Did an Egyptian to my mother give:
She was a charmer, and could almost read
The thoughts of people."—Othello.
"THAT gipsy woman who
is coming with her cart," said the parrot, "is a fairy too, and very
malicious. It was she and others of her tribe who caught us and put
us into these cages, for they are more powerful than we. Mind you do
not let her allure you into the woods, nor wheedle you or frighten you
into giving her any of those fairies."
"No," said Jack; "I will not."
"She sold us to the brown people," continued the parrot.
"Mind you do not buy anything of her, for your money in her palm would act
as a charm against you."
"She has a baby," observed the parrot-wife, scornfully.
"Yes, a baby," repeated the old parrot; "and I hope by means
of that baby to get her driven away, and perhaps get free myself. I
shall try to put her in a passion. Here she comes."
There she was indeed, almost close at hand. She had a
little cart; her goods were hung all about it, and a small horse drew it
slowly on, and stopped when she got a customer.
Several gipsy children were with her, and as the people came
running together over the grass to see her goods, she sang a curious kind
of song, which made them wish to buy them.
Jack turned from the parrot's cage as she came up. He
had heard her singing a little way off, and now, before she began again,
he felt that already her searching eyes had found him out, and taken
notice that he was different from the other people.
When she began to sing her selling song, he felt a most
curious sensation. He felt as if there were some cobwebs before his
face, and he put up his hand as if to clear them away. There were no
real cobwebs, of course; and yet he again felt as if they floated from the
gipsy-woman to him, like gossamer threads, and attracted him towards her.
So he gazed at her, and she at him, till Jack began to forget how the
parrot had warned him.
He saw her baby too, wondered whether it was heavy for her to
carry, and wished he could help her. I mean, he saw that she had a
baby on her arm. It was wrapped in a shawl, and had a handkerchief
over its face. She seemed very fond of it, for she kept hushing it;
and Jack softly moved nearer and nearer to the cart, till the gipsy-woman
smiled, and suddenly began to sing:
"My good man—he's an old, old man—
And my good man got a fall,
To buy me a bargain so fast he ran
When he heard the gipsies call:
wrought o' rushes.
them, buy them, take them, try them,
Buy, dames all.'
"My old man, he has money and land,
And a young, young wife am I.
Let him put the penny in my white hand
When he hears the gipsies cry:
'Buy, buy laces,
Veils to screen your faces.
Buy them, buy them, take and
Buy, maids, buy.'"
When the gipsy had finished her song, Jack felt as if he was
covered all over with cobwebs; but he could not move away, and he did not
mind them now. All his wish was to please her, and get close to her;
so when she said, in a soft wheedling voice, "What will you please to buy,
my pretty gentleman?" he was just going to answer that he would buy
anything she recommended, when, to his astonishment and displeasure, for
he thought it very rude, the parrot suddenly burst into a violent fit of
coughing, which made all the customers stare. "That's to clear my
throat," he said, in a most impertinent tone of voice; and then he began
to beat time with his foot, and sing, or rather scream out, an extremely
saucy imitation of the gipsy's song, and all his parrot friends in the
other cages joined in the chorus.
"My fair lady's a dear, dear lady—
I walked by her side to woo.
In a garden alley, so sweet and shady,
She answered, 'I love not you,
my dear lady,
'Pray now, pray now, go your way now,
John, do!' "
At first the gipsy did not seem to know where that mocking
song came from, but when she discovered that it was her prisoner, the old
parrot, who was thus daring to imitate her, she stood silent and glared at
him, and her face was almost white with rage.
When he came to the end of the verse he pretended to burst
into a violent fit of sobbing and crying, and screeched out to his wife,
"Mate! mate! hand up my handkerchief. Oh! oh! it's so affecting,
this song is."
Upon this the other parrot pulled Jack's handkerchief from
under her wing, hobbled up, and began, with a great show of zeal, to wipe
his horny beak with it. But this was too much for the gipsy; she
took a large brush from her cart, and flung it at the cage with all her
This set it violently swinging backwards and forwards, but
did not stop the parrot, who screeched out, "How delightful it is to be
swung!" And then he began to sing another verse in the most impudent
tone possible, and with a voice that seemed to ring through Jack's head,
and almost pierce it.
"Yet my fair lady's my own, own lady,
For I passed another day;
While making her moan, she sat all alone,
And thus and thus did she say:
'John, John Brady,'
Quoth my dear lady,
'Do now, do now, once more woo now,
Pray, John, pray!' "
"It's beautiful!" screeched the parrot-wife, "and so ap-pro-pri-ate."
Jack was delighted when she managed slowly to say this long word with her
black tongue, and he burst out laughing. In the meantime a good many
of the brown people came running together, attracted by the noise of the
parrots and the rage of the gipsy, who flung at his cage, one after the
other, all the largest things she had in her cart. But nothing did
the parrot any harm; the more violently his cage swung, the louder he
sang, till at last the wicked gipsy seized her poor little young baby, who
was lying in her arms, rushed frantically at the cage as it flew swiftly
through the air towards her, and struck at it with the little creature's
head. "Oh, you cruel, cruel woman!" cried Jack, and all the small
mothers who were standing near with their skinny children on their
shoulders screamed out with terror and indignation; but only for one
instant, for the handkerchief flew off that had covered its face, and was
caught in the wires of the cage, and all the people saw that it was not a
real baby at all, but a bundle of clothes, and its head was a turnip.
Yes, a turnip! You could see that as plainly as
possible, for though the green leaves had been cut off, their stalks were
visible through the lace cap that had been tied on it.
Upon this all the crowd pressed closer, throwing her baskets,
and brushes, and laces, and beads at the gipsy, and calling out, "We will
have none of your goods, you false woman! Give us back our money, or
we will drive you out of the fair. You've stuck a stick into a
turnip, and dressed it up in baby clothes. You're a cheat! a cheat!
"My sweet gentlemen, my kind ladies," began the gipsy; but
baskets and brushes flew at her so fast that she was obliged to sit down
on the grass and hold up the sham baby to screen her face.
While this was going on, Jack felt that the cobwebs which had
seemed to float about his face were all gone; he did not care at all any
more about the gipsy, and began to watch the parrots with great attention.
He observed that when the handkerchief stuck between the cage
wires, the parrots caught it, and drew it inside; and then Jack saw the
cunning old bird himself lay it on the floor, fold it crosswise like a
shawl, and put it on his wife.
Then she jumped upon the perch, and held it with one foot,
looking precisely like an old lady with a parrot's head. Then he
folded Jack's handkerchief in the same way, put it on, and got upon the
perch beside his wife, screaming out, in his most piercing tone:
"I like shawls; they're so becoming." Now the gipsy did
not care at all what those inferior people thought of her, and she was
calmly counting out their money, to return it; but she was very desirous
to make Jack forget her behaviour, and had begun to smile again, and tell
him she had only been joking, when the parrot spoke, and, looking up, she
saw the two birds sitting side by side, and the parrot-wife was screaming
in her mate's ear, though neither of them was at all deaf:
"If Jack lets her allure him into the woods, he'll never come
out again. She'll hang him up in a cage, as she did us. I say,
how does my shawl fit?"
So saying, the parrot-wife whisked herself round on the
perch, and lo! in the corner of the handkerchief were seen some curious
letters, marked in red. When the crowd saw these, they drew a little
farther off, and glanced at one another with alarm.
"You look charming, my dear; it fits well!" screamed the old
parrot in answer. "A word in your ear, 'Share and share alike' is a
"What do you mean by all this?" said the gipsy, rising, and
going with slow steps to the cage, and speaking cautiously.
"Jack," said the parrot, "do they ever eat handkerchiefs in
your part of the country?"
"No, never," answered Jack.
"Hold your tongue and be reasonable," said the gipsy,
trembling. "What do you want? I'll do it, whatever it is."
"But do they never pick out the marks?" continued the parrot.
"O Jack! are you sure they never pick out the marks?"
"The marks?" said Jack, considering. "Yes, perhaps they
"Stop!" cried the gipsy, as the old parrot made a peck at the
strange letters. "Oh! you're hurting me. What do you want?
I say again, tell me what you want, and you shall have it."
"We want to get out," replied the parrot; "you must undo the
"Then give me my handkerchief," answered the gipsy, "to
bandage my eyes. I dare not say the words with my eyes open.
You had no business to steal it. It was woven by human hands, so
that nobody can see through it; and if you don't give it to me, you'll
never get out—no, never!"
"Then," said the old parrot, tossing his shawl off, "you may
have Jack's handkerchief; it will bandage your eyes just as well. It
was woven over the water, as yours was."
"It won't do!" cried the gipsy in terror; "give me my own."
"I tell you," answered the parrot, "that you shall have
Jack's handkerchief; you can do no harm with that."
By this time the parrots all around had become perfectly
silent, and none of the people ventured to say a word, for they feared the
malice of the gipsy. She was trembling dreadfully, and her dark
eyes, which had been so bright and piercing, had become dull and almost
dim; but when she found there was no help for it, she said:
"Well, pass out Jack's handkerchief. I will set you
free if you will bring out mine with you."
"Share and share alike," answered the parrot; "you must let
all my friends out too."
"Then I won't let you out," answered the gipsy. "You
shall come out first, and give me my handkerchief, or not one of their
cages will I undo. So take your choice."
"My friends, then," answered the brave old parrot; and he
poked Jack's handkerchief out to her through the wires.
The wondering crowd stood by to look, and the gipsy bandaged
her eyes tightly with the handkerchief; and then, stooping low, she began
to murmur something and clap her hands—softly at first, but by degrees
more and more violently. The noise was meant to drown the words she
muttered; but as she went on clapping, the bottom of cage after cage fell
clattering down. Out flew the parrots by hundreds, screaming and
congratulating one another; and there was such a deafening din that not
only the sound of her spell but the clapping of her hands was quite lost
But all this time Jack was very busy; for the moment the
gipsy had tied up her eyes, the old parrot snatched the real handkerchief
off his wife's shoulders, and tied it round her neck. Then she
pushed out her head through the wires, and the old parrot called to Jack,
and said, "Pull!"
Jack took the ends of the handkerchief, pulled terribly hard,
and stopped. "Go on! go on!" screamed the old parrot.
"I shall pull her head off," cried Jack.
"No matter;" cried the parrot; "no matter—only pull."
Well, Jack did pull, and he actually did pull her head off!
nearly tumbling backward himself as he did it; but he saw what the whole
thing meant then, for there was another head inside—a fairy's head.
Jack flung down the old parrot's head and great beak, for he
saw that what he had to do was to clear the fairy of its parrot covering.
The poor little creature seemed nearly dead, it was so terribly squeezed
in the wires. It had a green gown or robe on, with an ermine collar;
and Jack got hold of this dress, stripped the fairy out of the parrot
feathers, and dragged her through—velvet robe, and crimson girdle, and
little yellow shoes. She was very much exhausted, but a kind brown
woman took her instantly, and laid her in her bosom. She was a
splendid little creature, about half a foot long.
"There's a brave boy!" cried the parrot. Jack glanced
round, and saw that not all the parrots were free yet, the gipsy was still
muttering her spell.
He returned the handkerchief to the parrot, who put it round
his own neck, and again Jack pulled. But oh! what a tough old parrot
that was, and how Jack tugged before his cunning head would come off!
It did, however, at last; and just as a fine fairy was pulled through,
leaving his parrot skin and the handkerchief behind him, the gipsy untied
her eyes, and saw what Jack had done.
"Give me my handkerchief!" she screamed in despair.
"It's in the cage, gipsy," answered Jack; "you can get it
yourself. Say your words again."
But the gipsy's spell would only open places where she had
confined fairies, and no fairies were in the cage now.
"No, no, no!" she screamed; "too late! Hide me! O
good people, hide me!"
But it was indeed too late. The parrots had been
wheeling in the air, hundreds and hundreds of them, high above her head;
and as she ceased speaking, she fell shuddering on the ground, drew her
cloak over her face, and down they came, swooping in one immense flock,
and settled so thickly all over her that she was completely covered; from
her shoes to her head not an atom of her was to be seen.
All the people stood gravely looking on. So did Jack,
but he could not see much for the fluttering of the parrots, nor hear
anything for their screaming voices; but at last he made one of the cross
people hear when he shouted to her, "What are they going to do to the poor
"Make her take her other form," she replied; "and then she
cannot hurt us while she stays in our country. She is a fairy, as we
have just found out, and all fairies have two forms."
"Oh!" said Jack; but he had no time for more questions.
The screaming, and fighting, and tossing about of little bits
of cloth and cotton ceased; a black lump heaved itself up from the ground
among the parrots; and as they flew aside, an ugly great condor, with a
bare neck, spread out its wings, and, skimming the ground, sailed slowly
"They have pecked her so that she can hardly rise," exclaimed
the parrot fairy. "Set me on your shoulder, Jack, and let me see the
end of it."
Jack set him there; and his little wife, who had recovered
herself, sprang from her friend the brown woman, and sat on the other
shoulder. He then ran on—the tribe of brown people, and mushroom
people, and the feather-coated folks running too—after the great black
bird, who skimmed slowly on before them till she got to the gipsy carts,
when out rushed the gipsies, armed with poles, milking-stools, spades, and
everything they could get hold of to beat back the people and the parrots
from hunting their relation, who had folded her tired wings, and was
skulking under a cart, with ruffled feathers and a scowling eye.
Jack was so frightened at the violent way in which the
gipsies and the other tribes were knocking each other about, that he ran
off, thinking he had seen enough of such a dangerous country.
As he passed the place where that evil-minded gipsy had been
changed, he found the ground strewed with little bits of her clothes.
Many parrots were picking them up, and poking them into the cage where the
handkerchief was; and presently another parrot came with a lighted brand,
which she had pulled from one of the gipsies' fires.
"That's right," said the fairy on Jack's shoulder, when he
saw his friend push the brand between the wires of what had been his cage,
and set the gipsy's handkerchief on fire, and all the bits of her clothes
with it. "She won't find much of herself here," he observed, as Jack
went on. "It will not be very easy to put herself together again."
So Jack moved away. He was tired of the noise and
confusion; and the sun was just setting as he reached the little creek
where his boat lay.
Then the parrot fairy and his wife sprang down, and kissed
their hands to him as he stepped on board, and pushed the boat off.
He saw, when he looked back, that a great fight was still going on; so he
was glad to get away, and he wished his two friends good-bye, and set off,
the old parrot fairy calling after him, "My relations have put some of our
favourite food on board for you." Then they again thanked him for
his good help, and sprang into a tree, and the boat began to go down the
"This has been a most extraordinary day," thought Jack; "the
strangest day I have had yet." And after he had eaten a good supper
of what the parrots had brought, he felt so tired and sleepy that he lay
down in the boat, and presently fell fast asleep. His fairies were
sound asleep too in his pockets, and nothing happened of the least
consequence; so he slept comfortably till morning.
A great fight was still going on.
" 'Master,' quoth the auld hound,
'Where will ye go?'
'Over moss, over muir,
To court my new jo.'
'Master, though the night be merk,
I'se follow through the snow.
" 'Court her, master, court her,
So shall ye do weel;
But and ben she'll guide the house,
I'se get milk and meal.
Ye'se get lilting while she sits
With her rock and reel.'
" 'For, oh! she has a sweet tongue,
And een that look down,
A gold girdle for her waist,
And a purple gown.
She has a good word forbye
Fra a' folk in the town.' "
SOON after sunrise they
came to a great city, and it was perfectly still. There were grand
towers and terraces, wharves, too, and a large market, but there was
nobody anywhere to be seen. Jack thought that might be because it
was so early in the morning; and when the boat ran itself up against a
wooden wharf and stopped, he jumped ashore, for he thought this must be
the end of his journey. A delightful town it was, if only there had
been any people in it! The market-place was full of stalls, on which
were spread toys, baskets, fruit, butter, vegetables, and all the other
things that are usually sold in a market.
Jack walked about in it. Then he looked in at the open
doors of the houses, and at last, finding that they were all empty, he
walked into one, looked at the rooms, examined the picture-books, rang the
bells, and set the musical-boxes going. Then, after he had shouted a
good deal, and tried in vain to make some one hear, he went back to the
edge of the river where his boat was lying, and the water was so
delightfully clear and calm, that he thought he would bathe. So he
took off his clothes, and folding them very carefully, so as not to hurt
the fairies, laid them down beside a haycock, and went in, and ran about
and paddled for a long time much longer than there was any occasion for;
but then he had nothing to do.
When at last he had finished, he ran to the haycock, and
began to dress himself; but he could not find his stockings, and after
looking about for some time he was obliged to put on his clothes without
them, and he was going to put his boots on his bare feet, when, walking to
the other side of the haycock, he saw a little old woman about as large as
himself. She had a pair of spectacles on, and she was knitting.
She looked so sweet tempered that Jack asked her if she knew
anything about his stockings. "It will be time enough to ask for
them when you have had your breakfast," said she. "Sit down.
Welcome to our town. How do you like it?"
"I should like it very much indeed," said Jack, "if there was
anybody in it."
"I'm glad of that," said the woman. "You've seen a good
deal of it; but it pleases me to find that you are a very honest boy.
You did not take anything at all. I am honest too."
"Yes," said Jack, "of course you are."
"And as I am pleased with you for being honest," continued
the little woman, "I shall give you some breakfast out of my basket."
So she took out a saucer full of honey, a roll of bread, and a cup of
"Thank you," said Jack, "but I am not a beggar-boy; I have
got a half-crown, a shilling, a sixpence, and two pence; so I can buy this
breakfast of you, if you like. You look very poor."
"Do I?" said the little woman, softly; and she went on
knitting, and Jack began to eat the breakfast.
"I wonder what has become of my stockings," said Jack.
"You will never see them any more," said the old woman.
"I threw them into the river, and they floated away."
"Why did you?" asked Jack.
The little woman took no notice; but presently she had
finished a beautiful pair of stockings, and she handed them to Jack, and
"Is that like the pair you lost?"
"Oh no," said Jack, "these are much more beautiful stockings
"Do you like them as well?" asked the fairy woman.
"I like them much better," said Jack, putting them on.
"How clever you are!" "Would you like to wear these," said the
woman, "instead of yours?"
She gave Jack such a strange look when she said this, that he
was afraid to take them, and answered:
"I shouldn't like to wear them if you think I had better
"Well," she answered, "I am very honest, as I told you; and
therefore I am obliged to say that if I were you I would not wear those
stockings on any account."
"Why not?" said Jack; for she looked so sweet tempered that
he could not help trusting her.
"Why not?" repeated the fairy; "why, because when you have
those stockings on, your feet belong to me."
"Oh!" said Jack. "Well, if you think that matters, I'll
take them off again. Do you think it matters?"
"Yes," said the fairy woman; "it matters, because I am a
slave, and my master can make me do whatever he pleases, for I am
completely in his power. So, if he found out that I had knitted
those stockings for you, he would make me order you to walk into his
mill—the mill which grinds the corn for the town; and there you would have
to grind and grind till I got free again."
When Jack heard this, he pulled off the beautiful stockings,
and laid them on the old woman's lap. Upon this she burst out
crying, as if her heart would break.
"If my fairies that I have in my pocket would only wake,"
said Jack, "I would fight your master; for if he is no bigger than you
are, perhaps I could beat him, and get you away."
"No, Jack," said the little woman; "that would be of no use.
The only thing you could do would be to buy me; for my cruel master has
said that if ever I am late again he shall sell me in the slave-market to
the brown people, who work underground. And, though I am dreadfully
afraid of my master, I mean to be late to-day, in hopes (as you are kind,
and as you have some money) that you will come to the slave-market and buy
me. Can you buy me, Jack, to be your slave?"
"I don't want a slave," said Jack; "and, besides, I have
hardly any money to buy you with."
"But it is real money," said the fairy woman, "not like what
my master has. His money has to be made every week, for if there
comes a hot day it cracks, so it never has time to look old, as your
half-crown does; and that is how we know the real money, for we cannot
imitate anything that is old. Oh, now, now it is twelve o'clock! now
I am late again! and though I said I would do it, I am so frightened!"
So saying, the little woman ran off towards the town,
wringing her hands, and Jack ran beside her.
"How am I to find your master?" he said.
"O Jack, buy me! buy me!" cried the fairy woman. "You
will find me in the slave- market. Bid high for me. Go back
and put your boots on, and bid high."
Now Jack had nothing on his feet, so he left the poor little
woman to run into the town by herself, and went back to put his boots on.
They were very uncomfortable, as he had no stockings; but he did not much
mind that, and he counted his money. There was the half-crown that
his grandmamma had given him on his birthday, there was a shilling, a
sixpence, and two pence, besides a silver fourpenny-piece which he had
forgotten. He then marched into the town; and now it was quite full
of people—all of them little men and women about his own height.
They thought he was somebody of consequence, and they called out to him to
buy their goods. And he bought some stockings, and said, "What I
want to buy now is a slave."
So they showed him the way to the slave-market, and there
whole rows of odd-looking little people were sitting, while in front of
them stood the slaves.
Now Jack had observed as he came along how very disrespectful
the dogs of that town were to the people. They had a habit of going
up to them and smelling at their legs, and even gnawing their feet as they
sat before the little tables selling their wares; and what made this more
surprising was that the people did not always seem to find out when they
were being gnawed. But the moment the dogs saw Jack they came and
fawned on him, and two old hounds followed him all the way to the
slave-market; and when he took a seat one of them laid down at his feet,
and said, "Master, set your handsome feet on my back, that they may be out
of the dust."
"Don't be afraid of him," said the other hound; "he won't
gnaw your feet. He knows well enough that they are real ones."
"Are the other people's feet not real?" asked Jack.
"Of course not," said the hound. "They had a feud long
ago with the fairies, and they all went one night into a great cornfield
which belonged to these enemies of theirs, intending to steal the corn.
So they made themselves invisible, as they are always obliged to do till
twelve o'clock at noon; but before morning dawn, the wheat being quite
ripe, down came the fairies with their sickles, surrounded the field, and
cut the corn. So all their legs of course got cut off with it, for
when they are invisible they cannot stir. Ever since that they have
been obliged to make their legs of wood."
While the hound was telling this story Jack looked about, but
he did not see one slave who was in the least like his poor little friend,
and he was beginning to be afraid that he should not find her, when he
heard two people talking together.
"Good day!" said one. "So you have sold that
good-for-nothing slave of yours?"
"Yes," answered a very cross-looking old man. "She was
late again this morning, and came to me crying and praying to be forgiven;
but I was determined to make an example of her, so I sold her at once to
Clink-of-the-Hole, and he has just driven her away to work in his mine."
Jack, on hearing this, whispered to the hound at his feet,
"If you will guide me to Clink's hole, you shall be my dog."
"Master, I will do my best," answered the hound; and he stole
softly out of the market, Jack following him.
"Master, I will do my best," answered the hound.
"So useful it is to have money, heigh ho!
So useful it is to have money!"
A. H. CLOUGH.
THE old hound went
straight through the town, smelling Clink's footsteps, till he came into a
large field of barley; and there, sitting against a sheaf, for it was
harvest time, they found Clink-of-the-Hole. He was a very ugly
little brown man, and he was smoking a pipe in the shade; while crouched
near him was the poor little woman, with her hands spread before her face.
"Good day, sir," said Clink to Jack. "You are a
stranger here, no doubt?"
"Yes," said Jack; "I only arrived this morning."
"Have you seen the town?" asked Clink, civilly; "there is a
very fine market."
"Yes, I have seen the market," answered Jack. "I went
into it to buy a slave, but I did not see one that I liked."
"Ah!" said Clink; "and yet they had some very fine articles."
Here he pointed to the poor little woman, and said, "Now that's a useful
body enough, and I had her very cheap."
"What did you give for her?" said Jack, sitting down.
"Three pitchers," said Clink, "and fifteen cups and saucers,
and two shillings in the money of the town."
"Is their money like this?" said Jack, taking out his
When Clink saw the shilling he changed colour, and said, very
earnestly, "Where did you get that, dear sir?"
"Oh, it was given me," said Jack, carelessly.
Clink looked hard at the shilling, and so did the fairy
woman, and Jack let them look some time, for he amused himself with
throwing it up several times and catching it. At last he put it back
in his pocket, and then Clink heaved a deep sigh. Then Jack took out
a penny, and began to toss that up, upon which, to his great surprise, the
little brown man fell on his knees, and said, "Oh, a shilling and a
penny—a shilling and a penny of mortal coin! What would I not give
for a shilling and a penny!"
"I don't believe you have got anything to give," said Jack,
cunningly; "I see nothing but that ring on your finger, and the old
"But I have a great many things at home, sir," said the brown
man, wiping his eyes; "and besides, that ring would be cheap at a
shilling—even a shilling of mortal coin."
"Would the slave be cheap at a penny?" said Jack.
"Would you give a penny for her, dear sir?" inquired Clink,
trembling with eagerness.
"She is honest," answered Jack; "ask her whether I had better
buy her with this penny."
"It does not matter what she says," replied the brown man; "I
would sell twenty such as she is for a penny—a real one."
"Ask her," repeated Jack; and the poor little woman wept
bitterly, but she said "No."
"Why not?" asked Jack; but she only hung down her head and
"I'll make you suffer for this," said the brown man.
But when Jack took out the shilling, and said, "Shall I buy you with this,
slave?" his eyes actually shot out sparks, he was so eager.
The little brown man fell on his knees and said,
"Oh, a shilling and a penny."
"Speak!" he said to the fairy woman; "and if you don't say
'Yes,' I'll strike you."
"He cannot buy me with that," answered the fairy woman,
"unless it is the most valuable coin he has got."
The brown man, on hearing this, rose up in a rage, and was
just going to strike her a terrible blow, when Jack cried out, "Stop!" and
took out his half-crown.
"Can I buy you with this?" said he; and the fairy woman
Upon this Clink drew a long breath, and his eyes grew bigger
and bigger as he gazed at the half-crown.
"Shall she be my slave for ever, and not yours," said Jack,
"if I give you this?"
"She shall," said the brown man. And he made such a low
bow, as he took the money, that his head actually knocked the ground.
Then he jumped up; and, as if he was afraid Jack should repent of his
bargain, he ran off towards the hole in the hill with all his might,
shouting for joy as he went.
"Slave," said Jack, "that is a very ragged old apron that you
have got, and your gown is quite worn out. Don't you think we had
better spend my shilling in buying you some new clothes? You look so
"Do I?" said the fairy woman, gently. "Well, master,
you will do as you please."
"But you know better than I do," said Jack, "though you are
"You had better give me the shilling, then," answered the
little old woman; "and then I advise you to go back to the boat, and wait
there till I come."
"What!" said Jack; "can you go all the way back into the town
again? I think you must be tired, for you know you are so very old."
The fairy woman laughed when Jack said this, and she had such
a sweet laugh that he loved to hear it; but she took the shilling, and
trudged off to the town, and he went back to the boat, his hound running
He was a long time going, for he ran a good many times after
butterflies, and then he climbed up several trees; and altogether he
amused himself for such a long while that when he reached the boat his
fairy woman was there before him. So he stepped on board, the hound
followed, and the boat immediately began to swim on.
"Why, you have not bought any new clothes!" said Jack to his
"No, master," answered the fairy woman; "but I have bought
what I wanted." And she took out of her pocket a little tiny piece
of purple ribbon, with a gold-coloured satin edge, and a very small
When Jack saw these he was vexed, and said, "What do you mean
by being so silly? I can't scold you properly, because I don't know
what name to call you by, and I don't like to say 'Slave,' because that
sounds so rude. Why, this bit of ribbon is such a little bit that
it's of no use at all. It's not large enough even to make one mitten
"Isn't it?" said the slave. "Just take hold of it,
master, and let us see if it will stretch."
So Jack did. And she pulled, and he pulled, and very
soon the silk had stretched till it was nearly as large as a handkerchief;
and then she shook it, and they pulled again. "This is very good
fun," said Jack; "why now it is as large as an apron."
"Master, do you know what you have done?"
So she shook it again, and gave it a twitch here and a pat
there; and then they pulled again, and the silk suddenly stretched so wide
that Jack was very nearly falling overboard. So Jack's slave pulled
off her ragged gown and apron, and put it on. It was a most
beautiful robe of purple silk, it had a gold border, and it just fitted
"That will do," she said. And then she took out the
little tortoiseshell comb, pulled off her cap, and threw it into the
river. She had a little knot of soft grey hair, and she let it down,
and began to comb. And as she combed the hair got much longer and
thicker, till it fell in waves all about her throat. Then she combed
again, and it all turned gold colour, and came tumbling down to her waist;
and then she stood up in the boat, and combed once more, and shook out the
hair, and there was such a quantity that it reached down to her feet, and
she was so covered with it that you could not see one bit of her,
excepting her eyes, which peeped out, and looked bright and full of tears.
Then she began to gather up her lovely locks; and when she
had dried her eyes with them, she said, "Master, do you know what you have
done? look at me now!" So she threw back the hair from her face, and
it was a beautiful young face; and she looked so happy that Jack was glad
he had bought her with his half-crown—so glad that he could not help
crying, and the fair slave cried too; and then instantly the little
fairies woke, and sprang out of Jack's pockets. As they did so,
Jovinian cried out, "Madam, I am your most humble servant;" and Roxaletta
said, "I hope your Grace is well;" but the third got on Jack's knee, and
took hold of the buttons of his waistcoat, and when the lovely slave
looked at her, she hid her face and blushed with pretty childish shyness.
"These are fairies," said Jack's slave; "but what are you?"
"Jack kissed me," said the little thing; "and I want to sit
on his knee."
"Yes," said Jack, "I took them out, and laid them in a row,
to see if they were safe, and this one I kissed, because she looked such a
"Was she not like the others, then?" asked the slave.
"Yes," said Jack; "but I liked her the best; she was my
Now, the instant these three fairies sprang out of Jack's
pockets, they got very much larger; in fact, they became fully grown—that
is to say, they measured exactly one foot one inch in height, which, as
most people know, is exactly the proper height for fairies of that tribe.
The two who had sprung out first were very beautifully dressed. One
had a green velvet coat, and a sword, the hilt of which was encrusted with
diamonds. The second had a white spangled robe, and the loveliest
rubies and emeralds round her neck and in her hair; but the third, the one
who sat on Jack's knee, had a white frock and a blue sash on. She
had soft, fat arms, and a face just like that of a sweet little child.
When Jack's slave saw this, she took the little creature on
her knee, and said to her, "How comes it that you are not like your
And she answered, in a pretty lisping voice, "It's because
Jack kissed me."
"Even so it must be," answered the slave; "the love of a
mortal works changes indeed. It is not often that we win anything so
precious. Here, master, let her sit on your knee sometimes, and take
care of her, for she cannot now take the same care of herself that others
of her race are capable of."
So Jack let little Mopsa sit on his knee; and when he was
tired of admiring his slave, and wondering at the respect with which the
other two fairies treated her, and at their cleverness in getting
water-lilies for her, and fanning her with feathers, he curled himself up
in the bottom of the boat with his own little favourite, and taught her
how to play at cat's-cradle.
When they had been playing some time, and Mopsa was getting
quite clever at the game, the lovely slave said, "Master, it is a long
time since you spoke to me."
"And yet," said Jack, "there is something that I particularly
want to ask you about."
"Ask it, then," she replied.
"I don't like to have a slave," answered Jack; "and as you
are so clever, don't you think you can find out how to be free again?"
"I am very glad you asked me about that," said the fairy
woman. "Yes, master, I wish very much to be free; and as you were so
kind as to give the most valuable piece of real money you possessed in
order to buy me, I can be free if you can think of anything that you
really like better than that half-crown, and if I can give it you."
"Oh, there are many things," said Jack. "I like going up this
river to Fairyland much better."
"But you are going there, master," said the fairy woman; "you
were on the way before I met with you."
"I like this little child better," said Jack; "I love this
little Mopsa. I should like her to belong to me."
"She is yours," answered the fairy woman; "she belongs to you
already. Think of something else."
Jack thought again, and was so long about it that at last the
beautiful slave said to him, "Master, do you see those purple mountains?"
Jack turned round in the boat, and saw a splendid range of
purple mountains, going up and up. They were very great and steep,
each had a crown of snow, and the sky was very red behind them, for the
sun was going down.
"At the other side of those mountains is Fairyland," said the
slave; "but if you cannot think of something that you should like better
to have than your half-crown, I can never enter in. The river flows
straight up to yonder steep precipice, and there is a chasm in it which
pierces it, and through which the river runs down beneath, among the very
roots of the mountains, till it comes out at the other side.
Thousands and thousands of the small people will come when they see the
boat, each with a silken thread in his hand; but if there is a slave in
it, not all their strength and skill can tow it through. Look at
those rafts on the river; on them are the small people coming up."
Jack looked, and saw that the river was spotted with rafts,
on which were crowded brown fairy sailors, each one with three green
stripes on his sleeve, which looked like good-conduct marks. All
these sailors were chattering very fast, and the rafts were coming down to
meet the boat.
"All these sailors to tow my slave!" said Jack. "I
wonder, I do wonder, what you are?" But the fairy woman only smiled,
and Jack went on: "I have thought of something that I should like much
better than my half-crown. I should like to have a little tiny bit
of that purple gown of yours with the gold border."
Then the fairy woman said, "I thank you, master. Now I
can be free." So she told Jack to lend her his knife, and with it
she cut off a very small piece of the skirt of her robe, and gave it to
him. "Now mind," she said; "I advise you never to stretch this
unless you want to make some particular thing of it, for then it will only
stretch to the right size; but if you merely begin to pull it for your own
amusement, it will go on stretching and stretching, and I don't know where
it will stop."
"In the night she told a story,
In the night and all night through,
While the moon was in her glory,
And the branches dropped with dew.
"'Twas my life she told, and round it
Rose the years as from a deep;
In the world's great heart she found it,
Cradled like a child asleep.
"In the night I saw her weaving
By the misty moonbeam cold,
All the weft her shuttle cleaving
With a sacred thread of gold.
"Ah! she wept me tears of sorrow,
Lulling tears so mystic sweet;
Then she wove my last to-morrow,
And her web lay at my feet.
"Of my life she made the story:
I must weep—so soon 'twas told!
But your name did lend it glory,
And your love its thread of gold!"
BY this time, as the
sun had gone down, and none of the moons had risen, it would have been
dark but that each of the rafts was rigged with a small mast that had a
lantern hung to it.
By the light of these lanterns Jack saw crowds of little
brown faces, and presently many rafts had come up to the boat, which was
now swimming very slowly. Every sailor in every raft fastened to the
boat's side a silken thread; then the rafts were rowed to shore, and the
sailors jumped out, and began to tow the boat along.
These crimson threads looked no stronger than the silk that
ladies sew with, yet by means of them the small people drew the boat along
merrily. There were so many of them that they looked like an army as
they marched in the light of the lanterns and torches. Jack thought
they were very happy, though the work was hard, for they shouted and sang.
The fairy woman looked more beautiful than ever now, and far
more stately. She had on a band of precious stones to bind back her
hair, and they shone so brightly in the night that her features could be
Jack's little favourite was fast asleep, and the other two
fairies had flown away. He was beginning to feel rather sleepy
himself, when he was roused by the voice of his free lady, who said to
him, "Jack, there is no one listening now, so I will tell you my story.
I am the Fairy Queen!"
Jack opened his eyes very wide, but he was so much surprised
that he did not say a word. "One day, long, long ago," said the
Queen, "I was discontented with my own happy country. I wished to
see the world, so I set forth with a number of the one-foot-one fairies,
and went down the wonderful river, thinking to see the world.
"So we sailed down the river till we came to that town which
you know of; and there, in the very middle of the stream, stood a tower—a
tall tower built upon a rock.
"Fairies are afraid of nothing but of other fairies, and we
did not think this tower was fairy-work, so we left our ship and went up
the rock and into the tower, to see what it was like; but just as we had
descended into the dungeon keep, we heard the gurgling of water overhead,
and down came the tower. It was nothing but water enchanted into the
likeness of stone, and we all fell down with it into the very bed of the
"Of course we were not drowned, but there we were obliged to
lie, for we have no power out of our own element; and the next day the
townspeople came down with a net and dragged the river, picked us all out
of the meshes, and made us slaves. The one-foot-one fairies got away
shortly; but from that day to this, in sorrow and distress, I have had to
serve my masters. Luckily, my crown had fallen off in the water, so
I was not known to be the Queen; but till you came, Jack, I had almost
forgotten that I had ever been happy and free, and I had hardly any hope
of getting away."
"How sorry your people must have been," said Jack, "when they
found you did not come home again."
"No," said the Queen; "they only went to sleep, and they will
not wake till to-morrow morning, when I pass in again. They will
think I have been absent for a day, and so will the applewoman. You
must not undeceive them; if you do, they will be very angry."
"And who is the applewoman?" inquired Jack; but the Queen
blushed, and pretended not to hear the question, so he repeated:
"Queen, who is the applewoman?"
"I've only had her for a very little while," said the Queen,
"And how long do you think you have been a slave, Queen?"
"I don't know," said the Queen. "I have never been able
to make up my mind about that."
And now all the moons began to shine, and all the trees
lighted themselves up, for almost every leaf had a glow-worm or a firefly
on it, and the water was full of fishes that had shining eyes. And
now they were close to the steep mountain side; and Jack looked and saw an
opening in it, into which the river ran. It was a kind of cave,
something like a long, long church with a vaulted roof, only the pavement
of it was that magic river, and a narrow towing-path ran on either side.
As they entered the cave there was a hollow murmuring sound,
and the Queen's crown became so bright that it lighted up the whole boat;
at the same time she began to tell Jack a wonderful story, which he liked
very much to hear, but every fresh thing she said he forgot what had gone
before; and at last, though he tried very hard to listen, he was obliged
to go to sleep; and he slept soundly and never dreamed of anything, till
it was morning.
He saw such a curious sight when he woke. They had been
going through this underground cavern all night, and now they were
approaching its opening on the other side. This opening, because
they were a good way from it yet, looked like a lovely little round window
of blue and yellow and green glass, but as they drew on he could see
far-off mountains, blue sky, and a country all covered with sunshine.
He heard singing too, such as fairies make; and he saw some
beautiful people, such as those fairies whom he had brought with him.
They were coming along the towing-path. They were all lady fairies;
but they were not very polite, for as each one came up she took a silken
rope out of a brown sailor's hand and gave him a shove which pushed him
into the water. In fact, the water became filled with such swarms of
these sailors that the boat could hardly get on. But the poor little
brown fellows did not seem to mind this conduct, for they plunged and
shook themselves about, scattering a good deal of spray. Then they
all suddenly dived, and when they came up again they were ducks—nothing
but brown ducks, I assure you, with green stripes on their wings; and with
a great deal of quacking and floundering they all began to swim back again
as fast as they could.
Then Jack was a good deal vexed, and he said to himself, "If
nobody thanks the ducks for towing us I will;" so he stood up in the boat
and shouted, "Thank you, ducks; we are very much obliged to you!"
But neither the Queen nor these new towers took the least notice, and
gradually the boat came out of that dim cave and entered Fairyland, while
the river became so narrow that you could hear the song of the towers
quite easily; those on the right bank sang the first verse, and those on
the left bank answered:
"Drop, drop from the leaves of lign aloes,
O honey-dew! drop from the tree.
Float up through your clear river shallows,
White lilies, beloved of the bee.
"Let the people, O Queen! say, and bless thee,
Her bounty drops soft as the dew,
And spotless in honour confess thee,
As lilies are spotless in hue.
"On the roof stands yon white stork awaking,
His feathers flush rosy the while,
For, lo! from the blushing east breaking,
The sun sheds the bloom of his smile.
"Let them boast of thy word, 'It is certain;
We doubt it no more,' let them say,
'Than to-morrow that night's dusky curtain
Shall roll back its folds for the day.'"
"Master," whispered the old hound, who was lying at Jack's
"Well? " said Jack.
"They didn't invent that song themselves," said the hound;
"the old applewoman taught it to them—the woman whom they love because
she can make them cry."
Jack was rather ashamed of the hound's rudeness in saying
this; but the Queen took no notice. And now they had reached a
little landing-place, which ran out a few feet into the river, and was
strewed thickly with cowslips and violets.
Here the boat stopped, and the Queen rose and got out.
Jack watched her. A whole crowd of one-foot-one fairies
came down a garden to meet her, and he saw them conduct her to a beautiful
tent with golden poles and a silken covering; but nobody took the
slightest notice of him, or of little Mopsa, or of the hound, and after a
long silence the hound said, "Well, master, don't you feel hungry?
Why don't you go with the others and have some breakfast?"
"The Queen didn't invite me," said Jack. "But do you
feel as if you couldn't go?" asked the hound.
"Of course not," answered Jack; "but perhaps I may not."
"Oh, yes, master," replied the hound; "whatever you can do in
Fairyland you may do."
"Are you sure of that?" asked Jack.
"Quite sure, master," said the hound; "and I am hungry too."
"Well," said Jack, "I will go there and take Mopsa. She
shall ride on my shoulder; you may follow."
So he walked up that beautiful garden till he came to the
great tent. A banquet was going on inside. All the
one-foot-one fairies sat down the sides of the table, and at the top sat
the Queen on a larger chair; and there were two empty chairs, one on each
side of her.
Jack blushed; but the hound whispering again, "Master,
whatever you can do you may do," he came slowly up the table towards the
Queen, who was saying as he drew near, "Where is our trusty and
well-beloved the applewoman?" And she took no notice of Jack; so,
though he could not help feeling rather red and ashamed, he went and sat
in the chair beside her with Mopsa still on his shoulder. Mopsa
laughed for joy when she saw the feast. The Queen said, "O Jack, I
am so glad to see you!" and some of the one-foot-one fairies cried out,
"What a delightful little creature that is! She can laugh!
Perhaps she can also cry!"
Jack looked about, but there was no seat for Mopsa; and he
was afraid to let her run about on the floor, lest she should be hurt.
There was a very large dish standing before the Queen; for
though the people were small, the plates and dishes were exactly like
those we use, and of the same size.
This dish was raised on a foot, and filled with grapes and
peaches. Jack wondered at himself for doing it, but he saw no other
place for Mopsa; so he took out the fruit, laid it round the dish, and set
his own little one-foot-one in the dish.
Nobody looked in the least surprised; and there she sat very
happily, biting an apple with her small white teeth.
Then, as they brought him nothing to eat, Jack helped himself
from some of the dishes before him, and found that a fairy breakfast was
very nice indeed.
In the meantime there was a noise outside, and in stumped an
elderly woman. She had very thick boots on, a short gown of red
print, an orange cotton handkerchief over her shoulders, and a black silk
bonnet. She was exactly the same height as the Queen—for of course
nobody in Fairyland is allowed to be any bigger than the Queen; so, if
they are not children when they arrive, they are obliged to shrink.
"How are you, dear?" said the Queen.
"I am as well as can be expected," answered the
sitting down in the empty chair. "Now, then, where's my tea?
They're never ready with my cup of tea."
Two attendants immediately brought a cup of tea, and set it
down before the applewoman, with a plate of bread and butter; and she
proceeded to pour it out into the saucer, and blow it, because it was hot.
In so doing her wandering eyes caught sight of Jack and little Mopsa, and
she set down the saucer, and looked at them with attention.
Now Mopsa, I am sorry to say, was behaving so badly that Jack
was quite ashamed of her. First, she got out of her dish, took
something nice out of the Queen's plate with her fingers, and ate it; and
then, as she was going back, she tumbled over a melon, and upset a glass
of red wine, which she wiped up with her white frock; after which she got
into her dish again, and there she sat smiling, and daubing her pretty
face with a piece of buttered muffin.
"Mopsa," said Jack, "you are very naughty; if you behave in
this way, I shall never take you out to parties again."
"Pretty lamb!" said the applewoman; "it's just like a
child." And then she burst into tears, and exclaimed, sobbing, "It's
many a long day since I've seen a child. Oh dear! oh deary me!"
Upon this, to the astonishment of Jack, every one of the
guests began to cry and sob too.
"Oh dear! oh dear!" they said to one another, "we're crying;
we can cry just as well as men and women. Isn't it delightful?
What a luxury it is to cry, to be sure!"
They were evidently quite proud of it; and when Jack looked
at the Queen for an explanation, she only gave him a still little smile.
But Mopsa crept along the table to the applewoman, let her
take her and hug her, and seemed to like her very much; for as she sat on
her knee, she patted her brown face with a little dimpled hand.
"I should like vastly well to be her nurse," said the
applewoman, drying her eyes, and looking at Jack.
"If you'll always wash her, and put clean frocks on her, you
may," said Jack; "for just look at her—what a figure she is already!"
Upon this the applewoman laughed for joy, and again every
one else did the same. The fairies can only laugh and cry when they
see mortals do so.
"I should like vastly to be her nurse,"
said the applewoman.