an ebook published by Project Gutenberg
Title: Folly In Fairyland
Author: Carolyn Wells
eBook No.: 2301121h.html
Date first posted: October 2023
Most recent update: October 2023
This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore
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Chapter 1. - Folly Becomes A Fairy
Chapter 2. - In The House That Jack Built
Chapter 3. - Cinderella At Home
Chapter 4. - The Home Of The Three Bears
Chapter 5. - Simple Simon
Chapter 6. - Scary For Short
Chapter 7. - The Popular Popinjays
Chapter 8. - The Queen Of Hearts’ Tea
Chapter 9. - The Wolf’s Party
Chapter 10. - Visiting Beauty And The Beast
Chapter 11. - At Sea
Chapter 12. - Jack’s Beanstalk
Chapter 13. - The Giantess
Chapter 14. - The Story Teller
Chapter 15. - The Old Woman’s Shoe
Chapter 16. - In Aladdin’s Palace
Chapter 17. - The Genie
Chapter 18. - The Sleeping Beauty
Once upon a time there was a little girl whose parents had christened her Florinda. But when she was a tiny mite that big name was so hard to pronounce that she twisted it up and shortened it down, and called herself Folly. And so everybody called her Folly—her parents and her grandparents and her great-grandparents, and even the minister when he came to call.
Now, the day that this story is about was Christmas Day; and Folly was nearly nine years old. She was having one of the very nicest Christmases in the world. When she awoke in the morning she found her long, black stockings full of goodies and toys. Later on had come the Christmas tree with its wonderful gifts—a doll that could say papa and mamma, a little white muff, a writing-desk, a ring with a pearl in it, and, oh, lots of things, but, best of all, a big book of Fairy Tales.
And then had come the Christmas dinner, with its blazing plum pudding, and after that it seemed to Folly that there would be nothing in all the world so nice to do as to cuddle up on the big divan in the library and read that Fairy book.
So she piled the pillows into a perfect nest, tucked herself away in it, and began to read. Many of the stories she knew before, but that doesn’t make any difference with Fairy tales; they are always just as good as ever, even after you have heard them a thousand and one times. And Folly proved this, for she picked out to read first the very ones she knew best.
But soon the book seemed to grow heavy and heavier, and just as it dropped from Folly’s hand there was a merry chuckle of laughter and another merry chuckle of laughter. Folly heard them both quite distinctly, although they were exactly alike and happened at exactly the same time. And then she saw standing before her, hand in hand, two dear little children, whose names I don’t know, but they were jolly little things, with round, chubby faces and wide, staring, blue eyes.
The little girl was just like a snowball, with her white furry cape and white furry hood; and the little boy was just like a snowball, with his white furry coat and white furry cap.
"We are the Babes," said they, cheerfully.
"Indeed," said Folly, politely, "but may I ask how you came in? There is no door open."
"Why, we came from Fairyland; we nebber uses doors. We’re the Babes in the Wood, and dese are our wobins."
Then Folly saw behind them a whole flock of robins hopping around, each with a strawberry leaf in his bill.
"You dear things!" said Folly, jumping up and hugging them both. "Are you really the Babes, and did your cruel uncle leave you to die in the wood?"
"Yes," said they, and they always spoke exactly together and said exactly the same thing. "Yes, he did in the storwy, but of course in Fairyland we don’t always live according to the storwy. Come wiv us, we’ll show you Fairyland."
"But I can’t," said Folly. "I’m not a fairy."
"Does you wants to be one?" said the twins, doubtfully.
"Oh, yes, indeed! I’d love to be one; I’ve always wanted to be a fairy."
"All wite, we’ll get you the fings." And the Babes bobbled away, still hand in hand, and the robins hopped along behind them. In a few moments they bobbled back again with their little arms full of most marvelous clothes.
"I brought some and Babe brought some," said they. Folly stared in amazement as they spread out a real, regular Fairy costume. Airy, spangled skirts, shiny, sparkling wings, a gold crown and a long gilt wand.
"Are these for me?" she asked in delight.
"Yes. Can you dwess yourself if we help wiv the buttons."
"Oh, yes," and Folly’s little red plaid frock was soon discarded and she was arrayed in the new garments.
"Now you is a buful fairy," said the Babes; "now we’ll go."
Folly felt herself going—right through the ceiling. She went up and up, through mamma’s room, through her ceiling, through the attic, through the roof, and then she floated along through the air above the tops of the tallest trees. The twins were at her side, followed by their robins.
"This is Fairyland," they said suddenly, and they all floated down to the ground and stood at the entrance of a thick, dark wood.
"Is it?" said Folly, much disappointed. "Why, I never supposed it looked like this."
"Oh, this is only our wood, and we can’t go out of it, but you can go froo and see all the uvver fings."
"Well, I will," said Folly, "but I want to see your wood first. So here is where your cruel uncle left you, is it?"
"Yes; and we went to sleepy-by right under this twee—so—and the wobins came and cubbered us up—so."
The two little tots were now lying under a great oak tree, and the robins were industriously bringing strawberry leaves so that in a few moments the children were almost covered. They seemed so sound asleep that Folly thought it a pity to wake them, and decided to investigate things for herself.
On she went, through the wood, to its farthest edge, and then, behold—Fairyland! Spread out before her were gorgeous gardens and wonderful castles, with glittering spires, lakes and fountains and mountains, and a bewildering maze of paths that seemed to lead everywhere.
And then a young man came striding down the road. Folly determined to ask him to direct her, for she began to feel confused. He was walking so fast she feared she could not attract his attention, and as he drew nearer she noticed that he wore a pair of most marvelous boots. These, and the enormous strides which they enabled him to take, convinced her at once that he was no other than Jack-the-Giant-Killer, and feeling sure that he would be kind to her, she timidly held out her fairy wand, at sight of which he immediately came and stood at her side.
"What is your will, oh Fairy Princess?" said he, removing his plumed hat, and dropping on one knee before her.
"Sir Jack," said Folly, "I have but now come into Fairyland, and fain would I be made familiar with its ways and byways. If I go unadvised I fear me I shall become lost."
This was quite different from the way Folly usually talked, but she thought to herself that as she knew so well the approved style of Fairy talk, she might as well use it.
"Gladly would I constitute myself thy guide, most noble Princess," replied Jack, "but I must hie me to yonder fastness, where lives a great giant with whom I must do battle. But go by this straight path, which leads to the House That Jack Built, and there wilt thou find guides galore." And with another bow, so low that his dark curls almost touched the ground, he strode away. Folly was sorry to see him go, for Jack-the-Giant-Killer had always been one of her favorite heroes, he was so brave and so handsome. She looked down the straight path he had showed her, and sure enough, at the end of it she could see a wide, high gate, which must be the entrance to the House That Jack Built.
In great glee she started to run down the path, but as she ran her wings seemed to lift her from the earth, and though her toes touched the ground at every step, it was really no exertion whatever.
How lovely it is to be a fairy, thought Folly, and she waved her wand about in sheer gladness of heart.
When she reached the great gates she again felt a little timid, for they were of massive wrought iron, and the designs represented dragons and griffins and other strange monsters. But, she thought, it wouldn’t be Fairyland without dragons and griffins, and so, though they glared fiercely at her with their great eyes, she only smiled back at them and tapped three times on the gate with her wand.
As she did this the gates flew open, and right before her stood a great rooster, almost as high as Folly herself. He was a magnificent bird, with such bright feathers that he seemed to be freshly painted. His comb waved like an auction flag, and as he caught sight of Folly he gave such a loud "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" that it almost deafened her.
"Oh," said she, "you’re the Cock that crowed in the morn, aren’t you?"
"Yes," said the noble fowl, seeming pleased that she recognized him, "and I set the style for cocks, I do assure you. You notice they’ve all crowed in the morn ever since, and it’s really the best time to crow."
"Certainly it is," said Folly. "I can always do anything best in the morning, too; and you do crow wonderfully well."
Just here a fat old priest came shuffling down the walk from the house. He was rubbing his eyes and looked very sleepy.
"Did I waken you?" said the cock, politely; "that was too bad!"
"Waken me!" said the priest, "I should think you did! Although I took seven soothing draughts and a sleeping potion when I retired last night, I couldn’t sleep through that crow of yours. It’s a regular scarecrow!"
The cock didn’t seem at all offended, but winked one eye at Folly in a friendly way.
Then the priest, who was clean-shaven, and whose hair was cut quite short, and who had a perfectly round bald spot on top of his head, turned to Folly. "Do you wish to go to the house, my daughter?" said he.
"Yes, if you please," answered Folly. "I hied me hither on the advice of a knight I met walking hard by. A comely youth he was, yclept Jack-the-Giant-Killer." Folly was wonderfully pleased with herself for accomplishing this speech, which she felt sure was a fine specimen of Fairyland diction.
The priest seemed pleased, too, and holding up his cassock, for the morning dew was still on the grass, he daintily picked his way toward the house. Folly followed, and though she felt a desire to prod the fat old fellow with her wand, she didn’t dare do so, lest she offend his dignity.
Just then they met two people swinging between them a milking pail. The man was clothed in beautiful garments of velvet and lace, but they hung in rags and tatters. His satin doublet was slitted and frayed and his velvet mantle was torn to ribbons. The woman with him, though fair and young, had the saddest, most pathetic expression on her sweet face. As they passed they bowed to the priest, who said: "Good morning, my children." Then he turned and watched them a moment, and Folly looked, too. "They go a-milking," said the priest.
"Of course," said Folly, "to milk the cow with the crumpled horn. I see her down yonder in the meadow. Where is the dog she tossed? Oh, here you are, you dear little thing!" as a fluffy little white dog came running toward her. He limped a little, which the priest said was due to his repeated tossings. "But he is still lively enough to worry the cat," he went on. "Would you like to see the performance?"
Folly hastily declined, for she was a kind-hearted little girl, and hated to see animals abused. She also said very decidedly she had no desire to see the rat, at which the priest laughed heartily.
"Why, my child," said he, "you couldn’t very well see the rat, for the cat killed him years ago." Folly was glad of this, for she had a horror of rats, and, indeed, she was not exactly fond of mice.
By this time they had reached the house and stood on the broad verandah. "Is Jack at home?" asked Folly.
"Yes," said the priest, "and he will be very glad to see you."
The door was opened by a footman, and Folly stepped inside. Now, the house, though very large and grand, was by no means a palace. The walls were not of gold or studded with jewels, as the palace walls were described in Folly’s book. But the floors were of wonderful inlaid woods, the walls were elaborately frescoed and the furniture consisted of heavy, substantial tables, large easy chairs and comfortable-looking divans. Moreover, there were beautiful pictures, statues and bric-a-brac, and altogether it was the most attractive house Folly had ever seen. There seemed to be a great many rooms opening in and out of each other, and there were many people in them, and messengers running about, here and there, in all directions.
Folly was a little bewildered by the noise and bustle, but the priest piloted her through the main hall and led her at once into the presence of the man she wished to see. In a large office or library sat a pleasant-looking young man, who greeted Folly kindly, though he seemed a trifle absent-minded.
"Ah, good-morning," said he. "Ah, aha, ahum—who are you?"
Folly was about to tell her name and street number, when she remembered that she was really a fairy now, so she said simply: "I am a fairy, may it please you."
"You do please me," said Jack; "so you’re a fairy, are you? Are you a Grimm or an Andersen?"
"Neither," answered Folly; "I only became a fairy this morning."
"Oh, one of the modern fairies, eh? No good, no good. Fairy tales now are not what they used to be. Only ages of tradition can evolve your true fairy. These up-to-date makeshifts are trashy in comparison. Well, well, that’s not your fault, I suppose. No, no, of course not. Ahem—ahum—what can I do for you?"
Folly was not altogether pleased with his estimate of her claims to fairyship, so she thought she would impress him by her language.
"Fair sir," she replied, "I wended my way hither, perchancing I might procure me a trusty henchman who would escort me o’er the domain."
"Quite so, my dear," said Jack, smiling a little, "but before you start, would you like to learn something of the geography of our land and the location of its points of interest?"
"Indeed I would," said Folly, "that is—fain would I learn—learn—"
"The lay of the land," interrupted Jack. "Never mind your high-sounding phrases until you get where they’ll be better appreciated. Try ’em on Ali Baba or Aladdin."
"Oh, shall I see them?" cried Folly. "Good Jack, tell me all about it."
Then Jack rose, and, taking a long wand from its place in the corner, drew Folly’s attention to a great map which hung on one side of the room. It reached from ceiling to floor, and Folly saw at once that it was a complete map or chart of Fairyland. She grasped her little wand, and together they pointed out the places.
"Top of the map is always north," said Jack. "Now we’ll get our bearings. In the centre, you see, is this house, which I built entirely myself. But to go back. Here on the southern edge is the Babes’ wood, through which you entered. And there are other woods. Here in the southeast corner is the forest, which contains the house of the three bears; you remember Goldilocks?"
"Oh, yes," said Folly, "I know them all— Big Bruin, Mammy Muff and little Tiny Cub."
"Yes," replied Jack, "they’re there still, and they’ll be delighted to see you, if you care to visit them. In this wood in the northeast corner is the Fagotmaker’s hut, where Hop O’ My Thumb lives, and here also is the cottage of Red Riding-Hood’s grandmother. This path, you see, leads from the cottage in the woods to Red Riding-Hood’s home."
"Yes," said Folly, breathlessly, "and what is this dense thick wood on the western border?"
"That is not a wood, it is a high hedge which surrounds the palace of the Sleeping Beauty. Just now she is taking one of her hundred-year naps, so you can’t talk with her, but you can go there and look around, if you like."
"I do like," said Folly, decidedly; "I want to go there, very much. How funny it must look to see them all sound asleep, the cooks, the guests, even the cats and dogs."
"Go ahead," said Jack; "no fear of your waking them. Have all the fun you like. Now, here, toward the northwest, is Aladdin’s palace, which is the richest in all Fairyland. You’ve read about it, I suppose. It’s a marble palace set with jasper, agate and other precious stones. In the middle is a hall with a dome. Its four walls are of massive gold and silver. Each side has four windows, whose lattices are set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. It has stables and horses and grooms and slaves, and you’ll find the place well worth seeing."
"I should think so," said Folly, "and may I go there?"
"Certainly, go and stay as long as you like. Just south of Aladdin’s palace is the great castle of the Marquis of Carabas, the broad field on either side all belongs to his domain, and the meadow which stretches between there and here is the one where Little Bo Peep tends her sheep.
"This castle with a high tower is Bluebeard’s Castle. His widow lives there now, with her second husband; and these other castles belong to Beauty and the Beast, Ali Baba and others who have been favored by Fortune. Though I don’t think, myself, they are as much credit to their owners as this house is to me. For I built this all myself. Every stick and stone, every bit of mosaic or carving is the result of my labor. This is the House that Jack Built, and Jack has a right to be proud of it, I think."
"Indeed, I think so, too," said Folly, and though she was anxious to set off to the palaces, she thought it would be only polite to express an interest in his house.
"And have you bags of malt stored in your cellar?" she asked.
"No," said Jack, in surprise. "Why should I have?"
"Well, you know, it says in the rhyme that— that—
"Exactly," said Jack. "What does it say in the rhyme?"
"Why, it says this is the rat that ate the malt—"
"Quite so, and if the rat ate the malt, how could the malt be in my cellar? I have no malt; I never have had any malt except what the rat ate, and that was a very small portion. When you learn history, my dear, you must believe just what it tells you, and don’t exaggerate your ideas. I know some of my inaccurate biographers have carelessly represented the malt in great sacks, and then, perhaps on the very next page they calmly announce that the rat ate it. Ate it, my dear! They do not say ate of it, or ate some of it. And so I can show you neither the malt nor the rat that ate it. But here is the cat who killed the rat." And Jack picked up a large, handsome cat and caressed her while she purred. "Fine cat, isn’t she? She’d grow too fat, but the dog worries her a bit every day, which keeps her thin. You don’t think she’s too thin, do you?"
"No," said Folly, critically, "I think she’s just right."
"So do I," said Jack, heartily, "and now, my dear, I’ll send for a guide—no—I mean a trusty henchman—for you, and you can set off at once."
At that moment a clattering was heard at the door, and, with an air of grand importance, a strange-looking figure marched in. It was a great white cat, wearing top-boots and a cocked hat, with long, curling white plumes. A fine velvet cloak was slung from one shoulder, and a glittering sword hung at his side.
"Hey! good-morning, Sir Jack! Good morning, Mistress Pussy! And whom have we here?" He turned to Folly, who recognized him at once and said, politely:
"I am the Fairy Folly, and you, I am sure, are Puss-in-Boots."
"Right, right, of course I am, but I’ve never seen you before. How do you know me?"
"Oh, I’ve only just come here to-day. But I’ve often heard of you; your fame has spread to the ends of the earth."
"Ha! ha!" roared Puss; "that’s good, that is! To the ‘ends of the earth,’ indeed! Why, I thought the earth was round, like a ball. Pray, then, how can it have ends? What nonsense!"
"Nonsense, yourself," spoke up Jack’s cat then. "How long since you’ve been a kitten? Did you never play with a ball of yarn, and hadn’t that ends to it? You are a stupid!" Puss-in-Boots looked a little crestfallen, and hastened to change the subject. "I’m going for a walk," said he. "Anyone want to go with me?’
"Why, that’s just the thing!" exclaimed Jack. "Here’s Fairy Folly who would like to explore the country, and who wants a trusty henchman to escort her."
"Just the thing, indeed!" replied Puss-in-Boots. "Again the office seeks the cat and not the cat the office. Fairy Folly, will you accept my guidance through the glens and glades and vales and dales of our beautiful Fairyland!"
"Ay, kind sir, right gladly will I," answered Folly, dropping again into what she fondly fancied was Fairy dialect. "Where shall we make meander firstly?"
"Wherever you like," said Puss, agreeably, and Folly turned to the map again.
"Cinderella’s Castle seems near by," said she; "I think I should like to go there first. Won’t you come, too, Sir Jack?"
"No, my dear, no; I’m busy this morning; but Puss-in-Boots will show you ’round, and you can come back here whenever you like."
"’Tis well," said Folly. "Fare thee well, good Sir Jack; fare thee well, Mistress Cat. I will return anon."
Folly skipped along by the side of Puss-in-Boots, who was gentle and kind, though a bit pompous.
"Later on," said he, "we will visit the great castle of My Lord Marquis of Carabas. It is very interesting, and the fact that I secured it for him will give it, I trust, an added interest, I may say, a compound interest. Can you do interest?"
"No," said Folly, "I’m only just beginning fractions."
"Well, you’d better skip fractions; they’ll have no interest for you, and they’re often vulgar and improper, anyway. But never mind arithmetic; we’re learning geography—Fairy geography. This road we are on leads directly to Cinderella’s castle, but before we get there we will pass many other attractions. Just here on your right is the Fountain of Immortal Youth. Want a drink?"
"Oh," said Folly, "is that the one old Ponce de Leon was seeking? I studied about that in history."
"Yes, this is the Fountain. Poor old man; he looked everywhere for it except in the right place. Wouldn’t you think, now, he’d have known enough to come to Fairyland for it? Will you have some?"
Puss reached for a silver cup that hung from a jeweled chain beside the fountain.
Folly hesitated, for she had been to Saratoga, and was a little afraid of trying queer kinds of water.
"I don’t know," said she; "what does it taste like?"
"Oh, you can have it taste like anything you wish. What kind of water do you like best?"
"Soda-water," said Folly, promptly.
"Very well," said Puss, "then this is the Soda-water Fountain of Immortal Youth."
Siss! Fizz! and Puss presented Folly with a brimming glass of ice-cream soda, which was quite the most delicious she had ever tasted.
"Is it all right?" said Puss, looking at her over his glass; he was drinking a milk-shake himself.
"Ay, indeed," said Folly, "it pleases me right well."
"Glad you like it; shall we meander on?"
They walked along together, but what with Folly’s wings and Puss’s boots, they made marvelous time.
"This is more speedy than riding a bicycle," said she, smiling at him as they sped over the ground.
"Indeed it is; we’ve gone a hundred miles since we started. But don’t mention bicycles before Cinderella."
"Oh, it’s a sore subject with her. You see, she wanted to ride, so the Prince got her a wheel, but she broke so many glass slippers while she was learning that the Prince made her give it up. She would have ruined him if she’d kept on. Why, every morning there’d be a wagonload of broken glass carted away from their courtyard, and once she rode out on the Boulevard, and the bits of glass flew all over the road and punctured other people’s tires. My, but they were mad! So she had to give it up and go back to her pumpkin coach; but she doesn’t like to have the subject mentioned."
By this time they had reached the grand palace, the like of which Folly had never seen. And a wonderful structure it was; with towers and turrets, and porticoes and pillars, and banners streaming and flags flying, and a general air of festivity about the whole place. At the entrance stood six tall footmen, their liveries bedecked with gold and silver. So grand were they, that although Folly knew they had once been lizards, she found it very hard to realize that fact. The footmen bowed low as they approached.
"What ho!" said Puss. "Is the Princess Cinderella within?"
"Ay, my lord," said the footmen in concert. "Will’t please your majesties to enter?'’
Puss strutted in grandly, and Folly tripped along by his side. Other lackeys, gorgeously appareled, appeared and conducted them to a magnificent apartment, where Cinderella sat on a throne, and Folly began to feel that at last she really was in Fairyland. Everything about was just what ought to be in a Fairy palace. The chairs and sofas were of gold, with cushions of red velvet, studded with jewels. Great, sparkling chandeliers swung from the ceiling, and on a raised platform, curtained with cloth of gold, Cinderella sat in a queenly chair.
Turbaned attendants hovered about her, waving feathery fans, and six soldiers in armor stood at each side.
Cinderella looked a princess, indeed. She wore a gold-embroidered robe with a train of royal purple velvet which spread nearly across the room. Her mantle was trimmed with ermine and on her head was a jeweled crown. She held out her sceptre toward Folly, and with a sweet smile she said, kindly:
"Who are you, dear child, and what can I do for you?"
"Oh, Cinderella," said Folly, forgetting her dialect in her excitement, "I’m only a little new fairy, the Fairy Folly, but I’m so glad to see you, you’re so beautiful, and I love you so."
Cinderella smiled and drew Folly to her and kissed her.
"Little one," said she, "I am very glad to see you, and you may stay as long as you like. What ho! A chair for Fairy Folly!" and the lackeys brought another great gold chair and placed it beside the Princess and lifted Folly up into it.
"Will you also remain awhile with us, Sir Puss-in-Boots?" asked Cinderella.
Puss accepted the invitation, and a third chair was brought for him and placed the other side of Folly, who felt very grand, sitting between these two distinguished personages.
"Now, dear," said the Princess, "I will entertain you first with some fairy music." She clapped her hands and the curtains at the opposite end of the apartment swung open and disclosed what seemed like an orchestra. The performers were all little gnomes and elves, and from their tiny instruments there sounded the sweetest music Folly had ever heard, even in dreams. As they played troops of white-robed fairies came fluttering in, and after curtseying to the somewhat small audience, they began to sing. Their singing, like the orchestra music, was faint yet clear, and very sweet, like bluebells ringing in the moonlight. Folly listened carefully; the tune seemed familiar, but these were the words:
A magic light gleams on thy shore,
Fairyland, my Fairyland.
Unbounded joys thou hast in store,
Fairyland, my Fairyland.
And as in ancient days of yore
Thy people hymned thy mystic lore,
So now thy glories we adore,
Fairyland, my Fairyland.
Within thy gates ’tis always May,
Fairyland, my Fairyland.
Bedecked with flowers and garlands gay,
Fairyland, my Fairyland.
Here sprite and pixy, elf and fay
On tuneful reeds and rushes play,
Or sing a merry roundelay,
Fairyland, my Fairyland.
"Do you like it?" said Cinderella, as the music ceased.
"Oh, I love it," said Folly, clasping her hands in delight. "And are you really the Cinderella I have read about? Did you once live with your cruel step-sisters, and did you sit in the ashes while they went to the ball?"
"Indeed, I did," replied Cinderella. "Would you like to hear my musicians sing to you the story of my life?"
"Yes, indeed," said Folly. "I’d like to hear them sing anything." So they all listened while the tiny fairies sang this song:
Poor Cinderella sat by the fire,
Weary and hungry, in mean attire;
Crying and grieving, sad and alone.
Cruel were her sisters, cheerless her home.
Then said her Fairy Godmother kind,
"Dear Cinderella, never you mind,
Wondrous adventures shall you befall,
You may be happy after the ball.
After the ball was over
Back to her home she went,
After the rat who drove her
Back to his trap was sent;
Promptly at midnight she vanished
Though she outshone them all,
Poor Cinderella was banished
After the ball.
To Cinderella next morning came
A noble Prince of riches and fame.
Won by her beauty, he knelt by her side.
Bearing her slipper, seeking a bride.
Fair Cinderella married the Prince
And in contentment lived ever since;
Ladies-in-waiting come at her call—
She became Princess after the ball.
After the ball was over,
After she found her shoe,
After she gave her lover
Promises fond and true;
Proudly her honors she carried
Far she outshone them all,
Fair Cinderella was married
After the ball.
When the concert was over Cinderella clapped her hands again and the musicians all disappeared. Folly was sorry to see them go, for she loved music, and the fairy songs were so beautiful. But Puss-in-Boots drew out his watch and said: "Time is flying, my dear Folly. I think you’d better say good-bye to Cinderella now, and you can call on her again some other time. There are yet many places of interest for you to visit."
Cinderella expressed regret at her visitors’ departure, but she gave Folly a cordial invitation to return whenever she chose and stay as long as she liked. "For," she said, "you have not yet seen my husband, the Prince, nor my dear little children."
Folly sighed as she prepared to depart, for in her heart she felt that she would rather stay in Cinderella’s palace than to see all the rest of Fairyland, but she had accepted the escort of Puss-in-Boots, and it did not seem polite to desert him so soon.
So Folly bade Cinderella an affectionate farewell, and promised to return for a long visit to the beautiful palace, and then the footmen opened the great doors and Folly and Puss started once more on their travels.
"Now." said Puss, striding along in his fine, shiny boots, while Folly tripped and flew by his side, "now we will visit a very different scene. How would you like to go to call on the Three Bears?"
"Oh," said Folly, shuddering, "won’t they eat me up?"
"No, indeed," said Puss, shaking with laughter; "they are Fairy Bears, you know, and the best-natured people in the world. Old Bruin has a growly voice, to be sure, but he can’t help that, and he really is a dear old thing."
"Where do they live?" said Folly, still a little fearful, for she had never seen a tame bear in her life.
"They live in a little house in the woods," said Puss. "Don’t you remember the story of their house, and how Goldilocks went there to call?"
"Indeed I do! And is Goldilocks there, too?"
"Why, no, child. She flew out of the window, you know, and was never heard of again. I don’t believe you ever studied your Fairyology."
"I never studied it in school," said Folly, a little indignantly.
"You didn’t? Well, a nice sort of a school you must have gone to! Pray, what did you study?"
"Why, I studied reading and spelling and ’rithmetic and jography."
"Humph! Dry sort of things I call those. Weren’t they?"
"Yes," said Folly, decidedly; "they were. But I read Fairy stories after school, and I do know about the Three Bears."
"Well, you’ll know more soon, for here we are at their house."
They had reached a pleasant-looking house which stood in a sort of clearing in the woods, and as Puss was speaking they stepped upon the verandah. Such a cosy, pleasant verandah as it was. At one end were three rocking-chairs, a great, big one, a middling-sized one, and a dear, little, wee one. At the other end were slung three hammocks; a great, big, red one, a middling-sized blue one and a little, wee, yellow one.
Instead of knocking, Puss-in-Boots meowed very loudly, and they heard the Bears inside rushing and tumbling to the door to let them in. The door flew open and the Bears cried out in chorus, "Oh, we’re so glad to see you!" Then the great, big Bear, whose name, as you know, was Big Bruin, just grabbed Puss-in-Boots in his arms and hugged him till he nearly cracked his ribs.
And the middling-sized Bear, whose name, as you know, was Mammy Muff, just grabbed Fairy Folly in her arms and hugged her until she nearly squeezed the breath out of her. And the little, wee Bear, whose name, as you know, was Tiny-Cub, just danced and capered about, and stood on his head and turned somersaults and shouted, "Hooray! Hooray!"
Well, when Folly got out of Mammy Muff’s embrace she just made a dive for little Tiny-Cub and picked him up and hugged him until she nearly twisted him all out of shape. And he hadn’t any shape, anyway; he was just a round, fat, fluffy little ball of fur, so soft and cuddly that Folly loved him at once.
The big Bears were very cordial. They invited Folly to sit in Big Bruin’s chair, but she thought that was too hard to be comfortable. Then they invited her to try Mammy Muff’s chair, but she declared that was too soft. Then they offered her little Tiny-Cub’s chair, and that was just right. So she sat herself down in it and held the dear little wee Bear in her arms.
Then the big Bears sat down in their own chairs and Puss-in-Boots curled himself up comfortably on the rug, and they began to chat.
Folly was much interested in the room in which they were sitting; it seemed to contain a great many curious things, and Big Bruin kindly explained that it was his "den" and he had furnished it to suit his own taste.
"Notice my ancestral portraits," he said, pointing to some large oil paintings of noble-looking Bears in court dress.
"Those are my forebears," said he, "and I am very proud of them." Another beautiful picture was a chart of the constellation "Ursa Major," or Great Bear.
"He was an ancestor of mine," said Big Bruin, "and he was so illustrious that they put him up in the sky. He made a terrible time up there at first. He chased the dog star, and he fell into the Milky Way, and sometimes he used to tease ‘Ursa Minor,’ or the Little Bear. But he’s tamed down since then, and now he’s quiet and well-behaved, and a great ornament to the sky."
"That worsted picture," said Mammy Muff, "is a scriptural piece. It was worked by my great-grandmother, and it represents the two Bears who tore up the forty-two wicked children. That’s why naughty children are afraid of bears. But we just love good children."
"I see the Bears in the pictures all have tails," said Folly, "but nowadays, you know, Bears have no tails. How does that happen?"
"I’ll tell you about that," said Big Bear, kindly.
"Once there was a great Queen who was so outrageously neat that she kept her servants dusting all the time. So they wore out all the dusters in the kingdom. When the dusters were all gone she was at her wits’ end to know what to do. But at her wits’ end she found a little idea, and a very bad one it was. The idea was to catch all the Bears in the world and cut off their fine, bushy tails, and use them for dusters. So that was done, and, of course, the Bears have had no tails ever since. Wasn’t it a pity?"
"Indeed it was," said Folly.
Puss-in-Boots yawned. "This den makes me feel sleepy," he said. "Can’t you do something lively?"
"Of course we can," said Big Bruin; "how would you like a song and dance?"
"First-rate," said Puss, "and the three Bears stepped out on to the floor at once.
Now, if you’ve ever seen Bears dance, you know it is the very funniest thing on earth. Folly shook with laughter to see the great, ponderous Big Bear prancing and cavorting on his hind legs, and to see the middling-sized Bear gracefully pirouetting like a ballet dancer, and, most of all, to see the dear, little, fat Tiny-Cub tumbling all over himself in frantic efforts to do his steps right. Then, joining paws and dancing round in a ring, they sang:
Three jolly Bears in the woods are we,
Just as happy as we can be,
Hoppity-skippity, one two three,
Three jolly Bears in the woods.
One jolly Bear is Bruin Big,
A marvel of grace from his tail to his wig,
Plinkety, plunkety, pankum jig,
One jolly Bear in the woods.
Second jolly Bear is Mammy Muff,
Light on her feet as a feather-puff,
Fiddly, faddly, flinkum, fluff,
Three jolly Bears in the woods.
Third jolly Bear is Tiny-Cub,
Such a fat, roly-poly chub,
Hey, diddle, diddle, and rub-a-dub, dub,
Three jolly Bears in the woods.
Three jolly Bears so very merry,
Brown as a berry, round as a cherry,
Dance and prance with a hey-down derry,
Three jolly Bears in the woods,
Three jolly Bears in the woods.
When they had finished this rollicking performance the Three Bears were quite out of breath and were glad to sit down for a moment to rest.
"But we’ll have time enough to rest," said Mammy Muff, "for it is just about time for our winter nap. You know we go to sleep in October and don’t wake up again until April.
"Well," said Puss-in-Boots, "if it’s your bedtime, don’t let us detain you. Indeed, we’ll be pleased to tuck you in, and then we’ll continue our trip, and call on you again after you’ve had your nap."
"Oh, would you tuck us in?" said Mammy Muff, eagerly. "We’d be so glad. You see, I tuck Bruin in, then he has to get up again to tuck me in, and then we both get up to tuck the Baby in, and then, you see, we have to begin all over again, and often we lose half the winter tucking."
"Why, certainly," said Puss and Folly together.
So they all went upstairs, and there were the three beds. A great, big, four-poster for Big Bruin. A middling-sized, brass bedstead for Mammy Muff. And the dearest little crib for Tiny-Cub.
Big Bruin scrambled into his bed, and Puss-in-Boots and Folly covered him neatly with the sheets and blankets and counterpane, smoothing them up under his chin and tucking them well in at the sides and at the foot. Big Bruin gave a grunt of satisfaction and dropped right off to sleep.
Then Mammy Muff jumped into her bed. She was a little more particular, and turned and twisted a good deal, but finally her down comforter and her lace coverlet were arranged to her satisfaction, and she, too, fell soundly asleep.
And then Folly picked up little Tiny-Cub, and, after kissing his dear, little, furry face, she plumped him into his pretty little cot. He doubled his fists up under his chin, and shut his eyes and was asleep before Folly had finished tucking in his little wadded silk quilt.
Then Folly and Puss tip-toed out of the room and downstairs and went out, softly closing the door behind them.
"I do think Bears are lovely people," said Folly, reflectively.
"Those Bears are," replied Puss, "and we’ll go to see them again some day."
"Folly," said Puss-in-Boots, as they sauntered along, "see that lad coming toward us. Do you know him?"
"No," said Folly, looking curiously at the approaching figure.
And well she might gaze with astonishment, for a queerer looking boy was never seen before nor since.
He was a long, lank youth, with straight, yellow hair that hung in wisps about his shoulders. He wore a pinafore of green checked gingham, and one stocking was green and one yellow; while on his feet he wore one russet slipper and one red boot.
His hands hung listlessly by his side, and as his eyes had a vacant stare and his mouth was open, he looked almost like an idiot.
"No," said Folly, in reply to Puss’ question, "I don’t know him and I don’t want to. He looks as if he hadn’t sense enough to go in when it rains."
"Well, he hasn’t," admitted Puss, laughing, "but he’s great fun to talk to. It’s Simple Simon, you know. Let’s speak to him. Hello, Simon," and Puss strode up to the boy, "how do you do to-day? This is Fairy Folly, and she’d like to hear of some of your latest adventures."
"How do you do, Simon," said Folly, kindly, and she curtseyed prettily.
"How do, ma’am," responded Simple Simon, awkwardly enough, and he twiddled his fingers, and fidgetted his toes, and rolled his eyes, and nodded his head until Folly feared he would drop to pieces.
"Where are you going?" said Folly, by way of beginning a conversation.
"I be goin’ to the woods," said Simple Simon, "to find a hat-tree."
"A hat-tree!" exclaimed Folly; "they’re not in the woods. We used to have one in our front hall. But it wasn’t a real tree, you know. It didn’t grow."
"It had hats on it, didn’t it?" asked Simple Simon, anxiously.
"Yes," said Folly, "lots of them."
"Then it must ’a’ growed," said Simon, triumphantly, "else or how did the hats get there? And I’ve no hat, and I’m going to find a hat-tree and climb up it, and pick a bushel of hats. Want one?"
"No," said Folly, "I don’t wear hats any more; I wear a crown."
"Ay," said Simon, looking admiringly at Folly’s shining crown, "but be careful; you know Jack fell down and broke his crown."
"Oh, but that was a different kind of a crown," said Folly, laughing,
"No matter," said Simon, "do you know where I can find a green goose?"
"I haven’t one about me," said Puss, searching in all his pockets. "What do you want it for?"
"I wanted to make a green gooseberry tart," said Simple Simon; "but never mind, "I’ll use something else. I like sponge-cake as well as tarts, anyhow."
"But you haven’t any sponge-cake, have you?" said Folly.
"No," said Simple Simon, "but I’m going to make one. See, I have the sponge all ready," and he drew from his pocket a good-sized sponge —the kind you wash your slate with.
"You can’t make cake out of that," said Folly, laughing.
"You can, if you know how," replied Simple Simon. "Of course, you have to set it to rise first. A sponge always has to be set to rise. Then you add the juice and grated rind of three eggs, a cupful of baking powder and a pinch of milk."
"I should think your cake would be rather dry," said Folly; "I should like it moister."
"Then add some oysters," said Simple Simon; "it makes a lovely cake either way. But I must be going. I’ve lost my pet cow. Have you seen her flying about anywhere?"
"No," said Folly, "I didn’t know cows could fly."
"Mine can," said Simple Simon; "if you wish I’ll sing you the song of her."
"Oh, do," said Folly, and then Simple Simon twiddled his fingers into a bow-knot and sang:
The Tale Of A Cow
I once had a wonderful cow-de-dow,
Who could fly and sew and sing;
Aloft in the air she’d soar for miles,
Or sit and sew with the sweetest of smiles,
Or sing a song
Ten verses long,
And trill like anything,
Just trill like anything.
One day she flew up in the sky-de-dy,
And lit on the top of a tree;
She wore a newish, bluish suit,
And she sat there eating buttered fruit.
Where she meant to go
I do not know,
But she never came back to me,
She never came back to me.
By the time he had finished the last line Simple Simon was weeping, and the great tears rolled up and down his cheeks.
"Never mind," said Folly, trying to comfort him, "perhaps you’ll find your cow again."
"No," wailed Simple Simon, "I think she has jumped over the moon, and I’ll never see her again. But I have other things to interest me."
"What, for instance?" asked Folly, glad to divert his mind from thoughts of the lost cow.
"My inventions," replied Simple Simon.
To-day I invented a diet,
And asked all my neighbors to try it;
But they said, "If you wish
To eat pins with your fish,
Just eat all you want, and keep quiet."
"Did you eat them?" said Folly.
"No," answered Simple Simon, "when my neighbors wouldn’t eat them, I wouldn’t, either. But I have my dolls to play with."
"Have you? Where are they?" said Polly, who hadn’t seen a doll since she came to Fairyland.
"They’re paper dolls," said Simple Simon, drawing two from his pocket, and smoothing them out, as they were a little crumpled. "I made up a song about them; shall I sing it to you?"
"Do," said Folly, and Simple Simon sang.
The Two Dolls
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Oh! how I wish that I were made of wood!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Paper Doll,
"I’m sure I think that paper’s just as good."
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Oh! how I wish that I were made of wax!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Paper Doll,
"Your face would soon be seamed with tiny cracks."
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Oh! how I wish I were made of bisque!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Paper Doll,
"Of breaking you would run an awful risk."
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Oh! how I wish I were of worsted knit!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Paper Doll,
"I don’t believe you’d like it, dear, a bit."
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Oh! how I wish I were made of rags!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Paper Doll,
"Then the junkman ’d carry you off in his bags."
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Oh! how I wish that I were made of rubber!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Paper Doll,
"We used to know one, and we used to snub her."
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Oh! how I wish I were made of china!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Papor Doll,
"You’d be old-fashioned, and they’d name you Dinah."
Said the Pink Paper Doll to the Purple Paper
"Well, then, I’m glad that I’m a paper doll!"
Said the Purple Paper Doll to the Pink Paper Doll,
"I think it is the best, dear, after all!"
Simple Simon held the Pink Paper Doll in one hand and the Purple Paper Doll in the other, and looked at them fondly. "I’ll give you one if you want it," he said, with a heroic sigh.
"No, thank you," said Folly, "I’d rather you’d keep them yourself." Simple Simon appeared much relieved at this, and crumpling the dolls all up he stuffed them back in his pocket.
"It’s a pity you’re so simple, Simon," said Puss-in-Boots, who had been taking a nap, but who woke up in time to hear Simple Simon’s song.
"I’m not simple," declared Simon, "I’m as sensible as a dictionary. Why, just listen to a few of my latest adventures and you’ll see." Then Simple Simon took his favorite attitude, which was sitting cross-legged and holding his feet in his hands, and began to sing:
"I went to sea in a chicken-coop,
I didn't go in an oyster-sloop;
I sailed away on the mountain-side,
I didn’t sail on the ocean wide;
I landed on a cellar door,
I didn’t land on the sandy shore;
I built me a house of peanut sticks,
I didn’t build it of stone and bricks;
I planted my garden with sewing-machines,
I didn’t plant it with corn and beans;
So I lived in contentment all my life,
For I didn’t live in discord and strife!"
"Well, you are sensible," said Puss; but his speech was interrupted by Simple Simon, who spied somebody in the distance.
"Who is it," he cried, in great excitement; "who is it? who can it be? I do believe—it is—it is! It’s the PIEMAN!"
And away he ran as swiftly as an elephant.
"I’m rather glad he’s gone," said Puss-in-Boots; "he’s amusing for a while, but one gets very tired of him. Don’t you think so?"
"No," said Folly, "I think he was great fun, and I hope we’ll see him again some day."
"Ah, what a beautiful palace!" cried Folly, as they came in sight of a magnificent structure with domes and towers and turrets and queer-shaped windows.
"Yes," said Puss-in-Boots, gazing admiringly at it, "that’s one of the finest in all Fairyland. It’s Persian, you see, and it is the home of the Sultan and his wife, Scheherazade."
"What’s that long name?" said Folly.
"Scheherazade," answered Puss; "don’t you remember her? She is the one who told all the ‘Arabian Nights’ tales. We call her Scary for short. Let’s go in and see her; she’s a dear."
"I don’t care much for the ‘Arabian Nights,’" said Folly, "and if she’s going to tell stories like those all the time, I don’t believe I want to call."
"Oh, yes, you do," said Puss. "She’s great fun, and she’ll tell any kind of stories you want her to. Her stories are not always about Oriental princes and captive princesses. And she has the jolliest home you ever saw. I have lots of friends among her Persian cats."
"All right," said Folly, "we’ll call, and if I don’t like her we won’t stay very long."
So they went into the great Persian Palace, with its minarets and pinarets, and pinnacles and binnacles, and a crowd of white-robed Persian slaves bowed and salaamed to them, and guided them through the labyrinth of rooms until they reached the Sultana. Scheherazade was reclining on a crimson velvet couch fringed with pearls, while turbaned attendants were waving huge white feather fans above her head.
At sight of her visitors she gave a cry of delight, and sprang up to meet them. "Good-morning, Puss-in-Boots," she cried, "and this is Fairy Folly. I’m sure of it! Cinderella told me. about you yesterday, and I’m so glad to see you."
She kissed Folly on both cheeks, and then clapped her hands, at which signal slaves appeared with a marvelous feast.
Folly was glad of this, for, although a fairy, she seemed to keep her healthy little girl appetite, and she did full justice to the delicious viands.
"How are your cats?" said Puss, after the feast was over.
"They’re well," said the Sultana; "would you like to see them?"
"Yes," said Puss, "I want especially to see Camaralzaman and Nouronnihar, as I have something of importance to tell them."
Scheherazade led the way, and they went into a great apartment, which was decorated entirely in white. The floors were of white marble, with fleecy white fur rugs, the walls were hung with white satin, and all the furniture was of ivory, upholstered with white satin. In the room were hundreds of white Persian cats. Big cats, little cats and kittens, all with big fluffy tails and long white fur. Some had white satin ribbons around their necks, and some had blue or pink or pale green ribbons, and each wore a little silver bell. And when all these cats came rushing toward the Sultana, and all the little silver bells tinkled, and some cats purred, and some kittens meowed, Folly thought she had never seen such a pretty sight in her life.
The Sultana wore a grand robe of white satin, with a long court train of yellow velvet, and the cats scrambled all over her. They scrambled up to her shoulders and clambered up her back, and dozens of them settled themselves cosily in the folds of her long train.
Folly picked up a few of the beautiful kittens, and oh, what lovely downy little balls of fur they were.
Puss-in-Boots soon found the particular ones he wished to see, and they withdrew to a corner, where they earnestly discussed a project which had just been started for building some Pussy catacombs.
"Tell us a story," pleaded the kitty cats, who were nestling in the Sultana’s arms.
"Oh, do—oh, do," cried all the cats, and Scheherazade turned politely to Folly, saying, "Would you care to hear a story? It is the only thing I can do to entertain you. I am a storyteller by profession, and every morning I tell my husband, the Sultan, a tale which pleases him so that he laughs all day."
"I would be very glad to hear a story," said Folly, "but," she added, frankly, "I don’t care much for Persian stories."
"Oh, I can tell any kind you wish," said Scheherazade. "What shall it be?"
"Tell about The Popular Popinjays," said a big white Persian cat, and he blinked his yellow eyes.
"Oh, do—oh, do," chorused a lot of the cats and kittens, and as Folly thought the title sounded interesting she said, "Oh, do," too.
"Very well," said Scheherazade, and she sat right down on the floor among the cats and began.
Folly sat down on the floor, too, and the thick white rugs were so soft and deep that they were just like couches.
With her lap and her arms full of the fluffy white Persian kittens, she listened while the Sultana told the story of
The Popular Popinjays
There’s a land that is neither here nor
It has neither nights nor days;
And in this queer land
Lives a curious band
Called the Popular Popinjays,
And they have the most ridiculous ways!
It rains pickled plums in Popinjay Land,
And gum drop mines abound;
There are dry, dusty seas,
And the grass grows on trees,
And the clouds roll on the ground.
The little Popinjays kick them around!
On a golden throne sits King Rollicumroy,
In his robe of motto-papers;
With a sceptre tall
And a popcorn ball
And a crown of lighted tapers,
You just ought to see the old King cut capers!
His daughter, the Princess Hoppity-skip,
Is young and exceedingly fair;
And in all sorts of weathers
Three long peacock feathers
Are gracefully stuck in her hair.
It must be a bother to keep them there!
One day it was neither then nor now,
About the top o’ year;
The Princess strayed
’Neath the garden’s shade
And an old Wheelbarrow drew near.
Do you know, this barrow was awfully queer!
"Come on, come on," the Wheelbarrow
As it clapped its handles in glee;
"Come on, my dear, jump in and ride,
Oh, come for a ride with me.
The circus is about to commence,
Come on, I’ll help you over the fence;
They say the show is just immense,
Oh, come along with me!"
And so the Princess Hoppity-skip
Jumped into the kind Wheelbarrow;
And the barrow, with many a sideways tip,
Rolled itself on the path so narrow.
"Oh, Wheelbarrow wee,
Oh, Wheelbarrow wee,
Look out, you are jarring and jolting me!"
Said the Princess Hoppity-skip, said she.
"But," said the barrow,
"it’s getting late,
At half-past two they open the gate,
And the show begins at three!"
So on they rattled and on they rolled,
And on they bobbled and on they bowled
Till they came to the trysting-tree.
They reached the door of
the circus tent,
They paid their money and in they went;
The Circus Tent was crowded full of Popular Popinjays;
When the Princess entered they all said "Hi!"
And begged her to take some Porcupine Pie
Which they passed around on trays.
(I told you they had ridiculous ways.)
Then they heard the bell of the circus ring,
The Ringmaster took his place.
First came the wonderful step-ladder dance—
A dozen step-ladders began to prance
In a sort of rollicking race.
They all wore pinafores edged with lace.
The next on the list of Favorite Feats
Was the show of the Tumblers Ten
’Twas a very good joke,
For every one broke,
And they couldn’t be mended again.
You see, they were glasses, they weren’t men.
But the broken glass was soon cleared up
By an ostrich and a goat;
The audience bet
The ostrich would get
The most of it down his throat.
They said his digestion it would promote.
The next number on the programme was
A surprising saw-horse ride.
The jockeys were pigs
With curly green wigs,
But the silly saw-horses shied,
So the pigs fell off on the other side.
Then they had tricks on the mouse-trapeze,
For the Acrobat Cat was there;
And close beside her
The bare-back rider,
Who rode on the back of a bear.
She just held on by his woolly hair.
At last when all the tricks were done,
And there wasn’t another single one,
The Circus was over. The Popinjays went
Out of the circular circus tent.
At the gate there stood
A Popinjay good,
Who gave each one back the money he’d spent.
"For," he said, "if there is another show,
You might want to spend it again, you know."
"Yes," said the Popinjays, "that
And we’re very much obliged to you."
"Not at all," said the gateman; "it is our pride
To have our circustomers satisfied."
"Tell some more," cried the white cats as the Sultana stopped talking.
"Oh, do tell more," said Folly, who had become much interested in The Popular Popinjays. "Is there more to it?"
"Yes, indeed," said the Sultana, "lots more. But are you sure you care to hear more?"
"Yes," indeed," said Folly, "it’s ever so much nicer than the Arabian Nights’ stories."
"Very well," said the Sultana, "but just now it’s time for the Cats’ Afternoon Milk. After that we’ll proceed with the story."
She clapped her hands and a dozen white-robed slaves came in, bearing white bowls of white milk. Every cat had a bowl, and every kitten, too, and they each drank the milk with great decorum, not spilling so much as a drop.
Folly gazed with admiration at the pretty sight, and complimented the Sultana on her beautiful cats.
"Yes, they are dears," said Scheherazade, "and I’m so fond of them. To-morrow, as a great treat, I’m going to take them all to see Old King Cole. A cat may look at a king, you know, and I like to have them exercise all their privileges."
After the Sultana had clapped her hands again and the white-robed slaves had appeared and removed the china bowls, the cats and kittens and Puss-in-Boots and Folly all settled down to listen to the rest of the story about The Popular Popinjays. And the Sultana went on with the tale thus:
Oh, Wheelbarrow Wee,
Why don’t you come and carry me?"
Said the Princess Peacock Feather, said she.
"Here I am," cried the old
I've just had a gift of a bow and arrow.
Let’s take an aim
At some fair game,
Say a hat or a bat or a sparrow."
"Yes," said the Princess, "right up there
A hat is flying through the air;
It has three wings,
And two long strings,
I’d like it, I declare."
The Wheelbarrow said, as he carefully shot,
"I’ll hit the thing as like as not."
And, sure enough, he aimed so straight,
The hat fell down on the Princess’ pate,
And in it she looked gay.
She said, "I must show the wooden-eyed cat
This extremely beautiful, shootiful hat,
We’ll go there right away."
Well, then the Princess Hoppity-Skip
Went down to the Kitty-Cat’s nest;
And there she found the wooden-eyed Cat
Sitting sedately on a mat,
And most exquisitely dressed.
In fact, she had on her Sunday best.
A speckle-spotted sash she wore,
And a ruffle of pink pongee;
A white sunbonnet with purple bows,
A pair of slippers with pointed toes,
And a watch and chain, for she
Was a very elegant Cat, you see.
"Oh, Cat," cried the Princess
"Just see what’s on my head."
The Kitty-Cat blinked her wooden eyes,
And looked at the Princess in great surprise.
"What a lovely hat!" she said.
"I think it would make me a very nice bed."
"All right," said the good-natured
"You may have the hat to keep."
She set it carefully on the ground,
The Cat jumped in and turned around,
Then settled down to sleep,
All curled up in a little heap.
Then said the Princess Hoppity-Skip,
"Come on, oh, Wheelbarrow Wee,
We’ll go to see the Bouncing Bat,
The Naughty Young Gnat and the Restless Rat,
Who live in the hollow tree.
And if they invite us we’ll stay to tea."
At last they reached the hollow tree,
And inquired at the door for the comrades three.
The first to appear was the Bouncing Bat,
Who was awfully funny and awfully fat,
And who stood on his head to chat.
Next the Naughty Young Gnat came in.
He carried a needle and a pin,
And greeted them with a grin.
And then the Restless Rat appeared,
He wiggled and jiggled and sneezed and sneered.
He waggled and woggled,
And bibbled and bobbled,
And he waved a flag and cheered.
Then with one accord the comrades three
Invited their guests to stay to tea,
"We will," said the Princess and Wheelbarrow Wee.
Immediately the tea was announced,
Then the Rat he rolled, and the Bat he bounced,
And the Naughty Gnat just flipped and flounced,
And they all sat down to tea.
The tea was very good, indeed,
’Twas made of butter and caraway seed,
But soon the party was broken up,
For the Naughty Young Gnat fell into his cup.
The Restless Rat rolled off his chair,
And they couldn’t find him anywhere,
And the Bouncing Bat, as he passed the cake,
Bounced out of the window by mistake.
So the Princess and Wheelbarrow said "Good-day,"
And, as no one else was present, they
Shook hands with each other and went away
With someone else to play.
"I’ll tell you what," said
"I’ll tell you what," said she;
"We’ll go and get Perlocketty Peach,
And we’ll all go down to the Bushy Beach,
And sail on the Sassafras Sea.
Come on, come on, old Wheelbarrow Wee."
"Indeed I’ll come," the
"For it will be jolly fun.
We’ll sail across to Bubble Land
And hear the beautiful Bubble Band,
And eat a Bubble Bun.
I’m really almost starving for one."
The Wheelbarrow trundled, the Princess hopped
To Perlocketty Peach’s door;
They rattled the knocker, rat-tat-tat!
Perlocketty Peach came out at that
And they all went down to the shore;
For the tide was high at half-past four.
Now, Perlocketty Peach was a Popinjay
Of a most exalted rank;
She wore three feathers like Hoppity-Skip,
And she kept a grand and gorgeous ship
Tied up to a flowery bank;
And she dearly loved a mischievous prank.
Then Perlocketty Peach and Wheelbarrow Wee
And the Princess Hoppity-Skip, all three,
Jumped into the boat
And were soon afloat
On the sunny Sassafras Sea.
On top of the waves the sassafras grew,
And that’s what made the waves so blue.
Well, they sailed so far and they sailed so fast
They broke their boom and they lost their mast.
"No matter," said Perlocketty
"For in a moment we will reach
The Beautiful Bubble Land."
They came to the pier and they stepped ashore,
And then in half a minute more
They heard the Bubble Band.
Now, the Bubble Band was a great array
Of Soap Bubbles, who knew how to play.
They played on drums and fifes and flutes,
On cymbals, tambourines and lutes,
And other Bubbles came and danced,
As light as air they skipped and pranced.
And then some Bubbles formed a ring
Around their guests, and began to sing.
Just then they heard the sunset guns,
So they passed the tray of Bubble Buns,
The guests devoured a hundred each,
With an extra ten for Perlocketty Peach,
Who was fond of Bubble Buns.
Then, as that was the end of the Bubble Show,
The guests concluded they’d have to go.
When their broken boat the Bubbles spied
They said they would give them a Bubble ride.
So the Princess, the Wheelbarrow and Miss Peach
Were presented with a Bubble each—
Three monstrous Bubbles, strong and great,
On which they mounted and sat in state.
Then, after they had said good-bye,
The Bubbles rose slowly toward the sky,
And floated gently through the air
Across the sea
To the home of the three,
And safely left them there.
* * * * * * *
King Rollicumroy remarked one day,
"I think I’ll climb the hill;
For up at the top there’s a Pink Balloon,
In which we can all sail up to the moon,
And visit the stars at will,
And perhaps we can see the Kite Quadrille."
The Popinjays were delighted at this.
They clapped their hands and feet;
"Hooray! Hooray!" they gleefully cried,
"In the Pink Balloon we’ll go for a ride,
It’s only across the street,
And we’ll carry our muffs on account of the heat."
The Princess Hoppity-Skip went, too,
And Wheelbarrow Wee was allowed;
King Rollicumroy walked stately and fine;
The Popinjays followed in double line,
A boisterous, roisterous crowd.
Oh, the Popular Popinjays were proud.
They ran and walked and hopped and skipped;
They reached the hill at noon.
And then they merrily started to climb,
Singing and shouting all the time,
"Hooray for the Pink Balloon!
Hooray; we’ll get to it very soon!"
At last they reached the top of the hill;
The Pink Balloon was there.
They all sprang in with a jump and a hop;
Some hung outside, some climbed on top.
They caught on everywhere.
And soon they were sailing through the air.
Jiggety-jog went the Pink Balloon,
Rolling and tumbling up to the moon.
The Man in the Moon was delighted to see
The Popinjays and Wheelbarrow Wee.
He called aloud, with a genial grin,
"Ho! Rollicumroy, come in, come in!"
So the travelers landed from their Balloon
And went to see the Man in the Moon.
He gave them wonderful things to eat,
Roasted comets and meteors sweet,
And as it was a holiday,
He gave them a drink from the Milky Way.
He presented each one with a lovely star,
Carefully packed in a ginger jar.
Then the Popular Popinjays said
And sailed away through the Summer sky,
But they didn’t return at once to the hill;
They went to see the Kite Quadrille.
Each Popular Popinjay had a chair,
And they sat around in the Summer air.
Then suddenly the broad expanse
Was filled with Kites who began to dance.
Big Kites and Little Kites,
Red Kites and Blue,
Silk Kites and Paper Kites,
Old Kites and new.
Long tail, Bob tail,
Black, Green and White,
Short tail, no tail—
Every kind of Kite.
And all these Kites stood up and danced;
They hopped and skipped and bowed and pranced,
And the Popinjay chaps
Applauded with claps.
They never had seen such wonderful sights,
And they cried "Hooray for the Dancing Kites!"
The show being over, the Popinjays then
Jumped into their Pink Balloon again.
Away to their homes they quickly sped,
And soon they were all tucked up in bed.
* * * * * *
One day the Princess Hoppity-Skip
Had nothing whatever to do,
So she opened her mouth and began to cry;
But Wheelbarrow Wee came sauntering by,
And he said, "What’s the matter with you?"
Said the Princess Hoppity-Skip, "Boo-hoo!"
"Don’t cry, my dear, said Wheelbarrow
"I’ve thought of a splendid plan!
Let’s go down under the ocean waves,
And play around in the coral caves;
We can take our toys in a van."
"Yes," said the Princess, "of course we can."
Then they cheered and chuckled and screamed and
And made such a lot of noise,
The Popular Popinjays heard them shout,
And from their homes came running out—
A thousand girls and boys,
And all with their arms crammed full of toys.
They bundled the toys in a great big van,
Enormous high and wide;
The Princess Hoppity-Skip, with glee,
Jumped into her friend, old Wheelbarrow Wee,
Because she preferred to ride,
The Popular Popinjays ran alongside.
And after they’d gone a thousand miles
They came to the ocean’s brink;
The bounding waves were sparkling bright;
The Popinjays yelled with joy at the sight,
And then, what do you think?
They all jumped in as quick as wink!
The great big van went lumbering in,
And the Popinjays made such a clatter and din
That the Mermaids (who always run away
Whenever they see a Popinjay)
Took to their heels, and each in a minute
Had run to her nest and was safely in it.
And then the Popinjays, every one,
Began their rollicking, frolicking fun.
They spun their tops in the coral caves,
They took sea urchins and made them slaves.
They harnessed lobsters to draw their carts;
At the flying-fish they aimed their darts.
They shooed the oysters out of their beds,
And then jumped in themselves instead.
A school of fish were writing dates
Carefully on their little slates,
When the Popinjays, with a gleeful shout,
Took sponges and rubbed the dates all out.
And then each mischievous Popinjay
Put skates on his feet and skated away.
Then the Princess said, "I would like to
To the tuneful tale of the songful shark."
So the shark, who sat in a seaweed swing,
Opened his mouth and began to sing.
But he opened his mouth so terribly wide
The Popinjays feared they would fall inside;
And, with the speed of a flying lark,
They scooted away from the singing shark.
The Princess jumped into Wheelbarrow Wee
And called to the others, "Follow me!
Pitch your toys in the van
As quick as you can,
And leave this deceitful sea
And hurry home; it is time for tea."
So up from the sea the Princess rode,
And the van rolled up with its heavy load,
And the Popinjays ran
By the side of the van
Till they reached their own abode.
Then they had their supper and went to bed,
And every Popular Popinjay said,
"Hooray for the Princess Hoppity-Skip,
Who gave us such a delightful trip!"
* * * * * *
It happened one day in the summer time,
At about the hour of noon,
That the Popular Popinjays sat in a row,
Buried up to their necks in snow,
Singing a song to the moon,
And every one sang a different tune.
Along came old King Rollicumroy,
Wearing a tortoise-shell hood;
He said, "I have bought a Traveling Tart,
And I have just decided to start
On a picnic to Woozy Wood.
I’ll take you all, if you’ll be good."
Now, truly, you would have been amazed
That Traveling Tart to see;
’Twas made of Persimmons and Plums and Eggs,
And it had a hundred and twenty legs,
Or a hundred and twenty-three.
The Popinjays yelled and screamed with glee.
The Traveling Tart was round and big,
As big as a wagon-wheel;
’Twas covered with pie-crust, rich and crisp,
And it danced about like a Will-o’-the-wisp,
In a sort of wriggling reel.
And that made the Popinjays laugh and squeal.
So they all set off for the Woozy Wood,
And the Tart ran on ahead;
They came at last to the picnic ground,
In a ring the Popinjays stood around,
While the picnic feast was spread.
And then they all sat down to be fed.
"Now," said the King to the Traveling
"Jump right up here and be cut apart."
So the Travelling Tart jumped up on the table
As gracefully as it was able.
It really was a beautiful sight,
And King Rollicumroy was so polite;
He said, "A welcome to you I extend,
And I’m awfully sorry to cut a friend."
"Ob, not at all," said the Traveling Tart,
Just plunge your knife right into my heart,
I’ve gladly looked forward all my days
To feeding the Popular Popinjays.
So the Traveling Tart was
And it proved to be wondrous rich and sweet,
And the Popinjays had all they could eat.
And when they had eaten every crumb,
Every Persimmon and every Plum,
And were wondering what on earth to do,
There suddenly appeared in view
Two great tigers with swishing tails,
Two burly bears and two small whales.
And every Popular Popinjay
Ran up a tree to get out of the way.
Then the fierce wild animals snarled and
And walked around in the woods and growled.
But soon there came up a violent breeze
And blew the Popinjays out of their trees,
And down they came with a thud and and a thump,
And fell on the ground with a bumpity-bump.
Then the tigers, the whales and the burly bears
Offered the Popinjays easy-chairs.
"For," said they, "we’ve
been waiting down here below
To exhibit to you our wonderful show."
The bears then gave their Dogmatic Dance,
And, oh, how they did skip and prance.
The tigers sang a sibilant song
Seventy-seven verses long.
While with marvelous grace the two small whales
Balanced and twirled themselves on their tails.
The Popular Popinjays said, "Oh, oh,
We never have seen such a wonderful show!
But, as it is nearly half-past ten,
We must go home now, but we’ll come again."
"And now," said Scheherazade, as she jumped up from her rug, "I really can’t tell you any more now, for I’ve an engagement to drink tea with the Queen of Hearts this afternoon. Fairy Folly, wouldn’t you like to go with me?"
Folly looked inquiringly at Puss-in-Boots, who smiled in a friendly way and said: "Do as you like, my dear; it’s very pleasant at the Queen of Hearts’ palace, and I’m sure you’d enjoy a tea-drinking there."
So Folly said she would go, and, with fond good-byes to the Persian Cats, they all set out.
The Sultana’s chariot was awaiting them, and Scheherazade and Folly and Puss-in-Boots seated themselves in it. It was a very grand chariot, and seemed to be all made of gold, with crimson velvet cushions, and it was drawn by eight prancing, white horses with jingling gold chains on their harness. The coachman cracked his whip, the footmen jumped up behind, and away they started.
"Scary," said Puss, and though it seemed to Folly a very frivolous way to address a Sultana, yet it was much easier to say than "Scheherazade," and the kind Sultana didn’t seem to mind it a bit, "Scary, if you don’t mind, I think I won’t go to the Queen of Hearts with you. I’ve an engagement to attend a Catnip Ball, and, if you’ll look after Folly for a few hours, I’ll rejoin you later."
Folly expressed herself pleased with this arrangement and the Sultana excused Puss, who sprang from the chariot, and, after a series of polite bows, strode away to the ball.
The chariot went on, and soon the palace of the Queen of Hearts was in sight.
It was not such a magnificent affair as some of the other palaces and castles, but it was so beautiful that Folly gave a little cry of delight. "Oh, Scary," she said, "what a lovely palace!"
"Yes," replied Scary, "it is one of the prettiest places in all Fairyland, and the Queen is as dainty and sweet as her home."
By this time they had entered the grounds, which were surrounded by a hedge of roses, and were driving up a long avenue beneath a series of rose-arches.
The palace itself was more like a floral bower than a house, for it seemed to be all terraces and verandahs and balconies, and all covered with climbing, clambering rose-vines.
Folly and the Sultana mounted the steps and came to a wide, handsome terrace where tea was being served. There was no roof, but arches of roses were above their heads, and festoons and garlands of flowers, tied with fluttering ribbons, were all about. Among the flowers were beautiful birds flying around and singing.
The Queen of Hearts came forward to greet her guests, and she proved to be the sweetest, prettiest little woman Folly had ever seen. She had lovely golden hair and blue eyes and pink cheeks and the bonniest smile in the world. Her gown was of white satin sprinkled all over with gold hearts, and on her head was a gold crown on which was a gold heart set with diamonds.
She was delighted to see Folly, and welcomed her as one fairy should welcome another.
The terrace was filled with little heart-shaped tables, and four persons could sit at each.
The Queen of Hearts asked Folly to sit at her own table, which was, of course, a great honor.
Tea and tarts were served, and Folly, thinking the tarts very delicious, asked her hostess who made them.
"I did," answered the Queen of Hearts, proudly, "and I’m so glad you like them. It’s the only useful accomplishment I have, and I make them every day."
"And does the Knave steal them every day?" asked Folly.
"Yes, he does," said the Queen, sighing, "and then he runs away and we have to get out the bell-ringers to hunt for him. But he is always so penitent, and vows he’ll never steal any more, so I always forgive him."
The Queen of Hearts looked so sunny and sweet-tempered that Folly couldn’t imagine her otherwise than forgiving, and she told her so.
"Yes," said the Queen, smiling. "‘Give and forgive,’ that’s my motto, and I find it works very well. Ah, here come my flower-girls; can you hear them singing?"
Folly heard the sound of voices, and saw approaching a number of maidens, all in white, with wreaths and branches and garlands of flowers.
They came dancing along, and as they came they sang:
Come we from the sun-lit garden,
At our gracious Queen’s behest,
Our hats and gowns with glowing flowers
We have lifted drooping violets,
We have gazed in pansies’ eyes,
We have wakened sleepy poppy-heads,
And marked their shy surprise.
We have whispered to the lilies
Of the roses’ revelry;
And the daffodils grew yellow
With affected jealousy.
We tried fox-gloves on our fingers,
Lady-slippers on our feet,
Tied our hair with ribbon-grasses,
Fastened with a marguerite.
And the sun, with rays audacious,
Laughed into our dazzled eyes;
As light-heartedly we frolicked
With the bees and butterflies.
And the flickering shadows joined us,
And the south-wind’s rhythmic swell
Softly blew the trumpet-flower, and
Rang the Canterbury-bell.
Then the sun-kissed flowers grew sleepy,
Lulled to languor was the breeze;
And the shortening shadows vanished
Underneath the quiet trees.
So we left the sun-lit garden
And the grasses waving green,
And we wandered back, flower-laden,
Singing to our gracious Queen!
"Oh, how pretty!" cried Folly, as each dancing girl came up to the Queen, and, bowing gracefully, left a garland of flowers at her feet.
And then, all of a sudden, with a hop, skip and jump, two gay young lads came bounding up, and, turning double somersaults, they landed right in the great heap of flowers.
The Queen laughed merrily, and the roguish fellows jumped up and bowed profoundly and kissed the Queen’s hand.
Folly recognized one of them at once as the Knave of Hearts. He wore the Queen’s colors, and he was such a pretty, laughing boy that Folly couldn’t help liking him, although his pockets were fairly bulging with stolen tarts. And even while he was being presented to Folly he slyly abstracted a few tarts from a dish on the table, and concealed them in his doublet.
"He’s a tartomaniac," said the Queen, apologetically; "never mind, we’ve plenty more."
The other lad was equally attractive, and he looked like a court jester.
He wore a motley suit and a cap with silver bells on it, and ends of ribbon fluttered from his shoulders and elbows and wrists and knees.
He carried a jester’s wand with a grotesque head on it, and many ribbons and bells.
"This," said the Queen of Hearts, "is the April Fool."
The April Fool smiled and bowed and kissed Folly’s hand.
"Shall I make an address?" he said.
"Do," said the Queen, "we’ll all be pleased to hear you."
With a bound the April Fool jumped up on a table and said:
"Friends and fellow-fairies, as I haven’t anything to say I’ll say it at once. I would say it at twice, but there isn’t enough of it. I can’t make a speech because I haven’t anything to make it of, and I haven’t any already made. Has anybody one to give to me? Has anyone a speech to spare? No? Well, then, has anyone a peach to pare? No? Well, that’s a pity, for I do love peaches and pears. But of course you can’t expect to find them at an Afternoon Tea. Oh, that reminds me, I’ll tell you a story about an
The Elephant and the blue-eyed Kitten
Were invited out to tea;
Each had a card on which was written
"Come punctually at three."
But they reached the tea so very early,
That nobody else was there;
So the Kitten wee, and the Elephant burly
Sat down to wait in a chair.
"We came too soon," the Kitten
"As yet there is no tea;
I wonder when it will be served—
Here’s sugar and cream, you see."
Said the Elephant, "I’ve a jolly
I’m tired of waiting here;
And I like sugar and you like cream:
Let’s eat them up, my dear."
"Hooray!" cried the Kitten, "you
are just right
I do not want to wait,"
And soon she emptied the cream-jug quite,
While the sugar the Elephant ate.
Then the Kitten jumped on the Elephant’s
And rode away in glee;
And later guests bewailed the lack
Of sugar and cream for their tea.
There was great applause after the April Fool had finished his recitation, and many of the company begged him to recite again. But the April Fool said he only had one other piece, and that was very tragic and thrilling. But, as they insisted on his reciting it, he said he would do so if his audience would sit quite still for a few moments, in order that he might compose his thoughts and get himself into a proper frame of mind.
The guests politely granted his request, and, after a few moments of silence, the April Fool stepped solemnly up on a table and made a profound bow.
Then he struck a heroic attitude, and with such dramatic and acrobatic gestures, that he looked more like a contortionist than an elocutionist, he declaimed with much oratorical effect the following lines:
A Great Event
Once on a time, I know not when,
Some place, I know not where,
Something occurred, but what it was
I neither know nor care!
Great applause followed this masterly performance, and the April Fool laughed and jingled his bells in glee.
And then Puss-in-Boots appeared.
He came striding up, post-haste, looking very handsome and elegant with his plumed hat and high boots.
He bowed low to the Queen and her friends, and said: "I am here to await the orders of the Fairy Folly."
Folly was glad to see Puss again, and at once began making her adieux to her hostess, promising, however, to visit her again soon. Puss winked slyly at this, and then in a few moments he and Folly set off on their tour again.
"How would you like to call on Red Ridinghood?" said Puss-in-Boots.
"I’d love to go," replied Folly; "does she live near here?"
"Yes, in that cottage over there. She has a pet wolf, you know, and he’s a very interesting creature."
Folly felt no fear of the wolf after her pleasant experiences with the three bears, so they walked along, and soon arrived at Red Ridinghood’s cottage.
As they entered the gate they saw the front yard was full of animals of all kinds and sorts.
Sheep and lambs were playing with wolves and bears, and they were having a gay time, judging from the merry games in progress. Little Red Ridinghood came running out to meet her guests.
She was a lovely child, with big brown eyes and dark clustering curls, and she wore the prettiest little red cloak and hood that you ever saw. She greeted Folly with much affection, and Folly was very glad to find a little girl friend, who was quite as charming as the princesses and queens.
"My wolf is having a party, you see," said Red Ridinghood, in explanation of the assemblage of animals.
"Yes," said Puss-in-Boots, "I had an invitation, and so I came and brought Fairy Folly with me."
"That was right," said Red Ridinghood, and then she proceeded to introduce Folly to the four-footed friends. First the Wolf was presented, and very handsome he looked as he stood on his hind-legs and made a beautiful bow.
He wore a wide, red satin ribbon tied round his neck, and he seemed full of fun, but very gracious and well-bred.
Folly didn’t know exactly how to talk to a wolf, but, remembering the story, she said:
"Oh, Wolf, what makes your ears so big?"
"So I can wear big earrings," said the Wolf, with a twinkle in his eye.
"Oh, Wolf, what makes your nose so big?"
"The better to keep my eyeglasses on," said the Wolf.
"Oh, Wolf, what makes your claws so big?"
"The better to play the piano, and I must run away now and play quadrilles for my guests," and, with another bow, the Wolf scampered off and began to play dance-music on a grand piano, which stood in the middle of the front yard.
The quadrille was very pretty, and Folly took great interest in the dancers. Mother Hubbard’s dog danced with Dame Trot’s Cat. Little Bo-Peep’s sheep danced with those of Little Boy Blue; and Mary’s little lamb was so pretty and sweet, with its blue neck-ribbon, that Folly couldn’t help catching it up and kissing it. The Three Bears were not there, as they were still asleep for the winter, but the Frog who Would a Wooing Go was very gallant and gay. The Cock that Crowed in the Morn was there, and the Three Black Crows and Three Blind Mice, and, oh, well—there were all the animals you’ve ever heard of, and lots besides.
After the dance, Red-Ridinghood announced that there would be next an Alphabet Drill, and then twenty-six animals came and stood in a line, each wearing on his head a cap decorated with a large letter, which was the initial of his name.
Then each, in turn, spoke a verse about himself, and these are the verses they spoke:
A was an affable Ape,
Who lived on an old fire-escape;
He served afternoon tea
At a quarter-past three,
And offered each caller a grape.
B was a burly old Bear,
Who sailed out to sea in a chair;
When wet to the skin
By the waves that rolled in,
He only said, "Well, I declare!"
C was a crochety Cat,
Who tore up her best Sunday hat;
Then she put on her head
A muffin instead,
And said, "What’s the matter with that?"
D was a desolate Dog,
Who quite lost his way in a fog;
But he said, "I desire
To walk in the mire,"
So he rambled around in a bog.
E was an elegant Eel,
Who purchased an automobile,
But whenever he tried
To go for a ride
He got all tangled up in the wheel.
F was a fortunate Fish,
Who swam in the waves with a swish,
When they said, "Would you care
To have some fresh air?"
He replied, "I have all that I wish."
G was a garrulous Goose,
Who lived upon apricot juice,
Which she ate with a spoon
By the light of the moon
On top of an old red caboose.
H was a humorous Hen,
Who couldn’t count further than ten;
So when she got through
With the numbers she knew,
She just began over again.
I was an idle Ichneumon,
So clever he seemed almost human;
He could pick up a lute,
A banjo or flute,
And play a sonata by Schumann.
J was a jolly Jackdaw,
Who lived with his mother-in-law;
He taught her the art
Of a gooseberry tart,
Which she made out of mutton and straw.
K was a kind-hearted Kite,
Who went out to fly every night;
All beaming with smiles
He flew many miles,
And he wore a blue coat trimmed with white.
L was a languishing Lamb,
Who said, "Oh, how nervous I am!
I’d like to go out
And ramble about,
But I fear that the street door may slam."
M was a marvelous Mink,
Whose bonnets were purple and pink;
From the brim and the crown
Blue feathers hung down,
And she said, "They are lovely, I think."
N was a nautical Newt,
Who lived upon fritters and fruit;
He curled with great care
His long golden hair,
And he wore a Lord Fauntleroy suit.
O was an opulent Ox,
Who kept all his wealth in a box;
It was buckled and clasped,
Screwed, bolted and hasped,
And fastened with seventeen locks.
P was a popular Pig,
Who wore a false beard and a wig;
He lived upon pie,
Which he kept in his sty,
And he rode in an old-fashioned gig.
Q was a queer little Quail,
Who had a green polka-dot veil;
When her friends, in surprise,
Said: "’Twill ruin your eyes,"
She set up a dolorous wail.
R was a ravenous Rook,
Who wanted to learn how to cook;
So he baked and he boiled,
He stewed and he broiled,
And he studied a recipe book.
S was a stylish young Stag,
Who carried a traveling-bag;
He said, "I expect
To have this bag checked;
Will somebody write me a tag?"
T was a taciturn Toad,
Who always went out when it snowed;
He carried his bed,
Because, as he said,
"I may take a nap on the road."
U was an old Unicom,
So deaf he had need of a horn;
It helped him, ’tis true,
But he had to get two,
And now he’s not half so forlorn.
V was a very nice Viper,
Who bought some green plums from a piper;
They were not fit to eat,
For they weren’t quite sweet,
So he said, "I will wait till they’re riper."
W was a white Whale,
Who ferociously lashed his great tail;
He happened to be
Afraid of the sea,
So he lived all his life in a pail.
X was an excellent Xenus,
Who bought him a small plaster Venus;
He said to a Crane,
As they walked down the lane,
"We’ll carry this image between us."
Y was a young Yellowjacket,
Who made such a terrible racket
They tied up his wings
With pink cotton strings,
And set him up high on a bracket.
Z was a lazy old Zingel,
Who slept all day long on a shingle;
And when it was night
He lighted a light,
And sat down to write a short jingle.
Every one of these verses was loudly applauded by the audience, who clapped their hands, and their paws, and their claws, and their hoofs, and their fins in great glee.
Then the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs sang a song, and this was her song:
Oh, Topsy Toodles, come with me
To a wonderful land beyond the sea;
The mysterious Land of Fiddle-de-dee,
Where a thousand million wonders be.
Where a lark can bark,
And a cow can bow,
Where a kite can write,
And a pig can dig,
Where a goat can float,
And a sheep can weep,
Where an owl can scowl,
And a rook can cook,
Where a snake can make
Herself a cake,
And put it in the stove to bake.
Oh, come with me, oh, come with me,
Oh, Topsy Toodles, come with me.
It was foolish, of course, but what else could you expect from a Goose, and Folly found it all very entertaining.
There were more recitations on the programme; indeed, all the animals seemed eager to speak pieces, and they really spoke very well, so that it was a pleasure to listen to them.
Little Robin Redbreast was asked to sing, and he hopped up on a twig of a tree near by and sang:
I know a castle in the air,
So snug and tight and warm;
A little family lives in there,
Secure from wind or storm.
They care not how the raindrops fall,
Or how the breezes blow—
Indeed, they do not mind at all
A few soft flakes of snow.
And there the little birdies stay
Till they can fly, and then
They spread their wings and fly away,
And ne’er come back again.
And then a funny old fat pig, with great pomp and ceremony, recited the following lines, called "A Pig Tale:"
He sold some pigs,
Because he had pigs for sale;
The pigs he sold,
So the tale is told,
And that is the end of the tale.
Last of all, an old Donkey was asked to speak a piece. He stood up, wagging his great ears carelessly, and shifting from one foot to another as he spoke:
A timid donkey, walking out,
Was frightened at his shadow;
But when he turned and looked about
He saw that it was nothing.
The animals laughed at this verse, and a Fox remarked that as it was so short at least it might have rhymed.
"It does rhyme," answered the donkey, calmly, "for surely you must admit that nothing rhymes with shadow.
And so the laugh was turned on the Fox, after all.
"NOW," said Folly to Puss, as they started again on their travels, "I should like to go to a real fairy palace. Are there any I haven’t visited yet?"
"Lots of them," replied Puss; "right over there is the palace of Beauty and the Beast. Want to go there?"
"Yes," said Folly, "that is, if the Beast won’t hurt me."
"You ought to know by this time," said Puss, a little severely, "that nothing in Fairyland will hurt you. You are a Fairy yourself, you know."
"So I am," said Folly, who found it hard to realize this fact. "Well, come on, let’s go to see Beauty and the Beast."
"And, of course," said Puss, "he isn’t a beast now. You know he turned into a handsome young Prince before he married Beauty. But we always call him the Beast, because he is so beautiful that it’s a good joke."
They had already entered the grounds of the great palace, and were walking up an avenue of orange trees, which were loaded with fruit and blossoms.
Then they went up the agate steps to the palace, and found themselves in a large marble hall.
From here they were ushered into the presence of Beauty and the Beast. The Beast, if we must call him so, was the most beautiful young man Folly had ever seen, in Fairyland or out of it. He wore a magnificent court suit of blue velvet and cloth-of-gold, and he greeted Folly and Puss in a most charming, princely manner. Beauty was, if possible, more fair to look upon than her husband.
Heretofore, Folly had thought Cinderella the most beautiful woman in Fairyland, but now she changed her mind and gave the palm to Beauty. Surely, such a winning face and such a kind, sweet smile was never seen before.
Beauty’s robes were rich and of exquisite coloring and texture, and she wore a crown of large, pure diamonds, and a necklace of the same precious stones. She was overjoyed to see Folly, and welcomed her as if she had been an old friend, and drew her down beside her on the satin sofa for a chat.
"How do you like Fairyland?" she said.
"Oh, I love it," said Folly; "but how big it is! Why, I’ve only seen a small part of it yet, and yet it seems as if I’d been traveling for a long while. And every palace is so beautiful, and everybody is so kind and happy. Oh, I think it is a lovely place."
"Yes," said Beauty, "it is lovely, and one of the principal beauties of all Fairyland is my garden. Would you like to see it?"
"Indeed, I would," said Folly; "let us go now."
They went out to the Garden, and the Beast and Puss-in-Boots followed. It was, indeed, a wonderful sight that met Folly’s eyes. Acres and acres of beautiful flowers spread out in every direction, as far as the eye could reach.
And such flowers! The roses were fully as big as cabbages, and they were of every color, even blue and purple.
"Roses seem to be your favorite flowers," observed Folly.
"They are," answered Beauty; "don’t you remember I sent for a rose by my father, and that’s how he came to find out about the Beast. If it hadn’t been for that rose, I might never have found my dear husband."
"What are those flowers in cages?" asked Folly.
"Those are wild-flowers. We have to keep them caged up, or they run all over the garden and raise the mischief generally. Why, once they broke loose—and, oh, what a time we had! Beast, won’t you tell Folly about what happened last midsummer-day?" The Prince laughed merrily at the recollection, and then said he would tell them of the affair as it had been written up by his Poet-Laureate. He then related the story as follows:
Do you remember that Midsummer Day
When the wild-flowers all broke loose,
The Tiger-lily in brave array,
And the Dandelion spruce?
The Ox-eye winked and the Pig-weed squealed,
The Snakeroot squirmed and wriggled,
Till Johnny-jump-up danced and reeled,
And all the Eel-grass wiggled.
The Bullrush bellowed, the Snapdragon howled,
The Buckwheat stood at bay;
The Cat-tail waved and the Dogwood growled,
And the Chickweed ran away.
The Trumpet-vine blew a stirring blast,
The Bluebells merrily rang;
The young green leaves were shooting fast,
And the Pistils went off with a bang.
The little Daisies all were dazed,
The Madeira-vine was mad;
The Indian Corn was much amazed,
The Gladioli were glad.
The Morning-glories mourned and mourned,
The Weeping-willows wept;
The Bleeding Heart all Balsam scorned,
The Virginia Creeper crept.
The Cactus cackled, the Crocus crowed,
The Smilax only smiled;
The Cypress sighed, the Lobelia lowed,
The Damask Rose went wild.
Sweet Marjoram turned a trifle sour,
The Harebell rang furious peals;
The Primrose flew into a Passion Flower,
The Heliotrope took to its heels.
By the Goldenrod lashed, and the Larkspur
The Horse Chestnut tried to trot;
The Elephant’s Ear the news had heard,
The Forget-me-nots forgot.
Black-eyed Susan, demure and sweet,
By a waving Palm-leaf fanned,
Wore Lady’s-slippers on her feet
And Fox-gloves on her hands.
The Ribbon-grasses came untied,
The Sweet-peas all were shelled;
The wicked little Lilacs lied,
The Yellow Roses yelled.
The Cockscomb combed the Maiden-hair,
And begged her for a lock;
The Pennyroyal paid itself
For a single share of Stock.
The Buttercup broke, and the Milkweed spilled,
And the Poppies popped out to see
Why the Pitcher-plants had not been filled
When the Catnip came to tea.
The Cardinal Flower set out for Rome.
To give Jack-in-the-Pulpit a dime;
Sweet William drove the Cowslip home,
When the Four-o’clocks told the Thyme.
The Moon-flower paled in the Sunflower’s
The Tulips complained of thirst;
The Ice-plant and Snowball melted away,
And every Balloon-flower burst.
The Ragged Sailors put out to sea,
And the Rhododendrons rowed
Till they were tired as tired could be,
And then the Toad-stools towed.
And this is the part that’s so very
They didn’t care where they went,
For the Wandering Jew hadn’t any money,
And the Century Plant but a cent.
They sailed by the mill where the Blue
Was ground by the Dusty Miller;
Their Sweet Flag waved through sun and shower,
And Jack Rose held the tiller.
The Wind-flower blew a terrible gale,
And near capsized their craft;
The timid Blush-rose turned quite pale,
The Daffodils went daft.
Toward Portulacca they made their way,
And rounded Cape Jessamine;
But they landed at last in Botany Bay,
For they every one fell in.
"Well, that was a great occasion," said Folly, after the Beast had finished, "and I don’t see how you ever got your garden in order again."
"Oh, we soon fixed it up, but we always keep the wild-flowers caged now. We have some trained vines over here. Would you like to hear them perform?"
"I would," said Folly, wondering what vines could do even if they were trained.
The vines, she found, were covered with delicate flowers of all colors, shaped like tiny bells. They were a little like bluebells, and a little like harebells, and a little like Canterbury bells. When the Beast gave the word of command, all the bells began to ring in unison, and the sound was like distant fairy music, which grew more and more distinct as it went on, and presently Folly could make out words which the bells seemed to shake out on the soft evening air:
When the sun sinks in the West,
And the gentle zephyrs blow,
Sweet sounds arise
To the evening skies
Of music soft and low.
And we hear the fairies sing,
While the answering echoes ring;
And through the air the music swells,
And far and near,
And sweet and clear,
We hear those Fairy Bells.
Under the light of the silver moon
Hear those Fairy Bells
Merrily tinkling a tiny tune,
Hear the Fairy Bells;
Fairies come on swiftest wing,
Join the chorus, gaily sing,
When you hear the merry ring
Of the Fairy Bells.
"Oh, how lovely!" exclaimed Folly, as the last sounds died away. "And now will the Fairies come?"
But her question was answered for her by the appearance of a whole flight of Fairies, who came floating down and who dispersed themselves among the Fairy Bells.
And then the Bells and the Fairies joined in a chorus:
Sweetly ring, sweetly
Chime of the Fairy Bells;
Ring, ring, sweetly ring,
Musical Fairy Bells.
Welcome to Folly we happily bring,
Praises of Folly we merrily sing;
Oh, may her life be bright,
Ring, sweet Fairy Bells,
Chime, sweet Fairy Bells—
Thee we love, thee we
Folly, the new-found fay;
Sing, sing songs of love
To Folly all the day.
Gaily we strew thy path with flowers,
Emblem of coming happy hours,
Emblem of joy to be.
Ring, sweet Fairy Bells,
Chime, sweet Fairy Bells—
Then the fairies floated away on moonbeams, and only one roguish-looking little elf was left behind. He was a queer little chap, like a gnome or brownie, and he sang a gay little song which made his hearers laugh:
A fig for the story-fairy,
A fig for the picture-elf;
They may suit the modem reader,
But I’m not that kind myself.
A fig for the nonsense-fairies.
With queer, new-fangled ways,
I dance and sing in a Fairy Ring,
Or float in a Fairy Maze.
You should see me dance on cobwebs,
Or on the moonlight rays;
I’m a rollicking, frolicking fairy,
Of the Real Old-Fashioned Fays.
And when I fling a hornpipe,
You see I do it right;
For this rollicking, frolicking fairy
Just bounces out of sight.
And with the last word he was gone, but Beauty and the Beast and Folly and Puss-in-Boots applauded so determinedly that he reappeared and sang a little song to Folly herself:
Winning ways, a pleasant smile,
Dress in perfect fairy style,
How she does my heart beguile,
Little Fairy Folly.
Every time I see her pass
I kiss her shadow on the grass,
Such a bonny little lass,
Little Fairy Folly.
She’s my Fairy,
I’m her elf.
She’s as happy
Now I’ll leave her—
We must part!
But little Fairy Folly
Is my sweetheart.
And, with a waggish smile and a hop-skip-and-jump, the Brownie-elf flew away and was lost to sight.
Just then a messenger came to Folly with a large document covered with strange-looking seals.
"For you, from the Wise Men," he said, bowing low.
Folly took the roll, uncertain what to do with it.
"Open it," said the Beast; "probably it’s an invitation."
So Folly broke the seals and read the following message:
"Oh, how nice!" exclaimed Beauty; "they want you to go for a sail in their Bowl. Do go, for it is great fun."
So Folly bade Beauty and the Beast goodbye for the present, and she and Puss started for the Wise Men’s Dock.
Folly skipped gaily down to the Wise Men’s Dock and Puss-in-Boots strode along beside her.
They found the Three Wise Men of Gotham sitting in a row on a bench near the end of the dock, waiting for them.
The Wise Men wore white woolly wigs, with fat side-puffs like white sausages, and they wore flowing robes of black silk with purple velvet collars.
"I am the Owl," said one of them, rising and bowing as he spoke. "I am so called because I am as wise as an owl. My friend here is the Serpent, because he is as wise as a serpent."
Here the Serpent rose and bowed gravely, and, pointing to the third wise man, said:
"This is Solomon, so called because he is as wise as Solomon."
Solomon got up slowly and bowed with great dignity. It was plain to be seen that he was the wisest of the three, or at least the others thought him so, for they deferentially awaited his orders.
"We will now proceed," said Solomon, "to go to sea in a bowl. You have, perhaps, heard or read of our historic bowl?" and he glanced interrogatively at Folly.
"Oh, yes," she replied, "I’ve often heard of the Three Wise Men of Gotham and the bowl they went to sea in. Where is it?"
"There," said Solomon, pointing with pride to a huge bowl which was anchored near the dock, and which danced up and down on the water in a tippy-toppy manner.
"How do we get in?" asked Folly.
"Ah, my child," said Solomon, "that is a very serious question, and one not to be answered in haste. ‘How do we get in?’—ah, how, indeed? Owl, how do we get in?"
"I’m sure I don’t know," said the Owl, looking much perplexed, and then he turned to the Serpent, saying:
"Serpent, dear, how do you think we get in?"
"I can’t imagine," said the Serpent, looking up and then down and then out to sea, with a blank expression on his face. "The thing is, how did we get out?"
"I can’t remember," said Solomon, sadly; "can you?"
"No,’’ said both the Owl and the Serpent, and then they shook their downcast heads and stood as if in deep thought.
"It dawns upon me," said Solomon, at last; "I remember how we got out! A balloon came along and took us off and brought us ashore."
"So it did, so it did!" exclaimed the Owl. "Now, if we only had a balloon handy we could easily go out to the bowl."
"But there is no balloon," wailed the Serpent, in despair; "what can we do?"
"We must confer," said Solomon.
"True, true," said the others, and then the three sat down in a circle on the ground, and clasped their knees in their arms as they nodded their wise heads together.
After a long confabulation, they rose, and with beaming faces confronted Puss and Folly, saying: "It’s all right. We’re ready to start."
"You see," said Solomon, by way of further explanation, "when we have to do anything we can always think of a way to do it. It’s just like the man in the pie."
"I never heard of the man in the pie," said Folly
"You didn’t?" said Solomon, in surprise "Well, I’ll tell you."
There was an old man in a pie,
Who said: "I must fly, I must fly!"
When they said: "You can’t do it,"
He replied that he knew it,
But he had to get out of that pie.
And so you see, we can’t get into the bowl, but we must do it, if we’re going to sea, and so we’ll do it."
He led Folly to the end of the dock, and she saw a small boat tied there.
"Jump in," said Solomon, and as he spoke he jumped into the boat himself, and, as he was clutching Folly tightly by the arm, she had to jump, too. They landed safely in the middle of the boat, and in a minute more the Owl and the Serpent and Puss-in-Boots had all jumped in, and the Owl began to row out toward the great bowl.
When they reached it, Folly looked up, and could see only its high, smooth sides, extending like a great curved wall above her head.
"Now," said Solomon, "here we are—there’s the bowl—we are out, we want to get in. The bowl tips over if you look at it—that is, unless you look at it squarely in the middle. Now, my wisdom tells me that all depends on keeping the bowl balanced. And so, if we all jump at once, and all jump real high, right over the side of the bowl, and all fall exactly in the middle, it can’t tip over, for its balance will be preserved. Jump!"
Solomon jumped as he spoke, and, so imperative was his tone, that all the rest jumped at exactly the same second, and the result was they all landed in a heap in the bottom of the bowl, and the bowl didn’t upset.
With unruffled dignity the Three Wise Men crawled out of the heap and seated themselves on the cushioned seat which ran all round the bowl.
Folly and Puss picked themselves up and sat down also, opposite their hosts.
"Isn’t this grand?" said the Owl; "what a voyage we shall have! It will be as eventful as the Goriander’s voyage."
"Who was the Goriander?" said Folly, for she had never heard the name before.
"I never knew him personally," said the Owl, but his voyage is famous in history. Serpent, tell Fairy Folly of the Goriander’s voyage, won’t you?"
"I will, with pleasure," said the Serpent, and, rising to his feet and drawing his black silk gown more closely round him, he began:
The Goriander’s Voyage
The Goriander wept, and the Goriander wailed,
Then he jumped in his boat,
And set it afloat,
And far and fast he sailed.
The breeze was stiff,
And he steered his skiff
To the land of the Truffle Trees.
He sang a song
As he floated along
Across the tossing seas.
And this was the song that he gaily sang,
As his jingling, jangling bell he rang:
I toss across the tossing sea."
Then he bounded around on the bounding main
Till he signaled a passing whaleroad train;
His bell he rang
With a cling-clang clang!
The whaleroad train slowed up with a puff,
A biff and a bang and a snort and a snuff.
He jumped aboard and away he went
Till he came to the circular circus tent.
But the whaleroad train went by so fast
That before he knew it the tent was passed,
And the Goriander could never know
What was in the wonderful circus-show.
Although he screamed with a terrible shout:
"Hi! Stop this train! I want to get out,"
The train kept up its rapid motion
Around and around the billowy ocean.
And across that tossing sea so wet
The Goriander is traveling yet.
"Oh, is he?" cried Folly, "then perhaps we may meet him. I’d love to see a Goriander. What does he look like?"
"Oh, I don’t know," said the Serpent, "I’ve never seen one. It’s just a piece to speak, you know. Haven’t you ever heard any one speak pieces?"
"Yes, of course," said Folly. "I was at the Wolf’s party yesterday, and they all spoke pieces. It was like an alphabet, A, B, C, and so forth, you know."
"I know," said the Owl. "I can say ‘Alphabet Children’ myself. Do you know that piece?"
Folly said she didn’t, and the Owl kindly volunteered to recite it. This was it:
Annie Allen ate an apple in the acres.
Bobby Ballard bought a brace of buttered bakers.
Carrie Curran cooked a crate of curly candies.
Dicky Dutton drew a dozen doleful dandies.
Effie Ellis emulated early etchers.
Freddy Fuller fought a flock of fossil-fetchers.
Gertie Gummidge grew aghast at gruesome grammars.
Harry Hallam had a hundred heavy hammers.
Ida Ibsen idled in incessant ingles.
Jamie Johnson joked and jabbered jolly jingles.
Katie Ketcham kicked a kettle in the kitchen.
Louis Leonard lost a lovely little lichen.
Molly Martin made mistakes in moving maples.
Neddy Norton never navigated Naples.
Olive Orson ought to ostracize the otters.
Peter Perkins pestered pompous portly potters.
Queenie Quiller quelled a quart of quaking quivers.
Richard Robbins rowed on raging, roaring rivers.
Sally Somers stole a set of splendid sables.
Tommy Trotter took his tea on twenty tables.
Una Upton underrated useful urgers.
Victor Vincent viewed some very verdant vergers.
Winnie Wilkins winks and wiggles when she wearies.
Xenophon xacted xtra xeres.
Yvette Yerkins yearned for yellow yarn a year, oh.
Zebby Zigler zealously froze zinc to zero.
"That’s very clever," said Solomon, when the Owl had finished. "I know one that’s part of an alphabet. Just some of the letters, you know." And then Solomon recited:
The Careless Chinaman
A Chinaman there used to B,
Who thought he’d like to go to C.
He started down the river D.
But came back home in time for T.
He ate some spinach and some P’s.
And then sat down and took his E’s.
A neighbor called and said, "O,U.
Have somehow lost your handsome Q!"
"Yes," said the Chinaman, "but I
Don’t seem to care; I wonder Y."
"I’m very fond of that," said the Serpent. "I’d like to hear it every other day. Now, shall I tell you about the Baby Baboon?"
They all said yes, so the Serpent began:
There once was a beautiful Baby Baboon,
Who sailed all around in a red balloon.
He sighed and he sang and he scowled and he sneezed,
And he prettily prattled whenever he pleased.
He sailed as high
As the summer sky,
And then he said: "I don’t see why
I can’t sail right up into the moon.
I think I’ll start this afternoon,
With a strong south wind I’ll get there soon;"
And he did! that adventurous Baby Baboon.
"Now," said Solomon, "we’ve had enough recitations, and we’ve spent a very pleasant afternoon together, and now we must go ashore."
And then Folly discovered, to her surprise, that they were exactly where they had been when they jumped into the bowl; and, indeed, as they had remained at anchor all the time, where else could they be?
"Why, we haven’t sailed at all," said Folly, in a disappointed tone.
"No," said Solomon, in a gentle voice, "but you see, my dear, the bowl isn’t strong enough. It does very well to go to sea in, but to sail on the sea—ah, I shudder to think what might happen. And so now, if you please, we’ll all jump together into the small boat. Jump!"
With a bound over the side of the bowl they all fell in a heap in the little boat, and, as soon as they had straightened themselves out, the Owl rowed them ashore.
Folly took leave of her hosts, and thanked them when they invited her to come again.
"And I will," she said to Puss as they went away, "for I think they are very interesting people."
As Folly and Puss-in-Boots wandered on, Folly suddenly spied a very queer-looking specimen of vegetation. It seemed to be a lot of great, thick, twisted stalks of some kind, that had twined and interwoven until they made a sort of trellis or ladder.
Folly looked up to see what could be growing at the top of this mass of stalks and stems, but as far as her eye could reach there was no top, only more and more twisted stalks.
"What in the world is that thing, Puss?" said Folly, who was of an inquiring turn of mind.
"That?" said Puss, carelessly enough, "oh, that’s Jack’s Beanstalk."
"Jack’s Beanstalk!" exclaimed Folly, delighted with this information; "oh, let’s climb it. Can we?"
"Of course, we can if we want to," answered Puss, "but it’s a long climb. Why, there are two thousand four hundred and sixty rounds to that stalk ladder now, and it is still growing."
"What is at the top?" demanded Folly.
"Why, you ought to know, if you’ve read the story," said Puss; "at the top is Jack’s castle, of course; the one that used to be the giant’s until Jack killed the giant and took possession of the estate."
"Oh, I want to go up there dreadfully," said Folly, "and it will be no trouble, for I can fly most of the way. And I’m sure it wouldn’t tire you; cats love to climb."
"I don’t mind the climbing part," said Puss; "it’s my boots that trouble me. I have on a new pair, and I don’t want to scratch them all up."
"Fiddlesticks!" said Folly, "come along! If you spoil your precious boots I’ll give you a new pair. What’s the use of being a fairy if I can’t give handsome presents to my friends? Come on, and as soon as we return I’ll give you a whole case of boots."
"All right," said Puss, and with a spring he bounded up the ladder, and was soon out of sight. But Folly spread her wings and rose gracefully in the air after him.
On they went, Puss climbing rapidly from one round of the beanstalk ladder to the next, while Folly, slowly waving her beautiful wings, floated upward also. Sometimes she stepped on the pretty ladder, and sometimes she wafted alongside of it, but together they rose and rose and rose until it seemed to Folly that they had traveled miles up into the soft, clear air.
At last they reached the top of the beanstalk, and found themselves in a beautiful country, whose hills and dales and rivers and lakes were spread out before them like a huge panorama.
But everything was on a far larger scale than scenery to which Folly had been accustomed.
The brooks were as big as rivers, and the rivers were as big as seas; the front door yards of the cottages were as big as farms, and the farms were as big as cities; the cottages themselves were as big as castles, and the castles—but there was only one castle—and that was a wonder!
Although it was many miles distant, Folly could see it plainly, and it was as big as Central Park and as high as the Eiffel Tower.
A single turret was as big as St. Paul’s Cathedral; and the flag that waved from its highest pinnacle would have completely covered New York city.
Folly spread her wings and flew toward it, while Puss-in-Boots trotted along, kicking carelessly at the stones in his path, as he was no longer worried about his best boots.
As Folly drew nearer she saw that the magnificence of the castle quite equaled its size, and she gazed with pleasure on the wonderful entrance gates.
These gates each measured just an acre in extent, and were of solid gold, studded with pink pearls. Folly tapped at one of them with her wand, and the great gates moved slowly open to admit her.
The path from the gates to the castle was a mile wide, and was bordered by rose-hedges, on which grew roses as big round as dining-tables. Folly flew along the path slowly, looking at the grandeur and magnificence all about, and Puss-in-Boots came amicably on, listening to Folly’s rapturous exclamations, though of course it was all an old story to him.
As they reached the castle a fine-looking young man appeared to greet them, and as he was of ordinary size he looked really ludicrous among such gigantic surroundings.
He was richly attired in cloth-of-gold and jewels, and had a knightly air of deference to his illustrious visitor.
"I am Sir Jack," he said, bowing low, "and you, fair lady, must be, I am sure, the Fairy Folly."
"True," answered Folly, entering the great hall, "and this is my friend and guide, good Puss-in-Boots."
"Ah, Puss and I are old acquaintances," said Jack, bowing affably to Puss, who clicked his heels together and made a fine dancing-school bow.
Then Folly looked around the great hall in amazement. You see, the hall was as big as the Main Building at the World’s Fair, and the furniture was of a size to correspond.
Any one of the tables would have made an ample dancing-floor for a dozen couples. The chairs were as large as ordinary bedsteads, and the ornaments on the mantelpiece were the size of real men and women.
"You see," said Sir Jack, a bit apologetically, "I wouldn’t have built my castle so large, but I —ahem—well, I acquired it from its former possessor, who was an enormous giant, and consequently had to have large and roomy accommodations."
"I should say he did!" exclaimed Folly, looking up at the great crystal chandelier, which swung from the ceiling and was as big as an immense oak tree upside down.
"But why don’t you remodel it and have some small, cosy rooms?"
"Well, you see," responded Sir Jack, "although I was obliged to put an end to the Giant, who was of a bloodthirsty and dangerous disposition, yet his wife, the Giantess, is an exceedingly kind and amiable old lady, and she still lives with me. So, of course, I’m obliged to have things about which she can use."
"But," said Folly, since Jack didn’t seem at all embarrassed about his previous history, "but it said in the story I read that after you had killed the Giant the Giantess fell downstairs and broke her neck."
"That was a mistake," said Jack; "she did trip on the stairs, but she was only slightly bruised, and she soon recovered. She is really a delightful person to know, and my mother and I have lived very happily with her ever since her husband’s death. Would you like to meet her?"
"Yes," said Folly, who was always ready for new experiences. "Is she pretty?"
"Well," answered Jack, hesitating a little, "she isn’t exactly pretty. In fact, she’s a bit peculiar looking. She’s large, you know, and she has one eye in the middle of her forehead."
"Oh!" exclaimed Folly, "and where is the other one?"
"Why, really, I don’t know," said Jack, looking perplexed. "I hardly think she has any other. If she has, it’s a glass one, and she keeps it in her pocket."
"Well, I’d like to see her," said Folly, decidedly, and Jack rose at once to escort her to the Giantess.
On the way they passed through the music-room. Here were flutes as big as flagstaffs; drums as big as hogsheads; cornets as big as steamer-funnels, and pianos as big as trolley-cars. A great chorus of a thousand singers was singing as they entered, and Folly stayed there awhile to listen to their music.
The song they were singing plainly expressed their sentiments toward their departed master, for the words ran thus:
Old Giant is dead, that bad old man,
We ne’er shall see him more;
He used to wear a great big coat
All buttoned down before.
The coat was twenty-nine yards long,
And fifty yards around,
And with a half a mile of braid
That great big coat was bound.
The buttons were like pewter plates,
Exceeding bright and new,
With buttonholes of such a size
A man could jump right through.
When that old Giant sat down to eat
Right royally he fed—
On seven hundred pounds of meat,
A thousand loaves of bread.
Upon a roasted elephant
He often used to dine,
And at a single meal he’d drink
A hundred quarts of wine.
But now he’s dead, that bad old man,
We ne’er shall see him more;
Our present master’s better far
Than him we had before.
In her secret heart Folly didn’t think much of this music, for she had heard far better in various other palaces and castles; but she reflected that probably the Giant hadn’t been much of a musician himself, and so the singers were not very well trained.
She made no comment, therefore, but turned her attention to a great harp which stood in one corner of the room. This harp, besides being of enormous size, was of marvellous beauty. Its framework sparkled with diamonds and rubies and emeralds, and its strings were of pure gold.
Suddenly Folly remembered the story.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, "that’s the Talking Harp, isn’t it?"
"Yes," replied Jack, "and it is one of my most cherished possessions. That and the Hen that Lays the Golden Eggs are the treasures which the Giant originally stole from my father, and which I fought for, and finally recovered for myself."
"Oh, please, make the Harp sing," said Folly, and Jack good-naturedly commanded the Talking Harp to amuse his guest.
With a merry tinkling of its golden strings, the Harp began:
Pretty Fairy Folly is the theme I sing;
Happy and gay
I merrily play,
For merry Fairy Folly is my song to-day.
Folly didn’t know
Aught about Fairyland—ho, ho, ho! —
Until she came
Her place to claim,
And now Fairy Folly is her rightful name.
I sing, sing, sing,
With a ting-a-ling-ling,
Making merry music on a golden string.
And I play, play, play
For merry Fairy Folly, so glad and gay.
Folly thanked the Harp for its pretty song about herself, and, after running her hand lightly over the golden strings by way of a parting caress, she followed Sir Jack to the apartments of the Giantess.
Sir Jack, Folly and Puss-in-Boots proceeded across the great hall to the staircase, and Folly discovered that if she had not been a fairy with wings she would have been quite unable to mount the stairs. For each step was four feet high and four feet wide, and it was only by standing jumps that Sir Jack was able to get from one step to the next. However, he seemed used to it, and did not mind the exertion a bit.
Folly, of course, had no difficulty in flying up, and Puss-in-Boots easily managed by catching his claws in the thick red velvet carpet, and so scrambling up each step. At last they reached the top, and, after crossing another great hall they came to a door like the gate of a city.
Through the closed door Folly could hear a noise like the rumbling of distant thunder, and Puss remarked:
"The old lady is conversing with someone."
"Yes," replied Sir Jack, "my mother is in there," and then he rapped at the great doors, which slowly swung open.
Folly entered the room, and then at sight of the giantess she stood as if spellbound.
Of course, after seeing the huge rooms and the enormous tables and chairs, she had expected to see a gigantic woman, but the Giantess herself was beyond all imagination.
Her head was as big as the town clock on the church-steeple, and the great tiara of diamonds that rested upon it was as big around as a wagon-wheel.
The Giantess smiled, and her mouth looked like a great red ditch full of white rocks; then she held out her hand to Folly.
Now, her hand was as big as a clothes-basket, and though Folly tried politely to shake it, she fell in instead.
At this the Giantess laughed, and her laugh was like a great thunderbolt, accompanied by a rattling hailstorm.
"Never mind," she said, in a voice as loud as the rumble of a train of cars. "Sit up on my forefinger."
So Folly scrambled around until she sat on the Giantess’ forefinger, and held on by her thumb while the Giantess lifted her guest up near her face to see her better. And then Folly found herself being stared at by the Giantess’ one great eye, which was as big as a watermelon and right in the middle of the old lady’s forehead.
But Folly was not at all frightened, for, notwithstanding the Giantess’ tremendous size, she was extremely affable and pleasant.
"Who are you?" she said, with another earthquake smile and a voice like a megaphone.
"I’m Fairy Folly, at your service," said Folly, prettily, "and I’m proud to be acquainted with a real giantess."
This pleased the old lady, and she said:
"I like you well. I will give you a bushel of diamonds and a peck of pearls and a golden egg."
"Oh, thank you," said Folly, for she had read in the story of the Hen that laid the Golden Eggs and she greatly desired one.
"I’ll get it for you right away," roared the Giantess, jumping up from her chair.
The jump was so sudden that Folly lost her balance and fell off the great forefinger on which she was sitting. She saved herself from falling to the floor by clutching at the skirts of the Giantess, and then began to climb up the hill of embroidered velvet on which she found herself.
All would have been well, when, unluckily, Folly made a misstep and fell into the pocket of the dress.
Now, the Giantess’ pocket was big enough to hold half-a-dozen little girls like Folly, so she had plenty of room, but she was in danger of suffocation.
For the Giantess’ pocket-handkerchief was as big as a large sheet, and Folly became so entangled in its folds that she couldn’t get out.
But there chanced to be also in the pocket a bottle of smelling-salts (about as big as a demijohn), and this revived Folly from the feeling of suffocation, and she began to grope about for a means of exit.
But do all she would she could not rise above the bottom of the pocket, and she began to wonder very much how she was ever to get out.
She tried to scream, but the thick folds of the Giantess’ velvet gown so muffled the sound of her voice that she was sure nobody heard her.
But she could hear the voice of the Giantess, for it was like a fog-horn, and Folly heard her say:
"Where is the little thing? Goodness me! Where did she go to?"
"Oh, I didn’t mean to lose her; I’m so sorry. Call the servants and let the room be carefully swept; she must be somewhere about."
Again Folly tried to climb up the sides of the pocket, but, as it was of heavy silk, the sides were smooth and slippery and she could get no hold.
She consoled herself with the thought that the Giantess would certainly put her hand in her pocket, sooner or later, and then Folly thought she could clasp one of the great fingers and so be drawn out of her dark prison.
To amuse herself meanwhile, she tried to investigate the other contents of the pocket.
A big pole with smooth, hard surface Folly decided must be a lead-pencil, while a soft velvet-covered dish, something like a hassock or ottoman, she concluded was a pocket pincushion. A bundle of clothesline, or at least that’s what it seemed to her, was of course a bit of string that the Giantess had wound up and stowed away for future use. And suddenly Folly thrust her head into something which she thought must be a water-bucket, but on feeling of it she decided it was the Giantess’ thimble.
Afraid to investigate further, lest she come upon some huge pins or needles, Folly nestled in the big handkerchief and waited. She could hear the Giantess worrying in her thunderous voice as to what had become of that dear, sweet, tiny Fairy.
Sir Jack and his mother searched the Giantess’ work-basket, and even looked into her water-pitcher, lest Folly should have been drowned.
But at last the Giantess roared: "She must be somewhere! I’ll put on my spectacle and look."
Down into her pocket she thrust her great hand, and with a cry of joy Folly grasped her forefinger.
"Ugh!" roared the Giantess, "there’s a beetle or something in my pocket."
She pulled out her hand with a jerk, and out came Folly, clinging to her finger.
"Oh, you dear thing! it’s you!" roared the Giantess. "How did you get in there?"
"I fell in," said Folly, as she shook out her wings and adjusted her rumpled skirts.
"My, but I’m glad you’re all right," said the Giantess, with such a wide smile that Folly hung on to the forefinger for safety; "just suppose I’d sat down on you!"
Folly didn’t enjoy supposing this, so she changed the subject. "Put on your spectacle, please," she said to the Giantess, who obligingly dived down into her pocket again and brought up the article in question. It looked like a large oval pane of glass, set in a gold rim, and Folly shivered to think how she might have tumbled right through it and cut herself badly. There were two long gold wires that fitted over the Giantess’ ears, and as she had but one eye, of course she needed but one spectacle. But it did look funny.
"Come on," she said to Folly; "since you’re all safe, let’s go and see the Hen now."
The Giantess led the way, and the others followed, Sir Jack escorting Folly, and Puss-in-Boots walking gallantly beside Jack’s mother.
They entered a large room (though, indeed, all the rooms in the castle were large), and there on a gold table in the centre of the room was a nest made of gold straws and studded with brilliant precious stones.
On the nest was an ordinary-looking little brown hen.
The Giantess advanced toward the hen, and, in a commanding tone, said: "Lay!"
And the hen instantly laid a golden egg.
"Thank you," said the Giantess, and, taking the egg, she presented it to Folly.
Folly received it with gratitude and stroked the little brown hen, who cackled joyously.
Then the Giantess invited Folly to go for a ride.
The invitation was accepted, and they all went downstairs again to the great hall and out to the driveway, where the equipage of the Giantess was in readiness.
Of course, by rights, all these things belonged to Jack, but they were all so large and cumbersome that he was only too glad to have the good-natured Giantess keep house for him and look after the domestic affairs. The chariot was a great affair, as large as a ferry-boat, and it was drawn by sixteen prancing, wild elephants.
Each elephant had a howdah on his back, gay with scarlet velvet cushions and gold trappings, and in this sat an Arab elephant driver, dressed in the picturesque garb of his native land.
The Giantess mounted into the chariot, Folly flew up and into it, while Sir Jack and his mother and Puss-in-Boots came up by a step-ladder and took their places. With a toot-toot of the herald’s trumpet as he rode on in advance, they started off and fairly flew over the country.
They saw wonderful things on the ride, for the Giant who had owned the beautiful castle had laid out landscape gardens for miles around, and Folly was enraptured with the magnificent views.
After returning from the ride, Folly was about to take leave of the Giantess, but that great lady begged her guests to remain to dinner.
Folly really had a bit of curiosity to see the Giantess eat, and, too, she was a bit hungry herself, so, as Puss was quite willing, they concluded to stay.
Dinner was announced by a loud gong, that sounded like a fire-alarm, and then the Giantess led the way to the dining-room.
The others followed, and Folly soon found herself in a great hall, so big that she could scarcely see across it.
It was just like the biggest hotel dining-room you ever saw, only, instead of a lot of dining-tables, there was only one great circular dining-table about as big as a merry-go-round.
There were side-tables loaded with viands of all sorts, and Folly watched with interest as the servants brought these to the Giantess, who successively disposed of them all.
To be sure, the other diners had all they wanted to eat, but they required very little in comparison, and Folly could scarcely eat at all for watching her hostess.
"You must pardon me, my dear Folly," roared the Giantess, "if I seem to have a large appetite. A drive in the open air always makes me a bit hungry."
She took a second spring lamb upon her plate, soon finished it, and asked for another. With the lambs she ate a bushel of green peas, a bushel of potatoes, and a hundred cucumbers. Then she ate four dozen quail and two dozen oyster patties. As each patty was the size of a large pie, this was a substantial course, but the Giantess soon despatched it.
"I don’t care much for the dinner," she roared to Folly, "I’m more fond of the dessert."
And then, to Folly’s amazement, the chief butler brought in a dozen pies, each as big as a round card-table. Accompanying these were huge puddings in dishes as large as bathtubs, and mounds of ice cream and jelly as big as beehives.
The Giantess viewed these with great satisfaction, and demolished them rapidly one after another.
"Bring me a small after-dinner cup of coffee," she roared to the chief butler, and he brought a cup the size of a peck measure. "I feel much better," announced the Giantess, as she finished her coffee. "Do you know, I felt right faint before dinner. I declare, I must have my meals oftener."
Folly now said she really must be going, and as the Giantess always took an after-dinner nap, she did not press her guest to stay.
Folly deftly eluded the good-bye kiss which the Giantess wished to bestow on her, and, escorted by Sir Jack and Puss-in-Boots, she returned to the bean-stalk ladder.
They parted from Sir Jack at the top of the ladder. Puss scrambled and Folly flew down, and soon they were once again trotting over the green meadows of Fairyland. Puss reminded Folly of her promise of new boots, and with a wave of her fairy wand she caused a whole case of boots instantly to appear. This delighted Puss, for he was really a dandy at heart and was very fond of fine clothing.
"Ah, Puss," said Folly, "I am having such good times. Everybody is so nice or else so funny, and I love them all."
"That’s because you’re a Fairy," said Puss; "Fairies always love everybody. Now, how would you like to visit Old King Cole? He’s very anxious to see you, and he’s a merry old soul, who will do his best to make it pleasant for you."
"All right, let’s go," said Folly, and they soon arrived at King Cole’s palace.
They heard the sound of music before they entered, so they were not surprised to see three fiddlers playing away to their royal master.
The jolly monarch was seated comfortably on his throne, with his pipe and bowl beside him, and he welcomed his visitors with hearty greetings.
"How do you do, how do you do?" he cried, shaking hands vigorously with Folly and Puss at the same time. "I’m so glad to see you, as glad as a buttercup in the springtime. What, ho!" he called to his servants, "bring thrones for my guests. They shall be treated right royally."
Then the lackeys brought great platforms with red velvet hangings trimmed with gold lace and containing great red velvet armchairs with soft cushions.
Folly and Puss clambered up into these, and then the King ordered pipes and bowls for them.
Folly declined the pipe, but she drank from the bowl, and it proved to contain very good, sweet wine.
Puss also drank some wine, and then he began to smoke the long pipe that had been given him, and he looked so funny Folly laughed outright. Puss didn’t mind, however, and only winked at her through the smoke-rings.
Then the King bade his fiddlers play for the guests, and they played such gay, merry music that Folly jumped down and began to dance.
"Ha, ha!" cried the King, clapping his hands, "you are a gay little dancer, a gay little dancer, indeed!"
After the fiddlers stopped playing, and Folly had climbed up in her chair again, King Cole said: "Now, Fairy Folly, you may take your choice; would you rather stay here and be entertained by my fiddlers, or would you rather wander round my palace and see the wonders it contains?"
Folly hesitated, for both plans sounded interesting, and just then two more visitors were announced to King Cole.
"Ha, Jack and Jill!" exclaimed the King. "Come in, come in, I’m right down glad to see you. Here is Fairy Folly; now you can all play round together."
"Yes, sir," said Jack, taking off his cap, "we heard Folly was here, and that’s one reason why we came. We’re so glad to meet her."
Jack and Jill were very pleasant-looking children, and Folly at once decided it would be more fun to roam round the palace with them than to be entertained in the King’s throne-room.
She said so, and King Cole said: "Very well, very well, my dears, trot away, trot away. Go wherever you like and do whatever you wish. Come back here before you go away, and tell me how you enjoyed yourselves.
So Folly trotted away, with Jack and Jill on either side of her, and in a few moments they were all laughing and chatting like old friends.
"Let’s go to the Invention Room first," said Jack, "it’s such fun in there."
"What kind of a room?" said Folly.
"The Invention Room. You see, old King Cole has invented the greatest lot of things, and we can set them to working and get candies or fruits, or toys, or whatever we want."
"Doesn’t the King mind?" asked Folly.
"Oh, no," said Jill, "he likes us to have a good time. He just laughs when we tell him what we’ve done."
So they went to the Invention Room, which was a great apartment, full of queer looking machines. They stopped in front of one that looked something like a writing-desk and something like a refrigerator.
"This is a candy-maker," explained Jack. "See those little pigeon-holes? They’re all labeled with names of different kinds of candy. Now, you just tap three times in any of them, and you get that kind of candy, see?"
Jack tapped in the division labeled chocolate creams, and there were a dozen luscious big ones awaiting him.
The children ate these up, and then Jill tapped for gumdrops. These appeared at once, and were the very best Folly had ever tasted. Then she tapped for cocoanut cakes, and, my, such beauties as appeared!
Another machine was like a tree, and all you had to do was to shake a branch and mention the fruit you wanted, and it dropped right off into a basket.
The children had nectarines, grapes and bananas, and then they went to the ice cream bureau.
This was full of small drawers, labeled vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and every other kind of ice cream that you ever heard of, and Folly and Jack and Jill had all they wanted.
"Now," said Jill, "let’s go and sit in front of the Story-Teller, and let it tell us stories."
Folly was much interested to know what the story-teller could be, so she went with Jack and Jill into a sort of alcove, which was curtained off from the rest of the room. Here were comfortable chairs and couches, and the children settled themselves among the soft cushions.
"You see," explained Jack, handing Folly a printed paper, "this is a list of the stories. You pick out the one you want, and then I’ll turn this little knob and we’ll all hear it."
Folly looked over the catalogue and said: "I choose No. 17, ‘The Discontented Doll.’"
"All right," said Jack, and he turned the little knob, and a sweet voice began telling a story.
It was rather weird to hear a voice and yet to see no one doing the talking; but it was such a pleasant voice, like a very kind aunt or grandmother, that Folly settled back in her chair and listened happily. This was the story:
The Discontented Doll
Once there was a doll who lived in Susy’s playhouse. She was a very pretty little doll, about as tall as a new lead-pencil, and she had yellow hair that was real and blue eyes that looked like real; and she wore a dear white dress and a pink sash.
Well, one day this doll grew discontented with her quiet life in the playhouse, and she thought she would like to run away and see the rest of the world. She had heard Susy talk about downstairs and outdoors, and she wondered where they were. So when no one was looking she climbed slyly out of the playhouse window and fell to the floor. She didn’t break, but the fall hurt her a little. However, she picked herself up and started on her travels.
She walked toward Susy’s writing-desk, which she had often seen from a distance, but which she wanted to examine more closely.
Before she reached it, Fido, Susy’s little dog, came bounding into the room.
The doll was fearfully frightened and hid behind a table-leg.
But Fido saw her and ran after her; then he took her right in his mouth and ran all around the room, shaking her as he went.
The poor little doll gave herself up for lost and gasped in terror.
But suddenly Fido thought he heard a mouse, and he dropped the doll and scampered away.
After the doll recovered her senses she tried once more to reach the writing-desk. But she was weak and lame and could scarcely move. Then Bridget came in to sweep.
She overlooked the little doll, and with a whisk of her broom tossed her half-way across the room.
But afterward, when she found her in the dustpan, she picked her out, and, shaking the dust off her with no very gentle hand, she put her back in the playhouse.
The poor little doll was all ragged and dirty, but she was so glad to get home again, she just lay where Bridget threw her and rested. Then Susy came. She couldn’t imagine how her dear dolly happened to be in such a state, but she washed her and made her a pretty new dress, and now the doll is quite contented to stay in the playhouse.
* * * * * * * *
"That’s a lovely story," said Folly, as the voice ceased speaking. "Now, Jill, you pick out one."
So Jill selected No. 29—"Miss Molly’s Plan."
Jack turned the knob, and they all heard
Miss Molly’s Plan
The schoolroom was warm and the children were tired, and although Miss Molly was very patient, she couldn’t seem to teach as well as usual. When she said, "Ethel, dear, go to the blackboard and do an example in fractions," Ethel said, "I can’t." Then, when she asked Tom to bound Brazil, he said, "I can’t;" and even when she coaxed Kitty to say her letters, little Kitty almost cried, and she said, "I ca-a-n’t!"
So Miss Molly smiled and said, brightly: "Children, I have an idea. Your lessons are all interfered with by that one word ‘can’t.’ Now, let’s put old ‘Can’t’ out of existence." The children stared, but Miss Molly gave them each a bit of paper, and made them write "can’t" on it. Even little Kitty was helped to print a big, crooked "CAN’T," and then Miss Molly produced a little box and asked the children to put the papers in it. Then she put the cover on and she led the line as they all marched out into the schoolyard. Here she dug a little hole, and buried the box with all the "can’ts."
"There," she said, as she patted down the soft earth, "now old ‘Can’t’ is dead and buried, and I hope we’ll never hear of him again."
* * * * * * * *
"That’s a good story," said Jack, "but now it’s my turn to choose, and I’ll take one about a boy. I’m going to have No. 43—‘Bobby’s Watch.’" He turned the knob, and soon he and the girls, too, were interested in
When Uncle John came home from Europe, what do you think he brought to Bobby? Why, a watch, a really, truly watch that would keep time. Of course, as Bobby was only six years old, he was rather young to take care of a nice watch like that, but Uncle John showed him how to wind it and set it, and so Bobby kept his watch in first-rate order. But one day he noticed a speck of dirt on its face. "Ho, ho," said Bobby to himself, "I don’t want my nice, new watch to have a dirty face. I’ll wash it." So he went up in the bathroom and he put the watch in a bowl of warm water and rubbed plenty of soap on it. He even took a little brush and scrubbed the inside works, so there shouldn’t be a speck of dirt about it anywhere. Then he wiped it dry with a clean towel and put it back in his pocket.
Well, after that it didn’t seem to go as well as usual, so Bobby decided it needed oiling. He got his mother’s oil-can from her sewing-machine and carefully oiled all the wheels of his watch. But still it didn’t seem to go right.
Then Bobby happened to think that perhaps the weather was too cold for it, so he went out in the kitchen and put it in the oven for a while. It got so hot he had to take it out with a pair of tongs, and then he put it out of doors in a big snowdrift to cool off. But, do you know, even after all that careful treatment that hateful old watch wouldn’t go right, so Bobby gave it back to Uncle John and said he didn’t care much for watches, anyway.
* * * * * * * *
While the children were laughing at this funny story, Puss-in-Boots appeared and told Folly that it was time for them to be starting, as he wanted to be at Aladdin’s palace by dinner-time.
"Oh, Folly," said Jack, "wait for just one more story. You can choose it yourself."
Puss agreed to this, and he sat down with the children to wait for one more story from the Story-Teller.
Folly looked over the list again, and selected No. 103—"Polly’s Frocks."
"That’s a cunning one," said Jill; "I’ve often heard it, and I’ll be glad to hear it again."
Jack started the machine going, and they heard this:
It was the middle of the night, and Polly’s frocks all hung in the nursery wardrobe. They were quiet for a time, and then the light blue China silk one said: "Don’t crowd so, Pink Gingham. You are crushing my lace ruffles. I am Polly’s best frock, and I ought to have more room."
"Pooh," said the Pink Gingham, "maybe you are her best, but she doesn’t like you as well as she likes me. When she wears you she has to be so careful of you that she can’t have any fun. She likes me best because if she gets me soiled I can be washed."
"No, she likes me the best," said the Red Merino, "because she always wears me when she goes to Grandma’s, and we do have lovely times there."
"Well," said a White Apron, "I know she’s awfully fond of me, because she wears me to kindergarten, and she is so proud of my shoulder-bows."
"I’ll tell you how we’ll know which she likes best," said a dear little White Lawn dress.
"To-morrow is Polly’s birthday, and on that day her mamma always lets her wear any dress she chooses. Now, we’ll see which of us she’ll select. I think she’ll take me."
The blue China silk said nothing, but shrugged its shoulders in a way that showed what it thought. Next morning Polly opened her eyes bright and early and Mamma came in and gave her five birthday kisses.
"It’s my birfday, isn’t it?" she said, gleefully.
"Yes, dear," said Mamma, "and here’s your first present. What do you s’pose is in this box?"
"Oh, what, what?" cried Polly. "Open it quick, Mudder, dear, I want to see."
The frocks in the wardrobe wanted to see, too, and they poked their sleeves out between the doors, trying to elbow each other out of the way.
"Oh, oh," screamed Polly in delight, "it’s a beautiful new dress, all made of plaid, with gilt buttons! Oh, Mudder, let me put it right on and wear it for my birfday."
"Yes, indeedy," said her mother, kissing her, and then all the other little frocks shrunk back into the wardrobe and hung there dejectedly without saying a word.
* * * * * * * *
"Oh!" exclaimed Folly, "I do think that Story-Teller is just lovely. When I have a palace of my own, that’s the first thing I’ll get for it."
"I don’t know about that," said Jack; "this is the only one I’ve ever seen or heard of. But you can come here and listen to it as often as you like; King Cole is a dear old soul, he lets us come whenever we wish. Must you go now?"
"Yes," said Folly, for Puss seemed impatient to be starting, and then she bade good-bye to Jack and Jill and returned to the throne-room to thank the King for her pleasant visit.
"Not at all, not at all," said he in his hearty way. "Glad you liked it. Come again, come again!" and he shook Folly’s hand vigorously. The Fiddlers Three bowed deferentially to Folly and Puss, and then struck up a lively march tune, and Folly and Puss marched away from the palace.
After leaving Old King Cole’s palace Folly and Puss-in-Boots merrily skipped along over the green meadows and flowery fields of Fairyland, and presently Folly saw a queer-looking thing looming up ahead of them.
"What is that great building?" she asked of her companion.
"What does it look like?" said Puss, smiling at her astonishment.
"Why, it looks like a great immense shoe, but it’s as big as a house."
"And it is a house," said Puss. "Now, surely you can guess who lives in it."
"Oh, is it the home of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe?"
"Yes, it is, and if you like we’ll call on her. But it must be a short call, for I want to get to Aladdin’s palace in time for dinner. They have gorgeous feasts there, and I’m as hungry as a common cat."
"So am I," said Folly. "And, of course, we can’t get anything to eat in The Shoe, for the old woman gives her children only broth, without any bread."
"Well," said Puss, philosophically, "that’s better than bread without any broth, but still I think we’ll wait and feast on old Aladdin’s dainties. However, The Shoe is worth seeing, so we’ll stop there awhile."
And, indeed, it was worth seeing.
Imagine a great shoe, one hundred feet long, shaped like those your grandfather used to wear, with a shining buckle on the instep, and a high heel.
Why, the heel itself was twenty feet high. And the buckle was an immense affair of gilded metal, which measured about thirty-five feet each way. Of course, this House-shoe contained lots of doors and windows, but they were so cleverly contrived that they in no way interfered with its beautiful shape and symmetry of outline. And out of every door and window children were peeping. And, besides these, there were dozens of children playing around on the grassy lawn outside the shoe.
Such a babel of laughter and clatter you never heard. Some of the children were singing and some were shouting, and some were yelling, and some were crying, and some were hooting, and some were chuckling, and some were screaming, and some were screeching, and some were mumbling, and some were roaring, and some were giggling, and some were weeping, and some were wailing, and some were whistling, and some were just staring blankly at the visitors who were approaching.
Folly was delighted to see all these children, though she was a little bewildered by the din and racket they were making.
Puss-in-Boots strode up to the main door, which was in the side of the shoe, half-way between the toe and the heel.
"Is your mother at home?" he called out in a very loud tone.
"Yes, sir," screamed all the children in chorus, and the scream was so loud that Folly clapped her hands over her ears.
When the mischievous children saw this they set up a howl of laughter, and repeated "Yes, sir," again and again, each time louder than before.
"Tell her we want to see her," said Puss, yelling like fury to make himself heard.
Then the children screamed "Mother! Mother! Mother! Mother!" and kept on screaming "mother" until Folly thought she should go crazy.
Some yelled "Mother" in high, shrill voices, and some growled "Mother" in deep, gruff tones, but, one and all, they kept it up until at last a little old woman appeared in the main doorway.
She was a very gentle, timid little old woman, and every time she tried to speak her voice was completely drowned by the shrieks of the unruly children. They swarmed around her, they pulled at her gown, they tickled her ears, they tore her apron, they pulled her hair, they patted her hands, they whispered to her, they kissed her, they stepped on her toes, and all the time they kept screaming and yelling.
"What do they want?" said Folly. "Do they want broth?"
"They’ve had their broth," said the old woman. It was hard for her to talk, for the children were climbing all over her, and one little chap sat on her shoulder and nearly strangled her by putting his arms tightly around her neck.
"They always act like this," went on the poor woman, "and I’m sure I don’t know what will become of me. But there’s only one thing to do, so I may as well do it."
"What is that?" said Folly.
"It is to whip them all round and send them to bed."
Folly remembered that when she used to read at home about these children being whipped she felt very sorry for them, but now she really felt glad that they were to be punished.
The old woman went back into the shoe and then returned with a little switch.
To Folly’s amazement, the children immediately began to form in line, and the line was such a long one it wound like a great snake across the grass.
Still yelling and raising the greatest hullabaloo you can imagine, they filed past the old woman, one by one, and into the shoe.
As they passed they held out their hands, and the old woman whipped each one soundly. The moment one was whipped he or she stopped screaming at once and disappeared into the shoe.
So, you see, the awful noise kept growing less and less, and finally the last child was disposed of, and the old woman threw down her switch.
"There," she exclaimed, in a tone of great relief, "now that’s done for to-day. I hate to whip them, but there’s no other way. The story says so, you know, and that’s all there is about it."
"Do they carry on like that every day?" asked Folly.
"Yes’m, and sometimes it’s worse. There are so many of ’em, I don’t know what to do. But after they go to bed it’s so quiet that I feel awfully lonesome, and so I’m glad when they wake up again the next morning. But, of course, I have to have some quiet time, for I have to make all their clothes, and cook their broth, and cut paper dolls for them. And, then, I do all the washing and ironing, which takes some time, you know. But after my work is done I get so lonely I am sometimes tempted to wake them up for company."
Folly looked at the frail little old woman and wondered how she could stand such a life, but she only said:
"This is a beautiful house you have."
"Yes, indeed," said the old woman, brightening up. "It is a lovely home—and every morning a hundred professional shoe-blacks come and polish it up so you could see your face in it. It commands a fine view from the top of the instep. Would you like to get up there?"
"No, not to-day," said Puss-in-Boots, decidedly. "We are on a tour through Fairyland, and our time is limited. Some other day perhaps Fairy Folly will come to see you again."
"I will, indeed," said Folly, but to herself she thought that she would time her visit so that those rackety children should be in bed.
Then they all said good-bye to each other, and Folly and Puss started off with the intention of making a beeline for Aladdin’s palace.
"DO you know," said Folly, confidently, to Puss-in-Boots, as they walked along, "do you know I’m perfectly crazy to see Aladdin’s palace, but I’m a little bit afraid, too."
"Afraid!" said Puss. "Why, what in the world are you afraid of?"
"Well, you know that horrible big thing, what do you call him, Genie? that appears whenever Aladdin rubs his lamp. Of course, I’ve read all about him in my Fairy Books, and I know he’s kind and powerful and all that, but he’s so big and terrific. I’m sure I shall be afraid of him."
"Oh, no, you won’t, Folly," said Puss, kindly. "Why, that Genie is the dearest old thing you ever saw. And he’s so good-natured and generous he’ll give you anything you ask for."
"Oh, will he?" cried Folly, her eyes shining. "Will he give me a pearl and turquoise ring?"
"Indeed he will! Just you try him once. And now, here we are at the gates of the palace grounds."
Folly looked up and saw two great gates of wonderful bronze that gleamed like gold in the sunlight. They were set in a great high wall, and as they were shut there seemed to be no way to get inside.
Folly looked so disappointed at this that Puss-in-Boots laughed.
"Why, Folly,’’ said he, "what’s the use of being a fairy if you don’t exercise your powers? Tap on the gate three times with your wand and see what happens."
Folly tapped on the great gates and they flew open at once, and disclosed a most magnificent scene. The grounds about the palace were filled with rare plants and trees, bearing beautiful flowers. There were double violets as big as carnations, and carnations as big as roses, and roses as big as peonies, and peonies as big as cabbages. Then there were all sorts of strange flowers, such as Folly had never seen before. There were exquisite blue roses, and great red calla lilies, and pink sunflowers, and yellow morning-glories.
Folly was so delighted that she just flew from one bush to another, with exclamations of joy.
Puss-in-Boots didn’t care so much for the flowers, but he spied a bed of catnip, and he went and rolled himself about in it like a crazy cat. When Folly saw him tumbling over and over she couldn’t help laughing, but she tapped him with her wand and bade him get up and behave himself and proceed with her to the palace. Puss jumped up and shook the loose catnip out of his fur, and then they wandered on toward the palace. But there was so much to look at by the way that their progress was slow.
The path to the palace was covered by a rich, red velvet carpet, and it led beneath a series of triumphal arches. These great arches were all of carved marble, ornamented with gold, and from one to another hung garlands of beautiful flowers. From the tops of the arches numerous flags were flying, and a retinue of black slaves in white robes and turbans conducted the visitors to the palace court.
The outer court, which they entered first, had a floor of mosaic. All kinds of rare and beautiful colored marble was laid in intricate patterns. The walls were of marble carved in an openwork, which let in the sun and air. From the ceiling of carved alabaster hung thousands of silver lamps, and Folly wished it were evening that she might see them lighted. They went through to the inner court, which was right next to the palace itself. This court was all of silver. The floor was made of silver bricks, each one being chased and embossed. The walls were of wrought silver in designs of birds and flowers, and the ceiling was a great mirror set in a silver frame.
In this court were twenty black slaves dressed in white robes, embroidered with silver.
At first Folly felt a little awed by these slaves, but she remembered that when she read of Aladdin’s palace much mention was made of his slaves and attendants, and she remembered, too, that now she was a Fairy herself, and she must get used to all these strange things. So when the twenty black slaves salaamed, which means that they fell flat on their faces before Folly and Puss, Folly waved her wand, saying:
"Rise, oh slaves, and convey us to the presence of His Majesty the Prince Aladdin."
The slaves hopped up quickly and formed in lines each side of the palace door, where they stood bowing and waiting for the guests to pass in. But Folly paused a moment to take a look at the palace itself. And no wonder, for it was indeed a gorgeous sight. It was built entirely of porphyry, jasper, agate, lapis lazuli and the finest marble. On each side there were six windows, and the lattices of these were enriched with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, so that they exceeded anything the world had ever seen.
The doors were of solid gold studded with all sorts of precious stones, and they sparkled and shone so brightly that Folly’s sight was fairly dazzled.
But Puss-in-Boots had seen all this many times before, and he was in a hurry to get inside, so he begged Folly to enter and view the outside of the palace at some other time.
As Folly stepped on the threshold the great doors flew open of their own accord, and Folly and Puss found themselves in a spacious hall.
In the centre was an immense fountain of scented water, surrounded with growing flowers and singing birds.
Strains of soft music floated on the air, although no musicians were in sight.
The massive furniture was all of solid gold, with soft cushions of red velvet, studded with jewels. Turbaned attendants stood motionless against the marble walls, evidently awaiting words of command.
Everything was so grand, so overpoweringly magnificent, that Folly couldn’t help feeling a little awed. But she determined that since she was a Fairy she would act like one, so, pointing her wand at the principal attendant, she said: "What ho! Sirrah! Announce to your master that the Fairy Folly is here."
The slave vanished and returned in a moment, saying:
"His Majesty anxiously awaits your presence." Then some more great doors at the back of the hall flew open and disclosed another gorgeous apartment.
This was the throne-room of Prince Aladdin and his wife, who, as you remember, was the Princess Buddir al Buddoor. It was his marriage with her that made him a Prince, you know.
The walls of the throne-room were hung with curtains of rich red velvet, looped back occasionally to show the wonderful windows with their jewel-studded casements.
On a great gold throne sat the Prince and Princess, holding jeweled scepters. Aladdin wore a robe of white satin covered with gold lace and dotted all over with rubies. On his head was a jeweled crown, and he was so handsome and kind-looking that Folly loved him at once.
The Princess was robed in cloth-of-gold, studded with gems of great price. She wore a diamond crown and a long lace veil hung down over her shoulders. She was so sweet and beautiful that she reminded Folly a little of Cinderella, only Buddir was much more gorgeously dressed and, moreover, was of foreign appearance. Folly bowed gracefully to these personages and said:
"Oh, Aladdin, and Princess Buddir al Buddoor, accept the homage and admiration of your humble servant the Fairy Folly, and her friend and companion, Sir Puss-in-Boots. We have went—wended, I mean—our way hither to see your noble palace and your noble selves, and lo, we behold far greater wonders than we ever dreamed of."
"Speak for yourself," interrupted Puss. "I’ve visited this palace ever since I was a kitten, and though it is more gorgeously ornamented, it really is no better than the castle of my Lord Marquis of Carabas."
Folly was afraid the Aladdins would be offended at this, but not a bit of it. They only winked at each other and Aladdin said:
"Thy Marquis hath indeed a marvelous fine castle, and after viewing my home the Fairy Folly will doubtless visit it. Fairy child, thou art welcome within our gates, and so long as thou choosest to remain mine is thine."
He held out his scepter, and Folly, not knowing exactly what she ought to do, touched the jeweled rod with her own fairy wand. As it happened, this was the very right thing, and Aladdin smiled benignly.
Then the Princess spake: "Fairy Folly, thou art a well-mannered one, and a delight to look upon. I would thou shouldst abide here a thousand years, and we will make merry together. Mine is thine."
Folly was delighted with this cordial reception, and had half a mind to send Puss-in-Boots away, and stay with the Aladdins the rest of her life.
But Puss said, abruptly: "Fairy Folly may return here when she choose, but at the present we are making a tour of Fairyland, which may not be interrupted. If it please thee, however, oh Prince and Princess, we will at this time dine with thee."
"You do us honor," said the Princess, prettily. Then Aladdin drew from his sash a small lamp, which Folly felt at once must be the wonderful lamp she had read of in her book.
"Oh," said she, with a look of terror, "will the Genie come?"
"Yes," said Aladdin, smiling at her, "but do not be afraid. Come and stand by me, and you will learn to know and love our dear old Genie." So Folly stood beside Aladdin, who put his arm round her with a protecting air, and then he rubbed the lamp.
As Folly had expected, a frightful-looking Genie appeared. At least, he seemed frightful at first, but when, from the safe enclosure of Aladdin’s arm, Folly looked at the strange being, she saw he had a kind face and merry, twinkling eyes. It was his form that was so startling. You see, he seemed to come right up out of the floor, and except for his head he seemed to be all made of a black vapor that was continually rolling about like a mass of clouds. His head was covered with a cloudlike mist of black hair, but the appearance of his face was pleasant and friendly. His voice was like a roll of thunder, and Folly trembled a little when he began to speak, although she well knew there was nothing to fear.
He said: "What wouldst thou have? I am ready to obey thee as thy slave, and the slave of all those who have that lamp in their hands; I and the other slaves of the lamp."
Folly remembered this speech, she had often read it in her Fairybook story of Aladdin, and she smiled at the great Genie as if he were an old friend. He smiled at her, too, so cordially that Folly said:
"Oh, now I know what people mean when they speak of a ‘genial smile;’ they mean like the smile of Genie."
"Ay, that they do," responded the Genie, much pleased at this compliment, "and now, fair lady, I await but thy commands."
"Here," said Aladdin, offering Folly his lamp, "you hold this, and then you may order whatever you like for dinner."
"Oh," exclaimed Folly, in delight; "what fun that will be!" She took the lamp in her little hands and said slowly:
"Methinks, oh, kind Genie of the Lamp, we wouldst like a feast such as they used to have in the Arabian Nights. And methinks we’d like it pretty quick, for methinks we’re awful hungry." The Genie smiled a little at this speech, but he said, gravely:
"Most noble Fairy Folly, your Highness, Puss-in-Boots, and my Imperial Master and Mistress, Aladdin, the feast is already served in the adjoining saloon, where it awaits your pleasure."
Then the Genie disappeared, and Aladdin, after carefully putting away his lamp, offered his arm to Folly, and Puss offered his arm to Princess Aladdin, and they all marched out to the next room, where the feast was spread.
And such a feast as it was! To begin with, the dishes were all of gold and silver, enameled with curious work, and studded with sparkling jewels.
Then there were wonderful delicacies of every description—pastries and confectionaries made into tiny representations of Aladdin’s palace; ice-creams representing flowers and birds, and even people, for there was one that was a copy of Folly herself, and when she ate it it tasted very good. Then there were rich tropical fruits, currants as big as grapes, and grapes as big as plums and plums as big as oranges, and oranges as big as muskmelons, and muskmelons as big as cabbages, and cabbages—but, no, there weren’t any cabbages there.
Puss-in-Boots was much pleased with the feast, and divided his attention between a plate of fricasseed salmon and a saucer of cream.
Folly ate all she wanted of the goodies, and then sat chatting with the Princess, who was very sweet and entertaining.
"Now," said Aladdin to Folly, "I am going to call up the Genie again to remove these things, and then you may ask him for whatever you wish, and he will give it to you."
Aladdin rubbed his lamp, and the great Genie appeared.
Folly then took the lamp from Aladdin and said to the Genie: "I wouldst be much obliged if you wouldst give me a pearl and turquoise ring."
She had no sooner said it than the Genie placed in her hand a good-sized casket of gold.
With a little scream of joy, she handed the lamp back to Aladdin and eagerly began to open her box.
It was lined with lovely blue velvet, and contained the ring she had asked for, and also a necklace, a tiara and a pair of bracelets, all of fine workmanship and filled with rich jewels.
Of course, when Folly was a little girl living with her parents this jewelry would not have been at all appropriate for her to wear, but now she was a fairy and she could wear whatever she chose. She quickly slipped on her new ornaments, and, with a low courtesy to the good Genie, she said:
"I thank you right heartily, good sir, for your much kindness, and I shall always love you well."
The Genie seemed amused at this speech, and asked Folly if she wouldn’t have something else. But she was a modest little girl, and was more than satisfied with her presents, so she said: "No, thank you," and the Genie disappeared. But after he had gone Aladdin told Folly that when she had finished her tour of Fairyland, and was ready to build her own palace and live in it, that he had no doubt the Genie would help her. Folly thanked Aladdin, and then they all went on to view the rest of the palace. They went through room after room, each more beautiful than the last. Music rooms, libraries, playrooms, gymnasiums, picture galleries, all kinds of apartments, and, when they came to a dear little room, all furnished in blue and gold, the Princess told Folly that henceforth that room should be reserved for her, and she might occupy it whenever she chose.
Folly thanked her kind friends again and again, and, just as she was about to propose that she and Puss start on their journey again, she discovered that Sir Puss had curled himself up on a luxurious red velvet pillow and gone to sleep.
It seemed a pity to awaken him, so Aladdin suggested that they go into the concert room and hear some music.
Just as they seated themselves for the concert, a black slave appeared and announced a visitor:
"Show him in," said Aladdin, as he read the card, and who do you suppose it was?
The Robber Kitten!
At first Folly didn’t remember him; then she recollected the kitten who once to his mother said: "I’ll never more be good. But I will be a robber fierce, and live in a dreary wood, wood, wood, wood! and live in a dreary wood!"
The Robber Kitten entered. He was not so big as Puss-in-Boots, but he was much fiercer.
He looked like a bold pirate, and his array of swords and cutlasses was quite fearful.
He strode into the room, and clanking his spurs together he made a low bow to the Prince and Princess and to Folly.
"By my Halidome, what have we here?" he cried out, "a new fairy, forsooth! and a monstrous pretty one! I like thee well, Fairy Folly. Tarry with us, and I will bring thee of my booty and plunder."
Folly could scarcely help laughing, his blustering manner was so ridiculous for a kitten. Indeed, she wanted to catch him up and squeeze him, he was so fat and roly-poly. But she only said:
"I am much apleased to meet the brave and adventurous Robber Kitten. Tell me of thy doughty deeds."
"I can better sing them," said the kitten, and then glancing at Aladdin he said: "May I have an accompaniment?"
"Ay," said Aladdin, and in a twinkling there was a full brass band ready to accompany the kitten’s solo. Striking a heroic attitude, he began, and the brass band skilfully accompanied him without drowning his voice.
This was the song he sang, to an air which Folly recognized immediately:
"I am a Robber Cat,
Never at rest;
Mousie or bird or rat,
Each is my guest,
When honest people sleep,
When owls their vigils keep,
Forth on my raids I creep,
Robbin’ a nest.
"Of all pursuits to me
This is the best;
Sly creepin’ up a tree,
Robbin’ a nest.
Then, when the deed is done,
Swiftly I cut and run;
Oh, but it’s lots of fun
Robbin’ a nest."
With a bombastic flourish, the song came to an end, and the Robber Kitten came and sat down with his friends.
"Have you been in Fairyland long?" he asked politely of Folly.
"No," she replied, "and I think it’s very lovely, but—do you know, I’m surprised that I meet so few cats. Yourself and Puss-in-Boots are the only ones I’ve seen so far, except the ones in Scary’s palace."
"Oh, there are lots of them for you to meet yet," said the Robber Kitten. "There are the two Cats of Kilkenny and the Cheshire Cat, and the White Cat, and Dame Trot’s Cat, and many others. But I must be going. I have a deal of robbing to do to-night. Good-bye!" and like a streak of lightning he shot out of the door and was gone.
"He’s always like that," said Aladdin. "I think he never was quite right in his head."
Just then Puss-in-Boots reappeared, much refreshed by his nap, and, with a profound bow to his host and hostess, he announced that he and Folly must depart and continue their travels.
So, with great reluctance, Folly bade farewell to the kind Prince and Princess, and, promising to return soon for another visit, she took her leave.
"Now," said she to Puss as they were once more on the highroad, "where are we going?"
"Right over there," said Puss, pointing, "is Bo-Peep’s meadow. There seems to be some kind of a merry-making going on there, so suppose we toddle over and see what it’s all about."
"Oh, yes, do," said Folly. "I’d love to see Little Bo-Peep. And has she a flock of sheep?"
"Well," said Puss, "we’ll go and see."
As Folly and Puss-in-Boots crossed the meadow they met Little Bo-Peep, who came dancing toward them. She was a very pretty little girl, with yellow ringlets and big blue eyes. She wore a white bodice and a blue kirtle, and blue ribbons were fluttering from her shoulders. In her hand she carried a dainty little crook, twined with ribbons and flowers. As she drew near they heard her singing:
"I’ve lost my sheep, I’ve lost my
I don’t know where to find them,
But I’ll leave them alone, and they’ll come home,
Wagging their tails behind them."
When she spied Folly, she ran up to her and kissed her, exclaiming: "Oh, you dear thing, I’m so glad you’ve come! Won’t you stay with me and be my sister?"
Folly was tempted to say yes, for Bo-Peep was such a merry, laughing child that it was a joy just to look at her. But she remembered the castles and palaces yet unvisited, so she told Bo-Peep that she couldn’t stay at present, but perhaps she would return and live with her after she had made the tour of Fairyland.
Puss chuckled at this, for Folly had said it to nearly every one she had met.
"Oh, here come my sheep," cried Little Bo-Peep, suddenly. And sure enough, a great flock of sheep came running toward her.
They were lovely sheep, all soft and white and woolly, and each had a blue ribbon around his neck, with a little silver bell on it.
"Why!" exclaimed Bo-Peep in great surprise, and her pretty blue eyes filled with tears. "Why! they haven’t any tails!"
"I knew they wouldn’t have," said Folly, laughing; "that’s in the story."
"Is it?" said Bo-Peep, wonderingly.
"Oh, come now, Bo-Peep," said Puss-in-Boots. "You ought to know by this time. Don’t they come back every day without their tails?"
"Yes," admitted Bo-Peep, "but I’m always just as much surprised."
"Then you’re a little goose-girl," said Puss, "and you ought to be tending geese instead of sheep."
But Bo-Peep paid no further attention to her guests, as she was all absorbed in caring for her beautiful sheep, so Puss and Folly wandered on. Soon they came to a great, thick, dense, dark, high hedge.
"What is that?" said Folly.
"That," said Puss, "is the home of the Sleeping-Beauty-in-the-Wood. But as she is at present taking one of her hundred-year naps, I don’t believe you’ll care to go in."
"Indeed I will," answered Folly; "I’d love to see her asleep, and all the courtiers and servants asleep, and all the cats and dogs and chickens asleep, too."
"All right, then," said Puss, "in we go." So saying, he made a dash at the great, thick, dense, dark, high hedge, and jumped right through. Folly followed quickly, for she remembered in the story how the hedge closed up again as soon as one entered.
Inside the enclosure all was as still as death. They went through the garden, and saw birds asleep on the branches of the trees, ducks and swans asleep on the surface of the pond, worms and hoptoads asleep in the grass, chickens asleep in the hennery, horses asleep in the stables, cats and dogs asleep in the courtyard, and as there was a mouse asleep in the barn, Puss pounced on him and ate him up. They entered the palace, and there was a great table spread as if for a feast, but the guests sitting round it were all asleep. Servants who were passing the dishes had evidently fallen asleep just where they stood. Even the flies on the wall were asleep.
"Doesn’t it make you feel sleepy?" said Puss to Folly. "I’m ready for a nap myself."
"No, indeed," said Folly, "I’m not sleepy. I never saw anything like cats for sleeping. But I do believe my foot’s asleep! So I’m going to walk around all over the palace, and if you choose you may take a nap here, and I’ll waken you when I come back."
"All right," said Puss, and he picked out a sunny corner of a large couch and curled himself up there, and was soon purring in his sleep.
Folly looked at him admiringly, for he was a very handsome cat, and his fur was magnificent. Then she went on to explore the palace. She found plenty to interest her, for there were a thousand rooms all full of beautiful things.
Folly remembered the little room in the top of the tower, where the Princess had found the old woman spinning, and she went up there to see if the spindle might still be there. It was, and not only the spindle but the old woman herself, who, of course, had fallen asleep at her spinning, and still sat there taking her long, placid nap.
It was a forlorn little room, and there were spiders in webs on the windows, but, as the spiders were asleep, Folly did not mind them. But she soon satisfied her curiosity in regard to the spindle and ran downstairs again to the more beautiful rooms.
One was the Princess’ playroom, and it was full of the most beautiful toys. There was a great doll’s house, with electric lights, and running water, and an elevator and a telephone, and a messenger call; and this was wonderful, you know, for except in Fairyland these things hadn’t been invented when the Princess went to sleep.
Then there were about a thousand dolls of every sort and kind. And all the dolls that could go to sleep had done so, and the others sat quietly staring with their round, wide-open eyes.
These dolls had beautiful dresses of silks and velvets, and feathered hats, and muffs, and opera cloaks, and mackintoshes and rubbers and umbrellas, and jewelry of real gold and diamonds and rubies.
And the Princess had a wonderful library, with all the books that have ever been written for children in it, and she had all the games that ever were invented, and in one cupboard were boxes and boxes of candy of all kinds. And in tubs were growing orange trees and banana trees and peach trees, so that she could help herself to fresh fruit whenever she wished. But though all these things were very attractive, Folly was anxious to see the Princess herself.
So she went on to the Princess’ bedroom, and there she lay, on a beautiful bed all embroidered with gold and silver and pearls. Folly thought she had never seen any one so beautiful as the Princess.
A lovely child-face, with a pink flush on her cheeks, her closed eyes showing their long curling lashes, and her long hair clustering all over the pillow. Folly gently kissed the rosy lips, but the Princess showed no signs of awakening, so Folly ventured softly to stroke the dear little hand that lay on the silken coverlet.
The Princess wore a magnificent dress of cloth-of-gold, trimmed with point lace, for you remember she fell asleep in the daytime, and she had on many sparkling jewels, and a diamond crown rested among her wavy curls.
Folly gazed at the Sleeping Beauty until she began to feel sleepy herself, although she had scorned the idea when Puss suggested it. But she felt so very sleepy that it seemed as if she must lie down beside the lovely Princess for a little nap at least. With Folly, to think was to act, so in a moment she had snugly tucked herself under the embroidered coverlet, close beside the Princess.
Of course, the Princess didn’t waken, and in a few minutes Folly also fell asleep.
They looked almost like twin sisters, for Folly was a very pretty little girl, and in her fairy robes, and the jewels the Genie had given her, she was as well dressed as her companion.
Folly slept for some time, and then with a yawn and a little stretch she awoke, and what do you think?
The Princess and the palace and Fairyland itself were all gone, and Folly found herself on the divan in her mamma’s library where she had gone to sleep on Christmas day after reading her book of Fairy Tales.
"Oh," said Folly, jumping up, and looking in dismay at her little red plaid dress and white apron, "where are they all?"
"Where are what, my child?" said her mother; "have you been dreaming?"
"I s’pose I have," said Folly, "but it seemed so real."
And then she cuddled up in her mother’s lap to tell her all about it.
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