an ebook published by Project Gutenberg Australia

Title: The Spirit Of The Bush Fire
Author: J. M. Whitfeld
eBook No.: 2400011h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: 2024
Most recent update: 2024

This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore

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The Spirit Of The Bush Fire

J. M. Whitfeld





The Spirit Of The Bush Fire
The Beaching Of The Collaroy
The Mermaids’ Ballroom
Daisy And The Giants
     Chapter 1. - Daisy Is Lost
     Chapter 2. - The Dolls’ House
     Chapter 3. - The Escape
     Chapter 4. - In The Trap
     Chapter 5. - Terrors versus Tantrums
     Chapter 6. - The Water Nymph

The Making Of The Southern Cross
Down The Rainbow
Microscopic Tim’s Adventures
     Introduction - The Fairy’s Mistake
     Adventure 1. - The Princess In The Basin
     Adventure 2. - The Wizard Of The Sea
     Adventure 3. - The Quarrel and Its Result
     Adventure 4. - The Encounter with the Octopus
     Adventure 5. - The Great Sea Serpent To The Rescue
     Adventure 6. - The Witch’s Cave
     Adventure 7. - The Titans
     Adventure 8. - The Princess Out Of The Basin

Poor Little Native Bear
Brag And Blow
The Wizard Of Magnetic Island
The Origin Of The Cocoanut
The Flying Flowers At Flat-Top
A Slight Difference Of Opinion
The Imprisoned Princesses
     Chapter 1. - A Stranger Arrives
     Chapter 2. - “Four Ladies In One Tub!”
     Chapter 3. - Swiftswimmer Relapses
     Chapter 4. - Mingy Is Lost And Found
     Chapter 5. - Lady Jane Barney Returns

Princess Radiant And Prince Plain
     Chapter 1. - Begins The Story
     Chapter 2. - The Princess Who Would Not Marry
     Chapter 3. - The Choice Of The Princess
     Chapter 4. - The End Of The Story


The Spirit Of The Bush Fire

A spark dropped from a man’s pipe.

“Aha!” said the Spirit of the Bush Fire eagerly. “Just what I wanted. This is life to me,” and he came jumping, dancing, springing over the long dry grass. “Hoo-wish!” he cried, delightedly, as he reached the spark. “It’s alight still. Steady, little spark —gently, gently!”

“Oh, I want to live, I want to live!” panted the spark, glowing and darkening, growing larger and smaller, then dying away into a dull red glow. “Alas! alas! I die.”

“No, no; I will look after you. I will nurse you into life. Don’t struggle so. Gently now, gently,” and he sat there a funny little shrivelled rusty-brown figure, with his cheeks all puffed out, blowing, oh, so carefully, and his nose wrinkled up with anxiety, as he gently fanned the little spark with two large flapping hands.

Now if you did not know what a mischievous, wicked little imp he was, you would think, to look at him, that he really loved that little spark, so tenderly did he treat it; whereas all he wanted was to start a big bush fire and have some fun.

“Ah!” breathed the spark. “Better and better —I revive, I glow. I am growing, growing. Give me more to feed on. Ah! how good this dry grass is,” and it grew and grew, and then broke out into flames.

“Oho!” cried the Spirit of the Bush Fire, capering about joyously. “Now we shall see! now for some sport!” But the flames would not spread rapidly enough for him. There was a cleared space between them and some long dried-up grass and tussocks, which would burn beautifully.

“Bother the men!” he grumbled. “I never saw anything like it. They are always clearing, and cutting down trees, and burning off grass, and getting into mischief. Why can’t they let things alone? I’d like to burn them all up, that I would. Oh for a good tearing wind! Oh, why won’t the wind blow?”

“Who calls me? roared a tremendous voice, and a great rushing sound filled the air.

“I called. Blow a few sparks across there for me, there’s a good fellow, and I’ll manage the rest.”

“Ho! ho! ho! that’s not hard,” laughed the wind, and with one puff he sent several sparks right into the midst of the dried-up tussocks. In leapt the Spirit, and very soon there was a huge roaring fire, that began to lick up the trunks of the trees and set all the leaves ablaze.

Oh, how the Spirit of the Bush Fire loved it! How he shouted, and danced, and laughed, heating the tops of the flames with his fan-like hands to push himself ever higher and higher, then darting back wherever the fire was hottest and fiercest— shouting and singing, rolling and tumbling in it, eating and drinking fire!



And how his shape changed! At first he was just a shrivelled, shrunken, dusty-brown little fellow; now he was big and plump, and his face quite round and jolly, and he glowed red all over, so that you could hardly tell him from the fire itself.

And, if ever you want to see him, you must be sure to look where the fire is hottest, or where the flames are highest; and even then you will need very sharp eyes indeed to discover him.

“Spare us, spare us,” wailed the trees, bending their heads before the wind, and shrinking from the flames.

“Nonsense! good for you,” laughed the Spirit, and sprang right into the heart of a grand old gum. “Now, old fellow, let’s hear what you have to say.”

But the gum would not complain; he stood like a soldier, and suffered in silence.

The fire spread for miles. If it showed any signs of stopping, the Spirit would run up the trees himself, set all the leaves aflame, spring into the next tree, and then into the next; and the trees could only hold their blackened arms up to the sky, as if begging for rain, until some of them could bear no more, and fell with a loud crash.

The animals that live in the bush—kangaroos, opossums, native bears, dingoes—all fled for their lives helter-skelter before that terrible heat; and if some faltered and fell, not one whit did the mischievous Spirit care, crying ever— “More! more! more!”

And now he came to where men lived. “Aha, my men, I’ll burn your houses this time—see if I don’t!”

But, oh, how those men beat at the fire—how they worked day and night to save their fences!

“Bother the men!” cried the Spirit of the Bush Fire again. “Bother the wind! I believe it’s changing. I never saw such a fickle fellow in all my life. Blow, d’ye hear? Blow, can’t you?”

But the wind would not blow, except the other way; and that, the Spirit cried angrily, was worse than nothing at all.

At the door of a selector’s hut stood two little children in their nightdresses. “Dadda will beat the fire this time. Mummy,” said one, confidently, looking up with grave, wide-open eyes.

“I hope so, my lamb—I hope so,” said the woman, holding him close.

“Course he will. Look, Kitty, how angry that little imp grows! See him jump! Look, he jumped right at the fence then, and Dadda hit him such a whack with his branch!” and he laughed a merry child’s laugh, and the little girl laughed too.

The mother looked at them sadly. “Ah, poor little things, let them laugh while they can; to-morrow we may be roofless, homeless, ruined.”

As she stood watching the fire in the distance, it seemed to her as if the men must retreat before it, and yield everything; but they continued to fight stubbornly, gallantly.

What was that? Only a little rain-drop elf had flown up suddenly, and let a drop of rain fall right on the woman’s hand. Then came more, and more, and more. Now Heaven be praised!

The good little rain-drop elves were hard at work. They spread the rain so fast and so well over the country that the fire had to give way. It flew into a royal rage; it sputtered, and spizzed, and hissed, but it was of no use; it was conquered, and grew more and more subdued.

“Don’t despair, don’t grieve,” whispered the little elves soothingly to the poor blackened burning trees and grass, as they poured the beautiful cool rain over them. “You have suffered indeed, but very few things are as bad as they seem at first. Green leaves will grow on you again. Wait patiently and hope.”

“I knew it was going to rain,” said the little boy to his sister. “That’s what made the imp so angry; he wanted the wind to blow the clouds away, and the wind wouldn’t. I believe it was very sorry it had blown the fire as far as it did.”

“Go back to bed, both of you,” said the mother, adding to herself, “I cannot think what puts such ideas into that child’s head.” But then, you know, grown-up people cannot always see what little children see.

Then the father came back, full of thankfulness, to his hut, and all the men who had helped him went off home; and among the smouldering, smoking, black logs a miserable, shrivelled, blackened little imp crept about, wringing his hands, and bewailing the loss of his beautiful fire. For hours he vainly tried to bring it to life again.

“All, next time, next time,” he muttered; but now there came on such a downpour, that the Spirit shivered and disappeared altogether; the last spark was extinguished, and darkness fell on the land.



The Beaching Of The Collaroy

Perhaps you children think there are no mermaids nowadays? In that you are mistaken, for there are just as many mermaids now as ever there were—if you only have eyes to see them.

Some few years ago there were hundreds of them all along the coast between Newcastle and Sydney. There were three sisters especially, who were never tired of chasing the ships and steamers, of playing in the surf, of dancing on the sand, and of sitting on the rocks, combing their beautiful hair—all gold and glittering, as if someone had dashed bottled sunshine over it.

The eldest sister was called Poetina—which means little poet—because she was fond of poetry, and sometimes tried to make some up herself; besides, she had a way of saying the simplest things so that no one knew quite what she meant— and if that is not being a poet, I do not know what is.

Years ago she had found a number of books in a sunken ship, and had begged the Great Sea Serpent —who is a knowing fellow, and very seldom shows himself, but can read for all that—well, she begged him to teach her to read; and she grew to love her books dearly, especially the poetry, which she learnt by heart.

Often she would repeat it to the others. At first they were very much surprised, but afterwards grew very weary of it, for they did not in the least understand it.

The second sister was Good-diver, and I need not tell you why she was called that.

The third was Sunnyhair, and she was the most beautiful of the three; indeed, she was more beautiful than any mermaid that ever was.

One day they were all riding through the water on their little sea-horses. They ought to have been happy, but Sunnyhair looked cross. She felt fractious; she had stayed up too late the night before, dancing on the sand.

“Let us race,” said Good-diver, and they patted their horses and raced off merrily.

“Let us dive,” was her next proposal; and they dived off their horses, down, down, down, until they reached the bottom; and there they found rocks, and shells, and coral, and most beautiful flowers, and all kinds of strange fish swimming about.

“Come up and dance,” cried Good-diver, after awhile.

“The sand’s too heavy,” Sunnyhair said, petulantly.

“Well, then, come up and chase the ships;” but Sunnyhair was leaning on a rock, looking at herself in a glass, and she did not move.

“What’s the use?” said she. “The sailors never see us now.”

“It is moonlight, and a warm evening,” said Good-diver. “Come and see if any children are paddling at Manly Beach after the heat of the day. We will play with them and tickle their toes.”

“No good in that; they don’t see us either. They don’t believe in us. It’s horrid not to be believed in. Would they like it if we didn’t believe in them, and said there were no children?”

She pouted her beautiful red lips, and turned again to her looking-glass, which she had found in another sunken ship. She loved that glass. They do say that there are little creatures running about on land—also long-haired, but with two legs instead of a tail—who love it too.

At last she yawned, and began slowly mounting through the water again.

“I’m tired of everything; I want something new. I wish,” she said, slowly, “we’d have a good wreck.”

“Oh, no! no!” cried Poetina. “Don’t say so. I can’t bear to think of it. I can’t bear to see the poor things struggling.”

“I don’t like it much either,” Good-diver said, “but,” contemptuously, “why don’t they learn to swim properly? They always will try to swim on the top of the water, where it’s roughest, instead of down below, where it’s smoother.”

“They can’t breathe under water, poor things,” said Poetina gently.

“Then they should learn,” snapped Sunnyhair; “and if they don’t, they deserve to drown. You tell us of all the wonderful things they do in those books of yours, and yet they can’t do a simple little thing like that. I don’t think much of men.”

Poetina did not answer, and the three sisters closed their eyes and let the sea rock and sway them.

“‘Asleep in the arms of the slow swinging seas,’” quoted Poetina, drowsily. Suddenly she opened her eyes: something was passing overhead.

“A ship,” she murmured. “Speed on, thou gallant barque.”

“A ship!” cried Good-diver, looking up. “No, it’s a steamer. What a way she’s heading, too— straight for the rocks. Now, Sunnyhair, here’s your chance.”

“No, no, no!” cried Poetina. But they would not listen, and darted off in great glee, Sunnyhair calling in a voice so loud and clear and sweet, that it seemed to penetrate every nook and valley of the ocean for miles around:

“Come to us, come to us, men of the sea,
Hark to the call of your fair sisters three,
Come from your home in the waters below
Swim to us quickly, we long for you so!”

“That’s for the mermen,” said Good-diver. “Now for the porpoises, Sunnyhair.” And Sunnyhair called again:

“Listen, when we call the mermen;
Haste to help us, noble porpoise,
Bring your shoals of comrades with you —
Come along, you slow old tortoise!”

“I don’t think you need have called me that,” said the Porpoise at her elbow. “I don’t think tortoise is a pretty name to call anyone; and I came as fast as I could roll.” He was evidently hurt.

Sunnyhair laughed carelessly. “Oh, you there? Poetina made the rhymes, and she is very proud of them.”

“I am sorry I hurt your feelings,” said Poetina, penitently. “It took me some hours hunting through my books to find a rhyme to porpoise, and that was the only one there was. I wish I hadn’t taken it, or called you slow either.”

“Oh!” Sunnyhair tossed back her glorious tresses. “He wasn’t slow this time, but it will do for when he is.”

“Am I ever slow coming to you?” said the Porpoise sadly. “I love you; you know that.”

“Indeed I do; you’ve told me often enough. But don’t bother; there’s work to be done. Have you brought plenty of porpoises with you? Oh, you’ve been sensible for once. Now then, all roll a big furrow in the water, that this steamer may go easily along it on to the rocks. Ha, Porpoisette! is that you? You can’t be any use; you’d better go home.”

“I shall stay,” little Porpoisette answered, trembling before the beauty and haughty manners of Sunnyhair, but braving her nevertheless. “The sea is not all yours, and I shall stay.”

“Just as you like. You are too insignificant to be in the way. Where are the mermen?” said Sunny hair, carelessly.

“Here,” answered a meek voice, and a little merman clasped his hands, and looked adoringly up at Sunnyhair. All the porpoises and mermen for miles around were devoted to the beautiful Sunnyhair, who took all they gave her, and gave back nothing in return.

“Seize the steamer by the keel, and drag her along the furrow,” commanded Sunnyhair. “Come, Poetina—come, Good-diver;” and they rose to the surface.

“What is her name, Poetina?” asked Good-diver.

“The Collaroy,” answered Poetina sadly.

“Now then, good Collaroy, follow us,” cried Sunnyhair joyously; and she flung up her dazzling white arms, and tossed back her glittering hair, and made her eyes glow, until the eyes of those on board were quite confounded. Good-diver followed her closely, but Poetina wrung her hands.

“Oh!” she moaned to Porpoisette, who was beside her, “how wrong it is; but I will follow the ship, and if there is a Prince on board, I will save him. I read of a mermaid once who did that. He was so beautiful, and so was she; and she took his head on her bosom, and swam with him—”

“It is cruel! it is cruel!” interrupted Porpoisette. “We are all happy; we are alive. Why should we want to bring death and unhappiness on others? Oh, what can we do?”

“It is a beautiful story,” murmured Poetina— she had still been going on with it.

“Surely we can try something.” said Porpoisette anxiously.

“Oh, Porpoisette,” cried Poetina, “do you think there is a Prince on board? I should like to save him.”

“Prince? No; but there are men, and perhaps women. Let us try to save them! Do wake up, Poetina, there is no time to be lost! This heavy mist will hide what we do. Let us try to turn her head ever so little, and we may bring her up on the beach. See, I will roll the water just here, and you try to dazzle them. Do you hear? Dazzle them!”

“I—I can’t! I’m not beautiful,” Availed Poetina plaintively.

“Try! try! try!” urged Porpoisette. “I’m not very big, and yet I try to roll a furrow. Fling your arms about — that’s right! Believe that you are beautiful; make your eyes glow; toss your glittering hair! You want to save the ship: you will save the ship. I want to save the ship: I will save the ship. Sing sweet and low; the others will not notice. Oh, what a lovely voice you have! and how glorious you look! Feel sure the ship will come! I believe she will come in my little furrow. Believe we shall succeed! I believe it. We must succeed! We shall succeed! Come this way, dear Collaroy. Such a nice little furrow I’ve made! We don’t want to hurt you; we only want to save you. This way—this way. Oh, you must! Ever so little! Ah! she’s coming — she’s coming this way — she’s coming to us!”



“Hullo,” cried the porpoises, “her head’s slewing round!”

“If the captain has made up his mind to beach her, it’s no use going against him,” cried the mermen, “so let’s send her well up, and they won’t get her off again in a hurry.”

“I wonder if they heard the breakers on the rocks,” said Sunnyhair, with a face as black as a thunder-cloud.

“We have been wanting a ballroom so long,” said Poetina artfully, coming over to her sisters. “Wouldn’t she make a splendid ballroom if she were beached high and dry?”

Sunnyhair instantly rushed in front of the steamer, beckoning, calling, and singing most sweetly. The mermen all dragged and pushed with a will; the porpoises rolled merrily, making a furrow right up on the sand, and the Collaroy ran far up on the beach.

And this is how the Collaroy was beached.

People came to look at her often. There she lay high and dry, with sand each side of her keeping her firm and steady “with a slight list to starboard”—whatever that may mean; but sailors say it, so I suppose it’s all right—and her nose pointing right over a hill; and nobody could understand how she came there.

That is, nobody but I, who know all about it; and now you, because I have told you.

And please remember that Porpoisette and Poetina had more to do with saving that steamer from being wrecked than anyone dreams.


The Mermaids’ Ballroom

I told you how the Collaroy was beached, but you do not yet know what happened to her afterwards. Well, the mermaids used her as a ballroom, as Poetina had suggested. First of all, on any moonlight night they and their companions, about a hundred of them, used to assemble on the rocks, and comb out their long glittering tresses. Then they would climb up the sides of the Collaroy, shaking their hair, and looking back and laughing at the mermen, who sat about mournfully in little huddled-up heaps on the sand, wishing that they could come too.

Very lovely the mermaids looked too, sailing up and down the deck on their tails, round and round, and in and out of the cabins, and peeping through the portholes to tease the mermen, to whom they would send no invitations at all. And this was both unkind and unjust, since the mermen had done just as much as anyone towards getting this very ballroom for them.

But among the mermaids there was a fashion—and a very silly fashion too—of pretending to despise the mermen.

Yet, oddly enough, it they wanted any real work done, if they were in any trouble, the very first people they called on were the despised mermen.

After a while they grew tired of dancing by themselves, and invited the mermen, who hummed and hawed, and said they weren’t quite sure, but they thought they had an engagement; but they came for all that— oh, yes, they came— and made no allusions to the past, except that one or two of the younger ones said triumphantly: “Well, you couldn’t do without us after all.”

Luckily for them Sunnyhair did not hear of that speech, or they would never have been invited again.

The porpoises were pining to come too; but, alas! their home was in the water, and they did not understand dry land.

“Still, you might have just sent us an invitation,” pleaded the Porpoise, wistfully, “or have said you were sorry we couldn’t come. It pleases us to be remembered.”

Sunny hair laughed out gaily. “Fancy asking a fat, roly-poly, misshapen thing like you!”

“You didn’t mind asking the fat, roly-poly thing to help in beaching the steamer,” returned the Porpoise, much hurt by these unkind allusions to his figure. “I didn’t make myself; I’d rather be like you.”

“Fancy you being like me!” And she laughed more than ever. “Why, I am as beautiful as the dawn. Look at my complexion; look at my eyes, sparkling as the moonbeams on the water; look at my gold-glinted hair. No woman on earth has such a beautiful figure as mine, and no fish in the sea such a glorious tail. See now, watch the glimmering, shimmering colours in it. You like me, indeed! You, who are nothing but a hideous fat old lump of blackness!”

Nobody in the world likes to be called old, fat, or hideous, and the Porpoise was no exception to this rule. He felt it was quite bad enough to be all these things, without having it flung at him as if he had deliberately chosen to be so.

“I wish I weren’t so ugly,” he said later to his faithful little friend Porpoisette. “I didn’t want to be a porpoise. I didn’t want to roll about— I have to. Oh! why was I made so misshapen?”

“You’re nothing of the kind,” little Porpoisette cried indignantly; and she sat down by him and rubbed up against him affectionately. “You’re just exactly right for a porpoise. You are the best and handsomest in the whole world. Who said such a cruel— such a wicked thing?”

She did,” sobbed the Porpoise. “She is so unkind to me!”

“The best thing for that, I think,” said Porpoisette, after a little pause, “is to try never to be unkind to anyone else, so that they shall not suffer as you do.”

But the Porpoise wept on. “My heart is breaking,” he said.

“There is but one thing for that, that I know of,” said little Porpoisette in rather trembling tones, “and that is to let it break— cheerfully.”

Something in her voice made the Porpoise dash aside his tears to look at her. For the first time in all the years he had known her he thought of her before himself.



“Why, little Porpoisette,” he cried, “you speak as if you know. Surely you aren’t letting your heart break cheerfully?”

She laughed gaily. “The idea!” she said; yet, when he had gone, she too sat down and cried— for she loved the Porpoise quite as much as he loved the mermaid, and more.

Then she jumped up and began rolling over and over, turning head over heels with some boy-and girl porpoises in front of a ship, and was as merry as the merriest.

In the meantime a few men and a boy had been making feeble efforts to dig the sand away from the Collaroy; but the tide helped the mermaids to push it back as fast as the men dug it away, so they gave it up. Then more men came, and seemed to be making headway; so that the mermaids became alarmed lest they should lose their ballroom.

That was why all the porpoises received a most pressing invitation to come and see the mermaids comb their hair on the rocks, “as you are so unfortunately unable to be present at the forthcoming ball,” to quote Sunnyhair’s letter.

Our Porpoise came slowly and warily, for he had never been near Sunnyhair since her unkind words had nearly broken his heart. But now she was most charming, kind, and gracious; she let him hold her comb for her, and actually tried to teach him to dance in the surf; and when everyone laughed at his uncouth efforts, she said she thought he cut along beautifully through the surf, and might she ride on his back while he did it?

“Yes, oh, yes!” sighed the Porpoise, and a proud and happy fellow was he as he bore his precious burden gallantly through the waves.

Porpoisette watched them afar off with an aching heart.

“Ah, why can’t he see she only wants to get something out of him? But perhaps I am unkind. I am envious and bitter because I am not beautiful like her. Perhaps she is trying to be kind; I don’t think so, though— I don’t think so;” and she went sorrowfully away.

Porpoisette was right. The mermaids wanted the porpoises to roll together and send up a very large wave and a quantity of sand; and when they had done so the mermen and the mermaids piled it up all round the Collaroy. After a month or two more men arrived with spades and shovels, and set to work again; but one morning they woke to find all their work undone, and the Collaroy was left for months more. Time after time this happened, and thus for years the mermaids kept their ballroom; and if during those years the Porpoise broke his heart, he certainly took Porpoisette’s advice and broke it cheerfully. He was kind and willing to help anyone always. He went and rolled sand quite pleasantly if the mermaids asked him. But he seemed much more contented than he used to be, happier with his own people, and especially with little Porpoisette, whom he never left if he could help it.

At last the Collaroy was sold, and the new owners sent down a large gang of men, who worked resolutely day and night.

Oh, how angry were the mermaids! what indignation meetings were held! how they strove in vain to stop the work!

How they scolded at the men! how they wrung their hands! how they begged and implored!

“Our ballroom—our beautiful ballroom. We’ve had it for years. It’s ours, ours, ours. What right have you men to interfere? Didn’t we bring it up here ourselves? Let it alone— do you hear? Let it alone! How dare you touch it?” And so on.

But the men either would not, or could not, hear, and took no notice, and went their own way, and did what they meant to do; and this, mark you, is the way with men all the world over.

Well, on September 19, 1884, the Collaroy was actually floated, having been on that beach for three years and eight months; and people, when they heard she was afloat, could hardly believe it. As for the mermaids, they were so disgusted that they turned in a body and fled far away seaward, and vowed they would never come anywhere near Manly again.

And if ever you see the Collaroy, you will remember this history of her, and you will know why she stayed so long on that beach.

The porpoises stayed where they were.

“So the Collaroy is gone, and the mermaids are gone, and the mermen have gone after them, and only we porpoises are left.” Then Porpoisette asked, half-tremblingly: “And you—are you very, very sorry?”

“Not I,” said the Porpoise, stoutly; “not a bit. Are you?”

“No,” whispered she. “We were happier before they came, and it can’t hurt anyone now if I say I am glad that they are gone. I hope they will be happy wherever they go—indeed I do.”

The Porpoise looked at her. “What a good little thing you are—and very pretty too!”

She laughed merrily, because she knew she was not.

“Little Porpoisette, I love you,” he said.

“No! Do you really, though?” cried she, joyously. “Oh, I am so glad!” And over and over she went in her glee, and he rolled after her, and they both rolled out of my story.



Daisy And The Giants

Chapter 1
Daisy Is Lost

Daisy lived with her mother not far from Fernshaw in Victoria.

You will understand that at the time of which I write it was called neither Fernshaw nor Victoria; but I call places by the names they have now, so that you may know exactly where they were.

Daisy was very happy, yet she sometimes wondered why, when she was so happy, and the birds sang and the sun shone, her mother wept and held her closely to her.

She was rather lonely sometimes, and used to wish she had a sister or brother to play with; then her mother would weep afresh, and Daisy would remember that once she had a little brother, who disappeared some four years ago, and that her mother never spoke of him.

Daisy was ten now, and quite able to go on errands; but her mother always said:

“Keep to the main road. Remember, Daisy— never, never go into the bush.”

One day, however, as Daisy was walking along, she thought—

“Oh, dear, it’s so hot to-day; it’s just like summer. I’m sure I might walk under the shade of the trees. I’m such a big girl now I couldn’t get lost; and it’s so cool and green in there, and so hot and dusty out here. I’m sure, if mother were here, she’d tell me to.”

And then this foolish and naughty little girl did just exactly what she had been told not to— she left the main road and plunged boldly in among the ferns and trees.

Bright flowers lured her farther and farther in, and she flitted gaily from one to another, singing as she went, until the bush suddenly seemed to grow darker, and looking up she saw that the trees nearly blotted out the skies.

Such huge trees, too—so tall, it seemed to Daisy as if they really touched the sky, and so big round you could have hidden a coach and four horses behind one.

Daisy grew frightened. She could see the road nowhere; so she turned to retrace her steps. She was on a patch of land where there was no bracken or undergrowth of any sort. There was about half an acre of it, and all round grew brambles and fern and scrub; and the brambles caught her skirts and held her, while the ferns grew higher and higher, and waved their huge fronds at her, and struck her in the face and beat her back. The scrub became quite impenetrable, and she could make no progress whatsoever. Poor little Daisy! She struggled, and clambered, and fought, but all in vain; and at last, quite worn out, flung herself upon the ground, and wept bitterly, crying always for “Mother! mother! mother!”


She started up in terror, and ran behind a tree; and then, crash! again, and two huge black rocks lay just where she had been.

But were they rocks? No; they were enormous boots, each one four or five times as large as Daisy herself. Daisy looked higher; there were two huge legs, two large hands and arms, and an immense body. The head and shoulders she could not see, as they were above the tree-tops; but she well knew it was a giant.

Oh, how terrified was she, as she crouched there, hardly daring to breathe!

“I smell child! I smell child!” roared a terrible voice. “Child soup is good; Mrs. Muncher makes it well. Where’s that child?”

The leaves and branches of the trees were parted, a great red face peered down, two flaming eyes fixed themselves upon Daisy, and the giant made a sudden grab at her; but his fingers caught in the branches, and Daisy darted behind another tree.

“Lost her that time,” growled the giant, sniffing the air. “Aha! here we are,” and he made another grab, but again Daisy managed to escape.

The giant dropped on his hands and knees, growling and grumbling terribly; and now commenced a most exciting chase. It was like a huge unwieldy cat after a poor little terrified mouse.

The giant’s reach of arm was, of course, very great; but the trees were in his way, and he could not always tell which tree Daisy was behind, and if he stood up he lost sight of her altogether. So they went on— he grabbing at her and she eluding him, darting from tree to tree, until the giant was simply furious and Daisy ready to drop with terror and exhaustion.

She was leaning up against a tree, panting and trembling, and trying to get her breath, when she heard a loud caw and a great flapping of wings.

“What is it, master— what is it? shall I help? Shall I help? Ha! ha! ha! Good luck! good luck!” and she was suddenly seized in the beak of an enormous magpie and dropped into the giant’s hand.

“A nice dance you led me, you little atom,” he growled, savagely. “I shan’t even keep her for the soup; I’ll eat her now. A fine juicy little mortal she is, too—eh?” pinching Daisy all over, until she shrieked with pain and fright.



The magpie looked at Daisy enviously with his bright eyes. “Shall I help, master— shall I help?” he croaked eagerly. “Maggie’s food? Poor Mag! poor Mag!”

“Hold your tongue!” said the giant, and struck him angrily on the side of the head.

“Whee-o-o! whee-oo! whee-oo! whee-e-e-ooooh!” whistled the magpie, hopping off and shaking his head.

The giant opened his huge mouth. Daisy shuddered and shut her eyes. The giant raised his hand—when again there came a huge crash— and the giant lowered his hand. Daisy, trembling, ventured to open her eyes, and there was another giant sitting down beside them.

“She’s something terrible to-day, brother Muncher,” he said to the first giant.

Muncher looked very much alarmed. “You don’t mean to say Tantrums is vexed about anything, my good Gobbler?”

Gobbler nodded. “She’s been at it all this morning.”

The first giant groaned. “What it is to have a daughter who flies into a tantrum at the smallest thing! And the worst is, when she makes such a to-do, all the bush hears it, and it keeps off the mortals. I suppose that’s the reason I only found this,” and he opened his mouth as if to swallow Daisy.

Gobbler snatched her out of his hand before he could do so; Muncher furiously tried to snatch her back. Gobbler held her firmly; again Muncher tried to wrest her away; until, between the two, it was a wonder the poor child was not torn to pieces.

“What are you doing, brother Muncher?” bawled Gobbler. “I only want to look at her.”

“If you’d eaten her,” growled Muncher savagely, “I’d have broken every bone in your body.”

“Good luck! good luck!” sang the magpie, for which it received another cuff from Gobbler.

“Whee-oo! whee-oo! whee-oo!” it remarked, retiring sorrowfully.

“Tantrums wants more dolls. She’s always saying so. I’ve got two here. Save this, too, and see if that will bring her round,” said Gobbler.

Muncher acquiesced; the two giants rose heavily and strode off, and Daisy found herself in Gobbler’s pocket with two boys as terrified as herself. It was a comfort, however, just to whisper a few frightened words.

Soon the giants began to mount the Black Spur. There was no road then, and they went on up the terraces of tree-ferns, as if they were so many mushrooms beneath their feet.

Daisy thought that nowhere else in the world could there be such huge trees; and she was not far wrong, since they are only equalled by those in the Yosemite Valley.

Now and again the children ventured to poke their heads out of the giant’s pocket; but they dared not poke them far, or a flick from his finger would send them back. And anyone who has once had a flick from a giant’s finger never wants another.


Chapter 2
The Dolls’ House

On the very top of the Black Spur stood the Giants’ Castle, and out of this a girl giant came rushing like a whirlwind— waving her arms, stamping her feet, tearing her hair, and screaming at the top of her voice that there was too much pepper in the soup.

As she came towards them, both those huge giants shrank back; then Gobbler hastily took the three children from his pocket, Muncher pushed him forward, and he held them out to her in fear and trembling.

“Give them to me, you silly old dodderer!” she screamed, violently snatching them from him.

She turned them about in her hands, looking at them. “They’ll do,” and she was gone.

The two giants shook hands delightedly. They did not often manage to appease Tantrums so easily, for when she was really annoyed she thought nothing of slapping, kicking, or even biting anyone she happened to come across.

Tantrums’ dolls’ house was quite as comfortable as the house Daisy lived in at home; it was larger really, for it had more rooms and an upstairs and a downstairs.

The young giantess opened the whole of the front of the house, and there were children playing about in the different rooms, a cook attending to the dinner in the kitchen—the cook was a little boy of twelve, who hated the work—and a tall girl of about sixteen or seventeen, whom Tantrums picked up in her hands.

“Here, Mamma-doll,” she said, “I’ve brought you some more children. Kiss them,” and she rapped their faces one after another smartly up against the Mamma-doll’s face so smartly that their noses bumped, and then laughed heartily to see the tears standing in their eyes.

“Now keep them in good order, or I’ll eat them —or you!” and she bundled them all into the dolls’ house, closed the door with a snap, and left them.

They picked themselves up, feeling very much shaken, and the Mamma-doll asked kindly enough how they came to be caught.

Daisy with sobs and tears confessed she had disobeyed her mother.

“So did I,” said the other, sighing. “Oh, how I wish I hadn’t. I’ve been here five years. My name is Fanny—you can call me that except when Tantrums is here, and then you must say Mamma.”

Fanny gave them all something to eat, and then said it was time for lessons, adding—

“And you must be very good, for if Tantrums gets angry with you she will eat you up in a minute.”

So they set to work quietly with the other children, who all worked most steadily—all, that is, but one little fellow of six, whose spirits nothing could subdue. He laughed and jumped and frisked about in spite of anything Fanny or the children might say.

Suddenly the door opened.

“Who makes all this noise,” cried Tantrums, angrily, “during school hours?”

“Me,” said the little fellow, cheerfully, and two of the children dragged him on to a chair and held him there.

“I’ll eat you next time, little Bill,” Tantrums said, shaking her finger at him. “You’ll go too far one of these days. Hullo, fat little girl! What’s your name? You look very tender.”

“Daisy,” gasped Daisy in terror.


“Daisy,” repeated Daisy, shivering all over.

“What?” roared Tantrums.

“Speak up loud,” urged Fanny in a frightened whisper. “She’s a little deaf.”

“Daisy,” screamed Daisy.

“Why didn’t you say so at once?” and she gave Daisy a flick with her little finger that knocked her off the chair.

Daisy began to cry,

“Don’t cry! don’t cry!” whispered Fanny, still more frightened. “She ate the last child who cried.”

But Tantrums had seen her, and reached out her hand. Daisy ran shrieking to the furthest corner of the room, when little Bill suddenly jumped straight into Tantrums’ hand and, before she was aware what he was doing, scrambled up her sleeve on to her shoulder. There he caught hold of her hair and began swinging in it.

“Come off that, you little Bill!” cried Tantrums, stamping with pain; but little Bill held on with all his might, and would not leave go, and it was many minutes before she could disentangle him.

“Now, I shall eat you this time!” But Bill began dancing and capering about in her hand so funnily that she had to laugh.

“Now dwink your tea,
And then eat me,”

sang little Bill, with his head on one side like a sparrow.

“Munch and gwind and gobble me:
Come, you see how fat I be!”

he sang again.

Tantrums laughed quite good-temperedly, and put him back. “No, I can’t eat the only one of the whole lot who ever amuses me; but I’ll give you a good whipping next time, Master Bill, so take care.”

Thus Daisy escaped through little Bill, and little Bill escaped, as he had done many a time before, because he was the only person in the land who did not fear the giantess.

As for Daisy, she was so much fascinated by him that she could hardly take her eyes off him, and when she found they were to sleep in the same room, she was almost happy.

She led a strange life after this—plenty to eat and drink, plenty of pretty frocks, lessons to do, games with the other children— very much the same as at home and yet so different!

Sometimes, though, she would have been really happy, had it not been for the thought of her mother and the dread of Tantrums.

The dolls’ house stood on a table in the sitting room, and Tantrums would often let the children run about on the table. She had a way of picking them up and popping them down somewhere else so quickly that it made them terribly giddy. Then she would bathe, dress, and undress them half a dozen times a day if she had the fancy; and she often did not put buttons on their clothes, and used pins instead so carelessly that she ran them into them. Sometimes she would pretend they were ill, and give them physic, and make them go to bed; or she would pretend they were naughty, and slap them until all the breath seemed beaten out of their bodies, and that was worst of all. Sometimes she would take several of them out for a run on the grass; but, delightful though it was to be in the fresh air again, it was spoilt by that detestable magpie.

He was always there, and if they ran a step too far, would pounce down, shrieking— “I’ve got him, I’ve got him!” or, “I’ve got her, mistress! I’ve got her! Good luck! good luck!” And he would roll the poor children round and round in his beak, as if he wanted to break all their bones and swallow them, and he would have done it if he had only dared.

They would all rather not have had the outing, than run the risk of going through that awful sensation.



Chapter 3
The Escape

Escape seemed utterly impossible; yet one evening, as they were discussing for the hundredth time how they could get out, an idea came to Harry. “I’ll tell you what,” he said; “I’ll see if I can’t climb up the chimney, and when I’m outside perhaps something can be done.”

Harry was one of the boys who had come in with Daisy. He was about fourteen, small for his age, and very quiet as a rule; but to-day he had nearly slipped down the magpie’s throat, and been pulled out only just in time by the infuriated Tantrums, who had first kicked the magpie right across the lawn and then beaten Harry. He felt he could bear no more.

“I will go now,” he said.

Fanny wrung her hands helplessly. “Don’t go, Harry; it’s no use. What can you do when you get there? You’ll only be caught and killed.”

“Nothing venture, nothing have,” said the boy sturdily.

So he bade them “good-bye and good luck,” and then began to wriggle up the chimney. Fortunately it was rather a wide one, and though he nearly stuck once or twice, and grazed all the skin off his elbows and knees, he did manage it.

Once on the roof he drew a long breath; then he crawled all round the edge, looking down. It was quite thirty feet from the table, and there was no lightning-rod or water-pipe to help him.

“Only a cat could do it,” sighed the boy, and then an idea struck him, for there was Terrors, the giants’ cat, sitting blinking before a dying fire.

He scratched with all his might on the roof, and in a few seconds Terrors, thinking it was a mouse, had bounded up on to the table and then on to the roof beside him. Harry was not afraid of Terrors; he was much more amiable and friendly than most of the giants’ animals: so Harry stroked him, and tickled him, and at last crawled on to his back, and held on tightly while he jumped to the ground.

Harry knew that nothing more could be done that night, for Tantrums had the key of the dolls’ house, and locked the door of her sitting-room on the outside; so, like a sensible boy, he curled himself up in Terrors’ long fur and went to sleep.

Next morning the boy woke very early—almost before daylight—and, to while away the time, he and Terrors had games together. It was rather like playing with a black furry elephant, and sometimes Terrors would knock him right over with his paw, but never hurt him.

A step sounded outside, and Harry rushed across the room and darted head foremost into the coal scuttle.

He was none too soon, for next second Tantrums came into the room in her dressing gown, with a lighted candle. She stole on tiptoe across the room, and opened the dolls’ house silently and sharply.

Everyone there was asleep, genuinely enough, as she saw at once, so she pushed the door to without making a noise, and stooped to look under the table. At that moment Terrors sprang on her back. He owed her a long-standing grudge, for she kicked and cuffed him on every possible opportunity.

Now, Tantrums hated cats to touch her, as Terrors well knew, and a cat upon her back drove her nearly frantic. She slapped at him wildly with her hands; then she turned sick and faint, caught her foot in the hearthrug, and came down with a crash, striking her head violently on the coal scuttle, while Terrors bounded out of the door, and Harry flew out of the coal scuttle. He was not hurt, but picked himself up at once, and stood looking at her in dismay, ready to run if she opened her eyes or moved. But she lay there motionless.

The crash aroused all the inmates of the dolls’ house, and they came pouring out of the slightly opened door on to the table.

“Quick, quick! Come quick! cried Harry.

All very fine, but how?

Then Harry did a daring thing. He took his penknife, cut off several strands of Tantrums’ hair, and knotted them together until he had a rope long enough to reach to the table.

Meantime, Fanny had told the elder children to hurry on their clothes and help the little ones to dress, while she hastily dressed herself; then she joined together every piece of string and window cord she could find in the house. This she lowered, and Harry tied his rope on to it; they hauled it up, made it fast, and one after another slid down with a run on to a cushion Harry had managed to drag from the sofa.

Then picking up a few loaves of bread they had thrown down first, they all hastened out of the room, along the hall, and out of the front door of the Castle.

Fortunately for them, no one cares very much about trying to rob giants, so Muncher and Gobbler always left their front door wide open.

Oh, how frightened they were as they sped along! The sun was rising, and at any minute the giants might wake, or Tantrums might recover and find that they had gone.

But Gobbler and Muncher had eaten a very heavy supper, and slept on through all the noise. Mrs. Gobbler and Mrs. Muncher were two fat, lazy, easy-going old giantesses who never moved if they could possibly help it, and Crack-bones, the gardener, and Grind-marrow, the cook, had gone off for a little stroll together, so that they heard none of the noise.

It was some time before Tantrums recovered; then she only just managed to stagger up, push the door of the dolls’ house quite to, and lock it—she did not notice her own hair hanging from the table, so dazed and sick was she—and then called to the cook to come and bind her head up, for it was bleeding very much.

Next she gave orders that Terrors was to be killed instantly, and tumbled into bed again.

So it was not until after four that afternoon, when, feeling somewhat better, she went to let the children out for a run, that she discovered their flight.

She raged and yelled, and went into such violent tantrums that no one could hear what she said. This enraged her still more, and she flew at Crack-bones and tore his hair out. He shook her off and ran for his life, calling— “Look out! look out! ’Ware Tantrums!”

Whereupon all the giants locked themselves into their different rooms—none of them wishing to be bitten or scratched—and let her shriek, storm, and batter outside their doors to her heart’s content.

Thus two more good hours were lost before she could make them understand what had happened.

Then they all turned on her, shook her, told her it was all her fault being so stupid as to keep dolls, and why didn’t she look after them properly? If these children got away, they’d tell everyone, and no one would come any more, and they (the giants) would all starve! It would be many a long year before they’d give her any more dolls, they promised her that.

So, growling and grumbling, Gobbler, Muncher, and Crack-bones strode off down the Black Spur, followed by Tantrums, quite subdued, and Grind-marrow, while Mrs. Gobbler and Mrs. Muncher puffed along in the background.


Chapter 4
In The Trap

The dolls’ house party meanwhile were scrambling hurriedly along. Sometimes it was so thick they could hardly push their way through; sometimes so rough they could scarcely get along; sometimes so steep that they could not get down at all, and had to turn off in quite another direction, and lose much ground thereby.

Nevertheless those twenty young people kept bravely on until they reached the spot where Daisy had first been discovered by Muncher.

This was a trap belonging to the giants, and the very worst place they could possibly have come into. It was enchanted ground, and the brambles clung to them, and the ferns beat them back, and nearly blinded them.

They soon saw things were hopeless. Here they were on about half an acre of ground, enclosed by the densest scrub; what chance had they to escape seven infuriated giants?

In despair they crouched at the foot of one of the largest trees, and began to cry bitterly.

Little Bill alone was undisturbed. Harry had carried him over the worst parts of the ground, so that he was not at all tired, and he was trotting about, singing over and over again a funny little rhyme he had picked up somewhere:

“Forwards is sad,
Backwards is glad;
Forwards is silly,
Cold and chilly;

Backwards is nice,
Sugar and spice;
Forwards is woam,
Backwards is home.”

Then he began again, louder than before:

“Forwards is mad,
Backwards not bad;
Forwards is her”

(“that’s Tantums,” he explained);

“Backwards is purr”


“Ah, Bill, dear, do be quiet,” cried Daisy in agony. “They’ll hear you, oh, they’ll hear you!” And they tried to silence him, but he kept on breaking out again and again.

“Who taught you that song, little Bill?” asked Fanny, to distract his attention.

“My fairwy godmother,” he replied mysteriously.

“I wonder if there is anything in it,” Harry said. “Let’s try going back.” They all tried deliberately to retrace their steps in the direction of the giants’ castle, but it was useless, and after about half an hour they came back sorrowfully, and crouched in the shelter of the tree again.

Being winter, it was dark before six; but presently the moon rose, and they lay and shivered and trembled, while little Bill drove them nearly wild with his singing always—

“Forwards is night,
So silly and cold;
Backwards is wight,
So warm and so bold.”

And then he would jump and dance about in the moonlight, until he was brought back, singing, in spite of their hands on his mouth—

“Forward to her”

(“that’s Tantums”);

“Backward to purr”

(“that’s— )

Here they heard a dreadful thundering down the mountain side. They knew what it was —the giants were on their track; and while they listened in terror what should little Bill do but escape again!

He rushed right out into the moonlight, where he was plainly visible, running as fast as his nimble little feet would go. One and all they rushed after him, but he only shrieked with laughter, enjoying the race, and ran all the faster to reach the edge of the scrub. Then he turned to face them, and leant up against the ferns, doubling himself up to prevent their tickling him, and still shrieking with laughter —when the fern fronds parted and little Bill disappeared from their gaze.

In frantic distress, horror, and grief, they beat madly against the ferns and scrub, and now the thundering of the giants’ steps came nearer and nearer, and they could hear the voice of the wicked magpie—

“Can I help, master, can I help? All right! all right! I’ll catch ’em—I’ll catch ’em! Food for Maggie, eh? Poor Mag! poor Mag!”

“You may eat the whole lot if you only catch ’em,” bawled Muncher.

“Good luck! good luck!” piped the magpie.

Nearer, nearer, nearer—in another few minutes they would be lost.

“I see! I see!” cried Harry suddenly. “Turn round—go backwards—all of you! Quick! Little Bill went through backwards. Quick! quick! quick! Oh, how stupid—hurry—hurry up!”

Through they all went in terrified haste, Harry— brave boy— being the last to go; and there they found little Bill, who commenced singing at once—

“Backwards is toil,
Forwards is spoil.”

He was right. It was toil walking backwards, and often they were tempted to turn round and run; but, as Harry said, if they had only obeyed little Bill before, they would have been out of this long ago, and he thought it best “whatever Bill said to stick to.”

They agreed to this, so plodded steadily backwards, though the giants’ voices seemed to be booming right in their ears.

“I thought I heard ’em here,” said Crack-bones.

“I know I heard ’em here,” roared Gobbler.

“I smell child! I smell child!” growled Muncher.

“Fee, fo, fi, fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman!”

At those awful words they simply shook in their shoes.

“They must be here!” cried Tantrums.

“Good luck! good luck!” croaked the magpie, excitedly, and the children’s hearts beat fast with terror.

“They are here!” shrieked Tantrums, holding up Daisy’s hair-ribbon, which the magpie had just dropped into her hand.

“Hunt ’em up! hunt ’em up!” cried Crackbones. “Findings is eatings, master?”

“All right,” growled Muncher, “only find ’em, that’s all.” And he dropped on his hands and knees at the trunk of the tree they had crouched behind. “Ah, they’ve been here not long ago; now we shall find them.”

He went along like a dog, sniffing the ground, till his huge nose almost ploughed up the grass, while the magpie hopped alongside.

“Shall I help, master, shall I help? I’ll find ’em. Ha! ha! ha! ha!”

He made a sadden pounce, and picked up little Bill’s shoe off one of the tree-ferns, where it had flown when he so suddenly went over backwards.

“Good luck! good luck!” he piped joyously.

“You—you owl! you ninny! you blockhead!” screamed Tantrums. “Don’t you see what it means? They’ve escaped—they’ve found the trick. Good luck indeed! I’ll good luck you! They may be on the road by now. Oh, you dolt! You miserable idiot—you—ah!”

She snatched a bludgeon from Gobbler’s hand and flung it ferociously at the magpie.

It struck him fairly on the head, and rolled him over and over; he gave one squawk, and lay quite still. He was dead.



Chapter 5
Terrors Versus Tantrums

The children meanwhile were clear at last of all undergrowth and scrub, and little Bill began to sing:

“Fwough the dark wood,
Forwards is good,
Now let us wun,
Oh, it is fun!”

They could hardly feel that. Still, his advice had been good so far, so they all spun round and began running as hard as they could go, Fanny and Harry taking care that none of the little ones were left. And now imagine their horror when they found that Muncher, Gobbler, and Crack-bones had stepped backwards right over their heads, and stood there in front of them, grinning horribly as their eyes fell upon the poor children.

“Fwough the dark wood,
Forwards is good,”

chanted little Bill, trotting steadily on, and as the giants had but to stoop to catch them, and they had agreed to do what Bill said, they ran miserably on until they almost reached the nearest giant’s feet.

“No further go,
’Twill lead to woe,”

chanted a voice, not little Bill’s this time, and they all stopped short.

But what had happened to the giants? They raved, and roared, and stamped, and gnashed their teeth; but they seemed absolutely incapable of touching the children.

When the children saw this they were going to run on again, but the same voice chanted:

“Beware! stand fast! stand fast!
The danger’s not yet past!”

“My fairwy godmother,” said little Bill, pointing, and they saw it was Terrors standing behind the giants.

He sprang at Muncher and bit his legs sharply, scratched Gobbler’s hand, jumped upon Crack-bones, scratching him smartly too, and then bounded off.

All three giants began running backwards, hitting wildly at the cat, and the children followed, for they saw that as long as the giants were in front of them, they could not be harmed.

This the giants saw too, as soon as their rage would allow them, so they stepped forward over the children and tried to reach down backwards; but they could not, for they were on enchanted ground, and enchantment, you see, is a ticklish matter to deal with.

So they stepped back into their trap, and then stepped short of the children, and tried to reach down backwards again; but it was no use.

The Magician who enchanted that ground had strong sporting instincts. He liked his quarry always to have a chance of escape— it added so much to the pleasures of the chase— and he thought that if any human beings were clever enough to outwit the giants, and escape in spite of the enchantment, they certainly ought to have some little help and encouragement.

So, when the giants asked him to enchant the ground, he made a rule that everyone must go backwards through the half-mile of undergrowth, and take at least two hundred steps, or else they could not turn round and go forwards.

Human beings naturally took over two hundred steps, if they once found out about going backwards; but the Magician, for mischief, only told the giants about going backwards, so that they knew nothing whatsoever of the two hundred steps.

Then he made a rule that if the giants crossed the magic half-mile in less than two hundred steps, the first time they could only catch what was behind them; the second time they crossed they could only catch what was in front of them; and the third time could catch nothing at all.

So once again the giants strode back into the trap, and angrily demanded who knew the secret of the enchantment.

“The magpie,” panted Mrs. Gobbler; she and Mrs. Muncher had arrived by this time, and were both sitting up against a tree, very tired and breathless.

You see, the magpie had belonged to the Magician, and knew all the tricks of the trade; but hitherto, if anyone had ever got through the enchanted half-mile, the magpie had flown over it, thus avoiding the enchantment, and had then picked up and eaten the unfortunate being.

“What does it matter about the secret?” asked Grind-marrow. “Why don’t you send Maggie?”

“But he’s dead!” bawled Muncher savagely.

“Killed by that wicked girl!” yelled Gobbler.

“Oh, you wicked girl!” cried Mrs. Muncher and Mrs. Gobbler, and they rose and fell upon Tantrums, and beat and pummelled her severely.

The giants kept on stepping to and from the trap with no success; they tried even a few fancy steps, but all to no purpose. Though they could catch up to the children, they could not touch them in any way; and this made them so furious that they roared like seven hundred lions all rolled into one.

When Mrs. Gobbler and Mrs. Muncher had exhausted themselves upon Tantrums, and were pausing to get their breath, Tantrums wrenched herself free, snatched Gobbler’s bludgeon again, and belaboured them so savagely that they howled for mercy, and were so stiff and sore they could scarcely move. As for Grind-marrow, she fled homewards for her life.

Then, bludgeon still in hand, Tantrums began backing through the enchanted half-mile.

“They got through somehow,” said she, “and were able to run forwards afterwards. I’ll try to go through just like a child;” so very slowly and carefully she went, taking as small steps as she possibly could.

She must have taken the two hundred, for at the end of the half-mile she began to run.

“On to my back! on to my back!” screamed Terrors, and away he went with the whole twenty of them like the wind.

It was a most exciting race. Terrors had a good start, of course, but was carrying twenty children; and alas! Tantrums gained on them at every step.

Nearer and nearer they came to the main road, but nearer and nearer came she, swirling her bludgeon round and round as she ran, until it was clear to all that she must catch them.

Nearer, nearer, closer, closer— she raised her bludgeon high in the air— the cat swerved suddenly, and the bludgeon struck the ground and flew out of her hand.

Tantrums recovered herself instantly, and grabbed the cat by the tail, jerking him off the ground, and scattering the children far and wide.

Terrors turned round, biting and scratching with all his might, and Tantrums dashed him furiously on the ground, and then caught up little Bill, who happened to be nearest.

Next minute he would have been in her pocket; but Terrors, who had been stunned for a second, was up again, with his teeth fastened in her wrist.

With a sharp yell she dropped little Bill—it was a wonder the fall did not kill him—and began dancing round and round, trying to shake Terrors off. In vain; he hung on desperately, until Tantrums picked up her bludgeon from the ground with her other hand, and struck him with all her might. He fell with a sudden cry, and lay on the ground moaning feebly.

Now Tantrums was off after the children, as one after another they tumbled, scrambled, fell into the road. She made one desperate clutch at them as they went and seized poor Harry, who was last, by the boot, but he frantically kicked it off with his other foot and left it in her hand, and tumbled into the road on top of the others, and lay there panting but safe.

Tantrums stood not a yard off, tearing her hair out by handfuls, because into the road she knew she could not go.

Poor Terrors still lay where he was, moaning pitifully.



Chapter 6
The Water Nymph

The children cried sadly when they realised for the first time that Terrors was not with them, and that the faithful animal had given his life to save theirs.

They wrung their hands in anguish to see him lying there, wounded and dying, while Tantrums stood near him tying up her damaged wrist, which was very swollen and painful.

“I’ll skin you alive when I’ve finished this,” she snarled between her teeth.

“Oh, Harry,” cried Daisy, “he saved us; how can we leave him lying there? She says she will skin him alive—and she will, too.”

Then Harry did a brave thing. Crying, “Here goes!” he dashed straight back to Terrors, followed instantly by Daisy, and together they laid hold of the cat and began dragging him towards the road. To their surprise they found him quite easy to move.

As for Tantrums, she was so astonished by this amazing piece or audacity that for a few seconds she stood and stared. Then in one stride she was by them, and lifted her bludgeon, meaning only to hit hard enough to clear the cat out of the way, so that she could get at Harry and Daisy, who were quite hidden in his fur; but in her temper she hit so hard, that all three flew through the air and landed, plob! in the road—the cat underneath, the children on top.

And now they all drew round poor Terrors, and called him “dear, dear old puss,” and kissed and cried over him, and stroked his soft fur lovingly.

He drew his last few breaths slowly and painfully; then all was still, and poor puss lay dead, while they all sobbed as if their hearts would break.

Behold! a strange thing happened. The cat’s body disappeared, and there stood in its place a beautiful girl.

She was dressed all in green reeds, that swayed about as she moved, and showed her beautiful white hands and feet. Her hair was long and wavy and brown, and sparkled all over with dew-drops, and her eyes were large and soft, like a camel’s, as she gazed tenderly at the children.



“Oh, you dear little children! she cried, as she kissed them one and all. “You dear, good children!”

Then she laid her hands on Daisy’s and Harry’s shoulders, and her lovely brown eyes filled with tears.

“You brave, brave boy!” she said. “You’ll make a fine man some day.” And Harry blushed and hung down his head, not knowing where to look.

“This warmhearted, brave little girl will make a good woman,” she continued— “if she learns to be obedient.”

She laughed merrily at that—a kind of bubbling laugh, like water running over stones—and Daisy laughed too; indeed, they all did.

She told them how she was a water-nymph, and one day she had gone too far from the river, and a wicked old Magician had caught her and changed her into a cat, and given her to the giants; and how the Magician had said he always liked his prey to have a chance of escape—

“And the day two children risk their lives to save you from the giants, that day you shall become a water-nymph again, provided you reach the road alive; and after that no enchantment shall ever touch you.”

She had never expected such a day to come, though she had stayed on with the giants, hoping against hope; and now the day had come, and she thanked them over and over again.

She told them how she was unable to speak or help them much until she was outside the enchanted half-mile; but that from the very first little Bill had understood her, and she had taught him the rhymes in case they ever did escape.

And she kissed little Bill, and thanked them all again. She did not seem to think she had done anything in risking her life to save them; but they did not forget to thank her— of that you may be sure.

Now, tired and hungry as they were, she somehow revived them wonderfully as, taking little Bill and Daisy by the hands, she went leaping, laughing, dancing, springing down the road in the moonlight — as one day, if you ever go to Fernshaw, you will see the water leaping and dancing over the stones in the river Watts.

But Crack-bones, Muncher, and Gobbler were raging and roaring and turning black in the face as they looked over their shoulders and watched the children go—until Tantrums turned suddenly in her wrath upon them and began to knock them about with her bludgeon, and bite and scratch them with all her might.

They were quite powerless to defend themselves or to hurt her, because they had failed to take the two hundred steps; so they rushed wildly back towards the trap, and the last the children saw of them was three huge giants fleeing for their lives, pushing, jostling, fighting in their endeavours to escape Tantrums, who was laying about her vigorously with her bludgeon, drawing bellows of rage and pain first from one and then from another.

At the end of the road the water-nymph kissed all the children again, and bade them farewell. She cried when she came to take leave of Harry and Daisy, and thanked them yet once more.

They all felt rather sad, too, as they watched her skipping and leaping towards the river, and smiling through her tears and nodding at them over her shoulder.

Yet, sad though they felt, were they not going home? Their spirits rose again, and they went as fast as they could to their different homes, and, oh! what rejoicings over them there were!

Little Bill had no home, so Daisy begged that he might come with her. Strange to tell, he turned out to be her very own brother, and never were there three such happy people as Daisy, little Bill, and their mother that night.

After this everyone was most careful, both children and grown-ups, never to stray off the road, and whether the giants starved to death or died of old age I know not; but this much is certain, there are none there now, and of their Castle on the top of the Black Spur not a vestige remains.


The Making Of The Southern Cross

A mermaid on a dolphin’s back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song,
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid’s music.
          —Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The stars are like crystals in the sky, and it is the duty of the little sky boys and girls to keep them bright and clear. Every day they take pieces of filmy grey and gold cloud, and polish the stars until they shine and twinkle again.

One day, many thousand years ago, the sky-children were careless or lazy, for they neglected their duty.

They ran away to their azure playing-fields, and quite forgot even to peep down from the sky to see what was going on in this strange old world here below.

Well, they missed something, as you shall hear.

A great wind had been blowing, and the sea and he had had a quarrel. The more the sea thought of it the angrier he grew. No one could quiet him; he was raging and roaring, and tossing his waves up into great crests of foam, until everyone feared him, waiting in dread and wondering what he would do in his wrath.

“Something must be done,” was whispered on all sides, but none dared interfere.

Then a mermaid arose. “Let me try,” she said gently, “to soothe him.”

She decked herself in sea-weed, she wreathed beautiful flowers in her hair, she hung shells and coral round her neck and wrists, and called to a dolphin.

He came gladly at her call.

This was not a modern dolphin, such as you may see now. No, this was the dear old-fashioned kind, with a huge mouth, large goggly eyes, and a tail curled up over his back, just as you see him in the ancient pictures and statues.

“Come,” she said, and he came.

She mounted on his back and rode slowly up through the water, and when she reached the top she began to sing.

It was mournful, clear, and sweet; it was weird, it was beautiful, it was entrancing.

The sea, in spite of himself, stopped raging to listen, while from north and south, from east and west, all the inhabitants of the ocean came to follow in her train.

On she rode, singing as she went, and the sea so loved her song that he learnt some of it, and kept it for ever. It penetrated every part of the world; the trees took it up, so did the winds, and they have never lost it. In the breakers’ roar, in the sighing of the wind, in the rustle of the trees, you can still hear some of that wonderful sea-maid’s music.

“Stay, my dolphin,” she said at last. “Stay here, for this is the most beautiful thing I have yet seen. So solitary, so grand, so majestic is it that I must pay it homage.”

She gazed as she spoke at a glorious mountain, grand in its loneliness, capped with snow, glistening and gleaming in the moonlight.

They call it Mount Egmont nowadays.

Here she paused; the other mermaids drew round her and blew upon conch shells, some of the mermen lay about on the curious black beach of Taranaki, while others climbed up the needle-like rocks and sat there. The fishes of the sea gathered about her, while above them all towered Mount Egmont, majestic and still. It was a wonderful sight.

Then, lifting up her hand, she began to sing again so sweetly, so solemnly, so enchantingly, that the neglected stars left the skies, and came shooting headlong down in rain about her.



So, when the sky-children remembered their duties, and came to polish the stars, there were no stars to polish.

“What shall we do?” they wept.

Then they dried their eyes, and said— “Let us go and look for them.”

So down they all flew, and hunted over the face of the earth for stars; and presently one of them saw something glittering on Mount Egmont, and they set off eagerly in that direction.

The mermaid and her train were gone, the sea was quiet and placid, but the stars remained scattered about.

The sky-children scrambled for them, laughing, shouting, and racing one another, to see who could collect the most.

One of the sky-boys, named Fleet-wings, presently called out: “Look, there aren’t nearly as many stars as there used to be. We can’t stud the sky all over as it was before. Supposing we each take what we have, and make our own pattern. I’m off!” And he shot—like a star himself—up, up, and up, until he reached the sky.

He was the quickest of them all, and had some of the best stars, and chose the very best place.

“I shall make a man,” he said, “of mine. I’ll do Orion, the biggest hunter that ever lived.” And he set to work busily.

“One, two, three, four, five, six beauties!” counted a little sky-girl gleefully, holding up in her frock, made of a pink cloud, the stars she had gathered.

Her name was Silver-gleams, and she was now flying slowly and carefully back for fear she should spill any of her precious treasures.

When at last she reached the sky, all the other children were hard at work on their different designs. She chose an empty space, and stared thoughtfully at the contents of her lap.

“I can’t do anything very difficult,” she said. “A cross is easy; but,” looking round, “there are one or two that look like crosses already. I wonder if I could make mine different, so that everyone should see mine directly they look. Oh, what a beauty! Why, this is a double star. It makes all the others look dull, though.”

She wrinkled up her little pink brow in perplexity.

“I know,” she cried, suddenly clapping her hands in glee, “what will make everyone look at my cross. I’ll just take the two brightest, and they shall point at it.”

She took them and put them in their places, the double star first, then the other.

“Look at my pointers!” she cried merrily to some boys who were working at the Milky Way, but they only nodded and did not turn their heads.

She laughed softly to herself as she began at the cross, and now a sad thing befell. Either she had counted wrong, or she had dropped one as she came up, for there were but three stars in the cross.

What a mockery it seemed now to see the pointers pointing at an unfinished cross!

All her pretty joy was gone. She went from group to group of sky-children begging for a star —only one, just one.

But most of the children had not enough as it was, for many of the stars had been lost in the sea—and no one had any to spare.

“I have only this one left,” said one little girl, “and I have no other bright ones at all. My poor old dog would be nothing without this.” And she poked it straight in the eye of the dog, where it shone beautifully.

That star is Sirius, and it is the most brilliant in all the heavens.

With a longing look at Sirus, Silver-gleams went back to her uncompleted cross, sighing over and over again: “What shall I do—what shall I do?” for you must understand, when once the children had put the stars in the skies, they could not get them out again.

The Milky Way boys had plenty of stars, but they were selfish, so at first they pretended not to hear her; at last they said, impatiently:

“What’s the use of making such a fuss? Why don’t you go and look for one?”

By-and-bye she took their advice, and rather disconsolately wended her way earthwards. Imagine her delight, while she was yet a long way off, to see on the black beach of Taranaki a star sparkling like a diamond.

She gave a joyful cry, and flew faster than ever.

Now Fleet-wings had used too many of his stars also; he wanted a head for his Orion, and almost at the time that she spied the star he spied it also.

He echoed her cry, and gave chase. Silver-gleams had a long start, but he gained on her—fast, fast, fast.

Nearer, nearer, nearer—she could hear his wings; yet she would surely get it. She reached out her eager little hand to take it, when his shot past hers, seizing the star before her very eyes, and Fleet-wings rolled over and over in the sand laughing and holding it up.

“Give it me! It’s mine! it’s mine! it’s mine!” she cried tremulously, stamping her little foot. “I saw it first.”

“It’s mine! it’s mine! it’s mine!” laughed the boy. “I reached it first.”

“But I ought to have it, she cried indignantly.

“But I’ve got it!” he retorted triumphantly.

“You’ve no right to keep it,” she said passionately.

“But I’m going to,” he returned, and flew back to his Orion.

“It was a fair race,” he argued as he flew along. “She wouldn’t have given it to me if she had reached it first, and I believe we saw it both together. I shall keep it.” He looked over his shoulder, and saw Silver-gleams coming droopingly along far behind. “I shall keep it,” he said, but not so decidedly as before.

He looked long at Orion. It was the best of them all. No other sky-child had as beautiful a collection as he. He turned to look at Silver-gleams’ cross, which looked rather forlorn with its three stars, but not half so forlorn as the pathetic little figure that stood in front of it.

If she had cried loudly. Fleet-wings would not have felt it so much; but she was just standing there with her back to him, her little shoulders shaking, her curly head bent down, while every now and then a small, trembling hand would furtively lift a piece of her pink dress to her eyes.

He gave one last look at his headless Orion, and rushed across the sky.

“Here you are,” he called. “Oh, why, I didn’t notice; it’s two stars. Well, you shall have the biggest,” and, reaching over her shoulder, he thrust it into its place, but in his haste did not put it in quite straight.

“It’s not very big,” he said, “nor very bright. Perhaps it will look better if I put this little one right on top of it.” But at this moment Silver-gleams flung her arms round his neck, and jerked the small star into the wrong place.

“What a pity!” said the boy. But Silver-gleams was looking at him, not at the cross.

“Oh, Fleet-wings! oh, Fleet-wings!” she sobbed, and that was all she said; but Fleet-wings was quite satisfied, and went back to his Orion in great contentment.

Thus the Southern Cross was made.

And now Silver-gleams, having wiped her eyes, was looking proudly at it, when she heard a little sigh near by.

“What is it? What’s the matter?” she asked.

“Your cross is so pretty,” cried a little girl, “and look at my Centaur. I have hardly a bright star, and he has no hoofs to his forelegs.”

Silver-gleams looked. It was quite true. Then she too had a generous impulse, and obeyed it.

“You may have the pointers, she said, “for your very own.”

“Oh, Silver-gleams, I can’t take them. They’re the brightest of all, and one is a double star.”

“Never mind,” cried Silver-gleams clapping her hands in glee, “you shall have them for your Centaur’s hoofs, and you won’t mind if they point out my cross at the same time, will you?”

“Oh, Silver-gleams,” cried the other again, “how good of you!” and they kissed each other, and ran off, quite happy, to the azure playing-fields.

And if you doubt this, on the first clear night that comes, look at the sky, at Orion, at Sirius, and above all, at the Southern Cross, with its pointers, which really belong to the Centaur, and see if this is not true, just as it is written here.


Down The Rainbow



All the world is full of babies,
Sobbing, sighing everywhere,
Looking out with eyes of terror,
Beating at the empty air.
Do they see the strife before them
That they sob and tremble so?
Oh, the helpless, frightened babies,
Still they come and still they go!

Babyland is very beautiful, yet when the rainbow appears the little babies think they would like to slide down it, and see what the world is like.

So they come rushing out of Babyland, and clamber on top of the rainbow, and wave their little dimpled arms to say “good-bye” to their companions.

Then they grow frightened, and sob and cry, and hold on very tightly; then they make up their minds and let go and, sitting astride, come slither, slither, helter-skelter down into the world.

So they come; and sometimes they leave it very soon and go back to their beautiful Babyland, and sometimes they stay and grow to be men and women.

And some few are sorry they left Babyland at all to come into the world; but most are glad, I think, for very few want to leave it when their time comes.

Once one little baby coming down the rainbow did not know whether to come or stay where she was.

All her companions had slipped down, but she still clung on tightly with both her little hands, and trembled and looked fearfully down into the world below, longing yet frightened to go.

“A brave baby,” said a voice, “takes the good with the bad. If her life is sad, she will be all the more tender over others’ sadnesses, and bring help and comfort with her. If her life is glad, she will gladden all around her, and bring more sunshine into the world. A good baby, whether her life is sad or glad, must make the world better by just living in it. There is no gain without risk—risk it, little one, risk it.”

Then our little baby bravely let go, and shot down the rainbow as a star shoots through the sky; but as she passed she caught the tints of the rainbow in her eyes and her cheeks and her hair.

The home she came into was on a hill, among the sweetest flowers and fruits that grow in Tasmania—and many are the sweet flowers and fruits that grow there—and her parents loved her and welcomed her right gladly.

And she is as sweet and fresh as the flowers she grows among, and whether her life in the future be sad or glad, I am sure the world must be better for having such a winsome, lovable, and honest little maid in it.



Microscopic Tim’s Adventures

The Fairy’s Mistake

The Fairy Fernfrond lived in the tree-ferns that form the bower at the foot of Mount Wellington, near Hobart.

Nowadays all the grass has been worn away, and the people who go there throw fruit skins and paper about, and there are ugly wooden benches and tables under the ferns. The water just there is dark and still and muddy-looking, and a clumsy little monument has been erected—Goodness knows why!

The Fairy Fernfrond has flown far away, for fairies hate picnickers—and no wonder!

But when she first took little Tim there it was sacred to fairies and waterfall sprites, and was a very lovely spot indeed.

However, if one climbs up the stream a little distance, it is as beautiful as it used to be, for not many people go that way; and the water is clear and fresh, and the tree-ferns a delight to the eyes.

When Tim was a little fellow of about a year old whom nobody owned or wanted, the Fairy had found him as she was flying over Tasmania, and had brought him to her home, and he could not have been happier anywhere.

He learnt to climb up the tree-ferns like a little monkey, swaying in their midst as happy as a king; and he could leap, almost fly, from one to another as nimbly as the fairies themselves.

The little waterfall sprites taught him to climb up the rocks and cascades, and swim in the pools, and he used to follow them as far up as the Springs, which is some distance up Mount Wellington.

Then they would all seat themselves on the top of the different cascades and waterfalls, and come down with a glorious rush to the pools below.

Sometimes they would get rather hard knocks if the water were shallow, or they came on a rock, but they only laughed merrily at these misadventures and played on more happily than ever.

When Tim was about eighteen or nineteen a great change came over him; he cared no more for dancing on the green, climbing tree-ferns, and playing with the waterfall sprites. There seemed something always tugging at his heart-strings; he wanted this, he wanted that, he wanted he knew not what; he wanted to see the world and mix among his fellows.

For some time the Fairy would not hear of it, but when she saw her boy sitting silent and moody, his chin on his hand, listless and irritable, she gave her consent, for she loved him far more than she loved herself.


“Go forth,” said she, “and see the world, and play thy part there manfully. I did wrong to stay thee, for young birds must try their wings, young blood will leap in the veins, young life must flow— old life give place.”

But she wept so bitterly at parting, that Tim cried too, and said he would not go, he would never leave her—for indeed he loved her dearly.

When she saw his distress she checked her own, and bade him go at once, for he was a mortal, and it was meet he should live among his fellow-mortals.

So he set forth; but the Fairy Fernfrond had committed a strange oversight—she had forgotten to let him grow.

You see, when she first found him he was already twenty-eight inches in height, and as she was but some eighteen or twenty inches herself, she naturally wished him not to grow any more. And now though in face and figure and manners he was quite a youth, in height he was but a child of a year old.

“Are you a fairy prince?” asked the people in some awe, when they first saw him; and in truth his suit of bark, and cap of leaves with a fern waving in it, made him look not unlike one.

“No, I am a man,” returned the little creature proudly, and they all laughed at that.

“Well, if you’re a man,” they said, “it takes a microscope to find you.”

And after that they called him Microscopic Tim, which was soon shortened into Mike. This annoyed him very much, for he disliked being small, and once, when all the world was asleep, and the Fairy Fernfrond came to visit her darling, he begged her to make him his proper size.

“I cannot,” she sighed. “I am not the fairy I used to be. Never mind, Tim, if you cannot be big, you shall do big things. Wait and see.”

She kissed him and flew off, and Tim stayed where he was, and tried to do everything just as other men did, so that he grew brave and strong in spite of his want of inches.

Thus he waited to see.


Adventure 1
The Princess In The Basin

Through all the land of Tasmania there spread the news that a wicked old Witch had stolen into the court and run off with the King’s elderly niece, Princess Pleasant, and cast such a spell over her that she was compelled to stand always in one of the Basins, up to her shoulders in water.

You remember Tim who was waiting to do big things?

He heard of this, and cried, “I will go to the Basins, and see what can be done,”

Now, when I say Basins, I do not mean ordinary wash-hand basins, but the Basins which form part of the river Esk before it joins the Tamar.

There are three of them, large, deep, cool ponds, with high hills and precipitous rocks surrounding them; and in the third the poor Princess stood on a narrow ledge, leaning against a smooth, high rock, with water up to her shoulders. Beautiful and picturesque as the Basins undeniably are, it was not at all a position to be envied.

There was a tradition in the family that this kind of thing had happened before to a remote ancestor of the Princess, and it had been prophesied that it would happen again.

The way to release her had been written down on parchment; this parchment was handed down from generation to generation, and was always most carefully put away; and now, when for the first time in several hundred years it was needed, no one had the faintest idea where it was.

Everyone rushed immediately to find it; the King said one thing, his daughter another, the courtiers yet a third. They hunted high and low —turned the palace upside down—but in vain; and in the meantime the Princess stayed in the Basin, shivering and cold.

Luckily she was of a cheerful disposition, and had learnt that, however bad things are, looking doleful does not improve matters; so she stood there with a pleasant smile on her wrinkled old face, answering the numerous enquiries after her health and comfort.

The King and his court, not finding the parchment anywhere, had left the palace, and were now camped round the Basins, so that they could cheer and encourage this affable old Princess, who certainly tried to make the best of things.

Then suddenly in their midst appeared the Fairy Fernfrond with news.

“You,” she said to the King, “put the parchment in your old boot for safety—you thought no one would think of looking for it there.”

“To be sure I did,” said the King, thoughtfully. “I’d quite forgotten. But I was right; not one of us did think of looking there.”

“The Witch’s boots hurt her,” continued the Fairy, “so she put on that old pair of yours, found the parchment, and took it home. She has over a hundred dragons walking about, and her cave is guarded by the most ferocious dragon imaginable. Anyone who wishes to get the parchment must face all this. I might have helped once, but nearly all my magic is gone from me, and all I can do is to see things go wrong and not help.”

But her mournful tone was changed to one of rejoicing when she heard a well-known voice joyfully calling her name, and there was Microscopic Tim.

He had tramped north with the rest of mankind on hearing the news, and when he saw the Princess there he determined in his knightly little heart to release her or die.

She was a woman, therefore must be rescued, and it mattered little to Microscopic Tim that she was elderly and plain—for, he argued rightly, it is just as wet and uncomfortable to stand in water up to the shoulders whether one is old or young, plain or pretty.

“I will find that parchment or die,” he said to Princess Pleasant, and he held out his hand as a pledge. And she drew a ring off her finger, and set it on his, and bade him be very careful, and not risk his life for her.

So he set off, but before be went Fairy Fernfrond threw an amulet round his neck.

“Never part with it,” she said, “and give it back to me on your return. It is almost my last piece of magic, and I can’t quite give it up.”

“I promise, said Microscopic Tim. Then they embraced and he departed almost unnoticed.

Very few followed his example; they had grown used to seeing the Princess there, apparently cheerful and content, and thought she could not mind very much; and, being neither young nor pretty, she did not appeal to their sympathies.

The King was very fond of her—fonder, it was said, than of his own daughter even, Princess Hazel-eyes, who was reported to have a temper. He did not like to see his niece there; he was tired of camping out, and missed the luxuries of court life, yet would not leave her, so he promised any young man who brought him the parchment a reward of forty thousand pounds and the hand of the heiress to the throne.

This Princess was beautiful as the sunset, with large sparkling eyes, rosy cheeks, and dark hair that glowed like copper in the sun.

The young men paid little heed to that rumour about her temper, but scrambled up the hills from the Basins, and rushed down the Cataract Hill, and set forth to seek the parchment, hoping to win the hand of Princess Hazel-eyes.

But Microscopic Tim had a good start; he made friends with a native cat, who gave him a ride, and when it was tired introduced him to a tiger-cat, who was very strong and rather fierce. But Tim was not afraid of him, and they got on well.

He managed to carry Tim past the dragon that guarded the entrance to Tasman’s Peninsula, and now they were right in the Witch’s land.

The other dragons were off guard and, as it was night, very sleepy, and only just caught a glimpse of the tiger-cat as he crept past.

But when they came near the Witch’s cave Tim bade the tiger-cat adieu, and stole carefully forward intending to reconnoitre.

Before he could do anything, a huge Dragon quite ten feet high, with round, flaming eyes and a long tufted tail, rose suddenly from the ground and sniffed the air, then opened its huge mouth, showing enormous fangs, and bellowed aloud.

Tim was as brave as any man of his inches, and braver than many a good deal taller, but when that Dragon came towards him he ran.

Ran? He almost flew, and the Dragon came lumbering after him.

Oh, what a race that was!

Tim did his best, you may be sure, yet he could hear the thudding pad, pad, pad of the Dragon’s feet, and feel the hot breath steaming out of its nostrils.

The Witch’s cave was quite near the coast, and as poor Tim fled along blindly he came to a precipice. He seemed almost to fly down (for much of his fairy training remained), and then on he went, scrambling, leaping, flying over the basaltic rocks and columns straight towards the point of Cape Pillar.

Tim climbed up and sat on the very top of the pillar itself, hoping the Dragon would not climb there.

But it did. Steadily and stealthily it came climbing up; it was rather tired out for all that, for when it came quite close to Tim it gave a sort of puffing snort which puffed him far out to sea.

The Dragon bellowed with rage and disappointment, and Tim, as he hurtled through the air, had just time to think of all he had meant to do, and of the poor Princess in the Basin, when—

Splash! he was in the sea.


Adventure 2
The Wizard Of The Sea

Most people, if they were puffed off Cape Pillar by a Dragon’s breath far out to sea, would go down to the bottom and stay there, but Microscopic Tim was different.

Deep, deep he went down, but he could swim like a water-sprite, and was soon on the top again, when he saw a mermaid coming towards him.

She was pretty and had large, soft, dreamy eyes.

“What is your name?” said she.

“They call me Microscopic Tim,” he said, “and Mike for short, but I don’t care about it.”

“Why are you here?” she asked, and he told her all his adventures.

“You will have to stay some time, I’m afraid. This shore is infested with dragons. Your dragon has roused them all. Look!” She pointed, and Tim saw dragons perambulating in every direction. “Can you breathe under water?”

“Yes,” Tim answered. “I learnt that from the waterfall sprites; but”—he shuddered a little— “what about sharks?”

“Come with me, she said tenderly. “I will care for you. You are smaller than I. What a dear little fellow you are!”

Tim was rather offended at that. “I am a man,” he said indignantly, and she laughed a gentle little laugh.

“Well, come with me, Mike,” and it sounded so sweet when she said it that for the first time he liked his nickname, “and I will see about having you made shark-proof.”

“What is your name?” he asked, as they swam along.


“What does that mean?”

“Little poet.”

“I don’t like poetry much. I never understand it. You—you don’t ever make it, do you?” he asked, rather alarmed.

“Only sometimes;” then, pleadingly, “but you won’t dislike me for that, will you?”

“No, of course not,” he answered. “Where are we now?”

They were at the bottom of the sea, and long reedy things waved about, and seemed to clutch and hold Tim by the legs and entangle him and drag him down, and slimy eels wriggled in and out, and fishes with huge eyes bumped into him and stared at him—it was not pleasant.

“Don’t be frightened,” Poetina said by ms side.

“I am a man,” said Tim valiantly, and Poetina smiled and sighed, and liked him the better for it; then she called softly and sweetly:

“Master Wizard! Master Wizard!”

There was no answer.

“Here you, Wizard, come out!” shouted Tim boldly, and Poetina trembled a little, for the Wizard was not used to being spoken to in this fashion.

But in the distance Tim could see a horrid shark bearing down upon them, and he was naturally anxious to be made shark-proof as soon as possible. Poetina looked up absently at the shark, but instead of doing anything closed her eyes, and began to sing, swaying from side to side:

“Master Wizard, see we come,
Weary children, from our home;
Wandered have we far away
From the land of night and day:
Sharks surround us, dangers loom—”

“I don’t understand,” interrupted Tim impatiently. “I’m not tired, and I don’t know where the land of night and day is, but you’re right about the sharks. There’s one here that will make an end of me in another minute if—”

Poetina opened her eyes and uttered a sharp cry.

“A shark!” she gasped. “Oh!” and swam straight at the shark, lashing her hair across his eyes again and again so that he could not see Tim.

She was not a second too soon, and the next few moments were busily employed by Poetina in keeping in front of the shark and lashing her hair across his eyes, by the shark in trying to push Poetina aside and to get at Tim, by Tim in dodging out of the way whenever the shark turned. It was both breathless and exciting work.

“Go on! go on!” Poetina called. “Right through the weeds. Strike three times on the first rock you come to, run behind it and you’ll be safe.”

Tim stayed where he was. “I’m not going without you.”

“I’ll follow soon. Mike, dear Mike, do go! the shark can’t possibly hurt me and seeing that this was true, he fought his way through the weeds, knocked at the rock, ran behind it, and in a cave sat the Wizard of the Sea cross-legged.

He was a dreadful, bent-up old man with a long, grizzly beard, hooked nose, and hands like claws, and he snarled when he spoke.

“What dost thou want?”

“If you please,” said Microscopic Tim with great politeness, “I want to be made shark-proof

“Humph! What wilt thou give me?”

Tim looked about him. “I have nothing now, but—”

“Then get away,” snarled the Wizard of the Sea.

“Not I,” cried Tim boldly, “and if you don’t do what I ask for civilly, I’ll pull your beard off.”

“Pull away,” sneered the Wizard, “and perhaps when it comes off you’ll find you are shark-proof; try and see!”

“Master Wizard, Master Wizard!” called a sweet voice “will my hair do? Hast thou not often wanted my hair to tack on to thy beard?”

The Wizard hesitated, looked at Tim, and said:


“My tail, my tail!” urged Poetina, swimming round the rock. “Thou hast often envied me that. ’Twill not hurt much. Chop a piece off!”

“No, Poetina, no!” cried Microscopic Tim, “not to save me from a thousand sharks.”

“I have naught else to give,” she said sadly.

“Thy arms,” said the Wizard, a greedy gleam coming in his eyes. “Thy arms are beautiful. Let me chop off thy arms, and I will make thy friend shark-proof.”

“You dog of a Wizard!” bawled Tim in a rage, and he sprang up, seized the Wizard by the beard, dragged him out of the cave, and round and round the rock.


Now, the Wizard had not expected Tim to hbe was taken by surprise, and he shrieked, and yelled, and clutched at his beard, trying to save himself from the pain.

“I’ll do it, I’ll do it! he screamed at length, and Tim released him, “if thou wilt give me—”

“What?” asked eager Tim.

“The amulet the Fairy Fernfrond gave thee, and that thou wearest round thy neck.”

“If you know so much as that,” said Tim looking very grave, “you probably also know that I promised her never to part with it?”

“I do.”

“And you expect me to break my word?”

“I do.”

“Then,” said Tim grimly, “I shall take you by the beard again,” and before the Wizard could stop him he had done so.

“No, no, no!” shrieked the Wizard. “I will make thee shark-proof for nothing. Leave go, leave go!”

Tim let go. “No juggling then,” he said sharply, “or look to your beard.”

The Wizard turned away, and began muttering incantations; then he called to Tim to come and sit in a huge oyster-shell, filled with black liquid and little wriggling eels, from which fumes arose.

The fumes made Tim drowsy, and he slept; then they grew thicker and thicker, till Poetina could not see through them, and then the Wizard artfully slipped the amulet from Tim’s neck.

The fumes cleared away. Tim woke up, and sprang out of the shell. “All right?”

“All right,” chuckled the Wizard. “No shark that swims will touch thee,” and he rubbed his hands.

“I wish I had something to give you for it,” Tim said. “I really am much obliged, but perhaps when I get back to land there may be something you fancy that I can get for you, is there?”

“Let me give him my hair,” pleaded Poetina.

“Nay, my pretty one,” said the Wizard, leering at her. “I do it all for love—for love,” and he grinned at them so evilly that they made haste to depart.

And now Tim was able to see all the wonders of the deep with Poetina. The only thing that troubled him was the thought of the Princess standing in the Basin. Every night he rose to the surface to see if the dragons were still watching for him. They were, and their huge eyes lit up the shores like the best electric light.

“It’s no use,” said Poetina. “You must live here for a time. Can’t you be content?”

“I’ll try,” said Tim cheerfully, and so he did.


Adventure 3
The Quarrel And Its Result

Two people, both shark-proof, can have a very pleasant time in the sea, and so Poetina the mermaid, and Tim, who had lived in his youth with water-sprites, found out.

They went everywhere together, rode on seahorses side by side, dived down to the bottom of the ocean, explored caves and gullies, picked the beautiful flowers that grow there, played with the fishes, and were very happy, though sometimes they disagreed.

As they were swimming along one day Tim said:

“You are a dear little thing, Poetina, but I wish you wouldn’t talk poetry. It isn’t true, nor any good either; that shark would have eaten me while you were spouting away the other day.”

Poetina’s eyes filled with tears, and Tim’s conscience smote him hard, for he saw how unkind and ungracious he had been after all she had done for him, all she had been willing to sacrifice.

“I’m an ungrateful cur!” he said, “and you are the dearest little sea-maid that ever lived, and I can’t thank you enough.”

Poetina brightened up. “A brave little fellow are you, dear,” she said dreamily. “You feared not the shark, though you knew he might eat you.”

“A man is afraid of nothing,” boasted Tim, and Poetina looked at him thoughtfully.

She was too kind and gentle to mention the word dragon; but Tim read her thought, grew very red in the face, and stammered out:

“Oh—oh, yes, the dragon—yes, the dragon. Well, anyone might be afraid of a dragon, you know. And what was the good of staying to be eaten by a dragon?”

“None at all. I am glad you did not.”

But there was a look in her eyes which made Tim, after a moment’s struggle, speak out like a man:

“I beg your pardon, Poetina,” he said. “I found fault with you, who saved my life, and then I boasted and told lies, for I was afraid of the dragon; and I’ll tell you another thing, I was horribly afraid of that shark, too, only you seemed so cool about it, I didn’t like to show it. But I don’t like poetry for all that; you won’t talk it more than you can help, will you?”

“No,” said Poetina, sighing. “I’ll try to remember.”

She did try, but, alas! one day she forgot, and it led to disastrous results, as you shall see.

They had just been up to the surface to see if the dragons were still watching, and, finding they were, had dived under again, and were rocking midway between the top and bottom of the ocean, when the wind began to blow hard, and Poetina sang softly:

“The wind is as iron that rings,
The foam-heads loosen and flee;
It swells, and welters, and swings
The pulse of the tide of the sea.”

“What does that mean?” asked Tirn, frowning.

“I don’t—I don’t quite know.”

“Where did you hear it? It is nonsense,” he said, crossly. He was really irritated because the dragons would keep such a sharp look-out for him.

“I read it in a book in a sunken ship. I have many books, not here—far away. But I don’t think it nonsense. It is very beautiful, and I like it.”

“You can’t like it when you don’t know what it means,” Tim said, growing more and more cross.

Poetina looked up timidly. “Don’t you like anything you don’t quite understand, Mike?”

“Of course not.”

“Then,” she said slowly, thinking it out, “you cannot like many things.”

And Tim swam on in a royal rage at that, for no man likes to be told that he does not understand much; and Poetina was distressed, for she had only meant that there are very few people or things in the world that can be understood completely.

Poetina did not attempt to follow him; she sat and wept, and sang mournfully:

“He will return: I know he will.”

But Tim did not return. When nightfall came, and still he stayed away, she roused herself, left off singing and weeping, and hunted for him everywhere, high and low, calling always “Mike, Mike, Mike!”

She questioned the fishes, the porpoises, the dolphins, even the sharks, but no one had seen him; and for days she searched on without rest or sleep, crying “Mike, Mike, Mike!”

And Tim, where was he? The stupid fellow had swum off in a temper, and hardly noticed where he was going. Presently he became aware that he was in a place where he had never been before.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I’ll find my way back all right by-and-bye. Give Poetina time to get over her poetry,” and he swam on for a long way, until he had worked off all his ill-temper.

Then he began to be thoroughly ashamed of himself, and to feel a great longing to go back to Poetina and make friends—so he turned to retrace his steps, but he was tired, and made very slow progress. To his great joy he noticed an enormous whale swimming just underneath him; with a sigh of thankfulness he dropped on to its head, and let it bear him along rapidly through the green waters, in, alas!—but this Tim did not know—a totally wrong direction.

At the end of twenty minutes the whale rose to the surface to breathe. Unfortunately for Tim, he was sitting on one of the “blow-holes,” and when the whale spouted, it spouted poor Tim some fifteen feet up in the air.



Up he went, swirling round and round, and then dropped flat on the whale’s back, knocking all the breath out of his poor little body.

The whale must have been in a playful mood, for before Tim had recovered from his last shaking-up it gave a sweep or two of its powerful tail and leapt clear out of the water, jerking him high into the air again.

He fell into the sea this time, and the whale came down thwack! beside him. Now, as this whale was some seventy feet long, and broad in proportion, the noise it made when it struck the water was heard for miles.

Was it any wonder then that, deafened and stunned, Tim sank to the bottom and lay there like a log?


Adventure 4
The Encounter With The Octopus

We left Microscopic Tim at the bottom of the sea, more dead than alive, after his alarming experiences with the whale.

For three days and nights he lay there, scarcely conscious, with no inclination to move.

He was roused at last by feeling something grip tightly round him, and hold him like a vice.

With an exclamation he felt for his knife, which he always wore at his belt, drew it out, and cut himself free from the feeler of an Octopus.

But the Octopus had seven feelers left, and in a second it would have had them round Tim, and have crushed the life out of him, when something flashed past him, and Poetina was in the clutches of the horrid monster. It held her fast with two feelers.

“Go, Mike, go,” gasped she, “or he’ll have you too. He—he—can’t kill—me—ah-h-h!”

“That’s true, my dear,” chuckled the Octopus, squeezing her until she writhed again; “but I can hold you always, my little beauty! I’ll never let you escape. She shall be my little wife, and I’ll keep her here for ever and ever.”

Now, Tim had learnt many things since he had been in the sea, and he understood what the Octopus said, though he had never seen one before.

“Will you? Will you, indeed?” he muttered as he swam round and round warily, trying to get one feeler by itself to entwine round him.

Now the Octopus was encumbered by holding Poetina with two feelers, and was holding fast to a rock with two others, so that whenever it brought its remaining three feelers to bear upon him, he just managed to escape them.

“Mike dear, do—go,” panted brave little Poetina.



“If he—catches you—he will—kill you. Do go-o-o-o.”

Tim’s face flushed. “Yes,” he said to himself, “and if I did I should deserve to be kicked from one end of the sea to the other. No, you plucky little thing, not I!” But aloud he said carelessly:

“All right. I’ll have a bit of fun with him first though; he can’t hurt me,” and he laughed.

“Can’t I?” shouted the enraged Octopus, and it made a sudden lunge with one feeler, and caught Tim.

This was just what Tim wanted. He had his knife ready and, before the Octopus could entwine him with the other two feelers, he had cut off the one round him and escaped out of reach.

But now the Octopus grew too wary, and Tim saw that he might dance round all night; it would be two feelers or none, in future. At last in his despair he made a wild dash straight in at the head of the monster, taking it by surprise, but before he could plunge his knife in, a feeler was twisting itself round him. With a desperate struggle he managed to cut that off, but yet another was around him, crushing him terribly. He drew his breath in hard gasps, and still strove to cut away that terrible feeler—but his strength was gone, and he gave a feeble moan as the knife dropped from his hand.

But the Octopus in its struggles with Tim had insensibly relaxed its grasp on Poetina, and she was as slippery and slithery and difficult to hold as any fish. With a sudden twist and wriggle she almost slipped away; but just as she managed to reach the knife it got a good grip of her again—not so good, however, but that she was able to free one arm, and strike with all her force at its head.

“Gently, my dear, gently. I must take another feeler to you, I see,” said the Octopus under its breath.

It cautiously removed one from the rock, but Poetina forestalled it, and with a sudden plunge and lunge cut the remaining feeler from the rock, so that all three—Octopus, Tim, Poetina,—rolled over and over at the bottom of the sea together.

The jerk and the bump roused Tim somewhat, and when he saw poor Poetina now with three feelers round her, unable to speak or move, his strength revived; he looked at her and held out both hands; she understood, and dropped the knife into them.

He tried to reach the animal’s head, but could not; he tried to reach Poetina, but could not; so, doggedly setting his teeth, he hacked away at the feeler round him, and at last freed himself.

“All right now, Poetina,” he called joyfully, advancing knife in hand; but alas! it was not.

The Octopus suddenly opened its ink-bag, and enveloped him in thick, hideous blackness—so thick that he could not see an inch before his nose—and as he groped about calling frantically for Poetina, it silently retreated, dragging poor Poetina with it. It had wound one feeler round her neck, and poked the end of it into her mouth, so that it was impossible for her to utter a word.

Half-mad with grief, rage, and despair, Tim plunged furiously about in all directions, but in vain; and when at last the blackness dispersed a little, he found he was quite alone. The Octopus and Poetina had disappeared. Tim rushed madly hither and thither, searching every cranny and nook, until, quite worn out, he flung himself down in a perfect passion of rage and despair, and beat his head upon the ground at the bottom of the sea.

Poor Tim! Poor Tim; indeed!


Adventure 5
The Great Sea Serpent To The Rescue

The Great Sea Serpent may be a very alarming creature to look at, with his twenty miles or so of long, wriggly body, and his two enormous eyes each five feet across, but he is really not a bad fellow at all. He knows a great deal, and is always willing to teach anyone anything; he is very clever and cunning, and always glad to help any sea creature he can; but he has a grievance which makes him a little snappish at times.

He is also very inquisitive and rather lazy, so he likes to coil himself round and round in one particular spot, and just shoot his head through the waters, without the trouble of moving the whole of his body, when he wants to see what is going on anywhere.

In one of these “shoots” he came upon poor Microscopic Tim, as he lay in his misery and helplessness at the bottom of the sea.

“Why, what’s the matter?” asked the Sea Serpent, bringing one eye to bear upon Tim—he never bothered to open both if one would do.

Tim looked up wretchedly; for one second he imagined that it was a dragon, who had found him out and come to kill him, and he almost wished it was. Then seeing that the eye fixed upon him, huge though it was, was a kindly one, he was moved to tell his pitiful tale, ending:

“And she’s lost, lost, lost! and that hateful brute has got away.”

“Well, well!” said the Sea Serpent consolingly. “Don’t begin banging your head again. Banging one’s head or tearing one’s hair out never helped anyone to find anything yet that I ever heard of. That’s better. Why don’t you look for her?”

“I have looked,” answered Tim sullenly, sitting with his head on his knees, and not looking up; but the Great Sea Serpent understood well it was only misery that made him uncivil.

“Supposing I help you?” he said.

“You! Do you mean it?” cried Tim, springing up. “But how can you? What are you?”

“The Great Sea Serpent,” said the other, proudly rearing his head, and opening both eyes, which he only did on state occasions.

“The Great Sea Serpent,” exclaimed Tim, staring. “Why I—why I—”

“I know, I know!” hissed the Serpent in a rage. “You don’t believe in me. Nobody does! Wouldn’t you like to explain me away?”

That was his grievance. He was always being explained away. If he showed himself on the surface of the waters some people said he was a long trail of sea-weed, others that he was a flight of birds—anything but the Great Sea Serpent. No wonder that he was annoyed, and very rarely showed himself at all.

“Good-bye,” he snapped. “You needn’t trouble to say that I’m sea-weed, or birds, or a shoal of porpoises, or a string of whales, or imagination, or anything else. I’m going without that.”

“No, no!” cried Tim. “Stop a moment! I was only going to say I’d no idea you were so large. I’ve heard of you from Poetina. You taught her to read, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did,” said the Sea Serpent, much mollified. “So I’m larger than you thought, eh? Then you do believe in me?”


“And you won’t say afterwards that you dreamt of me?”

“Certainly not!”

“Very well, then, I’ll help you. Swim on to my head, and hold on tight, for I don’t go like a whale.”

“Gracious! I hope not,” thought Tim, remembering his adventures with the whale, as he settled himself between the Serpent’s eyes; and the next second he was shooting through the waters at such a pace that everything—breath, thought, feeling— seemed to be knocked out of him.

“Seen her?” asked the Sea Serpent, stopping suddenly.

“All—H—hah!” gasped Tim, getting his breath as best be might. “N-n-no-oh! How could I?”

“Twenty miles in ten seconds is not bad,” said the Sea Serpent. “But I had to go rather slowly because I wanted to look very carefully—”

“Thank goodness for that!” interrupted Tim, still breathless, and the Sea Serpent chuckled until his whole body wriggled again, and Tim nearly fell off.

“Now listen to me,” continued the Serpent. “That Octopus hasn’t gone very far, I feel sure, but I thought I might as well take the whole twenty mile shoot at once. Now, I’m going round in circles, gradually growing smaller, leaving my tail where I found you, as a pivot to work on. We’re bound to find them both.”

“But,” objected Tim, “if you go so fast I can’t possibly see.”

“Never mind about that. I’ll find her, but I don’t wish to fight the Octopus myself. I know the family very well, you see, and I don’t want any unpleasantness.”

“Oh,” cried Tim, setting his teeth, “you just find him for me, and leave me to settle with him.”

“Hm!” said the Sea Serpent, thoughtfully. “Brave words, my little man. But how many feelers has he left?”


“Hm! two for her, one for you. You might find one too many for you. Have you got your knife still?”

“Yes,” said Tim, feeling at his side.

“Then the best thing for you is to go straight for his mouth and put your hand right in—it’ll hurt—”

“Don’t care,” growled Tim savagely, “if I only get him.”

“He’s such a greedy creature, he’s bound to grab hold, and won’t bother about taking a feeler to you; then, while he’s chewing away at one hand, cut off his head with the other. Be sure you let him get a good hold though.”

“I’ll remember,” said Tim.

“Very well. Ready!” cried the Great Sea Serpent, and they went whirling and swirling round in rapid circles, which gradually grew smaller and smaller.

“Aha! aha!” said the Sea Serpent softly, suddenly stopping.

“Where? where? where?” gasped Tim, out of breath.


Tim looked. In the shadow of a huge rock was the wicked Octopus, and in his clutches still was poor Poetina, white and wan, while from under her closed eyelids large tears slowly forced themselves. Tim felt a big lump come into his throat at the sight.

“S-s-s-steady,” hissed the Sea Serpent under his breath. “Don’t do anything rash. Take your time.”

“Yes, yes,” whispered Tim, “I’ll be careful. Good-bye. How ever can I thank you? I can never repay you.”

“You paid me when you said you had no idea I was so large. That’s quite enough. But pat me on the nose, I like it,” answered the Serpent.

Tim slid along and patted his nose, then sat there looking down at Poetina and the Octopus, considering the best way to attack.

“Poor little dear!” chuckled the Octopus audibly, at this moment. “I’ve lost five feelers, have I? But my pretty one has lost her Tim. Poor Tim! Dear Tim! Doesn’t she like me yet as well as her dear Tim? No, but she will soon, eh?”

“S-s-s-steady,” hissed the Great Sea Serpent again, but it was too late; Tim forsook all prudence, and, boiling with rage, tumbled madly off the Serpent’s head.

Both Poetina and the Octopus looked up and saw him coming. The Octopus instantly opened his inkbag, and let out all the ink he had left in it, but Tim had marked well where he was, and Poetina, with great presence of mind, twined her hands into some reeds growing near, and held on tight. In vain the Octopus tried to drag her along; he could not move her.

Tim came steadily on, feeling about in the darkness, when suddenly his hand was caught and held in what seemed to be, from the feel of it, an enormous parrot’s beak.

His heart beat with joy and thankfulness; he knew what it was—it was the mouth of the Octopus. He made no effort to release his hand—what cared he for pain, so long as he made no mistake this time?

He let the creature get a good hold of him, so that it should not escape him again, and then with his other hand cut its head clean off.

The feelers relaxed almost immediately, and Poetina fell to the ground. Tim half-dragged, half-carried her through the black water, and, oh! what a delight it was to see the sea grow clear and green again.

Then they looked at each other. “Forgive me,” she sobbed. “It was all my fault.”

“Forgive you”‘ faltered out Tim. “There isn’t a thing to forgive. Oh, Poetina, I am so much ashamed of myself. I ought to be—oh, you brave, brave little creature. After the way I’d gone on too! I was such a—Poetina, can you ever forgive me?”

She smiled through her tears at him, and having no words to thank his faithful little friend, he put his arm about her and kissed her. Then they looked about for the Great Sea Serpent to thank him again, but he was nowhere to be seen.

They spent three happy days after that, and Tim grew fonder and fonder of Poetina. He dared not think of the day of separation, but enjoyed himself to the uttermost. He would have stayed with her always, but he wore the Princess Pleasant’s ring, and had pledged himself to rescue her.

“I think, Poetina,” he said at the end of the third day, “I must try swimming down the coast. I wish I could swim like you. It will take me a long, long time, but it can’t be helped.”

“You might ride on my back,” she suggested diffidently.

“I shall do nothing of the sort,” was his indignant answer; then more gently, “thank you all the same, dear.”

“The sharks, of course, wouldn’t carry you, and the whales are so stupid. It is just as likely they would forget and carry you up to Greenland. Greenland is most beautiful, and the great icebergs glitter in the sun, and—”

“But I don’t want to go to Greenland, you know,” Tim said quietly.

“Oh, no, no! Of course not,” said Poetina in rather a flurried way.

“And I’ve had enough of whales, thank you,” added he, laughing, “to last me my lifetime.”

“My sister Sunnyhair would make a fish carry you. I wish she were here, then our way would be clear—”

“I must just go on swimming till the dragons come to an end,” interrupted Tim hastily, for he feared she was going off into poetry, “but there seems to be an endless supply of them.”

“Nay,” pleaded Poetina. “Stay with me a little longer. I think,” she added presently, “you make a mistake in showing yourself so often. Don’t go near the top of the water for a week or more, and you’ll see they will begin to grow careless.”

“Very well,” he said, “and we’ll have a jolly time together,” but just then he discovered the loss of his amulet and his dejection and misery were pitiful to see.

Poetina tried to comfort him. “It was not your fault. It must have been taken from you. Ah!—the Wizard!”

“The Wizard!” Tim ground his teeth. “That was what he meant, then, by doing it for love. I’ll make him pay for this. But he’ll be sure to be gone,” he added gloomily, “and I promised to give it back to the Fairy, and how can I when I’ve lost it? What shall I do—what shall I do? I promised, you know—I promised.”

Tim was right; the Wizard was gone—no one had seen him for days. They searched long for him, but in vain, and Tim could care for nothing, he said, now his honour was gone.

“It’s no use,” he sighed. “I can never be happy, but I can try to find the parchment. That pledge I will fulfil, and when I have done that, I will come back and search for the amulet till I die.”

“If you once go on land,” sobbed Poetina, “your shark-proofness will wear off, and the sharks will eat you if you come back.”

“I don’t care what happens to me,” said Tim, dismally, “since I can’t keep my word.”

Poetina wept afresh at that, and he would have liked to join her; but, remembering he was a man, he did not.


Adventure 6
The Witch’s Cave

Tim and Poetina were both much saddened by the loss of the precious amulet and by the thought of their fast-approaching separation.

At the end of the week they rose hand-in-hand to the top of the waves, and looked cautiously towards the coast.

Poetina was right; the dragons had grown tired of watching, and most of them were clumped together, yawning, nodding, and rubbing their eyes with their claws.

The two swam under water far down the coast, where there were now no dragons; then they crept out on a sandy beach, and sat there clinging to each other in despair, for they knew “good-bye” must be said.

“Can’t I come with you—can’t I come with you?” sobbed Poetina. “Oh! why must you go, Mike, dear Mike?”

“I must go because I gave my pledge,” said Tim, but he choked over it. “And you could not live long on land, my dear, and the dragons would kill and eat you, and I couldn’t bear it.”

“Give me something as a remembrance then,” she wailed in a most pitiful manner. “Give me your ring, please, dear, please.”

“I can’t; I wish I conld. It belongs to Princess Pleasant.”

“Oh, the Princess—always the Princess!” she sobbed petulantly. “Do let me come with you— do, do! Or why can’t you stay with me? You must—you shall!

“Oh! leave the old Princess that lives in the Basin,
For she has no need to put even her face in,
While I have to live always under the sea,
And nobody dreams about rescuing me!”

“Ah, but you’re happy there, and it is your home,” said he, trying to soothe her.

“I was happy once, but never again—never again. No happiness any more.” And she cried and cried, and wiped her eyes with her hair, and cried and cried again, until poor Tim was nearly at his wits’ end.

Suddenly an idea struck him. “Very well, you shall come with me. We must leave the sea though, and go inland. Come along.” And he gave her his hand and led her away.

It was a painful, awkward kind of walking, for she had to get along on her tail as best she could over rough grass and scrub and sharp stones. She kept looking backwards, and they soon stopped short.

“Come along,” Tim said, gently pulling her. “We shall soon be out of sight of the sea. Come quick.”

He pulled her over the crest of the hill, she always with her face turned towards the sea, and great sobs rising: in her throat.

Then he turned and looked back. “Out of sight,” he said, “and we shall soon hear it no longer. Listen a minute—now, come.”

But Poetina looked at him with streaming eyes and hair tossed in the wind, and words full of passionate pain and longing broke from her.

“I can’t leave it—oh, Mike, I can’t! It calls and calls—I have known it so long—lived there so long—my sisters are there. Listen to it calling! Oh! my beautiful sea, I am coming; I—I—I must!”

She tore her hands from his, and turned and fled over the hill, over the grass, over the rough stones, over the sands, towards the sea.

As she fled, he heard her voice singing amid wild sobs some words she had read in one of her books:

“(But, oh! my sea, my sea,
Mystic voices summon me,
And like a weeping child I come—)”

On, on she went, with outstretched hands and face aglow with longing. “I come, I come!” she cried; then—

“(So for me, for me,
My lipping, leaping, laughing sea—
My sea! my sea!)”

The last words came with a wild cry of ecstasy, as she plunged rapturously in, and Tim, sorrowfully watching, saw two most beautiful mermaids rise beside her, and twine their arms about her; but he hardly noticed them—his eyes were fixed on Poetina as the three went floating backward far out to sea, rising and falling as the waves rose and fell.

Then, very faintly in the distance, her voice floated hack to him:

     “Farewell, dear;
     Shed no tear,
     Thy way’s clear
Through a world so wide and free.
     Back I come
     To my home
     In the foam—
How my sisters welcome me!
     Here I rest
     Gently pressed
     On thy breast,
Softly soothing, slumbrous sea!”

As he strained his eyes to catch a last glimpse of them, all three rose from the waves, waved their beautiful arms to him, and disappeared.

And now that his stratagem had succeeded, and Poetina had really gone from him, so lonely and desolate did he feel that, man though he always said he was, he sat down on the hill, buried his face in his arms, and sobbed aloud.

But one who is surrounded by dragons, who has to recover parchment from a Witch, to rescue a Princess out of a basin, and to wrest an amulet from a Wizard, has not much time to spend in crying; so very soon poor Tim rose, dashed the tears resolutely from his eyes, and with one last long look at the sea made his way again towards the Witch’s cave.

As he went cautiously along, whom should he meet on the very top of the cliff but the Wizard of the Sea.

Now was Microscopic Tim’s chance; he crept stealthily up, seized him suddenly by the beard, and went swinging round and round with him at arm’s length.

The Wizard was not as strong as Tim, without his enchantments, and how could he get at them while he and Tim went whirling round and round at that fearful pace?

“Leave go! leave go!” he shrieked.

“My amulet! give me my amulet!” panted Tim.

“There!” he shrieked, flinging it from him.

Tim let go to dart after his amulet—neither of them knew how near to the edge of the cliff they were, and the Wizard, suddenly released, toppled over backwards down to the dragons below.

There were no less than fifty of them, and they fought over the Wizard, and ate him up, each managing to get a mouthful.

Then every one of them dropped down dead.

The Wizard was too poisonous for even dragons to eat!

“Come, that’s not so bad,” Tim said cheerfully. “There are fifty dragons less in the world, an old Wizard out of the way, and I’ve got my amulet back. Now let us see.”

And he stole on towards the Witches cave. No dragon guarded it—he, too, had grown careless and, while his mistress slept, had gone for a walk.

Tim entered on tip-toe.

All, but she was hideous to see! and he trembled in his shoes; then he remembered his own words, “A man is afraid of nothing,” and braced up his courage again.



Now the old Witch was dreaming, and tossed and muttered in her sleep. Tim, who wanted to find out where the parchment was, began a kind of imitation of the Dragon’s roar, hoping it would mingle in her dreams and perhaps partly rouse her.

“Don’t roar so close, you lumbering booby,” she murmured drowsily.

Tim went on roaring.

“Silence, I say,” more angrily.

“The Wizard is dead, Mistress, dead,” Tim said, in a roaring, buzzy voice. “We have eaten him.”

“Huh!” grunted the Witch.

“What did he want here?” growled Tim.

“Parchment. Wanted to marry the Princess himself,” she grunted, still half-asleep.

“Ho! ho! That would be a joke, eh, Mistress? The parchment is safe enough, isn’t it, Mistress?”

“You ought to know since you have it,” retorted the Witch, rousing up alarmingly. “I’ll wring your neck if it isn’t.”

Her eyes began to open, and to flash sparks and light up the cavern, and Tim retreated as fast as he could go, still growling and roaring,

“Oh, yes, Mistress—safe—safe—quite safe—oh, yes.”

The Witch turned round and went to sleep again, and Tim paused to get his breath.

“It’s very evident the Dragon has it,” thought Tim; “but where can he keep it, and how am I to get it?”

Pad, pad, pad, the Dragon was coming. Tim turned to flee. Too late—the Dragon was almost on him, and had fixed him with flaming eyes.

Tim drew out his knife, prepared to sell his life dearly; but before he could raise his arm one blow from the Dragon’s claw had knocked him down, and sent the knife flying from his hand.

The next second the huge mouth opened, and in yet another Tim disappeared down his throat.

Here was a tragic end to all his hopes and ambitions.


Adventure 7
The Titans

There was a race of Titans still living in Tasmania at that time. Fine big fellows they were—the shortest being quite ten feet, and the tallest nearly twenty.

They were not cruel like giants; in fact, they were much the same as ordinary human beings. To be sure, they loved fighting—but there are human beings who do that also, it is said—and they often had great battles, during which they uprooted trees and flung rocks at each other, for they were tremendously strong; but when they were not fighting they were placid easy-going fellows enough.

They had heard of the loss of the parchment, and were anxious to win the beautiful Princess Hazel-eyes, and they were scouring the country in search of it.

At first they did not know where it was, so had gone in a wrong direction; but now they heard that the Witch had it, and they strode across her land as if they were the owners.

There were nearly a hundred of them, and they soon made short work of the remaining fifty or sixty dragons, heaving them out to sea, or wringing their necks, or running their lances through their hearts.

They picked up the old Witch, who was busy brewing incantations with an iron pot full of snakes, and tossed her lightly over, pot and snakes and all, to Maria Island.

The pot upset, and the snakes were scattered far and wide over the island, and the old Witch spent the rest of her days in trying to collect all those snakes again; but she never did, and that is why Maria Island abounds in snakes to this very day.

When the Dragon who had swallowed Tim saw the Titans coming, he hid in a cave, knowing well he could not face such a number.

And Tim, what of him?

Well, everything is not ended that looks so, and Tim was alive and tolerably cheerful inside the Dragon. He remembered Princess Pleasant’s example, and tried to make the best of things.

The amulet he wore was a charm against dragons, as the Wizard well knew when he stole it. No one who wore it could ever be killed by a dragon, so that it was lucky Tim had it on when he was swallowed.

Every time, however, he attempted to climb up the Dragon’s long throat, the Dragon simply swallowed him down again.

So Tim tried to content himself where he was, and if he heard the rain pattering on the Dragon’s skin, he said what a good thing it was to be so comfortably sheltered, and so forth.

Feeling round in the darkness one day, he came across a piece of crackling paper almost as long as himself. He immediately climbed up and tickled the inside of the Dragon’s throat with it, and the Dragon coughed so violently that he coughed up both Tim and the paper, and dropped them on the ground.

Tim saw at once that it was the parchment. He made a rush for it, so did the Dragon; but a gust of wind came before either could reach it, and blew it right over the cliff on to the rocks below, where the finest and handsomest of the Titans happened to be passing, and he picked it up and strode off with it.

The Dragon roared, and Tim stamped with rage and ran along the cliffs calling at the top of his voice; but it was no use—the Titan was soon out of sight.

Tim still ran on, as if a man of but twenty-eight inches could possibly expect to overtake a man some eighteen feet high; but Tim, in common with many other little men, never thought that he was as short as he really was.

The Dragon kept pace with him; then thinking that, though the parchment was gone, there was no reason why Tim should escape, tried to swallow him again; but Tim hung on to his teeth, and would not let go, kicking with all his might.

And now appeared on the scene the very Titan who had picked up the parchment. He had climbed up the cliff, and neither Tim nor the Dragon had seen him approach.

He was a hot-hearted young fellow, and his eyes lit up with joy when he saw the Dragon.

“Aha!” he said to himself. “Here’s a piece of luck. None of the other fellows here. I’ll fight this chap by myself. He’s the biggest of the lot too—a rare tussle we’ll have. Now for it!”

He threw off his cap, and flung a rock sharply at the Dragon, just to rouse him up a little and let him know he was there.

The Dragon bellowed, and advanced on the bold young Titan, spitting fire as he came, and dropping Tim as he did so.

The young Titan dodged the fire, and hurled more rocks, which the Dragon picked up and returned with interest.

The Titan retreated, hurling rocks as he went, and laughing and jeering at the Dragon. The Dragon followed furiously, the young Titan dodged sharply, and, before the Dragon could quite recover, darted in suddenly, gave him a tremendous box on the ears, and sprang out of reach.



The Dragon sent forth a perfect torrent of flames, which singed the Titan’s fair curly hair, and brought off all his eyebrows and eyelashes.

He saw he must be more careful, so he began to fling rocks again, dodging about and only laughing if one happened to strike him in return, and aggravating the Dragon so much that all the fire in his body was soon exhausted.

Then he waited for the Dragon to come to close quarters, and the two began walking round and round in a ring, eyeing each other intently.

Suddenly the Dragon sprang right at his opponent; but the Titan was quicker than he, and had jumped aside and, as the Dragon landed on the ground, dealt him a blow that would have felled an ox.

But the Dragon was considerably tougher than an ox, and he did not fall, though he realised he too must be more careful. He was too clumsy to spring like that, and the other was as lithe and quick on his feet as a panther. So they began circling round and round again.

Now the Titan rushed in suddenly and struck the Dragon left and right with all his force, one on each eye; but his foot slipped on a stone, and before he could recover the Dragon’s claws were right into him and tearing him terribly.

He went straight for his enemy’s throat and seized it with both hands, trying to choke him. The Dragon clutched him round the waist, still tearing with his claws, so that the Titan was torn and bleeding from head to foot, but he never released the other, and kept steadily choking him. They rocked to and fro.

The Dragon felt his breath going, and tried to hug the Titan to death; and the two came down together, and rolled over and over, sometimes one on top, sometimes the other.

Over and over they went—then right over the cliff!

It was a question which would strike the rocks first, but luckily the young Titan came uppermost, and when Tim looked over, there he lay panting on top of the dead Dragon.

Presently he sat up, wiping his face with his tattered sleeves.

Then he stood up, and a dreadful sight he was, far too dreadful to describe, for his clothes were in ribbons, and he was gashed and torn and bleeding most fearfully.

He stood and contemplated his fallen enemy with a good deal of respect.

“Well, old chap, it was a great fight, wasn’t it? I’m sorry you’re dead, but one of us had to go. Bit of luck for me falling over the cliff like that. Don’t think I could have stood much more, and I don’t believe you were done by any means. Well, you were worth fighting, and that’s something.”

He looked up and caught sight of Tim’s anxious face peering down over the cliff.

“Hullo! he called. “Who are you? Where did you spring from?”

“From the Dragon s mouth, shouted back Tim. “Are you hurt?”

“No. Will have a swim though. Nothing like salt water for scratches.”

He pulled off what was left of his clothing, and swam far out to sea, leaving a trail of red behind him. Then he came back, climbed up the cliffs, picked up his cap (for the sun was hot, and it was all he had to put on), and sat down by Tim and looked at him in wonder.

Tim’s heart warmed towards this brave young giant, so that he confided to him how he had come for the parchment, and all his adventures until he was swallowed by the Dragon.

But before he could finish the other Titans came up and saw the dead Dragon. They nodded approval at the young Titan, but said very little; he was their youngest, and they were very proud of him, but they did not like him to know it.

Among them they managed to find some clothes for him, and then they too peered down at Microscopic Tim. The young Titan briefly explained his presence, and then Tim asked them what they were all doing there.

“Parchment too,” they said, and poor Tim’s face fell, for he had just been going to tell the young Titan how he had found it, how it was really his, and to ask him for it; and how could he now, when the lucky fellow was sure to want it himself?

Even if the Titan generously gave it up, how could he (Tim) take such a present from one who had just saved him from going down the Dragon’s throat a second time?

No; let the brave fellow who had killed the Dragon keep it, as he had a right to.

“And—and you have found it?” he asked tremblingly.

“No,” they all said; and the young Titan yawned and said:

“No. What’s the use of bothering any more about it? We’ve looked everywhere. We’ve had a jolly good fight with the dragons. There are no more, so let’s be off.”

And Tim felt his heart sink still more, for he had thought one so big and brave would be above lying, or trying to get an unfair advantage over his companions.

“Yet he must want to,” said Tim to himself, “or why should he deny having found the parchment, when I saw him with my own eyes pick it up and walk off with it? What’s the use of saying anything either? If I accused him of having it, he would only deny it again; and who would take my word against his?”

So Tim, gloomy and dejected, withdrew himself, and glared at the young Titan from afar. He half thought he would go back to Poetina, and perhaps be eaten by a shark; then he looked down at the Princess Pleasant’s ring, and remembered she was not out of the Basin yet.

Well, he would see her rescued, though his was not the hand to rescue her, return the ring and the amulet, and then decide what to do.


Adventure 8
The Princess Out Of The Basin

The Titans of Tasmania felt that they had done some good work among them in the last few days. They had killed some fifty or sixty dragons, and rid the country of a detestable old Witch; therefore, feeling they had earned some rest, they all lay down and slept for twenty-four hours.

Then they roused themselves and set their faces towards the Basins, good-naturedly bearing Microscopic Tim along on their shoulders, and they teased and made much of him, as if he had been a child— which annoyed him very much.

He would never go on to the young Titan’s shoulders, calling him in his heart a liar and a hypocrite, and the young Titan would laugh and shake back his curls, and say good-humouredly:

“That little cock-chafer has got his knife into me. There’ll be war to the death between us yet, you’ll see.”

Whereat Tim would glower at him from the shoulder of any Titan on whom he happened to be riding, and the young Titan would laugh again.

As they went along Tim often caught glimpses of the sea, and never failed to think of Poetina and what a sweet little companion she was, and to wish that, instead of poetry at the last, she had said: “Good-bye, Mike, dear Mike. I’m so sorry to leave you,” or something of that sort; and a lump would come into his throat as he thought of her rapturous delight when, forgetting all about him, she plunged into her sea, her sea.

The words lingered in his ears, and he was glad she was happy, and he tried his best to feel happy too, but it was a dismal failure.

It was hard to have been so near success, to have had the parchment wrenched from his very grasp by a puff of wind and a huge fellow who denied any knowledge of it.

At last they reached the Cataract Hill. Tim felt he could not stand being borne into the court’s presence on their shoulders as if he were a baby, and he told the Titans to put him down.

They laughed and did so, and strode on up the hill, and Tim came plodding along far behind. It is a tough pull up the Cataract Hill at the best of times, and most people turn round to admire the view once or twice; but Tim would not, though his legs ached, and his heart ached with a crushing sense of failure and disappointment.

Imagine his surprise, when he finally reached the third Basin, to find all the Titans lolling about the royal camp, and Princess Pleasant still in the Basin.

“Won’t—won’t the parchment work?” he gasped.

“What parchment?” they all shouted. “Who has got it?”

“Why, he has,” pointing at the curly-headed Titan, who was reclining at the feet of the Princess Hazel-eyes.

“Not I,” returned the young giant lazily. “I wish I had.” And he looked up at Princess Hazel-eyes, who, for her part, thought she had never seen so magnificent a man—and indeed she never had.

“You—you scoundrel!” shouted Tim fiercely. “Why, I saw you pick it up myself. Produce it at once and release this unfortunate lady. Do you mean to deny that you have it, you hypocritical young dog? Or perhaps you have lost it, and are afraid to say so.”

The Titan tapped his head significantly. “I think being in the dragon’s body for a week or so has turned his brain a little, and no wonder,” he explained to Princess Hazel-eyes in a low tone.

At least he meant it for a low tone, but it was distinctly audible to all, and Tim nearly boiled over with rage and mortification.

“Well, well,” interposed the King. “I think, though the parchment has not been found, you deserve some reward. I am most grateful to you Titans for ridding me of the Witch and her dragons, and the bravest of you shall have my daughter. Which is he?”

All the Titans pointed at the youngest, who fought the Dragon single-handed, whereat he blushed very much and looked very pleased; and so did the Princess Hazel-eyes.

Then the young Titan rose. “Thank you,” he said, simply. “I should like that, but if I killed one dragon, this little chap killed fifty, and an octopus and the Wizard of the Sea into the bargain. Look at the size of him and think of it!” and he held up Microscopic Tim, who kicked at him and struggled to get down.

The Titan set him down. “steady, little man, steady,” he said, and this enraged Tim more than ever.

The King now questioned Tim, and gradually drew from him the story of all his adventures. The whole court listened entranced, from the Princess in the Basin to the young Titan, openmouthed; but when Tim again charged him with picking up the parchment, he denied it, and Tim’s wrath bubbled up once more.

“Well, well,” said the King again, to change the conversation. “You certainly have some claim to my daughter’s hand on the score of bravery; but Princess Hazel-eyes likes a fighting man, and so far as I can see you have fought nobody yet.”

Now this was Tim’s opportunity—he had been burning to revenge himself on that young Titan— so he walked straight up to him, reached up as high as he could, and struck him savagely on the calf of the leg, calling out:

“I’ll fight you, you villain!”

The Titan looked down in astonishment. “Hullo, little man, are you there?” And everyone laughed. “What’s the matter now?”

“Fight!” screamed Tim, quivering with passion.

“Eh? What? Fight? Oh, certainly. Which is it to be? Lances, or bows and arrows, or swords, or—”

“No, fists!” bawled Tim. “Put ’em up, and come on like a man!” and he meant it, too.

The whole place resounded with roars of laughter, and the young Titan leant up against a tree, and laughed until it seemed as if he would shake himself to pieces.

Then Tim, mad with rage, swarmed up him like a monkey and, standing on his shoulders, struck him on the nose again and again, and knocked his cap off.

“Hey, little man, that’ll do!” said the young Titan, recovering himself, and holding Tim out at arm’s length. “You hit harder than one would expect from your inches. Here, sit up here to cool,” and he lifted Tim into the forked branch of the tree.

“Aha! the parchment!” Tim screamed, half-falling, half-flying out of the tree right on top of something white that lay on the ground. “Now what do you say? Am I mad, and do you still deny having had it?” and he held it up in triumph.

The King took it and examined it. “It is the parchment,” he said gravely, looking at the young Titan for explanation.

It was his turn to look foolish now. “That the parchment?” he said, stupidly. “I didn’t know. I used it for lining my cap.”

And the laugh was against him this time.

“Don’t you know parchment when you see it?” they asked.

“No,” he said. “I didn’t bother my head about it. I only wanted to have a good fight with the dragons. And when they talked of getting the Princess out of the Basin with it, I thought it must be some kind of pulley, or jug, or pump.”

Then they all laughed again, and Tim laughed loudest of all.

He shook hands with the young Titan, and said he wasn’t a bad fellow after all, and the young Titan laughed good-naturedly and said:

“Congratulate you,” and looked rather wistfully at Princess Hazel-eyes.

Then they opened the parchment and read.


That was all. So they leant over the rock, and lifted her out quite easily, and wished they had tried that before instead of hunting everywhere for the parchment. They consoled themselves, however, by thinking there was probably some magic in the parchment that made it so easy.

Now when they came to look at Princess Pleasant, she was neither so old nor so plain as they had thought her; standing so long in the water must have washed her age and wrinkles away, for she certainly was not more than twenty-five, and really had a very kindly and pleasant expression—so kindly that Tim began to think her better-looking than even Princess Hazel-eyes herself.

“Take Princess Hazel-eyes, she is yours,” said the King to Tim, and the Princess came reluctantly to where he stood.

The Fairy Fernfrond flew up at this moment, and Tim gave her back the amulet. She gave him her blessing and flew away, but as she passed she whispered something in the King’s ear.

He gave a violent start. “Bless me! that’s very awkward! The Fairy Fernfrond says,” he added in explanation, “that Princess Pleasant is the heiress to the throne. So her father was the real heir after all, and I had him executed for saying so! Pity! Well, it can’t he helped. What’s to be done now?” He looked round, considering.

Tim and Princess Hazel-eyes stood moodily side by side; the young Titan leant somewhat dispiritedly against a tree; while Princess Pleasant, rather frightened at his height and size, did her best to talk to him.

“Well, as I promised the heiress to the throne to the man who found the parchment,” said the King, “you young people will have to change over, I’m afraid. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Not at all!” they cried with one voice. Queen Pleasant, as she must now he called, laid her hand gladly in Tim’s, and they walked away together.

“I wonder you did not give my ring to Poetina when she begged for it,” said the Queen, smiling down at him.

“I wanted to dreadfully,” answered honest Tim, “but then you see it was not mine to give.”

“You are a dear good little fellow, Tim. I am glad you did not, though, for that is a magic ring. If anyone I love wears it, and is faithful to me, I am granted one wish that must come true. Listen! I mean to wish something for you, and I know what you want more than anything. I wish you to be your right size.”

Immediately Tim shot up into a fine broad-shouldered strapping young fellow, who looked as if he owned the world; and when the people saw him coming back they were lost in wonder and amaze, and were a little doubtful as to whether he ought to marry the Queen or not.

But his voice sounded the same, and he wore the Queen’s ring, and (most important of all) the Queen herself was satisfied. So that very afternoon Princess Hazel-eyes and the young Titan and Queen Pleasant and Tim were wed.

And in the evening as Queen Pleasant and Tim— King Tim he must now be called—sat in their castle overlooking the river, they heard low sweet voices singing. They looked out and saw that Poetina and her sisters had daringly swum far up the river.

“Oh, Poetina, is that you?” cried the Queen. “I did so want to see you—and—to thank you for all you did, my dear. But—but you look happy now. I do so hope you are, are you?”

But Poetina did not answer. She was looking at Tim in wonder; he was so very, very different from the Mike she had known. She could not believe it was he.

“Are you?” repeated the Queen in rather an anxious voice.

“Yes, quite happy again,” she answered gently.

“So are we,” called Tim joyously, “very, very happy. Wish us luck, Poetina.”

“Hark! the sea is calling,” she murmured, in her usual dreamy fashion. “We must go.”

Then the three mermaids smiled and waved their hands, and vanished from sight; yet in the distance the Queen and Tim could hear Poetina’s soft song—

“Adieu! Adieu! May happiness ever dwell with you.”

Happiness did dwell with them, then and evermore.


Poor Little Native Bear

Little Native Bear was a soft, sleepy, rolypoly little chap who slept all day. To see him then one would think he had no fun or life in him, but at night he woke up and had his jokes and fun like the rest of the world.

He and his companions used to race up and down the trees, and the opossums would laugh at them for being so much slower, but little Native Bear did not care. He thought it was glorious fun and he loved to do gymnastics, and to hang on the branches longer than any of his companions.

Mr. and Mrs. Native Bear would look on and nod their fluffy soft little heads with satisfaction, as they watched the fun, for little Native Bear was the quickest and liveliest of them all.

He was an ambitious little fellow too, and wanted to see the world, but his mother always said:

“Ah, little Native Bear, you are very young yet, and I still carry you on my back if danger threatens. Wait until you are older, and even then if you are wise, you will stay here, for men very rarely come to this part of the country.”

“What are men?” asked he.

“Cruel animals who shoot other animals,” answered his father sternly.

“What is shoot? How do they shoot?”

“A horrible noise comes out of a stick, and it hurts and kills you.”

“Would they shoot me?” asked little Native Bear, his eyes very wide open.

Yes,” answered his mother. “I’m afraid they would.”

“What for? Would they eat me?”

“No, they don’t care to eat Native Bears.”

“Perhaps they’d like my coat. It’s a very nice one,” little Native Bear said, feeling it with his funny little claw-like hands.

“No, they don’t care about your coat very much either. It’s too thin to be of much use to them,” answered his father.

“Are they afraid of me? Do they think I’ll bite them? Or perhaps they think I eat up all the grass like the rabbits.”

“They certainly are not frightened of you, and they know you don’t do any harm at all.”

Little Native Bear was puzzled. He sat silently chewing eucalyptus leaves. After a while he asked:

“Mother, am I very ugly?”

“No, my pet,” cried his mother warmly. “You’re the sweetest, coziest, roundest, softest little Native Bear that ever slept.”

“Then if I’m not ugly, and don’t do any harm, and they don’t want my coat, and they know I won’t hurt them, and they can’t eat me, why do they want to kill me? I can’t understand.”

“Neither can I,” mourned his mother.

“I wonder why,” he persisted.

“Fun—sport,” said Mr. Native Bear with a snap. “When you are older, perhaps you will learn to think it fun to kill something that never hurt you, and that you cannot eat when you have killed it.”

“Oh, I hope not,” cried little Native Bear, horrified. “I can’t believe there are such cruel animals,” and his parents shook their heads and said no more.

So little Native Bear stayed with his father and mother, and talked no longer of seeing the world, and was full of life and joy and as happy as the night was long.

But now there came into the bush, to the consternation of all the animals, a party of men camping out.

Though they were some distance from the tree where Mr. and Mrs. Native Bear lived, yet the native bears were very careful, and only crept out cautiously on dark nights, and warned little Native Bear over and over again never to go out by himself.

At first, remembering what his father and mother had said, he stayed quietly at home with them, though it was hard to see all the other little native bears and the opossums playing about, especially on moonlight nights.

“Cannot I go out now?” he would ask sometimes. “The men are as quiet as possible. They sleep at nights—isn’t that funny?—and how can they shoot when they’re asleep?”

“Ah no, my little son,” cried his mother, “stay here. We sleep all day, and do not think of getting up, but they are awake all day, and often all night too. These men seem very quiet, but they are never to be trusted, believe me, never to be trusted.”

Now little Native Bear was a good little fellow, and never intentionally disobeyed his parents, but it was very tiresome always to stay in the hole of a tree, hardly daring to poke his nose out; and as time passed away and still the camp remained, all the animals grew more and more used to it, and even Mr. and Mrs. Native Bear became less vigilant, and sometimes little Native Bear used to run out on dark nights, whilst his parents kept their eyes on him.

One night they went out to visit their neighbours, leaving the little one at home.

The moon soon rose, and little Native Bear popped his head out. His companions called to him, and one said, “You can’t hang on as long as I can,” and another, “You can’t jump as far as I can,” and almost before he thought he was out among them playing merrily, and was soon several trees from home.

A step crashed unexpectedly in the scrub and the opossums were gone instantly.

The native bears were much slower. “Run! run!” they cried, as they fled to their different trees. “It is the men! It is the men!”

But our little Native Bear was bewildered, and in the sudden flurry hardly knew where he lived or which way to turn.

He was not very much frightened either, for (in spite of all Mr. and Mrs. Native Bear had said) he could not find it in his honest little heart to believe that men could be so cruel as to kill him for no reason at all; so for a second or two he stayed where he was, and looked down on the men far below with innocent friendliness and curiosity.

Then one of them pointed a gun at him, and he suddenly remembered what his father had said about the stick that killed, and turned—too late— to run along the branch.


Ah! he was shot—not killed, but wounded—and in dreadful pain.

“Winged him, by George!” cried a voice, as the poor little thing crawled slowly and painfully along the branch. “Pop at him again.”

Bang! and yet again, bang!

And now he was so badly hurt he could crawl no further, but clung desperately to the bough and cried pitifully, and would not let go.

“The next shot ought to bring him down”—but it did not.

“I’m getting’ sick of this: it’s a miserable sort of sport killing a poor brute by inches,” said the man who was firing. “I’d no idea native bears were so hard to kill. I wish he wouldn’t cry like that; it’s just like a child. If we could only kill him and put him out of his misery.”

“Stand aside and let me have a go at him,” cried the other. “I’ll bring the brute down if I stay here all night. Now, will that fetch you?” But little Native Bear clung still and cried on.

“What, you won’t, won’t you? We’ll see, my boy, we’ll see.” He spoke through his clenched teeth as savagely as if the poor little thing were wronging him by clinging desperately to the bough for dear life.

Nine times was that poor little animal wounded before he could be made to let go. Then he dropped, and Toby, the fox terrier, rushed at him and killed him.

Life was gone; so were all his innocent fun and happiness and pleasure in living.

The two men stood looking at him. “As long as I live,” said the first slowly, “I will never kill another native bear.”

The other laughed at him. “They’re not all as bad as this; but perhaps, as you’re so sensitive about it, you don’t want the skin. If not, I shall have it.”

“Do what you like with it,” said the first man shortly, walking off.

And now Mr. and Mrs. Native Bear returned and hunted everywhere in great distress for their dear little one. When they heard what had happened they cried sadly, and refused to be comforted.

The man took the skin home when he went there. But the fur was not thick enough to be of much use, and it was not considered worth spending any money on to have it tanned; so it was left lying about, and no one cared for it.

Dead, you see, he was of no use, and alive he had been so happy and so glad to be alive.

Poor little Native Bear! ah, poor little Native Bear!



Brag And Blow

The first thing that you notice as you approach Townsville, in Queensland, is Castle Hill. It stands high above the surrounding country, very much like the pictures of Edinburgh Castle.

In the moonlight the effect is especially fine; it might be some ruined castle towering there above the sea.

Many thousand years ago two lazy giants, named Brag and Blow, always used Castle Hill as their pillow.

They were each half a mile high, so that they looked very big fellows indeed, as they lay sprawling on the ground, with their heads resting one on each side of Castle Hill. Brag lay with his toes pointing south, Blow with his pointing north, while they talked of all they could or would do—but they never did anything.

They quarrelled and argued incessantly, and each continually threatened to “smash” the other “to atoms.”

At last two lively little imps, Mischief and Fun, determined to see if they could not make them do it. So, unseen by the giants, they set to work to run thorns into them, and for half an hour those imps pricked at the huge legs, until they were as sore as possible, and as rough as nutmeg graters; and still Brag and Blow raged at each other, but never moved.

Then Mischief dropped a stone as large as a child’s head into Brag’s hand. “Flick it over,” he whispered.

Brag flicked it over the top of the hill, and it struck Blow on the cheek.

“Look here, Brag, if you do that again, I’ll fight you.”

“Will you?” returned Brag. “Why, I could smash you to atoms, and I will, too!” he added, angrily, as something struck him violently on the nose. Blow, without moving, had reached down to the water’s edge and picked up a rock and thrown it over at Brag.

“Come and try,” Blow jeered, as Brag rubbed his nose savagely. “I’d knock you over with my little finger. Look out! Do you want me to try?” as a shower of rocks and sand fell upon him. This sort of thing they kept up all day.

And if you ever go up Castle Hill, you will find a quantity of small boulders all over it, and you will wish those giants had not been so silly, for it is by no means easy walking.

“Why don’t they get up and have it out properly?” growled the other giants. “It isn’t safe to passers-by either. I’m sure they hit us much oftener than they hit each other. We don’t understand such nonsense! Why doesn’t Grim turn them out of the country?”

When the other giants fought, they fought day and night, uprooting trees and hurling large rocks at each other; or else they came to close quarters and used their fists, never stopping until one or the other was beaten.

Then they went home, and felt better or worse, as the case might be.

The King of the Queensland giants, Giant Grim, was away down south, having a little dispute, chiefly by means of rocks and trees, with Giant Gruff, of New South Wales. So he was quite unaware of what was happening at Castle Hill, until the Wizard of Magnetic Island came flying to him in a furious rage.

“A rock struck me on the thumb!” he screamed. “My magnet thumb, too! You think you’ll cripple me, I suppose, but I’ve enough magnetism left in it to draw all your giants after me to the bottom of the sea, where they’ll drown; then Giant Gruff will seize your kingdom, and kill you—and serve you right, too! No; I know what I’ll do. I’ll transform the whole lot of you into dwarfs! How will you like that? Take care, Giant Grim! I can, and I will, too, if one more rock comes flying over to my island. I believe I shall do it as it is. Look out, Giant Grim, look out! I mean what I say. Take care—beware!”

Giant Grim did not wait to hear the end of this. He was tearing north as fast as his great long legs could carry him, whilst Giant Gruff victoriously hurled rocks and trees after him.

It did not take Grim long to reach Townsville, to seize Brag and Blow by the back of the neck, one in each hand, and to run them through Queensland and over the border into New South Wales.

“Nice little present for Gruff!” said he, with a grim smile. “Perhaps they’ll keep him occupied for awhile. They are the laziest, most good-for-nothing pair I ever had to deal with, so I’m well rid of them.” Then he turned quite meekly to the Wizard. “You surely never meant that about turning us all into dwarfs,” he said anxiously.

“Not this time,” snapped the Wizard; “but don’t let it occur again,” and he flew northward back to his Island, to the great relief of Giant Grim.

King Gruff was not at all pleased to be awakened next morning by a tremendous blow in the eye.

He sat up, roaring with pain; looked round, and discovered a large rock beside him. “Who threw that?” he shouted.

sat up

No one answered. No one knew. After storming at his followers for some ten minutes, he fell asleep again. In a few seconds he received another rock right in the other eye. He sprang to his feet, and vowed that unless the culprit were brought to him in less than half an hour, he’d thrash every giant in the land with his own hand.

The giants immediately scattered, but they had not far to go. There on a hill at Manly, just beyond the lagoon, sprawled those two absurd giants, Brag and Blow, pelting each other.

The other giants hauled them on to their feet and brought them before Giant Gruff. He eyed them savagely.

“Well, if they are so fond of stones, let them have a few,” he said, and instantly the air was filled with rocks, and Brag and Blow fled for their lives to Victoria.

But Giant Growl would have none of them. He thrashed them out of his kingdom, so on they went, trying each colony in turn. If only they had been content to go away into the backblocks, and boast their boasts all by themselves, it would not have mattered; but no, they must have an audience, and neither of them would give up fighting—if fighting it could be called—and talking of what he would do when he had conquered the other.

At last, in desperation, all the Giant Kings of the different colonies met in consultation, and Brag and Blow were formally exiled from Australia.

“All very well to exile us,” they grumbled, “but where are we to go?”


“Too small; not room to stretch there,” said Blow gloomily.

“Try New Zealand.’

“Oh, we hate getting wet; besides, we couldn’t swim all that distance,” was Brag’s peevish objection.

“You said t’other day you’d swim two thousand miles and smile,” said a boy-giant standing by, ducking his head just in time to save himself from a terrific blow that both giants aimed at him.

Their hands met together in a tremendous clap, that all the inhabitants of Australia mistook for thunder, and the two giants hopped up and down and wrung their stinging hands and stamped with pain and rage. The boy-giant shouted with laughter, and bobbed up on the other side of them.

“Let us make a chain bridge, as the monkeys do, he cried. “Blow says he can jump fifteen hundred miles easy, and if we were all holding them they wouldn’t be afraid.”

“Afraid!” cried the two, angrily. “We don’t know what fear means. Why, we—”

“You’re ‘fraid to fight, anyhow; you’re ‘fraid of getting wet or of swimming,” jeered the boy-giant. “But let’s see you jump, since you’re such cracks at it.”

“Silence!” roared Giant Growl. “Boy, you have no business here. Speak when you are spoken to. Go!” And then having properly snubbed the boy-giant, he turned aside to the other kings to ask them what they thought of his idea.

“Yah!” cried the boy-giant, snapping his fingers at Brag and Blow. “I believe I could fight the two of ye any day myself,” and he ran off.

It was decided that a bridge should be formed; so each giant seized the next giant by the legs, until there was a chain of giants many hundred miles long, with Brag and Blow at one end of it and the three hugest and strongest giants at the other, all clinging tightly to the North Head of Port Jackson.

“Now!” called Giant Gruff, and Brag and Blow rose high in the air.

“Bravo, old fat ’uns!” muttered the boy-giant, watching from the distance. “Didn’t think you had it in you. Only it happens to be New Zealand you want to go to, not South Head,” and he rolled over and over roaring with laughter.

For that was where their grand spring had landed them—just across on South Head!

All the giants laughed, too, for Brag and Blow had talked of their jumping prowess ever since they could remember. However the chain was re-formed, with Giants Leap and Spring at the head of it. They sprang right across to New Zealand and held on firmly to Mount Egmont, thus forming a bridge over which Brag and Blow walked quite safely—to the great disappointment of the boy-giant, who was hoping they would fall in and get a ducking.

Then Leap and Spring let go, and the whole chain of giants was hauled back by their companions at the other end. Of course, they were all drenched to the skin and had swallowed much salt water, but they cared little for that since they had rid themselves of those intolerable nuisances, Brag and Blow.

But the country was not quite free from them for all that; some of their brag and blow seemed yet lingering in the air. It was catching, too, like a disease, and the boy-giant caught it first.

It has even been said that it lingers in the atmosphere of Australia to this very day, but let us hope that that is not true.

As for Brag and Blow themselves, they wandered about New Zealand for some time, until they found what seemed a very comfortable mountain to lie on.

Unfortunately for them, it was Tongariro, and they had not lain there long before a loud crack resounded, the mountain burst open, and a mass of flames shot up into the air. In the midst of them was a beautiful woman. She was tall, with long waving black hair, and eyes black as coal, which yet sparkled and glittered; the flames writhed and curled all about her form, and the smoke rose far above her in a huge column as she scattered lava far and wide.

“I am the Volcano Queen,” quoth she. “Who dares to throw stones here?” and a great shower of lava fell upon the giants.

Half-blinded and mad with rage, they rushed wildly at her, stumbled, and pitched head foremost into the crater. The mountain closed with a snap, and there was an end of them. And yet not an end—for they do say that you can sometimes hear them rumbling and growling away in the earth, fighting now in real earnest as they struggle vainly to free themselves.


The Wizard Of Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island lies off Townsville, inside the Great Barrier Reef. Its name is known to some, but how many know why it is so called? Listen then.

Many thousand years ago there lived on that island a Wizard, who had a most tremendously powerful magnet in his thumb—so powerful that he had but to hold up his left thumb and waggle it, and nothing that walked on the land or flew in the air could resist.

Thus he could make anything he chose follow him wherever he chose; but fortunately he was not a bad-hearted fellow on the whole—a trifle irritable, perhaps—and he generally let his victim off after a good fright. He spent most of his time on Magnetic Island studying alchemy and astrology— two sciences, by-the-bye, which I would advise no young folks to study unless they expect to live as long as the Wizard of Magnetic Island, and even then—well, it’s a matter of taste.

He loved peace and quiet. “I’m the best tempered wizard living,” he used to say, “if they’ll only leave me alone.”

But unfortunately both astrology and alchemy are a little trying to the temper on occasions, and then the Wizard would fly off over Australia on his crook-handled stick to work off his irritation, and woe betide the unfortunate one who happened to annoy him.

Now the stars had foretold (that’s astrology) that on such and such a day the Wizard would be able to turn all the rocks round Magnetic Island into gold (that’s alchemy—that is to say, a higher kind of alchemy, for the Wizard would never be content with merely turning metals into gold).

For weeks past the Wizard had incanted, and enchanted, and experimented, and now the great day had come, and the rocks persisted in remaining rocks.

Both astrology and alchemy had failed him, and he was boiling over with rage and disappointment. He kicked his crucibles and pots all over the island, smashed his telescopes, tore up his mystic writings, and flew away to recover his temper if he could.



Some young giants in the centre of Australia saw him passing overhead, and called daringly after him:

“Old wizardy, wizardy wig!”

It was not polite, certainly, but there was not much harm in it, and on another day he would have taken little notice. But to-day those words, “Old wizardy, wizardy wig,” were the last straw; he descended, and fixed the reckless giants with his eye.

They stiffened instantly in every limb. Their blood froze in their veins. With eyes almost starting out of their sockets, they watched him in fearful fascination as he slowly raised his thumb—would he let them off?

No; he took a step backward, and waggled it.

“Come,” said he.

With a jerk all those giants—there were at least two hundred of them—took a step forward; and so on they went, the Wizard slowly pacing backward, ever waggling that dreadful thumb, the giants following stiff of limb, with fingers outspread, jerking themselves along like a set of huge marionettes.

To the bottom of the sea that Wizard took them; then seated himself on a rock, holding up his thumb quite still.

“That thumb,” quoth he, “is the most beautiful thing in the whole world. You cannot take your eyes off it.”

Neither they could, and they gazed at it for half an hour—by the end of which time they were gasping, choking, struggling, and purple in the face, for it takes about half an hour to drown a giant.

“Now you’re all right, sirs, now you’re all right!” cried the Wizard briskly, snapping his fingers in front of their eyes, and lowering his thumb.

Instantly the giants rose to the top of the waters, where such a sputtering and puffing and panting and blowing went on that you would have thought an enormous school of whales had suddenly come to the surface, whilst the Wizard, much soothed in his mind, went back to his Island.

He sorrowfully collected his bent and knocked about pots and crucibles, his scattered chemicals, the fragments of his telescopes, his torn-up parchments, and put them by until he had the heart to piece them together again. Then he sat down and shook his hand. “It’s tiring work waggling one’s thumb for so long—my left hand aches terribly. I’ve been using it a great deal lately.” You must know that the left hand has to be used in all important magic work. “Why shouldn’t I transfer the magnet to my right thumb? It would be a great rest on occasions like this. Fancy never thinking of that before during all these thousands of years! I wonder if I could—I’ll try.”

For three days he tried, but without success. On the fourth day he gave up magic stones and fluids, crystals, sorceries and enchantments, and tried a very simple if somewhat painful plan.

He cut his thumb with a sharp penknife, sucked out the magnet as if it had been a splinter, then drove it into the other thumb as if it had been a nail, and put on some magic ointment to heal the wounds. The thing was done. With much satisfaction that night he lay down and fell into a sound sleep.

The giants had all swum safely to shore, but there was no sleep for them. Day and night they spent their time roaring, bellowing, stamping, and grinding their teeth. They would not be satisfied unless a solemn convocation were held, to consider how the insult should be avenged; and on the fourth day, for the sake of peace and quiet, all the giants, in the land gathered together to consider the question.

After an hour’s debate, the five King giants— Grim, Gruff, Growl, Gloom, and Glum—rose, and said with one voice:

“Leave him alone,” and then strode off.

They knew the Wizard well; and they meant what they said. The insulted giants only raged the more.

“All very well,” they bawled; “but wait until you’ve been treated like us.”

“Some of us have,” said Grim’s followers. “Being nearly drowned is enough for us, and we don’t want to risk quite.”

“Cowards!” shouted the others, and Grim’s giants immediately flung themselves upon them, and there would have been a pitched battle, but all the other giants interfered, and with great difficulty separated them.

“So you won’t help us?” asked the insulted giants, glaring round.

“No!” said all the others decidedly. “The only way would be to kill him, and who ever heard of a giant being able to kill a wizard? Supposing we do try, we shan’t manage it, and then he’ll finish us once for all. Besides, what weapons have we? Only our fists, while he’s got fists and flying powers, magic, sorcery and enchantments, and a magnet thumb and a stiffening eye into the bargain! You’ll have to put up with him. After all, he might be worse.” And they, too, left the insulted ones to their grievance.

“Eat him,” said someone. “That’s the best way to kill a wizard.”

A groan followed that. “Too tough,” they said.

Then came a brilliant idea. “Cut off his magnet thumb. If he tries to bother us with his sorceries and enchantments, stick it in a tree and let him look at it forever, since he thinks it so beautiful. Ha, ha! ho, ho, ho!”

Roars of laughter greeted this, until one said surlily:

“All very fine, but who’s to cut off his thumb?”

Nobody offered, though every one was very willing to suggest somebody else.

Finally, as matters seemed at a deadlock, they all turned to Wagjaws, the one who had suggested it; but he was a modest young fellow, and retiring too—especially as far as his legs were concerned, for he was running off as fast as he could go. They immediately gave chase and caught him; and on their knocking his head against a tree, and promising to club him until he couldn’t stand or see, and there was not a bone unbroken in his body, he consented to do as they asked—protesting all the while he was sure someone else would do it much better.

They did not listen to his protests; they thrust a tomahawk into his hand, and hurried him along in front of them, until they reached the sea, when they pushed him in, saying in a most affable and encouraging way:

“You’ve only a little way to go now.”

Then they stood by with great rocks in their hands, ready to pelt him to death if he made any attempt to return.

Thus goaded, poor Wagjaws swam miserably on his way. It was not difficult: the water for miles round the Island was so charged with magnetism that he seemed to be drawn along without any effort. He came up on a little strip of sand, and looked round. There, under a beautiful banyan tree, lay the Wizard peacefully sleeping. Wagjaws looked round to see if he had a clear strike, raised his tomahawk, and brought it down swiftly, severing the thumb from the Wizard’s hand.

The Wizard and his thumb both flew up in the air from the violence of the blow; Wagjaws caught the thumb as it came down, and promptly plunged into the sea with it, battling through the magnetic waters, while the poor Wizard fell prone on the ground, screaming with pain.



“My thumb, my thumb—my magnet thumb!” he shrieked. “Oh, my thumb, my thumb!”

The giants heard the shrieks and screams; they knew what it meant, and they laughed “Ho! ho! ho!” until the whole place resounded with tremendous peals of laughter.

“Where’s the Wizard?” shouted they, as Wagjaws approached.

“The Wizard?” echoed he stupidly. “The Wizard?”

“Do you mean to say you didn’t make him follow his thumb?” they roared. “Oh, you great dunderhead!”

“You didn’t say to,” pleaded Wagjaws, sitting down and wringing the water out of his clothes. “I thought you only wanted his thumb. I’ll give it you in a minute.”

“What’s the good of that?” they bawled. “We want our revenge, and at once!”

“If you’d seen him, you’d have said you’d had revenge enough,” said Wagjaws, simply. “I felt almost sorry for him.”

“Bah! you great soft,” they shouted in anger. “Go back at once and fetch the Wizard,” and they tried to push him into the sea once more. Wagjaws sprang up and stamped his foot.

“Look here, I’ve had enough bullying, and I’m not going back, for—ha! ha! ha! I’ve got the magnet thumb!! I was a soft. I was going to give it to you, but I won’t now, and if you bother me I’ll use it—so take care.” The other giants fell back with a growl.

“Won’t you. just wag it,” they said humbly enough then, “and see if the Wizard will come?”

“No,” said Wagjaws, “it’s too far for it to work; besides, I don’t want him. If you’re so anxious to have him, why don’t you go to him? Afraid of him still, eh? I had to tackle him alone, magnet thumb and all, and you didn’t spare me much if I recollect right. Keep a wide berth,” he added majestically, “no tricks upon me. If anyone comes within a quarter of a mile of me I’ll magnetise the whole lot, and so I give you fair warning!” and he strode off, the others following at a respectful distance.

The Wizard had made no attempt to follow Wagjaws. He knew well, none better, the tremendous power the giants now had. By-and-by he must try to recover his thumb by craft, by guile, by every witchery in his power; at present he was overcome with grief and despair. He rocked wildly to and fro, tore his beard out by handfuls, and bewailed his precious thumb.

Suddenly his eye was caught by a slight wound in the thumb of the right hand. With a shriek of joy he sat upright, for he now remembered what the shock and fright had completely driven from his mind—that he had transferred the magnet overnight.

Even now he could hardly believe his good fortune. He laid his thumb on a rock, the rock hung on to his thumb; he laid it on a large tree and walked backwards, the tree came up by the roots; then he knew it was all right—never was such a wonderful magnet as that which belonged to the Wizard of Magnetic Island!

He flew across the sea, seated himself on a rock, and beckoned with his thumb. In the centre of Australia sat Wagjaws, enjoying himself, with all the other giants round him about a quarter of a mile off, very humble and polite.

“Oh!” shouted Wagjaws all of a sudden, and made a wild grab in the air; for as the Wizard beckoned, the thumb in his pocket, being well charged with magnetism, flew out and jumped along the ground.

Everyone rushed after it, but no one could quite catch it. It leapt and bounded along, always a few yards out of reach.

They leapt, bounded, scrambled, jostled, and tumbled after it—on, and on, and on, until they received a terrible shock. They knew what it was, they had felt it before; it was the stiffening eye of the Wizard!

Alas! There he was holding up his right thumb, and once again they became stiff and rigid.

“Doomed to be drowned,” he said solemnly. “Follow me,” and be waggled his thumb, but his heart was moved to pity in spite of himself by their ghastly looks of agony.

“After all,” he thought, “I was too hard on them last time. I might let them off a little this. I only want to be let alone—what a tiresome set they are!” He looked at them, silently considering some few minutes; then he waved his stick over them and chanted several times—

“Pygmy-minded ye—
Pygmies ye shall be!”

Then he laughed. “I don’t think you’ll trouble me again—but if you do, you won’t escape a third time. So beware!”

Suddenly in place of the giants stood a race of pygmies—little hairy brown men, not more than three feet high—who all scuttled out of sight as fast as they could go to hide their shame and humiliation.

The Wizard laughed again, picked up his ill-treated thumb, stuck it on with sticking plaster, and flew back to Magnetic Island, where, it is said, no one ever molested him again.


The Origin Of The Cocoanut

The Wizard of Magnetic Island—or, as he was occasionally called, the Wizard of the North—was bothered. No one ever molested him, it is true, but occasionally some of the inhabitants of Australia would fly or swim across with a grievance—some other tribe had injured them, and they wanted the aid of his magnet thumb, or of his sorcery.

Thus, before he knew, the Wizard would be drawn into a quarrel and called upon to decide between the two parties.

All this took so much time from his beloved alchemy and astrology, and the appeals became so frequent, that at last he determined to marry in order to have peace.

“A witch,” he mused, “will just suit me, a new witch—not the old-fashioned kind that incanted over their pots at home, and took an occasional airing on their broomsticks—but a witch who’ll be able to look after all the outside affairs and manage everything for me, leaving me in peace to mind the Island. What do you want?” he roared, as an elf was seen flying towards the Island. The elf told him.

“Oh, yes, yes,” he grumbled. “I’ll come. Plague take you; I haven’t a minute to myself.” Then, as they flew over the sea, he asked, “Have you seen any witches about lately?”

“Only the Witch of the South,” answered the elf.

“H’m, she doesn’t often come. What is she doing here?”

“Poking about in things that don’t concern her,” said the elf crossly.

“The very thing,” chuckled the Wizard, rubbing his hands. “When I’ve settled this little business for you, you fly off and find her, and send her to me this very evening, d’ye hear?”

The Witch came. She was quite as ugly as the Wizard, and that is saying a great deal; but the Wizard was delighted with her, for she took a vast interest in all outside things. She had no wish to stay at home at all; she loved work, and thought herself capable of managing the whole world.

A most satisfactory Witch in every respect was she, with all the latest ideas; and when she said she did not in the least care what he did, provided he never interfered with her, he hugged her on the spot.

They flew together side by side (he on his crook-handled stick, she on her broomstick) right into the centre of Australia, and there they were married.

It was a wonderful wedding. Never had there been such a concourse before of giants, elves, fairies, sprites, imps, dwarfs, pygmies, gnomes, and goblins. None dared to be absent, for who would care to offend such a powerful couple as the Wizard of the North and the Witch of the South?

Indeed quite a shudder went round when, as a wedding gift, the Wizard solemnly presented the Witch with his stiffening eye.

Well, the marriage answered capitally; the Witch did all the work, took all responsibility from the Wizard, and cut about all over the world on her broomstick, whilst the Wizard stayed on the Island, heedless of all that went on round him, growing mouldier and mouldier over his beloved alchemy and astrology, and quite content to be so.

“Write it up on the slate,” he said to all comers now. “The Witch will attend to it when she returns.”

Nothing bothered him except that the Witch of the South would, during some of her flying visits, talk over much of what she had done or would do; but the Wizard only remarked:

“All new witches do that, so I suppose I must put up with it.”

There is on the other side of the river at Mackay a grove of palms planted in long straight rows. The foliage of one palm droops over and meets the foliage of its neighbour in the next row, and so on all down the row, forming a series of most beautiful green arches; and as you stand alone underneath the trees, and look down the long vista of arches growing smaller and smaller in the distance, a holy stillness reigns, broken only when the wind slightly sways the green branches so that they make a solemn rustling far above your head. Then a great quietude falls upon you, as if you were in some wonderful natural cathedral, and you are glad that you are alive, and that there is so much beauty and goodness in the world.

Here some fairies—Aerials they were called, because they were so light and graceful—lived happily for many a long day, swaying in the green branches and flitting from palm to palm.

But, alas! there also lived not far distant a race of imps all covered with horrid little prickles, who loved tormenting. So one day they said, “Let’s go and tease the Aerials.”

They flew to the palms and pulled the fairies’ beautiful hair, which looked like spun glass; they tried to tear their lovely gossamer wings; they rubbed prickly hands over their delicate, peach-bloom cheeks, and left the prickles there.



The Aerials wept and implored, but it was of no use.

“If you don’t like it you can go,” jeered the imps; “but we believe you do like it—oh, you little darlings!”

“Won’t you leave us alone?” sobbed the Aerials.

“Not we; you can go.”

“But it’s our home, our own home,” they cried piteously.

“Not it; we’re going to keep it.”

“Oh, is there no one to help us?” they wailed, wringing their hands.

Then up came a band of elves, funny little grey-green chaps, also covered with prickles, but prickles that did not come off.

We will,” they cried; and they cast themselves upon the imps, and would soon have succeeded in ousting them, had not some little brown hairy men, called pygmies, happened to pass.

These pygmies, as you may remember, had once been giants; and, because they had lost their giant-hood, bitterness and hatred so filled their hearts that they never saw anyone wronged or injured without trying to add to the wrong, or to injure them more.

“Hi, hi, hi,” they squealed, and swarmed up the palm-trees.

They seized the elves in their hard, horny hands, tore off their wings, and flung them to the ground; then seized the poor little fluttering Aerials, who were too astonished and frightened and miserable to think of flying away, and would have treated them in the same way, when in the distance they heard—

“Ser-wish! ser-wish! ser-wish!”

The Witch of the South was flying through the air as fast as she could, but she knew she could not be in time to save the Aerials from having their wings torn off, so she waved her crutch round her head three times, and instantly there fell from the hands of the astounded pygmies a fluttering rain of many-coloured flowers.

Then the Witch came up, and brought to bear the stiffening eye of the Wizard—the pygmies knew that eye well, they stiffened and gasped and waited; but the imps had never felt it before, and their terror was pitiful to behold.

“What’s all this pother?” demanded the Witch harshly.

The pygmies were not as frightened of the Witch as they were of the Wizard, so they jerked out:

“Those wretched elves down there thought they could turn the imps out of these trees. We soon taught them better. They don’t look good for much now, do they?”

The Witch of the South looked down at the poor little elves, lying wingless, crushed and bruised, at the foot of the trees, with all the Aerials scattered about like so many blue and pink and white stars.

She waved her crutch thrice, and instantly the elves turned into green prickly plants.

“There,” said the Witch, with much satisfaction, “you shall be good for something, whatever they say. In time you shall bear most delicious fruit.”

And so they did—we call them pineapples nowadays.

Then the Witch turned her attention to the imps, and they fell from the trees in the shape of pears covered all over with innumerable prickles.

The sun ripened them, and the seed was spread far and wide, and they became a plague in the land. Yet prickly pears are not bad to eat if you only know how to manage them.

And now the Witch turned to the pygmies.

“What have you to say for yourselves?” she asked sternly.

“Nothing,” they answered sullenly. “The imps had a perfect right to stay here if they wanted to. So have we. We mean to stay. You can stiffen us, but you can’t make us follow, for you haven’t the Wizard’s magnet thumb yet, though you do try so hard to make him give it up.”

Now the Witch thought she alone knew how often she had tried to coax the magnet from the Wizard, and how persistently he refused to give it up, so this made her angrier than ever; and she snapped out, as she saw the pygmies clinging tightly to the trees:

“Stay, will you? Very well, you shall stay.”

She waved her crutch, muttering, “Always! For ever! Never more!”

At this the pygmies curled their legs tightly up into their brown hairy bodies, whilst their heads sank down between their shoulders, and their bodies became rounder and rounder until they were very much the shape of a football, and heads, legs, and arms were quite lost sight of.

They grew on to the palms and stayed there always — for ever cocoanuts — pygmies never more!

And if this is doubted, let anyone examine a cocoanut fresh from the tree. The brown fibre (that is the hair that covered the pygmies’ bodies) should be torn off, and at one end of the hard shell there can be seen quite distinctly two eyes, a little bit of a nose, and a mouth—and that is the face of a pygmy who once ousted the poor Aerials from their home in the palms.


The Flying Flowers At Flat-Top

The Witch of the South had interfered, as she thought, very successfully in a quarrel between fairies, elves, imps, and pygmies. She had turned them into flowers, pineapples, prickly pears, and cocoanuts, and flew back to her home very well satisfied with herself.

But the Wizard was annoyed about something, and when she reached home, he was dancing round and round the Island, kicking all before him— his pots and crucibles were literally flying all over the place.

Now if the Witch had been wise, she would have said nothing; if wiser still, she would have gone away; but she was so full of all she had done that she must tell it to the Wizard.

“Very badly done, too,” growled he, and fell to kicking his pots and crucibles again.

“What do you mean?” screamed she.

“What I say,” retorted the Wizard. “Just what one might expect from a Witch. Disgraceful!”

The Witch flew into a rage at this, and commenced dancing round the Island on her own account.

“Yah!” snarled the Wizard. “You needn’t dance. That won’t undo what you have done. Might have known you’d make a muddle of it. Stay at home and mind the Island, that’s all you’re fit for!” and with a final kick at his pots, he jumped on his crook-handled stick and rode off.

Now it happened one of these pots flew up and struck the Witch on the nose. Mad with rage, she flung pot after pot at the Wizard, but fortunately she aimed at him—so they all went wide, and fell into the sea, and he escaped untouched.

The Wizard meanwhile flew rapidly on his way, growling and muttering.

“Ur-r-r! Bah! Punishes them all alike! Ugh! What had the elves and the Aerials done to be turned into pineapples and flowers? Bah! No sense of justice! Ur-r-r! Witches indeed! Yah!”

When he reached the palm grove, there were the poor little Aerials all scattered about in the guise of different coloured flowers, just as the Witch had left them; there were the elves the Witch had turned into pineapples.

“H’m,” said the Wizard thoughtfully. “How do you like being pineapples?”

“Not very much,” they said. “But it was worse lying crushed at the foot of the tree with our wings all torn off.”

“If I’d been here I’d soon have made you all right again; so could she if she’d had any sense,” growled the irritated Wizard.

“Perhaps she didn’t think of it,” sighed the pineapples, rather ruefully. “I suppose you can’t change us back into elves again.”

“That is the most difficult thing of all, said the Wizard. “It often takes years, and very peculiar conditions, and the Witch’s magic is unusually strong. I can change you into something else though. What would you like to be?”

The pineapples hesitated. “We’re growing used to being pineapples, and if we can’t be elves, we’d think we’d rather stay as we are. Besides, we’d like to see what beautiful fruit we shall bear—the Witch promised us that.”

“Well, I’ll transplant you to some better soil than this at any rate,” said the Wizard, “for the trees take all the goodness out of the ground.”

He touched them with his stick, and they were gone; then he turned to the flowers.

“What can I do for you?”

“Nothing,” they wailed. “Oh, to be back in our glorious home in the palms, to feel the wind swaying the branches, to nestle there at night and see the bright stars come out one by one in the clear sky! Never again shall we laugh and dance in the sunshine, and spread our wings—”

Here the Wizard ground his teeth with rage at the thought of the Witch’s blunders, for it quite upset him to hear the Aerials bemoaning their loss so pitifully.

“But you mustn’t blame the Witch,” they said. “But for her our wings would have been torn off, and we should have been dashed to the ground like the elves.”

“But for her,” retorted the Wizard savagely, “you’d have been back in your home at this moment. If your wings had been torn off, what then? It would have hurt a little, of course; but she could soon have made you all right again, after she had settled with the imps and pygmies. Instead of which she uses magic so strong that there’s no undoing it. Ah-h-h, those witches!”

He tramped up and down under the palms, crushing the prickly pears under foot, whilst the Aerials wept flower-tears—dewdrops that sparkled all over them like gems.

“Oh,” sobbed the flowers, “shall we never fly again? never feel the joy of fluttering our wings in the bright sunshine as we flit from flower to flower and sip the honey? Must we stay always on one stem? Shall we not roam any more when the moon shines brightly? Shall we never dance on the green by the light of the fireflies, nor be borne along by the gentle breath of the zephyr?”

“Flowers are beautiful things,” said the Wizard to console them. Indeed he knew not what to say.

“Ah, but they cannot fly!” they wept.

“Why not?” said the Wizard cheerily. “If flying is all you care about, I can easily manage that. You shall be flying flowers.”

“Oh, you dear good Wizard, do you mean that? You cannot. It is too good to be true,” and they trembled with hope till they had shaken the dewdrops from their petals and their tears were all gone.

“But I do mean it,” said the Wizard in his most business-like manner. “Don’t grieve any more.” Then he chanted:

“Through this drear world of ours
Flit softly, dainty flowers,
Among the cool green bowers.
Beware of summer showers—
Enjoy the sunny hours!
Then fly! Fly! Fly!”

Instantly each beautiful flower fluttered from its stalk, its wings shimmering in the sunshine. They hovered round the Wizard gratefully, to thank him; then, wafted upward by the wind, flew back to their old home in the palms.



But it was too sad—nothing was the same—and there were the horrible pygmies glued there for ever.

“Where shall we go?” they asked.

“Go across to Flat-top Island,” called the Wizard.

They took his advice, and darted and fluttered over the sea until they reached Flat-top.

Ah, they were happy now; no one knew of their retreat, no one ever troubled them. For many centuries they and their descendants lived there in perfect peace and joy.

There are some there now, for not many years ago some people went ashore at Flat-top. Coming down the steep hill from the lighthouse one tripped and stumbled over a loose boulder in the long grass (it had been thrown there by two tiresome giants, Brag and Blow, many centuries before); and as she tripped she fell forward into a thick mat of tropical creeper covering the top of a tree that grew further down the slope.

As she plunged into the creeper myriads of flying flowers rose from beside her, fluttered about her, then darted with delicate shimmering wings hither and thither in the sunshine.

It was a sight never to be forgotten.

“Oh, what beautiful butterflies!” she cried.

She called them butterflies, you see—so do most people for the matter of that—but then human beings do not know much, and that is a fact!


A Slight Difference Of Opinion

“Now,” said the Wizard of Magnetic Island, as he flew homeward after seeing the flying flowers safe at Flat-top, “I’m not going to have the Witch mismanaging things in this way. And if I choose to tell her so, and to lose my temper a little, she has no right to fling pots at me. Of course I did hit her on the nose with one, but that was her own fault. Everyone knows that they ought to keep out of my way when I’m irritated. No, I must have a settling-up with my lady the Witch!” and he stroked his magnet thumb thoughtfully.

“Ah, here he comes,” said the Witch, spying him in the distance. “I must have a settling-up with my lord the Wizard,” and she went and sharpened her teeth on the grindstone.

“She means business,” groaned the Wizard, when he heard the grindstone whirring, whirring, whirring. “This is a little too much—my own grindstone, and on my own Island too! Now for it.”

He jumped off his crook-handled stick.

“Come, none of this nonsense!” he said sternly. “Will you listen to reason?”

“Not to your reason,” snapped she.

“Well, then, give me back my stiffening eye at once, and go!”

“Indeed I won’t! Give me your magnet thumb and I’ll see about it.”

“I will not!” he roared.

“Then I shan’t go,” she returned folding her arms.

“I’ll magnetise you and make you!” shouted the Wizard.

“I’ll stiffen you and you can’t!” screamed the Witch.

“I mean to have that eye!” shrieked the Wizard.

“I mean to have that thumb!” shrilled the Witch.

They stood glaring, their eyes spitting fire at each other, neither liking to be the one to make the first move.

At length the Wizard raised his thumb. “Come!” he said.

The Witch instantly stiffened him, so that he could not waggle even his thumb, and they stood opposite each other, both unable to move.

The Wizard had never before felt his own stiffening eye, and he did not like it at all. However, he managed to gasp out:

“That thumb is the most beautiful thing in the whole world. So beautiful that you feel that you would give one of your eyes—the stiffening eye—to be able to see it close. Come! see it close!”

Frantic with anger, but unable to resist, the Witch slowly approached, and when she came close to him, in spite of all her struggles, she was obliged to place the stiffening eye in the Wizard’s outstretched hand.

The Wizard immediately clapped his eye into his head, but as he did so he unconsciously relaxed his hold on the Witch, and she, being very close to the magnet thumb, promptly bit it off!

Not in vain had she sharpened up her teeth on that grindstone.

Now their positions were reversed; it was she who magnetised him, he who stiffened her.

The Wizard hoped that she would not know the full power of the magnet, but in spite of the terrible stiffening he gave her, she managed to gasp out:

“That thumb is the most desirable thing in the whole world, but it is seventeen hundred miles above sea-level. You must jump to get it, my dear.”

Instantly the Wizard leapt far out of sight, and long before he came down again the Witch was well on her way to South Australia, cackling with laughter at having outwitted him.

Strange to say, the Wizard was not very angry when he finally came back to the Island after his record high jump. There were three reasons for this. Firstly, he had worked out most of his anger during the jump; secondly, there was a delightful sense of peace and calm in being alone on the Island; and thirdly, he could not help rather admiring the quickness and cleverness of the Witch in grasping the situation.

However, the magnet was too powerful a weapon to leave in anyone else’s hands, so having thoroughly rested for three days, he set out for South Australia.

He found the Witch enjoying the fresh cool air of Mount Lofty. She had begun to think that he was not going to trouble any more about the magnet, and was quite off her guard, when the Wizard suddenly flew up and stiffened her.

She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could utter a word he concentrated all his force upon her tongue, and stiffened that.

It was a terrible revenge—not a word could she utter.

Who ever heard of a witch—and a new witch, too—not being able to talk?

Nearer and nearer came the Wizard, drawn on steadily by the magnet thumb, his gaze always fixed upon her tongue, until his eye seemed to scorch her very throat.

For half an hour she held out—it was a great feat—but at the end of that time she could stand it no longer. Speak she must or die.

She held out the thumb to the Wizard; he took it without a word and rode away.

The Witch, furious, rode beside him, telling him all she had thought of him during that silent half-hour. She had thought a good deal.

The Wizard, however, being the victor, with both eye and thumb, could afford to smile placidly.

“You—you—you—oh, you!”—screamed the Witch, more and more enraged by his silence, and words failing her at last, she lifted her broomstick and struck him with all her might across the knuckles.

She had struck at him in blind rage—it certainly was not intentional on her part—but the blow caused his hands to open, and the thumb, which he had not yet joined on to himself, went flying through the air.

Both darted after it, but it fell into the sea, where a shark immediately swallowed it, and then disappeared far under water.

They gazed at the sea—then they looked at each other rather ruefully. Then both began to laugh.

“After all,” said tlie Wizard, “we are better without it. There was always inclined to be trouble over it, even before we had this little tiff, wasn’t there?”

“Yes,” sighed the Witch. “But it doesn’t matter now, since we live in different parts of Australia, does it?”

“Oh,” said the Wizard, looking very blank, “yes, to be sure. Good-bye.”

“Good-bye,” said the Witch dismally,

“You know,” said the Wizard, “you really didn’t manage affairs so badly. It was a mistake anyone might have made. I shouldn’t have bothered about it if I hadn’t been angry with the rocks. I didn’t mean to hit you either.”

“But I did manage very badly,” said the Witch, “and I meant to hit you with the pots. I’m glad now I didn’t.”

“If that’s the way you’re feeling,” said the Wizard, “you may as well come home with me. You might help me with those rocks yet, you know.”

“Certainly,” answered the Witch cheerfully. “And perhaps I’ll ask your advice next time there is any important question to decide.”

“By-the-bye,” added the Wizard, “this is really yours. I gave it to you. I’d no right to make you give it back. Take it,” and he held out the stiffening eye.

“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of such a thing,” rejoined the Witch.

“But I insist!” he said in his most urbane manner.

“Not at all,” she returned, with the utmost politeness. “I couldn’t think of depriving you.”

“How can I keep it when it’s not mine?” objected he.

“Allow me, then, to present it to you. I’m sure you will lend it to me if I ever need it.”

Nothing could have been more honeyed than the Witch’s tone, so the Wizard gave in, and they shook hands on it.

“Don’t you like,” she asked presently, “a slight difference of opinion? It’s so soothing and seems to clear the air.”

“The air seems clearer, that is true,” observed the Wizard. “But”—he shook his head— “well, well, we shall see.”

Thus they flew northward, side by side, in the most amicable fashion, and to the best of my knowledge and belief lived happily ever after.

And so no more of the Wizard and his thumb.


The Imprisoned Princesses

Long years ago, long before Australia was discovered, it was inhabited by white people, who had houses, and trains, and steamers, very much as we have—only there were not nearly so many of them. Over these white people ruled six Kings and six Queens, and each of these couples had six disobedient daughters.

This was rather trying, particularly as the Princesses’ especial form of disobedience lay in not doing as they were told directly they were bid.

When the Kings and Queens said pleasantly—

“My dears, go and fetch my keys;” or,

“My loves, shut the door after you;” or,

“My pets, come here, I want you;” or,

“Now, my darlings, you must go to bed,” six of the Princesses would cry—

“What for?”

Another six, “Why?”

Another six, “Oh, bother!”

Six more would whine, “Don’t want to.”

The next six, “In a minute.”

And the last six would shout, “I won’t.”

If you think of thirty-six Princesses all calling this out at once, you can understand how it was that the Kings and the Queens and the Court lived almost entirely with their hands covering their ears.

The Princesses grew so unruly at last that the poor Kings and Queens determined to try if the air of Mount Victoria would benefit their tempers or their manners. It did not.

One day they were all out picnicking in a cave under a large overhanging rock. They could look down on ferns and trees in a beautiful gully below, through which a creek ran, with rushes on either side. Now, pleasant as this was, when the sun set the Kings (who began to feel their age a little—some two hundred years odd) thought of rising mists and chills; therefore they said affably, yet tremulously, dreading the result, yet feebly hoping all would be well:

“My sweet angels, I think it is time to make a homeward move.”

Immediately the Princesses broke into a tremendous clamour of “Oh, bother! Don’t want to! Why? I won’t! Wait a minute! What for?”

And the Kings and Queens instantly clapped their hands over their ears, and stood waiting in misery.

All of a sudden a huge frog, clad all in green, wand in hand, cap on head, appeared before them.

“I am the King of the Mountain Frogs. Who dares to invade our retreat with this hideous din? We always sing at sunset, and if you are so anxious to join in at least you shall do it musically.” He touched each Princess with his wand, and she disappeared with a low, wailing croak.



The Queens fell on their knees and wept. “Shall we never see our dear, our lovely children again?”

“Yes, if there are in the land thirty-six Princes willing to be here at sunrise on the longest day, to kiss each—mind, I say each—of the frogs in whose bodies your daughters are imprisoned,” and he disappeared too.

“My dears,” said the old Kings, as they helped their wives home, “it is a terrible affliction to lose so many lovely daughters at one blow. But we must try to look on the bright side of things. Think how few headaches we shall have now.”

But the Queens said it was their duty to search for those thirty-six Princes.

“My dears,” said the Kings, “let us have one day in peace, and after that we will advertise. Nothing like advertising.” And they began to draw up the advertisement:

“Wanted, thirty-six Princes, who will be in the Frogs’ Retreat, Mount Victoria, Western Line, at sunrise, December 21, and who will each kiss thirty-six frogs.”

That was what they wished to say; but they were bent on bringing it down to fourteen words —the Kings’ Courier only allowing fourteen words for a shilling.

The twenty-first of December passed before they had managed it, and then they said it was no use worrying now, because a whole year must pass before another twenty-first came round.

“Then, my loves,” said the Queens, “you will have time to come with us to the Frogs’ Retreat, that we may hear once more the voices of our darlings.”

Involuntarily the Kings clapped their hands over their ears and groaned; but no King who is descended from King Gooribooligobalah and Queen Gobolleewocks ever shirks his duty. This was their duty, and they went bravely, with shaky knees and tottery steps.

Imagine their delight, then, when the sun set, and they heard a low, delicate voice call softly— then another, then another, and then another.

“A sweet, rich contralto,” observed the Kings. “You notice, my dears, that, as a rule, they speak only one at a time. It is a great improvement.” And they took snuff with placid satisfaction, listening to the low musical notes of their imprisoned daughters, as they softly called to each other across the gully.

“I wish we could see them, poor dears,” sighed the Queens, peering down into the gully. “Shall we go down there and try to find them?”

“Now, my dears, is it a dignified thing for Kings and Queens to go scrambling and puttering about in damp places hunting for frogs? No, let us go home.”

The Kings had become quite perky, and they really looked splendid as they sailed up the bush track, crown on head, sceptre in hand, and robes waving in the breeze.

The Queens thought they were a little too confident in such a doubtful light up a bush track.

“There’s a hole and a blackened log about here somewhere,” they called anxiously, as they groped and felt their way, step by step. “Be very careful, my loves.”

“All right,” cried the Kings gaily, and the next second they went into the hole, and pitched right over the stump on to their heads.

“There!” cried the Queens in triumph. “We knew it was somewhere here. That’s it.”

“Don’t we know it?” groaned the Kings from behind the log, where there was a tremendous scatteration of Kings and crowns and sceptres.

By degrees they were all picked up, but the Kings were a little subdued and thoughtful all the way home.

Both Kings and Queens went back to Sydney next day, and advertised in all the papers; but, look you, it is no easy matter to find thirty-six Princes willing to be up at sunrise—on the longest day, too, when the sun rises earlier than ever—to kiss thirty-six frogs.

Years rolled by and no one came.

“Must offer a reward, I suppose,” growled the Kings, and they began at five shillings, and gradually increased it to thirty-six pounds apiece, when they refused to go any higher.

“Thirty-six times thirty-six are. Work it out for us, my loves,” said they.

Always willing to oblige, the Queens drew out their ivory tablets and set to work with a will. But as their answers ranged from nineteen pounds and sevenpence three farthings to five thousand pounds odd, the Kings thought it wiser to attack the sum themselves.

“One thousand two hundred and ninety-six pounds!” they cried, almost fainting with horror. “We can’t afford it!”

But the Queens held firm; and when at last thirty-six Princes arrived, they were despatched by the first train to Mount Victoria.

“They are rather commonplace young men,” sighed the Queens, who were of a romantic turn.

“I suppose you couldn’t ask them to do it for less,” whispered the poor old Kings. “Wouldn’t do, eh? No, I suppose not. After all, it’s only a pound apiece for each frog. Oh, dear! oh, dear!”

Now arose another difficulty. The Princes could not get up in time. Their landladies called them, they had alarm clocks of all kinds, but someone was always late.

For years they arrived at Mount Victoria on the night of the twentieth of December, and no matter how nobly Prince Jackson might get up, and rush round to Prince Smith’s and rouse him up, and then go to Prince Brown’s, that miserable little Prince Robinson or that stupid Prince Harris would oversleep himself, and then thirty-six dejected, irritable Princes would return to Sydney.

Once thirty-five of them actually managed to be there well before sunrise. Oh, how their hearts beat as they watched for the thirty-sixth! Now the sky grew lighter and lighter, pink tints began to appear, the sun was coming—

“Bother that Jones,” cried the others angrily. “Never saw such a lazy beggar—he’s always late.”

He had never been late before, and they all had.

And when three minutes after sunrise Prince Jones appeared over the hill with his face tied up in a silk handkerchief, having been awake most of the night with toothache, they rushed up the steep path at him with such a howl of rage that he turned and fled. He was not a very brave Prince, but he could run, so he caught the first train and left them all furious.

A hundred years passed since the Princesses first disappeared, before someone thought of a plan so simple that all wondered why no one had thought of it before.

It was this: instead of all staying in different lodgings, they should engage as large a room as possible, and all sleep there, so that the one waking up would do for all.

This plan was a great success. When the time came, all the thirty-six alarm clocks went off together, and the boots and the waiter hammered at the door, and the landlady called:

“Your Royal Highnesses! Your Royal Highnesses! Time to get up!” and the whole of the thirty-six Princes remarked:


But the boots and waiter having been warned, on pain of death, not to leave off till someone came to the door, battered and hammered away until Prince Jackson bounced out of bed, and flung a boot at each of them.

“Time to get up, your Royal Highness,” said they respectfully, rubbing their elbows where the boots had hit them.

“Oh—ah—yes—forgot. Beg pardon. Wondered what was up. Hope I didn’t hurt you,” said Prince Jackson, yawning.

“Not at all, your Royal Highness. We liked it,” said they, which was really not true.

“That’s all right, then,” said Prince Jackson, and roused up Prince Jones; and these two having done their duty (Princes being very much like men after all), you may be sure they would not let the other thirty-four rest without doing theirs, and very soon they all started gaily for the Mountain Frogs’ Retreat.

But the nearer they came the more their spirits sank, and when the sun rose, and they saw thirty-six huge frogs sitting in a row on a fallen tree all waiting to be kissed, they felt very dejected indeed.

“I say, thirty-six of them, you know,” Prince Wilson said in a hollow voice. “Who’s to begin?”

Prince Robinson suggested Prince Jenkins as the eldest, but Prince Jenkins said miserably he didn’t know how, he never kissed frogs. Prince White suggested Prince Harris. Prince Harris was hidden behind Prince Thompson, while Prince Smith made a rush for home, but was ignominiously caught and brought back.

Then Prince Jackson came to the fore nobly.

“What’s the use of going on like this? We said we’d do it; let’s get it done. I’ll go first, only don’t you fellows back out afterwards. Hold Smith, somebody, and if anyone attempts to bolt he shall kiss each frog half a dozen times!”

Uttering this fearful threat, Prince Jackson set his teeth, put his arms behind him, shut his eyes tight, screwed up his face, and advanced boldly; then, opening one eye just enough to see what he was doing, he gallantly kissed those thirty-six huge clammy frogs.

Each Prince followed suit, and went meekly down that long line, and then, pof! appeared before them the King of the Mountain Frogs.

“I suppose you thought it worth while,” he remarked, “but it’s a matter of taste. They were happy enough here.” And this was, to say the least of it, a little crushing.

A touch of his wand—and thirty-six beautiful Princesses stood there. But the Princesses, naturally, were quite out of the way of ordinary conversation, and when the Princes talked they hardly understood them; they made use of such very queer expressions, the Princesses thought, and seemed very funny young men altogether, quite different to the young men they remembered. And the Princes thought them shy, gawky girls, who walked with a sort of leaping hop that was rather alarming and very difficult to keep step with.

Was it any wonder, then, the Princes were glad to hand them over safely to the Kings and Queens, to receive their reward and go?

The Princesses had unfortunately become frogs at heart, and they could not get used to the Court life—they could not even learn to walk properly— they spoke in low, soft, guttural tones if they spoke at all, which they very rarely did in the day time, but no sooner did the sun set than they began calling to each other in the old melodious call.

At first the courtiers listened entranced, then they became bored. Then by degrees the Princesses lost this sweet low note, which belongs peculiarly to the Mountain Frogs’ Retreat, and took to ordinary croaking, which they kept up all night, to the infinite distress of the poor old Kings—who felt, and not without reason, that they had been hardly used.

The Kings sought the Princes. They had been so noble in restoring their daughters: wouldn’t they be nobler still and take them away again?

“We don’t press the point,” they said, “but it is the usual thing for Princes who rescue Princesses to marry them. Can’t you? Won’t you?”

Now Prince Jackson was a good-natured fellow in many ways, and he pitied the poor old Kings, who really looked quite worn out, so he turned to the others. “May as well, I suppose?”

The others agreed; but when the Princes offered their hands and hearts to the Princesses, they only croaked out dreamily:

“S’pose so!”

“They don’t seem very anxious about it,” whispered Prince Jackson, rather annoyed. “Does that mean you will or you won’t?” he asked aloud.

“S’pose so!” they croaked, looking absently over the Princes’ heads.

“Perhaps they want time to consider,” suggested Prince Tomkins.

“S’pose so!”

“Till Monday week then,” said Prince Jackson.

  “That’s a fair thing, eh, you fellows? Come on,” and the Princes all departed.

But when on Monday week they came for their answers, the Princesses had disappeared, and this so disgusted the Princes that they took a vow that nothing in this world would induce them to get up early again. This vow they kept.

When the Kings and Queens died at the ripe old age of four hundred years, they left Australia to the Princes. They were known as the “Thirty-six Jolly Kings.” But one very severe law they made, this—if any young man got up when he was called he was to be executed instantly!

That law, however, was never put into force; for no young man, either then or since, ever got up when he was called.

As for the Princesses, they had fled from the Court and, mad with longing, had rushed back to their dear old haunt. They reached the well-remembered place, and recalling long-forgotten words, broke out all together: “Why? What for? Wait a minute! I wont! Don’t want to! Oh, bother!” until the King of the Mountain Frogs, in desperation, changed them into frogs again, and they lived there most happily ever after.



They are there still, and if you care to hear them, some summer afternoon take the road to Mount Piddington, and just after the white fence which marks the boundary of the Piddington Reserve there is a path going down steep to the right. Follow that, and you will come to the creek where the frogs live. Climb up to the cave under the overhanging rock—that is the best place; only remember you must stay until after sunset if you wish to hear the imprisoned Princesses calling.



Chapter 1
A Stranger Arrives

Little Mingy was a frog. She lived in what she considered the most beautiful place in the whole world. It was in reality a tub, that had been sunk in the garden to catch the water that overflowed from the well. You would not care to live there most probably, but little Mingy thought it perfection.

To be sure, if she swam very fast she was apt to bang her head against the side of the tub, but that was a trifling matter when you came to consider the delicious soft mud which covered the bottom.

Oh, but it was enchanting to dive into this mud, and bury oneself in it!

Well, here she lived with her sister froglings, Swiftswimmer, Podgy, and Darkie, old Mother Splashabout, and several tadpoles. One day there was a great commotion; a new frog had arrived, who swam about as if the whole tub belonged to her.

“I wonder who she is,” whispered Swiftswimmer, as they clustered together at the side of the tub.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” answered Podgy, diving into the mud as she spoke.

“She has no right here,” chimed in Darkie. “Here you, Mingy, go and tell her to hop off.”

“I—I don’t like to,” said Mingy timidly.

“Nonsense! Now you just go and do what you’re told,” said Podgy, poking her head up out of the mud. “Just go and say to her ‘You hop off!’”

“And ask her what her name is,” called Swiftswimmer, as Mingy slowly moved towards the intruder.

Mingy never thought of disobeying her sisters. She was the youngest of the four, and had only very lately been promoted from a tadpole to the dignity of a frog, and consequently she looked up to the others with some degree of awe. They had long been frogs, and managed their arms and legs easily, and were fine healthy-looking froglings, whereas poor Mingy herself was a very thin frog, with no figure to speak of, and with a mean and stingy appearance generally. Her arms and legs were a source of never-ending trouble to her—she could not manage them gracefully.

Darkie declared that she swam “like a toad,” which was the severest thing she could have said; it made Mingy shed many tears, and almost wish that she was a tadpole again, with one tail to manage instead of four arms and legs.

But just now she was wishing that the frirls (which is frog-language for frog-girls) had not sent her on such a very unpleasant errand.

However it must be done, and, screwing up her courage, she approached the stranger. “Please hop off,” she said in a quavering, timid voice, trembling all over as she spoke.

The intruder opened her eyes very wide, and goggled at Mingy in a most terrible fashion; then she puffed out her sides and stuck her arms and legs akimbo, and looked quite haughty.

“Don’t you come near me, you low, vulgar creature, you. You’re no better than a person!”

Mingy scarcely noticed what she said, she was in such a hurry to get her unpleasant task finished.

“What’s your name, please?”

The newcomer again goggled with much dignity as she replied majestically, “Lady Jane Barney.”

Then with a toss of her head she paddled slowly away.

Mingy watched her curiously. “Lady Jane Barney,” she repeated. “What a funny name! I wonder what it means? She doesn’t swim as well as Swiftswimmer, I think; she isn’t as pretty as Darkie; and she hasn’t a figure like Podgy; and yet—”

Mingy paused. There was something about Lady Jane Barney which made her feel very small and insignificant, and which she dimly realised would make her sisters feel small too, in spite of the goodness of their looks, figure, or swimming.

“Well,” called the others to her impatiently, “what did she say? Is she going? What is her name?”

“I don’t know exactly what she said; I don’t think she is going, and her name’s Lady Jane Barney.”


“Lady Jane Barney. What does that mean, Darkie? Does it mean proud?”

Darkie shook her head. “I’m sure I don’t know. I never heard that name before; did you, frirls?”

No, none of them had. Finally they dived down to the bottom of the tub to ask Mother Splashabout’s opinion. But all the tadpoles had been in mischief, and Mother Splashabont was too busy chasing and chastising them to pay much heed.

“Don’t bother, frirls,” she said, making wild flaps with her feet at passing tadpoles as she spoke. “I’ve all these tadpoles to flap thoroughly before they go to bed—you naughty creatures, you! Barney, did you say? Why, of course she said Brownie, and Mingy mistook. Is Mingy there? Come and help me flap. Ah, I saw you wagging your tail at me, you impudent little—”

Here she made a sudden dart, and, catching the offending tadpole, flapped him well.



Mingy stayed to help with the naughty tadpoles, who were darting hither and thither in a great state of excitement to escape the flaps of Mother Splashabout’s feet. But Mingy could not bear to flap her little tadpole brothers and sisters. She only caught them, and then coaxed them to go quietly to bed in the mud.

The others, meantime, had returned to the Lady Jane Barney discussion, but with no satisfaction.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll talk to her. She has no business here, and I’ll tell her so.” So saying, Podgy swam up to the intruder, who sat with her mouth open in a most aristocratic but peculiarly aggravating fashion, waiting for an insect to swim in.

“Ahem,” croaked Podgy.

Lady Jane Barney neither stirred nor looked.

“I say,” began Podgy, “you ought to go.”

She remained immovable.

“Look here, you know you have no business here,” cried Podgy, getting indignant at this continued silence. “Hop off, I tell you.”

She only swallowed in a leisurely way a small fly that had flown into her mouth.

Podgy was very angry. Never in her life had she been so treated, never had she felt so small. She, Podgy, to feel small! She, whose figure was the envy and admiration of all the neighbouring waterholes!

Frogs, you know, are cold if you touch them; but on this occasion Podgy grew quite tepid with wrath, and raising her arm she cuffed Lady Jane Barney violently on the side of her head.

“Perhaps if you can’t hear you can feel!” she bawled rudely.

Lady Jane Barney blinked once from the violence of the blow, then turned slowly, saying: “I am sorry to say I both hear and feel you, plebeian creature. Begone!” and she waved her left leg haughtily.



Podgy was daunted for a moment; but she soon rallied and began “Now, look here—”

“I have looked,” interrupted the other, with a contemptuous goggle, “and the sight of you offends me more than anything else. With a figure like that, a mere toad’s figure, how dare you cuff a lady? For know that I am the Lady Jane Barney!” And once more opening and shutting her mouth in her most cold and aristocratic manner, she paddled slowly away and left poor Podgy gasping with mortification and rage.

When the others hurried up they found Podgy choking and panting as if she had a fit. They thumped her on the back till she recovered enough to croak out crossly, “Let me alone; I’m all right.”

When they questioned her as to what had taken place, she only said, “She says she’s a lady.” And not another word could they get out of her.

But a mischievous little tadpole, who had escaped from his bed overheard it all, and before long every tadpole in the tub was bubbling over with glee at the thought of how they would tease Podgy; for Podgy was no favourite with the tadpoles, as she was rather fond of domineering over and flapping them.

Podgy had not a pleasant time after this; if she went near the tadpoles there was sure to be a giggle and a whisper of “toad’s figure,” which nearly drove her wild. Then, too, she felt that her sisters looked at her with a much more critical eye than before. She felt that her figure was no longer an object of envy and admiration with them, excepting perhaps Mingy, but then Podgy cared very little what Mingy thought.


Chapter 2
“Four Ladies In One Tub!”

At first our friends decided to leave Lady Jane Barney severely alone; but, do what they would, they could not help looking at her.

“After all,” said Darkie, “she certainly does look a superior frog, though she is so insolent.”

“Yes, and though she is remarkably ugly, she really sometimes looks most stylish,” put in Swiftswimmer.

“She frightens me,” said Mingy, “but I can’t help looking at her.”

“She says she’s a lady!” croaked Podgy indignantly.

“She says she’s a lady, does she?” cried Darkie. “Why, then, we’re all ladies too, for she’s not different to us.”

“I think she does seem different somehow,” murmured Mingy; but the others took no notice.

“What do you say, frirls?” went on Darkie. “Shall we be Lady Darkie, Lady Swiftswimmer, and Lady Podgy?”

“Yes, yes!” cried the others eagerly.

“And what about Mingy?” asked Swiftswimmer, who was fond of her little sister. “Shall she be a lady, too—Lady Mingy?”

“Oh, no! no!” cried Mingy, shrinking back. “I never could be a lady, and look like Lady Jane Barney. It would be awful!” She shuddered at the bare idea. “Thank you, I’d rather be plain Mingy. Besides, Lady Mingy—how funny and silly it sounds!” and she laughed.

The others laughed too. “So it does,” they said.

It was agreed henceforth they were all ladies, excepting Mingy. It was hard work for them too, since they had not the slightest idea what they were trying to be. Almost unconsciously they began to imitate Lady Jane Barney’s languid manner and movements. They tried to toss their heads, and I assure you only a frog with royal blood in its veins can toss its head with true dignity.

By degrees they grew more friendly in their manner towards Lady Jane Barney, and one morning Darkie offered her a fly.

Perhaps Lady Jane Barney was tired of her solitary grandeur; at any rate, she swallowed the fly, and then asked her her name.

“Darkie—I mean Lady Darkie,” correcting herself in haste.

Lady Jane Barney shrugged her shoulders slightly. “Yours?” she questioned, turning to Swiftswimmer.

“Lady Swiftswimmer,” she returned rather shyly.

Lady Jane Barney would have raised her eyebrows at this if she had had any to raise. As she had none, she only turned to Podgy with a sarcastic goggle in her eyes, and inquired, “And yours, if I may presume to ask?”

“Lady Podgy,” returned the other, glaring defiantly at Lady Jane Barney as she spoke.

“Oh, indeed! I should never have guessed it. And you”—suddenly spying Mingy, who was trying to hide behind Podgy— “are you a lady too?”

“Oh, no!” said she, in her frightened way, “I’m only a frogling—I’m Mingy—but please, what is a lady?”

Lady Jane Barney looked round with a malicious smile.

“Your sisters can inform you, surely. Ask Podgy—I beg your pardon—Lady Podgy,” and she was swimming slowly off, but Swiftswimmer caught her by the foot and held her firmly.

“Just listen to me. If you’ll teach us to be ladies, we’ll be friends with you, and do all we can to make it pleasant for you. But if you don’t, we shall turn you out of this, for you have no right here, you know. After all, we may as well be friends, mayn’t we?”

“I suppose so,” but she seemed doubtful about it.

“Then what is a lady?” asked Darkie.

I am.” But, somehow, as she spoke she did not seem nearly so dignified, for Swiftswimmer held her fast by one leg, and Darkie by the other.

Even Podgy began to feel as if Lady Jane were not such an important personage after all. “Oh, yes!” she said contemptuously. “It’s easy to say that. Anyone could say that. Suppose I say I’m a lady, too.”

“You may say so, but no one will believe it, my dear Podgy!”

Podgy turned on her so fiercely that she shrank behind the others for protection. “Now look here, Barney, two can play at that game. I’ve stood too much from you already! If you Podgy me, I’ll Barney you.”

“Don’t, Podgy, don’t,” cried Mingy. “You frighten her.”

“I mean to!” said Podgy, still furious. “Stand aside, Mingy. Now, Barney, are you going to give me my proper name or not?”

“But, Podgy—I mean, Lady Podgy—Podgy is your proper name, you know.”

Scarcely were these unfortunate words out of Mingy’s mouth, than Podgy seized her by the shoulders, shook her violently, and flung her to some distance, and once more faced Lady Jane Barney with flaming eyes. “Well, are you? or shall I—”

“Very well, very well!” said the other hastily, evidently fearing she might meet with similar treatment. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Only don’t be so violent. You—you alarm me. Ladies are never violent.”

“But you haven’t told us what ladies are yet,” put in Darkie, for Podgy looked only half-appeased.

“Come with me, I’ll teach you,” and Lady Jane Barney began to look like her old languid self again.

“Come on, frirls,” said Darkie.

“Don’t go, Swiftswimmer,” whispered Mingy, creeping up to her. “Don’t be a lady. Ladies don’t tell the truth. She said she didn’t mean to hurt Podgy’s feelings, but she does it just on purpose to make Podgy as angry as she can.”

“But then Podgy cuffed her the first day she came.”

“Yes, I know. But it can’t do any good to make Podgy in such a rage as that. Don’t go, Swiftswimmer. If you get like her, just think how we shall all quarrel!”

“You will never quarrel with anyone,” said Swiftswimmer affectionately.

“No,” said Mingy, rather sadly. “I’m far too small and plain to quarrel.”

“Never mind, dear. I’ll learn to be a lady, and then you shall quarrel with me.”

“No, no!” cried Mingy, clinging to her. “Stay with me.”

Swiftswimmer hesitated.

“Now then, Lady Swiftswimmer, are you going to keep us waiting all day?” called Darkie impatiently.

“Hurry up,” added Podgy, as Swiftswimmer slowly followed.

“Ladies never hurry,” drawled Lady Jane Barney’s languid voice. “It’s aristocratic to keep people waiting. Lady Swiftswimmer was quite correct.”

Poor little Mingy! Were all her sisters going to turn into Lady Jane Barneys? Fancy four Lady Jane Barneys in one tub! No wonder poor little Mingy was overwhelmed at the thought, and the tadpoles found her but a dull companion.

The days that followed were hard for poor Mingy. She felt as if she were an outcast, for the others were all “ladies.” Ladies could do no work; therefore Mingy had all their disagreeable tasks to do. Ladies could not mind tadpoles; therefore Mingy must mind them alone. Ladies could not play; so Mingy had to play alone.

She was constantly overhearing sentences such as: “Ladies don’t tongue-dart after flies; they wait for flies to come into their mouths.” “Ladies don’t mud-dive.” “Ladies don’t leap.” “Ladies don’t speak fast.” “Ladies never hurry.” “It’s not refined to eat insects that have less than six legs; ladies never do.” And so on, till poor Mingy began to wonder if there were anything ladies could do except find fault with each other, snub everyone who was not a lady, and be very proud and overbearing generally.

Once she faintly remonstrated, but she was met with— “My dear Mingy, you don’t understand these thing’s. You are no lady.” And with a sigh she confessed it was true.

Then she got into sad disgrace by forgetting their titles. “Darkie,” “Podgy,” or “Swiftswimmer,” slipped out before she was aware.

She noticed, too, how thin and miserable-looking Podgy had grown with waiting for flies to come to her, and said one day timidly: “But don’t you get very hungry, Lady Podgy?”

“The really refined frog is never hungry,” answered Podgy, with such a close imitation of Lady Jane Barney’s voice and manner that Mingy shrank back almost as much alarmed as if it had been Lady Jane Barney herself. She, for her part, took little or no notice of Mingy, speaking of her only as “that Mingy person;” while, if she met her, she would say, “Out of my path, plebeian!”

Then Mingy would wonder why Lady Jane Barney called her plebeian. “After all,” she would say to herself cheerfully, “it doesn’t hurt me. Plebeian is prettier than Mingy a good deal.”

But what did hurt her was that on one or two occasions even Swiftswimmer treated her as disdainfully as if she were the mud they all used to be so fond of diving in. On these occasions poor little Mingy crept into that self-same mud and wept bitterly. But not for long. There were all the tadpoles to see after, all her own and her sisters’ tasks to do—so she would hastily rub her eyes and set to work as cheerfully as she could.

During these trying times she had one consolation, and that was what Mother Splashabout had said to her one day. “Well, Mingy, what’s all this nonsense about ladies? Ladies give a good deal of trouble, don’t they? Thank goodness, frogling, you’ve more sense than to go paddling about with these new-fangled notions. You’ve been a great help to me. You are a good frogling, Mingy. However, I suppose the others will find their senses some day. Frogs have few enough brains at any time; they can’t afford to throw any of them away.”

“I don’t think they have thrown them away,” answered Mingy, “only Lady Jane Barney says ladies don’t use their brains. She says it’s a sign of nobility not to think very much. After all,” went on the loyal little thing, who could not bear to hear her sisters blamed, “perhaps they don’t need to think, for they certainly are most elegant-looking frogs.”

“Elegant fiddlesticks,” retorted Mother Splashabout, and the conversation ended there.


Chapter 3
Swiftswimmer Relapses

Whenever Mingy felt her spirits sinking lower than usual, she would repeat over and over again to herself: “You’ve been a great help to me; you are a good frogling, Mingy,” till her heart grew quite light again.

In the meantime there seemed to be a growing unfriendliness among the “ladies.” They nagged and bickered among themselves. For instance, Swiftswimmer declared that Lady Jane Barney could not keep so plump unless she ate things on the sly. “For look at us, we are all skeletons pretty nearly. And one of the tads says he saw you eating insects one day very fast when you thought no one was looking.”

“Come, Lady Swiftswimmer, you needn’t talk,” cried Darkie. “I saw you racing across the tub as hard as you could go, when you thought no one was looking.”

“Yes, that’s all very well,” cried Podgy; “but who gave three large leaps this morning, eh, Lady Darkie?”

“What’s that on your back?” here chimed in Lady Jane Barney. “Mud! Oh, Lady Podgy! Lady Podgy! you’ve been mud-diving.”

And so they wrangled among themselves.

Swiftswimmer was the first to openly announce her intention of being occasionally unladylike. “I can’t always be a lady. I feel as if I must do something very froggy sometimes. It’s no use, Lady Jane Barney, here I go,” and she darted off with a rapidity which caused Lady Jane Barney to blink. Occasionally they found her playing with the tadpoles, but when they remonstrated she said: “I like it. They are such jolly little chaps. Now then, tads, Lady Swiftswimmer will turn head over heels.”

The “ladies” fled in horror.

Once she hugged Mingy before them all.

Lady Jane looked at her with surprise and scorn. “It is not considered ladylike to embrace in nublic.”

“This is not public,” retorted Swiftswimmer, still with her arm round Mingy’s neck. “Besides, I can’t always be a lady. I find it too wearing.”

But the climax was reached when one day they found her actually rolling in the mud. Even Mingy was rather horrified at this. She thought no one but a toad ever rolled.

“Why, Swiftswimmer!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, I know I am rather a spectacle,” returned Swiftswimmer cheerfully, lying on her back and tossing up mud balls as she spoke, then cleverly catching them in her mouth as they descended.

“Oh, Swiftswimmer, don’t—don’t do that! Only toads do that sort of thing,” cried Darkie, in real distress. “You would never have done this even before—before—”

“Before I was a lady?” finished Swiftswimmer. “Well, no, I wouldn’t. But I have been so stiff and prim lately that it really was necessary. Nothing takes the primness out of one like rolling in the mud, I find. I don’t look stiff or stuck-up, do I, now?”

She looked up at them with such a funny twinkle in her eye that Mingy burst out laughing.

“You certainly do not,” she said. “You look nothing but a most terrible larrikin-frog. Come and mud-dive with me. That’s all right, you know. But rolling! Lady Swiftswimmer rolling in the mud! It’s shocking!” Here Mingy laughed again.

“So it is,” laughed Swiftswimmer, springing up, “and I won’t do it again. There will be a grand fuss if Mother Splashabout hears of this, lest I should teach her darling tads bad manners. But,” and Swiftswimmer’s eyes twinkled again, “it certainly was most enjoyable.”

Mingy daily rejoiced over the change that had taken place in Swiftswimmer; still every now and again she would startle Mingy in the middle of a glorious mud-dive by tossing her head scornfully; or when they were racing and leaping together she would sometimes open and shut her mouth in a slow, dignified way; or, when romping with the tadpoles, she would suddenly goggle at them in a very Lady Jane Barneyish fashion.

“I had such trouble to learn them, it’s a pity to forget them,” she observed one day, very gravely, but with a slight chuckle in her throat that betrayed her. But though Swiftswimmer had fallen into her old ways of playing, she had not yet fallen into her old way of working, and Mingy had most of the tub-work and tadpole-minding to do.

One morning Mother Splashabout said:

“Mingy, I want you to get the recipe of a croakmixture from Mrs. Dauntless Leaper. Podgy has rather a bad croak, and one or two of the tadpoles have sore throats. You need not hurry home, frogling; stay and spend the day with Mrs. Dauntless Leaper.”

Mingy beamed with delight; then her face fell.

“The tub-work’s not done yet,” she said.

“Never mind, I’ll manage.”

“But there’s such a lot for one,” objected Mingy.

“I’ll help her,” cried a merry voice, and there was Swiftswimmer, with her arms and legs akimbo, goggling at them. “The Lady Swiftswimmer condescends to do tub-work, likewise to tadpolemind. Grand re-appearance of the celebrated tubwife, Swiftswimmer! Be off, Mingy! If you chuckle to that extent you’ll have a fit. Now then, tads, wave your little tails to sister Mingy, and hope she’ll have a pleasant day.”

Mingy tried to thank her, but she put her arm round Mingy’s neck and choked back the coming words. “Hold your tongue,” she said. “Don’t you know it’s not ladylike to be grateful? I’m afraid I shall never make a lady of you—not a Lady Jane Barney, at any rate.”

And so amid laughter and tail-wavings Mingy hopped merrily off.

Just outside the tub she met Darkie and Lady Jane Barney languidly hopping along. She asked Darkie to come with her.

Darkie was fond of Mingy in her way, and would certainly have said “Yes” to the pleading “Ah, do, please!” but Lady Jane Barney said:

“Pay a visit in the morning! How excessively common! Ladies do not visit before three.”

“No, no, Mingy, I can’t,” she said hastily. “Hope you’ll enjoy yourself,” and she was gone, leaving Mingy disappointed to pursue her way with saddened hop.

She arrived without mishap, and Mrs. Dauntless Leaper was delighted to see her small cousin; for they were great friends, although Mrs. Dauntless Leaper was much older than Mingy, quite grown up—four years old, in fact.

They had a long and friendly chat, in the course of which Mrs. Leaper asked: “And how are the others? Do you know, Mingy, I don’t think you are looking well. You are so thin and quite brown. Have you been working too hard?”

“The others are well,” answered Mingy, taking no notice of the last part of Mrs. Leaper’s speech, “except Podgy, who has a bad croak. She is not nearly so strong as she used to be. I don’t think being a lady agrees with her.”

“Being a lady?” repeated the other, puzzled.

“Oh; haven’t you heard?” And Mingy told the whole story of Lady Jane Barney’s arrival and its consequences.

“I wonder,” said Mrs. Leaper, when she had finished, “who she can be; I don’t believe her name is Lady Jane Barney. From your description it sounds as if she might be a frog we had here once, Lazylimbs. She came half-starved, said she had no home, and I allowed her to stay and help with the tadpoles. She was decidedly stylish in appearance, but she was the most lazy, good-for-nothing frog I ever came across; and I had to send her away, as she was spoiling all the froglings with her insolent manners and idle ways. I wonder if it can be the same?”


Chapter 4
Mingy Is Lost And Found

It was late when Mingy set out for home. Still she ought to have arrived before dark; but dark came, and no Mingy.

Great was the excitement and agitation in the tub. Where was Mingy? The tadpoles darted wildly about, choking and gasping, and wringing their little tails in anguish. The froglings looked at each other with scared faces. Where could she be? Lost or dead, or worse, perhaps caught by one of those large, much-dreaded, two-legged monsters (known only too well to frogs) called “boys.”

“Oh, poor, poor Mingy! if she should have been caught by them,” sobbed Darkie, quite overcome.

“I don’t think that’s likely,” said Swiftswimmer cheerily. “You know there’s only one boy in this garden—Teddy they call him—and he’s always kind and gentle with frogs.”

“But other boys might come to see him.”

“Well, he wouldn’t let them touch her. Cheer up, Darkie! Why, I’ve sat in his hand, he’s so tame.”

Podgy only groaned.

“Besides, there’s his sister Nelly; I know she wouldn’t let anyone hurt any of us. Come, Podgy, don’t be so miserable. Mother Splashabout and I are going to hunt for Mingy; we’ll find her, never fear.” But Swiftswimmer’s face was not as cheerful as her words. Then Mother Splashabout hurried up, holding a fungus lantern in her hand.

“Come along, Swiftswimmer, since you are determined to come.”

“I certainly am.”

“You three will have to attend to the tadpoles and put them to bed. Give Wriggler and Waggler each a bandage round their throats.”

“Bandage a tadpole, indeed!” muttered Lady Jane Barney. “Lady’s work that, is it not?”

“You have lived here for some weeks and had your board and lodgings for nothing,” retorted Mother Splashabout sharply; “and to-night you shall do something to earn it, or to-morrow off you go.”

Lady Jane Barney shrank back. “What an odious, vulgar person,” she said; but the others made no response.

Oh, what a dreary, weary night that was! How the time dragged! How reproachfully they thought of their conduct to Mingy—of all she had done for them—of the little they had done for her; how they had snubbed and despised her!

“I shook her,” sobbed Podgy, “and flung her about, and she never said a word of reproach.”

“And I wouldn’t go with her this morning though she begged me to. Oh, what toads we’ve all been to her!” said Darkie.

But they had not much time to indulge in self-reproach. There were the tadpoles to see after, and if they were lively and hard to manage at the best of times they were doubly so now, being nearly frantic with excitement and grief.

Would Mingy be home soon? Was it true that “boys” sometimes skinned frogs alive? Would they skin Mingy? At this frightful suggestion every tadpole banged its head against the side of the tub, and then screamed from the pain of the bang.

In vain the others tried to put them to bed. Lady Jane Barney found her ladyisms no use now. What was the use of goggling, or looking dignified, or even opening your mouth, when an impudent little tadpole flapped its tail in your face, and told you you weren’t “a patch on Mingy,” and it did not care a goggle for you! Lady Jane Barney soon retired from the contest, and the others tried to amuse and cheer them.

And so the long night wore away, and in the morning Mother Splashabout and Swiftswimmer returned, with sad, sad faces, but no Mingy.

“We went to Mrs. Dauntless Leaper’s,” whispered Swiftswimmer sorrowfully; “but she had left there before dark, and we’ve been hunting ever since. I’m afraid Mother Splashabout is quite tired out. I thought perhaps one of you two would like to come with me.”

“Let’s both go,” cried Podgy; but at that moment they heard footsteps approaching and voices talking.

“Oh, it’s only Teddy and Nelly,” cried Swiftswimmer,

“Perhaps they know where Mingy is? Let’s listen to what they say.”

They listened, and this is what they heard:—

“I say, I think she’ll get all right when we put her back in the water,” said Teddy.

“She may,” replied Nelly, looking tenderly at something she held in her hand.

“Wasn’t it a jolly good thing, though, we heard her squeaking? or old Memie would have killed her—the bad cat!” went on Teddy.

“Poor froggy!” said Nelly, gently stroking her as she spoke. “I’m glad you weren’t eaten.”

“It must be Mingy! It must be Mingy!” cried Swiftswimmer in an agony of hope and fear. The children came nearer and nearer. Swiftswimmer gasped with suspense.

“Now then, let her go!” cried Teddy, and into the tub flopped Mingy!

Then there was a scene, I promise you. Mother Splashabout went off into hysterics, Podgy fainted, Darkie and Mrs. Dauntless Leaper (who had been hunting, too, for Mingy all night, and had just come in to inquire after her) wept in each other’s arms, and Swiftswimmer began to roll in the mud, in the excess of her joy.

Suddenly recollecting, however, her promise to Mingy not to do that again, she turned head-over-heels three times running instead. As for the tadpoles, their antics are beyond description, and they would certainly have smothered Mingy with their caresses had not Mrs. Dauntless Leaper rescued her.

Lady Jane Barney sat apart puzzled and somewhat envious. If she, Lady Jane Barney, had been lost, who would have cared?

But when the despised Mingy had returned, there had been hysterics, fainting, tears, mudrolling, and frantic joy. Was it possible there was something better in the world than aristocratic manners and an elegant figure?

Mingy’s story was simple enough. She had lost her way, it had grown dark; a cat pounced on her, she managed to slip away, and scramble up a rose bush, and there squeak mightily. The children heard her and saved her, kept her all night (she had grown rather faint with being out of the water so long), and then they had brought her to the tub the first thing in the morning.

“And here is the recipe of the croak mixture for Podgy’s throat,” she cried triumphantly. “I was afraid the cat had jerked it out of my hand once, and I was frightened of dropping it as I scrambled up the rose bush, but I kept tight hold, and here it is.”

Even Lady Jane Barney was touched at the faithfulness of the little creature clinging to the recipe when in danger of her life.

“Well, I’m really glad you’re back again safe and sound,” she said, speaking for the first time, and more cordially than Mingy had ever heard her speak before.

“Thank you!” rejoined Mingy gratefully.

Mrs. Leaper had turned at the sound of Lady Jane Barney’s voice.

“Lazylimbs!” she exclaimed.

“Lazylimbs!” exclaimed all the others, “why, that’s Lady Jane Barney!”

“She is nothing of the sort. Now, Lazylimbs, what have you to say for yourself?”

But before Lady Jane Barney could make any reply to this very awkward question, several neighbours dropped in, hearing of Mingy’s safe return; and in the chatter and explanations that followed, she made good her escape from the tub.


Chapter 5
Lady Jane Barney Returns

Her absence was scarcely noticed, for Podgy seemed to be really ill, and Mother Splashabout came to the conclusion that she had whooping-croak. Then two of the tadpoles were found to have an attack of tadmeasles, and two more tailrash. You may imagine there was not much time to think of Lady Jane Barney.

Only after they were all well again Mingy would sometimes say, “I wonder where Lady Jane Barney is?” or “Poor Lady Jane Barney! I wonder what’s become of her?” or “I wish I knew what Lady Jane Barney was doing?”

“Why should you care about her?” asked Podgy one day. “She was always horrid to you, though, to be sure, she never shook—”

Here Mingy clapped her hand on her mouth. “I thought we weren’t going to talk of that any more. She has no home. Do let’s go and find her, Podgy; she can’t do us any harm, and we may do her some good. Oh! Podgy, Podgy, think—she has no sisters!”—and Mingy’s eyes filled with tears. “Fancy her wandering about all alone. Poor Lady Jane Barney! Poor thing!

Podgy thought a moment. “I’ll go with you. After all, I was worse than she was. Will you come too, Darkie?”

“Don’t you think we are better without her?” asked Darkie. “Think of all the mischief she caused.”

“Oh, as to that,” replied Swiftswimmer quickly, “she couldn’t have made us behave like such toads unless we had been inclined that way. As to snubbing Mingy—well, I feel as if we did that sometimes before she came, eh, Mingy?”

“Oh, don’t! don’t!” cried Mingy in much distress. “You are a great deal too kind to me, you really are. You spoil me.”

“We couldn’t do that,” returned Podgy warmly, hugging her as she spoke. “There’s no one like you, Mingy.” Mingy had nursed Podgy all through the whooping-croak, and Podgy could not forget how tender, attentive, and patient she had been.

Well, they did hunt for Lady Jane Barney, and found her living all alone in a flower-pot, her face tied up with broad grass, for she was suffering from toad-mumps. At first she could hardly bear to look them in the face, she was so much ashamed of having such a common complaint as toad-mumps; but after much persuasion they induced her to come once more to the happy home she had done her best to spoil.

She was very different now from what she had been; still, many of her old habits clung to her, and she could not change herself entirely.

Most of the froglings held rather aloof from her —not that they meant to be unkind— but they did not quite know how to treat her, for Mother Splashabout herself had declared: “Well, she certainly is a frog of high rank. You can tell that in the toss of her head. There is no mistaking it. If she only finds a heart, she will make a genuine lady after all.”

“Why! why! why!” cried the others in great excitement. “Do you know what a lady is? You never told us.”

“Yet there is one among you now—a real one, I mean; not one of your so-called ladies.”

“Oh, who? who?”

Mother Splashabout smiled a knowing smile. “If you can’t find out for yourselves you are sillier froglings than I take you for,” and with that she left them.

Mingy meantime had no doubts about how to treat a frog of high rank. She followed her instincts; she poulticed the poor thing’s face, caught flies for her, never alluded by word or look to the past, and was so gentle and considerate that Lady Jane Barney found herself loving and confiding in the once much-despised Mingy.

She told how their waterhole had dried up when she was only just a frogling, how her friends had all died, and how she suffered, driven from waterhole to waterhole, half-starved, flapped at and scorned. “Of course I ought to have worked, but I had not been brought up to it. Sometimes I tried, but I never could go on. Lazylimbs! Never was a frog better named.”

“Is that your real name, then?”


“Then why— ?” Mingy paused; she did not quite like to go on.

“Why did I call myself Lady Jane Barney? I’ll tell you. As I was hopping along, wondering where I should go, I saw two children.”

“Nelly and Teddy?”

Lady Jane Barney bowed. “I hopped into your tub at once, I was so frightened.”

“You needn’t have been,” broke in Mingy eagerly; “they are such kind children.”

Lady Jane Barney smiled. “I know that now, but I didn’t then. Just as I jumped in, I heard Teddy say: ‘Hullo! that’s a new frog. What’ll we name her?’ ‘Lady Jane Barney,’ answered Nelly—I wonder why? However, the name struck me as an elegant one, and I took it. I was tired of tadpole-minding, and determined to play the lady. Besides, I am really of high rank. I could not toss my head like this if I were not.”

“That’s just what Mother Splashabout said.”

Lady Jane Barney looked much pleased. “Yes, it’s true; but oh, I’d rather be able to make frogs fond of me, like you can, than give the haughtiest head-toss in the world. How do you manage it?”

“I don’t manage it,” laughed the other. “It manages itself.”

“What a good little thing you are, Mingy!” cried Lady Jane Barney in great admiration. “You never reproach me for all the harm I did you, and—”

“Harm?” cried Mother Splashabout, swimming up. “If you’ve taught them manners, and they’ve learnt that manners are not everything, why, you’ve done good. Since they have dropped some silly affectations I’ve noticed a marked improvement, especially in Podgy. As for yourself, don’t be discouraged; learn to work, work for others, and you may be a genuine lady yet,” and with a friendly nod she was gone.

“It’s very kind of her to say so,” said Lady Jane Barney, much touched, “but it was not I, but you, Mingy—no, don’t stop me, for I must say one thing: I’ve learnt what a lady is, for I know one, and it’s—”

But I shall not tell you who it was, for if you cannot guess, this story is a failure, and might as well never have been written.

Only if forgiving your enemies, loving and helping your fellow-creatures, being kind, gentle, and courteous to all, is not being a lady, why then there are no ladies in the world.


Princess Radiant And Prince Plain

Chapter 1
Begins The Story

Once upon a time there was a King—King Grand of Greatland was his name. He had lost all his sons and daughters but one little girl, and she was the most beautiful Princess that ever trod this earth. They called her Princess Radiant.

She had most glorious eyes, blue as the deep, deep sea; her complexion was tinted like mother-of-pearl, her teeth were as pearls themselves, her lips the colour of coral; her hair was golden, and sparkled and shimmered when the sun shone on it until one was almost dazzled by its glory.

It fell in silken sheen almost to her feet— such dainty little arched feet, too, it was no wonder the hair tried to reach them. Added to this, she was as slender and graceful as a lily, and was as winsome, sweet, merry, and lovable as she was beautiful.

She was all a little maiden could or should be— so thought King Grand, and so also thought poor little Prince Plain.

He, alas! was the plainest Prince that ever breathed.

He was short and square, with high, broad shoulders, and large feet and hands. His skin was nearly as yellow as the Princess’ hair; he had an immense hooked nose and a large mouth and black eyes that glowered under beetling brows; while his stiff, wiry, rusty-red hair stuck up straight all over his head, and made the very dogs bark with terror when they saw him.

He always hung his head down when he walked, so that people should see as little of his face as possible; and this made the people despise him all the more— a miserable little Prince, they said, who could look no one in the face.

No one, that is, but the Princess Radiant; he looked her in the face, for she never laughed nor sneered at him, and whenever she met him about the Court was always gentle and kind to him— until one day, and this I am going to tell you about.

Prince Plain was a distant connection of King Grand’s, and this connection, distant though it was, always annoyed the King, so that he treated Prince Plain in a very off-hand, contemptuous, and haughty fashion.

Still, he was kind in his way, and brought the Prince to live at the Court, because he had neither father nor mother; and he gave the Prince certain duties to attend to about the Palace, for which he was paid liberally enough.

One day a number of young Princes and Princesses came to play with Princess Radiant, and they wanted the key of the storeroom where all the best toffee, the juiciest fruits, and the sweetest nuts were kept.

“I know the King would let us have them,” said Princess Radiant; “but, he has gone out.’

“Does he always take the keys?”

“Oh, no.”

“Who has them then?”

“Prince Plain, and he has strict orders never to give them into anyone’s hand but the King’s,” answered the Princess.

Prince Plain, you may be sure, did not play with the other Princes and Princesses. Some made fun of him and laughed at him, and some were frightened of him, and he always shrank away when they came.

“Oho!” laughed the Princes. “Now for some sport. We’ll soon get them from that little cur.”

But that was not so easy after all.

Prince Plain, though only fourteen years of age, was to be trusted in the slightest thing, and this the King knew well when he entrusted the keys of the whole Palace to him. Nothing the Princes could say or do would make him give them up.

“I will not,” he said, and they knocked him about until they were tired.

“I will not,” he said doggedly again.

They thrashed him most unmercifully, but he only said:

“You may kill me if you like, but it won’t do any good, for the keys are hidden. You can search all day, you’ll never find them, and I shall never tell you.”

They saw that this was true, so they flung him down, and kicked and left him.

Then they asked the Princesses to see what they could do, but they were frightened to go near him, he was so ugly; but Princess Radiant said:

“I’m not afraid; I will go. I know he will give them to me.”

When she saw how beaten and bruised he was, her heart burned with anger against the Princes who had so used him; she hastened away to fetch soft linen and warm water and ointment, and the Prince thought her the dearest and sweetest and noblest little Princess in the whole world.

Then, sad to tell, she used him far worse and hurt him more cruelly than ever the Princes had done, for in her most gentle and loving way she tried to coax the keys from him.

This was far harder for him to withstand than the hardest beatings that any of the others had given him, so he set his teeth hard, and put his hands in his pockets, and would not look at her.

“And you shall come and play with us,” said she. This was a great temptation to that lonely little Prince, but he shook his head.

“And you may have my new pony for your very own,” said she. Now the Prince loved that pony dearly, for he had often groomed him and longed to possess him, but he shook his head.

“And I will ask my father, the King, to give you beautiful clothes, and always let you be with us,” said she. That seemed to the Prince the very height of happiness, but he shook his head.

“And I will love you dearly.” She put her arms round his neck and laid her little soft cheek against his. Ah, what a gift she offered! But he still shook his head.

“Are you afraid His Majesty will punish you? We will none of us tell him, and if he finds out I will beg you off.”

“It isn’t that,” he muttered gruffly. “His Majesty trusts me. I cannot, and—I will not!” and he walked away.

Never before in all her short life had anyone refused the Princess anything, and she was angry, hurt, and mortified beyond measure, so she ran after him and placed herself in front of him, and stamped her little foot imperiously.

“You shall do it! I command you to give me the keys. Prince Plain, obey your future Queen!”

But he made no answer—only set his lips more tightly than ever.

“Do you know that I can have you whipped before all the Court?” she cried. “I have only to tell the Lord Chamberlain that you are insolent and disobey my orders, and he will have it done.”

“I know that, but I will not give you the keys;” and at that the red blood rushed up into her cheeks, her eyes flashed with anger, and she doubled up her little fist and struck him on the cheek.

It was not a hard blow, but he looked at her a minute, then suddenly burst into tears, and stood there sobbing as if his heart would break; and the Princess was more sorry and ashamed than she had ever been in all her life before.

Yet the more sorry and ashamed was she—the more she felt that she was in the wrong, and had done a cruel, an unkind, and an un-Princess-like deed—the more angry she grew, the more determined not to say she was sorry.

“You must be a baby,” she said with great scorn. “Why, I often hurt myself much worse than that and I don’t cry. I fell downstairs yesterday right on the marble hall below, and I had a lump on my forehead, as big as a plum, and I never even told anyone. Look!” She lifted her hair from her forehead, and there was a large black bruise. “And then you cry for a little thing like that. You can hit me if you like and see if I cry! I wouldn’t! I’d be ashamed to.”

But the Prince kept his face hidden in his arms, and the little Princess walked slowly away.

Presently she came back. “I’m sorry I hurt you,” she said, with a gulp, and the Prince raised his head and looked at her.

“And,” she went on, “I forgive you for being so rude to me, and not giving me the keys when I asked for them, and,” holding out her hand to him with great condescension, “you may kiss my hand.”

The Prince pushed it aside. “No,” he said shortly, “I will not,” and he walked away leaving her aghast.

At the door he turned back and looked at her mournfully. “Oh, Princess, you shouldn’t have asked me—you shouldn’t have asked me,” and he was gone.

Then she wept bitterly, for though she was only a little Princess, but eleven years old, she yet understood what a wrong thing she had done; she well knew why the Prince would not kiss her hand, and she realised that always in the future, because she was a Princess and had power, she must be better than others; because she was beautiful and loved by all, she must try to use her beauty and her sweetness well, and make those who loved her better, not worse.

Thus she grew up more sweet and winsome than ever, full of noble thoughts and deeds; and never again did she try to use her power for aught but good, and never again did Prince Plain refuse to kiss her hand.

But kind and gracious as she was, to him alone was she ever cold and distant, never vouchsafing him a smile and rarely speaking to him.

His only comfort was that if she wanted any deed of kindness, any act of charity performed— and these were many—she always made him her messenger and almoner. So he grew up, uglier than ever, proud to do anything she asked him, gradually learning to know the people among whom she sent him (who grew less and less afraid of him), and always hoping that perhaps one day his Princess would relent, and smile upon him once more as she had done when they were children.


Chapter 2
The Princess Who Would Not Marry

King Grand of Greatland loved his Crown dearly, but even before his Crown he loved his daughter, Princess Radiant, and as she grew up he could see no fault in her save only this—she would marry no one.

This annoyed the King terribly, for there was an inexorable law in Greatland that no unmarried Princess should ascend the throne.

The next heir, if the King died before the Princess married, was his cousin Prince Grab. He was a truculent, burly fellow, much hated by the King, and he had lately begun to put on airs almost as if he already possessed the crown.

This King Grand was most anxious to prevent; besides he naturally wished to leave his crown and kingdom to his dearly-loved daughter— but how could he when at every offer of marriage she held her slender neck erect, threw back her beautiful hair, and said: “No, thank you. Good afternoon.”

And what was there left for a Prince to say after that but “Good afternoon” too?

Then she would touch the bell, and say very courteously to one of her maids-in-waiting: “Lady Sangazure, will you please show His Royal Highness out?”

And what could His Royal Highness do but go?

The King offered at length huge rewards to any Prince who could persuade the Princess to marry him, and many Princes came, but all received the same answer: “No, thank you. Good afternoon.”

In despair, the King now caused a proclamation to be issued to call into his Court every Prince in the land.

No Prince failed to come, for all were eager and anxious to win the beautiful Princess. Therefore on a certain day every Prince in the world was gathered there in King Grand’s Court.

“Before you,” the King said, “you see the Princess Radiant.” Radiant she was indeed, radiantly beautiful.

“Her Royal Highness,” continued the King, “does not wish to marry” — the Princess shook her head smilingly— “but I think among so many fine young fellows one of you must persuade her to change her mind”—the Princess shook her head gravely— “and to him that succeeds I will at once give up my Crown, my Kingdom, and my entire fortune, twelve million pounds and sixpence farthing; so anxious am I to see my dearest and only child happily married and Queen of Greatland.”

And at that the Princess put her arms about his neck and kissed him.

The King cleared his throat. “But, if at the end of a month, no one has succeeded in winning my daughter’s heart, every one of you shall suffer death.”

There was a rush for the door, quite half the Princes thinking it not worth while to risk their lives with so little chance of succeeding.

“Prince Plain, shut the door!” thundered the King, and Prince Plain locked the door and put the key in his pocket.

Now though Prince Plain was very short, he looked strong. His black eyes flashed and his hair bristled up even more than usual, as he turned to face the jostling crowd of Princes, and he looked so savage and so hideous that every one hesitated, not liking to be the first to try to take that key from him.

Then the King spoke in awful tones: “The first Prince who attempts to escape shall be beheaded at once. I thought of this, and I have the executioner outside all ready. Now, Prince Plain, open the door!”

The door was opened. No one moved; then the Princess whispered something to the King, and he spoke much more mildly.

“The Princess Radiant deigns to plead on your behalf, therefore if you fail only one in every ten shall suffer death.”

Prince Plain came across the room with his usual slouching gait and his head hanging down, and walked up the steps of the throne (which made the King intensely angry) and spoke some words in a low tone.

The King looked furious, and seemed as if he would strike him to the earth, but Prince Plain never quailed; he stood where he was and waited.

The King rose, gulping down his anger. “The Prince suggests that the loss of the beautiful Princess will be quite hard enough to bear without these—ahem—somewhat drastic measures.”

Now what the Prince had really said was: “With two hundred Princes here, one in every ten will be twenty Princes beheaded. Is your Majesty prepared to go to war with twenty nations at once?”

King Grand knew quite well he could not possibly fight twenty nations at once, and it annoyed him to think so, and to have to retract what he had said. He was a rash, hot-tempered, impulsive King, and nothing enraged him more than to have practical common sense poured into his ear, when he had made one of his wild statements; so he ground his teeth and went on, still scowling angrily at Prince Plain:

“Therefore I will soften my sentence to this— if you fail you shall all be soundly cudgelled, and,” he suddenly thundered, “if any man dare to utter a word to try to induce me to after that, I shall have him beheaded. I have spoken,” and he sat down.

The Prime Minister, who had already opened his mouth with that intention, immediately shut it up again very tightly, and tried to look as if no such idea had crossed his mind.

And now those two hundred Princes, who one and all had fallen madly in love with the Princess, did everything they could think of to win her hand and heart. There were grand balls and riding parties and hunts, and the Princes got up tournaments and jousted and knocked each other about for her, and painted her picture, and sang and played to her, and danced, and rode with and talked to her, and performed feats of strength before her; but, kind and courteous though she was to all, no one seemed able to win her especial favour.

Yet poor Prince Plain watched them all from afar with an aching heart, for it seemed to him, young and handsome as they were, one of them must succeed.

As for himself, he had made up his mind long ago he was too repulsively ugly for anyone ever to care for him, so that all that was left was to go his way and do what was right.

Therefore, doubly unhappy though he was, he neglected none of his duties, of which there were many.

For, if the truth must be told, it was really Prince Plain and the Princess Radiant who ruled the Kingdom, and not King Grand at all.

If the Princess thought he had been too severe she would put her arms round him and plead for mercy, and if he had made a mistake, Prince Plain quietly and respectfully pointed it out.

Whereat the enraged King would threaten to behead him some half a dozen times a day for his insolent interference, roar out that he was “a dolt,” or “a ninny,” “a blockhead,” or “a miserable atom,” and end by doing just what the Prince had suggested, and thinking that it was his own idea, and being rather pleased with it than otherwise.

How astonished all the King’s subjects would have been had they known that all those wise and just laws that had been introduced within the last six or seven years were entirely due to the very quiet, ugly-looking Prince, who came and went among them almost unnoticed!

They had grown used to his plainness by now, and generally treated him with a kind of pitying patronising condescension, as if it were really admirable in them to accept any kindness from one so hideous.

Yet he had two gifts of which he and they were alike unconscious. He had a very sweet smile; but as he rarely smiled very few knew of it except some little children, whom he had helped at different times, before they had time to run away.

His voice was beautiful—clear, rich, and mellow— but as he seldom spoke, very few noticed that either.

So the Prince went his way, helping others whenever he could, and giving no thought to his dignity, name, or station.

Once when all the gay cavalcade of Princes came sweeping along with the Princess in their midst, they overtook Prince Plain on foot carrying an immense bundle of faggots.

Beyond saluting the Princess he took no notice of any of them, and went staggering along, bent nearly double under his heavy load of wood.



The Princes made fun of his appearance, joking and laughing about it to the Princess, and a little spark came into her eyes. She turned in her saddle to look back and saw him entering a poor woman’s hut; then the colour flushed up in her cheeks, and she returned no answer.

They thought she was ashamed of his odd ways, and of his relationship to her, so they hastened to change the conversation.

Another time when they were going out riding all the two hundred Princes rushed eagerly forward to have the honour of assisting her to mount; but she looked beyond them to where Prince Plain stood apart, and made a little haughty sign to him to come and help her.

When he did so she scarcely glanced at him, and only said coldly:

“Thank you.”

Then the Princes said among themselves: “She treats him just like an underling—and no wonder, for he is the meanest-spirited, most hang-dog Prince that ever existed.”

But he was a happy Prince that day; for had not her slender little foot rested in his hand, and had he not been chosen before all the others? It mattered little to him if she treated him as a servant, provided only he was allowed to serve her.

One wet day King Grand said they should be shown all over the palace, and see its treasures and beauties.

As they passed one door someone said:

“Why do we not go in here, your Majesty?”

Quoth the King with a laugh: “There is nothing to see there but Prince Plain.”

“Well, if his room matches himself, it will he well worth seeing,” said another, so they knocked and entered.

Prince Plain bowed and welcomed them gravely, and then went on with his work. A poor, miserable little cur had hurt its leg, and he was binding it up.

And the Princes made their jokes. “Like attracts like,” “Birds of a feather,” “A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind,” and so forth.

“Ho! ho!” laughed the King. “You see of how little value his time is that he wastes it on a useless cur like that. But then nobody is likely to claim much of Prince Plain’s time, eh?” And he laughed a great laugh, and looked knowingly at Prince Handsome, upon whom his heart was set as a husband for his daughter.

The Princess flushed and looked hard at the little dog, whereat the King ceased to laugh, turning away with a sigh.

“Ah!” he said to himself, “she will wed Prince Handsome, and I shall lose her, my daughter, my Crown, my Kingdom, and my money. Heigho! Well, anything is better than that cousin Grab should come to the throne.”

The last day of the month came. One hundred and ninety-nine of the Princes had spoken and been refused. All their hopes were centred in Prince Handsome, when he entered dejectedly.

“How is it with you, Prince?” they cried, rushing to meet him; but he shook his head, and they all sat down and thought gloomily of the cudgelling which awaited them on the morrow.

Then of one accord they rose and searched everywhere in the palace and garden and grounds for the beautiful Princess, to make one last frantic appeal; but she was not to be found, and no one had seen her anywhere.

It was very evident she had given her answer, and meant them to understand that it was final.

The Princess Radiant would marry none of them.

“There are no more Princes in the world,” growled the King angrily, “so she must remain unmarried, and cousin Grab will get everything. A plague on the women, say I! And I know she’ll come to me the very first thing to-morrow morning to beg all those fellows off. I’d like to thrash them with my own hands. Oh, these women!” He shut himself up in his own room and refused to see anyone.


Chapter 3
The Choice Of The Princess

The Princess Radiant was weary of suitors to her hand— she wished to see them no more. She longed to be alone in the cool fresh air, under the starlit sky; so, attired as she was in her most splendid court dress, she mounted her beautiful charger, all caparisoned with gold, and galloped far away.

As she was returning home she overtook Prince Plain carrying a little child, while another child clung to his arm. He also carried a bundle— it looked like a large plate tied up in a coloured handkerchief.

Princess Radiant pulled up her horse and looked at them. “Poor little things! poor little things!” she said. “How tired they look!”

It made the Prince’s heart throb for joy just to hear her sweet low voice, and the children gazed up in wonder at this dazzling vision—this beautiful lady—whose gown sparkled with gems, and in whose hair glittered a diamond coronet.

“They are tired,” answered the Prince. “They came out with their father’s dinner, lost their way, and have been wandering ever since. Fear not, little ones, we shall soon be home now.”

And the little ones clung to him and feared not, for his voice was wondrously comforting.

“Lift the little girl on my knee,” said the Princess; “let her ride in front of me.”

The Prince did not say as the other Princes would have done:

“Oh, your Royal Highness must not think of such a thing;” or,

“Oh, no, Princess, she will soil your robe;” or

“It is not very far, she can easily walk now;” or,

“She will be too heavy for you.”

He looked up with a smile, and even in the dim light she saw how very sweet that smile was; then he lifted up the poor tired little child, who nestled her head on the Princess’ shoulder and straightway fell asleep.

Thus they journeyed on, each hearing a sleeping child, until they reached the cottage where the children lived.

Now home in the starlight went the Prince and the Princess. He walked by her side, speaking little, but passing happy just to be near her; and when they came into the courtyard she did not spring off her horse like a bird as she usually did, but allowed him to lift her from the saddle—a thing neither he nor any other Prince had ever done before.

When he would have led her horse away, as he often had done, she stayed him, saying gently:

“Nay, the groom can do that,” and she blew a golden whistle, and the groom came and led the horse away.

They were alone once more under the stars, and the Princess laid her hand in his and spoke humbly and softly.

“Ah, you are good,” she said. “I love you.”

Could it be she, his haughty, distant Princess, who rarely spoke to him and never smiled upon him? Could it be she, who kept all others at arm’s length, who came so close to him and spoke such sweet, such beautiful words?

It was she indeed. Through a mist of tears her eyes shone upon him, and the smile he had waited for all these years came and played about her beautiful, tremulous lips for him—for him alone.

The Prince trembled from head to foot and faltered out: “My Princess, oh! my Princess, know you what you said?”

“I know well,” she answered him low.

“And is it true, my Queen?”

“It is true.” And gazing deep into her glorious eyes he saw the truth shining there, and read her heart and soul and knew that she was his for ever more.

With that a great change came upon the Prince; the colour flushed into his face; he was aglow with life, hope, happiness, and strength; he held himself erect as never before. He kissed the beautiful trembling lips, the golden hair, the glorious eyes, and, taking the Princess in his arms, bore her out of the courtyard.

Outside there browsed a clumsy-looking horse that the King had given the Prince because it was so ugly no one else would have it; but it had grown to love the Prince, and would obey the sound of his voice or the touch of his hand. It came now at the Prince’s call; he threw his cloak over the horse and lifted the Princess Radiant on and sprang up behind her, and they rode away.

“My lord, whither go we?” slie asked softly.

“Trust me, beloved,” and she felt she loved and trusted him before all men.

The horse stopped; the Prince lifted her down and held out his hand. “Come.” said he.

“I come, my lord.” She laid her hand in his and they went up the steps together and in at the Archbishop’s door.

“Marry us!” said the Prince to the Archbishop, who stood gazing and blinking at them in astonishment.

And the Princess was startled, for she had not expected that, but she liked it—ah, yes! she liked it, for the Prince now took command as a Prince should.

“Marry us!” said the Prince again.

“But—but—” stammered the Archbishop.

“Marry us!” said the Prince for the third time, and his voice rang out loud and clear, like a bell, and so full of command that the Archbishop dared not disobey.

So they were married.

Then home again in the starlight, and when at last they reached the palace great was the commotion there, for everyone was searching for the Princess; but greater still was the commotion and consternation when the news spread— the Princess Radiant had manned Prince Plain!

When the Prince heard the exclamations of horror— the contempt, the rage, the scorn that was hurled at him, he hung his head as of yore, realising what he had done, and blaming himself bitterly for the wrong he had committed in linking his fate to that of his most beloved Princess.

They were right. He was loathsome to look upon, contemptible, abject, mean. How dared he, how could he have been so base as to accept the gift she so trustfully offered? How could he have taken advantage of her noble generosity?

So he stood before them all, with his head down, while the storm burst and raged round him.

“That creature! that thing! that object! that atom!” roared the King in fury. “Are you, then, married to that designing knave—that miserable wretch? He is not worthy to be called a Prince!”

“Perhaps not,” Princess Radiant answered proudly: “but he is a MAN, and that is better!”

“That a man!” roared the Kins.

But the Prince, when he heard his Princess speak those words, looked at her; and it came upon him that if the Queen of all women—the loveliest, the most loyal, the noblest Princess in the whole world—had so chosen and so honoured him above all men, never more must he hang his head before gentle or simple—for she had raised him higher than the highest, and by the priceless gift she gave had crowned him King before all the world.

Feeling this, he raised his head and held it high, while his voice rang out like a trumpet, as they had never heard it before.

“Silence! The Princess Radiant can do no wrong. I am the Princess’ chosen. Let no man dare to question her choice!”

His black eyes flashed fire under his beetling brows, and he looked more terrible than even King Grand himself, and the hub-bub died away into subdued and muttered growlings.

King Grand was full of wrath, but he was a man of his word; so, almost choking with rage, hurt pride, humiliation and grief, he took off his Crown and advanced towards the Prince.

“The First Lord of the Treasury has gone for my gold. The Princess is yours, the Kingdom is yours, the Crown is yours. I abdicate, and do you homage, King of Greatland!” He bent one knee before the Prince.

But the Prince placed the Crown back upon his brows, and caught him by both hands.

“Rise, my liege! The Princess hath crowned me already. I need no other. Remain King of Greatland, and let me only serve you as heretofore.”

The courtiers all cheered at that, but the Prince looked into his Princess’ eyes.

“Are you content, my Queen?”

“More than content,” she answered gladly.

Then the First Lord of the Treasury and all his underlings brought in the gold—twelve million pounds and sixpence farthing—and laid it on the table.

The Prince divided it in silence. Half he gave back to the King, two millions he put aside as a fund to help the poor, the sick, and the aged; three millions to build bridges and beautiful buildings and to make glorious parks; and from the last million he took twenty thousand pounds to be spent in national rejoicings over the Princess’ marriage, ten thousand to be divided among the courtiers, and the remainder he gave to the two hundred disappointed Princes.

And some—and these were the best of the Princes —thanked him and congratulated him on his success, but said they had lost the beautiful Princess, and nothing could make up for that; so they put the gold aside and went sorrowfully away.

And others were hurt and angry and refused the gold also, and went wrathfully away.

And some few were hurt and angry, yet accepted the gold before they, too, went away.

But most of them voted the Prince a jolly good fellow, who had saved them from a sound cudgelling and given them a handsome present into the bargain; and they stayed and cheered and hurrahed for the Prince until they could be heard for miles off.

The courtiers hurrahed too; but the Prince ever looked into the eyes of his Princess, and spoke in a low voice for her only.

“You took me, sweetheart, just as I was. I have no more now. Am I alone enough for you?”

“More than enough, my lord,” she answered loyally.

Now of all his large fortune there remained in his hand but a sixpence with a hole in it and a farthing. The sixpence he held out to her with a smile.

“My wedding gift!” he said.

The courtiers could not help thinking it a shabby gift from a Prince who had just disposed of millions, and they whispered among themselves that it was almost an insult to offer such a thing to the future Queen of Greatland, and it showed his want of manners and refinement; but the Princess fastened it to a chain round her neck, and valued it before all her possessions—far before the diamonds and rubies and sapphires with which her gown was studded.

The Prince stood looking down with a half-smile at the farthing in his hand, wondering what to do with it, when the Princess suddenly bent her head, and, with tears fast falling, kissed first the farthing and then the hand that held the farthing, there before them all.

Ah! now he knew what to do with it: he would keep and treasure it for ever. It was his, for had not his Princess without peer kissed it and bedewed it with her tears, and so rendered it priceless?

His heart was well nigh bursting with pride and joy and thankfulness: it was a happiness too great to be borne in the glaring light and bustle of the Court, so he hid his face and turned away. Then Princess Radiant once more laid her hand in his— he led her forth into the darkness and was alone with her and the stars.


Chapter 4
The End Of The Story

The Prince and the Princess being wed, who so happy as they?

It was as the Prince said.

King Grand wore the Crown, Prince Plain did the work; and as the years rolled by the King grew more and more complaisant, and left more and more in the Prince’s hands, until it was openly acknowledged that the Prince ruled.

A most wise and just rule it was too—and never had a Prince been more respected. In battle the soldiers would follow him anywhere. He had but to speak to be obeyed, for none could withstand that grand commanding voice.

Everyone said they had known all along what a fine fellow he was. They had always expected him to turn out just as he had; and as to being plain—well, they had soon grown used to that, and they, for their part, were not in the least surprised at the Princess marrying him.

If the Prince was respected, most dearly was the Princess loved, the people worshipping the very ground she trod upon. Nor was that to be wondered at, since her first thought was always for their welfare.

She grew more and more radiant—for she was, in sooth, radiantly happy—more noble, more winning, more lovable each day; and when some years after her marriage an heir to the throne was born, her cup of happiness was full to overflowing.

And the joy-bells that rang in the Princess’ heart were echoed and re-echoed in the heart of the nation, which rejoiced in its Princess’ great rejoicing.

So bells pealed from every belfry tower, and guns were fired and flags were waved and flowers were thrown when the birth of the Prince was announced.

The courtiers all came prepared to say:

“Oh, what a beautiful, what a lovely child!”

But their voices died away in their throats and they said: “Oh, ah, h’m!” instead.

Among themselves, however, the dreadful truth was freely whispered: “He is just like his father.”

They tried to keep it to themselves. But when the little Prince was about eight years old the rumour swelled and grew until it reached the Princess’ ears.

“He is like his father.”

Then the Princess Radiant, throwing back her hair as of old, stood up with a proud, glad light in her eyes, and faced the whole world with the truth.

“Yes,” she said, “he is like his father, for he is GOOD!”

So he was, for he had inherited the nobility, the sweetness and the winning graces of his mother’s disposition, and the wisdom, justice, and sterling integrity of his father’s; and when he in turn came to rule never had the people a King at once so loved and so respected as the son of the Princess Radiant and the once-despised Prince Plain.


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