When she reached the doctor's house, he was gone. He had started for the North Precinct early in the evening, his good wife said; he was called down to Captain Isaac Lovejoy's, the house next to the North Precinct Meeting House. She'd been sitting up waiting for him, it was such an awful storm, and such a lonely road. She was worried, but she didn't think he'd start for home that night; she guessed he'd stay at Captain Lovejoy's till morning.
The doctor's wife, holding her door open, as best she could, in the violent wind, had hardly given this information to the little snow-bedraggled object standing out there in the inky darkness, through which the lantern made a faint circle of light, before she had disappeared.
"She went like a speerit," said the good woman, staring out into the blackness in amazement. She never dreamed of such a thing as Ann's going to the North Precinct after the doctor, but that was what the daring girl had determined to do. She had listened to the doctor's wife in dismay, but with never one doubt as to her own course of proceeding.
Straight along the road to the North Precinct she kept. It would have been an awful journey that night for a strong man. It seemed incredible that a little girl could have the strength or courage to accomplish it. There were four miles to traverse in a black, howling storm, over a pathless road, through forests, with hardly a house by the way.
When she reached Captain Isaac Lovejoy's house, next to the Meeting House in the North Precinct of Braintree, stumbling blindly into the warm, lighted kitchen, the captain and the doctor could hardly believe their senses. She told the doctor about Thirsey; then she almost fainted from cold and exhaustion.
Good wife Lovejoy laid her on the settee, and brewed her some hot herb tea. She almost forgot her own sick little girl, for a few minutes, in trying to restore this brave child who had come from the South Precinct in this dreadful storm to save little Thirsey Wales' life.
When Ann came to herself a little, her first question was, if the doctor were ready to go.
"He's gone," said Mrs. Lovejoy, cheeringly.
Ann felt disappointed. She had thought she was going back with him. But that would have been impossible. She could not have stood the journey for the second time that night, even on horseback behind the doctor, as she had planned.
She drank a second bowlful of herb tea, and went to bed with a hot stone at her feet, and a great many blankets and coverlids over her.
The next morning, Captain Lovejoy carried her home. He had a rough wood sled, and she rode on that, on an old quilt; it was easier than horseback, and she was pretty lame and tired.
Mrs. Dorcas saw her coming and opened the door. When Ann came up on the stoop, she just threw her arms around her and kissed her.
"You needn't make the candle-wicks," said she. "It's no matter about them at all. Thirsey's better this morning, an' I guess you saved her life."
Grandma was fairly bursting with pride and delight in her little gal's brave feat, now that she saw her safe. She untied the gold beads on her neck, and fastened them around Ann's. "There," said she, "you may wear them to school to-day, if you'll be keerful."
That day, with the gold beads by way of celebration, began a new era in Ann's life. There was no more secret animosity between her and Mrs. Dorcas. The doctor had come that night in the very nick of time. Thirsey was almost dying. Her mother was fully convinced that Ann had saved her life, and she never forgot it. She was a woman of strong feelings, who never did things by halves, and she not only treated Ann with kindness, but she seemed to smother her grudge against Grandma for robbing her of the southwest fire-room.
By Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Dame Clementina was in her dairy, churning, and her little daughter Nan was out in the flower-garden. The flower-garden was a little plot back of the cottage, full of all the sweet, old-fashioned herbs. There were sweet marjoram, sage, summer savory, lavender, and ever so many others. Up in one corner, there was a little green bed of dill.
Nan was a dainty, slim little maiden, with yellow, flossy hair in short curls all over her head. Her eyes were very sweet and round and blue, and she wore a quaint little snuff-colored gown. It had a very short full waist, with low neck and puffed sleeves, and the skirt was straight and narrow and down to her little heels.
She danced around the garden, picking a flower here and there. She was making a nosegay for her mother. She picked lavender and sweet-william and pinks, and bunched them up together.
Finally she pulled a little sprig of dill and ran, with that and the nosegay, to her mother in the dairy.
"Mother dear," said she, "here is a little nosegay for you; and what was it I overheard you telling Dame Elizabeth about dill last night?"
Dame Clementina stopped churning and took the nosegay. "Thank you, Sweetheart, it is lovely," said she, "and, as for the dill—it is a charmed plant, you know, like four-leaved clover."
"Do you put it over the door?" asked Nan.
"Yes. Nobody who is envious or ill-disposed, can enter into the house if there is a sprig of dill over the door. Then I know another charm which makes it stronger. If one just writes this verse:
'Alva, aden, winira mir, Villawissen lingen; Sanchta, wanchta, attazir, Hor de mussen wingen'
under the sprig of dill, every one envious, or evil-disposed, who attempts to enter the house, will have to stop short, just where they are, and stand there; they cannot move."
"What does the verse mean?" asked Nan, with great eyes.
"That, I do not know. It is written in a foreign language. But it is a powerful charm."
"O mother, will you write it off for me, if I will bring you a bit of paper and a pen?"
"Certainly," replied her mother, and wrote it off when Nan brought pen and paper.
"Now," said she, "you must run off and play again, and not hinder me any longer, or I shall not get my butter made to-day."
So Nan danced away with the verse, and the sprig of dill, and her mother went on churning.
She had a beautiful tall stone churn, with the sides all carved with figures in relief. There were milkmaids and cows as natural as life all around the churn. The dairy was charming too. The shelves were carved stone; and the floor had a little silvery rill running right through the middle of it, with green ferns at the sides. All along the stone shelves were set pans full of yellow cream, and the pans were all of solid silver, with a chasing of buttercups and daisies around the brims.
It was not a common dairy, and Dame Clementina was not a common dairy-woman. She was very tall and stately, and wore her silver-white hair braided around her head like a crown, with a high silver comb at the top. She walked like a queen; indeed she was a noble count's daughter. In her early youth, she had married a pretty young dairyman, against her father's wishes; so she had been disinherited. The dairyman had been so very poor and low down in the world, that the count felt it his duty to cast off his daughter, lest she should do discredit to his noble line. There was a much pleasanter, easier way out of the difficulty, which the count did not see. Indeed, it was a peculiarity of all his family that they never could see a way out of a difficulty, high and noble as they were. The count only needed to have given the poor young dairyman a few acres of his own land, and a few bags of his own gold, and begged the king, with whom he had great influence, to knight him, and all the obstacles would have been removed; the dairyman would have been quite rich and noble enough for his son-in-law. But he never thought of that, and his daughter was disinherited. However, he made all the amends to her that he could, and fitted her out royally for her humble station in life. He caused this beautiful dairy to be built for her, and gave her the silver milk-pans, and the carved stone churn.
"My daughter shall not churn in a common wooden churn, or skim the cream from wooden pans," he had said.
The dairyman had been dead a good many years now, and Dame Clementina managed the dairy alone. She never saw anything of her father, though he lived in his castle not far off on a neighboring height. When the sky was clear, she could see its stone towers against it. She had four beautiful white cows, and Nan drove them to pasture; they were very gentle.
When Dame Clementina had finished churning, she went into the cottage. As she stepped through the little door with clumps of sweet peas on each side, she looked up. There was the sprig of dill and the magic verse she had written under it.
Nan was sitting at the window inside, knitting her stent on a blue stocking. "Ah, Sweetheart," said her mother, laughing, "you have little cause to pin the dill and the verse over our door. None is likely to envy us, or to be ill disposed toward us."
"O mother," said Nan, "I know it, but I thought it would be so nice to feel sure. O there is Dame Golding coming after some milk. Do you suppose she will have to stop?"
"What nonsense!" said her mother. They both of them watched Dame Golding coming. All of a sudden, she stopped short, just outside. She could go no further. She tried to lift her feet, but could not.
"O mother!" cried Nan, "she has stopped!"
The poor woman began to scream. She was frightened almost to death. Nan and her mother were not much less frightened, but they did not know what to do. They ran out, and tried to comfort her, and gave her some cream to drink; but it did not amount to much. Dame Golding had secretly envied Dame Clementina for her silver milk-pans. Nan and her mother knew why their visitor was so suddenly rooted to the spot, of course, but she did not. She thought her feet were paralyzed, and she kept begging them to send for her husband.
"Perhaps he can pull her away," said Nan, crying. How she wished she had never pinned the dill and the verse over the door! So she set off for Dame Golding's husband. He came running in a great hurry; but when he had nearly reached his wife, and had his arms reached out to grasp her, he, too, stopped short. He had envied Dame Clementina for her beautiful white cows, and there he was fast, also.
He began to groan and scream too. Nan and her mother ran into the house and shut the door. They could not bear it. "What shall we do, if any one else comes?" sobbed Nan. "O mother, there is Dame Dorothy coming! And—yes—O she has stopped too!" Poor Dame Dorothy had envied Dame Clementina a little for her flower-garden, which was finer than hers, as she had to join Dame Golding and her husband.
Pretty soon, another woman came, who had looked with envious eyes at Dame Clementina, because she was a count's daughter; and another, who had grudged her a fine damask petticoat which she had had before she was disinherited, and still wore on holidays; and they both had to stop.
Then came three rough-looking men in velvet jackets and slouched hats, who brought up short at the gate with a great jerk that nearly took their breath away. They were robbers who were prowling about with a view to stealing Dame Clementina's silver milk-pans some dark night.
All through the day the people kept coming and stopping. It was wonderful how many things poor Dame Clementina had to be envied by men and women, and even children. They envied Nan for her yellow curls or her blue eyes, or her pretty snuff-colored gown. When the sun set, the yard in front of Dame Clementina's cottage was full of people. Lastly, just before dark, the count himself came ambling up on a coal-black horse. The count was a majestic old man dressed in velvet, with stars on his breast. His white hair fell in long curls on his shoulders, and he had a pointed beard. As he came to the gate, he caught a glimpse of Nan in the door.
"How I wish that little maiden was my child," said he.
And, straightway, he stopped. His horse pawed and trembled when he lashed him with a jewelled whip to make him go on; but he could not stir forward one step. Neither could the count dismount from his saddle; he sat there fuming with rage.
Meanwhile, poor Dame Clementina and little Nan were overcome with distress. The sight of their yard full of all these weeping people was dreadful. Neither of them had any idea how to do away with the trouble, because of their family inability to see their way out of a difficulty.
When supper time came, Nan went for the cows, and her mother milked them into her silver milk pails, and strained off the milk into her silver pans. Then they kindled up a fire and cooked some beautiful milk porridge for the poor people in the yard, and then carried them each a bowlful.
It was a beautiful warm moonlight night, and all the winds were sweet with roses and pinks; so the people could not suffer out of doors; but the next morning it rained.
"O mother," said Nan, "it is raining, and what will the poor people do?"
Dame Clementina would never have seen her way out of this difficulty, had not Dame Golding cried out that her bonnet was getting wet, and she wanted an umbrella.
"Why you must go around to their houses of course, and get their umbrellas for them," said Dame Clementina, "but first, give ours to that old man on horseback." She did not know her father, so many years had passed since she had seen him, and he had altered so.
So Nan carried out their great yellow umbrella to the count, and went around to the others' houses for their own umbrellas. It was pitiful enough to see them standing all alone behind the doors. She could not find three extra ones for the three robbers, and she felt badly about that.
Somebody suggested, however, that milk pans turned over their heads would keep the rain off their slouched hats, at least; so she got a silver milk-pan for an umbrella for each. They made such frantic efforts to get away then, that they looked like jumping-jacks; but it was of no use.
Poor Dame Clementina and Nan after they had given more milk porridge to the people, and done all they could for their comfort, stood staring disconsolately out of the window at them under their dripping umbrellas. The yard was fairly green and black and blue and yellow with umbrellas. They wept at the sight, but they could not think of any way out of the difficulty. The people themselves might have suggested one, had they known the real cause; but they did not dare to tell them how they were responsible for all the trouble; they seemed so angry.
About noon Nan spied their most particular friend, Dame Elizabeth, coming. She lived a little way out of the village. Nan saw her approaching the gate through the rain and mist, with her great blue umbrella, and her long blue double cape and her poke bonnet; and she cried out in the greatest dismay: "O mother, mother, there is our dear Dame Elizabeth coming; she will have to stop too!"
Then they watched her with beating hearts. Dame Elizabeth stared with astonishment at the people, and stopped to ask them questions. But she passed quite through their midst, and entered the cottage under the sprig of dill, and the verse. She did not envy Dame Clementina or Nan, anything.
"Tell me what this means," said she. "Why are all these people standing in your yard in the rain with umbrellas?"
Then Dame Clementina and Nan told her. "And O what shall we do?" said they. "Will these people have to stand in our yard forever?"
Dame Elizabeth stared at them. The way out of the difficulty was so plain to her, that she could not credit its not being plain to them.
"Why," said she, "don't you take down the sprig of dill and the verse?"
"Why, sure enough!" said they in amazement. "Why didn't we think of that before?"
So Dame Clementina ran out quickly, and pulled down the sprig of dill and the verse.
Then the way the people hurried out of the yard! They fairly danced and flourished their heels, old folks and all. They were so delighted to be able to move, and they wanted to be sure they could move. The robbers tried to get away unseen with their silver milk-pans, but some of the people stopped them, and set the pans safely inside the dairy. All the people, except the count, were so eager to get away, that they did not stop to inquire into the cause of the trouble then.
Afterward, when they did, they were too much ashamed to say anything about it.
It was a good lesson to them; they were not quite so envious after that. Always, on entering any cottage, they would glance at the door, to see if, perchance, there might be a sprig of dill over it. And, if there was not, they were reminded to put away any envious feeling they might have toward the inmates out of their hearts.
As for the count, he had not been so much alarmed as the others, since he had been to the wars and was braver. Moreover, he felt that his dignity as a noble had been insulted. So he dismounted and fastened his horse to the gate, and strode up to the door with his sword clanking and the plumes on his hat nodding.
"What," he begun; then he stopped short. He had recognized his daughter in Dame Clementina. She recognized him at the same moment. "O my dear daughter!" said he. "O my dear father!" said she.
"And this is my little grandchild?" said the count; and he took Nan upon his knee, and covered her with caresses.
Then the story of the dill and the verse was told. "Yes," said the count, "I truly was envious of you, Clementina, when I saw Nan."
After a little, he looked at his daughter sorrowfully. "I should dearly love to take you up to the castle with me, Clementina," said he, "and let you live there always, and make you and the little child my heirs. But how can I? You are disinherited, you know?"
"I don't see any way," assented Dame Clementina, sadly.
Dame Elizabeth was still there, and she spoke up to the count with a curtesy. "Noble sir," said she, "why don't you make another will?"
"Why, sure enough," cried the count with great delight, "why don't I? I'll have my lawyer up to the castle to-morrow."
He did immediately alter his will, and his daughter was no longer disinherited. She and Nan went to live at the castle, and were very rich and happy. Nan learned to play on the harp, and wore snuff-colored satin gowns. She was called Lady Nan, and she lived a long time, and everybody loved her. But never, so long as she lived, did she pin the sprig of dill and the verse over the door again. She kept them at the very bottom of a little satinwood box—the faded sprig of dill wrapped round with the bit of paper on which was written the charm-verse:
"Alva, aden, winira mir, Villawissen lingen; Sanchta, wanchta, attazir, Hor de mussen wingen."
BROWNIE AND THE COOK
By Mrs. Dinah Mulock Craik
There was once a little Brownie, who lived—where do you think he lived?—in a coal cellar.
Now a coal cellar may seem a most curious place to choose to live in; but then a Brownie is a curious creature—a fairy and yet not one of that sort of fairies who fly about on gossamer wings, and dance in the moonlight, and so on. He never dances; and as to wings, what use would they be to him in a coal cellar? He is a sober, stay-at-home, household elf—nothing much to look at, even if you did see him, which you are not likely to do—only a little old man, about a foot high, all dressed in brown, with a brown face and hands, and a brown peaked cap, just the color of a brown mouse. And, like a mouse, he hides in corners—especially kitchen corners, and only comes out after dark when nobody is about, and so sometimes people call him Mr. Nobody.
I said you were not likely to see him. I never did, certainly, and never knew anybody that did; but still, if you were to go into Devonshire, you would hear many funny stories about Brownies in general, and so I may as well tell you the adventures of this particular Brownie, who belonged to a family there; which family he had followed from house to house most faithfully, for years and years.
A good many people had heard him—or supposed they had—when there were extraordinary noises about the house; noises which must have come from a mouse or a rat—or a Brownie. But nobody had ever seen him except the children,—the three little boys and three little girls,—who declared he often came to play with them when they were alone, and was the nicest companion in the world, though he was such an old man—hundreds of years old! He was full of fun and mischief, and up to all sorts of tricks, but he never did anybody any harm unless they deserved it.
Brownie was supposed to live under one particular coal, in the darkest corner of the cellar, which was never allowed to be disturbed. Why he had chosen it nobody knew, and how he lived there nobody knew either, nor what he lived upon. Except that, ever since the family could remember, there had always been a bowl of milk put behind the coal-cellar door for the Brownie's supper. Perhaps he drank it—perhaps he didn't: anyhow the bowl was always found empty next morning. The old Cook, who had lived all her life in the family, had never once forgotten to give Brownie his supper; but at last she died, and a young Cook came in her stead, who was very apt to forget everything. She was also both careless and lazy, and disliked taking the trouble to put a bowl of milk in the same place every night for Mr. Nobody. "She didn't believe in Brownies," she said; "she had never seen one, and seeing's believing." So she laughed at the other servants, who looked very grave, and put the bowl of milk in its place as often as they could, without saying much about it.
But once, when Brownie woke up, at his usual hour for rising—ten o'clock at night, and looked round in search of his supper—which was, in fact, his breakfast—he found nothing there. At first he could not imagine such neglect, and went smelling and smelling about for his bowl of milk—it was not always placed in the same corner now—but in vain.
"This will never do," said he; and being extremely hungry, began running about the coal cellar to see what he could find. His eyes were as useful in the dark as in the light—like a pussy-cat's; but there was nothing to be seen—not even a potato paring, or a dry crust, or a well-gnawed bone, such as Tiny, the terrier, sometimes brought into the coal cellar and left on the floor—nothing, in short, but heaps of coals and coal-dust; and even a Brownie cannot eat that, you know.
"Can't stand this; quite impossible!" said the Brownie, tightening his belt to make his poor little inside feel less empty. He had been asleep so long—about a week I believe, as was his habit when there was nothing to do—that he seemed ready to eat his own head, or his boots, or anything. "What's to be done? Since nobody brings my supper, I must go and fetch it."
He spoke quickly, for he always thought quickly, and made up his mind in a minute. To be sure, it was a very little mind, like his little body; but he did the best he could with it, and was not a bad sort of old fellow, after all. In the house he had never done any harm, and often some good, for he frightened away all the rats, mice, and black beetles. Not the crickets—he liked them, as the old Cook had done: she said they were such cheerful creatures, and always brought luck to the house. But the young Cook could not bear them, and used to pour boiling water down their holes, and set basins of beer for them with little wooden bridges up to the rim, that they might walk up, tumble in, and be drowned.
So there was not even a cricket singing in the silent house when Brownie put his head out of his coal-cellar door, which, to his surprise, he found open. Old Cook used to lock it every night, but the young Cook had left that key, and the kitchen and pantry keys, too, all dangling in the lock, so that any thief might have got in, and wandered all over the house without being found out.
"Hurrah, here's luck!" cried Brownie, tossing his cap up in the air, and bounding right through the scullery into the kitchen. It was quite empty, but there was a good fire burning itself out—just for its own amusement, and the remains of a capital supper spread on the table—enough for half a dozen people being left still.
Would you like to know what there was? Devonshire cream, of course; and part of a large dish of junket, which is something like curds and whey. Lots of bread and butter and cheese, and half an apple pudding. Also a great jug of cider and another of milk, and several half-full glasses, and no end of dirty plates, knives, and forks. All were scattered about the table in the most untidy fashion, just as the servants had risen from their supper, without thinking to put anything away.
Brownie screwed up his little old face and turned up his button of a nose, and gave a long whistle. You might not believe it, seeing he lived in a coal cellar; but really he liked tidiness, and always played his pranks upon disorderly or slovenly folk.
"Whew!" said he; "here's a chance. What a supper I'll get now!"
And he jumped on to a chair and thence to the table, but so quietly that the large black cat with four white paws, called Muff, because she was so fat and soft and her fur so long, who sat dozing in front of the fire, just opened one eye and went to sleep again. She had tried to get her nose into the milk jug, but it was too small; and the junket dish was too deep for her to reach, except with one paw. She didn't care much for bread and cheese and apple pudding, and was very well fed besides; so, after just wandering round the table she had jumped down from it again, and settled herself to sleep on the hearth.
But Brownie had no notion of going to sleep. He wanted his supper, and oh! what a supper he did eat! first one thing and then another, and then trying everything all over again. And oh! what a lot he drank!—first milk and then cider, and then mixed the two together in a way that would have disagreed with anybody except a Brownie. As it was, he was obliged to slacken his belt several times, and at last took it off altogether. But he must have had a most extraordinary capacity for eating and drinking—since, after he had nearly cleared the table, he was just as lively as ever, and began jumping about on the table as if he had had no supper at all.
Now his jumping was a little awkward, for there happened to be a clean white tablecloth: as this was only Monday, it had had no time to get dirty—untidy as the Cook was. And you know Brownie lived in a coal cellar, and his feet were black with running about in coal dust. So, wherever he trod, he left the impression behind, until, at last, the whole tablecloth was covered with black marks.
Not that he minded this: in fact, he took great pains to make the cloth as dirty as possible; and then laughing loudly, "Ho, ho, ho!" leaped on to the hearth, and began teasing the cat; squeaking like a mouse, or chirping like a cricket, or buzzing like a fly; and altogether disturbing poor Pussy's mind so much that she went and hid herself in the farthest corner and left him the hearth all to himself, where he lay at ease till daybreak.
Then, hearing a slight noise overhead, which might be the servants getting up, he jumped on to the table again—gobbled up the few remaining crumbs for his breakfast, and scampered off to his coal cellar; where he hid himself under his big coal, and fell asleep for the day.
Well, the Cook came downstairs rather earlier than usual, for she remembered she had to clear off the remains of supper; but lo and behold, there was nothing left to clear! Every bit of food was eaten up—the cheese looked as if a dozen mice had been nibbling at it, and nibbled it down to the very rind; the milk and cider were all drunk—and mice don't care for milk and cider, you know. As for the apple pudding, it had vanished altogether; and the dish was licked as clean as if Boxer, the yard dog, had been at it in his hungriest mood.
"And my white tablecloth—oh, my clean white tablecloth! What can have been done to it?" cried she in amazement. For it was all over little black footmarks, just the size of a baby's foot—only babies don't wear shoes with nails in them, and don't run about and climb on kitchen tables after all the family have gone to bed.
Cook was a little frightened; but her fright changed to anger when she saw the large black cat stretched comfortably on the hearth. Poor Muff had crept there for a little snooze after Brownie went away.
"You nasty cat! I see it all now; it's you that have eaten up all the supper; it's you that have been on my clean tablecloth with your dirty paws."
They were white paws, and as clean as possible; but Cook never thought of that, any more than she did of the fact that cats don't usually drink cider or eat apple pudding.
"I'll teach you to come stealing food in this way; take that—and that—and that!"
Cook got hold of a broom and beat poor Pussy till the creature ran mewing away. She couldn't speak, you know—unfortunate cat! and tell people that it was Brownie who had done it all.
Next night Cook thought she would make all safe and sure; so, instead of letting the cat sleep by the fire, she shut her up in the chilly coal cellar, locked the door, put the key in her pocket, and went off to bed—leaving the supper as before.
When Brownie woke up and looked out of his hole, there was, as usual, no supper for him, and the cellar was close shut. He peered about, to try and find some cranny under the door to creep out at, but there was none. And he felt so hungry that he could almost have eaten the cat, who kept walking to and fro in a melancholy manner—only she was alive, and he couldn't well eat her alive; besides, he knew she was old, and had an idea she might be too tough; so he merely said politely, "How do you do, Mrs. Pussy?" to which she answered nothing—of course.
Something must be done, and luckily Brownies can do things which nobody else can do. So he thought he would change himself into a mouse, and gnaw a hole through the door. But then he suddenly remembered the cat, who, though he had decided not to eat her, might take this opportunity of eating him. So he thought it advisable to wait till she was fast asleep, which did not happen for a good while.
At length, quite tired with walking about, Pussy turned round on her tail six times, curled down in a corner, and fell fast asleep.
Immediately Brownie changed himself into the smallest mouse possible; and, taking care not to make the least noise, gnawed a hole in the door, and squeezed himself through, immediately turning into his proper shape again, for fear of accidents.
The kitchen fire was at its last glimmer; but it showed a better supper than even last night, for the Cook had had friends with her—a brother and two cousins—and they had been exceedingly merry. The food they had left behind was enough for three Brownies at least, but this one managed to eat it all up. Only once, in trying to cut a great slice of beef, he let the carving-knife and fork fall with such a clatter that Tiny, the terrier, who was tied up at the foot of the stairs, began to bark furiously. However, he brought her her puppy, which had been left in a basket in a corner of the kitchen, and so succeeded in quieting her.
After that he enjoyed himself amazingly, and made more marks than ever on the white tablecloth; for he began jumping about like a pea on a trencher, in order to make his particularly large supper agree with him.
Then, in the absence of the cat, he teased the puppy for an hour or two, till, hearing the clock strike five, he thought it as well to turn into a mouse again, and creep back cautiously into his cellar. He was only just in time, for Muff opened one eye, and was just going to pounce upon him, when he changed himself back into a Brownie. She was so startled that she bounded away, her tail growing into twice its natural size, and her eyes gleaming like round green globes. But Brownie only said, "Ha, ha, ho!" and walked deliberately into his hole.
When Cook came downstairs and saw that the same thing had happened again—that the supper was all eaten, and the tablecloth blacker than ever with the extraordinary footmarks, she was greatly puzzled. Who could have done all this? Not the cat, who came mewing out of the coal cellar the minute she unlocked the door. Possibly a rat—but then would a rat have come within reach of Tiny?
"It must have been Tiny herself, or her puppy," which just came rolling out of its basket over Cook's feet. "You little wretch! You and your mother are the greatest nuisance imaginable. I'll punish you!"
And, quite forgetting that Tiny had been safely tied up all night, and that her poor little puppy was so fat and helpless it could scarcely stand on its legs, to say nothing of jumping on chairs and tables, she gave them both such a thrashing that they ran howling together out of the kitchen door, where the kind little kitchen maid took them up in her arms.
"You ought to have beaten the Brownie, if you could catch him," said she in a whisper. "He'll do it again and again, you'll see, for he can't bear an untidy kitchen. You'd better do as poor old Cook did, and clear the supper things away, and put the odds and ends safe in the larder; also," she added mysteriously, "if I were you, I'd put a bowl of milk behind the coal-cellar door."
"Nonsense!" answered the young Cook, and flounced away. But afterward she thought better of it, and did as she was advised, grumbling all the time, but doing it.
Next morning the milk was gone! Perhaps Brownie had drunk it up; anyhow nobody could say that he hadn't. As for the supper, Cook having safely laid it on the shelves of the larder, nobody touched it. And the tablecloth, which was wrapped up tidily and put in the dresser drawer, came out as clean as ever, with not a single black footmark upon it. No mischief being done, the cat and the dog both escaped beating, and Brownie played no more tricks with anybody—till the next time.
BROWNIE AND THE CHERRY TREE
By Mrs. Dinah Mulock Craik
The "next time" was quick in coming, which was not wonderful, considering there was a Brownie in the house. Otherwise the house was like most other houses, and the family like most other families. The children also: they were sometimes good, sometimes naughty, like other children; but, on the whole, they deserved to have the pleasure of a Brownie to play with them, as they declared he did—many and many a time.
A favorite play-place was the orchard, where grew the biggest cherry tree you ever saw. They called it their "castle," because it rose up ten feet from the ground in one thick stem, and then branched out into a circle of boughs, with a flat place in the middle, where two or three children could sit at once. There they often did sit, turn by turn, or one at a time—sometimes with a book, reading; and the biggest boy made a sort of rope ladder by which they could climb up and down—which they did all winter, and enjoyed their "castle" very much.
But one day in spring they found their ladder cut away! The Gardener had done it, saying it injured the tree, which was just coming into blossom. Now this Gardener was a rather gruff man, with a growling voice. He did not mean to be unkind, but he disliked children; he said they bothered him. But when they complained to their mother about the ladder, she agreed with Gardener that the tree must not be injured, as it bore the biggest cherries in all the neighborhood—so big that the old saying of "taking two bites at a cherry" came really true.
"Wait till the cherries are ripe," said she; and so the little people waited, and watched it through its leafing and blossoming—such sheets of blossoms, white as snow!—till the fruit began to show, and grew large and red on every bough.
At last one morning the mother said, "Children, should you like to help gather the cherries to-day?"
"Hurrah!" they cried, "and not a day too soon; for we saw a flock of starlings in the next field—and if we don't clear the tree, they will."
"Very well; clear it, then. Only mind and fill my baskets quite full, for preserving. What is over you may eat, if you like."
"Thank you, thank you!" and the children were eager to be off; but the mother stopped them till she could get the Gardener and his ladder.
"For it is he must climb the tree, not you; and you must do exactly as he tells you; and he will stop with you all the time and see that you don't come to harm."
This was no slight cloud on the children's happiness, and they begged hard to go alone.
"Please, might we? We will be so good!"
The mother shook her head. All the goodness in the world would not help them if they tumbled off the tree, or ate themselves sick with cherries. "You would not be safe, and I should be so unhappy!"
To make mother "unhappy" was the worst rebuke possible to these children; so they choked down their disappointment, and followed the Gardener as he walked on ahead, carrying his ladder on his shoulder. He looked very cross, and as if he did not like the children's company at all.
They were pretty good, on the whole, though they chattered a good deal; but Gardener said not a word to them all the way to the orchard. When they reached it, he just told them to "keep out of his way and not worrit him," which they politely promised, saying among themselves that they should not enjoy their cherry-gathering at all. But children who make the best of things, and try to be as good as they can, sometimes have fun unawares.
When the Gardener was steadying his ladder against the trunk of the cherry tree, there was suddenly heard the barking of a dog, and a very fierce dog, too. First it seemed close beside them, then in the flower garden, then in the fowl yard.
Gardener dropped the ladder out of his hands. "It's that Boxer! He has got loose again! He will be running after my chickens, and dragging his broken chain all over my borders. And he is so fierce, and so delighted to get free. He'll bite anybody who ties him up, except me."
"Hadn't you better go and see after him?"
Gardener thought it was the eldest boy who spoke, and turned around angrily; but the little fellow had never opened his lips.
Here there was heard a still louder bark, and from a quite different part of the garden.
"There he is—I'm sure of it! jumping over my bedding-out plants, and breaking my cucumber frames. Abominable beast!—just let me catch him!"
Off Gardener darted in a violent passion, throwing the ladder down upon the grass, and forgetting all about the cherries and the children.
The instant he was gone, a shrill laugh, loud and merry, was heard close by, and a little brown old man's face peeped from behind the cherry tree.
"How d'ye do?—Boxer was me. Didn't I bark well? Now I'm come to play with you."
The children clapped their hands; for they knew that they were going to have some fun if Brownie was there—he was the best little playfellow in the world. And then they had him all to themselves. Nobody ever saw him except the children.
"Come on!" cried he, in his shrill voice, half like an old man's, half like a baby's. "Who'll begin to gather the cherries?"
They all looked blank; for the tree was so high to where the branches sprung, and besides, their mother had said that they were not to climb. And the ladder lay flat upon the grass—far too heavy for little hands to move.
"What! you big boys don't expect a poor little fellow like me to lift the ladder all by myself? Try! I'll help you."
Whether he helped or not, no sooner had they taken hold of the ladder than it rose up, almost of its own accord, and fixed itself quite safely against the tree.
"But we must not climb—mother told us not," said the boys ruefully. "Mother said we were to stand at the bottom and pick up the cherries."
"Very well. Obey your mother. I'll just run up the tree myself."
Before the words were out of his mouth Brownie had darted up the ladder like a monkey, and disappeared among the fruit-laden branches.
The children looked dismayed for a minute, till they saw a merry brown face peeping out from the green leaves at the very top of the tree.
"Biggest fruit always grows highest," cried the Brownie. "Stand in a row, all you children. Little boys, hold out your caps: little girls, make a bag of your pinafores. Open your mouths and shut your eyes, and see what the queen will send you."
They laughed and did as they were told; whereupon they were drowned in a shower of cherries—cherries falling like hailstones, hitting them on their heads, their cheeks, their noses—filling their caps and pinafores and then rolling and tumbling on to the grass, till it was strewn thick as leaves in autumn with the rosy fruit.
What a glorious scramble they had—these three little boys and three little girls! How they laughed and jumped and knocked heads together in picking up the cherries, yet never quarreled—for there were such heaps, it would have been ridiculous to squabble over them; and besides, whenever they began to quarrel, Brownie always ran away. Now he was the merriest of the lot; ran up and down the tree like a cat, helped to pick up the cherries, and was first-rate at filling the large market basket.
"We were to eat as many as we liked, only we must first fill the basket," conscientiously said the eldest girl; upon which they all set to at once, and filled it to the brim.
"Now we'll have a dinner-party," cried the Brownie; and squatted down like a Turk, crossing his queer little legs, and sticking his elbows upon his knees, in a way that nobody but a Brownie could manage. "Sit in a ring! sit in a ring! and we'll see who can eat the fastest."
The children obeyed. How many cherries they devoured, and how fast they did it, passes my capacity of telling. I only hope they were not ill next day, and that all the cherry-stones they swallowed by mistake did not disagree with them. But perhaps nothing does disagree with one when one dines with a Brownie. They ate so much, laughing in equal proportion, that they had quite forgotten the Gardener—when, all of a sudden, they heard him clicking angrily the orchard gate, and talking to himself as he walked through.
"That nasty dog! It wasn't Boxer, after all. A nice joke! to find him quietly asleep in his kennel after having hunted him, as I thought, from one end of the garden to the other! Now for the cherries and the children—bless us! where are the children? And the cherries? Why, the tree is as bare as a blackthorn in February! The starlings have been at it, after all. Oh, dear! oh, dear!"
"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" echoed a voice from behind the tree, followed by shouts of mocking laughter. Not from the children—they sat as demure as possible, all in a ring, with their hands before them, and in the center the huge basket of cherries, piled as full as it could possibly hold. But the Brownie had disappeared.
"You naughty brats, I'll have you punished!" cried the Gardener, furious at the laughter, for he never laughed himself. But as there was nothing wrong, the cherries being gathered—a very large crop—and the ladder found safe in its place—it was difficult to say what had been the harm done and who had done it.
So he went growling back to the house, carrying the cherries to the mistress, who coaxed him into good temper again, as she sometimes did; bidding also the children to behave well to him, since he was an old man, and not really bad—only cross. As for the little folks, she had not the slightest intention of punishing them; and, as for the Brownie, it was impossible to catch him. So nobody was punished at all.
THE OUPHE [Footnote: Ouphe, pronounced "oof," is an old-fashioned word for goblin or elf.] OF THE WOOD
By Jean Ingelow
"An Ouphe!" perhaps you exclaim, "and pray what might that be?"
An Ouphe, fair questioner,—though you may never have heard of him,—was a creature well known (by hearsay, at least) to your great-great-grandmother. It was currently reported that every forest had one within its precincts, who ruled over the woodmen, and exacted tribute from them in the shape of little blocks of wood ready hewn for the fire of his underground palace,—such blocks as are bought at shops in these degenerate days, and called "kindling."
It was said that he had a silver axe, with which he marked those trees that he did not object to have cut down; moreover, he was supposed to possess great riches, and to appear but seldom above ground, and when he did to look like an old man in all respects but one, which was that he always carried some green ash-keys about with him which he could not conceal, and by which he might be known.
Do I hear you say that you don't believe he ever existed?
It matters not at all to my story whether you do or not. He certainly does not exist now. The Commissioners of Woods and Forests have much to answer for, if it was they who put an end to his reign; but I do not think they did; it is more likely that the spelling-book used in woodland districts disagreed with his constitution.
After this short preface please to listen while I tell you that once in a little black-timbered cottage, at the skirts of a wood, a young woman sat before the fire rocking her baby, and, as she did so, building a castle in the air: "What a good thing it would be," she thought to herself, "if we were rich!"
It had been a bright day, but the evening was chilly; and, as she watched the glowing logs that were blazing on her hearth, she wished that all the lighted part of them would turn to gold.
She was very much in the habit—this little wife—of building castles in the air, particularly when she had nothing else to do, or her husband was late in coming home to his supper. Just as she was thinking how late he was there was a tap at the door, and an old man walked in, who said:
"Mistress, will you give a poor man a warm at your fire?"
"And welcome," said the young woman, setting him a chair.
So he sat down as close to the fire as he could, and spread out his hands to the flames.
He had a little knapsack on his back, and the young woman did not doubt that he was an old soldier.
"Maybe you are used to the hot countries," she said.
"All countries are much the same to me," replied the stranger. "I see nothing to find fault with in this one. You have fine hawthorn-trees hereabouts; just now they are as white as snow; and then you have a noble wood behind you."
"Ah, you may well say that," said the young woman. "It is a noble wood to us; it gets us bread. My husband works in it."
"And a fine sheet of water there is in it," continued the old man. "As I sat by it to-day it was pretty to see those cranes, with red legs, stepping from leaf to leaf of the water-lilies so lightly."
As he spoke he looked rather wistfully at a little saucepan which stood upon the hearth.
"Why, I shouldn't wonder if you were hungry," said the young woman, laying her baby in the cradle, and spreading a cloth on the round table. "My husband will be home soon, and if you like to stay and sup with him and me, you will be kindly welcome."
The old man's eyes sparkled when she said this, and he looked so very old and seemed so weak that she pitied him. He turned a little aside from the fire, and watched her while she set a brown loaf on the table, and fried a few slices of bacon; but all was ready, and the kettle had been boiling some time before there were any signs of the husband's return.
"I never knew Will to be so late before," said the stranger. "Perhaps he is carrying his logs to the saw-pits."
"Will!" exclaimed the wife. "What, you know my husband, then? I thought you were a stranger in these parts."
"Oh, I have been past this place several times," said the old man, looking rather confused; "and so, of course, I have heard of your husband. Nobody's stroke in the wood is so regular and strong as his."
"And I can tell you he is the handiest man at home," began his wife.
"Ah, ah," said the old man, smiling at her eagerness; "and here he comes, if I am not mistaken."
At that moment the woodman entered.
"Will," said his wife, as she took his bill-book from him, and hung up his hat, "here's an old soldier come to sup with us, my dear." And as she spoke, she gave her husband a gentle push toward the old man, and made a sign that he should speak to him.
"Kindly welcome, master," said the woodman. "Wife, I'm hungry; let's to supper."
The wife turned some potatoes out of the little saucepan, set a jug of beer on the table, and they all began to sup. The best of everything was offered by the wife to the stranger. The husband, after looking earnestly at him for a few minutes, kept silence.
"And where might you be going to lodge tonight, good man, if I'm not too bold?" asked she.
The old man heaved a deep sigh, and said he supposed he must lie out in the forest.
"Well, that would be a great pity," remarked his kind hostess. "No wonder your bones ache if you have no better shelter." As she said this, she looked appealingly at her husband.
"My wife, I'm thinking, would like to offer you a bed," said the woodman; "at least, if you don't mind sleeping in this clean kitchen, I think that, we could toss you up something of that sort that you need not disdain."
"Disdain, indeed!" said the wife. "Why, Will, when there's not a tighter cottage than ours in all the wood, and with a curtain, as we have, and a brick floor, and everything so good about us—"
The husband laughed; the old man looked on with a twinkle in his eye.
"I'm sure I shall be humbly grateful," said he.
Accordingly, when supper was over, they made him up a bed on the floor, and spread clean sheets upon it of the young wife's own spinning, and heaped several fresh logs on the fire. Then they wished the stranger good night, and crept up the ladder to their own snug little chamber.
"Disdain, indeed!" laughed the wife, as soon as they shut the door. "Why, Will, how could you say it? I should like to see him disdain me and mine. It isn't often, I'll engage to say, that he sleeps in such a well-furnished kitchen."
The husband said nothing, but secretly laughed to himself.
"What are you laughing at, Will?" said his wife, as she put out the candle.
"Why, you soft little thing," answered the woodman, "didn't you see that bunch of green ash-keys in his cap; and don't you know that nobody would dare to wear them but the Ouphe of the Wood? I saw him cutting those very keys for himself as I passed to the sawmill this morning, and I knew him again directly, though he has disguised himself as an old man."
"Bless us!" exclaimed the little wife; "is the Wood Ouphe in our cottage? How frightened I am! I wish I hadn't put the candle out."
The husband laughed more and more.
"Will," said his wife, in a solemn voice, "I wonder how you dare laugh, and that powerful creature under the very bed where you lie!"
"And she to be so pitiful over him," said the woodman, laughing till the floor shook under him, "and to talk and boast of our house, and insist on helping him to more potatoes, when he has a palace of his own, and heaps of riches! Oh, dear! oh, dear!"
"Don't laugh, Will," said the wife, "and I'll make you the most beautiful firmity [Footnote: Firmity: generally written frumenty; wheat boiled in milk with sugar and fruit.] you ever tasted to-morrow. Don't let him hear you laughing."
"Why, he comes for no harm," said the woodman. "I've never cut down any trees that he had not marked, and I've always laid his toll of the wood, neatly cut up, beside his foot-path, so I am not afraid. Besides, don't you know that he always pays where he lodges, and very handsomely, too?"
"Pays, does he?" said the wife. "Well, but he is an awful creature to have so near one. I would much rather he had really been an old soldier. I hope he is not looking after my baby; he shall not have him, let him offer ever so much."
The more the wife talked, the more the husband laughed at her fears, till at length he fell asleep, whilst she lay awake, thinking and thinking, till by degrees she forgot her fears, and began to wonder what they might expect by way of reward. Hours appeared to pass away during these thoughts. At length, to her great surprise, while it was still quite dark, her husband called to her from below:
"Come down, Kitty; only come down to see what the Ouphe has left us."
As quickly as possible Kitty started up and dressed herself, and ran down the ladder, and then she saw her husband kneeling on the floor over the knapsack, which the Ouphe had left behind him. Kitty rushed to the spot, and saw the knapsack bursting open with gold coins, which were rolling out over the brick floor. Here was good fortune! She began to pick them up, and count them into her apron. The more she gathered, the faster they rolled, till she left off counting, out of breath with joy and surprise.
"What shall we do with all this money?" said the delighted woodman.
They consulted for some time. At last they decided to bury it in the garden, all but twenty pieces, which they would spend directly. Accordingly they dug a hole and carefully hid the rest of the money, and then the woodman went to the town, and soon returned laden with the things they had agreed upon as desirable possessions; namely, a leg of mutton, two bottles of wine, a necklace for Kitty, some tea and sugar, a grand velvet waistcoat, a silver watch, a large clock, a red silk cloak, and a hat and feather for the baby, a quilted petticoat, a great many muffins and crumpets, a rattle, and two new pairs of shoes.
How enchanted they both were! Kitty cooked the nice things, and they dressed themselves in the finery, and sat down to a very good dinner. But, alas! the woodman drank so much of the wine that he soon got quite tipsy, and began to dance and sing. Kitty was very much shocked; but when he proposed to dig up some more of the gold, and go to market for some more wine and some more blue velvet waistcoats, she remonstrated very strongly. Such was the change that had come over this loving couple, that they presently began to quarrel, and from words the woodman soon got to blows, and, after beating his little wife, lay down on the floor and fell fast asleep, while she sat crying in a corner.
The next day they both felt very miserable, and the woodman had such a terrible headache that he could neither eat nor work; but the day after, being pretty well again, he dug up some more gold and went to town, where he bought such quantities of fine clothes and furniture and so many good things to eat, that in the end he was obliged to buy a wagon to bring them home in, and great was the delight of his wife when she saw him coming home on the top of it, driving the four gray horses himself.
They soon began to unpack the goods and lay them out on the grass, for the cottage was far too small to hold them.
"There are some red silk curtains with gold rods," said the woodman.
"And grand indeed they are!" exclaimed his wife, spreading them over the onion bed.
"And here's a great looking-glass," continued the woodman, setting one up against the outside of the cottage, for it would not go in the door.
So they went on handing down the things, and it took nearly the whole afternoon to empty the wagon. No wonder, when it contained, among other things, a coral and bells for the baby, and five very large tea-trays adorned with handsome pictures of impossible scenery, two large sofas covered with green damask, three bonnets trimmed with feathers and flowers, two glass tumblers for them to drink out of,—for Kitty had decided that mugs were very vulgar things,—six books bound in handsome red morocco, a mahogany table, a large tin saucepan, a spit and silver waiter, a blue coat with gilt buttons, a yellow waistcoat, some pictures, a dozen bottles of wine, a quarter of lamb, cakes, tarts, pies, ale, porter, gin, silk stockings, blue and red and white shoes, lace, ham, mirrors, three clocks, a four-post bedstead, and a bag of sugar candy.
These articles filled the cottage and garden; the wagon stood outside the paling. Though the little kitchen was very much encumbered with furniture, they contrived to make a fire in it; and, having eaten a sumptuous dinner, they drank each other's health, using the new tumblers to their great satisfaction.
"All these things remind me that we must have another house built," said Kitty.
"You may do just as you please about that, my dear," replied her husband, with a bottle of wine in his hand.
"My dear," said Kitty, "how vulgar you are! Why don't you drink out of one of our new tumblers, like a gentleman?"
The woodman refused, and said it was much more handy to drink it out of the bottle.
"Handy, indeed!" retorted Kitty; "yes, and by that means none will be left for me."
Thereupon another quarrel ensued, and the woodman, being by this time quite tipsy, beat his wife again. The next day they went and got numbers of workmen to build them a new house in their garden. It was quite astonishing even to Kitty, who did not know much about building, to see how quick these workmen were; in one week the house was ready. But in the meantime the woodman, who had very often been tipsy, felt so unwell that he could not look after them; therefore it is not surprising that they stole a great many of his fine things while he lay smoking on the green damask sofa which stood on the carrot bed. Those articles which the workmen did not steal the rain and dust spoilt; but that they thought did not much matter, for still more than half the gold was left; so they soon furnished the new house. And now Kitty had a servant, and used to sit every morning on a couch dressed in silks and jewels till dinner-time, when the most delicious hot beefsteaks and sausage pudding or roast goose were served up, with more sweet pies, fritters, tarts, and cheese-cakes than they could possibly eat. As for the baby, he had three elegant cots, in which he was put to sleep by turns; he was allowed to tear his picture-books as often as he pleased, and to eat so many sugar-plums and macaroons that they often made him quite ill.
The woodman looked very pale and miserable, though he often said what a fine thing it was to be rich. He never thought of going to his work, and used generally to sit in the kitchen till dinner was ready, watching the spit. Kitty wished she could see him looking as well and cheerful as in old days, though she felt naturally proud that her husband should always be dressed like a gentleman, namely, in a blue coat, red waistcoat, and top-boots.
He and Kitty could never agree as to what should be done with the rest of the money; in fact, no one would have known them for the same people; they quarrelled almost every day, and lost nearly all their love for one another. Kitty often cried herself to sleep—a thing she had never done when they were poor; she thought it was very strange that she should be a lady, and yet not be happy. Every morning when the woodman was sober they invented new plans for making themselves happy, yet, strange to say, none of them succeeded, and matters grew worse and worse. At last Kitty thought she should be happy if she had a coach; so she went to the place where the knapsack was buried, and began to dig; but the garden was so trodden down that she could not dig deep enough, and soon got tired of trying. At last she called the servant, and told her the secret as to where the money was, promising her a gold piece if she could dig it up. The servant dug with all her strength, and with a great deal of trouble they got the knapsack up, and Kitty found that not many gold pieces were left.
However, she resolved to have the coach, so she took them and went to the town, where she bought a yellow chariot, with a most beautiful coat of arms upon it, and two cream-colored horses to draw it.
In the meantime the maid ran to the magistrates, and told them she had discovered something very dreadful, which was, that her mistress had nothing to do but dig in the ground and that she could make money come—coined money: "which," said the maid, "is a very terrible thing, and it proves that she must be a witch."
The mayor and aldermen were very much shocked, for witches were commonly believed in in those days; and when they heard that Kitty had dug up money that very morning, and bought a yellow coach with it, they decided that the matter must be investigated.
When Kitty drove up to her own door, she saw the mayor and aldermen standing in the kitchen waiting for her.
She demanded what they wanted, and they said they were come in the king's name to search the house.
Kitty immediately ran up-stairs and took the baby out of his cradle, lest any of them should steal him, which, of course, seemed a very probable thing for them to do. Then she went to look for her husband, who, shocking to relate, was quite tipsy, quarrelling and arguing with the mayor, and she actually saw him box an alderman's ears.
"The thing is proved," said the indignant mayor; "this woman is certainly a witch."
Kitty was very much bewildered at this; but how much more when she saw her husband seize the mayor—yes, the very mayor himself—and shake him so hard that he actually shook his head off, and it rolled under the dresser! "If I had not seen this with my own eyes," said Kitty, "I could not have believed it—even now it does not seem at all real."
All the aldermen wrung their hands.
"Murder! murder!" cried the maid.
"Yes," said the aldermen, "this woman and her husband must immediately be put to death, and the baby must be taken from them and made a slave."
In vain Kitty fell on her knees; the proofs of their guilt were so plain that there was no hope for mercy; and they were just going to be led out to execution when—why, then she opened her eyes, and saw that she was lying in bed in her own little chamber where she had lived and been so happy; her baby beside her in his wicker [Footnote: Wicker: made of willow twigs like a basket.] cradle was crowing and sucking his fingers.
"So, then, I have never been rich, after all," said Kitty; "and it was all only a dream! I thought it was very strange at the time that a man's head should roll off."
And she heaved a deep sigh, and put her hand to her face, which was wet with the tears she had shed when she thought that she and her husband were going to be executed.
"I am very glad, then, my husband is not a drunken man; and he does not beat me; but he goes to work every day, and I am as happy as a queen."
Just then she heard her husband's good-tempered voice whistling as he went down the ladder.
"Kitty, Kitty," said he, "come, get up, my little woman; it's later than usual, and our good visitor will want his breakfast."
"Oh, Will, Will, do come here," answered the wife; and presently her husband came up again, dressed in his fustian jacket, and looking quite healthy and good-tempered—not at all like the pale man in the blue coat, who sat watching the meat while it roasted.
"Oh, Will, I have had such a frightful dream," said Kitty, and she began to cry; "we are not going to quarrel and hate each other, are we?"
"Why, what a silly little thing thou art to cry about a dream," said the woodman, smiling. "No, we are not going to quarrel as I know of. Come, Kitty, remember the Ouphe."
"Oh, yes, yes, I remember," said Kitty, and she made haste to dress herself and come down.
"Good morning, mistress; how have you slept?" said the Ouphe, in a gentle voice, to her.
"Not so well as I could have wished, sir," said Kitty.
The Ouphe smiled. "I slept very well," he said. "The supper was good, and kindly given, without any thought of reward."
"And that is the certain truth," interrupted Kitty: "I never had the least thought what you were till my husband told me."
The woodman had gone out to cut some fresh cresses for his guest's breakfast.
"I am sorry, mistress," said the Ouphe, "that you slept uneasily—my race are said sometimes by their presence to affect the dreams of you mortals, Where is my knapsack? Shall I leave it behind me in payment of bed and board?"
"Oh, no, no, I pray you don't," said the little wife, blushing and stepping back; "you are kindly welcome to all you have had, I'm sure: don't repay us so, sir."
"What, mistress, and why not?" asked the Ouphe, smiling. "It is as full of gold pieces as it can hold, and I shall never miss them."
"No, I entreat you, do not," said Kitty, "and do not offer it to my husband, for maybe he has not been warned as I have."
Just then the woodman came in.
"I have been thanking your wife for my good entertainment," said the Ouphe, "and if there is anything in reason that I can give either of you—"
"Will, we do very well as we are," said his wife, going up to him and looking anxiously in his face.
"I don't deny," said the woodman, thoughtfully, "that there are one or two things I should like my wife to have, but somehow I've not been able to get them for her yet."
"What are they?" asked the Ouphe.
"One is a spinning-wheel," answered the woodman; "she used to spin a good deal when she was at home with her mother."
"She shall have a spinning-wheel," replied the Ouphe; "and is there nothing else, my good host?"
"Well," said the woodman, frankly, "since you are so obliging, we should like a hive of bees."
"The bees you shall have also; and now, good morning both, and a thousand thanks to you."
So saying, he took his leave, and no pressing could make him stay to breakfast.
"Well," thought Kitty, when she had had a little time for reflection, "a spinning-wheel is just what I wanted; but if people had told me this time yesterday morning that I should be offered a knapsack full of money, and should refuse it, I could not possibly have believed them!"
THE PRINCE'S DREAM
By Jean Ingelow
If we may credit the fable, there is a tower in the midst of a great Asiatic plain, wherein is confined a prince who was placed there in his earliest infancy, with many slaves and attendants, and all the luxuries that are compatible with imprisonment.
Whether he was brought there from some motive of state, whether to conceal him from enemies, or to deprive him of rights, has not transpired; but it is certain that up to the date of this little history he had never set his foot outside the walls of that high tower, and that of the vast world without he knew only the green plains which surrounded it; the flocks and the birds of that region were all his experience of living creatures, and all the men he saw outside were shepherds.
And yet he was not utterly deprived of change, for sometimes one of his attendants would be ordered away, and his place would be supplied by a new one. The prince would never weary of questioning this fresh companion, and of letting him talk of cities, of ships, of forests, of merchandise, of kings; but though in turns they all tried to satisfy his curiosity, they could not succeed in conveying very distinct notions to his mind; partly because there was nothing in the tower to which they could compare the external world, partly because, having chiefly lived lives of seclusion and indolence in Eastern palaces, they knew it only by hearsay themselves.
At length, one day, a venerable man of a noble presence was brought to the tower, with soldiers to guard him and slaves to attend him. The prince was glad of his presence, though at first he seldom opened his lips, and it was manifest that confinement made him miserable. With restless feet he would wander from window to window of the stone tower, and mount from story to story; but mount as high as he would there was still nothing to be seen but the vast, unvarying plain, clothed with scanty grass, and flooded with the glaring sunshine; flocks and herds and shepherds moved across it sometimes, but nothing else, not even a shadow, for there was no cloud in the sky to cast one. The old man, however, always treated the prince with respect, and answered his questions with a great deal of patience, till at length he found a pleasure in satisfying his curiosity, which so much pleased the poor young prisoner, that, as a great condescension, he invited him to come out on the roof of the tower and drink sherbet with him in the cool of the evening, and tell him of the country beyond the desert, and what seas are like, and mountains, and towns.
"I have learnt much from my attendants, and know this world pretty well by hearsay," said the prince, as they reclined on the rich carpet which was spread on the roof.
The old man smiled, but did not answer; perhaps because he did not care to undeceive his young companion, perhaps because so many slaves were present, some of whom were serving them with fruit, and others burning rich odors on a little chafing-dish that stood between them.
"But there are some words to which I never could attach any particular meaning," proceeded the prince, as the slaves began to retire, "and three in particular that my attendants cannot satisfy me upon, or are reluctant to do so."
"What words are those, my prince?" asked the old man. The prince turned on his elbow to be sure that the last slave had descended the tower stairs, then replied:
"O man of much knowledge, the words are these—Labor, and Liberty, and Gold."
"Prince," said the old man, "I do not wonder that it has been hard to make thee understand the first, the nature of it, and the cause why most men are born to it; as for the second, it would be treason for thee and me to do more than whisper it here, and sigh for it when none are listening; but the third need hardly puzzle thee; thy hookah [Footnote: Hookah: a kind of pipe for smoking tobacco, used in Eastern Europe and Asia.] is bright with it; all thy jewels are set in it; gold is inlaid in the ivory of thy bath; thy cup and thy dish are of gold, and golden threads are wrought into thy raiment."
"That is true," replied the prince, "and if I had not seen and handled this gold, perhaps I might not find its merits so hard to understand; but I possess it in abundance, and it does not feed me, nor make music for me, nor fan me when the sun is hot, nor cause me to sleep when I am weary; therefore when my slaves have told me how merchants go out and brave the perilous wind and sea, and live in the unstable ships, and run risks from shipwreck and pirates, and when, having asked them why they have done this, they have answered, 'For gold,' I have found it hard to believe them; and when they have told me how men have lied, and robbed, and deceived; how they have murdered one another, and leagued together to depose kings, to oppress provinces, and all for gold; then I have said to myself, either my slaves have combined to make me believe that which is not, or this gold must be very different from the yellow stuff that this coin is made of, this coin which is of no use but to have a hole pierced through it and hang to my girdle, that it may tinkle when I walk."
"Notwithstanding this," said the old man, "nothing can be done without gold; for it is better than bread, and fruit, and music, for it can buy them all, since all men love it, and have agreed to exchange it for whatever they may need."
"How so?" asked the prince.
"If a man has many loaves he cannot eat them all," answered the old man; "therefore he goes to his neighbor and says, 'I have bread and thou hast a coin of gold—let us exchange;' so he receives the gold and goes to another man, saying, 'Thou hast two houses and I have none; lend me one of thy houses to live in, and I will give thee my gold;' thus again they exchange."
"It is well," said the prince; "but in time of drought, if there is no bread in a city, can they make it of gold?"
"Not so," answered the old man, "but they must send their gold to a city where there is food, and bring that back instead of it."
"But if there was a famine all over the world," asked the prince, "what would they do then?"
"Why, then, and only then," said the old man, "they must starve, and the gold would be nought, for it can only be changed for that which is; it cannot make that which is not."
"And where do they get gold?" asked the prince. "Is it the precious fruit of some rare tree, or have they whereby they can draw it down from the sky at sunset?"
"Some of it," said the old man, "they dig out of the ground."
Then he told the prince of ancient rivers running through terrible deserts, whose sands glitter with golden grains and are yellow in the fierce heat of the sun, and of dreary mines where the Indian slaves work in gangs tied together, never seeing the light of day; and lastly (for he was a man of much knowledge, and had travelled far), he told him of the valley of the Sacramento in the New World, and of those mountains where the people of Europe send their criminals, and where now their free men pour forth to gather gold, and dig for it as hard as if for life; sitting up by it at night lest any should take it from them, giving up houses and country, and wife and children, for the sake of a few feet of mud, whence they dig clay that glitters as they wash it; and how they sift it and rock it as patiently as if it were their own children in the cradle, and afterward carry it in their bosoms, and forego on account of it safety and rest.
"But, prince," he went on, seeing that the young man was absorbed in his narrative, "if you would pass your word to me never to betray me, I would procure for you a sight of the external world, and in a trance you should see those places where gold is dug, and traverse those regions forbidden to your mortal footsteps."
Upon this, the prince threw himself at the old man's feet, and promised heartily to observe the secrecy required, and entreated that, for however short a time, he might be suffered to see this wonderful world.
Then, if we may credit the story, the old man drew nearer to the chafing-dish which stood between them, and having fanned the dying embers in it, cast upon them a certain powder and some herbs, from whence as they burnt a peculiar smoke arose. As their vapors spread, he desired the prince to draw near and inhale them, and then (says the fable) assured him that when he should sleep he would find himself, in his dream, at whatever place he might desire, with this strange advantage, that he should see things in their truth and reality as well as in their outward shows.
So the prince, not without some fear, prepared to obey; but first he drank his sherbet, and handed over the golden cup to the old man by way of recompense; then he reclined beside the chafing-dish and inhaled the heavy perfume till he became overpowered with sleep, and sank down upon the carpet in a dream.
The prince knew not where he was, but a green country was floating before him, and he found himself standing in a marshy valley where a few wretched cottages were scattered here and there with no means of communication. There was a river, but it had overflowed its banks and made the central land impassable, the fences had been broken down by it, and the fields of corn laid low; a few wretched peasants were wandering about there; they looked half-clad and half-starved. "A miserable valley, indeed!" exclaimed the prince; but as he said it a man came down from the hills with a great bag of gold in his hand.
"This valley is mine," said he to the people; "I have bought it for gold. Now make banks that the river may not overflow, and I will give you gold; also make fences and plant fields, and cover in the roofs of your houses, and buy yourselves richer clothing." So the people did so, and as the gold got lower in the bag the valley grew fairer and greener, till the prince exclaimed, "O gold, I see your value now! O wonderful, beneficent gold!"
But presently the valley melted away like a mist, and the prince saw an army besieging a city; he heard a general haranguing his soldiers to urge them on, and the soldiers shouting and battering the walls; but shortly, when the city was well-nigh taken, he saw some men secretly giving gold among the soldiers, so much of it that they threw down their arms to pick it up, and said that the walls were so strong that they could not throw them down. "O powerful gold!" thought the prince; "thou art stronger than the city walls!"
After that it seemed to him that he was walking about in a desert country, and in his dream he thought, "Now I know what labor is, for I have seen it, and its benefits; and I know what liberty is, for I have tasted it; I can wander where I will, and no man questions me; but gold is more strange to me than ever, for I have seen it buy both liberty and labor." Shortly after this he saw a great crowd digging upon a barren hill, and when he drew near he understood that he was to see the place whence the gold came.
He came up and stood a long time watching the people as they toiled ready to faint in the sun, so great was the labor of digging up the gold.
He saw some who had much and could not trust any one to help them to carry it, binding it in bundles over their shoulders, and bending and groaning under its weight; he saw others hide it in the ground, and watch the place, clothed in rags, that none might suspect that they were rich; but some, on the contrary, who had dug up an unusual quantity, he saw dancing and singing, and vaunting their success, till robbers waylaid them when they slept, and rifled their bundles and carried their golden sand away.
"All these men are mad," thought the prince, "and this pernicious gold has made them so."
After this, as he wandered here and there, he saw groups of people smelting the gold under the shadow of the trees, and he observed that a dancing, quivering vapor rose up from it which dazzled their eyes, and distorted everything that they looked at; arraying it also in different colors from the true one.
He observed that this vapor from the gold caused all things to rock and reel before the eyes of those who looked through it, and also, by some strange affinity, it drew their hearts toward those who carried much gold on their persons, so that they called them good and beautiful; it also caused them to see darkness and dulness in the faces of those who had carried none. "This," thought the prince, "is very strange;" but not being able to explain it, he went still farther, and there he saw more people. Each of these had adorned himself with a broad golden girdle, and was sitting in the shade, while other men waited on them.
"What ails these people?" he inquired of one who was looking on, for he observed a peculiar air of weariness and dulness in their faces. He was answered that the girdles were very tight and heavy, and being bound over the regions of the heart, were supposed to impede its action, and prevent it from beating high, and also to chill the wearer, as, being of opaque material, the warm sunshine of the earth could not get through to warm them.
"Why, then, do they not break them asunder," exclaimed the prince, "and fling them away?"
"Break them asunder!" cried the man; "why, what a madman you must be; they are made of the purest gold!"
"Forgive my ignorance," replied the prince; "I am a stranger."
So he walked on, for feelings of delicacy prevented him from gazing any longer at the men with the golden girdles; but as he went he pondered on the misery he had seen, and thought to himself that this golden sand did more mischief than all the poisons of the apothecary; for it dazzled the eyes of some, it strained the hearts of others, it bowed down the heads of many to the earth with its weight; it was a sore labor to gather it, and when it was gathered the robber might carry it away; it would be a good thing, he thought, if there were none of it.
After this he came to a place where were sitting some aged widows and some orphan children of the gold-diggers, who were helpless and destitute; they were weeping and bemoaning themselves, but stopped at the approach of a man whose appearance attracted the prince, for he had a very great bundle of gold on his back, and yet it did not bow him down at all; his apparel was rich, but he had no girdle on, and his face was anything but sad.
"Sir," said the prince to him, "you have a great burden; you are fortunate to be able to stand under it."
"I could not do so," he replied, "only that as I go on I keep lightening it;" and as he passed each of the widows, he threw gold to her, and, stooping down, hid pieces of it in the bosoms of the children.
"You have no girdle," said the prince.
"I once had one," answered the gold-gatherer; "but it was so tight over my breast that my heart grew cold under it, and almost ceased to beat. Having a great quantity of gold on my back, I felt almost at the last gasp; so I threw off my girdle, and being on the bank of a river, which I knew not how to cross, I was about to fling it in, I was so vexed! 'But no,' thought I, 'there are many people waiting here to cross besides myself. I will make my girdle into a bridge, and we will cross over on it.'"
"Turn your girdle into a bridge!" said the prince, doubtfully, for he did not quite understand.
The man explained himself.
"And, then, sir, after that," he continued, "I turned one-half of my burden into bread, and gave it to these poor people. Since then I have not been oppressed by its weight, however heavy it may have been; for few men have a heavier one. In fact, I gather more from day to day."
As the man kept speaking, he scattered his gold right and left with a cheerful countenance, and the prince was about to reply, when suddenly a great trembling under his feet made him fall to the ground. The refining fires of the gold-gatherers sprang up into flames, and then went out; night fell over everything on the earth, and nothing was visible in the sky but the stars of the southern cross.
"It is past midnight," thought the prince, "for the stars of the cross begin to bend."
He raised himself upon his elbow, and tried to pierce the darkness, but could not. At length a slender blue flame darted out, as from ashes in a chafing-dish, and by the light of it he saw the strange pattern of his carpet and the cushions lying about. He did not recognize them at first, but presently he knew that he was lying in his usual place, at the top of his tower.
"Wake up, prince," said the old man.
The prince sat up and sighed, and the old man inquired what he had seen.
"O man of much learning!" answered the prince, "I have seen that this is a wonderful world; I have seen the value of labor, and I know the uses of it; I have tasted the sweetness of liberty, and am grateful, though it was but in a dream; but as for that other word that was so great a mystery to me, I only know this, that it must remain a mystery forever, since I am fain to believe that all men are bent on getting it; though, once gotten, it causeth them endless disquietude, only second to their discomfort that are without it. I am fain to believe that they can procure with it whatever they most desire, and yet that it cankers their hearts and dazzles their eyes; that it is their nature and their duty to gather it; and yet that, when once gathered, the best thing they can do is to scatter it!"
The next morning, when he awoke, the old man was gone. He had taken with him the golden cup. And the sentinel was also gone, none knew whither. Perhaps the old man had turned his golden cup into a golden key.
A LOST WAND
By Jean Ingelow
More than a hundred years ago, at the foot of a wild mountain in Norway, stood an old castle, which even at the time I write of was so much out of repair as in some parts to be scarcely habitable.
In a hall of this castle a party of children met once on Twelfth-night to play at Christmas games and dance with little Hulda, the only child of the lord and lady.
The winters in Norway are very cold, and the snow and ice lie for months on the ground; but the night on which these merry children met it froze with more than ordinary severity, and a keen wind shook the trees without, and roared in the wide chimneys like thunder.
Little Hulda's mother, as the evening wore on, kept calling on the servants to heap on fresh logs of wood, and these, when the long flames crept around them, sent up showers of sparks that lit up the brown walls, ornamented with the horns of deer and goats, and made it look as cheerful and gay as the faces of the children. Hulda's grandmother had sent her a great cake, and when the children had played enough at all the games they could think of, the old gray-headed servants brought it in and set it on the table, together with a great many other nice things such as people eat in Norway—pasties made of reindeer meat, and castles of the sweet pastry sparkling with sugar ornaments of ships and flowers and crowns, and cranberry pies, and whipped cream as white as the snow outside; but nothing was admired so much as the great cake, and when the children saw it they set up a shout which woke the two hounds who were sleeping on the hearths, and they began to bark, which roused all the four dogs in the kennels outside who had not been invited to see either the cake or the games, and they barked, too, shaking and shivering with cold, and then a great lump of snow slid down from the roof, and fell with a dull sound like distant thunder on the pavement of the yard.
"Hurrah!" cried the children, "the dogs and the snow are helping us to shout in honor of the cake."
All this time more and more nice things were coming in—fritters, roasted grouse, frosted apples, and buttered crabs. As the old servants came shivering along the passages, they said, "It is a good thing that children are not late with their suppers; if the confects had been kept long in the larder they would have frozen on the dishes."
Nobody wished to wait at all; so, as soon as the supper was ready, they all sat down, more wood was heaped on to the fire, and when the moon shone in at the deep casements, and glittered on the dropping snowflakes outside, it only served to make the children more merry over their supper to think how bright and warm everything was inside.
This cake was a real treasure, such as in the days of the fairies, who still lived in certain parts of Norway, was known to be of the kind they loved. A piece of it was always cut and laid outside in the snow, in case they should wish to taste it. Hulda's grandmother had also dropped a ring into this cake before it was put into the oven, and it is well known that whoever gets such a ring in his or her slice of cake has only to wish for something directly, and the fairies are bound to give it, if they possibly can. There have been cases known when the fairies could not give it, and then, of course, they were not to blame.
On this occasion the children said: "Let us all be ready with our wishes, because sometimes people have been known to lose them from being so long making up their minds when the ring has come to them."
"Yes," cried the eldest boy. "It does not seem fair that only one should wish. I am the eldest. I begin. I shall wish that Twelfth-night would come twice a year."
"They cannot give you that, I am sure," said Friedrich, his brother, who sat by him.
"Then," said the boy, "I wish father may take me with him the next time he goes out bear-shooting."
"I wish for a white kitten with blue eyes," said a little girl whose name was Therese.
"I shall wish to find an amber necklace that does not belong to any one," said another little girl.
"I wish to be a king," said a boy whose name was Karl. "No, I think I shall wish to be the burgomaster, that I may go on board the ships in the harbor, and make their captains show me what is in them. I shall see how the sailors make their sails go up."
"I shall wish to marry Hulda," said another boy; "when I am a man, I mean. And besides that, I wish I may find a black puppy in my room at home, for I love dogs."
"But that is not fair," said the other children. "You must only wish for one thing, as we did."
"But I really wish for both," said the boy.
"If you wish for both perhaps you will get neither," said little Hulda.
"Well, then," answered the boy, "I wish for the puppy."
And so they all went on wishing till at last it came to Hulda's turn.
"What do you wish for, my child?" said her mother.
"Not for anything at all," she answered, shaking her head.
"Oh, but you must wish for something!" cried all the children.
"Yes," said her mother, "and I am now going to cut the cake. See, Hulda, the knife is going into it. Think of something."
"Well, then," answered the little girl, "I cannot think of anything else, so I shall wish that you may all have your wishes."
Upon this the knife went crunching down into the cake, the children gave three cheers, and the white waxen tulip bud at the top came tumbling on the table, and while they were all looking it opened its leaves, and out of the middle of it stepped a beautiful little fairy woman, no taller than your finger.
She had a white robe on, a little crown on her long yellow hair; there were two wings on her shoulders, just like the downy brown wings of a butterfly, and in her hand she had a little sceptre sparkling with precious stones.
"Only one wish," she said, jumping down on to the table, and speaking with the smallest little voice you ever heard. "Your fathers and mothers were always contented if we gave them one wish every year."
As she spoke, Hulda's mother gave a slice of cake to each child, and, when Hulda took hers, out dropped the ring, and fell clattering on her platter.
"Only one wish," repeated the fairy. And the children were all so much astonished (for even in those days fairies were but rarely seen) that none of them spoke a word, not even in a whisper. "Only one wish. Speak, then, little Hulda, for I am one of that race which delights to give pleasure and to do good. Is there really nothing that you wish, for you shall certainly have it if there is?"
"There was nothing, dear fairy, before I saw you," answered the little girl, in a hesitating tone.
"But now there is?" asked the fairy. "Tell it me, then, and you shall have it."
"I wish for that pretty little sceptre of yours," said Hulda, pointing to the fairy's wand.
The moment Hulda said this the fairy shuddered and became pale, her brilliant colors faded, and she looked to the children's eyes like a thin white mist standing still in her place. The sceptre, on the contrary, became brighter than ever, and the precious stones glowed like burning coals.
"Dear child," she sighed, in a faint, mournful voice, "I had better have left you with the gift of your satisfied, contented heart, than thus have urged you to form a wish to my destruction. Alas! alas! my power and my happiness fade from me, and are as if they had never been. My wand must now go to you, who can make no use of it, and I must flutter about forlornly and alone in the cold world, with no more ability to do good, and waste away my time—a helpless and defenceless thing."
"Oh, no, no!" replied little Hulda. "Do not speak so mournfully, dear fairy. I did not wish at first to ask for it. I will not take the wand if it is of value to you, and I should be grieved to have it against your will."
"Child," said the fairy, "you do not know our nature. I have said whatever you wished should be yours. I cannot alter this decree; it must be so. Take my wand; and I entreat you to guard it carefully, and never to give it away lest it should get into the hands of my enemy; for if once it should, I shall become his miserable little slave. Keep my wand with care; it is of no use to you, but in the course of years it is possible I may be able to regain it, and on Midsummer night I shall for a few hours return to my present shape, and be able for a short time to talk with you again."
"Dear fairy," said little Hulda, weeping, and putting out her hand for the wand, which the fairy held to her, "is there nothing else that I can do for you?"
"Nothing, nothing," said the fairy, who had now become so transparent and dim that they could scarcely see her; only the wings on her shoulders remained, and their bright colors had changed to a dusky brown. "I have long contended with my bitter enemy, the chief of the tribe of the gnomes—the ill-natured, spiteful gnomes. Their desire is as much to do harm to mortals as it is mine to do them good. If now he should find me I shall be at his mercy. It was decreed long ages ago that I should one day lose my wand, and it depends in some degree upon you, little Hulda, whether I shall ever receive it again. Farewell."
And now nothing was visible but the wings: the fairy had changed into a moth, with large brown wings freckled with dark eyes, and it stood trembling upon the table, till at length, when the children had watched it some time, it fluttered toward the window and beat against the panes, as if it wished to be released, so they opened the casement and let it out in the wind and cold.
Poor little thing! They were very sorry for it; but after a while they nearly forgot it, for they were but children. Little Hulda only remembered it, and she carefully enclosed the beautiful sceptre in a small box. But Midsummer day passed by, and several other Midsummer days, and still Hulda saw nothing and heard nothing of the fairy. She then began to fear that she must be dead, and it was a long time since she had looked at the wand, when one day in the middle of the Norway summer, as she was playing in one of the deep bay windows of the castle, she saw a pedlar with a pack on his back coming slowly up the avenue of pine-trees, and singing a merry song.