Louisa May Alcott
Part 2 out of 2
pennies which we give to mortals whom we love. And here you must toil
till the golden flower is won."
Then Thistle went among the Spirits, and joined in their tasks;
he tended the flower-roots, gathered the water-drops, and formed the
good-luck pennies. Long and hard he worked, and was often sad and
weary, often tempted by unkind and selfish thoughts; but he thought
of Lily-Bell, and strove to be kind and loving as she had been; and
soon the Spirits learned to love the patient Fairy, who had left his
home to toil among them for the sake of his gentle friend.
At length came little Sparkle to him, saying, "You have done enough;
come now, and dance and feast with us, for the golden flower is won."
But Thistle could not stay, for half his task was not yet done; and
he longed for sunlight and Lily-Bell. So, taking a kind farewell,
he hastened through the torch-lit path up to the light again; and,
spreading his wings, flew over hill and dale till he reached the
forest where Lily-Bell lay sleeping.
It was early morning, and the rosy light shone brightly through the
lily-leaves upon her, as Thistle entered, and laid his first gift
at the Brownie King's feet.
"You have done well," said he, "we hear good tidings of you from
bird and flower, and you are truly seeking to repair the evil
you have done. Take now one look at your little friend, and then
go forth to seek from the Air Spirits your second gift."
Then Thistle said farewell again to Lily-Bell, and flew far and wide
among the clouds, seeking the Air Spirits; but though he wandered till
his weary wings could bear him no longer, it was in vain. So, faint
and sad, he lay down to rest on a broad vine-leaf, that fluttered
gently in the wind; and as he lay, he saw beneath him the home
of the kind bees whom he had so disturbed, and Lily-Bell had helped
"I will seek to win their pardon, and show them that I am no longer
the cruel Fairy who so harmed them," thought Thistle, "and when they
become again my friends, I will ask their help to find the Air
Spirits; and if I deserve it, they will gladly aid me on my way."
So he flew down into the field below, and hastened busily from
flower to flower, till he had filled a tiny blue-bell with sweet,
fresh honey. Then he stole softly to the hive, and, placing it near
the door, concealed himself to watch. Soon his friend Nimble-Wing
came flying home, and when he spied the little cup, he hummed with
joy, and called his companions around him.
"Surely, some good Elf has placed it here for us," said they; "let us
bear it to our Queen; it is so fresh and fragrant it will be a fit
gift for her"; and they joyfully took it in, little dreaming who had
placed it there.
So each day Thistle filled a flower-cup, and laid it at the door;
and each day the bees wondered more and more, for many strange things
happened. The field-flowers told of the good spirit who watched
above them, and the birds sang of the same kind little Elf bringing
soft moss for their nests, and food for their hungry young ones;
while all around the hive had grown fairer since the Fairy came.
But the bees never saw him, for he feared he had not yet done enough
to win their forgiveness and friendship; so he lived alone among the
vines, daily bringing them honey, and doing some kindly action.
At length, as he lay sleeping in a flower-bell, a little bee came
wandering by, and knew him for the wicked Thistle; so he called his
friends, and, as they flew murmuring around him, he awoke.
"What shall we do to you, naughty Elf?" said they. "You are in
our power, and we will sting you if you are not still."
"Let us close the flower-leaves around him and leave him here
to starve," cried one, who had not yet forgotten all the sorrow
Thistle had caused them long ago.
"No, no, that were very cruel, dear Buzz," said little Hum; "let us
take him to our Queen, and she will tell us how to show our anger for
the wicked deeds he did. See how bitterly he weeps; be kind to him,
he will not harm us more."
"You good little Hum!" cried a kind-hearted robin who had hopped near
to listen to the bees. "Dear friends, do you not know that this is
the good Fairy who has dwelt so quietly among us, watching over bird
and blossom, giving joy to all he helps? It is HE who brings the
honey-cup each day to you, and then goes silently away, that you may
never know who works so faithfully for you. Be kind to him, for if
he has done wrong, he has repented of it, as you may see."
"Can this be naughty Thistle?" said Nimble-Wing.
"Yes, it is I," said Thistle, "but no longer cruel and unkind. I have
tried to win your love by patient industry. Ah, trust me now, and you
shall see I am not naughty Thistle any more."
Then the wondering bees led him to their Queen, and when he had told
his tale, and begged their forgiveness, it was gladly given; and
all strove to show him that he was loved and trusted. Then he asked
if they could tell him where the Air Spirits dwelt, for he must not
forget dear Lily-Bell; and to his great joy the Queen said, "Yes,"
and bade little Hum guide Thistle to Cloud-Land.
Little Hum joyfully obeyed; and Thistle followed him, as he flew
higher and higher among the soft clouds, till in the distance they saw
a radiant light.
"There is their home, and I must leave you now, dear Thistle," said
the little bee; and, bidding him farewell, he flew singing back; while
Thistle, following the light, soon found himself in the Air Spirits'
The sky was gold and purple like an autumn sunset, and long walls of
brilliant clouds lay round him. A rosy light shone through the silver
mist, on gleaming columns and the rainbow roof; soft, fragrant winds
went whispering by, and airy little forms were flitting to and fro.
Long Thistle wondered at the beauty round him; and then he went
among the shining Spirits, told his tale, and asked a gift.
But they answered like the Earth Spirits. "You must serve us first,
and then we will gladly give you a robe of sunlight like our own."
And then they told him how they wafted flower-seeds over the earth,
to beautify and brighten lonely spots; how they watched above the
blossoms by day, and scattered dews at night, brought sunlight
into darkened places, and soft winds to refresh and cheer.
"These are the things we do," said they, "and you must aid us
for a time."
And Thistle gladly went with the lovely Spirits; by day he joined
the sunlight and the breeze in their silent work; by night, with
Star-Light and her sister spirits, he flew over the moon-lit earth,
dropping cool dew upon the folded flowers, and bringing happy dreams
to sleeping mortals. Many a kind deed was done, many a gentle word
was spoken; and each day lighter grew his heart, and stronger his
power of giving joy to others.
At length Star-Light bade him work no more, and gladly gave him
the gift he had won. Then his second task was done, and he flew gayly
back to the green earth and slumbering Lily-Bell.
The silvery moonlight shone upon her, as he came to give his second
gift; and the Brownie spoke more kindly than before.
"One more trial, Thistle, and she will awake. Go bravely forth and
win your last and hardest gift."
Then with a light heart Thistle journeyed away to the brooks and
rivers, seeking the Water Spirits. But he looked in vain; till,
wandering through the forest where the Brownies took him captive,
he stopped beside the quiet lake.
As he stood here he heard a sound of pain, and, looking in the tall
grass at his side, he saw the dragon-fly whose kindness he once
repayed by pain and sorrow, and who now lay suffering and alone.
Thistle bent tenderly beside him, saying, "Dear Flutter, do not
fear me. I will gladly ease your pain, if you will let me; I am your
friend, and long to show you how I grieve for all the wrong I did you,
when you were so kind to me. Forgive, and let me help and comfort
Then he bound up the broken wing, and spoke so tenderly that Flutter
doubted him no longer, and was his friend again.
Day by day did Thistle watch beside him, making little beds of
cool, fresh moss for him to rest upon, fanning him when he slept,
and singing sweet songs to cheer him when awake. And often when
poor Flutter longed to be dancing once again over the blue waves,
the Fairy bore him in his arms to the lake, and on a broad leaf,
with a green flag for a sail, they floated on the still water; while
the dragon-fly's companions flew about them, playing merry games.
At length the broken wing was well, and Thistle said he must again
seek the Water Spirits. "I can tell you where to find them," said
Flutter; "you must follow yonder little brook, and it will lead you
to the sea, where the Spirits dwell. I would gladly do more for you,
dear Thistle, but I cannot, for they live deep beneath the waves.
You will find some kind friend to aid you on your way; and so
Thistle followed the little brook, as it flowed through field and
valley, growing ever larger, till it reached the sea. Here the wind
blew freshly, and the great waves rolled and broke at Thistle's feet,
as he stood upon the shore, watching the billows dancing and sparkling
in the sun.
"How shall I find the Spirits in this great sea, with none to help or
guide me? Yet it is my last task, and for Lily-Bell's sake I must not
fear or falter now," said Thistle. So he flew hither and thither
over the sea, looking through the waves. Soon he saw, far below,
the branches of the coral tree.
"They must be here," thought he, and, folding his wings, he plunged
into the deep, cold sea. But he saw only fearful monsters and dark
shapes that gathered round him; and, trembling with fear, he struggled
The great waves tossed him to and fro, and cast him bruised and faint
upon the shore. Here he lay weeping bitterly, till a voice beside him
said, "Poor little Elf, what has befallen you? These rough waves are
not fit playmates for so delicate a thing as you. Tell me your
sorrow, and I will comfort you."
And Thistle, looking up, saw a white sea-bird at his side, who tried
with friendly words to cheer him. So he told all his wanderings,
and how he sought the Sea Spirits.
"Surely, if bee and blossom do their part to help you, birds should
aid you too," said the Sea-bird. "I will call my friend, the
Nautilus, and he will bear you safely to the Coral Palace where the
So, spreading his great wings, he flew away, and soon Thistle saw
a little boat come dancing over the waves, and wait beside the shore
In he sprang. Nautilus raised his little sail to the wind, and the
light boat glided swiftly over the blue sea. At last Thistle cried,
"I see lovely arches far below; let me go, it is the Spirits' home."
"Nay, close your eyes, and trust to me. I will bear you safely down,"
So Thistle closed his eyes, and listened to the murmur of the sea,
as they sank slowly through the waves. The soft sound lulled him
to sleep, and when he awoke the boat was gone, and he stood among
the Water Spirits, in their strange and lovely home.
Lofty arches of snow-white coral bent above him, and the walls
of brightly tinted shells were wreathed with lovely sea-flowers, and
the sunlight shining on the waves cast silvery shadows on the ground,
where sparkling stones glowed in the sand. A cool, fresh wind swept
through the waving garlands of bright sea-moss, and the distant murmur
of dashing waves came softly on the air. Soon troops of graceful
Spirits flitted by, and when they found the wondering Elf, they
gathered round him, bringing pearl-shells heaped with precious stones,
and all the rare, strange gifts that lie beneath the sea. But Thistle
wished for none of these, and when his tale was told, the kindly
Spirits pitied him; and little Pearl sighed, as she told him of the
long and weary task he must perform, ere he could win a crown of
snow-white pearls like those they wore. But Thistle had gained
strength and courage in his wanderings, and did not falter now, when
they led him to a place among the coral-workers, and told him he must
labor here, till the spreading branches reached the light and air,
through the waves that danced above.
With a patient hope that he might yet be worthy of Lily-Bell,
the Fairy left the lovely spirits and their pleasant home, to toil
among the coral-builders, where all was strange and dim. Long, long,
he worked; but still the waves rolled far above them, and his task was
not yet done; and many bitter tears poor Thistle shed, and sadly he
pined for air and sunlight, the voice of birds, and breath of flowers.
Often, folded in the magic garments which the Spirits gave him, that
he might pass unharmed among the fearful creatures dwelling there,
he rose to the surface of the sea, and, gliding through the waves,
gazed longingly upon the hills, now looking blue and dim so far away,
or watched the flocks of summer birds, journeying to a warmer land;
and they brought sad memories of green old forests, and sunny fields,
to the lonely little Fairy floating on the great, wild sea.
Day after day went by, and slowly Thistle's task drew towards an end.
Busily toiled the coral-workers, but more busily toiled he; insect
and Spirit daily wondered more and more, at the industry and patience
of the silent little Elf, who had a friendly word for all, though
he never joined them in their sport.
Higher and higher grew the coral-boughs, and lighter grew the Fairy's
heart, while thoughts of dear Lily-Bell cheered him on, as day by day
he steadily toiled; and when at length the sun shone on his work,
and it was done, he stayed but to take the garland he had won, and
to thank the good Spirits for their love and care. Then up through
the cold, blue waves he swiftly glided, and, shaking the bright drops
from his wings, soared singing up to the sunny sky.
On through the fragrant air went Thistle, looking with glad face
upon the fair, fresh earth below, where flowers looked smiling up,
and green trees bowed their graceful heads as if to welcome him. Soon
the forest where Lily-Bell lay sleeping rose before him, and as he
passed along the cool, dim wood-paths, never had they seemed so fair.
But when he came where his little friend had slept, it was no longer
the dark, silent spot where he last saw her. Garlands hung from every
tree, and the fairest flowers filled the air with their sweet breath.
Bird's gay voices echoed far and wide, and the little brook went
singing by, beneath the arching ferns that bent above it; green
leaves rustled in the summer wind, and the air was full of music.
But the fairest sight was Lily-Bell, as she lay on the couch of
velvet moss that Fairy hands had spread. The golden flower lay
beside her, and the glittering robe was folded round her little form.
The warmest sunlight fell upon her, and the softest breezes lifted
her shining hair.
Happy tears fell fast, as Thistle folded his arms around her,
crying, "O Lily-Bell, dear Lily-Bell, awake! I have been true to you,
and now my task is done."
Then, with a smile, Lily-Bell awoke, and looked with wondering eyes
upon the beauty that had risen round her.
"Dear Thistle, what mean these fair things, and why are we in this
"Listen, Lily-Bell," said the Brownie King, as he appeared beside her.
And then he told all that Thistle had done to show his love for her;
how he had wandered far and wide to seek the Fairy gifts, and toiled
long and hard to win them; how he had been loving, true, and tender,
when most lonely and forsaken.
"Bird, bee, and blossom have forgiven him, and none is more loved
and trusted now by all, than the once cruel Thistle," said the King,
as he bent down to the happy Elf, who bowed low before him.
"You have learned the beauty of a gentle, kindly heart, dear Thistle;
and you are now worthy to become the friend of her for whom you have
done so much. Place the crown upon her head, for she is Queen of all
the Forest Fairies now."
And as the crown shone on the head that Lily-Bell bent down on
Thistle's breast, the forest seemed alive with little forms, who
sprang from flower and leaf, and gathered round her, bringing gifts
for their new Queen.
"If I am Queen, then you are King, dear Thistle," said the Fairy.
"Take the crown, and I will have a wreath of flowers. You have toiled
and suffered for my sake, and you alone should rule over these little
Elves whose love you have won."
"Keep your crown, Lily-Bell, for yonder come the Spirits with their
gifts to Thistle," said the Brownie. And, as he pointed with his
wand, out from among the mossy roots of an old tree came trooping
the Earth Spirits, their flower-bells ringing softly as they came,
and their jewelled garments glittering in the sun. On to where
Thistledown stood beneath the shadow of the flowers, with Lily-Bell
beside him, went the Spirits; and then forth sprang little Sparkle,
waving a golden flower, whose silvery music filled the air. "Dear
Thistle," said the shining Spirit, "what you toiled so faithfully
to win for another, let us offer now as a token of our love for you."
As she ceased, down through the air came floating bands of lovely
Air Spirits, bringing a shining robe, and they too told their love
for the gentle Fairy who had dwelt with them.
Then softly on the breeze came distant music, growing ever nearer,
till over the rippling waves came the singing Water Spirits, in their
boats of many-colored shells; and as they placed their glittering
crown on Thistle's head, loud rang the flowers, and joyously sang
the birds, while all the Forest Fairies cried, with silvery voices,
"Lily-Bell and Thistledown! Long live our King and Queen!"
"Have you a tale for us too, dear Violet-Eye?" said the Queen, as
Zephyr ceased. The little Elf thus named looked from among the
flower-leaves where she sat, and with a smile replied, "As I was
weaving garlands in the field, I heard a primrose tell this tale
to her friend Golden-Rod."
IN a great forest, high up among the green boughs, lived Bird
Brown-Breast, and his bright-eyed little mate. They were now very
happy; their home was done, the four blue eggs lay in the soft nest,
and the little wife sat still and patient on them, while the husband
sang, and told her charming tales, and brought her sweet berries
and little worms.
Things went smoothly on, till one day she found in the nest a little
white egg, with a golden band about it.
"My friend," cried she, "come and see! Where can this fine egg have
come from? My four are here, and this also; what think you of it?"
The husband shook his head gravely, and said, "Be not alarmed, my
love; it is doubtless some good Fairy who has given us this, and we
shall find some gift within; do not let us touch it, but do you sit
carefully upon it, and we shall see in time what has been sent us."
So they said nothing about it, and soon their home had four little
chirping children; and then the white egg opened, and, behold,
a little maiden lay singing within. Then how amazed were they,
and how they welcomed her, as she lay warm beneath the mother's wing,
and how the young birds did love her.
Great joy was in the forest, and proud were the parents of their
family, and still more of the little one who had come to them;
while all the neighbors flocked in, to see Dame Brown-Breast's
little child. And the tiny maiden talked to them, and sang so
merrily, that they could have listened for ever. Soon she was
the joy of the whole forest, dancing from tree to tree, making
every nest her home, and none were ever so welcome as little Bud;
and so they lived right merrily in the green old forest.
The father now had much to do to supply his family with food, and
choice morsels did he bring little Bud. The wild fruits were her
food, the fresh dew in the flower-cups her drink, while the green
leaves served her for little robes; and thus she found garments in
the flowers of the field, and a happy home with Mother Brown-Breast;
and all in the wood, from the stately trees to the little mosses
in the turf, were friends to the merry child.
And each day she taught the young birds sweet songs, and as their gay
music rang through the old forest, the stern, dark pines ceased their
solemn waving, that they might hear the soft sounds stealing through
the dim wood-paths, and mortal children came to listen, saying softly,
"Hear the flowers sing, and touch them not, for the Fairies are here."
Then came a band of sad little Elves to Bud, praying that they might
hear the sweet music; and when she took them by the hand, and spoke
gently to them, they wept and said sadly, when she asked them whence
"We dwelt once in Fairy-Land, and O how happy were we then! But alas!
we were not worthy of so fair a home, and were sent forth into the
cold world. Look at our robes, they are like the withered leaves;
our wings are dim, our crowns are gone, and we lead sad, lonely lives
in this dark forest. Let us stay with you; your gay music sounds
like Fairy songs, and you have such a friendly way with you, and speak
so gently to us. It is good to be near one so lovely and so kind; and
you can tell us how we may again become fair and innocent. Say we may
stay with you, kind little maiden."
And Bud said, "Yes," and they stayed; but her kind little heart
was grieved that they wept so sadly, and all she could say could not
make them happy; till at last she said,--
"Do not weep, and I will go to Queen Dew-Drop, and beseech her
to let you come back. I will tell her that you are repentant,
and will do anything to gain her love again; that you are sad, and
long to be forgiven. This will I say, and more, and trust she will
grant my prayer."
"She will not say no to you, dear Bud," said the poor little Fairies;
"she will love you as we do, and if we can but come again to our lost
home, we cannot give you thanks enough. Go, Bud, and if there be
power in Fairy gifts, you shall be as happy as our hearts' best love
can make you."
The tidings of Bud's departure flew through the forest, and all her
friends came to say farewell, as with the morning sun she would go;
and each brought some little gift, for the land of Fairies was
far away, and she must journey long.
"Nay, you shall not go on your feet, my child," said Mother
Brown-Breast; "your friend Golden-Wing shall carry you. Call him
hither, that I may seat you rightly, for if you should fall off
my heart would break."
Then up came Golden-Wing, and Bud was safely seated on the cushion
of violet-leaves; and it was really charming to see her merry little
face, peeping from under the broad brim of her cow-slip hat, as
her butterfly steed stood waving his bright wings in the sunlight.
Then came the bee with his yellow honey-bags, which he begged she
would take, and the little brown spider that lived under the great
leaves brought a veil for her hat, and besought her to wear it,
lest the sun should shine too brightly; while the ant came bringing a
tiny strawberry, lest she should miss her favorite fruit. The mother
gave her good advice, and the papa stood with his head on one side,
and his round eyes twinkling with delight, to think that his
little Bud was going to Fairy-Land.
Then they all sang gayly together, till she passed out of sight
over the hills, and they saw her no more.
And now Bud left the old forest far behind her. Golden-Wing
bore her swiftly along, and she looked down on the green mountains,
and the peasant's cottages, that stood among overshadowing trees;
and the earth looked bright, with its broad, blue rivers winding
through soft meadows, the singing birds, and flowers, who kept their
bright eyes ever on the sky.
And she sang gayly as they floated in the clear air, while her friend
kept time with his waving wings, and ever as they went along all grew
fairer; and thus they came to Fairy-Land.
As Bud passed through the gates, she no longer wondered that the
exiled Fairies wept and sorrowed for the lovely home they had lost.
Bright clouds floated in the sunny sky, casting a rainbow light on
the Fairy palaces below, where the Elves were dancing; while the
low, sweet voices of the singing flowers sounded softly through the
fragrant air, and mingled with the music of the rippling waves, as
they flowed on beneath the blossoming vines that drooped above them.
All was bright and beautiful; but kind little Bud would not linger,
for the forms of the weeping Fairies were before her; and
though the blossoms nodded gayly on their stems to welcome her,
and the soft winds kissed her cheek, she would not stay, but on
to the Flower Palace she went, into a pleasant hall whose walls
were formed of crimson roses, amid whose leaves sat little Elves,
making sweet music on their harps. When they saw Bud, they gathered
round her, and led her through the flower-wreathed arches to a group
of the most beautiful Fairies, who were gathered about a stately lily,
in whose fragrant cup sat one whose purple robe and glittering crown
told she was their Queen.
Bud knelt before her, and, while tears streamed down her little face,
she told her errand, and pleaded earnestly that the exiled Fairies
might be forgiven, and not be left to pine far from their friends and
kindred. And as she prayed, many wept with her; and when she ceased,
and waited for her answer, many knelt beside her, praying forgiveness
for the unhappy Elves.
With tearful eyes, Queen Dew-Drop replied,--
"Little maiden, your prayer has softened my heart. They shall not be
left sorrowing and alone, nor shall you go back without a kindly word
to cheer and comfort them. We will pardon their fault, and when they
can bring hither a perfect Fairy crown, robe, and wand, they shall be
again received as children of their loving Queen. The task is hard,
for none but the best and purest can form the Fairy garments; yet with
patience they may yet restore their robes to their former brightness.
Farewell, good little maiden; come with them, for but for you they
would have dwelt for ever without the walls of Fairy-Land."
"Good speed to you, and farewell," cried they all, as, with loving
messages to their poor friends, they bore her to the gates.
Day after day toiled little Bud, cheering the Fairies, who,
angry and disappointed, would not listen to her gentle words,
but turned away and sat alone weeping. They grieved her kind heart
with many cruel words; but patiently she bore with them, and when
they told her they could never perform so hard a task, and must dwell
for ever in the dark forest, she answered gently, that the snow-white
lily must be planted, and watered with repentant tears, before the
robe of innocence could be won; that the sun of love must shine
in their hearts, before the light could return to their dim crowns,
and deeds of kindness must be performed, ere the power would come
again to their now useless wands.
Then they planted the lilies; but they soon drooped and died, and
no light came to their crowns. They did no gentle deeds, but cared
only for themselves; and when they found their labor was in vain,
they tried no longer, but sat weeping. Bud, with ceaseless toil and
patient care, tended the lilies, which bloomed brightly, the crowns
grew bright, and in her hands the wands had power over birds and
blossoms, for she was striving to give happiness to others,
forgetful of herself. And the idle Fairies, with thankful words, took
the garments from her, and then with Bud went forth to Fairy-Land,
and stood with beating hearts before the gates; where crowds of Fairy
friends came forth to welcome them.
But when Queen Dew-Drop touched them with her wand, as they passed in,
the light faded from their crowns, their robes became like withered
leaves, and their wands were powerless.
Amid the tears of all the Fairies, the Queen led them to the gates,
"Farewell! It is not in my power to aid you; innocence and love are
not within your hearts, and were it not for this untiring little
maiden, who has toiled while you have wept, you never would have
entered your lost home. Go and strive again, for till all is once
more fair and pure, I cannot call you mine."
"Farewell!" sang the weeping Fairies, as the gates closed on their
outcast friends; who, humbled and broken-hearted, gathered around Bud;
and she, with cheering words, guided them back to the forest.
Time passed on, and the Fairies had done nothing to gain their
lovely home again. They wept no longer, but watched little Bud,
as she daily tended the flowers, restoring thelr strength and beauty,
or with gentle words flew from nest to nest, teaching the little birds
to live happily together; and wherever she went blessings fell, and
loving hearts were filled with gratitude.
Then, one by one, the Elves secretly did some little work of kindness,
and found a quiet joy come back to repay them. Flowers looked
lovingly up as they passed, birds sang to cheer them when sad thoughts
made them weep. And soon little Bud found out their gentle deeds,
and her friendly words gave them new strength. So day after day
they followed her, and like a band of guardian spirits they flew
far and wide, carrying with them joy and peace.
And not only birds and flowers blessed them, but human beings also;
for with tender hands they guided little children from danger, and
kept their young hearts free from evil thoughts; they whispered
soothing words to the sick, and brought sweet odors and fair flowers
to their lonely rooms. They sent lovely visions to the old and blind,
to make their hearts young and bright with happy thoughts.
But most tenderly did they watch over the poor and sorrowing,
and many a poor mother blessed the unseen hands that laid food
before her hungry little ones, and folded warm garments round
their naked limbs. Many a poor man wondered at the fair flowers
that sprang up in his little garden-plot, cheering him with their
bright forms, and making his dreary home fair with their loveliness,
and looked at his once barren field, where now waved the golden corn,
turning its broad leaves to the warm sun, and promising a store of
golden ears to give him food; while the care-worn face grew bright,
and the troubled heart filled with gratitude towards the invisible
spirits who had brought him such joy.
Thus time passed on, and though the exiled Fairies longed often for
their home, still, knowing they did not deserve it, they toiled on,
hoping one day to see the friends they had lost; while the joy of
their own hearts made their life full of happiness.
One day came little Bud to them, saying,--
"Listen, dear friends. I have a hard task to offer you. It is a
great sacrifice for you light loving Fairies to dwell through the long
winter in the dark, cold earth, watching over the flower roots, to keep
them free from the little grubs and worms that seek to harm them.
But in the sunny Spring when they bloom again, their love and
gratitude will give you happy homes among their bright leaves.
"It is a wearisome task, and I can give you no reward for all your
tender care, but the blessings of the gentle flowers you will have
saved from death. Gladly would I aid you; but my winged friends are
preparing for their journey to warmer lands, and I must help them
teach their little ones to fly, and see them safely on their way.
Then, through the winter, must I seek the dwellings of the poor
and suffering, comfort the sick and lonely, and give hope and courage
to those who in their poverty are led astray. These things must I do;
but when the flowers bloom again I will be with you, to welcome back
our friends from over the sea."
Then, with tears, the Fairies answered, "Ah, good little Bud, you have
taken the hardest task yourself, and who will repay you for all your
deeds of tenderness and mercy in the great world? Should evil befall
you, our hearts would break. We will labor trustingly in the earth,
and thoughts of you shall cheer us on; for without you we had been
worthless beings, and never known the joy that kindly actions bring.
Yes, dear Bud, we will gladly toil among the roots, that the fair
flowers may wear their gayest robes to welcome you."
Then deep in the earth the Fairies dwelt, and no frost or snow
could harm the blossoms they tended. Every little seed was laid
in the soft earth, watered, and watched. Tender roots were folded
in withered leaves, that no chilling drops might reach them; and
safely dreamed the flowers, till summer winds should call them forth;
while lighter grew each Fairy heart, as every gentle deed was
At length the snow was gone, and they heard little voices calling them
to come up; but patiently they worked, till seed and root were green
and strong. Then, with eager feet, they hastened to the earth above,
where, over hill and valley, bright flowers and budding trees smiled
in the warm sunlight, blossoms bent lovingly before them, and rang
their colored bells, till the fragrant air was full of music; while
the stately trees waved their great arms above them, and scattered
soft leaves at their feet.
Then came the merry birds, making the wood alive with their gay
voices, calling to one another, as they flew among the vines,
building their little homes. Long waited the Elves, and at last
she came with Father Brown-Breast. Happy days passed; and
summer flowers were in their fullest beauty, when Bud bade the Fairies
come with her.
Mounted on bright-winged butterflies, they flew over forest and
meadow, till with joyful eyes they saw the flower-crowned walls
Before the gates they stood, and soon troops of loving Elves
came forth to meet them. And on through the sunny gardens they went,
into the Lily Hall, where, among the golden stamens of a graceful
flower, sat the Queen; while on the broad, green leaves around it
stood the brighteyed little maids of honor.
Then, amid the deep silence, little Bud, leading the Fairies to the
"Dear Queen, I here bring back your subjects, wiser for their sorrow,
better for their hard trial; and now might any Queen be proud of them,
and bow to learn from them that giving joy and peace to others
brings it fourfold to us, bearing a double happiness in the blessings
to those we help. Through the dreary months, when they might have
dwelt among fair Southern flowers, beneath a smiling sky, they toiled
in the dark and silent earth, filling the hearts of the gentle Flower
Spirits with grateful love, seeking no reward but the knowledge of
their own good deeds, and the joy they always bring. This they have
done unmurmuringly and alone; and now, far and wide, flower blessings
fall upon them, and the summer winds bear the glad tidings unto those
who droop in sorrow, and new joy and strength it brings, as they look
longingly for the friends whose gentle care hath brought such
happiness to their fair kindred.
"Are they not worthy of your love, dear Queen? Have they not won
their lovely home? Say they are pardoned, and you have gained
the love of hearts pure as the snow-white robes now folded over them."
As Bud ceased, she touched the wondering Fairies with her wand,
and the dark faded garments fell away; and beneath, the robes
of lily-leaves glittered pure and spotless in the sun-light.
Then, while happy tears fell, Queen Dew-Drop placed the bright crowns
on the bowed heads of the kneeling Fairies, and laid before them
the wands their own good deeds had rendered powerful.
They turned to thank little Bud for all her patient love,
but she was gone; and high above, in the clear air, they saw
the little form journeying back to the quiet forest.
She needed no reward but the joy she had given. The Fairy hearts
were pure again, and her work was done; yet all Fairy-Land had learned
a lesson from gentle little Bud.
"Now, little Sunbeam, what have you to tell us?" said the Queen,
looking down on a bright-eyed Elf, who sat half hidden in the deep
moss at her feet.
"I too, like Star-Twinkle, have nothing but a song to offer,"
replied the Fairy; and then, while the nightingale's sweet voice
mingled with her own, she sang,--
IN a quiet, pleasant meadow,
Beneath a summer sky,
Where green old trees their branches waved,
And winds went singing by;
Where a little brook went rippling
So musically low,
And passing clouds cast shadows
On the waving grass below;
Where low, sweet notes of brooding birds
Stole out on the fragrant air,
And golden sunlight shone undimmed
On all most fresh and fair;--
There bloomed a lovely sisterhood
Of happy little flowers,
Together in this pleasant home,
Through quiet summer hours.
No rude hand came to gather them,
No chilling winds to blight;
Warm sunbeams smiled on them by day,
And soft dews fell at night.
So here, along the brook-side,
Beneath the green old trees,
The flowers dwelt among their friends,
The sunbeams and the breeze.
One morning, as the flowers awoke,
Fragrant, and fresh, and fair,
A little worm came creeping by,
And begged a shelter there.
"Ah! pity and love me," sighed the worm,
"I am lonely, poor, and weak;
A little spot for a resting-place,
Dear flowers, is all I seek.
I am not fair, and have dwelt unloved
By butterfly, bird, and bee.
They little knew that in this dark form
Lay the beauty they yet may see.
Then let me lie in the deep green moss,
And weave my little tomb,
And sleep my long, unbroken sleep
Till Spring's first flowers come.
Then will I come in a fairer dress,
And your gentle care repay
By the grateful love of the humble worm;
Kind flowers, O let me stay!"
But the wild rose showed her little thorns,
While her soft face glowed with pride;
The violet hid beneath the drooping ferns,
And the daisy turned aside.
Little Houstonia scornfully laughed,
As she danced on her slender stem;
While the cowslip bent to the rippling waves,
And whispered the tale to them.
A blue-eyed grass looked down on the worm,
As it silently turned away,
And cried, "Thou wilt harm our delicate leaves,
And therefore thou canst not stay."
Then a sweet, soft voice, called out from far,
"Come hither, poor worm, to me;
The sun lies warm in this quiet spot,
And I'll share my home with thee."
The wondering flowers looked up to see
Who had offered the worm a home:
'T was a clover-blossom, whose fluttering leaves
Seemed beckoning him to come;
It dwelt in a sunny little nook,
Where cool winds rustled by,
And murmuring bees and butterflies came,
On the flower's breast to lie.
Down through the leaves the sunlight stole,
And seemed to linger there,
As if it loved to brighten the home
Of one so sweet and fair.
Its rosy face smiled kindly down,
As the friendless worm drew near;
And its low voice, softly whispering, said
"Poor thing, thou art welcome here;
Close at my side, in the soft green moss,
Thou wilt find a quiet bed,
Where thou canst softly sleep till Spring,
With my leaves above thee spread.
I pity and love thee, friendless worm,
Though thou art not graceful or fair;
For many a dark, unlovely form,
Hath a kind heart dwelling there;
No more o'er the green and pleasant earth,
Lonely and poor, shalt thou roam,
For a loving friend hast thou found in me,
And rest in my little home."
Then, deep in its quiet mossy bed,
Sheltered from sun and shower,
The grateful worm spun its winter tomb,
In the shadow of the flower.
And Clover guarded well its rest,
Till Autumn's leaves were sere,
Till all her sister flowers were gone,
And her winter sleep drew near.
Then her withered leaves were softly spread
O'er the sleeping worm below,
Ere the faithful little flower lay
Beneath the winter snow.
Spring came again, and the flowers rose
From their quiet winter graves,
And gayly danced on their slender stems,
And sang with the rippling waves.
Softly the warm winds kissed their cheeks;
Brightly the sunbeams fell,
As, one by one, they came again
In their summer homes to dwell.
And little Clover bloomed once more,
Rosy, and sweet, and fair,
And patiently watched by the mossy bed,
For the worm still slumbered there.
Then her sister flowers scornfully cried,
As they waved in the summer air,
"The ugly worm was friendless and poor;
Little Clover, why shouldst thou care?
Then watch no more, nor dwell alone,
Away from thy sister flowers;
Come, dance and feast, and spend with us
These pleasant summer hours.
We pity thee, foolish little flower,
To trust what the false worm said;
He will not come in a fairer dress,
For he lies in the green moss dead."
But little Clover still watched on,
Alone in her sunny home;
She did not doubt the poor worm's truth,
And trusted he would come.
At last the small cell opened wide,
And a glittering butterfly,
From out the moss, on golden wings,
Soared up to the sunny sky.
Then the wondering flowers cried aloud,
"Clover, thy watch was vain;
He only sought a shelter here,
And never will come again."
And the unkind flowers danced for joy,
When they saw him thus depart;
For the love of a beautiful butterfly
Is dear to a flower's heart.
They feared he would stay in Clover's home,
And her tender care repay;
So they danced for joy, when at last he rose
And silently flew away.
Then little Clover bowed her head,
While her soft tears fell like dew;
For her gentle heart was grieved, to find
That her sisters' words were true,
And the insect she had watched so long
When helpless, poor, and lone,
Thankless for all her faithful care,
On his golden wings had flown.
But as she drooped, in silent grief,
She heard little Daisy cry,
"O sisters, look! I see him now,
Afar in the sunny sky;
He is floating back from Cloud-Land now,
Borne by the fragrant air.
Spread wide your leaves, that he may choose
The flower he deems most fair."
Then the wild rose glowed with a deeper blush,
As she proudly waved on her stem;
The Cowslip bent to the clear blue waves,
And made her mirror of them.
Little Houstonia merrily danced,
And spread her white leaves wide;
While Daisy whispered her joy and hope,
As she stood by her gay friends' side.
Violet peeped from the tall green ferns,
And lifted her soft blue eye
To watch the glittering form, that shone
Afar in the summer sky.
They thought no more of the ugly worm,
Who once had wakened their scorn;
But looked and longed for the butterfly now,
As the soft wind bore him on.
Nearer and nearer the bright form came,
And fairer the blossoms grew;
Each welcomed him, in her sweetest tones;
Each offered her honey and dew.
But in vain did they beckon, and smile, and call,
And wider their leaves unclose;
The glittering form still floated on,
By Violet, Daisy, and Rose.
Lightly it flew to the pleasant home
Of the flower most truly fair,
On Clover's breast he softly lit,
And folded his bright wings there.
"Dear flower," the butterfly whispered low,
"Long hast thou waited for me;
Now I am come, and my grateful love
Shall brighten thy home for thee;
Thou hast loved and cared for me, when alone,
Hast watched o'er me long and well;
And now will I strive to show the thanks
The poor worm could not tell.
Sunbeam and breeze shall come to thee,
And the coolest dews that fall;
Whate'er a flower can wish is thine,
For thou art worthy all.
And the home thou shared with the friendless worm
The butterfly's home shall be;
And thou shalt find, dear, faithful flower,
A loving friend in me."
Then, through the long, bright summer hours
Through sunshine and through shower,
Together in their happy home
Dwelt butterfly and flower.
"Ah, that is very lovely," cried the Elves, gathering round
little Sunbeam as she ceased, to place a garland in her hair and
praise her song.
"Now," said the Queen, "call hither Moon-light and Summer-Wind,
for they have seen many pleasant things in their long wanderings,
and will gladly tell us them."
"Most joyfully will we do our best, dear Queen," said the Elves,
as they folded their wings beside her.
"Now, Summer-Wind," said Moonlight, "till your turn comes, do you sit
here and fan me while I tell this tale of
LITTLE ANNIE'S DREAM;
THE FAIRY FLOWER.
IN a large and pleasant garden sat little Annie all alone, and
she seemed very sad, for drops that were not dew fell fast upon the
flowers beside her, who looked wonderingly up, and bent still nearer,
as if they longed to cheer and comfort her. The warm wind lifted up
her shining hair and softly kissed her cheek, while the sunbeams,
looking most kindly in her face, made little rainbows in her tears,
and lingered lovingly about her. But Annie paid no heed to sun,
or wind, or flower; still the bright tears fell, and she forgot
all but her sorrow.
"Little Annie, tell me why you weep," said a low voice in her ear;
and, looking up, the child beheld a little figure standing on a
vine-leaf at her side; a lovely face smiled on her, from amid
bright locks of hair, and shining wings were folded on a white and
glittering robe, that fluttered in the wind.
"Who are you, lovely little thing?" cried Annie, smiling through
"I am a Fairy, little child, and am come to help and comfort you; now
tell me why you weep, and let me be your friend," replied the spirit,
as she smiled more kindly still on Annie's wondering face.
"And are you really, then, a little Elf, such as I read of
in my fairy books? Do you ride on butterflies, sleep in flower-cups,
and live among the clouds?"
"Yes, all these things I do, and many stranger still, that all
your fairy books can never tell; but now, dear Annie," said the Fairy,
bending nearer, "tell me why I found no sunshine on your face; why are
these great drops shining on the flowers, and why do you sit alone
when BIRD and BEE are calling you to play?"
"Ah, you will not love me any more if I should tell you all,"
said Annie, while the tears began to fall again; "I am not happy,
for I am not good; how shall I learn to be a patient, gentle child?
good little Fairy, will you teach me how?"
"Gladly will I aid you, Annie, and if you truly wish to be
a happy child, you first must learn to conquer many passions that
you cherish now, and make your heart a home for gentle feelings and
happy thoughts; the task is hard, but I will give this fairy flower
to help and counsel you. Bend hither, that I may place it in your
breast; no hand can take it hence, till I unsay the spell that
holds it there."
As thus she spoke, the Elf took from her bosom a graceful flower,
whose snow-white leaves shone with a strange, soft light. "This is
a fairy flower," said the Elf, "invisible to every eye save yours;
now listen while I tell its power, Annie. When your heart is filled
with loving thoughts, when some kindly deed has been done, some duty
well performed, then from the flower there will arise the sweetest,
softest fragrance, to reward and gladden you. But when an unkind word
is on your lips, when a selfish, angry feeling rises in your heart,
or an unkind, cruel deed is to be done, then will you hear the soft,
low chime of the flower-bell; listen to its warning, let the word
remain unspoken, the deed undone, and in the quiet joy of your own
heart, and the magic perfume of your bosom flower, you will find
a sweet reward."
"O kind and generous Fairy, how can I ever thank you for this lovely
gift!" cried Annie. "I will be true, and listen to my little bell
whenever it may ring. But shall I never see YOU more? Ah! if you
would only stay with me, I should indeed be good."
"I cannot stay now, little Annie," said the Elf, "but when
another Spring comes round, I shall be here again, to see how well
the fairy gift has done its work. And now farewell, dear child;
be faithful to yourself, and the magic flower will never fade."
Then the gentle Fairy folded her little arms around Annie's neck,
laid a soft kiss on her cheek, and, spreading wide her shining wings,
flew singing up among the white clouds floating in the sky.
And little Annie sat among her flowers, and watched with wondering joy
the fairy blossom shining on her breast.
The pleasant days of Spring and Summer passed away, and in
little Annie's garden Autumn flowers were blooming everywhere,
with each day's sun and dew growing still more beautiful and bright;
but the fairy flower, that should have been the loveliest of all,
hung pale and drooping on little Annie's bosom; its fragrance seemed
quite gone, and the clear, low music of its warning chime rang often
in her ear.
When first the Fairy placed it there, she had been pleased with
her new gift, and for a while obeyed the fairy bell, and often tried
to win some fragrance from the flower, by kind and pleasant words
and actions; then, as the Fairy said, she found a sweet reward in
the strange, soft perfume of the magic blossom, as it shone upon her
breast; but selfish thoughts would come to tempt her, she would yield,
and unkind words fell from her lips; and then the flower drooped pale
and scentless, the fairy bell rang mournfully, Annie would forget
her better resolutions, and be again a selfish, wilful little child.
At last she tried no longer, but grew angry with the faithful flower,
and would have torn it from her breast; but the fairy spell still
held it fast, and all her angry words but made it ring a louder,
sadder peal. Then she paid no heed to the silvery music sounding
in her ear, and each day grew still more unhappy, discontented,
and unkind; so, when the Autumn days came round, she was no better
for the gentle Fairy's gift, and longed for Spring, that it might
be returned; for now the constant echo of the mournful music made her
One sunny morning, when the fresh, cool Winds were blowing,
and not a cloud was in the sky, little Annie walked among her flowers,
looking carefully into each, hoping thus to find the Fairy, who alone
could take the magic blossom from her breast. But she lifted up their
drooping leaves, peeped into their dewy cups in vain; no little Elf
lay hidden there, and she turned sadly from them all, saying, "I will
go out into the fields and woods, and seek her there. I will not
listen to this tiresome music more, nor wear this withered flower
longer." So out into the fields she went, where the long grass
rustled as she passed, and timid birds looked at her from their nests;
where lovely wild-flowers nodded in the wind, and opened wide their
fragrant leaves, to welcome in the murmuring bees, while butterflies,
like winged flowers, danced and glittered in the sun.
Little Annie looked, searched, and asked them all if any one
could tell her of the Fairy whom she sought; but the birds looked
wonderingly at her with their soft, bright eyes, and still sang on;
the flowers nodded wisely on their stems, but did not speak,
while butterfly and bee buzzed and fluttered away, one far too busy,
the other too idle, to stay and tell her what she asked.
Then she went through broad fields of yellow grain, that waved
around her like a golden forest; here crickets chirped, grasshoppers
leaped, and busy ants worked, but they could not tell her what
she longed to know.
"Now will I go among the hills," said Annie, "she may be there."
So up and down the green hill-sides went her little feet; long she
searched and vainly she called; but still no Fairy came. Then
by the river-side she went, and asked the gay dragon-flies, and the
cool white lilies, if the Fairy had been there; but the blue waves
rippled on the white sand at her feet, and no voice answered her.
Then into the forest little Annie went; and as she passed along the
dim, cool paths, the wood-flowers smiled up in her face, gay squirrels
peeped at her, as they swung amid the vines, and doves cooed softly
as she wandered by; but none could answer her. So, weary with
her long and useless search, she sat amid the ferns, and feasted
on the rosy strawberries that grew beside her, watching meanwhile
the crimson evening clouds that glowed around the setting sun.
The night-wind rustled through the boughs, rocking the flowers
to sleep; the wild birds sang their evening hymns, and all within
the wood grew calm and still; paler and paler grew the purple light,
lower and lower drooped little Annie's head, the tall ferns bent
to shield her from the dew, the whispering pines sang a soft lullaby;
and when the Autumn moon rose up, her silver light shone on the child,
where, pillowed on green moss, she lay asleep amid the wood-flowers
in the dim old forest.
And all night long beside her stood the Fairy she had sought, and
by elfin spell and charm sent to the sleeping child this dream.
Little Annie dreamed she sat in her own garden, as she had often
sat before, with angry feelings in her heart, and unkind words upon
her lips. The magic flower was ringing its soft warning, but she paid
no heed to anything, save her own troubled thoughts; thus she sat,
when suddenly a low voice whispered in her ear,--
"Little Annie, look and see the evil things that you are cherishing;
I will clothe in fitting shapes the thoughts and feelings that now
dwell within your heart, and you shall see how great their power
becomes, unless you banish them for ever."
Then Annie saw, with fear and wonder, that the angry words she uttered
changed to dark, unlovely forms, each showing plainly from what fault
or passion it had sprung. Some of the shapes had scowling faces and
bright, fiery eyes; these were the spirits of Anger. Others, with
sullen, anxious looks, seemed gathering up all they could reach, and
Annie saw that the more they gained, the less they seemed to have;
and these she knew were shapes of Selfishness. Spirits of Pride were
there, who folded their shadowy garments round them, and turned
scornfully away from all the rest. These and many others
little Annie saw, which had come from her own heart, and taken form
before her eyes.
When first she saw them, they were small and weak; but as she looked
they seemed to grow and gather strength, and each gained a
strange power over her. She could not drive them from her sight,
and they grew ever stronger, darker, and more unlovely to her eyes.
They seemed to cast black shadows over all around, to dim the
sunshine, blight the flowers, and drive away all bright and lovely
things; while rising slowly round her Annie saw a high, dark wall,
that seemed to shut out everything she loved; she dared not move,
or speak, but, with a strange fear at her heart, sat watching the dim
shapes that hovered round her.
Higher and higher rose the shadowy wall, slowly the flowers near her
died, lingeringly the sunlight faded; but at last they both were gone,
and left her all alone behind the gloomy wall. Then the spirits
gathered round her, whispering strange things in her ear, bidding her
obey, for by her own will she had yielded up her heart to be their
home, and she was now their slave. Then she could hear no more, but,
sinking down among the withered flowers, wept sad and bitter tears,
for her lost liberty and joy; then through the gloom there shone
a faint, soft light, and on her breast she saw her fairy flower,
upon whose snow-white leaves her tears lay shining.
Clearer and brighter grew the radiant light, till the evil spirits
turned away to the dark shadow of the wall, and left the child alone.
The light and perfume of the flower seemed to bring new strength
to Annie, and she rose up, saying, as she bent to kiss the blossom
on her breast, "Dear flower, help and guide me now, and I will listen
to your voice, and cheerfully obey my faithful fairy bell."
Then in her dream she felt how hard the spirits tried to tempt
and trouble her, and how, but for her flower, they would have led
her back, and made all dark and dreary as before. Long and hard
she struggled, and tears often fell; but after each new trial,
brighter shone her magic flower, and sweeter grew its breath, while
the spirits lost still more their power to tempt her. Meanwhile,
green, flowering vines crept up the high, dark wall, and hid its
roughness from her sight; and over these she watched most tenderly,
for soon, wherever green leaves and flowers bloomed, the wall beneath
grew weak, and fell apart. Thus little Annie worked and hoped,
till one by one the evil spirits fled away, and in their place
came shining forms, with gentle eyes and smiling lips, who gathered
round her with such loving words, and brought such strength and joy
to Annie's heart, that nothing evil dared to enter in; while slowly
sank the gloomy wall, and, over wreaths of fragrant flowers, she
passed out into the pleasant world again, the fairy gift no longer
pale and drooping, but now shining like a star upon her breast.
Then the low voice spoke again in Annie's sleeping ear, saying,
"The dark, unlovely passions you have looked upon are in your heart;
watch well while they are few and weak, lest they should darken your
whole life, and shut out love and happiness for ever. Remember well
the lesson of the dream, dear child, and let the shining spirits
make your heart their home."
And with that voice sounding in her ear, little Annie woke to find
it was a dream; but like other dreams it did not pass away; and as she
sat alone, bathed in the rosy morning light, and watched the forest
waken into life, she thought of the strange forms she had seen, and,
looking down upon the flower on her breast, she silently resolved to
strive, as she had striven in her dream, to bring back light and
beauty to its faded leaves, by being what the Fairy hoped to render
her, a patient, gentle little child. And as the thought came to her
mind, the flower raised its drooping head, and, looking up into the
earnest little face bent over it, seemed by its fragrant breath to
answer Annie's silent thought, and strengthen her for what might come.
Meanwhile the forest was astir, birds sang their gay good-morrows
from tree to tree, while leaf and flower turned to greet the sun,
who rose up smiling on the world; and so beneath the forest boughs
and through the dewy fields went little Annie home, better and wiser
for her dream.
Autumn flowers were dead and gone, yellow leaves lay rustling on the
ground, bleak winds went whistling through the naked trees, and cold,
white Winter snow fell softly down; yet now, when all without looked
dark and dreary, on little Annie's breast the fairy flower bloomed
more beautiful than ever. The memory of her forest dream had never
passed away, and through trial and temptation she had been true, and
kept her resolution still unbroken; seldom now did the warning bell
sound in her ear, and seldom did the flower's fragrance cease to float
about her, or the fairy light to brighten all whereon it fell.
So, through the long, cold Winter, little Annie dwelt like a sunbeam
in her home, each day growing richer in the love of others, and
happier in herself; often was she tempted, but, remembering her dream,
she listened only to the music of the fairy bell, and the unkind
thought or feeling fled away, the smiling spirits of gentleness
and love nestled in her heart, and all was bright again.
So better and happier grew the child, fairer and sweeter grew the
flower, till Spring came smiling over the earth, and woke the flowers,
set free the streams, and welcomed back the birds; then daily did
the happy child sit among her flowers, longing for the gentle Elf
to come again, that she might tell her gratitude for all the magic
gift had done.
At length, one day, as she sat singing in the sunny nook where
all her fairest flowers bloomed, weary with gazing at the far-off sky
for the little form she hoped would come, she bent to look with joyful
love upon her bosom flower; and as she looked, its folded leaves
spread wide apart, and, rising slowly from the deep white cup,
appeared the smiling face of the lovely Elf whose coming she had
waited for so long.
"Dear Annie, look for me no longer; I am here on your own breast,
for you have learned to love my gift, and it has done its work
most faithfully and well," the Fairy said, as she looked into the
happy child's bright face, and laid her little arms most tenderly
about her neck.
"And now have I brought another gift from Fairy-Land, as a fit reward
for you, dear child," she said, when Annie had told all her gratitude
and love; then, touching the child with her shining wand, the Fairy
bid her look and listen silently.
And suddenly the world seemed changed to Annie; for the air was filled
with strange, sweet sounds, and all around her floated lovely forms.
In every flower sat little smiling Elves, singing gayly as they rocked
amid the leaves. On every breeze, bright, airy spirits came floating
by; some fanned her cheek with their cool breath, and waved her long
hair to and fro, while others rang the flower-bells, and made a
pleasant rustling among the leaves. In the fountain, where the water
danced and sparkled in the sun, astride of every drop she saw merry
little spirits, who plashed and floated in the clear, cool waves, and
sang as gayly as the flowers, on whom they scattered glittering dew.
The tall trees, as their branches rustled in the wind, sang a low,
dreamy song, while the waving grass was filled with little voices
she had never heard before. Butterflies whispered lovely tales in
her ear, and birds sang cheerful songs in a sweet language she had
never understood before. Earth and air seemed filled with beauty
and with music she had never dreamed of until now.
"O tell me what it means, dear Fairy! is it another and a lovelier
dream, or is the earth in truth so beautiful as this?" she cried,
looking with wondering joy upon the Elf, who lay upon the flower
in her breast.
"Yes, it is true, dear child," replied the Fairy, "and few are the
mortals to whom we give this lovely gift; what to you is now so full
of music and of light, to others is but a pleasant summer world;
they never know the language of butterfly or bird or flower, and they
are blind to all that I have given you the power to see. These fair
things are your friends and playmates now, and they will teach you
many pleasant lessons, and give you many happy hours; while the garden
where you once sat, weeping sad and bitter tears, is now brightened
by your own happiness, filled with loving friends by your own kindly
thoughts and feelings; and thus rendered a pleasant summer home
for the gentle, happy child, whose bosom flower will never fade.
And now, dear Annie, I must go; but every Springtime, with the
earliest flowers, will I come again to visit you, and bring
some fairy gift. Guard well the magic flower, that I may find all
fair and bright when next I come."
Then, with a kind farewell, the gentle Fairy floated upward
through the sunny air, smiling down upon the child, until she vanished
in the soft, white clouds, and little Annie stood alone in her
enchanted garden, where all was brightened with the radiant light,
and fragrant with the perfume of her fairy flower.
When Moonlight ceased, Summer-Wind laid down her rose-leaf fan, and,
leaning back in her acorn cup, told this tale of
RIPPLE, THE WATER-SPIRIT.
DOWN in the deep blue sea lived Ripple, a happy little Water-Spirit;
all day long she danced beneath the coral arches, made garlands
of bright ocean flowers, or floated on the great waves that sparkled
in the sunlight; but the pastime that she loved best was lying
in the many-colored shells upon the shore, listening to the low,
murmuring music the waves had taught them long ago; and here
for hours the little Spirit lay watching the sea and sky, while
singing gayly to herself.
But when tempests rose, she hastened down below the stormy billows,
to where all was calm and still, and with her sister Spirits waited
till it should be fair again, listening sadly, meanwhile, to the cries
of those whom the wild waves wrecked and cast into the angry sea,
and who soon came floating down, pale and cold, to the Spirits'
pleasant home; then they wept pitying tears above the lifeless forms,
and laid them in quiet graves, where flowers bloomed, and jewels
sparkled in the sand.
This was Ripple's only grief, and she often thought of those who
sorrowed for the friends they loved, who now slept far down in the dim
and silent coral caves, and gladly would she have saved the lives
of those who lay around her; but the great ocean was far mightier than
all the tender-hearted Spirits dwelling in its bosom. Thus she could
only weep for them, and lay them down to sleep where no cruel waves
could harm them more.
One day, when a fearful storm raged far and wide, and the Spirits saw
great billows rolling like heavy clouds above their heads, and heard
the wild winds sounding far away, down through the foaming waves
a little child came floating to their home; its eyes were closed as if
in sleep, the long hair fell like sea-weed round its pale, cold face,
and the little hands still clasped the shells they had been gathering
on the beach, when the great waves swept it into the troubled sea.
With tender tears the Spirits laid the little form to rest upon its
bed of flowers, and, singing mournful songs, as if to make its sleep
more calm and deep, watched long and lovingly above it, till the storm
had died away, and all was still again.
While Ripple sang above the little child, through the distant roar
of winds and waves she heard a wild, sorrowing voice, that seemed to
call for help. Long she listened, thinking it was but the echo of
their own plaintive song, but high above the music still sounded
the sad, wailing cry. Then, stealing silently away, she glided up
through foam and spray, till, through the parting clouds, the sunlight
shone upon her from the tranquil sky; and, guided by the mournful
sound, she floated on, till, close before her on the beach, she saw
a woman stretching forth her arms, and with a sad, imploring voice
praying the restless sea to give her back the little child it had
so cruelly borne away. But the waves dashed foaming up among the
bare rocks at her feet, mingling their cold spray with her tears,
and gave no answer to her prayer.
When Ripple saw the mother's grief, she longed to comfort her;
so, bending tenderly beside her, where she knelt upon the shore,
the little Spirit told her how her child lay softly sleeping, far down
in a lovely place, where sorrowing tears were shed, and gentle hands
laid garlands over him. But all in vain she whispered kindly words;
the weeping mother only cried,--
"Dear Spirit, can you use no charm or spell to make the waves bring
back my child, as full of life and strength as when they swept him
from my side? O give me back my little child, or let me lie beside
him in the bosom of the cruel sea."
"Most gladly will I help you if I can, though I have little power
to use; then grieve no more, for I will search both earth and sea,
to find some friend who can bring back all you have lost. Watch daily
on the shore, and if I do not come again, then you will know my search
has been in vain. Farewell, poor mother, you shall see your little
child again, if Fairy power can win him back." And with these
cheering words Ripple sprang into the sea; while, smiling through her
tears, the woman watched the gentle Spirit, till her bright crown
vanished in the waves.
When Ripple reached her home, she hastened to the palace of the Queen,
and told her of the little child, the sorrowing mother, and the
promise she had made.
"Good little Ripple," said the Queen, when she had told her all,
"your promise never can be kept; there is no power below the sea
to work this charm, and you can never reach the Fire-Spirits' home,
to win from them a flame to warm the little body into life. I pity
the poor mother, and would most gladly help her; but alas! I am a
Spirit like yourself, and cannot serve you as I long to do."
"Ah, dear Queen! if you had seen her sorrow, you too would seek to
keep the promise I have made. I cannot let her watch for ME in
vain, till I have done my best: then tell me where the Fire-Spirits
dwell, and I will ask of them the flame that shall give life to the
little child and such great happiness to the sad, lonely mother:
tell me the path, and let me go."
"It is far, far away, high up above the sun, where no Spirit ever
dared to venture yet," replied the Queen. "I cannot show the path,
for it is through the air. Dear Ripple, do not go, for you can
never reach that distant place: some harm most surely will befall;
and then how shall we live, without our dearest, gentlest Spirit?
Stay here with us in your own pleasant home, and think more of this,
for I can never let you go."
But Ripple would not break the promise she had made, and besought
so earnestly, and with such pleading words, that the Queen at last
with sorrow gave consent, and Ripple joyfully prepared to go. She,
with her sister Spirits, built up a tomb of delicate, bright-colored
shells, wherein the child might lie, till she should come to wake him
into life; then, praying them to watch most faithfully above it,
she said farewell, and floated bravely forth, on her long, unknown
journey, far away.
"I will search the broad earth till I find a path up to the sun,
or some kind friend who will carry me; for, alas! I have no wings,
and cannot glide through the blue air as through the sea," said Ripple
to herself, as she went dancing over the waves, which bore her swiftly
onward towards a distant shore.
Long she journeyed through the pathless ocean, with no friends
to cheer her, save the white sea-birds who went sweeping by, and
only stayed to dip their wide wings at her side, and then flew
silently away. Sometimes great ships sailed by, and then with
longing eyes did the little Spirit gaze up at the faces that looked
down upon the sea; for often they were kind and pleasant ones, and
she gladly would have called to them and asked them to be friends.
But they would never understand the strange, sweet language that
she spoke, or even see the lovely face that smiled at them above the
waves; her blue, transparent garments were but water to their eyes,
and the pearl chains in her hair but foam and sparkling spray; so,
hoping that the sea would be most gentle with them, silently she
floated on her way, and left them far behind.
At length green hills were seen, and the waves gladly bore the little
Spirit on, till, rippling gently over soft white sand, they left her
on the pleasant shore.
"Ah, what a lovely place it is!" said Ripple, as she passed through
sunny valleys, where flowers began to bloom, and young leaves rustled
on the trees.
"Why are you all so gay, dear birds?" she asked, as their cheerful
voices sounded far and near; "is there a festival over the earth,
that all is so beautiful and bright?"
"Do you not know that Spring is coming? The warm winds whispered it
days ago, and we are learning the sweetest songs, to welcome her
when she shall come," sang the lark, soaring away as the music gushed
from his little throat.
"And shall I see her, Violet, as she journeys over the earth?" asked
"Yes, you will meet her soon, for the sunlight told me she was near;
tell her we long to see her again, and are waiting to welcome her
back," said the blue flower, dancing for joy on her stem, as she
nodded and smiled on the Spirit.
"I will ask Spring where the Fire-Spirits dwell; she travels over
the earth each year, and surely can show me the way," thought Ripple,
as she went journeying on.
Soon she saw Spring come smiling over the earth; sunbeams and breezes
floated before, and then, with her white garments covered with
flowers, with wreaths in her hair, and dew-drops and seeds falling
fast from her hands the beautiful season came singing by.
"Dear Spring, will you listen, and help a poor little Spirit,
who seeks far and wide for the Fire-Spirits' home?" cried Ripple; and
then told why she was there, and begged her to tell what she sought.
"The Fire-Spirits' home is far, far away, and I cannot guide you
there; but Summer is coming behind me," said Spring, "and she may know
better than I. But I will give you a breeze to help you on your way;
it will never tire nor fail, but bear you easily over land and sea.
Farewell, little Spirit! I would gladly do more, but voices are
calling me far and wide, and I cannot stay."
"Many thanks, kind Spring!" cried Ripple, as she floated away on the
breeze; "give a kindly word to the mother who waits on the shore, and
tell her I have not forgotten my vow, but hope soon to see her again."
Then Spring flew on with her sunshine and flowers, and Ripple went
swiftly over hill and vale, till she came to the land where Summer
was dwelling. Here the sun shone warmly down on the early fruit,
the winds blew freshly over fields of fragrant hay, and rustled with
a pleasant sound among the green leaves in the forests; heavy dews
fell softly down at night, and long, bright days brought strength
and beauty to the blossoming earth.
"Now I must seek for Summer," said Ripple, as she sailed slowly
through the sunny sky.
"I am here, what would you with me, little Spirit?" said a musical
voice in her ear; and, floating by her side, she saw a graceful form,
with green robes fluttering in the air, whose pleasant face looked
kindly on her, from beneath a crown of golden sunbeams that cast
a warm, bright glow on all beneath.
Then Ripple told her tale, and asked where she should go; but
"I can tell no more than my young sister Spring where you may find
the Spirits that you seek; but I too, like her, will give a gift to
aid you. Take this sunbeam from my crown; it will cheer and brighten
the most gloomy path through which you pass. Farewell! I shall carry
tidings of you to the watcher by the sea, if in my journey round the
world I find her there."
And Summer, giving her the sunbeam, passed away over the distant
hills, leaving all green and bright behind her.
So Ripple journeyed on again, till the earth below her shone
with yellow harvests waving in the sun, and the air was filled
with cheerful voices, as the reapers sang among the fields or in
the pleasant vineyards, where purple fruit hung gleaming through
the leaves; while the sky above was cloudless, and the changing
forest-trees shone like a many-colored garland, over hill and plain;
and here, along the ripening corn-fields, with bright wreaths of
crimson leaves and golden wheat-ears in her hair and on her purple
mantle, stately Autumn passed, with a happy smile on her calm face,
as she went scattering generous gifts from her full arms.
But when the wandering Spirit came to her, and asked for what she
sought, this season, like the others, could not tell her where to go;
so, giving her a yellow leaf, Autumn said, as she passed on,--
"Ask Winter, little Ripple, when you come to his cold home; he knows
the Fire-Spirits well, for when he comes they fly to the earth,
to warm and comfort those dwelling there; and perhaps he can tell you
where they are. So take this gift of mine, and when you meet his
chilly winds, fold it about you, and sit warm beneath its shelter,
till you come to sunlight again. I will carry comfort to the
patient woman, as my sisters have already done, and tell her you are
Then on went the never-tiring Breeze, over forest, hill, and field,
till the sky grew dark, and bleak winds whistled by. Then Ripple,
folded in the soft, warm leaf, looked sadly down on the earth,
that seemed to lie so desolate and still beneath its shroud of snow,
and thought how bitter cold the leaves and flowers must be; for the
little Water-Spirit did not know that Winter spread a soft white
covering above their beds, that they might safely sleep below till
Spring should waken them again. So she went sorrowfully on, till
Winter, riding on the strong North-Wind, came rushing by, with
a sparkling ice-crown in his streaming hair, while from beneath his
crimson cloak, where glittering frost-work shone like silver threads,
he scattered snow-flakes far and wide.
"What do you seek with me, fair little Spirit, that you come
so bravely here amid my ice and snow? Do not fear me; I am warm
at heart, though rude and cold without," said Winter, looking kindly
on her, while a bright smile shone like sunlight on his pleasant face,
as it glowed and glistened in the frosty air.
When Ripple told him why she had come, he pointed upward, where the
sunlight dimly shone through the heavy clouds, saying,--
"Far off there, beside the sun, is the Fire-Spirits' home; and the
only path is up, through cloud and mist. It is a long, strange path,
for a lonely little Spirit to be going; the Fairies are wild, wilful
things, and in their play may harm and trouble you. Come back with
me, and do not go this dangerous journey to the sky. I'll gladly
bear you home again, if you will come."
But Ripple said, "I cannot turn back now, when I am nearly there.
The Spirits surely will not harm me, when I tell them why I am come;
and if I win the flame, I shall be the happiest Spirit in the sea,
for my promise will be kept, and the poor mother happy once again.
So farewell, Winter! Speak to her gently, and tell her to hope still,
for I shall surely come."
"Adieu, little Ripple! May good angels watch above you! Journey
bravely on, and take this snow-flake that will never melt, as MY
gift," Winter cried, as the North-Wind bore him on, leaving a cloud
of falling snow behind.
"Now, dear Breeze," said Ripple, "fly straight upward through the air,
until we reach the place we have so long been seeking; Sunbeam shall
go before to light the way, Yellow-leaf shall shelter me from heat and
rain, while Snow-flake shall lie here beside me till it comes of use.
So farewell to the pleasant earth, until we come again. And now away,
up to the sun!"
When Ripple first began her airy journey, all was dark and dreary;
heavy clouds lay piled like hills around her, and a cold mist
filled the air but the Sunbeam, like a star, lit up the way, the leaf
lay warmly round her, and the tireless wind went swiftly on. Higher
and higher they floated up, still darker and darker grew the air,
closer the damp mist gathered, while the black clouds rolled and
tossed, like great waves, to and fro.
"Ah!" sighed the weary little Spirit, "shall I never see the light
again, or feel the warm winds on my cheek? It is a dreary way indeed,
and but for the Seasons' gifts I should have perished long ago; but
the heavy clouds MUST pass away at last, and all be fair again.
So hasten on, good Breeze, and bring me quickly to my journey's end."
Soon the cold vapors vanished from her path, and sunshine shone
upon her pleasantly; so she went gayly on, till she came up among
the stars, where many new, strange sights were to be seen. With
wondering eyes she looked upon the bright worlds that once seemed dim
and distant, when she gazed upon them from the sea; but now they moved
around her, some shining with a softly radiant light, some circled
with bright, many-colored rings, while others burned with a red,
angry glare. Ripple would have gladly stayed to watch them longer,
for she fancied low, sweet voices called her, and lovely faces
seemed to look upon her as she passed; but higher up still, nearer
to the sun, she saw a far-off light, that glittered like a brilliant
crimson star, and seemed to cast a rosy glow along the sky.
"The Fire-Spirits surely must be there, and I must stay no longer
here," said Ripple. So steadily she floated on, till straight
before her lay a broad, bright path, that led up to a golden arch,
beyond which she could see shapes flitting to and fro. As she drew
near, brighter glowed the sky, hotter and hotter grew the air, till
Ripple's leaf-cloak shrivelled up, and could no longer shield her from
the heat; then she unfolded the white snow-flake, and, gladly wrapping
the soft, cool mantle round her, entered through the shining arch.
Through the red mist that floated all around her, she could see
high walls of changing light, where orange, blue, and violet flames
went flickering to and fro, making graceful figures as they danced
and glowed; and underneath these rainbow arches, little Spirits
glided, far and near, wearing crowns of fire, beneath which flashed
their wild, bright eyes; and as they spoke, sparks dropped quickly
from their lips, and Ripple saw with wonder, through their garments
of transparent light, that in each Fairy's breast there burned a
steady flame, that never wavered or went out.
As thus she stood, the Spirits gathered round her, and their
hot breath would have scorched her, but she drew the snow-cloak
closer round her, saying,--
"Take me to your Queen, that I may tell her why I am here, and ask
for what I seek."
So, through long halls of many-colored fire, they led her to
a Spirit fairer than the rest, whose crown of flames waved to and fro
like golden plumes, while, underneath her violet robe, the light
within her breast glowed bright and strong.
"This is our Queen," the Spirits said, bending low before her,
as she turned her gleaming eyes upon the stranger they had brought.
Then Ripple told how she had wandered round the world in search
of them, how the Seasons had most kindly helped her on, by giving
Sun-beam, Breeze, Leaf, and Flake; and how, through many dangers, she
had come at last to ask of them the magic flame that could give life
to the little child again.
When she had told her tale, the spirits whispered earnestly
among themselves, while sparks fell thick and fast with every word;
at length the Fire-Queen said aloud,--
"We cannot give the flame you ask, for each of us must take a part
of it from our own breasts; and this we will not do, for the brighter
our bosom-fire burns, the lovelier we are. So do not ask us for this
thing; but any other gift we will most gladly give, for we feel kindly
towards you, and will serve you if we may."
But Ripple asked no other boon, and, weeping sadly, begged them
not to send her back without the gift she had come so far to gain.
"O dear, warm-hearted Spirits! give me each a little light from your
own breasts, and surely they will glow the brighter for this kindly
deed; and I will thankfully repay it if I can." As thus she spoke,
the Queen, who had spied out a chain of jewels Ripple wore upon her
"If you will give me those bright, sparkling stones, I will bestow on
you a part of my own flame; for we have no such lovely things to wear
about our necks, and I desire much to have them. Will you give it me
for what I offer, little Spirit?"
Joyfully Ripple gave her the chain; but, as soon as it touched her
hand, the jewels melted like snow, and fell in bright drops to the
ground; at this the Queen's eyes flashed, and the Spirits gathered
angrily about poor Ripple, who looked sadly at the broken chain,
and thought in vain what she could give, to win the thing she longed
so earnestly for.
"I have many fairer gems than these, in my home below the sea;
and I will bring all I can gather far and wide, if you will grant
my prayer, and give me what I seek," she said, turning gently to
the fiery Spirits, who were hovering fiercely round her.
"You must bring us each a jewel that will never vanish from our hands
as these have done," they said, "and we will each give of our fire;
and when the child is brought to life, you must bring hither all the
jewels you can gather from the depths of the sea, that we may try them
here among the flames; but if they melt away like these, then we shall
keep you prisoner, till you give us back the light we lend. If you
consent to this, then take our gift, and journey home again; but
fail not to return, or we shall seek you out."
And Ripple said she would consent, though she knew not if the jewels
could be found; still, thinking of the promise she had made, she
forgot all else, and told the Spirits what they asked most surely
should be done. So each one gave a little of the fire from their
breasts, and placed the flame in a crystal vase, through which
it shone and glittered like a star.
Then, bidding her remember all she had promised them, they led her
to the golden arch, and said farewell.
So, down along the shining path, through mist and cloud, she
travelled back; till, far below, she saw the broad blue sea she left
so long ago.
Gladly she plunged into the clear, cool waves, and floated back
to her pleasant home; where the Spirits gathered joyfully about her,
listening with tears and smiles, as she told all her many wanderings,
and showed the crystal vase that she had brought.
"Now come," said they, "and finish the good work you have so bravely
carried on." So to the quiet tomb they went, where, like a marble
image, cold and still, the little child was lying. Then Ripple placed
the flame upon his breast, and watched it gleam and sparkle there,
while light came slowly back into the once dim eyes, a rosy glow shone
over the pale face, and breath stole through the parted lips; still
brighter and warmer burned the magic fire, until the child awoke
from his long sleep, and looked in smiling wonder at the faces bending
Then Ripple sang for joy, and, with her sister Spirits, robed the
child in graceful garments, woven of bright sea-weed, while in
his shining hair they wreathed long garlands of their fairest flowers,
and on his little arms hung chains of brilliant shells.
"Now come with us, dear child," said Ripple; "we will bear you safely
up into the sunlight and the pleasant air; for this is not your home,
and yonder, on the shore, there waits a loving friend for you."
So up they went, through foam and spray, till on the beach, where
the fresh winds played among her falling hair, and the waves broke
sparkling at her feet, the lonely mother still stood, gazing wistfully
across the sea. Suddenly, upon a great blue billow that came rolling
in, she saw the Water-Spirits smiling on her; and high aloft, in their
white gleaming arms, her child stretched forth his hands to welcome
her; while the little voice she so longed to hear again cried gayly,--
"See, dear mother, I am come; and look what lovely things the
gentle Spirits gave, that I might seem more beautiful to you."
Then gently the great wave broke, and rolled back to the sea, leaving
Ripple on the shore, and the child clasped in his mother's arms.
"O faithful little Spirit! I would gladly give some precious gift
to show my gratitude for this kind deed; but I have nothing save
this chain of little pearls: they are the tears I shed, and the sea
has changed them thus, that I might offer them to you," the happy
mother said, when her first joy was passed, and Ripple turned to go.
"Yes, I will gladly wear your gift, and look upon it as my fairest
ornament," the Water-Spirit said; and with the pearls upon her breast,
she left the shore, where the child was playing gayly to and fro,
and the mother's glad smile shone upon her, till she sank beneath
And now another task was to be done; her promise to the
Fire-Spirits must be kept. So far and wide she searched among
the caverns of the sea, and gathered all the brightest jewels
shining there; and then upon her faithful Breeze once more went
journeying through the sky.
The Spirits gladly welcomed her, and led her to the Queen,
before whom she poured out the sparkling gems she had gathered
with such toil and care; but when the Spirits tried to form them
into crowns, they trickled from their hands like colored drops of dew,
and Ripple saw with fear and sorrow how they melted one by one away,
till none of all the many she had brought remained. Then the
Fire-Spirits looked upon her angrily, and when she begged them
to be merciful, and let her try once more, saying,--
"Do not keep me prisoner here. I cannot breathe the flames that
give you life, and but for this snow-mantle I too should melt away,
and vanish like the jewels in your hands. O dear Spirits, give me
some other task, but let me go from this warm place, where all is
strange and fearful to a Spirit of the sea."
They would not listen; and drew nearer, saying, while bright sparks
showered from their lips, "We will not let you go, for you have
promised to be ours if the gems you brought proved worthless; so fling
away this cold white cloak, and bathe with us in the fire fountains,
and help us bring back to our bosom flames the light we gave you
for the child."
Then Ripple sank down on the burning floor, and felt that her life
was nearly done; for she well knew the hot air of the fire-palace
would be death to her. The Spirits gathered round, and began to lift
her mantle off; but underneath they saw the pearl chain, shining with
a clear, soft light, that only glowed more brightly when they laid
their hands upon it.
"O give us this!" cried they; "it is far lovelier than all the rest,
and does not melt away like them; and see how brilliantly it glitters
in our hands. If we may but have this, all will be well, and you
are once more free."
And Ripple, safe again beneath her snow flake, gladly gave
the chain to them; and told them how the pearls they now placed
proudly on their breasts were formed of tears, which but for them
might still be flowing. Then the Spirits smiled most kindly on her,
and would have put their arms about her, and have kissed her cheek,
but she drew back, telling them that every touch of theirs was
like a wound to her.
"Then, if we may not tell our pleasure so, we will show it in a
different way, and give you a pleasant journey home. Come out with
us," the Spirits said, "and see the bright path we have made for you."
So they led her to the lofty gate, and here, from sky to earth,
a lovely rainbow arched its radiant colors in the sun.
"This is indeed a pleasant road," said Ripple. "Thank you,
friendly Spirits, for your care; and now farewell. I would gladly
stay yet longer, but we cannot dwell together, and I am longing sadly
for my own cool home. Now Sunbeam, Breeze, Leaf, and Flake, fly back
to the Seasons whence you came, and tell them that, thanks to their
kind gifts, Ripple's work at last is done."
Then down along the shining pathway spread before her, the happy
little Spirit glided to the sea.
"Thanks, dear Summer-Wind," said the Queen; "we will remember the
lessons you have each taught us, and when next we meet in Fern Dale,
you shall tell us more. And now, dear Trip, call them from the lake,
for the moon is sinking fast, and we must hasten home."
The Elves gathered about their Queen, and while the rustling leaves
were still, and the flowers' sweet voices mingled with their own,
they sang this
The moonlight fades from flower and tree,
And the stars dim one by one;
The tale is told, the song is sung,
And the Fairy feast is done.
The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers,
And sings to them, soft and low.
The early birds erelong will wake:
'T is time for the Elves to go.
O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass,
Unseen by mortal eye,
And send sweet dreams, as we lightly float
Through the quiet moonlit sky;--
For the stars' soft eyes alone may see,
And the flowers alone may know,
The feasts we hold, the tales we tell:
So 't is time for the Elves to go.
From bird, and blossom, and bee,
We learn the lessons they teach;
And seek, by kindly deeds, to win
A loving friend in each.
And though unseen on earth we dwell,
Sweet voices whisper low,
And gentle hearts most joyously greet
The Elves where'er they go.
When next we meet in the Fairy dell,
May the silver moon's soft light
Shine then on faces gay as now,
And Elfin hearts as light.
Now spread each wing, for the eastern sky
With sunlight soon will glow.
The morning star shall light us home:
Farewell! for the Elves must go.
As the music ceased, with a soft, rustling sound the Elves
spread their shining wings, and flew silently over the sleeping earth;
the flowers closed their bright eyes, the little winds were still,
for the feast was over, and the Fairy lessons ended.
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