Mopsa the Fairy (4)

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"Rosalind.       Well, this is the forest of Arden.
"Touchstone.   Ay, now am I in Arden: the more fool I; when I was at home I was in
                          a better place; but travellers must be content."—As You Like It.


"WHERE is it now?" said the stone-woman; and when Jack heard that he ran down to the river, and looked right and looked left.  At last he saw his boat—a mere speck in the distance, it had floated so far.

    He called it, but it was far beyond the reach of his voice; and Mopsa, who had followed him, said:

    "It does not signify, Jack, for I feel that no place is the right place for me but that country beyond the purple mountains, and I shall never be happy unless we go there."

    So they walked back towards the stone-people hand in hand, and the applewoman presently joined them.  She was crying gently, for she knew that she must soon pass over the little stream and part with these whom she called her dear children.  Jack had often spoken to her that day about going home to her own country, but she said it was too late to think of that now, and she must end her days in the land of Faery.

    The kind stone-people asked them to come and sit by their little fire; and in the dusk the woman whose baby had slept in a stone cradle took it up and began to sing to it.  She seemed astonished when she heard that the applewoman had power to go home if she could make up her mind to do it, and as she sang she looked at her with wonder and pity.


"Little babe, while burns the west,
 Warm thee, warm thee in my breast;
 While the moon doth shine her best,
     And the dews distil not.

"All the land so sad, so fair—
 Sweet its toils are, blest its care.
 Child, we may not enter there!
     Some there are that will not.

"Fain would I thy margins know,
 Land of work, and land of snow;
 Land of life, whose rivers flow
     On, and on, and stay not.

"Fain would I thy small limbs fold,
 While the weary hours are told,
 Little babe in cradle cold.
     Some there are that may not."


    "You are not exactly fairies, I suppose?" said Jack.  "If you were, you could go to our country when you pleased."

    "No," said the woman; "we are not exactly fairies; but we shall be more like them when our punishment is over."

    "I am sorry you are punished," answered Jack, "for you seem very nice, kind people."

    "We were not always kind," answered the woman; "and perhaps we are only kind now because we have no time and no chance of being otherwise.  I'm sure I don't know about that.  We were powerful once, and we did a cruel deed.  I must not tell you what it was.  We were told that our hearts were all as cold as stones—and I suppose they were—and we were doomed to be stones all our lives, excepting for the two hours of twilight.  There was no one to sow the crops, or water the grass, so it all failed, and the trees died, and our houses fell, and our possessions were stolen from us."

    "It is a very sad thing," observed the applewoman; and then she said that she must go, for she had a long way to walk before she should reach the little brook that led to the country of her own queen; so she kissed the two children, Jack and Mopsa, and they begged her again to think better of it, and return to her own land.  But she said No; she had no heart for work now, and could not bear either cold or poverty.

    Then the woman who was hugging her little baby, and keeping it cosy and warm, began to tell Jack and Mopsa that it was time they should begin to run away to the country over the purple mountains, or else the Queen would overtake them and be very angry with them; so, with many promises that they would mind her directions, they set off hand in hand to run; but before they left her they could see plainly that she was beginning to turn again into stone.  However, she had given them a slice of melon with the seeds in it.  It had been growing on the edge of the river, and was stone in the daytime, like everything else.  "When you are tired," she said, "eat the seeds, and they will enable you to go running on.  You can put the slice into this little red pot, which has string handles to it, and you can hang it on your arm.  While you have it with you it will not turn to stone, but if you lay it down it will, and then it will be useless."

    So, as I said before, Jack and Mopsa set off hand in hand to run; and as they ran all the things and people gradually and softly settled themselves to turn into stone again.  Their cloaks and gowns left off fluttering, and hung stiffly; and then they left off their occupations, and sat down, or lay down themselves; and the sheep and cattle turned stiff and stone-like too, so that in a very little while all that country was nothing but red stones and red sand, just as it had been in the morning.

    Presently the full moon, which had been hiding behind a cloud, came out, and they saw their shadows, which fell straight before them; so they ran on hand in hand very merrily till the half-moon came up, and the shadows she made them cast fell sideways.  This was rather awkward, because as long as only the full moon gave them shadows they had but to follow them in order to go straight towards the purple mountains.  Now they were not always sure which were her shadows; and presently a crescent moon came, and still further confused them; also the sand began to have tufts of grass in it; and then, when they had gone a little farther, there were beautiful patches of anemones, and hyacinths, and jonquils, and crown imperials, and they stopped to gather them; and they got among some trees, and then, as they had nothing to guide them but the shadows, and these went all sorts of ways, they lost a great deal of time, and the trees became of taller growth; but they still ran on and on till they got into a thick forest where it was quite dark, and here Mopsa began to cry, for she was tired.

    "If I could only begin to be a queen," she said to Jack, "I could go wherever I pleased.  I am not a fairy, and yet I am not a proper queen.  Oh, what shall I do?  I cannot go any farther."

    So Jack gave her some of the seeds of the melon, though it was so dark that he could scarcely find the way to her mouth, and then he took some himself, and they both felt that they were rested, and Jack comforted Mopsa.

    "If you are not a queen yet," he said, "you will be by to-morrow morning; for when our shadows danced on before us yours was so very nearly the same height as mine that I could hardly see any difference."

    When they reached the end of that great forest, and found themselves out in all sorts of moonlight, the first thing they did was to laugh—the shadows looked so odd, sticking out in every direction; and the next thing they did was to stand back to back, and put their heels together, and touch their heads together, to see by the shadow which was the taller; and Jack was still the least bit in the world taller than Mopsa; so they knew she was not a queen yet, and they ate some more melon seeds, and began to climb up the mountain.

    They climbed till the trees of the forest looked no bigger than gooseberry bushes, and then they climbed till the whole forest looked only like a patch of moss; and then, when they got a little higher, they saw the wonderful river, a long way off, and the snow glittering on the peaks overhead; and while they were looking and wondering how they should find a pass, the moons all went down, one after the other, and, if Mopsa had not found some glow-worms, they would have been quite in the dark again.  However, she took a dozen of them, and put them round Jack's ankles, so that when he walked he could see where he was going; and he found a little sheep-path, and she followed him.

    Now they had noticed during the night how many shooting-stars kept darting about from time to time, and at last one shot close by them, and fell in the soft moss on before.  There it lay shining; and Jack, though he began to feel very tired again, made haste to it, for he wanted to see what it was like.

    It was not what you would have supposed.  It was soft and round, and about the colour of a ripe apricot; it was covered with fur, and in fact it was evidently alive, and had curled itself up into a round ball.

    "The dear little thing!" said Jack, as he held it in his hand, and showed it to Mopsa; "how its heart beats!  Is it frightened?"

    "Who are you?" said Mopsa to the thing.  "What is your name?"

    The little creature made a sound that seemed like "Wisp."

    "Uncurl yourself, Wisp," said Mopsa.  "Jack and I want to look at you."

    So Wisp unfolded himself, and showed two little black eyes, and spread out two long filmy wings.  He was like a most beautiful bat, and the light he shed out illuminated their faces.

    "It is only one of the air fairies," said Mopsa.  "Pretty creature!  It never did any harm, and would like to do us good if it knew how, for it knows that I shall be a queen very soon.  Wisp, if you like, you may go and tell your friends and relations that we want to cross over the mountains, and if they can they may help us."

    Upon this Wisp spread out his wings, and shot off again; and Jack's feet were so tired that he sat down, and pulled off one of his shoes, for he thought there was a stone in it.  So he set the little red jar beside him, and quite forgot what the stone woman had said, but went on shaking his shoe, and buckling it, and admiring the glow-worms round his ankle, till Mopsa said, "Darling Jack, I am so dreadfully tired!  Give me some more melon seeds."  Then he lifted up the jar, and thought it felt very heavy; and when he put in his hand, jar, and melon, and seeds were all turned to stone together.

 

They spread out long filmy wings.


    They were both very sorry, and they sat still for a minute or two, for they were much too tired to stir; and then shooting-stars began to appear in all directions.  The fairy bat had told his friends and relations, and they were coming.  One fell at Mopsa's feet, another in her lap; more, more, all about, behind, before, and over them.  And they spread out long filmy wings, some of them a yard long, till Jack and Mopsa seemed to be enclosed in a perfect network of the rays of shooting-stars, and they were both a good deal frightened.  Fifty or sixty shooting-stars, with black eyes that could stare, were enough, they thought, to frighten anybody.

    "If we had anything to sit upon," said Mopsa, "they could carry us over the pass."  She had no sooner spoken than the largest of the bats bit off one of his own long wings, and laid it at Mopsa's feet.  It did not seem to matter much to him that he had parted with it, for he shot out another wing directly, just as a comet shoots out a ray of light sometimes, when it approaches the sun.

    Mopsa thanked the shooting fairy, and, taking the wing, began to stretch it, till it was large enough for her and Jack to sit upon.  Then all the shooting fairies came round it, took its edges in their mouths, and began to fly away with it over the mountains.  They went slowly, for Jack and Mopsa were heavy, and they flew very low, resting now and then; but in the course of time they carried the wing over the pass, and half-way down the other side.  Then the sun came up; and the moment he appeared all their lovely apricot-coloured light was gone, and they only looked like common bats, such as you can see every evening.

    They set down Jack and Mopsa, folded up their long wings, and hung down their heads.

    Mopsa thanked them, and said they had been useful; but still they looked ashamed, and crept into little corners and crevices of the rock, to hide.

 

_______________

 


"'Tis merry, 'tis merry in Fairyland,
     When Fairy birds are singing;
 When the court doth ride by their monarch's side,
     With bit and bridle ringing."

WALTER SCOTT.


THERE were many fruit-trees on that slope of the mountain, and Jack and Mopsa, as they came down, gathered some fruit for breakfast, and did not feel very tired, for the long ride on the wing had rested them.

    They could not see the plain, for a slight blue mist hung over it; but the sun was hot already, and as they came down they saw a beautiful bed of high reeds, and thought they would sit awhile and rest in it.  A rill of clear water ran beside the bed, so when they had reached it they sat down, and began to consider what they should do next.

    "Jack," said Mopsa, "did you see anything particular as you came down with the shooting stars?"

    "No, I saw nothing so interesting as they were," answered Jack.  "I was looking at them and watching how they squeaked to one another, and how they had little hooks in their wings, with which they held the large wing that we sat on."

    "But I saw something," said Mopsa.  "Just as the sun rose I looked down, and in the loveliest garden I ever saw, and all among trees and woods, I saw a most beautiful castle.  O Jack! I am sure that castle is the place I am to live in, and now we have nothing to do but to find it.  I shall soon be a queen, and there I shall reign."

    "Then I shall be king there," said Jack; "shall I?"

    "Yes, if you can," answered Mopsa.  "Of course, whatever you can do you may do.  And, Jack, this is a much better fairy country than either the stony land or the other that we first came to, for this castle is a real place!  It will not melt away.  There the people can work, they know how to love each other: common fairies cannot do that, I know.  They can laugh and cry, and I shall teach them several things that they do not know yet.  Oh! do let us make haste and find the castle."

    So they arose; but they turned the wrong way, and by mistake walked farther and farther in among the reeds, whose feathery heads puffed into Mopsa's face, and Jack's coat was all covered with the fluffy seed.

    "This is very odd," said Jack.  "I thought this was only a small bed of reeds when we stepped into it; but really we must have walked a mile already."

    But they walked on and on, till Mopsa grew quite faint, and her sweet face became very pale, for she knew that the beds of reeds were spreading faster than they walked, and then they shot up so high that it was impossible to see over their heads; so at last Jack and Mopsa were so tired, that they sat down, and Mopsa began to cry.

    However, Jack was the braver of the two this time, and he comforted Mopsa, and told her that she was nearly a queen, and would never reach her castle by sitting still.  So she got up and took his hand, and he went on before, parting the reeds and pulling her after him, till all on a sudden they heard the sweetest sound in the world: it was like a bell, and it sounded again and again.

    It was the castle clock, and it was striking twelve at noon.

    As it finished striking they came out at the farther edge of the great bed of reeds, and there was the castle straight before them—a beautiful castle, standing on the slope of a hill.  The grass all about it was covered with beautiful flowers; two of the taller turrets were over-grown with ivy, and a flag was flying on a staff; but everything was so silent and lonely that it made one sad to look on.  As Jack and Mopsa drew near they trod as gently as they could, and did not say a word.

    All the windows were shut, but there was a great door in the centre of the building, and they went towards it, hand in hand.

    What a beautiful hall!  The great door stood wide open, and they could see what a delightful place this must be to live in: it was paved with squares of blue and white marble, and here and there carpets were spread, with chairs and tables upon them.  They looked and saw a great dome overhead, filled with windows of coloured glass, and they cast down blue and golden and rosy reflections.

    "There is my home that I shall live in," said Mopsa; and she came close to the door, and they both looked in, till at last she let go of Jack's hand, and stepped over the threshold.

    The bell in the tower sounded again more sweetly than ever, and the instant Mopsa was inside there came from behind the fluted columns, which rose up on every side, the brown doe, followed by troops of deer and fawns!

    "Mopsa!  Mopsa!" cried Jack, "come away! come back!"  But Mopsa was too much astonished to stir, and something seemed to hold Jack from following; but he looked and looked, till, as the brown doe advanced, the door of the castle closed—Mopsa was shut in, and Jack was left outside.

    So Mopsa had come straight to the place she thought she had run away from.

    "But I am determined to get her away from those creatures," thought Jack; "she does not want to reign over deer."  And he began to look about him, hoping to get in.  It was of no use: all the windows in that front of the castle were high, and when he tried to go round, he came to a high wall with battlements.  Against some parts of this wall the ivy grew, and looked as if it might have grown there for ages; its stems were thicker than his waist, and its branches were spread over the surface like network; so by means of them he hoped to climb to the top.

    He immediately began to try.  Oh, how high the wall was!  First he came to several sparrows' nests, and very much frightened the sparrows were; then he reached starlings' nests, and very angry the starlings were; but at last, just under the coping, he came to jackdaws' nests, and these birds were very friendly, and pointed out to him the best little holes for him to put his feet into.  At last he reached the top, and found to his delight that the wall was three feet thick, and he could walk upon it quite comfortably, and look down into a lovely garden, where all the trees were in blossom, and creepers tossed their long tendrils from tree to tree, covered with puffs of yellow, or bells of white, or bunches and knots of blue or rosy bloom.

    He could look down into the beautiful empty rooms of the castle, and he walked cautiously on the wall till he came to the west front, and reached a little casement window that had latticed panes.  Jack peeped in; nobody was there.  He took his knife, and cut away a little bit of lead to let out the pane, and it fell with such a crash on the pavement below that he wondered it did not bring the deer over to look at what he was about.  Nobody came.

    He put in his hand and opened the latchet, and with very little trouble got down into the room.  Still nobody was to be seen.  He thought that the room, years ago, might have been a fairies' schoolroom, for it was strewn with books, slates, and all sorts of copybooks.  A fine soft dust had settled down over everything—pens, papers, and all.  Jack opened a copybook: its pages were headed with maxims; just as ours are, which proved that these fairies must have been superior to such as he had hitherto come among.  Jack read some of them:


"Turn your back on the light, and you'll follow a shadow."
"The deaf queen Fate has dumb courtiers."
"If the hound is your foe, don't sleep in his kennel."
"That that is, is."


    And so on; but nobody came, and no sound was heard, so he opened the door, and found himself in a long and most splendid gallery, all hung with pictures, and spread with a most beautiful carpet, which was as soft and white as a piece of wool, and wrought with a beautiful device.  This was the letter M, with a crown and sceptre, and underneath a beautiful little boat, exactly like the one in which he had come up the river.  Jack felt sure that this carpet had been made for Mopsa, and he went along the gallery upon it till he reached a grand staircase of oak that was almost black with age, and he stole gently down it, for he began to feel rather shy, more especially as he could now see the great hall under the dome and that it had a beautiful lady in it, and many other people, but no deer at all.

    These fairy people were something like the one-foot-one fairies, but much larger and more like children, and they had very gentle, happy faces, and seemed to be extremely glad and gay.  But seated on a couch, where lovely painted windows threw down all sorts of rainbow colours on her, was a beautiful fairy lady, as large as a woman.  She had Mopsa in her arms, and was looking down upon her with eyes full of love, while at her side stood a boy, who was exactly and precisely like Jack himself.  He had rather long light hair and grey eyes, and a velvet jacket.  That was all Jack could see at first, but as he drew nearer the boy turned, and then Jack felt as if he was looking at himself in the glass.

    Mopsa had been very tired, and now she was fast asleep, with her head on that lady's shoulder.  The boy kept looking at her, and he seemed very happy indeed; so did the lady, and she presently told him to bring Jack something to eat.

    It was rather a curious speech that she made to him; it was this:

    "Jack, bring Jack some breakfast."

    "What!" thought Jack to himself, "has he got a face like mine, and a name like mine too?"

    So that other Jack went away, and presently came back with a golden plate full of nice things to eat.

    "I know you don't like me," he said, as he came up to Jack with the plate.

    "Not like him?" repeated the lady; "and pray what reason have you for not liking my royal nephew?"

    "O dame!" exclaimed the boy, and laughed.

    The lady, on hearing this, turned pale, for she perceived that she herself had mistaken the one for the other.

    "I see you know how to laugh," said the real Jack.  "You are wiser people than those whom I went to first; but the reason I don't like you is, that you are so exactly like me."

    "I am not! " exclaimed the boy.  "Only hear him, dame!  You mean, I suppose, that you are so exactly like me.  I am sure I don't know what you mean by it."

    "Nor I either," replied Jack, almost in a passion.

    "It couldn't be helped, of course," said the other Jack.

    "Hush! hush!" said the fairy woman; "don't wake our dear little Queen.  Was it you, my royal nephew, who spoke last?"

    "Yes, dame," answered the boy, and again he offered the plate; but Jack was swelling with indignation, and he gave the plate a push with his elbow, which scattered the fruit and bread on the ground.

    "I won't eat it," he said; but when the other Jack went and picked it up again, and said, "Oh, yes, do, old fellow; it's not my fault, you know," he began to consider that it was no use being cross in.  Fairyland; so he forgave his double, and had just finished his breakfast when Mopsa woke.

 

He gave the plate a push with his elbow.
_______________

 


"One, two, three, four; one, two, three, four;
     'Tis still one, two, three, four.
 Mellow and silvery are the tones,
     But I wish the bells were more."

SOUTHEY.


MOPSA woke: she was rather too big to be nursed, for she was the size of Jack, and looked like a sweet little girl of ten years, but she did not always behave like one; sometimes she spoke as wisely as a grown-up woman, and sometimes she changed again and seemed like a child.

    Mopsa lifted up her head and pushed back her long hair: her coronet had fallen off while she was in the bed of reeds; and she said to the beautiful dame:

    "I am a queen now."

    "Yes, my sweet Queen," answered the lady, "I know you are."

    "And you promise that you will be kind to me till I grow up," said Mopsa, "and love me, and teach me how to reign?"

    "Yes," repeated the lady; "and I will love you too, just as if you were a mortal and I your mother."

    "For I am only ten years old yet," said Mopsa, "and the throne is too big for me to sit upon; but I am a queen."  And then she paused, and said, "Is it three o'clock?"

    As she spoke, the sweet clear bell of the castle sounded three times, and then chimes began to play; they played such a joyous tune that it made everybody sing.  The dame sang, the crowd of fairies sang, the boy who was Jack's double sang, and Mopsa sang—only Jack was silent—and this was the song:


"The prince shall to the chase again,
 The dame has got her face again,
 The king shall have his place again
     Aneath the fairy dome.

"And all the knights shall woo again,
 And all the doves shall coo again,
 And all the dreams come true again,
     And Jack shall go home."


    "We shall see about that!" thought Jack to himself.  And Mopsa, while she sang those last words, burst into tears, which Jack did not like to see; but all the fairies were so very glad, so joyous, and so delighted with her for having come to be their queen, that after a while she dried her eyes, and said to the wrong boy:

    "Jack, when I pulled the lining out of your pocket-book there was a silver fourpence in it."

    "Yes," said the real Jack, "and here it is."

    "Is it real money?" asked Mopsa.  "Are you sure you brought it with you all the way from your own country?"

    "Yes," said Jack, "quite sure."

    "Then, dear Jack," answered Mopsa, "will you give it to me?"

    "I will," said Jack, "if you will send this boy away."

    "How can I?" answered Mopsa, surprised.  "Don't you know what happened when the door closed?  Has nobody told you?"

    "I did not see any one after I got into the place," said Jack.  "There was no one to tell anything—not even a fawn, nor the brown doe.  I have only seen down here these fairy people, and this boy, and this lady."

    "The lady is the brown doe," answered Mopsa; "and this boy and the fairies were the fawns."  Jack was so astonished at this that he stared at the lady and the boy and the fairies with all his might.

    "The sun came shining in as I stepped inside," said Mopsa, "and a long beam fell down from the fairy dome across my feet.  Do you remember what the apple-woman told us—how it was reported that the brown doe and her nation had a queen whom they shut up, and never let the sun shine on her?  That was not a kind or true report, and yet it came from something that really happened."

    "Yes, I remember," said Jack; "and if the sun did shine they were all to be turned into deer."

    "I dare not tell you all that story yet," said Mopsa; "but, Jack, as the brown doe and all the fawns came up to greet me, and passed by turns into the sunbeam, they took their own forms, every one of them, because the spell was broken.  They were to remain in the disguise of deer till a queen of alien birth should come to them against her will.  I am a queen of alien birth, and did not I come against my will?"

    "Yes, to be sure," answered Jack.  "We thought all the time that we were running away."

    "If ever you come to Fairyland again," observed Mopsa, "you can save yourself the trouble of trying to run away from the old mother."

    "I shall not come,'" answered Jack, "because I shall not go—not for a long while, at least.  But the boy—I want to know why this boy turned into another ME?"

    "Because he is the heir, of course," answered Mopsa.

    "But I don't see that this is any reason at all," said Jack.

    Mopsa laughed.  "That's because you don't know how to argue," she replied.  "Why, the thing is as plain as possible."

    "It may be plain to you," persisted Jack, "but it's no reason."

    "No reason!" repeated Mopsa, no reason! when I like you the best of anything in the world, and when I am come here to be queen!  Of course, when the spell was broken he took exactly your form on that account; and very right too."

    "But why?" asked Jack.

    Mopsa, however, was like other fairies in this respect—that she knew all about Old Mother Fate, but not about causes and reasons.  She believed, as we do in this world, that


"That that is, is,"


but the fairies go further than this; they say:


"That that is, is; and when it is, that is the reason that it is."


This sounds like nonsense to us, but it is all right to them.

    So Mopsa, thinking she had explained everything, said again:

    "And, dear Jack, will you give the silver fourpence to me?"

    Jack took it out; and she got down from the dame's knee and took it in the palm of her hand, laying the other palm upon it.

    "It will be very hot," observed the dame.

    "But it will not burn me so as really to hurt, if I am a real queen," said Mopsa.

    Presently she began to look as if something gave her pain.

    "Oh, it's so hot!" she said to the other Jack; "so very hot!"

    "Never mind, sweet Queen," he answered; "it will not hurt you long.  Remember my poor uncle and all his knights."

    Mopsa still held the little silver coin; but Jack saw that it hurt her, for two bright tears fell from her eyes; and in another moment he saw that it was actually melted, for it fell in glittering drops from Mopsa's hand to the marble floor, and there it lay as soft as quicksilver.

    "Pick it up," said Mopsa to the other Jack; and he instantly did so, and laid it in her hand again; and she began gently to roll it backwards and forwards between her palms till she had rolled it into a very slender rod, two feet long, and not nearly so thick as a pin; but it did not bend, and it shone so brightly that you could hardly look at it.

    Then she held it out towards the real Jack, and said, "Give this a name."

    "I think it is a—" began the other Jack; but the dame suddenly stopped him.

    "Silence, sire!  Don't you know that what it is first called that it will be?"

    Jack hesitated; he thought if Mopsa was a queen the thing ought to be a sceptre; but it certainly was not at all like a sceptre.

    "That thing is a wand," said he.

    "You are a wand," said Mopsa, speaking to the silver stick, which was glittering now in a sunbeam almost as if it were a beam of light itself.  Then she spoke again to Jack:

    "Tell me, Jack, what can I do with a wand?"

    Again the boy-king began to speak, and the dame stopped him, and again Jack considered.  He had heard a great deal in his own country about fairy wands, but he could not remember that the fairies had done anything particular with them, so he gave what he thought was true, but what seemed to him a very stupid answer:

    "You can make it point to anything that you please."

    The moment he had said this, shouts of ecstasy filled the hall, and all the fairies clapped their hands with such hurrahs of delight that he blushed for joy.

    The dame also looked truly glad, and as for the other Jack, he actually turned head over heels, just as Jack had often done himself on his father's lawn.

    Jack had merely meant that Mopsa could point with the wand to anything that she saw; but he was presently told that what he had meant was nothing, and that his words were everything.

    "I can make it point now," said Mopsa, "and it will point aright to anything I please, whether I know where the thing is or not."

    Again the hall was filled with those cries of joy, and the sweet childlike fairies congratulated each other with "The Queen has got a wand—a wand! and she can make it point wherever she pleases!"

    Then Mopsa rose and walked towards the beautiful staircase, the dame and all the fairies following.  Jack was going too, but the other Jack held him.

    "Where is Mopsa going? and why am I not to follow?" inquired Jack.

    "They are going to put on her robes, of course," answered the other Jack.

    "I am so tired of always hearing you say 'of course,'" answered Jack; "and I wonder how it is that you always seem to know what is going to be done without being told.  However, I suppose you can't help being odd people."

    The boy-king did not make a direct answer; he only said, "I like you very much, though you don't like me."

    "Why do you like me?" asked Jack.

    So he opened his eyes wide with surprise: "Most boys say Sire to me," he observed; "at least they used to do when there were any boys here.  However, that does not signify.  Why, of course I like you, because I am so tired of being always a fawn, and you brought Mopsa to break the spell.  You cannot think how disagreeable it is to have no hands, and to be all covered with hair.  Now look at my hands; I can move them and turn them everywhere, even over my head if I like.  Hoofs are good for nothing in comparison: and we could not talk."

    "Do tell me about it," said Jack.  "How did you become fawns?"

    "I dare not tell you," said the boy; "and listen!—I hear Mopsa."

    Jack looked, and certainly Mopsa was coming, but very strangely, he thought. Mopsa, like all other fairies, was afraid to whisper a spell with her eyes open; so a handkerchief was tied across them, and as she came on she felt her way, holding by the banisters with one hand, and with the other, between her finger and thumb, holding out the silver wand.  She felt with her foot for the edge of the first stair; and Jack heard her say, "I am much older—ah! so much older, now I have got my wand. I can feel sorrow too, and their sorrow weighs down my heart."

    Mopsa was dressed superbly in a white satin gown, with a long, long train of crimson velvet which was glittering with diamonds; it reached almost from one end of the great gallery to the other, and had hundreds of fairies to hold it and keep it in its place.  But in her hair were no jewels, only a little crown made of daisies, and on her shoulders her robe was fastened with the little golden image of a boat.  These things were to show the land she had come from and the vessel she had come in.

    So she came slowly, slowly down stairs blindfold, and muttering to her wand all the time:


"Though the sun shine brightly,
 Wand, wand, guide rightly."


So she felt her way down to the great hall.  There the wand turned half round in the hall towards the great door, and she and Jack and the other Jack came out into the lawn in front with all the followers and trainbearers; only the dame remained behind.

    Jack noticed now for the first time that, with the one exception of the boy-king, all these fairies were lady-fairies; he also observed that Mopsa, after the manner of fairy queens, though she moved slowly and blindfold, was beginning to tell a story.  This time it did not make him feel sleepy.  It did not begin at the beginning: their stories never do.

    These are the first words he heard, for she spoke softly and very low, while he walked at her right hand, and the other Jack on her left:

    "And so now I have no wings.  But my thoughts can go up (Jovinian and Roxaletta could not think).  My thoughts are instead of wings; but they have dropped with me now, as a lark among the clods of the valley.  Wand, do you bend?  Yes, I am following, wand.

    "And after that the bird said, 'I will come when you call me.'  I have never seen her moving overhead; perhaps she is out of sight.  Flocks of birds hover over the world, and watch it high up where the air is thin.  There are zones, but those in the lowest zone are far out of sight.

    "I have not been up there.  I have no wings.

    "Over the highest of the birds is the place where angels float and gather the children's souls as they are set free.

    "And so that woman told me—(Wand, you bend again, and I will turn at your bending)—that woman told me how it was: for when the new king was born, a black fairy with a smiling face came and sat within the doorway.  She had a spindle, and would always spin.  She wanted to teach them how to spin, but they did not like her, and they loved to do nothing at all.  So they turned her out.

    "But after her came a brown fairy, with a grave face, and she sat on the black fairy's stool and gave them much counsel.  They liked that still less; so they got spindles and spun, for they said, 'She will go now, and we shall have the black fairy again.'  When she did not go they turned her out also, and after her came a white fairy, and sat in the same seat.  She did nothing at all, and she said nothing at all; but she had a sorrowful face, and she looked up.  So they were displeased.  They turned her out also; and she went and sat by the edge of the lake with her two sisters.

    "And everything prospered over all the land; till, after shearing-time, the shepherds, because the king was a child, came to his uncle, and said, 'Sir, what shall we do with the old wool, for the new fleeces are in the bales, and there is no storehouse to put them in?'  So he said, 'Throw them into the lake.'

    "And while they threw them in, a great flock of finches flew to them, and said,  'Give us some of the wool that you do not want; we should be glad of it to build our nests with.'

    "They answered, 'Go and gather for yourselves; there is wool on every thorn.'

    "Then the black fairy said, 'They shall be forgiven this time, because the birds should pick wool for themselves.'"

    So the finches flew away.

    "Then the harvest was over, and the reapers came and said to the child-king's uncle, 'Sir, what shall we do with the new wheat, for the old is not half eaten yet, and there is no room in the granaries?'

    "He said, 'Throw that into the lake also.'

    "While they were throwing it in, there came a great flight of the wood fairies, fairies of passage from over the sea.  They were in the form of pigeons, and they alighted and prayed them, 'O cousins! we are faint with our long flight; give us some of that corn which you do not want, that we may peck it and be refreshed.'

    "But they said, 'You may rest on our land, but our corn is our own.  Rest awhile, and go and get food in your own fields.'

    "Then the brown fairy said, 'They may be forgiven this once, but yet it is a great unkindness."

    "And as they were going to pour in the last sackful, there passed a poor mortal beggar, who had strayed in from the men and women's world, and she said, 'Pray give me some of that wheat, O fairy people! for I am hungry, I have lost my way, and there is no money to be earned here.  Give me some of that wheat, that I may bake cakes, lest I and my baby should starve."

    "And they said, 'What is starve?  We never heard that word before, and we cannot wait while you explain it to us.'

    "So they poured it all into the lake; and then the white fairy said, 'This cannot be forgiven them; ' and she covered her face with her hands and wept.  Then the black fairy rose and drove them all before her—the prince, with his chief shepherd and his reapers, his courtiers and his knights; she drove them into the great bed of reeds, and no one has ever set eyes on them since.  Then the brown fairy went into the palace where the king's aunt sat, with all her ladies and her maids about her, and with the child-king on her knee.

    "It was a very gloomy day.

    "She stood in the middle of the hall, and said, 'Oh, you cold-hearted and most unkind! my spell is upon you, and the first ray of sunshine shall bring it down.  Lose your present forms, and be of a more gentle and innocent race, till a queen of alien birth shall come to reign over you against her will.'

    "As she spoke they crept into corners, and covered the dame's head with a veil.  And all that day it was dark and gloomy, and nothing happened, and all the next day it rained and rained; and they thrust the dame into a dark closet, and kept her there for a whole month, and still not a ray of sunshine came to do them any damage; but the dame faded and faded in the dark, and at last they said, 'She must come out, or she will die; and we do not believe the sun will ever shine in our country any more.'  So they let the poor dame come out; and lo! as she crept slowly forth under the dome, a piercing ray of sunlight darted down upon her head, and in an instant they were all changed into deer, and the child-king too.

    "They are gentle now, and kind; but where is the prince? where are the fairy knights and the fairy men?

    "Wand! why do you turn?"

    Now while Mopsa told her story the wand continued to bend, and Mopsa, following, was slowly approaching the foot of a great precipice, which rose sheer up for more than a hundred feet.  The crowd that followed looked dismayed at this: they thought the wand must be wrong; or even if it was right, they could not climb a precipice.

    But still Mopsa walked on blindfold, and the wand pointed at the rock till it touched it, and she said, "Who is stopping me?"

    They told her, and she called to some of her ladies to untie the handkerchief.  Then Mopsa looked at the rock, and so did the two jacks.  There was nothing to be seen but a very tiny hole.  The boy-king thought it led to a bees' nest, and Jack thought it was a keyhole, for he noticed in the rock a slight crack which took the shape of an arched door.  Mopsa looked earnestly at the hole.  "It may be a keyhole," she said, "but there is no key."

 

But still Mopsa walked on blindfolded.
_______________

 


FAILURE


"We are much bound to them that do succeed;
     But, in a more pathetic sense, are bound
     To such as fail.   They all our loss expound;
 They comfort us for work that will not speed,
 And life—itself a failure.   Ay, his deed,
     Sweetest in story, who the dusk profound
     Of Hades flooded with entrancing sound,
 Music's own tears, was failure.   Doth it read
 Therefore the worse?   Ah, no!   So much to dare,
     He fronts the regnant Darkness on its throne.—
 So much to do; impetuous even there,
     He pours out love's disconsolate sweet moan—
 He wins; but few for that his deed recall:
 Its power is in the look which costs him all."


AT this moment Jack observed that a strange woman was standing among them, and that the train-bearing fairies fell back, as if they were afraid of her.  As no one spoke, he did, and said, "Good morning!"

    "Good afternoon!" she answered correcting him.  "I am the black fairy.  Work is a fine thing.  Most people in your country can work."

    "Yes," said Jack.

    "There are two spades," continued the fairy woman, "one for you, and one for your double."  Jack took one of the spades—it was small, and was made of silver; but the other Jack said with scorn:

    "I shall be a king when I am old enough, and must I dig like a clown?"

    "As you please," said the black fairy, and walked away.

    Then they all observed that a brown woman was standing there; and she stepped up and whispered in the boy-king's ear.  As he listened his sullen face became good tempered, and at last he said, in a gentle tone, "Jack, I'm quite ready to begin if you are."

    "But where are we to dig?" asked Jack.

    "There," said a white fairy, stepping up and setting her foot on the grass just under the little hole.  "Dig down as deep as you can."

    So Mopsa and the crowd stood back, and the two boys began to dig; and greatly they enjoyed it, for people can dig so fast in Fairyland.

    Very soon the hole was so deep that they had to jump into it, because they could not reach the bottom with their spades.  "This is very jolly indeed," said Jack, when they had dug so much deeper that they could only see out of the hole by standing on tiptoe.

    "Go on," said the white fairy; so they dug till they came to a flat stone, and then she said, "Now you can stamp.  Stamp on the stone, and don't be afraid."  So the two jacks began to stamp, and in such a little time that she had only half turned her head round, the flat stone gave way, for there was a hollow underneath it, and down went the boys, and utterly disappeared.

    Then, while Mopsa and the crowd silently looked on, the white fairy lightly pushed the clods of earth towards the hole with the side of her foot, and in a very few minutes the hole was filled in, and that so completely and so neatly, that when she had spread the turf on it, and given it a pat with her foot, you could not have told where it had been.  Mopsa said not a word, for no fairy ever interferes with a stronger fairy; but she looked on earnestly, and when the white stranger smiled she was satisfied.

    Then the white stranger walked away, and Mopsa and the fairies sat down on a bank under some splendid cedar-trees.  The beautiful castle looked fairer than ever in the afternoon sunshine; a lovely waterfall tumbled with a tinkling noise near at hand, and the bank was covered with beautiful wild flowers.

    They sat for a long while, and no one spoke: what they were thinking of is not known, but sweet Mopsa often sighed.

    At last a noise—a very, very slight noise, as of footsteps of people running—was heard inside the rock, and then a little quivering was seen in the wand.  It quivered more and more as the sound increased.  At last that which had looked like a door began to shake as if some one was pushing it from within.  Then a noise was distinctly heard as of a key turning in the hole, and out burst the two jacks, shouting for joy, and a whole troop of knights and squires and serving-men came rushing wildly forth behind them.

    Oh, the joy of that meeting! who shall describe it?  Fairies by dozens came up to kiss the boy-king's hand, and Jack shook hands with every one that could reach him.  Then Mopsa proceeded to the castle between the two jacks, and the king's aunt came out to meet them, and welcomed her husband with tears of joy; for these fairies could laugh and cry when they pleased, and they naturally considered this a great proof of superiority.

    After this a splendid feast was served under the great dome.  The other fairy feasts that Jack had seen were nothing to it.  The prince and his dame sat at one board, but Mopsa sat at the head of the great table, with the two Jacks one on each side of her.

    Mopsa was not happy, Jack was sure of that, for she often sighed; and he thought this strange.  But he did not ask her any questions, and he, with the boy-king, related their adventures to her: how, when the stone gave way, they tumbled in and rolled down a sloping bank till they found themselves at the entrance of a beautiful cave, which was all lighted up with torches, and glittering with stars and crystals of all the colours in the world.  There was a table spread with what looked like a splendid luncheon in this great cave, and chairs were set round, but Jack and the boy-king felt no inclination to eat anything, though they were hungry, for a whole nation of ants were creeping up the honey-pots.  There were snails walking about over the table-cloth, and toads peeping out of some of the dishes.

    So they turned away, and, looking for some other door to lead them farther in, they at last found a very small one—so small that only one of them could pass through at a time.

    They did not tell Mopsa all that had occurred on this occasion.  It was thus:

    The boy-king said, "I shall go in first, of course, because of my rank."

    "Very well," said Jack, "I don't mind.  I shall say to myself that you've gone in first to find the way for me, because you're my double.  Besides, now I think of it, our Queen always goes last in a procession; so it's grand to go last.  Pass in, Jack."

    "No," answered the other Jack; "now you have said that I will not.  You may go first."

    So they began to quarrel and argue about this, and it is impossible to say how long they would have gone on if they had not begun to hear a terrible and mournful sort of moaning and groaning, which frightened them both and instantly made them friends.  They took tight hold of one another's hand, and again there came by a loud sighing, and a noise of all sorts of lamentation, and it seemed to reach them through the little door.

    Each of the boys would now have been very glad to go back, but neither liked to speak.  At last Jack thought anything would be less terrible than listening to those dismal moans, so he suddenly dashed through the door, and the other Jack followed.

    There was nothing terrible to be seen.  They found themselves in a place like an immensely long stable; but it was nearly dark, and when their eyes got used to the dimness, they saw that it was strewed with quantities of fresh hay, from which curious things like sticks stuck up in all directions.  What were they?

    "They are dry branches of trees," said the boy-king.

    "They were table-legs turned upside down," said Jack; but then the other Jack suddenly perceived the real nature of the thing, and he shouted out, "No; they are antlers!"

    The moment he said this the moaning ceased, hundreds of beautiful antlered heads were lifted up, and the two boys stood before a splendid herd of stags; but they had had hardly time to be sure of this when the beautiful multitude rose and fled away into the darkness, leaving the two boys to follow as well as they could.

    They were sure they ought to run after the herd, and they ran and ran, but they soon lost sight of it, though they heard far on in front what seemed at first like a pattering of deer's feet, but the sound changed from time to time.  It became heavier and louder, and then the clattering ceased, and it was evidently the tramping of a great crowd of men.  At last they heard words, very glad and thankful words; people were crying to one another to make haste, lest the spell should come upon them again.  Then the two jacks, still running, came into a grand hall, which was quite full of knights and all sorts of fairy men, and there was the boy-king's uncle, but he looked very pale.  "Unlock the door!" they cried.  "We shall not be safe till we see our new Queen.  Unlock the door; we see light coming through the keyhole."

    The two jacks came on to the front, and felt and shook the door.  At last the boy-king saw a little golden key glittering on the floor, just where the one narrow sunbeam fell that came through the keyhole; so he snatched it up.  It fitted, and out they all came, as you have been told.

    When they had done relating their adventures, the new Queen's health was drunk.  And then they drank the health of the boy-king, who stood up to return thanks, and, as is the fashion there, he sang a song.  Jack thought it the most ridiculous song he had ever heard; but as everybody else looked extremely grave, he tried to be grave too.  It was about Cock-Robin and Jenny Wren, how they made a wedding feast, and how the wren said she should wear her brown gown, and the old dog brought a bone to the feast.


"'He had brought them,' he said, 'some meat on a bone:
 They were welcome to pick it or leave it alone.'"


    The fairies were very attentive to this song; they seemed, if one may judge by their looks, to think it was rather a serious one.  Then they drank Jack's health, and afterwards looked at him as if they expected him to sing too; but as he did not begin, he presently heard them whispering, and one asking another, "Do you think he knows manners?"

    So he thought he had better try what he could do, and he stood up and sang a song that he had often heard his nurse sing in the nursery at home.


"One morning, oh! so early, my beloved, my beloved,
 All the birds were singing blithely, as if never they would cease;
 'Twas a thrush sang in my garden, 'Hear the story, hear the story!'
                 And the lark sang, 'Give us glory!'
                 And the dove said, 'Give us peace!'

"Then I listened, oh! so early, my beloved, my beloved,
 To that murmur from the woodland of the dove, my dear, the dove;
 When the nightingale came after, 'Give us fame to sweeten duty!'
                 When the wren sang, 'Give us beauty!'
                 She made answer, 'Give us love!'

"Sweet is spring, and sweet the morning, my beloved, my beloved;
 Now for us doth spring, doth morning, wait upon the year's increase,
 And my prayer goes up, 'Oh, give us, crowned in youth with marriage glory,
                 Give for all our life's dear story,
                 Give us love, and give us peace!'"


    "A very good song too," said the dame, at the other end of the table; "only you made a mistake in the first verse.  What the dove really said was, no doubt, 'Give us peas.' "All kinds of doves and pigeons are very fond of peas."

    "It isn't peas, though," said Jack.  However, the court historian was sent for to write down the song, and he came with a quill pen, and wrote it down as the dame said it ought to be.

    Now all this time Mopsa sat between the two Jacks, and she looked very mournful—she hardly said a word.

    When the feast was over, and everything had vanished, the musicians came in, for there was to be dancing; but while they were striking up, the white fairy stepped in, and, coming up, whispered something in Jack's ear; but he could not hear what she said, so she repeated it more slowly, and still he could neither hear nor understand it.

    Mopsa did not seem to like the white fairy: she leaned her face on her hand and sighed; but when she found that Jack could not hear the message, she said, "That is well.  Cannot you let things alone for this one day?"  The fairy then spoke to Mopsa, but she would not listen; she made a gesture of dislike and moved away.  So then this strange fairy turned and went out again, but on the doorstep she looked round, and beckoned to Jack to come to her.  So he did; and then, as they two stood together outside, she made him understand what she had said.  It was this:

    "Her name was Jenny, her name was Jenny."

    When Jack understood what she said he felt so sorrowful; he wondered why she had told him, and he longed to stay in that great place with Queen Mopsa—his own little Mopsa, whom he had carried in his pocket, and taken care of, and loved.

    He walked up and down, up and down, outside, and his heart swelled and his eyes filled with tears.  The bells had said he was to go home, and the fairy had told him how to go.  Mopsa did not need him, she had so many people to take care of her now; and then there was that boy, so exactly like himself that she would not miss him.  Oh, how sorrowful it all was!  Had he really come up the fairy river, and seen those strange countries, and run away with Mopsa over those dangerous mountains, only to bring her to the very place she wished to fly from, and there to leave her, knowing that she wanted him no more, and that she was quite content?

    No; Jack felt that he could not do that.  "I will stay," he said; "they cannot make me leave her.  That would be too unkind."

    As he spoke, he drew near to the great yawning door, and looked in.  The fairy folk were singing inside; he could hear their pretty chirping voices, and see their beautiful faces, but he could not bear it, and he turned away.

    The sun began to get low, and all the west was dyed with crimson.  Jack dried his eyes, and, not liking to go in, took one turn more.

    "I will go in," he said; "there is nothing to prevent me."  He set his foot on the step of the door, and while he hesitated Mopsa came out to meet him.

    "Jack," she said, in a sweet mournful tone of voice.  But he could not make any answer; he only looked at her earnestly, because her lovely eyes were not looking at him, but far away towards the west.

    "He lives there," she said, as if speaking to herself.  "He will play there again, in his father's garden."

    Then she brought her eyes down slowly from the rose-flush in the cloud, and looked at him and said, "Jack."

    "Yes," said Jack; "I am here.  What is it that you wish to say?"

    She answered, "I am come to give you back your kiss."

    So she stooped forward as she stood on the step, and kissed him, and her tears fell on his cheek.

 

So she stooped forward as she stood on the step.


    "Farewell!" she said, and she turned and went up the steps and into the great hall; and while Jack gazed at her as she entered, and would fain have followed, but could not stir, the great doors closed together again, and he was left outside.

    Then he knew, without having been told, that he should never enter them any more.  He stood gazing at the castle; but it was still—no more fairy music sounded.

    How beautiful it looked in the evening sunshine, and how Jack cried!

    Suddenly he perceived that reeds were growing up between him and the great doors: the grass, which had all day grown about the steps, was getting taller; it had long spear-like leaves, it pushed up long pipes of green stem, and they whistled.

    They were up to his ankles, they were presently up to his waist; soon they were as high as his head.  He drew back that he might see over them; they sprang up faster as he retired, and again he went back.  It seemed to him that the castle also receded; there was a long reach of these great reeds between it and him, and now they were growing behind also, and on all sides of him.  He kept moving back and back: it was of no use, they sprang up and grew yet more tall, till very shortly the last glimpse of the fairy castle was hidden from his sorrowful eyes.

    The sun was just touching the tops of the purple mountains when Jack lost sight of Mopsa's home; but he remembered how he had penetrated the bed of reeds in the morning, and he hoped to have the same good fortune again.  So on and on he walked, pressing his way among them as well as he could, till the sun went down behind the mountains, and the rosy sky turned gold colour, and the gold began to burn itself away, and then all on a sudden he came to the edge of the reed-bed, and walked out upon a rising ground.

    Jack ran up it, looking for the castle.  He could not see it, so he climbed a far higher hill; still he could not see it.  At last, after a toilsome ascent to the very top of the green mountain, he saw the castle lying so far, so very far off, that its peaks and its battlements were on the edge of the horizon, and the evening mist rose while he was gazing, so that all its outlines were lost, and very soon they seemed to mingle with the shapes of the hill and the forest, till they had utterly vanished away.

    Then he threw himself down on the short grass.  The words of the white fairy sounded in his ears, "Her name was Jenny;" and he burst into tears again, and decided to go home.

    He looked up into the rosy sky, and held out his arms, and called, "Jenny!  O Jenny! come."

    In a minute or two he saw a little black mark overhead, a small speck, and it grew larger, and larger, and larger still, as it fell headlong down like a stone.  In another instant he saw a red light and a green light, then he heard the winnowing noise of the bird's great wings, and she alighted at his feet, and said, "Here I am."

    "I wish to go home," said Jack, hanging down his head and speaking in a low voice, for his heart was heavy because of his failure.

    "That is well," answered the bird.  She took Jack on her back, and in three minutes they were floating among the clouds.

    As Jack's feet were lifted up from Fairyland he felt a little consoled.  He began to have a curious feeling, as if this had all happened a good while ago, and then half the sorrow he had felt faded into wonder, and the feeling still grew upon him that these things had passed some great while since, so that he repeated to himself, "It was a long time ago."

    Then he fell asleep, and did not dream at all, nor know anything more till the bird woke him.  "Wake up now, Jack," she said; "we are at home."

    "So soon!" said Jack, rubbing his eyes.  "But it is evening; I thought it would be morning."

    "Fairy time is always six hours in advance of your time," said the bird.  "I see glow-worms down in the hedge, and the moon is just rising."

    They were falling so fast that Jack dared not look; but he saw the church, and the wood, and his father's house, which seemed to be starting up to meet him.  In two seconds more the bird alighted, and he stepped down from her back into the deep grass of his father's meadow.

    "Good-bye!" she said; "make haste and run in, for the dews are falling;" and before he could ask her one question, or even thank her, she made a wide sweep over the grass, beat her magnificent wings, and soared away.

    It was all very extraordinary, and Jack felt shy and ashamed; but he knew he must go home, so he opened the little gate that led into the garden, and stole through the shrubbery, hoping that his footsteps would not be heard.

    Then he came out on the lawn, where the flower-beds were, and he observed that the drawing-room window was open, so he came softly towards it and peeped in.

    His father and mother were sitting there.  Jack was delighted to see them, but he did not say a word, and he wondered whether they would be surprised at his having stayed away so long.  The bird had said that they would not.

    He drew a little nearer.  His mother sat with her back to the open window, but a candle was burning, and she was reading aloud.  Jack listened as she read, and knew that this was not in the least like anything that he had seen in Fairyland, nor the reading like anything that he had heard, and he began to forget the boy-king, and the applewoman, and even his little Mopsa, more and more.

    At last his father noticed him.  He did not look at all surprised, but just beckoned to him with his finger to come in.  So Jack did, and got upon his father's knee, where he curled himself up comfortably, laid his head on his father's waistcoat, and wondered what he would think if he should be told about the fairies in somebody else's waistcoat pocket.  He thought, besides, what a great thing a man was; he had never seen anything so large in Fairyland, nor so important; so, on the whole, he was glad he had come back, and felt very comfortable.  Then his mother, turning over the leaf, lifted up her eyes and looked at Jack, but not as if she was in the least surprised, or more glad to see him than usual; but she smoothed the leaf with her hand, and began again to read, and this time it was about the Shepherd Lady:


I


Who pipes upon the long green hill,
    Where meadow grass is deep?
The white lamb bleats but followeth on—
    Follow the clean white sheep.
The dear white lady in yon high tower,
    She hearkeneth in her sleep.

All in long grass the piper stands,
    Goodly and grave is he;
Outside the tower, at dawn of day,
    The notes of his pipe ring free.
A thought from his heart doth reach to hers:
    "Come down, O lady! to me."

She lifts her head, she dons her gown:
    Ah! the lady is fair;
She ties the girdle on her waist,
    And binds her flaxen hair,
And down she stealeth, down and down,
    Down the turret stair.

Behold him!   With the flock he wons
    Along yon grassy lea.
"My shepherd lord, my shepherd love,
    What wilt thou, then, with me?
My heart is gone out of my breast,
    And followeth on to thee."


II


"The white lambs feed in tender grass:
    With them and thee to bide,
How good it were," she saith at noon;
    "Albeit the meads are wide.
Oh! well is me," she saith when day
    Draws on to eventide.

Hark! hark! the shepherd's voice.   Oh, sweet!
    Her tears drop down like rain.
"Take now this crook, my chosen, my fere,
    And tend the flock full fain:
Feed them, O lady, and lose not one,
    Till I shall come again."

Right soft her speech: "My will is thine,
    And my reward thy grace!"
Gone are his footsteps over the hill,
    Withdrawn his goodly face;
The mournful dusk begins to gather,
    The daylight wanes apace.


III


On sunny slopes, ah! long the lady
    Feedeth her flock at noon;
She leads them down to drink at eve
    Where the small rivulets croon.
All night her locks are wet with dew,
    Her eyes outwatch the moon.

Over the hills her voice is heard,
    She sings when light doth wane:
"My longing heart is full of love.
    When shall my loss be gain?
My shepherd lord, I see him not,
    But he will come again."


    When she had finished, Jack lifted his face and said, "Mamma!"  Then she came to him and kissed him, and his father said, "I think it must be time this man of ours was in bed."

    So he looked earnestly at them both, and as they still asked him no questions, he kissed and wished them good-night; and his mother said there were some strawberries on the sideboard in the dining-room, and he might have them for his supper.

    So he ran out into the hall, and was delighted to find all the house just as usual, and after he had looked about him he went into his own room, and said his prayers.  Then he got into his little white bed, and comfortably fell asleep.

    That's all.

 

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