A Christmas Posy
by Mary Louisa Stewart Molesworth
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"Down, Rollo, down—oh, you naughty old dog," it said.

Just then the little girl came out to ask Eliza if she'd mind coming in to fetch the milk, as she couldn't carry both the jug and the cups. Eliza went in, and I suppose she stayed chatting to the farmer's wife, who, she told us afterwards, was busy churning, for she was certainly five minutes gone. While she was away, the gate into the orchard opened and a girl—not a little girl, but a grown-up young lady—came running out, followed by a beautiful big dog. He was really a splendid fellow, and as she ran, he ran, half jumping against her—I think she had something in her hand he wanted to get—and again we heard the laughing voice call out—

"Down, Rollo—you naughty old fellow. You'll knock me over if you don't take care, you great, clumsy darling."

They rushed across the road—the girl and the dog—and down a little lane just opposite. They were gone like a flash, but we did, at least I did see them, the dog especially, quite clearly. Afterwards I tried to fancy I hadn't, but that was not true. I did see the dog perfectly.

I turned to Persis.

"Did you ever see such a beauty?" I said. But just then Eliza came out with the milk, and we didn't say any more about the dog. We both kept thinking about it all the way home, I know, but somehow we didn't care to talk about it before Eliza. The wish for a dog of our own had become such a very deep-down thought in our hearts that we could not talk about it easily or lightly—not even to each other always.

Papa came back from London the next day, but mamma was disappointed to hear that he was obliged to return there again the end of the week, this time to stay two nights. We did not drive with him again to the station because it was a wet day, otherwise we should have wished it doubly, in the chance of having another sight of the beautiful dog.

It was the very day after papa had gone this second time that a strange thing happened. Persis and I were out in the garden rather late in the evening before going to bed, and we had just gone a tiny bit out into the lane to see if the sky looked red over the moor where the sun set, when we heard a sort of rushing, pattering sound, and looking round, what should be coming banging along towards us, as fast as he could, but a great big dog. He stopped when he got up to us and began wagging his tail and rubbing his head against us in the sweetest way, and then we saw that his tongue was hanging out, and that his coat was rough and dusty, and he breathed fast and pantingly—he was evidently very tired, and, above all, thirsty. I was off for a mug of water for him before we said a word, and oh how glad he was of it! He really said "Thank you" with his tail and his sweet nose as plainly as if he had spoken. And he didn't seem to think of leaving us—he was alone, there was no one in sight, and he seemed as if he was sure he had found friends in us.

"He is very like—he is just like——" Persis began at last. But I interrupted her.

"There are lots of dogs like him," I said. "He is lost—we must take him in for the night. Oh, Persis, just fancy—if he is really quite lost, we may have to keep him for good. Mamma might perhaps let us. Oh, Persis!"

We took him in with us and called to mamma to come out to the door to look at him. She saw what a beauty he was at once, and stroked his head and called him "poor doggie," for, as I said, she is always kind to animals, though she doesn't care for pets.

"We must take him in for the night any way," she said. "Perhaps in the morning we may find out where he comes from."

There was an empty kennel in the yard, and we found some nice clean hay in the hampers that we had brought with groceries from London. And the cook gave us some scraps and one or two big bones. So "Bruno," as of course we called him, was made very comfortable.

And you can fancy—no, I really—I don't think you can—the state of excitement in which Persis and I went to bed.


WE got up very early indeed the next morning, and of course we both rushed straight to the yard. We had had a dreadful feeling that perhaps somebody would have come to claim the dog, and that we should find him gone. But no—there he was, the beauty, and as soon as ever he saw us, out he came wagging his dear tail and looking as pleased as pleased.

"Do you see how he knows us already, Archie?" said Persis. "Isn't he too sweet? Couldn't you really think the fairies had sent him to be our very own?"

We could scarcely eat any breakfast, and the moment it was over we dragged mamma out to look at him. She was as nearly much taken with him as we were, we could see, only she said one thing which I wished she hadn't.

"How unhappy his owners must be at having lost him!" it was.

And then she began talking about what could be done to find them. Persis and I didn't say anything. We wouldn't speak even to each other about what we both knew deep down in our hearts—we wouldn't even think of it.

Papa was not to be back till the next day. Nothing could be done till he came, any way, so all that day Persis and I had the full happiness of Bruno. He was so good and obedient and seemed so perfectly at home with us, that we even ventured to take him out a walk, though not of course a very long one. He gambolled over the moor with us, seemingly as happy as could be, and the very moment we called him back he came. It was wonderful how he seemed to know his name, especially when we called it out rather long, making the last "o" sound a good deal—"Brunoo," like that, you know. Oh, he was so delightful! All our fancies about having a dog seemed nothing compared to the reality.

The next day papa came back. He was almost as pleased with Bruno as we were.

"Yes," he said, after looking him well over, "he is a beauty and no mistake. A collie of the very best kind. But some one or other must be in trouble about him."

"That's just what I have been saying," mamma put in. "If this weren't such an out-of-the-way place, no doubt we should have seen advertisements about him."

"I'll look in the local papers," said papa.

And that evening when we were at tea, he came in with a little thin-looking newspaper in his hand, which he seemed to be searching all through for something. Persis and I shivered, but we didn't dare to say much.

"Have you been at Local, papa?" I asked. "Is it far from here?"

"Been at where?" papa said. "What in the world is the child talking about?"

Papa has rather a sharp way sometimes, but he doesn't mean it, so we don't mind.

"At Local," I said again, "the place where you said there was a newspaper. Is it anywhere near the station?" (I hoped of course it was not, for the nearer the station the more likely that the dog should be advertised for in the newspaper. You know of course what I mean by "near the station.")

To my surprise papa burst out laughing.

"You little goose," he said, holding out the paper. "There, look for yourself;" and I saw that the name of the paper was The Wildmoor Gazette. I was quite puzzled, and I suppose my face showed it.

"Local," said papa, "only means connected with the place—with any place. I just meant that I would get the newspaper of this place to see if any such dog as Bruno was advertised for. But I don't see anything of the kind. I think I must put in an advertisement of having found him."

"Oh, papa, you surely won't!" Persis burst out.

Papa turned upon her with a sort of sharpness we did mind this time, for we saw he was quite in earnest.

"My dear child," he said, "what are you thinking of? It would not be honest not to try to restore the dog to those he belongs to. I have already told all the neighbours about him."

Persis said no more, but she grew very red indeed. I think I did too, but I'm not quite sure, and I couldn't ask Persis afterwards, for we had fixed in our minds we wouldn't speak of that thing. I turned my face away, however, for fear of papa seeing it. He would have thought there was something very queer the matter if he had seen we were both so red.

That afternoon he went out without saying where he was going, but we both felt quite sure he had gone about putting that horrid advertisement in the paper. And even without that, we knew that if he went telling about Bruno to everybody he'd be sure to be claimed. The country's not like town, you see. Everybody knows everybody else's affairs in the country.

We took Bruno out, feeling that we only loved him the more for not knowing how soon he might be taken from us. We both hugged him and cried over him that afternoon, and the dear fellow seemed to understand. He looked up in our faces with such very "doggy" eyes.

And after that, there never, for some days, came a knock at the door, or the sound of a strange voice in the kitchen, without our trembling. And we never came in from a walk with Bruno without getting cold all over at the thought that perhaps some one might be waiting for him.

But nothing of the sort did happen. And time went on, till it grew to be nearly three weeks that our dear dog had been with us.

One evening papa came to us in the yard when we were saying good-night to Bruno.

"I suppose you're getting to think him quite your own," he said. "It certainly does not seem as if he were going to be owned. But what will mamma say to taking him home with us—eh, little people?"

"I don't think she'll mind," said Persis. "She loves him too—awfully. And Archie and I are full of plans about how to manage him in London."

"Ah, indeed," said papa. "Well, one of the first things to be done, it seems to me," he went on, "is to get him a collar," and he drew a yard measure out of his pocket and measured Bruno's neck. "I am going up to town to-morrow for two nights," he then told us. "You two can come to meet me at the station when I come back, with Eliza, of course, and this fellow, and you shall see what I can get in the way of a collar. I'll tell mamma the train, and you can all drive home with me."

We thanked papa—it was very kind of him, and we said we'd like to go to meet him very much. But things seldom turn out as one expects. The day papa was to come mamma had to go to the little town near the station herself—something about a washerwoman it was—so she ordered a carriage, and we drove over with her. We were all at the station together to meet papa, and when he came he had brought the loveliest collar for Bruno—with his name on, and ours, and our address in London!

"We won't risk losing him," papa said.

Then he asked us if we wouldn't rather walk home, and we said we should, as we had driven there, and mamma didn't mind going back alone. So we set off, us two and papa. And we were so happy and so sure now of Bruno being ours, that we didn't notice that papa took the way down the lane that we had been once before.

We never noticed it, till we were close to the gate of the farm—the very farm where we had got milk—the very gate where——

And, just as we got up to it, it opened, and a girl, a lady, the very one, came out, not running and jumping, but walking quite quietly. But when she caught sight of us, of Bruno, and when he caught sight of her! Oh! He rushed at her, and she threw her arms round him.

"Oh, my Rollo, my own dear naughty Rollo," she called out, and I believe she was crying. "Have you come back to me at last? Where have you been?"

And Bruno—our Bruno—went on wagging his tail and rubbing his nose on her, and pawing at her, just as he had done to us, only more!

Persis and I stood stock-still, feeling as if we couldn't bear it.


PAPA was the first to speak. The young lady went on hugging at Bruno, and taking no notice of any of us. Papa looked very grave. I think he thought it rather rude of her, even if she was so pleased to find her dog again, for she might have seen how well he had been taken care of, and what a beautiful new collar he had. Papa waited a minute or two, and then he said, rather grandly, you know——

"Excuse me, madam, for interrupting you. I should be glad of some explanation about the dog. Is he your dog?"

"My dog," said the girl, half sitting up and shaking her hair back. It had got messy with all her hugging at Bruno. "I should rather think so. I have nothing to explain. What do you mean?"

"I beg your pardon," said papa. "I have had the dog nearly a month, and during that time I have advertised him regularly. I have sent all about the neighbourhood to ask if any one had lost a dog, and altogether I have had a good deal of trouble and expense."

The girl got rather red.

"I see," she said, "I didn't think of that. I was only so glad to find my dear dog. I'm very much obliged to you, I'm sure. I can tell you why your advertisements were never answered. We've been away for nearly a month, and the people here whom we lodge with have been very stupid about it. They missed Rollo as soon as we left, and took for granted we'd taken him with us after all. And we never knew till we came back two days ago that he was lost. He was lonely, you see, when he found I had gone, and I suppose he set out to look for me."

"Yes," said papa. "Then I suppose there is nothing more to be said. My children must bear the disappointment; they had naturally come to look upon him as their own."

Persis and I had turned away, so she couldn't see we were crying. We didn't want her to see; we didn't like her.

"I—I can't offer to pay you anything of what he's cost you, I suppose?" she said, getting redder still.

"Certainly not. Good-morning," and papa lifted his hat. And we all went off.

"My poor Persis and Archie," said papa very kindly. And when he said that, we felt as if we couldn't keep it in any longer. We both burst out crying—loud.

Just then we heard steps behind us. It was the girl running with the lovely new collar in her hand.

"This at least is yours," she said, holding it out to papa. He smiled a little.

"You will please us by keeping it," he said. "It fits him; you can easily have the engraving altered."

"Thank you," she said; "thank you very much. I am very sorry indeed for the children," she went on, for she couldn't have helped seeing how we were crying; and a nice look came into her eyes, which made us like her better. She was very pretty. I forget if I said so. "Shall I—shall I bring Rollo some day to see you?"

But we shook our heads.

"No, thank you," Persis managed to get out.

"Ah," she said, "I'm sorry; but I understand."

And then we liked her quite.

We trotted on beside papa, none of us speaking. At last Persis touched me.

"Archie," she said, "I think it's for a punishment. May I tell?"

I just nodded my head.

Then Persis went close up to papa and put her hand through his arm.

"Papa," she said, "we've something to tell you. We're not crying only for Bruno, we're unhappy because—because we've not been good."

"We've not been honest," I said. That word "honest" had been sticking in my throat ever since the day papa had said it when he was speaking about it being right to advertise the dog. And now, when I said it, I felt as if I was going to choke. It felt so awful, you don't know.

Papa looked very grave, but he held out his other hand to me, and I was glad of that.

"Tell me all about it," he said; and then we told him everything—all about how in our real hearts we had known, or almost known, where Bruno came from, but how we had tried to pretend to ourselves—separately, I mean; Persis to herself and me to myself—that we didn't know, so that we wouldn't even say it to each other, and how it did seem now as if this had come for a punishment.

Papa was very kind, so kind that we went on to tell him how great the temptation had been, how dreadfully we had longed for a dog, and how it had seemed that our only chance of ever having one would be one coming of itself, like Bruno had done.

"Why did you not tell mamma or me how very, very much you wished for one?" asked papa. "It would have been better than bottling it up so between yourselves. You have made yourselves think you wished for one even more than you really did."

But we couldn't quite agree with that.

"We did speak of it sometimes," we said, "but we knew mamma didn't want to have a dog—not in London. And——" but there we stopped. We really didn't quite know why we hadn't said more about it. I think children often keep their fancies to themselves without quite knowing why. But we didn't think it had been a fancy only, after all. "We couldn't have loved him more," we said. "The real of it turned out quite as nice as the fancy."

Then papa spoke to us very seriously. I daresay you can tell of yourselves—all of you who have nice fathers and mothers—the sort of way he spoke. About being quite, quite true and honest even in thinkings, and about how dangerous it is to try to deceive ourselves, for that the self we try to deceive is the best part of us, the voice of God in our hearts, and it can never really be deceived, only, if we don't listen to it, after a while we can't hear it any more.

"Yes," said Persis, "I did know I was shamming to my good self all the time."

Then she cried a little more—and I did too. And papa kissed us, and we went on home, rather sadly of course, but still feeling, in a good way, glad too. And papa told it all to mamma, so that she kissed us very nicely when she said good-night, and called us her poor darlings.

You may think that is the end. But it isn't. The end is lovely.

About a week after that day, one afternoon we heard that a lady and gentleman with a big dog had come to call on papa and mamma. We were afraid it was Bruno, and the people belonging to him, and as we didn't want to see him again, we were just going to run out and hide in the garden for fear we should be sent for, when papa himself came calling for us.

"Persis. Archie." And we dared not run away.

"Papa," we said, "we don't want to come if it is Bruno."

"It is Bruno," he said; "but, all the same, you must come. You must trust me."

We had to go into the drawing-room. There was the girl talking quite nicely to mamma, and a gentleman with her, who we saw was her brother, and—there was Bruno! We tried not to look at him, while we shook hands. How silly we were!

"Children," said papa, "this young lady has come to say something which will please you very much. She finds, quite unexpectedly, that she cannot keep her dog, as she and Mr. Riverton"—papa made a little bow to the brother—"are going abroad. Miss Riverton wants a good home for her dog. Do you think we could promise him one?"

We could scarcely speak. It seemed too good to be true.

"Would he be ours for always?" I asked, and the young lady said, "Yes, of course. I wouldn't want to give you the pain of parting with him twice, you poor children."

"And mamma says we may?" we asked. And mamma nodded. Then Persis had a nice thought.

"Aren't you very sorry?" she asked the girl. But she only smiled. "No, I can't say I am," she said, "because I know he'll be very happy with you. And though I love him very much, I love my brother better, and I'm very glad to go with him instead of being left behind, even with Rollo."

We quite liked her then. Her face was so nice. And she kissed us when she went away. Persis liked it, and I didn't mind.

Our Bruno has been with us ever since, and we love him more and more. He is quite happy, even in London, for he has a nice home in the stables, and we take him a walk every day, and he comes very often into the house. And in the country, where we now go for much longer every year, he is always with us.

The girl writes to us sometimes, and we answer, and tell her about Bruno. She is coming to see him next year, when they come back to England. She calls him "Rollo," but we like "Bruno" best, and he doesn't mind, the dear old fellow.



"And then on the top of the Caldon Low There was no one left but me." MARY HOWITT.

"I LIKED the blue dwarfs the best—far, far the best of anything," said Olive.

"'The blue dwarfs!'" repeated Rex. "What do you mean? Why can't you say what you mean plainly? Girls have such a stupid way of talking!"

"What can be plainer than the blue dwarfs?" said Olive rather snappishly, though, it must be allowed, with some reason. "We were talking about the things we liked best at the china place. You said the stags' heads and the inkstands, and I say the blue dwarfs."

"But I didn't see any dwarfs," persisted Rex.

"Well, I can't help it if you didn't. You had just as much chance of seeing them as I had. They were in a corner by themselves—little figures about two inches high, all with blue coats on. There were about twelve of them, all different, but all little dwarfs or gnomes. One was sitting on a barrel, one was turning head-over-heels, one was cuddling his knees—all funny ways like that. Oh, they were lovely!"

"I wish I had seen them better," said Rex regretfully. "I do remember seeing a tray full of little blue-looking dolls, but I didn't notice what they were."

Olive did not at once answer. Her eyes were fixed on something she saw passing before the window. It was a very, very little man. He was not exactly hump-backed, but his figure was somewhat deformed, and he was so small that but for the sight of his rather wizened old face one could hardly have believed he was a full-grown man. His eyes were bright and beady-looking, like those of a good-natured little weasel, if there be such a thing, and his face lighted up with a smile as he caught sight of the two, to him, strange-looking children at the open window of the little village inn.

"Guten Tag," he said, nodding to them; and "Guten Tag," replied the children, as they had learnt to do by this time to everybody they met. For in these remote villages it would be thought the greatest breach of courtesy to pass any one without this friendly greeting.

Rex drew a long breath when the dwarf had passed.

"Olive——" he began, but Olive interrupted him.

"Rex," she said eagerly, "that's exactly like them—like the blue dwarfs, I mean. Only, of course, their faces were prettier—nice little china faces, rather crumply looking, but quite nice; and then their coats were such a pretty nice blue. I think," she went on consideringly—"I think, if I had that little man and washed his face very well, and got him a bright blue coat, he would look just like one of the blue dwarfs grown big."

Rex looked at Olive with a queer expression.

"Olive," he said in rather an awe-struck tone; "Olive, do you think perhaps they're real? Do you think perhaps somewhere in this country—in those queer dark woods, perhaps—that there are real blue dwarfs, and that somebody must have seen them and made the little china ones like them? Perhaps," and his voice dropped and grew still more solemn; "perhaps, Olive, that little man's one of them, and they may have to take off their blue coats when they're walking about. Do you know, I think it's a little, just a very little frightening? Don't you, Olive?"

"No, of course I don't," said Olive, and, to do her justice, her rather sharp answer was meant as much to reassure her little brother as to express any feeling of impatience. Rex was quite a little fellow, only eight, and Olive, who was nearly twelve, remembered, that when she was as little as that, she used sometimes to feel frightened about things which she now couldn't see anything the least frightening in. And she remembered how once or twice some of her big cousins had laughed at her, and amused themselves by telling her all sorts of nonsense, which still seemed terrible to her when she was alone in her room in the dark at night. "Of course there's nothing frightening in it," she said. "It would be rather a funny idea, I think. Of course it can't be, you know, Rex. There are no dwarfs, and gnomes, and fairies now."

"But that little man was a dwarf," said Rex.

"Yes, but a dwarf needn't be a fairy sort of person," explained Olive. "He's just a common little man, only he's never grown as big as other people. Perhaps he had a bad fall when he was a baby—that might stop his growing."

"Would it?" said Rex. "I didn't know that. I hope I hadn't a bad fall when I was a baby. Everybody says I'm very small for my age." And Rex looked with concern at his short but sturdy legs.

Olive laughed outright.

"Oh, Rex, what a funny boy you are! No, certainly, you are not a dwarf. You're as straight and strong as you can be."

"Well, but," said Rex, returning to the first subject, "I do think it's very queer about that little dwarf man coming up the street just as you were telling me about the blue dwarfs. And he did look at us in a funny way, Olive, whatever you say, just as if he had heard what we were talking about."

"All the people look at us in a funny way here," said Olive. "We must look very queer to them. Your sailor suit, Rex, and my 'Bolero' hat must look to them quite as queer as the women's purple skirts, with bright green aprons, look to us."

"Or the bullock-carts," said Rex. "Do you remember how queer we thought them at first? Now we've got quite used to seeing queer things, haven't we, Olive? Oh! now do look there—at the top of the street—there, Olive, did you ever see such a load as that woman is carrying in the basket on her back? Why, it's as big as a house!"

He seemed to have forgotten about the dwarfs, and Olive was rather glad of it. These two children were travelling with their uncle and aunt in a rather out-of-the-way part of Germany. Out-of-the-way, that is to say, to most of the regular summer tourists from other countries, who prefer going where they are more sure of finding the comforts and luxuries they are accustomed to at home. But it was by no means out-of-the-way in the sense of being dull or deserted. It is a very busy part of the world indeed. You would be amazed if I were to tell you some of the beautiful things that are made in these bare homely little German cottages. For all about in the neighbourhood there are great manufactories and warehouses for china and glass, and many other things; and some parts of the work are done by the people at home in their own houses. The morning of the day of which I am telling you had been spent by the children and their friends in visiting a very large china manufactory, and their heads were full of the pretty and wonderful things they had seen.

And now they were waiting in the best parlour of the village inn while their uncle arranged about a carriage to take them all on to the small town where they were to stay a few days. Their aunt was tired, and was resting a little on the sofa, and they had planted themselves on the broad window-sill, and were looking out with amusement at all that passed.

"What have you two been chattering about all this time?" said their aunt, suddenly looking up. "I think I must have been asleep a little, but I have heard your voices going on like two birds twittering."

"Have we disturbed you, Auntie?" asked Olive, with concern.

"Oh no, not a bit; but come here and tell me what you have been talking about."

Instantly Rex's mind went back to the dwarfs.

"Auntie," he said seriously, "perhaps you can tell me better than Olive can. Are there really countries of dwarfs, and are they a kind of fairies, Auntie?"

Auntie looked rather puzzled.

"Dwarfs, Rex?" she said; "countries of dwarfs? How do you mean?"

Olive hastened to explain. Auntie was very much amused.

"Certainly," she said, "we have already seen so many strange things in our travels that it is better not to be too sure what we may not see. But any way, Rex, you may be quite easy in your mind, that if ever you come across any of the dwarfs, you will find them very good-natured and amiable, only you must be very respectful—always say 'Sir,' or 'My lord,' or something like that to them, and bow a great deal. And you must never seem to think anything they do the least odd, not even if they propose to you to walk on your head, or to eat roast fir-cones for dinner, for instance."

Auntie was quite young—not so very much older than Olive—and very merry. Olive's rather "grown-up" tones and manners used sometimes to tempt her to make fun of the little girl, which, to tell the truth, Olive did not always take quite in good part. And it must for Olive be allowed, that Auntie did sometimes allow her spirits and love of fun to run away with her a little too far, just like pretty unruly ponies, excited by the fresh air and sunshine, who toss their heads and gallop off. It is great fun at first and very nice to see, but one is sometimes afraid they may do some mischief on the way—without meaning it, of course; and, besides, it is not always so easy to pull them up as it was to start them.

Just as Auntie finished speaking the door opened and their uncle came in. He was Auntie's elder brother—a good deal older—and very kind and sensible. At once all thoughts of the dwarfs or what Auntie had been saying danced out of Rex's curly head. Like a true boy he flew off to his uncle, besieging him with questions as to what sort of a carriage they were to go on in—was it an ox-cart; oh, mightn't they for once go in an ox-cart? and might he—oh, might he sit beside the driver in front?

His uncle laughed and replied to his questions, but Olive stayed beside the sofa, staring gravely at her aunt.

"Auntie," she said, "you're not in earnest, are you, about there being really a country of dwarfs?"

Olive was twelve. Perhaps you will think her very silly to have imagined for a moment that her aunt's joke could be anything but a joke, especially as she had been so sensible about not letting Rex get anything into his head which could frighten him. But I am not sure that she was so very silly after all. She had read in her geography about the Lapps and Finns, the tiny little men of the north, whom one might very well describe as dwarfs; there might be dwarfs in these strange Thueringian forests, which were little spoken of in geography books; Auntie knew more of such things than she did, for she had travelled in this country before. Then with her own eyes Olive had seen a dwarf, and though she had said to Rex that he was just an odd dwarf by himself as it were, not one of a race, how could she tell but what he might be one of a number of such queer little people? And even the blue dwarfs themselves—the little figures in the china manufactory—rather went to prove it than not.

"They may have taken the idea of dwarfs from the real ones, as Rex said," thought Olive. "Any way I shall look well about me if we go through any of these forests again. They must live in the forests, for Auntie said they eat roast fir-cones for dinner."

All these thoughts were crowding through her mind as she stared up into Auntie's face and asked solemnly—

"Auntie, were you in earnest?"

Auntie's blue eyes sparkled.

"In earnest, Olive?" she said. "Of course! Why shouldn't I be in earnest? But come, quick, we must get our things together. Your uncle must have got a carriage."

"Yes," said he, "I have. Not an ox-cart, Rex. I'm sorry for your sake, but for no one else's; for I don't think there would be much left of us by the end of the journey if we were to be jogged along the forest roads in an ox-cart. No! I have got quite a respectable vehicle; but we must stop an hour or two on the way, to rest the horses and give them a feed, otherwise we could not get through to-night."

"Where shall we stop?" said Auntie, as with the bundles of shawls and bags they followed the children's uncle to the door.

"There is a little place in the forest, where they can look after the horses," said he; "and I daresay we can get some coffee there for ourselves, if we want it. It is a pretty little nook. I remember it long ago, and I shall be glad to see it again."

Olive had pricked up her ears. "A little place in the forest!" she said to herself; "that may be near where the dwarfs live: it is most likely not far from here, because of the one we saw." She would have liked to ask her uncle about it, but something in the look of her aunt's eyes kept her from doing so.

"Perhaps she was joking," thought Olive to herself. "But perhaps she doesn't know; she didn't see the real dwarf. It would be rather nice if I did find them, then Auntie couldn't laugh at me any more."

They were soon comfortably settled in the carriage, and set off. The first part of the drive was not particularly interesting; and it was so hot, though already afternoon, that they were all—Olive especially, you may be sure—delighted to exchange the open country for the pleasant shade of a grand pine forest, through which their road now lay.

"Is it a very large forest, Uncle?" said Olive.

"Yes, very large," he replied rather sleepily, to tell the truth; for both he and Auntie had been nodding a little, and Rex had once or twice been fairly asleep. But Olive's imagination was far too hard at work to let her sleep.

"The largest in Europe?" she went on, without giving much thought to poor Uncle's sleepiness.

"Oh yes, by far," he replied, for he had not heard clearly what she said, and fancied it was "the largest hereabouts."

"Dear me!" thought Olive, looking round her with awe and satisfaction. "If there are dwarfs anywhere, then it must be here."

And she was just beginning another. "And please, Uncle, is——?" when her aunt looked up and said lazily—

"Oh, my dear child, do be quiet! Can't you go to sleep yourself a little? We shall have more than enough of the forest before we are out of it." Which offended Olive so much that she relapsed into silence.

Auntie was a truer prophet than she knew; for when they got to the little hamlet in the wood, where they were to rest, something proved to be wrong with one of the horse's shoes; so wrong, indeed, that after a prolonged examination, at which all the inhabitants turned out to assist, it was decided that the horse must be re-shod before he could go any farther; and this made it impossible for the party who had come in the carriage to go any farther either. For the nearest smithy was two miles off; the horse must be led there and back by the driver, which would take at least two, if not three, hours. It was now past six, and they had come barely half way. The driver shook his head, and said he would not like to go on to the town till morning. The horse had pricked his foot; it might cause inflammation to drive him farther without a rest, and the carriage was far too heavy for the other horse alone, which had suddenly struck the children's uncle as a brilliant idea.

"There would be no difficulty about the harnessing, any way," he said to Auntie, laughing; "for all the vehicles hereabouts drawn by one horse have the animal at one side of a pole, instead of between shafts."

But Auntie thought it better to give in.

"It really doesn't much matter," she said; "we can stay here well enough. There are two bedrooms, and no doubt they can give us something to eat; beer and sausages, and brown bread any way."

And so it was settled, greatly to Olive's satisfaction; it would give her capital opportunities for a dwarf hunt! though as to this she kept her own counsel.

The landlady of the little post-house where they had stopped was accustomed to occasional visits of this kind from benighted or distressed travellers. She thought nothing of turning her two daughters out of their bedroom, which, it must be owned, was very clean, for Auntie and Olive, and a second room on the ground-floor was prepared for Rex and his uncle. She had coffee ready in five minutes, and promised them a comfortable supper before bedtime. Altogether, everything seemed very satisfactory, and when they felt a little refreshed, Auntie proposed a walk—"a good long walk," she said, "would do us good. And the landlady says we get out of the forest up there behind the house, where the ground rises, and that there is a lovely view. It will be rather a climb, but it isn't more than three-quarters of an hour from here, and we have not walked all day."

Uncle thought it a good idea, and Rex was ready to start at once; but Olive looked less pleased.

"Don't you want to come, Olive?" said Auntie. "Are you tired? You didn't take a nap like the rest of us."

"I am a little tired," said Olive, which was true in one sense, though not in another, for she was quite fit for a walk. It struck her that her excuse was not quite an honest one, so she added, "If you don't mind, I would rather stay about here. I don't mind being alone, and I have my book. And I do so like the forest."

"Very well," said her uncle; "only don't lose yourself. She is perfectly safe," he added, turning to her aunt; "there are neither wolves, nor bears, nor robbers nowadays, in these peaceful forests."

So the three set off, leaving Olive to her own devices. She waited till they were out of sight, then she made her preparations.

"I'd better take my purse," she said to herself, "in case I meet the dwarfs. Auntie told me to be very polite, and perhaps they would like some of these tiny pieces; they just look as if they were meant for them." So she chose out a few one-pfennig copper coins, which are much smaller than our farthings, and one or two silver pieces, worth about twopence-halfpenny each, still smaller. Then she put in her pocket half a slice of the brown bread they had had with their coffee, and arming herself, more for appearance's-sake than anything else, with her parasol and the book she had with her in her travelling bag, she set off on her solitary ramble.

It was still hot—though the forest trees made a pleasant shade. Olive walked some way, farther and farther, as far as she could make out, into the heart of the forest, but in her inexperience she took no sort of care to notice the way she went, or to make for herself any kind of landmarks. She just wandered on and on, tempted first by some mysterious little path, and then by another, her mind full of the idea of the discoveries she was perhaps about to make. Now and then a squirrel darted across from one tree to another, disappearing among the branches almost before Olive could be sure she had seen it, or some wild wood birds, less familiar to the little foreigner, would startle her with a shrill, strange note. There were here and there lovely flowers growing among the moss, and more than once she heard the sound of not far off trickling water. It was all strangely beautiful, and she would greatly have enjoyed and admired it had not her mind been so full of the queer fascinating idea of the blue dwarfs.

At last—she had wandered about for some time—Olive began to feel tired.

"I may as well sit down a little," she thought; "I have lots of time to get back. This seems the very heart of the forest. They are just as likely to be seen here as anywhere else."

So Olive ensconced herself in a comfortable corner, her back against the root of a tree, which seemed hollowed out on purpose to serve as an arm-chair. She thought at first she would read a little, but the light was already slightly waning, and the tree shadows made it still fainter. Besides, Olive had plenty to think of—she did not require any amusement. Queer little noises now and then made themselves heard—once or twice it really sounded as if small feet were pattering along, or as if shrill little voices were laughing in the distance; and with each sound, Olive's heart beat faster with excitement—not with fear.

"If I sit very still," she thought, "who knows what I may see? Of course, it would be much nicer and prettier if the dwarfs were quite tiny—not like the little man we saw in the street at that place—I forget the name—for he was not pretty at all—but like the blue dwarfs at the manufactory. But that, I suppose, is impossible, for they would be really like fairies. But they might be something between: not so big as the little man, and yet bigger than the blue dwarfs."

And then Olive grew a little confused in trying to settle in her mind how big, or how small rather, it was possible or impossible for a nation of dwarfs to be. She thought it over till she hardly seemed sure what she was trying to decide. She kept saying to herself, "Any way, they could not but be a good deal bigger than my thumb! What does that mean? Perhaps it means more in German measures than in English, perhaps——"

But what was that that suddenly hit her on the nose? Olive looked up, a very little inclined to be offended; it is not a pleasant thing to be hit on the nose; could it be Rex come behind her suddenly, and playing her a trick? Just as she was thinking this, a second smart tap on the nose startled her still more, and this time there was no mistake about it; it came from above, and it was a fir-cone! Had it come of itself? Somehow the words, "Roast fir-cones for dinner," kept running in her head, and she took up the fir-cone in her fingers to examine it, but quickly dropped it again, for it was as hot as a coal.

"It has a very roasty smell," thought Olive; "where can it have come from?"

And hardly had she asked herself the question, when a sudden noise all round her made her again look up. They were sliding down the branches of the tree in all directions. At first, to her dazzled eyes, they seemed a whole army, but as they touched the ground one by one, and she was able to distinguish them better, she saw that after all there were not so very many. One, two, three, she began quickly counting to herself, not aloud, of course—that would not have been polite—one, two, three, up to twelve, then thirteen, fourteen, and so on up to—yes, there were just twenty-four of them.

"Two of each," said Olive to herself; "a double set of the blue dwarfs."

For they were the blue dwarfs, and no mistake! Two of each, as Olive had seen at once. And immediately they settled themselves in twos—two squatted on the ground embracing their knees, two strode across a barrel which they had somehow or other brought with them, two began turning head-over-heels, two knelt down with their heads and queer little grinning faces looking over their shoulders, twos and twos of them in every funny position you could imagine, all arranged on the mossy ground in front of where Olive sat, and all dressed in the same bright blue coats as the toy dwarfs at the china manufactory.

Olive sat still and looked at them. Somehow she did not feel surprised.

"How big are they?" she said to herself. "Bigger than my thumb? Oh yes, a good deal. I should think they are about as tall as my arm would be if it was standing on the ground. I should think they would come up above my knee. I should like to stand up and measure, but perhaps it is better for me not to speak to them till they speak to me."

She had not long to wait. In another moment two little blue figures separated themselves from the crowd, and made their way up to her. But when they were close to her feet they gave a sudden jump in the air, and came down, not on their feet, but on their heads! And then again some of her aunt's words came back to her, "If they should ask you to stand on your head, for instance."

"Dear me," thought Olive, "how did Auntie know so much about them? But I do hope they won't ask me to stand on my head."

Her fears were somewhat relieved when the dwarfs gave another spring and came down this time in a respectable manner on their feet. Then, with a good many bows and flourishes, they began a speech.

"We are afraid," said the first.

"That the fir-cones," said the second.

"Were rather underdone," finished up the first.

Olive really did not know what to say. She was dreadfully afraid that it would seem so very rude of her not even to have tasted the cones. But naturally she had not had the slightest idea that they had been intended for her to eat.

"I am very sorry," she said, "Mr. ——, sir! my lord! I beg your pardon. I don't quite know what I should call you."

"With all respect," said the first.

"And considering the circumstances," went on the second.

Then, just as Olive supposed they were going to tell her their names, they stopped short and looked at her.

"I beg your pardon," she began again, after waiting a minute or two to see if they had nothing else to say; "I don't quite understand."

"Nor do we," they replied promptly, speaking for the first time both together.

"Do you mean you don't know what my name is?" said she. "It's Olive, Olive!" for the dwarfs stood staring as if they had not heard her. "OLIVE!" she repeated for the third time.

"Green?" asked the first.

"No!" said Olive. "Of course not! Green is a very common name—at least——"

"But you called us 'blue,'" said the second; and it really was a relief to hear him finish a sentence comfortably by himself, only Olive felt very puzzled by what he said.

"How do you know?" she said. "How could you tell I called you the blue dwarfs?" and then another thought suddenly struck her. How very odd it was that the dwarf spoke such good English! "I thought you were German," she said.

"How very amusing!" said the dwarfs, this time again speaking together.

Olive could not see that it was very amusing, but she was afraid of saying so, for fear it should be rude.

"And about the fir-cones," went on the first dwarf. "It is distressing to think they were so underdone. But we have come, all of us," waving his hand in the direction of the others, "to invite you to supper in our village. There you will find them done to perfection."

Olive felt more and more uncomfortable.

"You are very kind," she said. "I should like to come very much if it isn't too far; but I am afraid I couldn't eat any supper. Indeed, I'm not hungry." And then a bright thought struck her. "See here," she went on, drawing the half slice of bread out of her pocket, "I had to put this in my pocket, for I couldn't finish it at our afternoon coffee."

The two dwarfs came close and examined the piece of bread with the greatest attention. They pinched and smelt it, and one of them put out his queer little pointed tongue and licked it.

"Not good!" he said, looking up at Olive and rolling about his eyes in a very queer way.

"I don't know," said Olive; "I don't think it can be bad. It is the regular bread of the country. I should have thought you would be accustomed to it, as you live here."

The two dwarfs took no notice of what she said, but suddenly turned round, and standing with their backs to Olive called out shrilly, "Guten Tag." Immediately all the other dwarfs replied in the same tone and the same words, and to Olive's great surprise they all began to move towards her, but without altering their attitudes—those on the barrel rolled towards her without getting off it; the two who were hugging their knees continued to hug them, while they came on by means of jerking themselves; the turning head-over-heels ones span along like wheels, and so on till the whole assemblage were at her feet. Then she saw unfolded before her, hanging on the branches of the tree, a large mantle, just the shape of her aunt's travelling dust-cloak, which she always spread over Olive in a carriage, only, instead of being drab or fawn-coloured, it was, like the dwarfs' jackets, bright blue. And without any one telling her, Olive seemed to know of herself that she was to put it on.

She got up and reached the cloak easily; it seemed to put itself on, and Olive felt very happy and triumphant as she said to herself, "Now I'm really going to have some adventures."

The dwarfs marched—no! one cannot call it marching, for they had about a dozen different ways of proceeding—they moved on, and Olive in the middle, her blue cloak floating majestically on her shoulders. No one spoke a word. It grew darker and darker among the trees, but Olive did not feel frightened. On they went, till at last she saw twinkling before them a very small but bright blue light. It looked scarcely larger than the lamp of a glow-worm, but it shone out very distinct in the darkness. Immediately they saw it the dwarfs set up a shout, and as it died away, to Olive's surprise, they began to sing. And what do you think they sang? Olive at first could hardly believe her ears as they listened to the thoroughly English song of "Home, sweet Home." And the queerest thing was that they sang it very prettily, and that it sounded exactly like her aunt's voice! And though they were walking close beside her, their voices when they left off singing did not so much seem to stop as to move off, to die away into the distance, which struck Olive as very odd.

They had now arrived at the trunk of a large tree, half way up which hung the little lamp—at least Olive supposed it must be a lamp—from which came the bright blue light.

"Here we are," said one of the dwarfs, she did not see which, "at the entrance to our village." And thereupon all the dwarfs began climbing up the tree, swarming about it like a hive of bees, till they got some way up, when one after another they suddenly disappeared. Olive could see all they did by the blue light. She was beginning to wonder if she would be left standing there alone, when a shout made her look up, and she saw two dwarfs standing on a branch holding a rope ladder, which they had just thrown down, and making signs to her to mount up by it. It was quite easy; up went Olive, step by step, and when she reached the place where the two dwarfs were standing, she saw how it was that they had all disappeared. The tree trunk was hollow, and there were steps cut in it like a stair, down which the dwarfs signed to her that she was to go. She did not need to be twice told, so eager was she to see what was to come. The stair was rather difficult for her to get down without falling, for the steps were too small, being intended for the dwarfs, but Olive managed pretty well, only slipping now and then. The stair seemed very long, and as she went farther it grew darker, till at last it was quite dark; by which time, fortunately, however, she felt herself again on level ground, and after waiting half a minute a door seemed to open, and she found herself standing outside the tree stair, with the prettiest sight before her eyes that she had ever seen or even imagined.

It was the dwarf village! Rows and rows of tiny houses—none of them more than about twice as high as Olive herself, for that was quite big enough for a dwarf cottage, each with a sweet little garden in front, like what one sees in English villages, though the houses themselves were like Swiss chalets. It was not dark down here, there was a soft light about as bright as we have it at summer twilight; and besides this, each little house had a twinkling blue light hanging above the front door, like a sign-post. And at the door of each cottage stood one of the dwarfs, with a little dwarf wife beside him; only, instead of blue, each little woman was dressed in brown, so that they were rather less showy than their husbands. They all began bowing as Olive appeared, and all the little women curtseying, and Olive seemed to understand, without being told, that she was to walk up the village street to see all there was to be seen. So on she marched, her blue cloak floating about her, so that sometimes it reached the roofs of the houses on each side at the same time.

Olive felt herself rather clumsy. Her feet, which in general she was accustomed to consider rather neat, and by no means too large for her age, seemed such great awkward things. If she had put one of them in at the window of a dwarf house, it would have knocked everything out of its place.

"Dear me!" thought Olive, "I had no idea I could seem clumsy! I feel like a great ploughman. I wish I were not so big."

"Yes," said a voice beside her, "it has its disadvantages;" and Olive, looking down to see who spoke—she had to look down for everything—caught sight of one of the two dwarfs with whom she had first spoken. She felt a little ruffled. She did not like this trick of the dwarf hearing what she thought before she said it.

"Everything has its disadvantages," she replied. "Don't you find yourself very inconveniently small when you are up in our world?"

"Exactly so," said the dwarf; but he did not seem the least put out.

"They are certainly very good-tempered," said Olive to herself. Then suddenly a thought struck her.

"Your village is very neat and pretty," she said; "though, perhaps—I don't mean to be rude, not on any account——"

"No," interrupted the dwarf; "Auntie told you on no account to be rude."

"Auntie!" repeated Olive, in astonishment; "she is not your auntie!"

"On no account," said the dwarf, in the same calm tone, but without seeming to take in that Olive meant to reprove him.

"It's no use trying to make them understand," said Olive to herself.

"Not the least," said the dwarf; at which Olive felt so provoked that she could have stamped her feet with irritation. But as thinking crossly seemed in this country to be quite as bad as speaking crossly, she had to try to swallow down her vexation as well as she could.

"I was going to say," she went on quietly, "that to my taste the village would be prettier if there was a little variety. Not all the houses just the same, you know. And all of you are so like each other, and all your little brown wives too. Are there no children dwarfs?"

"Doubtless. Any quantity," was the answer.

"Then where are they all?" said Olive. "Are they all asleep?" She put the last question rather sarcastically, but the sarcasm seemed to be lost on the little man.

"Yes, all asleep," he replied; "all asleep, and dreaming. Children are very fond of dreaming," he went on, looking up at Olive with such a queer expression, and such a queer tone in his voice too, that Olive got a queer feeling herself, as if he meant more than his words actually said. Could he mean to hint that she was dreaming? But a remark from the dwarf distracted her thoughts.

"Supper is ready," he said. "They are all waiting." And turning round, Olive saw before her a cottage a good deal larger than the others; in fact, it was almost high enough for her, with considerable stooping, to get in at the door. And through the windows she saw a long table neatly covered with a bright blue tablecloth, and spread with numbers of tiny plates, and beside each plate a knife and fork and a little blue glass cup. Two great dishes stood on the table, one at each end. Steam was rising from each, and a delicious smell came out through the open windows.

"I did not know I was so hungry," thought Olive; "but I do hope it isn't fir-cones."

"Yes," said the dwarf; "they'll be better done this time."

Then he gave a sort of sharp, sudden cry or whistle, and immediately all the dwarfs of the village appeared as if by magic, and began hurrying into the house, but as soon as they were in the middle of the passage they fell back at each side, leaving a clear space in the middle.

"For you," said the first dwarf, bowing politely.

"Do you always have supper here altogether like that?" said Olive. "How funny!"

"Not at all," said the dwarf; "it's a table d'hote. Be so good as to take your place."

Olive bent her head cautiously in preparation for passing through the door, when again the same sharp cry startled her, and lifting her head suddenly she bumped it against the lintel. The pain of the blow was rather severe.

"What did you do that for?" she exclaimed angrily. "Why did you scream out like that? I——" But she said no more. The cry was repeated, and this time it did its work effectually, for Olive awoke. Awoke—was it waking?—to find herself all in the dark, stiff and cold, and her head aching with the bump she had given it against the old tree-trunk, while farther off now she heard the same shrill hoot or cry of some early astir night-bird, which had sounded before in her dreams.

"Oh dear! oh dear!" she sobbed, "what shall I do? Where am I? How can I ever find my way in the dark? I believe it was all a trick of those nasty blue dwarfs. I don't believe I was dreaming. They must be spiteful goblins. I wish I had not gone with them to see their village." And so for some minutes, half asleep and half awake, Olive stayed crouching by the tree, which seemed her only protector. But by degrees, as her senses—her common sense particularly—came back to her, she began to realise that it was worse than useless to sit there crying. Dark as it was, she must try to find her way back to the little inn, where, doubtless, Auntie and the others were in the greatest distress about her, the thought of which nearly made her burst out crying again; and poor Olive stumbled up to her feet as best she could, fortunately not forgetting to feel for her book and parasol which were lying beside her, and slowly and tremblingly made her way on a few steps, hoping that perhaps if she could manage to get out of the shadow of the trees it might not be quite so dark farther on. She was not altogether disappointed. It certainly grew a very little less black, but that it was a very dark night there was no denying. And, indeed, though it had not been dark, she would have had the greatest difficulty in finding her way out of the wood, into which she had so thoughtlessly penetrated. Terrifying thoughts, too, began to crowd into her mind, though, as I think I have shown you, she was not at all a timid child. But a forest on a dark night, and so far away from everywhere—it was enough to shake her nerves. She hoped and trusted there was no fear of wolves in summer-time; but bears!—ah! as to bears there was no telling. Even the hooting cries of the birds which she now and then again heard in the distance frightened her, and she felt that a bat flapping against her would send her nearly out of her mind. And after a while she began to lose heart—it was not quite so dark, but she had not the very least idea where she was going. She kept bumping and knocking herself against the trunks; she was evidently not in a path, but wandering farther and farther among the forest trees. That was about all she could feel sure of, and after two or three more vain efforts Olive fairly gave up, and, sinking down on the ground, again burst into tears.

"If I but had a mariner's compass," she thought, her fancy wandering off to all the stories of lost people she had ever heard of. Then she further reflected that a compass would do her very little good if it was too dark to see it, and still more as she had not the slightest idea whether her road lay north, south, east, or west. "If the stars were out!" was her next idea; but then, I am ashamed to say, Olive's ideas of astronomy were limited. She could have perhaps recognised the Plough and the Pole star, but she could not remember which way they pointed. Besides, she did not feel quite sure that in Thueringen one would see the same stars as in England or Paris; and, after all, as there were none visible, it was no good puzzling about it, only if they had been there it would not have seemed so lonely. Suddenly—what was that in the distance? A light, a tiny light, bobbing in and out of sight among the trees? Could it be a star come out of its way to take pity on her? Much more likely a Will-o'-the-wisp; for she did not stop to reflect that a dry pine forest in summer-time is not one of Will-o'-the-wisp's favourite playgrounds. It was a light, as to that there was no doubt, and it was coming nearer. Whether she was more frightened or glad Olive scarcely knew. Still, almost anything was better than to sit there to be eaten up by bears, or to die of starvation; and she eagerly watched the light now steadily approaching her, till it came near enough for her to see that it was a lantern carried by some person not high above the ground. A boy perhaps; could it be—oh, joyful thought!—could it be Rex? But no; even if they were all looking for her it was not likely that they would let Rex be running about alone to get lost too. Still, it must be a boy, and without waiting to think more Olive called out—

"Oh, please come and help me! I'm lost in the wood!" she cried, thinking nothing of German or anything but her sore distress.

The lantern moved about undecidedly for a moment or two, then the light flashed towards her and came still nearer.

"Ach Gott!" exclaimed an unfamiliar voice, and Olive, peering forward, thought for half a second she was again dreaming. He was not, certainly, dressed in blue, and he was a good deal taller than up to her knee; but still he was—there was no doubt about it—he was a dwarf! And another gaze at his queer little figure and bright sparkling eyes told Olive that it was the very same little man who had smiled at Rex and her when he saw them leaning out of the inn window that very afternoon.

She didn't feel frightened; he looked so good-natured and so sorry for her. And somehow Olive's faith in the possible existence of a nation of dwarfs had received a shock; she was much more inclined to take things prosaically. But it was very difficult to explain matters. I think the dwarf at the first moment was more inclined to take her for something supernatural than she was now to imagine him a brownie or a gnome. For she was a pretty little girl, with a mass of golden fair hair and English blue eyes; and with her hat half fallen off, and her cheeks flushed, she might have sat for a picture of a fairy who had strayed from her home.

Her German seemed all to go out of her head. But she managed to remember the name of the village where they had been that afternoon, and a sudden recollection seemed to come over the dwarf. He poured out a flood of words and exclamations, amidst which all that Olive could understand was the name of the village and the words "verirrt," "armes Kind," which she knew meant "lost" and "poor child." Then he went on to tell that he too was on his way from the same village to somewhere; that he came by the woods, because it was shorter, and lifting high his lantern, gave Olive to understand that he could now show her the way.

So off she set under his guidance, and, only fancy! a walk of not more than ten minutes brought them to the little inn! Olive's wanderings and straying had, after all, drawn her very near her friends if she had known it. Poor Auntie and Rex were running about in front of the house in great distress. Uncle and the landlord and the coachman had set off with lanterns, and the landlady was trying to persuade Auntie that there was not really anything to be afraid of; neither bears, nor wolves, nor evilly-disposed people about: the little young lady had, doubtless, fallen asleep in the wood with the heat and fatigue of the day; which, as you know, was a very good guess, though the landlady little imagined what queer places and people Olive had been visiting in her sleep.

The dwarf was a well-known person thereabouts, and a very harmless, kindly little man. A present of a couple of marks sent him off to his cottage near by very happy indeed, and when Uncle returned a few minutes later to see if the wanderer had been heard of, you can imagine how thankful he was to find her. It was not so very late after all, not above half-past ten o'clock, but a thunderstorm which came on not long after explained the unusual darkness of the cloud-covered sky.

"What a good thing you were safe before the storm came on!" said Auntie, with a shudder at the thought of the dangers her darling had escaped. "I will take care never again to carry my jokes too far," she resolved, when Olive had confided to her the real motive of her wanderings in the wood. And Olive, for her part, decided that she would be content with fairies and dwarfs in books and fancy, without trying to find them in reality.

"Though all the same," she said to herself, "I should have liked to taste the roast fir-cones. They did smell so good!" "And, Auntie," she said aloud, "were you singing in the wood on your way home with Uncle and Rex?"

"Yes," said Auntie, "they begged me to sing 'Home, sweet Home.' Why do you ask me?"

Olive explained. "So it was your voice I heard when I thought it was the dwarfs," she said, smiling.

And Auntie gave her still another kiss.


Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.

* * * * *


Mr. EDWARD SALMON, writing in the Nineteenth Century, October 1887, said: "I have left till the last any mention of the lady who, by right of merit, should stand first. Mrs. Molesworth is, in my opinion, considering the quality and quantity of her labours, the best story-teller for children England has yet known. This is a bold statement and requires substantiation. Mrs. Molesworth, during the last six years, has never failed to occupy a prominent place among the juvenile writers of the season. . . . Mrs. Molesworth's great charm is her realism—realism, that is, in the purest and highest sense. . . . Mrs. Molesworth's children are finished studies. She is never sentimental, but writes common sense in a straightforward manner. A joyous earnest spirit pervades her work, and her sympathy is unbounded. She loves them with her whole heart, while she lays bare their little minds, and expresses their foibles, their faults, their virtues, their inward struggles, their conception of duty, and their instinctive knowledge of the right and wrong of things. She knows their characters, she understands their wants, and she desires to help them. The only sure talisman against domestic trouble she evidently believes to be the absolute trust of a child in its parents."



With Illustrations by Walter Crane.

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Four Winds Farm. Christmas Tree Land. Two Little Waifs.

In Globe 8vo. 2s. 6d. each.

Little Miss Peggy. Tell me a Story. The Tapestry Room: A Child's Romance. A Christmas Child: A Sketch of Boy Life. "Us:" An Old-Fashioned Story. Grandmother Dear. Rosy. "Carrots," Just a Little Boy. The Cuckoo Clock. The Adventures of Herr Baby.

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Summer Stories for Boys and Girls. 4s. 6d.

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Four Ghost Stories. Crown 8vo. 6s.

The Scotsman says:—"They are all curious and interesting specimens of their class, and the circumstances in which they manifest themselves are contrived with the skill of an accomplished writer. The earnestness and natural simplicity of this gifted writer's style are seen to excellent advantage in the book, and serve well to heighten the effect and illusion of the supernatural passages. The stories will be heartily enjoyed by every reader who is fond of a pleasant shiver."

The Scottish Leader says:—"The stories are very well told. There is enough of the uncanny about them to give a pleasant thrill to the reader's nerves, while the supernatural element is not so overdone as to make its unreality palpable. . . . They are vividly told, and attest Mrs. Molesworth's remarkable range as a raconteur."

The Morning Post says:—"Expectation is fairly worked up, if not to fever heat, at least to a considerable degree."

The Literary World says:—"The stories are very well told."

By Charlotte M. Yonge. With Illustrations, Globe 8vo. 4s. 6d. each.

The Little Duke. New Edition. The Prince and the Page. P's and Q's. New Edition. Little Lucy's Wonderful Globe. New Edition. The Lances of Lynwood.

With Upwards of One Hundred Pictures by Walter Crane.

Grimm's Fairy Tales. A Selection from the Household Stories. Translated from the German by LUCY CRANE. Crown 8vo. 6s.


The Water Babies. By CHARLES KINGSLEY. A New Edition. With 100 Pictures by LINLEY SAMBOURNE. Fcap. 4to. 12s. 6d.

The Adventures of a Brownie. By the Author of "John Halifax, Gentleman." With Illustrations by Mrs. ALLINGHAM. New Edition. Globe 8vo. 4s. 6d.

Alice Learmont: A Fairy Tale. By the Author of "John Halifax, Gentleman." With Illustrations by JAMES GODWIN. New Edition, revised by the Author. Globe 8vo. 4s. 6d.


Milly and Olly; or A Holiday among the Mountains. By Mrs. HUMPHRY WARD. Illustrated by Mrs. ALMA TADEMA. New and cheaper Edition. Globe 8vo. 2s. 6d.

The Morning Post says it is "A very good book for children."

Anyhow Stories, Moral and Otherwise. By Mrs. W. K. CLIFFORD, Illustrated by DOROTHY TENNANT. Crown 8vo. 1s. Cloth, 1s. 6d.

Tales of the Birds. By W. WARDE FOWLER, M.A., Sub-Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford. Author of "A Year with the Birds." With Illustrations by BRYAN HOOK. Crown 8vo. 7s. 6d.

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Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors corrected.

Page 82, "Forlong" changed to "For long" (For long he had imagined)

Page 133, "delighful" changed to "delightful" (A delightful business)

Page 147, the first word of Chapter I of LOST ROLLO was formatted to match the rest of the first words of chapters. This means all capitals in the text version and small capitals in the html version.

Page 150, word "on" inserted into text (going on nice long)

Page 192, "appearance-sake'" changed to "appearance's-sake" (more for appearance's-sake)


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