grows bigger and bigger, almost of
itself, until it is more than one can manage. So it has been with your
kind action: many have imitated it, and flowers come now to the
hospitals by the bushel. Not only children, but grown people, sad with
suffering, have been cheered and benefited. And you too are growing
strong: how glad I am to see it! Your cheeks are tinged with just a
delicate bloom, and you have grown taller. Ah, the country is the place
for you children! I saw one of your sketches in the hospital the other
day, hung under a little cross made of moss; it was a water-lily, and
out of it was stepping some one who looked like me. The child who owned
it said it came to her tied to some roses. She did not know I heard her;
she was telling a visitor, and she said it made her happy every time she
looked at it. That was a pretty thought of yours. This is my last visit
for a long while. I am to be sent off to fan her Royal Highness, the
Queen of Kind Wishes, when her coronation takes place. She lives in her
palace of Heart's Ease, in a far-away island. I am to sail part of the
way in a nautilus--one of those lovely shells you have seen, I dare
say."

"No," said Phil, "I never saw one. And so you are going away--"

"Never saw a nautilus!" interrupted the fairy, as if afraid Phil was
going to be doleful over her departure. "It looks like a ship, for all
the world, and it _is_ a ship for me, but it would not hold you--oh no!
not such a gigantic creature as a boy"; and the fairy laughed aloud.

"Dear me," said Phil; "no more visits, no more fairy stories. What will
I do?"

"Shall I tell you just one more story before I say good-bye?"

"Please do."

"Well, shut your eyes and listen."

Phil obeyed, and the fairy began:

"In the days when fairies had much more power than they now have, there
lived in a little house on the edge of a wood haunted by elves and
brownies a boy named Arthur. He was a bright, handsome lad, but a little
lazy, and much more fond of pleasure than of work; and he had a way of
flinging himself down in the woods to lounge and sleep when his mother
at home was waiting for him to come back with a message, or to do some
little promised task. Now the fairies knew this, and it displeased them;
for they are as busy as bees, and do not like idleness. Besides, as one
bad habit leads to another, Arthur, in his lounging ways, would often do
great damage to the fairies' flower-beds, switching off the heads of
wild-flowers in the most ruthless fashion, and even pulling them up by
the roots when he felt like it.

"One day he had been indulging this whim without any motive, hardly even
thinking what he was doing, when he began to feel very strangely: a
slight chill made him shiver; his eyes felt as if they were coming out
of his head, his legs as if they were getting smaller and smaller; he
had an irresistible desire to hop, and he was very thirsty. There was a
rivulet near, and instead of walking to it he leaped, and stooping to
drink, he saw himself reflected in its smooth surface. No longer did he
see Arthur; no longer was he a mortal boy. Instead of this, a frog--a
green speckled frog, with great bulging eyes and a fishy mouth--looked
up at him. He tried to call, to shout, but in vain; he could only croak,
and this in the most dismal manner. What was he to do? Sit and stare
about him, try to catch flies, plunge down into the mud--charming
amusements for the rest of his life! A little brown bird hopped down for
a drink from the rivulet; she stooped and rose, stooped and rose, again
and again.

"A great green tear rolled down from the frog's bulging eye, and
splashed beside the bird's drinking-place. She looked up in alarm, and
said, in the sweetest voice imaginable, 'Can I do anything to assist
you?'

"'I am sure I don't know,' croaked Arthur, hoarse as if he had been born
with a sore throat.

"'But what _is_ the matter?' persisted the little brown bird, as more
green tears splashed beside her.

"'The matter is that I am a frog, I suppose,' said Arthur, rather
rudely.

"'Well, what of that?' still said the little bird. 'Frogs are very
respectable.'

"'Are they, indeed; then I'd rather not be respectable,' said Arthur.

"'You shock me,' said the bird.

"'I don't wonder; it has been a great shock to me,' responded Arthur.

"'What has?' said the bird.

"'Being a frog,' replied Arthur.

"'Have you not always? Oh no; I presume you were once a tadpole; all
frogs are at first.'

"'Indeed I never was a tadpole,' said Arthur, indignantly; and then, it
seeming somewhat a funny idea to him, he began to laugh in the hoarsest,
croakiest _kerthumps_, which brought him to his senses again. Then he
added, to the little brown bird which fluttered about him in some
agitation, 'No, I never was a tadpole--I was a boy named Arthur a few
moments ago.'

"'Aha!' twittered the little brown bird, 'I see now: you have been
bewitched.'

"'I suppose so,' said Arthur, 'and I would gladly be bewitched into a
boy again, if that would do any good.'

"'I must try and see what I can do for you. I am very busy repairing my
nest--it was injured in the last storm; but I will go as soon as I can
to see one of the herb elves, and find out what is to be done. You must
have displeased them very much.'

"'You are very kind,' replied Arthur, taking no notice of the latter
words.

"'Oh no, not at all; it is a pleasure,' said the little brown bird.

"'Can I do anything for you?' asked Arthur, roused into politeness by
the pleasant manners of his little friend.

"'You might gather some twigs or moss. Oh no, it would be all wet, and I
should have great bother in drying it,' said the little house-keeper. 'I
am equally obliged, but you had better just stay quiet and keep cool
till I return'; and she flew softly away.

"'I can keep cool enough,' repeated Arthur; 'when one's legs are in the
water, it would be pretty hard to do anything else.'

"It seemed dreadfully long to wait, when all he could do was to wink and
yawn and gobble flies, and yet lounging in the woods and killing flowers
had never seemed tedious when he was a boy. He tried to go to sleep, but
was in too great a bewilderment to quietly close his eyes in slumber, so
he gazed at the brook, and wondered when the little brown bird would
reappear."




CHAPTER XII

THE FAIRY'S STORY CONTINUED


"Sooner than he had supposed, Arthur heard the soft little twitter of
his new friend.

"'I have flown really quite a distance, and had the good-fortune to see
the elf who has charge of these woods. He is very much vexed with you,
and will not listen to any excuse; though knowing so little about the
matter, I hardly knew what to offer. I pleaded your youth, however, and
made bold to promise your good behavior in the future, and while I was
speaking one of the lesser elves twitched my wing a little, and
whispered,

"'"Promise him something he likes as a ransom, and perhaps he will
answer your request."

"'"But I do not know what he likes," I replied. "Can you suggest
anything?" I added, in the same whisper.

"'"He is very much in need of some sea-weed. I heard him say the other
day that he wanted some iodine, and that he would have to send a party
of us off to the sea-shore to get sea-weed, from which we make iodine.
Now, if your friend can get it, he would be so much pleased that I am
sure he would be willing to forgive him, and restore him to his proper
condition."

"'After hearing this, I made the offer in your name, and received a
favorable reply. You are to get two pounds of sea-weed in less than a
fortnight. It is to be laid on the large flat rock which you will see
lower down the stream, under the chestnut-tree. You are to leave it
there, and by no means to remain there, but return here, and your
reward will await you.'

"Arthur thanked the little bird warmly, but inwardly despaired of
accomplishing anything so difficult.

"The little bird hopped restlessly about. 'You will try to do this, will
you not?' she asked.

"'Of course I will try,' said Arthur, rather ashamed, and striving to
put a bold face on the matter. 'I will try, but I do not know exactly
what to do first.'

"'Streams run into rivers, and rivers to the sea,' twittered the bird.

"'Yes; but I hardly think frogs swim in deep water. I will have to
contrive a boat or a float of some sort.'

"Just then a huge trout sprang up after a fly and missed it. Quick as a
flash the little bird darted up, caught the fly, dropped it into the
trout's open mouth, and twittered something unintelligible to Arthur. He
heard, however, a curious sound of words from the trout.

"'Jump on my back, jump on my back, and be off, alack!'

"'Go,' said the bird, quickly.

"Arthur made a bound, and found himself on Mr. Specklesides's back in
an instant.

"'Good-bye,' sang the little bird, loudly, for already the trout had
flashed away into a dark pool beneath a cascade, where the falling
waters made a deafening noise. In another instant he made another dart,
and quick as lightning they were in broad, shallow water. Again they
were whirled from eddy to eddy, and already the stream had widened into
a little river. The bending trees, the weeds, and grasses, were mirrored
in its cool depths, as now with long, steady stroke the trout swam on.

"Suddenly another shape darkened the glassy surface of the water. It was
the figure of a man in slouched hat and high boots, and long tapering
rod in hand. He seemed to be quite motionless, but far out near the
middle of the stream, just where the trout was swimming, danced a
brilliant fly. A leap, a dash, and then began such a whirling mad rush
through the water that Arthur knew he would be overthrown. The trout had
seized the fly, and the fisherman, rapidly unreeling his line, waited
for the fish to exhaust himself. Before this was done, however, Arthur
was thrown violently off the trout's back, and by dint of desperate
efforts reached the shore, where for a long while he lay motionless.

"When he revived he found himself in long sedgy grass, well shielded
from observation. The trout was nowhere to be seen, and Arthur knew that
it was idle to search for him. Poor fellow! his fate had found him, and
no doubt he was lying quietly enough now in the fisherman's basket.

"'"Streams run into rivers, and rivers to the sea," and I must look for
some other method than the trout's back.'

"He hopped about wearily, ate a few flies, and then, quite worn out,
fell fast asleep. When he awoke it was dark. Fire-flies flashed about
him brilliantly; stars beamed so brightly that they seemed double, half
above in the sky, and half below in the water. From some overhanging
boughs came a dismal hooting.

"'Hush!' cried Arthur, impatiently. 'Why do you want to spoil the night
with such wailing?'

"'I have lost three lovely little owlets,' was the response. 'Darling
little fluffy cherubs! Never had an owl-mother three such beauties!'

"'Where are they?' asked Arthur.

"'Devoured by a horrible night-hawk,' sobbed the owl.

"'Where has the night-hawk flown?'

"'Far down the river after prey.'

"'Why do you not go after him and punish him?'

"'It is too far, and I am too sorrowful.'

"'You have no spirit. _I_ would peck his eyes out were I in your place.'

"'Ah! you are young and strong and brave.'

"'Take me on your back, and we will fly after him.'

"'Come, then, and do battle for me, noble friend.'

"Down flew the owl, and up jumped Arthur quickly on its back, inwardly
wondering how a frog could be a match for a night-hawk, but quite
resolved to aid the poor owl if he could. With a delightful sense of
freedom and glorious liberty, such as he had never before even imagined,
they rose high above the tree-tops.

"The moon had now risen, and the air seemed transparent silver.

"Keeping near the border of the river, which had greatly widened, they
emerged from one forest only to enter another.

"The wild cries of loons saluted them; herds of deer, cooling themselves
in the water, glanced up with startled gaze as they passed.

"A dark bird flapped low over the water as a fish leaped from the waves.

"'It is my enemy,' whispered the owl.

"'Pursue him,' returned Arthur.

"'My heart sinks within me; the memory of my owlets subdues all
revengefulness. Though I should make him suffer, it would not return to
me my children.'

"'But if we kill him he can do no further mischief.'

"'True, true; but he is a fearful fellow. What weapons have you with
which to meet him?'

"'None but my eyes and legs; a frog is a poor despicable wretch under
such circumstances. Our weight together might sink him. You must fly at
him with one tremendous blow, get him down in the water, and all the fish
will assist to punish him, for all owe him a grudge. Or stay: fly close
to him, and I will leap upon him; the weight will surprise and annoy
him, and you must then make a dash for his eyes. Pluck them out if you
can; it will be worse than death for him.'

"'Barbaric torture! But the memory of my owlets hardens my motherly
heart; it pulsates with tremendous force; their loss is the world's
loss. I hasten to the combat.'

"They swept down low as the hawk swooped for fish; Arthur sprang upon
its back; the owl darted at the creature's eyes, and with a furious
blow, first at one then at the other, made her enemy sightless. The
hawk, with a cry of pain, fell into the water. Instantly an enormous
fish dragged him beneath, and it was only by wonderful dexterity on the
part of the owl and of the frog that the latter was unhurt. He nestled
once again among the owl's soft feathers, and they sought the shore.

"'Now how shall I repay you, my brave friend?' asked the owl, as Arthur
leaped upon land.

"'I do not wish for any reward,' replied Arthur.

"'Nevertheless, you will not refuse to grant a sorrowful and stricken
mother the little balm which her grateful spirit seeks in the return or
acknowledgment of so vast a favor as you have conferred upon me.'

"Arthur thought a moment, and then told the owl of his journey and
errand to the sea-shore. 'Perhaps, as you are so famous for wisdom,
Mother Owl, you may be able to give me some advice which will assist me
to get the sea-weed, and return as speedily as I can,' he said, as he
finished his narration.

"'I will consider,' replied the owl, bending her searching gaze towards
the earth. After a few moments' reflection, in which she rolled her
luminous and cat-like eyes about, ruffled her feathers, and uttered a
few soft 'to-whit to-whoos,' she murmured, 'I have it. Seldom do I
require to deliberate so anxiously, but parental anguish has clouded my
active brain; the recent combat, also, has exhausted my nervous system.
I have the happy thought at last, though, and you shall be assisted. We
will fly to the nest of an old friend, a celebrated kingfisher. He lives
not far from here; he knows the coast well, and will aid us. Come, mount
upon my willing back, and we will fly at once.'

"This was no sooner said than done. They flew swiftly over the now broad
expanse of water, rolling in a powerful stream, bordered by a wild and
harsh-looking forest. A few tall and leafless trunks in a cluster
contained, high among the bare boughs, a huge nest. From it, aroused
from his sleep, sullenly flapped a large bird.

"'Wait a moment, my friend,' called the owl, in her most beseeching
manner. 'I have a favor to ask. I wish to appeal to your intelligent
geographical, topographical, and comprehensive intellect for guidance.
You know the coast; lead us to it before the dawn of day.'

"'A most unwarrantable request, upon my word,' was the answer, in a
gruff voice. 'Why should you thus disturb my slumber, and demand of me
this journey in the night?'"




CHAPTER XIII

THE FAIRY'S STORY CONCLUDED


"The owl replied softly, telling her errand, praising the bravery of the
frog, and evidently pleasing the kingfisher with the news of the death
of his enemy the night-hawk.

"'I will go,' he answered. 'I do not pretend to be chivalric; I should
prefer to sleep; nevertheless, I will go. Rise, follow-me. I expected to
breakfast at home; now we will get some seafood.'

"'He is always thus,' whispered the owl, as Arthur and she rose high in
the air. 'He is a wonderful naturalist, a student of ichthyology, has a
vast and profound fund of knowledge, but a great gourmand, always
considering what he will eat; but he is reliable; we may trust him.'

"They sailed now high, now low, over ravines and gulfs, until the
continuous murmur which had accompanied them deepened into the steady,
solemn roar of the ocean. Great crags, broad sands, and huge waves
tossing their white crests now met their eyes.

"The soft faint gray of early dawn lit the heavens. The kingfisher
perched himself on the top of a rock, and watched the seething waves
with a steady and keen outlook. The owl fluttered down to the long line
of breakers, and bade Arthur notice the immense quantity of sea-weed
fringing the rocks in all directions.

"'Now how to carry it back is the question,' said Arthur, rather
dolorously.

"'My friend, have no fear,' said the owl. 'Go to work bravely, and
gather all you can, then we will arrange to transport it. Hasten,
however, as much as you can.'

"Arthur hopped about zealously. He was half deafened with the thunder of
the waves, half blinded with the dashing spray, half drowned with the
salt-water pouring from every cliff and cranny of the rocks. Still he
tore and clutched at the sea-weed, dragging it in masses larger than his
own frog body to where the owl waited for him on the beach, in a sort of
grotto hollowed out by the waves. There they piled it until they both
were assured they had the proper quantity. Then the owl flew to a
promontory and hailed the kingfisher. Arthur, quite worn out, fell
asleep. When he awoke, he found him self most strangely placed.

"So soundly had he slept that the owl and kingfisher, having completed
their arrangements for the removal of the sea-weed, had removed Arthur
also, and he woke to find himself on the back of an enormous sturgeon,
with sea-weed under him, over him, and about him. Tightly about the
sturgeon was bound an old rope, which the kingfisher had procured from
the remains of a wreck on the rocks, and in which he had entangled
the sturgeon; this rope the owl and kingfisher took turns in holding,
keeping the sturgeon near the surface of the waves by its check upon his
movements, which were very bold and rapid. Thus, by the double force of
flying and swimming, Arthur was carried with immense speed into the
quiet waters of a bay from which they had emerged on arriving at the
ocean.

[Illustration: MAKING THE STURGEON USEFUL]

"From the bay they sailed up into the river, and were coursing rapidly
on to its narrower surface, when the sturgeon suddenly gave a great
leap, very nearly throwing Arthur and his precious load off his back.

"The owl screamed, the kingfisher shouted hoarsely, but tightened his
hold upon the rope, while the sturgeon dashed madly on.

"Again he made another frantic leap, whereupon the kingfisher gave him a
thrust with his beak, to which the sturgeon replied,

"'The current is becoming too shallow; I can go no farther. I _must_
have air. How can you expect me to go up this trout stream? have you no
mercy for such a beast of burden as you have made me?'

"'Forward again!' shouted the kingfisher, tightening the rope once
more.

"Arthur felt the sturgeon shiver, and was conscious that his movements
were weaker. Another leap, and he burst the rope; but as he jumped he
tossed his load of sea-weed high in the air; it fell, and Arthur with
it, on a rock.

"The owl gave a long, dismal cry, the kingfisher swept madly away after
the sturgeon, and Arthur, bruised and sore, lay panting on the rock. For
a long while he could do nothing. The owl went off in search of food,
promising to return at nightfall. The day wore on. Arthur, weak with
hunger, tried to devour some of the sea-weed. It was too bitter and
salty. Leaning over the edge of the rock, he saw a shoal of tiny fishes
playing hide-and-seek in the eddies of the stream. He clutched at one of
them and devoured it. Never had he tasted a sweeter morsel. He caught
another, and another, until his hunger was fully appeased. Evening came
again; the moon shone early; Arthur was awakened from a long nap by the
hooting of the owl, which said,

"'Here I am again, my distressed friend.'

"At the same moment the kingfisher swooped down on them, and stood
tilting and flapping his wings on a corner of the rock. 'Now,' said he,
'as I am a bird of my word, and have promised to help you, we will
proceed to business. This sea-weed is dry, as you see, and very much
lighter. You, Mrs. Owl, can easily carry it, while I will take your
young friend Mr. Frog. Let us be off at once, you, madam, directing the
flight.'

"The kingfisher and Arthur then heaped the sea-weed upon the owl, and
Arthur, clambering on the rather oily back of the kingfisher, was once
again going over the tree-tops.

"Before morning they had reached the desired spot, the flat rock under
the chestnut-tree, placed the sea-weed upon it, and, hardly waiting for
thanks, the kingfisher left them.

"Arthur thanked the owl warmly, assuring her of his deep gratitude. To
which the owl replied, 'You have done me quite as good service, and my
thanks are quite as due to you. I return to my empty nest a desolate
mother, but never shall I forget your generous sympathy. Possibly I may
find consolation, but should I ever raise another brood, it could never
equal the beauty of my lost darlings. Alas! we feathered creatures have
great trials: we toil diligently for our families, build nests at great
cost of time and effort, often to see them swept away by the winds; or,
our nests lasting, and unattacked by enemies, many a young bird is
thrown to the earth by the violence of storms, and comes to an untimely
end through starvation. Sympathy, therefore, we appreciate; it helps us
to bear our sorrows with becoming fortitude. Never shall I forget your
gallantry, my friend; the thought of it will cheer many a solitary hour
when all the world is asleep. I bid you farewell.' So saying, the owl
flapped her wings and was gone.

"Arthur hopped away from the chestnut-tree to the place where he had
lost himself. It was early morning, but he was wearied, and slept in
spite of all his anxiety. When he awoke he was no longer a frog, but a
very hungry boy. The noonday sun was shining, and at his side hopped a
little brown bird. It twittered gladly, as if congratulating him, but
not one word could he understand. Before this adventure he would have
probably frightened it away, but now he reached out his hand softly and
stroked its feathers, then seeking berries, he placed them where the
little creature could feast upon them. It peered at him with its bright
little eyes, and even perched upon his shoulder. Never again did Arthur
idly destroy any living creature of the woods--not the humblest weed or
flower, bright-winged insect or speckled egg. Nor did he loiter again
when sent upon errands. The elves thereafter left him in peace."

"Good-bye, dear Phil; I am off now. This is my last story."

"Where am I? Has the music stopped? Was it my wind harp--my poor little
wind harp?"

"Why, Phil, your wind harp is broken. Did you not know that it fell from
your window last night?" said Lisa, coming into the dining-room.

"No. I wonder if I shall ever see the wind fairy again?"

"Dreaming again, Phil?" said Lisa.

"You always think I dream, Lisa, whenever I speak of fairies."

"Do I, dear? Well, you must get ready now for Graham; he is coming to
take you out on the lake. Miss Schuyler will not be home to dinner, and
we three are to have ours on Eagle Island."

Phil went up-stairs and gathered together the broken pieces of his wind
harp. He folded each piece up carefully in paper, and put them all away.
"No more fairy stories," he said to himself. "Well, I suppose I am
getting beyond them, and must put up with sober facts; but they are not
half so nice," he said, with a sigh--"not half so nice." Then he took
out his sketch-book and pencils, and prepared for work.






CHAPTER XIV

PLANS FOR THE WINTER


Summer had gone. Visitors had gone. Graham had gone to school. The banks
of the lake were red and yellow, brown and purple, with autumnal
foliage. Aunt Rachel was superintending the making of preserves. Lisa
was at work on the piazza. Phil was sketching.

Slowly up the garden path came old Joe. He took off his hat and stood
still a moment waiting for Phil to speak.

"Well, Joe, what is it?" said Phil, hardly looking up, he was so busy.

"This is just as fine as ever the garden of Eden was, but old Adam had
to go, you know, Massa Phil." He had lately, of his own accord, put the
Massa before Phil's name.

"What are you driving at, Joe?" asked Phil, absently.

"I mean I's a-gwine home, Massa Phil."

"To the city?" said Phil, surprised into attention.

"Yes, back to New York. I wants to go to work."

"Have you not enough to do here?"

"No," said Joe, with a chuckle. "It's all play here--no real hard work
sich as I's customed to."

"It is time you took it easy, Joe," said Phil.

"True nuff, but I's not one of the easy sort. Besides, who knows, Massa
Phil, but there may be other chillen--poor sick chillen--waitin' for to
hear my fiddle an' be comforted?"

Phil looked up hastily; a bright look of gratitude and love came into
his eyes.

Just then Miss Schuyler appeared, with a glass jar of jelly in her
hand; the maid was following with a trayful.

"Joe wants to go to the city, Aunt Rachel," said Phil.

"I dare say," was the ready response. "He wants a little gossip over the
kitchen fires, and he wants this nice jar of jelly for his
bread-and-butter when he has company to tea; and as we all are going
home next week, he may as well wait for the rest of us."

"Aunt Rachel!" said Phil, in dismay. Going home to the city seemed like
going back to poverty and illness, and the garret room he so well
remembered.

Aunt Rachel divined it all. "You belong to me now, Phil. Lisa and I are
partners henceforth; and while you and I travel in search of health,
study, and improvement, Lisa is going to keep house for us in her own
nice, quiet way."

"Travel!--where?--when?" said Phil, eagerly.

"The doctors suggest our going abroad--to a warm climate for the
winter--where we please; in summer, to the German baths."

"Oh, Aunt Rachel!"

This was enough for Phil to think of and wonder about all the rest of
the happy days at the lake. He could walk now with comparative ease, not
of course without crutches, and the gold and scarlet glory of the autumn
leaves was a perpetual delight to him. He gathered them for wreaths and
bouquets; he pressed them and ironed them and varnished them, and tried
every method suggested to him for keeping them; and when it came packing
time it was found necessary to get an extra trunk to contain all the
woodland treasures.

The happy summer had ended, and not without a lingering look of regret
that it could not last longer was the farewell said to the house and
lake and every pretty graceful tree or plant that adorned them.

They found the city house all in nice order for them, for Aunt Rachel
was always wise in her forethought and provision for future comfort.

Phil's little room near her own had been especially attended to, and he
found it, in all its arrangements, as complete and satisfactory as the
lovely summer nook he had vacated.

In three weeks' time they were to start for Europe. The days were spent
in preparation. Phil must have a steamer-chair, plenty of clothes,
wraps, and contrivances. All Aunt Rachel's thoughts were for Phil's
comfort; but it did not spoil him nor make him selfish; he had the happy
faculty of receiving kindness gracefully, as if glad to be the means of
making others happy by his gratitude, not as if it were his due in any
way. And in his turn he was thoughtful and considerate for others, in
trifles light as air, but nevertheless showing by the gentle, tender
manner that he meant them as evidences of his affection. He knew Lisa
dreaded parting from him, so before her he was quite silent as to his
expected pleasures, although his imagination was constantly picturing
the details of an ocean voyage. His sketch-book was getting full of
yachts and craft of all sorts and sizes--some that would have astonished
a sailor very much. Whenever he met Lisa he kissed her, whether with hat
on she was hurrying out on some errand for Miss Schuyler, or on her
return, with arms full of bundles, she was hastening through the hall.

He was necessarily left much alone, and thus had the chance to draw a
charming little picture for Lisa, and frame it with acorns, lichen, and
red maple leaves. He hung it in her room one day when she was out, and,
to his surprise, the next day it was missing. He had expected some
recognition of it, but none coming, he kept still, wondering what Lisa
had done with it. The secret came out in due time.

A day or two before their departure Lisa came to him with tears in her
eyes and a little package in her hand.

"Open it, dear; it is for you."

It was a tiny leather purse with four dollars in it.

"Lisa, you must not give me all this."

"Yes, it is yours--your own earnings. I sold your little picture, and
bought this purse with part of the money, so that you might have
something to spend just as you pleased."

"Oh, Lisa!" was all Phil could say, for though grateful, he was yet
disappointed that Lisa had not kept his picture.

"Now, dear," she said, "you can buy some little trifle for Joe, and any
one else you want to make a present to."

"Thank you, Lisa; yes, I will. It is a very nice purse," he replied; but
as soon as he could find Miss Schuyler he unburdened his heart.

"After all the pains I took with that little picture, Aunt Rachel, to
think of Lisa's selling it! Oh, how could she?"

"Hush, dear Phil; Lisa is the most unselfish creature in the world. Has
she not given you up to me? And for the pleasure she supposed it would
give you to have money of your own earning, she was willing to part with
even a thing so precious as a picture painted by you for her. Do not
question her motive for a moment. Take the money, and buy her something
useful. Come, we will go get a pretty work-basket; she will find it even
more to her taste than a picture."

So they went out and bought a light, nicely shaped basket, with little
pockets all around it, and Aunt Rachel made it complete with a silver
thimble, a strawberry emery cushion, a morocco needle-book, and an ample
supply of silk, thread, needles, pins, and buttons.

Lisa was delighted; but Phil could not be satisfied until he had painted
another little picture, and made Lisa promise that no one else should
ever have it.

Joe was made happy with some new bandanna handkerchiefs in brilliant
yellows and reds, a pipe, some tobacco, and a suit of clothes from Miss
Schuyler.

It was a tranquil, lovely day in the fall when the steamship sailed with
Aunt Rachel and Phil on board. All the bay sparkled in the sunshine, and
boats of every shape and size danced upon the blue water. After the
bustle and confusion of getting off, the leave-takings, the cries and
shouts of sailors, the blowing of whistles and ringing of bells, they
sat quietly down to watch the receding shores, and look out upon the
glittering water.

"Aunt Rachel," said Phil, "it all seems like another fairy story to me,
and we are sailing in a nautilus to the island of Heart's Ease."

"Yes, dear child, so it does. And let us hope that we shall find that
beautiful island, and never wish to leave it."




FLORIO AND FLORELLA

A CHRISTMAS FAIRY TALE




CHAPTER I


There was once a child named Florio, who had neither father nor mother,
uncle nor aunt, and so it happened that he was adopted by a witch. He
might have had a fairy godmother if anybody had remembered to ask one to
the christening, but as no one took enough interest in him for that, it
was neglected, and poor Florio became the property of a hideous, hateful
old hag, who was never so happy as when she was making trouble. Of
course Florio was compelled to do her bidding. Naturally inoffensive and
gentle, he was continually obliged to do violence to his conscience by
obeying the witch.

For instance, the witch--who was known by the name of Fussioldfuri, and
lived in a miserable cavern when she was not travelling about--had
great delight in spoiling any one's innocent amusement or upsetting his
or her plans; she even started children quarrelling and disputing;
indeed, she found this one of her particular pastimes when she was not
engaged in annoying older people.

It was among children that she made Florio particularly useful--so
useful, in fact, that he never had a friend. If she found him amusing
himself with a happy little company, she made him do some selfish or
ugly thing which at once put a stop to all the cheerfulness; and often,
before he knew what he was about, he would be struggling and kicking and
screaming and flinging himself upon one or the other of his comrades,
while Fuss--as we must call her for convenience--laughed till she shook,
and tears of joy ran down her ugly leathery cheeks. Then Florio,
ashamed, miserable, and unhappy, would creep off to a corner and weep as
if his little heart would break.

It was after one of these dreadful occurrences one day that Florio,
hiding in the woods, heard a strange rustling among the bushes. He was
so used to wandering about after old Fuss, and living anyhow and
anywhere, that he was more like a little creature of the woods himself
than anything else, and it took a good deal to frighten him. Patter,
patter, patter it went. What could it be? He peered in and out and under
the bush, but he saw nothing except a nest full of little blue eggs,
which he would not touch for the world; no, he knew too well how pleased
old Fuss would be to have him disturb this little bird family, and he
concealed it again. As he did so, the sweetest little voice said,

"That's right."

Florio jumped as if a wasp had stung him.

"Yes," continued the voice, "you couldn't have pleased me better."

"But who are you? where are you?" asked Florio, to whom kind words were
unknown, but on whom they had the effect of making his heart beat with a
new and strange emotion.

"I cannot tell you anything just now very well, but if you will meet me
here in the moonlight this evening, Florio, I will be glad to see you."

"To-night?" questioned the boy, who did not like the darkness.

"Yes, child; have no fear. I am the fairy Florella. Adieu."

The days were generally too short for Florio, who hated the nights in
the dismal cavern, when Fuss pulled his hair and pinched his nose and
tripped him up over her staff by way of amusement; but now he longed for
the night to come, although it must be confessed he was not without
fears. Fuss was uglier than usual, but this did not affect Florio as it
might have done had he not had something unusual and exciting to think
of. Soon as the witch tumbled down on her heap of straw for the night,
and showed by her heavy breathing and frightful snoring that she was
asleep, Florio crept softly from the cavern.

It was a beautiful evening, soft and balmy, but to leave the bright
roadway and enter the dark woods demanded some courage, for ill-usage
had rendered Florio timid in the darkness, though, as I have said
before, he did not fear wild animals. Indeed, when a young fox came
cautiously out of the thicket, and glanced about, Florio approached near
enough to touch his bushy tail.

It was somewhat difficult to find the precise spot of the day's
occurrence, but he noticed that whenever he went in a wrong direction a
crowd of fire-flies would start up and show him the right way, and thus
he was enabled to find the sweet-brier bush. As he reached it he heard
the same patter, patter, patter on the leaves of the bush, and looking
up he saw what caused the sound. Troops of tiny creatures were
fluttering from leaf to leaf. Each had little silvery wings like
butterflies, and each carried sprigs and sprays of blossoms, while
following them came elves of most grotesque appearance, bearing platters
of fruit and wild honey. In a moment they had formed a circle on the
grass, and danced about, singing as they went, while the elves arranged
a feast.

When all was in readiness, one--of largest size and of apparent
superiority--beckoned to Florio to come near. Afraid to disobey, yet
equally fearful of treading upon them, Florio approached, and in a
moment he was surrounded, and with gentle pressure obliged to take their
various offerings. One gave him grape leave cups and baskets woven of
perfumed grasses, another filled them with honey and fruit, while all
laughed to see what appeared to them the enormous quantities necessary
for one so large.

"Florio, you have done well to obey me," said the same sweet voice he
had heard in the daytime. "This, added to your consideration for the
bird's-nest to-day, has pleased me, and your evident misery has aroused
my compassion. Fussioldfuri is an enemy of ours, and I never expected to
see one trained by her show a pitiful or kind spirit. It proves to me
that there must be something in you worth cultivating. Are you willing
to be guided by me? Do you want to leave old Fuss, and become one of my
servitors?"

Florio was not quite sure that he fully understood all that was said to
him, but he was delighted at the idea of leaving Fuss, and said so.

Florella smiled upon him, and continued, "It may not be so easy as you
imagine; those who serve me have to stand a test of faithfulness,
energy, and courage. Our life seems one of careless mirth, but it is not
so. We, of course, are happy, and enjoy ourselves; but we have many
duties, and are not altogether free, as would be supposed. I am at the
head of this little band. We are Flower Fairies, cousins to the Wind
Fairies and Herb Elves. I am familiar with every wild-flower that grows,
and I am now desirous of getting for our forests some seeds of the
Swiss Edelweiss. If you can procure them for me I will reward you
handsomely."

Poor Florio heard this speech with consternation. He had never in all
his life known one flower from another. Where, when, how could he go?
And if he went, how should he escape Fuss? These thoughts made the poor
child falter and grow pale. It would have been so much easier to say he
could not do it, and have done with the matter; but the remembrance of
his horrible slavery, and the thought that Florella believed in his
ability to aid her, stimulated his courage, and he said,

"I know nothing of flowers, dear lady; I am a very ignorant fellow; but
if you will direct me, and tell me where to go, I am ready to try."

"Spoken well, my lad," said the fairy. "I do not expect impossibilities.
_We_ are the only ones who can do what seems impossible to man. The
Edelweiss is a mountain flower, growing on the highest Alps, and many a
man has lost his life striving to pluck it for one he loved. It is much
esteemed for its rarity, and because of the often great difficulty of
getting it. See, here is a dried blossom;" and she put in his hand a
small white flower like an immortelle, though Florio thought that it
looked as if it were made of flannel, it was so soft and woolly.

"This you must keep; see, I will put it in this case of birch-bark, and
you had better place it in your bosom. Now I must tell you about the
journey. To leave Fussioldfuri immediately might make the task more
difficult. She is about starting for the mountains, and if you keep with
her a while longer you will be able to find the place you need much
sooner than if you went alone. But when you reach Geneva you are to
leave her. Can you remember that?"

"Oh yes, the rhyme will help me:

  "'When I get to Geneva,
  Then I must leave her.'"

"Exactly; and then you are to seek the Edelweiss, and when you have
gathered the seeds you are to meet me here in this forest, whether it be
winter or whether it be summer. Adieu."

The fairy vanished, and with her went her band--nodding, waving, and
kissing their finger-tips.

Oh, how dreary the woods seemed without the little troop! The wind
sighed in the pines, and the moonlight cast fearful shadows from the
gnarled and knotty boughs.

Florio rose with a sigh and stretched his limbs, wondering if it was
worth while to try and do the fairy's bidding when he had to go back to
hear the dreaded voice of old Fuss. Then he made sure of the birch-bark
case, and again with the aid of the fire-flies found the road. Fuss was
sound asleep still when he laid himself down on his bundle of straw in
the farthest corner of the cavern. One thing he did not notice, and that
was the young fox whose bushy tail he had touched going into the woods.
It had followed him home, and crept in under the straw beside him.





CHAPTER II


High up in the Swiss mountains a storm was brewing. On their
cloud-capped summits nothing could be seen but snow--dazzling, blinding
white snow, and wreaths of vapor which congealed as it fell. All day the
people of the hamlets had been preparing for the visitor, knowing full
well that they should be housed for weeks after its descent, and as
Christmas was approaching, it was needful that much should be done.

As the day grew darker, each hurried to complete his or her work, and
none essayed more eagerly to do this than young Franz, the goatherd; but
try as he would, the heedless, wanton little flock were constantly
escaping from him, and if it had not been for Jan, the great mastiff of
the famous St. Bernard breed, he would have been still more troubled. As
it was, he found one goat missing when he went to house them, and again
he had to take his alpenstock and try what he could do.

By this time the storm was indeed upon them, and between the wind and
the snow, the icy atmosphere and the darkness, Franz had about concluded
to let the goat go, when Jan began to sniff about and bark, and show by
signs as easily read as print that he was seeking something. Franz
thought it must be on account of the goat, but just then old Nan
appeared with her customary capriciousness, and made no resistance to
the cord with which Franz bound her.

Still Jan kept up his scratching and sniffing and barking, and Franz
knew only too well that there was no use in opposing him, although his
fingers and toes were half frozen.

As soon as the dog saw that Franz recognized the necessity of following
him he quieted down, and with a zealous industry nosed the path from
side to side, as if in search of something; nor did he have to go far,
for they presently descried what seemed like a big snow-heap on one side
of the now undiscoverable path.

Here Jan halted and looked intently; then he began scratching and
whining again, and Franz saw a bit of cloth. Soon an arm appeared, and
next a leg, and after vigorous work from both Franz and Jan, the whole
figure of a child, clasping something in its arms, was uncovered. Dead
or alive, Franz knew not which it was; but very well he knew what it was
the child carried, for its big bushy red tail showed it to be a fox, and
it too was as motionless and lifeless as the child.

The goatherd had braved the dangers of the mountains all his lifetime,
and knew how to be cool and decided in the presence of danger. He had
his knife and drinking-cup beside him, and his horn slung over his
shoulder. In a moment he had made Nan stand still while he milked her,
and then he pried open the stiff lips of the lad, and forced the warm
liquid within. As he did so, the child revived and swallowed, for he had
not been long unconscious. Then putting him on Jan's back, and driving
Nan before him, Franz made his way home as best he could.

It was late when tired Franz, whose mother was in the door-way looking
anxiously for him, arrived. All the children were within, and the fire
was burning brightly. On the table the soup was steaming. An exclamation
of surprise arose from all as Jan and his burden marched in.

"Who is it?" "Where did he come from?" "Where did you find him?" "What
was he doing all alone in the storm?" burst from all their lips.

"So, so; slowly, please," answered the cool and courageous Franz. Then
he told them his adventure.

"A stranger lad, lost on the roadside," murmured the mother, as she took
the boy from Jan and carefully undressed him, the children meanwhile
attending to the nearly frozen fox.

"Poor child! poor child! he shall be welcome. A sorry Christmas it is
for him."

"Not when he fell into your hands, good mother," said Franz, ladling out
the soup.

"No indeed--no indeed," said one and all.

But the mother's words seemed to be the truth, for though the child
revived, and was able to take nourishment, a fever set in, from which he
did not rally. Day by day he lay in the little curtained recess where he
could see them all with his great wondering eyes, watching them carve
their beautiful toys--for this was their winter work--but saying
nothing, for he knew not their language, and only one word had he
uttered which they could understand.

This word was simply "Edelweiss." "Edelweiss," he muttered, when the
fever was at its height, and "Edelweiss" he softly whispered when
dreaming.

The children called him "Little Edelweiss," and fed his fox, which
lapped their hands and brought a sweet smile to the face of the little
sufferer.

Christmas-eve would be on the morrow, and all were busy dressing the
room with boughs of evergreen. The tree stood in the corner, waiting
for its glittering fruit. Outside the sheaf of grain had been tied to a
pole for the snow-birds. All had some trifling gifts prepared for a
joyful keeping of the day, Franz only seemed to be uneasy. He would
glance at the pale face of his little foundling, and then he would look
out to see if the weather was fine, and at last he reached up for his
thickest wrap and staff, and away he went up the mountain-side. Nothing
could be seen up that way but the red roof of a convent, and peak after
peak of ice piercing the blue sky.

It was late when he returned and put something carefully behind the
tree. All were waiting for their supper, for they were anxious to go to
bed that the dear Christmas might the sooner come.

His mother scolded a little, but the stranger boy put up his thin hand
reprovingly, as if he could not bear to have Franz rebuked, and then
they all laughed, for they all loved Franz.

But soon they were sleeping quietly, and the moon shone upon happy
faces--only the little guest tossed and murmured "Edelweiss."

The morrow came, and with it many a merry greeting. And now they could
hardly wait for the day to pass. Long before dark the table was set with
its sausages and spice-cake, and beside each plate a mysterious
packet--for the tree bore only glittering trifles. And when the girls in
their pretty scarlet bodices and whitest chemisettes sat down, and the
mother reverently asked God's blessing on their food, all broke into a
joyful carol. Then they examined their gifts, and the little stranger
was given his share of the good things.

But just then Franz arose and brought from behind the tree a curious
looking box. Tearing off the papers a small but hardy plant was
revealed, and putting it in the hands of the invalid, Franz pointed to
its buds and said one word, "Edelweiss."

A cry of joy burst from the boy's lips, and he clasped his treasure as
if it had been indeed a flower from paradise.

"Edelweiss! Edelweiss!" was all he could utter, but the sweet and
grateful tone thanked Franz better than a thousand other words could
have done.

"Why, Franz," they all asked, "where did you get it at this season? It
does not grow in winter."

"No," said Franz, "I know that it does not, but I have often found it in
summer, and I just happened to remember plucking some by the roots last
spring for Father Glueckner up at the convent--he is always gathering
roots and herbs for the sick, and he has a great curiosity to transplant
wild-flowers that he may see what they will produce under cultivation.
See; this plant already has flowers--months too soon. He has several
others, so he gave me this quite willingly."

While they were talking, the little stranger had drawn a small case of
birch-bark from his pocket, and was earnestly comparing the faded and
pressed flower it contained with the blooming one beside him. His face
glowed with happiness, and from that moment his restoration to health
began.




CHAPTER III


Again the summer-time had come, with all its warmth and beauty. The
fairies were thronging all the wildwood one lovely summer evening, when
a tall, handsome lad, with light, quick tread and merry glancing eyes,
entered the woods, followed by a red fox, and boldly shouted, "Florella!
Florella!" making the woods ring with his voice.

You would not have supposed that this could be the same boy whose
sobbing aroused Florella's compassion--the poor, trembling little
creature, spiritless and unhappy, who had hardly dared to say his name
was Florio. But so it was; and when he called so loudly in his cheery
voice, Florella quickly came forth from the sweet-brier bush and stood
before him.

Doffing the cap which covered his curly pate, and bending on one knee,
Florio presented without words the small plant which he had guarded with
the utmost care.

A look of gracious sweetness came into the fairy's face, and she
examined the flowers with the eye of one accustomed to look at things
closely. Having assured herself that it was the desired plant, she
turned to her assistants and invited them to examine it also. All agreed
that it was the far-famed Edelweiss, and there was a great fluttering of
wings, and soft exclamations of delight and excited surprise, until
Florella, with a gentle wave of her hand, commanded silence.

"Now, young knight of our fair domain," she said, addressing Florio,
"give me some account of your journeying, for not only have you done all
that I desired, but more: here are not only seeds, but flowers and root.
I pray you be seated while I listen."

Florio had learned to be mannerly, so with cap in hand he only leaned
against a beech-tree, and began:

"When you bade me depart with that dreadful old Fuss, dear lady, my
heart failed me entirely, and I thought I should not be able to do your
bidding. So long had I been used to her cruel power that the thought of
opposing her filled me with alarm; but curiously enough the very night I
hastened from you to the miserable cavern we called home, a young fox
followed me, and unknown to me slept by my side. When I awoke the witch
was preparing for her journey, for on her back and by her side she
carried bags of all shapes and sizes, with everything in them that could
do mischief. In one was snuff, in another was pepper, and in a third was
mustard, and in all were flinty pebbles and bits of glass. Some of
these were for people's eyes and some for their feet, and she had hardly
room for the mouldly old crusts and pieces of cheese which furnished us
with food.

"As soon as she saw the fox, which I was petting with delight, she made
a pass at it with her stick, which I am sure would have killed it had I
not caught the blow. The little fellow sprang from my arms and bit her
heel, which made her so very angry that I had to run for my life--but,
strange to say, after that he was my only protection.

"Although she bade me drown him, and although I, remembering your
commands, disobeyed her, she did not dare come near me when I had him in
my arms. Day after day he followed me, night after night he slept beside
me, and though I had fewer beatings, old Fuss watched me closely; she
seemed to know that I wanted to get away from her.

"We toiled along on the roadsides, begging from house to house.

"At last one day we came to a beautiful sheet of water, blue and
sparkling in the sunshine. Everywhere I went I had gathered
flowers--sometimes they were only weeds, such as dandelions and
daisies, but here on the banks of this lovely lake I found the sweetest
blossoms. From every one I had tried to learn the names of the plants,
but it was a very difficult matter, for half the time they misunderstood
my signs, and supposed I was only making game of them; besides, when
Fuss came up with her horrible jargon, every one was so disgusted that
he would have nothing to do with me.

"But every day I repeated as a lesson the one word 'Edelweiss,' and
whenever I had the chance I would say this to a stranger. Generally they
took no notice--sometimes they would smile, and point to the
mountain-peaks before us.

"The day we reached the lake Fuss was in one of her ugliest moods: she
had not received a penny from any passer-by, and she had not been able
to make a young boatman quarrel with his companions, although she had
sprinkled pepper about until they were all sneezing as if they were
crazy. I was weary and disconsolate, sitting paddling in the water, and
the fox was not by me, having run after a rat that had crawled from the
wreck of an old unused craft. Without a word of warning Fuss came up
behind me and gave me a push.

"Over I went into the water, head and heels both submerged. Strangling,
puffing, battling for my life, I rose to the surface. I had fallen just
where the water was shallow, but where grasses and water-plants so
entangled my feet that I could not swim, and should certainly have been
drowned had not one of the boatmen thrown me a rope and drawn me to the
shore.

"'Hang her!' 'Drown her for an old witch!' were the exclamations I heard
from the rough by-standers, and also, 'Take her to the jail at Geneva.'
This aroused me. Now I knew the name of the fine town towards which so
many were wending their way.

  "'When you get to Geneva,
  Then you must leave her.'

"Oh, joy! Then I need no longer follow my dreadful guide! And there were
people about who spoke English.

"As soon as I could discover who these English people were I made
inquiries of them, and found they were servants of some persons
travelling in their own conveyance. Tattered and draggled and wet, I
dared not do more than run after the carriage at a respectful distance,
with my fox in my arms, and so fearful was I of being overtaken by old
Fuss that I darted into the woods whenever a wayfarer approached. But my
fears were needless, for so alarmed had the witch been at the threats of
the boatmen that she disappeared suddenly. Some said they saw her flying
over the woods on a broomstick, with all her wretched rags and tags
fluttering behind her like the tail of a kite.

"After this I toiled on, often hungry, always weary, but frequently
meeting with kindness. I only wanted to find some place of shelter from
the cold until the warm weather should return again, and I could renew
my search for your flower.

"At last, one bitter day, striving to reach a convent where I had found
out they received poor people like myself, I fell, during a blinding
storm, and had neither the courage nor the wish to make the effort to
rise. Gradually a heavy sleep came on. I forgot my woes, and dreamed of
a garden of roses, among which floated brilliant butterflies and golden
bees.

"I was aroused from this sleep by a barking and scratching, and the
forcing open of my mouth to make me swallow some warm milk. A goatherd
had found me, and putting me on the back of his great dog, carried me
home. From that moment my troubles ended. Franz, the boy who found me,
had a warm heart. His home became mine. I was ill, but all did what they
could to make my sufferings less. I had only the one word, 'Edelweiss,'
at my command, and but the one hope--that of procuring the flower.

"Christmas-day came. All were rejoicing, all were happy; but none could
appreciate my joy when the noble Franz put this plant in my possession,
his Christmas gift to me. I recovered immediately, and happiness so
inspired me that I learned their language, and was enabled to tell them
my story. All agreed that I must return to you, but must wait till I was
strong for the journey. While with my friends I watched them carve their
beautiful toys, some of which I have brought you, and learned to do
their exquisite work myself. I also went often to the convent, and
learned much from the celebrated Father Glueckner about herbs and
flowers. See; I have brought these packets of seeds, and a good
collection of remarkable specimens. And all the time my little fox has
been my pet, my companion, my solace. Accept, then, dear lady, these
proofs of my obedience."

So saying, Florio finished speaking. As he stopped, his cheeks flushed
with pleasant emotion, a nightingale poured forth a warbling stream of
melody. The fairy drew her band around her and thus spoke:

"Happy mortal, thus to have achieved success. Your faithfulness and
courage shall be well rewarded. Look! this is your home, this we have
prepared for you. Our emissary, the young fox, had warned us of your
approach, and we have all in readiness."

Saying this, she led the astonished Florio to a cottage of twisted vines
and roots, built by herself and her attendant elves. The walls were
brilliant with innumerable glow-worms and fireflies, which sparkled like
living gems; the floor was soft with scented rushes. Garlands of roses
festooned the rooms, in one of which was a table filled with fruit.
Smiling with glee, Florella watched her young friend's admiration, which
ended in complete astonishment when from an adjoining apartment came
Franz and Rosa, the goatherd and his sister. His joy was now complete,
but when he turned to thank Florella she was nowhere to be seen.

Thus it came to pass that we know of the famous gardener and seedsman
Florio, whose plants are of boundless celebrity, and whose cultivated
blossoms outrival the famous exotics of the world. In this forest he
lived, and raised from season to season every flower that grows. No
frost seemed to touch them, no drought withered them, for Florella was
true to her promise of reward, and in addition to giving Florio a home,
gave him also health and wealth and fame.

The elves were always on guard against moles and injurious worms, the
fairies sprinkled the seeds and protected the young buds, and basking in
the sunshine outside the cottage door was always to be found Florio's
pet, the red fox, whom Florella for a time had chosen to be his
guardian. Franz and Rosa also induced their family to leave the Alpine
snows for the beautiful land of flowers.




BOREAS BLUSTER'S CHRISTMAS PRESENT

"'_Tis an ill wind that blows no good_."




CHAPTER I


It had been a hard, cold, cruel winter, and one that just suited old
Frozen Nose, the Storm King, whose palace of ice was on the north shore
of the Polar Sea. He had ordered Rain, Hail, and Snow, his slaves, to
accompany Lord Boreas Bluster on an invasion of the temperate zone, and
when they had done his bidding he harnessed up his four-in-hand team of
polar bears and went as far south as he dared, just to see how well they
had obeyed him. How he roared with laughter when he found nearly all
vegetation killed, and the earth wrapped in a white mantle as thick as
his own bear-skins piled six feet deep! There was no nonsense about that
sort of work.

"Catch any pert, saucy little flowers sticking up their heads through
such a blanket!" said Frozen Nose to himself. "No, no; I've fixed 'em
for a few years, anyhow. They're dead as door-nails, and Spring with all
her airs and graces will never bring them to life again. Ugh! how I hate
'em and all sweet smells! Wish I might never have anything but whale-oil
on my hair and handkerchiefs for the rest of my life!"

"There's no fear but what you will, and stale at that," said the ugliest
of his children, young Chilblain, giving his father's big toe a tweak as
he passed, and grinning when he heard Frozen Nose grumble out,

"There's the gout again, I do believe!"

But Boreas Bluster, coming in just then, saw what was going on, and gave
Chilblain a whack that sent him spinning out of the room.

To tell the truth, Boreas was not as hardhearted as he looked. He was
the most honest and straightforward of all Frozen Nose's friends. To be
sure, he had to obey stern commands, and do many things that required a
show of fierceness, but in the course of his travels he often yielded to
a kind impulse, and restrained his fury when to indulge it would have
pleased old Frozen Nose mightily.

This very day he had met with a strange adventure, which had been the
occasion of a hasty return to the palace, and had so stirred his heart
that the whack he gave young Chilblain was but the safety-valve to his
feelings--a sort of letting off of steam which otherwise might have
exploded and burst every block of ice in the realm.

In the many furious storms which had occurred of late Boreas had seen
the destruction of numerous forests, and had even assisted in laying
waste the country. But one night an avalanche had buried a hamlet from
which only one living soul had escaped, and that was a young child--a
mere sprig of a girl, with hair like the flax and eyes like its flowers,
a little, timid, crying child--whom B.B. had actually taken in his arms
and carried all the way out of the woods, over the mountains, and
finally into Frozen Nose's own palace by the Polar Sea.

Never had such a thing happened before. Never had the tones of a child's
voice pierced his dull ears, and made that big sledge-hammer of a heart
positively ache with its throbs. It was a new and even a dangerous
feeling; for though he made young Chilblain's impertinence the pretext
of an outburst, he might just as readily have given a cuff to the
hoary-headed Prime-minister, Sir Solomon Snow-Ball--and then there would
have been a revolution. But happily for the peace of the Polar Sea
palace, B.B. was satisfied with Chilblain's howl of rage, and in another
moment had sunk down into his favorite arm-chair of twisted walrus
tusks, and was lost in thought.

It was a curious scene, these three old men half asleep in their
bear-skins, smoking long pipes of smouldering sea-weed. No fire danced
on the hearth, no lamp shed its lustre, but the moon's pale beams
gleamed on the glittering walls and lit the ice-crystals with its silver
rays. B.B.'s thoughts seemed to be of a troublesome nature, for he
sighed heavily, almost creating a whirlwind, and at last, looking
cautiously at his companions, and seeing they were asleep, he rose and
went softly from the room. In the hall was a huge pile of furs, among
which B.B. gently pushed until he found the object of his search, which,
lifting carefully, he bound about him with thongs of reindeer hide. Then
pulling on his immense snow-shoes, and drawing his cap closely about
his ears, he went out into the night.

B.B. was aware that it would be impossible for him to keep his little
Flax-Flower any longer in Frozen Nose's dominions; indeed, he had only
hidden her in the hall until he could decide what course to pursue, for
he knew only too well that Chilblain, in seeking revenge, would be sure
to discover his secret, and do all he could to injure him. Personally he
had little to fear, but the punishment for mortals entering Frozen
Nose's realm was death, and Flax-Flower was mortal.

With the speed for which he was so celebrated, Boreas slid over the
ground in a southerly direction, never stopping until he had come upon
what seemed to be a river which led down to a dark forest of pine-trees.

He was now at least three thousand miles from the Storm King's palace,
and could afford to rest Wiping his brow, and panting still with his
recent efforts, Boreas drew a corner of the bundle of furs away from the
face of Flax-Flower, and looked at the sleeping child. As he did so a
thrill of tenderness made him long to kiss her, but he knew that his
rough caress would chill her with fear. So, softly wrapping her up
again, he plunged into the pine forest. Stopping again when in the
middle of it, he gave a shrill whistle, which was responded to by one
fainter and farther away, and presently a dwarf in the garb of an
Esquimau emerged from the dusky gloom, and bending low, said,

"What will you, my master?"

"I would see thy lord, the good St. Nicholas--the Storm King's enemy. Is
he at home?"

"He is at home, but he is no man's enemy. What message shall I bear
him?"

"Tell him that Boreas, of the Frozen Noses, awaits him." The dwarf
vanished, and returned.

"My lord bids thee enter, but entreats thee to be gentle, and remember
the manners of his court."

"That was a needless charge, considering my errand. Never has my mood
been more peaceful. But it strikes me as passing strange thus to dictate
terms to one of my station," responded Boreas, proudly.

"Pardon," answered the dwarf, "but we are no sticklers for ceremony, and
recognize no rank save goodness. Follow me if it be thy wish to enter."

Pushing aside the heavy boughs on which the snow lay in icy masses that
rattled and clashed like bolts and bars, he uncovered a low-arched
opening into what seemed a vast snow-bank. Through this tunnel he and
Boreas made their way to a broad court, which was as airy as a
soap-bubble, round in shape, with pillars and dome of glass, through
which streamed rays of light softer than sunshine and brighter than
moonbeams.

From this court a broad, low stairway led to another apartment, which
was as free from any show or splendor as the kitchen of a farm-house,
and, indeed, in its suggestion of homely comfort and hospitality it was
not unlike that cheery place. A Saxon motto, meaning "Welcome to those
who hunger," was carved in the wooden frame of the fireplace. The floor
was sanded, the tables and chairs were of oak, blackened by age, as were
also the timbers of the ceiling, and cut and carved with curious
devices.

On a big settle by the fire sat an old man, whose twinkling eyes could
but just see through the shaggy and snowy brows which overhung them,
and whose white beard fell in a flowing mass upon his breast. What could
be seen of his face bore a kind expression.

"Ho, ho, old Bluster!" he cried, in a clear and merry voice, drawing up
and around him the sheepskin mantle which was beside him, "what new
freak is this of yours to enter our peaceful dwelling? Methought you
were so sworn to do the Storm King's bidding that no power other than
his rough sway could compel your presence. Come you on your own account
or on his? Be it either, you are free to partake of our bounty. Ho,
there, Merrythought! heave on more logs and heat the poker, that we may
thrust it fizzing into our tankards: 'tis always bitter cold when Boreas
is abroad."

The dwarf skipped quickly to his task, assisted by a dozen others, and
Boreas, unstrapping his bundle, drew little Flax-Flower, still sleeping,
from the furs.

"Mine is a strange errand, good Claus--so strange, that I hardly know
myself to be myself. Rough and stormy as I am ever, a child's misery has
made me once gentle. You know my mad career, my furious passions, and
that they indeed are the strength of the Storm King's realm. Too well I
knew that I should be but the sport of mocking derision if I appealed to
his mercy in behalf of this suffering child. Mercy, did I say? He knows
none. Death alone could have met this little creature, whose cries have
aroused within me the deepest feelings I have ever known. To be honest,
I have not always been the fierce being I appear. Many and many a time,
unknown to you, I have followed you on your errands of love and pity,
and watched with admiration the course you have pursued. This has
induced me now to come and ask your favor for my treasure. Wake, little
Flax-Flower, wake!" he continued, gently kissing the child's eyes, who,
so stirred, rubbed her sleepy lids with rosy little fists, and looked
around in astonishment.

"Ha!" said the good St. Nicholas; "this is indeed a strange story for
you to tell, friend Bluster. Ho, there, Merrythought! send for Mrs.
Christmas, my house-keeper. The child may be frightened at our grim
faces. But what a pretty little dear it is!" said Claus, in the kindest
tones, putting out his big fat hand to caress her. To Boreas's surprise
Flax-Flower did not shrink from his salute, but with a bright smile
bounded into the old man's arms and kissed him.

Turning away with a pang of jealousy, Boreas muttered, "She wouldn't
kiss _me_; but no matter. That settles it. She's in the right place, and
I'll leave her. Farewell, Claus; I'm off. No, no; I've no time for
eating and drinking. Frozen Nose will be thundering at my absence
already. There's a storm brewing even now; I feel it in my bones." So
saying, he tramped noisily out of the apartment, nearly knocking over a
fleshy dame in ruffled cap and whitest apron, whose rosy cheeks were
like winter apples, and who bore in her hands a huge mince-pie in which
was stuck a sprig of mistletoe.




CHAPTER II


"Come mother, cease thy spinning, and look at the lovely tree that Olaf
has brought thee; it stands as straight as himself in the best room.
Surely thou wilt deck it to please him."

"Ah, Fritz! how can I?" said the forester's wife, rising from her wheel,
with a sad but sweet smile, in obedience to her husbands wishes.

"But there is surely no reason for longer indulging thy grief. Our
child is too happy in heaven to wish her return to earth, and whatever
the good God sends of pleasure or innocent mirth we should take with
thankfulness. Look at the tree; it is the very image of Olaf's own
strong youth. Make it pretty to-night, and he will be glad. A good
friend is he for two lonely beings like us to possess."

"You are right, Fritz," said the wife, wiping a tear from her eyes. "For
Olaf's sake I will dress the tree and bake a cake." So saying, she
tidied up her best parlor, and took from a brass-bound chest the gay
ribbons and trinkets which had not been used since the Christmas eve her
little one last spent on earth.

Very lonely and sad would these two people have been but for Olaf, the
son of their nearest neighbor. It was he whose clear ringing voice might
be heard in the forest when returning from his work, and Fritz said that
it made labor light but to hear him. It was he, too, who, when Fritz had
been lamed by the fall of a tree, had borne him home on his strong young
shoulders; so it was no wonder that the good wife was grateful to him.
Often at evening he made their fireside bright with his songs and merry
stories, and now it was but just that they should shake off their sorrow
for his sake; so the good wife drew out her spotless board, and kneaded
spice-cakes, and spread her best damask, and set out the fine china.

"Ah, if I had my little one!" murmured the good woman. "But God knows
best," she quickly added, as she remembered many blessings.

"Here comes Olaf!" shouted Fritz from below. "Come quickly, lest he
think thee tardy."

"Yes, yes, I come. I see him," was her reply. "But what is that he
carries--something he has picked up on the way?"

"A Christmas gift for thee," was the merry answer from Olaf's ringing
voice, as he laid a strange bundle in her arms.




CHAPTER III


Little Flax-Flower had been with St. Nicholas a whole long week. In that
time she had been in every nook and corner of his dwelling. She had seen
all his elves and dwarfs at work manufacturing every known toy to be
found in the world. She had watched the dolls' dress-makers; she had
ridden the toy horses; she had blown the brass bugles and beaten the
drums until Mrs. Christmas had to put cotton in her ears.

Now all this was very delightful, and made Santa Claus laugh long and
loud. He would not have cared if she had brought the house down on his
ears, so long as she had a bright smile and a kiss for him. But when
Boreas Bluster stopped to see how his young ward was getting on, he
shook his head gravely and told Mrs. Christmas he feared she was
spoiling Flax-Flower. But Mrs. Christmas laughed just in the same manner
that Santa Claus had done, and declared that the child must have all she
wanted.

Unfortunately, Flax-Flower went into the kitchen one day, and finding
all the cooks busily making sugar-plums, helped herself so largely to
taffy that she was made very ill; she ate, besides, quite a menagerie of
lemon-candy elephants, camels, and kangaroos, which disagreed with
themselves and with her; so that her head ached, and she had to be put
to bed, with a hot-water bottle and a mustard draught for companions.
This happened just as Boreas had stopped in to inquire about his pet,
and he shook his head gravely when Mrs. Christmas related the incident.
But Santa Claus only laughed till the air seemed full of merriment.

"Ah, my dear Claus, I see you have too easy and gentle a nature to deal
with wilful little mortals in an every-day way; besides, you have to
think of so many that it unfits you for the care of a single one," said
Boreas, in his least gruff manner. "I shall have to find another home
for Flax-Flower."

"Well," replied St. Nicholas, "I confess I can refuse nothing to a good
child. Children to me are all like so many empty stockings--made to be
filled. But I have had some doubts about keeping Flax-Flower. Mrs.
Christmas and I are afraid it will make the others jealous; it is that,
and not the stuffing down lollipops, that makes me think you are right.
Now her feast-day comes soon--I mean Mrs. Christmas's day," said Santa
Claus, with a nod--"and if you will just give my sleigh a lift, I think
I can tuck in Flaxie and carry her to some people I know--some people
who will appreciate her and be kind to her; yes, and even cross in a
wholesome way, seeing that's what you approve of."

Here Santa pretended to be very gruff himself, but Boreas saw through
it. He knew that St. Nicholas, on the whole, believed that Flaxie would
be better off without so much amusement and without so many temptations
to do nothing but play all day long, and this was the way the matter
ended.

Just before Christmas day Santa Claus's sleigh was brought out into the
beautiful court I have described; eight lively young reindeer were
harnessed to it, and thousands of toys were packed in it; furs were
wrapped around Flaxie, who was now quite well, and Mrs. Christmas
herself made up a box of delicacies for her to eat on the way.

"Think of us often, dear child," she whispered, "and give my love to
_everybody_."

Then the dwarfs gave the sleigh a push from behind, the bells of the
harness rang out a merry peal, the reindeer pranced, Santa Claus snapped
his whip, and away they flew, with Boreas behind them on his snow-shoes.

"Now, Flaxie," said Santa Claus, after they had skimmed over the snow
with lightning speed for hours, "before you go to sleep, as I see you
are doing, I want to speak to you. I want you always to remember this
visit to my house with pleasure, and tell all the children you may meet
how much I love them, how much it pleases me to know that they are good,
and how it really distresses me when they are not; tell them, too, that
as long as Mrs. Christmas lives we will do all we can for their
happiness, and all we ask in return is a grateful spirit. Do you think
you can remember all this? Well, as you say you can, tell them also to
hang up an extra stocking, whenever there is room by the chimney, for
some little waif that hasn't a stocking to hang up for himself. Now go
to sleep as soon as you please, and may your dreams be sweet!"

Cuddled down in the comfortable furs, Flaxie knew nothing more till she
found herself awake and in the arms of a tall young fellow whose name
was Olaf, and who carried her into the brightest, nicest little parlor,
and set her down in front of a fine Christmas-tree, saying,

"There, Mistress Kindheart, see what Christmas has brought you. I found
her in the forest, and a great bearded giant told me to bring her to
you."

"Oh, Olaf, it is my little Lena come back, I do believe!" cried the
woman, while tears of joy ran down her face.

"Nay, mother, nay," said her husband; "but she shall take our lost one's
place. Come, little one, tell us who thou art and from whence thou art
come."

Then Flaxie told the story of her visit to St. Nicholas, while Olaf,
Fritz, and his wife listened in amazement.

Much as Flax-Flower had enjoyed all she had seen and done, it was
delightful to be again with people of her own flesh and blood, and learn
to say the sweet word "Mother."

That Christmas was a merry one, but no merrier than the many which came
after, for Flax-Flower became a dutiful daughter to the kind people who
gave her a home. She and Olaf were like sister and brother to each
other, and they were known throughout all the country-side for their
kindness to the poor and unfortunate, especially at Christmas-time.

Frozen Nose still reigns in his palace on the Polar Sea, and it is
mainly owing to him and his wicked son Chilblain that nothing more is
known of that still unexplored region; but Boreas Bluster spends
much of his time with good St. Nicholas and Mrs. Christmas. He tires of
the severity of his life, and likes a snug corner where he can relate
the story of his finding Flax-Flower, whom he still loves very tenderly.
Often on an evening he ventures down to take a peep at her in her happy
home, and little does she suspect that the cooling breeze at the close
of a warm day is Boreas's gift of thoughtful kindness.



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