The Iceberg Express
The Iceberg Express
by David Cory
The Magic Comb
One bright morning in August little Mary Louise put on her hat and went
trudging across the meadow to the beach.
It was the first time she had been trusted out alone since the family
had moved to the seashore for the summer; for Mary Louise was a little
girl, nothing about her was large, except her round gray eyes.
There was a pale mist on the far-off sea, and up around the sun were
white clouds edged with the hues of pinks and violets. The tide was
coming in, and the waves, little at first, but growing larger every
moment, were crowding up, along the sand and pebbles, laughing,
winking and whispering, as they tumbled over each other, like thousands
of children hurrying home from school.
Who was down there under the blue water, with the hoarse, hollow voice,
urging and pushing them across the beach to her feet? And what was
there beneath the sea, and beyond the sea, so deep, so broad and so
dim, away off where the white ships, that looked smaller than seabirds,
were gliding out and in?
But while Mary Louise stood still and wondered, there came a low
rippling laugh to her ear.
A little distance down the beach a girl, somewhat older than herself,
rested on the beach. She evidently was tired from swimming, for she
lay half in the water and half on the warm sand, her face resting on
her upturned palms, looking at Mary Louise with a smile, which seemed
to say: "Why don't you come over and comb my hair?"
Indeed, this must have been exactly what she meant, for she held out
a pretty pearl comb until Mary Louise could resist no longer.
Little Mary Louise had never before seen such beautiful long hair.
It spread like a scarf from the girl's shoulders down upon the sand.
Mary Louise had forgotten that there were mermaids, and that mermaids
always had most beautiful hair, and that they always combed it with
"Have you been swimming?" asked Mary Louise.
"Yes, a long swim," answered the little mermaid, and she gave a sudden
kick in the water with her little feet, or, should I say, with her
small fin-tail, which sent the spray flying.
"Oh, you're a mermaid!" exclaimed Mary Louise, surprised and delighted
at her unexpected discovery. "I saw your finny tail. Do you like
tails better than feet?"
"I never had feet," said the little mermaid, "so I can't say, but I
should think they'd be very nice to walk on."
"Yes, if you go to the mountains, as we did last summer," answered
Mary Louise, "but you don't have to climb hills in the ocean."
"Perhaps you don't know there are mountains in the sea," said the little
mermaid. "Of course, you have seen nothing but their tops. What is
that little rocky ledge over yonder, where the white lighthouse stands,
but the stony top of a hill rising from the bottom of the sea? And
what are those pretty green islands, with their clusters of trees
and grassy slopes, but the summits of hills lifted out of the water?"
"Oh!" said Mary Louise, with a gasp. "You do know geography, don't
you? Is it pretty, away down there under the waves?" she added
The mermaid smiled very sweetly as she answered, "Yes, it is. There
are many wonderful things to see, and many strange beautiful things
to hear under the sea! I will comb your hair with my magic comb,"
and she ran the pearly comb gently through Mary Louise's hair.
"Over the sea the white ships sail,
Out through the mist and the rollicking gale,
While deep below the mermaids swim
With their finny tails so neat and trim.
So please, little magic comb, don't fail
To give Mary Louise a mermaid tail."
And the more she combed the longer grew the pretty curls, until, to
the astonishment of Mary Louise, she found her hair trailing down
to her very feet. The breeze suddenly blew it to one side, and there
on the sand, instead of her two little shoes, was a mermaid's tail,
with a flippy-floppy fin on the end!
"Come with me," said the mermaid, and without a moment's hesitation
Mary Louise followed her into the water and out beyond the breakers,
swimming as easily as if she had always been a little mermaid, instead
of a girl who wore tan shoes.
"Where are we going?" asked Mary Louise, as the dim line of the shore
disappeared and there was nothing in sight but the great, restless
The mermaid did not answer, but looked about intently, as if trying
to find something.
"What are you looking for?" asked Mary Louise, for she was a curious
little girl, and forgot one question as soon as she asked another.
"Oh, there it is!" exclaimed the mermaid. "Come with me. Hold your
hands out before you like this and dive down!"
"But where are we going?" again asked Mary Louise as they sank lower
and lower in the sea.
"Oh, I forgot," answered the mermaid, turning with a smile to her
little companion; "I was so busy looking for the subway entrance that
I forgot your question."
"Goodness!" cried Mary Louise. "I didn't know there was a subway in
"To be sure," answered the mermaid. "The track lies along the bottom
of the ocean. It's not a railroad train we're going to take, but a
water train that comes all the way from the Northern seas, sweeping
on like a river in the sea. Wait till we get down there. You'll
see how fast it goes."
Mary Louise was too astonished to speak.
"The Pullman cars," continued the mermaid, "are icebergs. They come
from the North every summer to take a trip South."
"Whew!" shivered Mary Louise. "I think we ar near one now, for I
feel quite cold."
Sure enough, she was right, for there close at hand was a great white
"All aboard!" shouted a big polar bear. "Watch your step!"
The mermaid helped Mary Louise to slide on a projecting ledge, and
off they went.
"Now we can enjoy the scenery," laughed the mermaid, as she arranged
her tail in an artistic curve and brushed back her hair, which had
been swept over her eyes by the swift action of the water.
"The train never stops, you know, until it reaches its destination,
but that need not interfere with our getting off any time we please
should you wish to visit any pretty spot we pass on our journey."
Just at that moment there was a tremendous crash and Mary Louise
found herself thrown off into the water, while a muffled roar rolled
through the depths of the ocean.
The Coral Palace
"Why, the ocean is full of cracked ice!" exclaimed Mary Louise, as
she and the mermaid rose to the surface and looked about them. "I
wonder what it was that caused such a tremendous crash?"
"Perhaps the Whale Ice Trust is after a big ice supply," replied the
mermaid with a laugh. "The ocean depths are no longer a quiet place
since this dreadful hot weather set in. Just the other day I heard
the King of the Mermen say that they were about to send a note of
protest to Neptune for violating the laws of Merland!"
"I don't know much about it," said Mary Louise, "except that it's very
inconvenient to have one's voyage disturbed in such a way. What are
we going to do now?"
"How would you like to visit the Court of the Mer King?" asked the
"Oh, lovely!" cried Mary Louise. "I've never met any kinds, although
I've read about them in fairy stories."
"Come along then," said the mermaid. "Follow me straight down, for I
think we are not very far from the Coral Palace, where King Seaphus
Placing the palms of her hands together diving fashion, she gave her
pretty tail a kick-off, and away she went, head downward, through
Mary Louise followed her example, somewhat surprised at the ease with
which she executed this difficult maneuver.
In a short time they found themselves on the bottom of the ocean.
In the distance could be seen the dim outline of a magnificent castle
of pink and white coral. Leading up to it was a wide highway, flanked
on either side with beautiful sea-grass, and dotted here and there,
like milestones, stood columns of beautiful coral. Banks of exquisite
mother-of-pearl rose at intervals along the way; water plants of
various hues grew in wild profusion.
"Why, it's very much like the earth," exclaimed Mary Louise, "only
one doesn't walk, and its not dusty, and--and it's not hot and
"No, indeed!" said the mermaid. "But sometimes we have a pest of
water gnats that are worse than mosquitoes, and we have to put up
netting on our bedroom windows to keep them out."
As she finished speaking they approached the door of the castle, on
which she knocked with a flap of her finny tail. It was immediately
opened by a merman dressed in the uniform of a court page. "What
can I do for you, Your Highness?" he asked, bowing low.
"Why, are you a princess?" asked Mary Louise in surprise, turning
quickly to the mermaid and forgetting for the moment that they were
on the steps of a real merman's castle.
The little mermaid only laughed in reply, and taking Mary Louise by
the hand led her through the coral doors to King Seaphus.
His Majesty was seated on a throne of pearl, studded with many precious
stones. A long emerald robe fell from his shoulders and on his head
rested a magnificent crown set with glittering jewels, which gleamed
and sparkled in the dim light of the royal chamber.
"Ah, my daughter, whom have you here?" he asked, leaning from the
throne and gazing intently at little Mary Louise. "Methinks she is
a mermaidized mortal!" At which the King laughed loudly, for he was
very fond of coining words and was busily engaged, when his state
duties did not interfere, in compiling a new dictionary.
"You are right, Father Seaphus," replied his beautiful daughter.
"Let me introduce little Mary Louise."
The King rose graciously and extended his royal right hand. Mary
Louise made a low curtsey, finding it much easier now that she was
a mermaid to perform this little act of graciousness on account of
the flexibility of her tail.
Legs, of course, are indispensable for walking; but, then, in these
days of new inventions, when the air is invaded by wing, and the
earth traversed by wheels, and the depths of the waters by mechanical
fins, walking may soon become a lost art! Something like this may
have flitted through her mind, but she only answered in a trembling
voice, "How do you do, Your Majesty!"
"You are welcome, 'Mermaid Mary,' to our Kingdom of the Sea," he
replied. "I hope you will enjoy your stay with us." So saying, he
gallantly lifted his gold crown as little Mary Louise made another
"Let us dress for dinner," said the mermaid.
They swam quickly upstairs between two balustrades of lovely coral
to her bedroom.
It was just like fairy-land; at least, it seemed so to little Mary
Louise, as she looked about the pretty room. In one corner stood a
beautiful bed of mother-of-pearl, hung with varied colored sea grass
for curtains. Sea moss made it as soft as down. In fact, it seemed
almost softer to Mary Louise, who by this time was very sleepy. She
rested her tired little body upon the cushions and in a few short
seconds was sound asleep. The princess mermaid looked at her with
loving eyes, while she sang very low and sweetly:
"Sleep, little sister, for when you awake,
We'll have a fine dinner of fishes and cake!"
I think the mermaid took somewhat after her royal father for she
often spoke in rhyme, which she composed as she talked, while his
great delight, as has been mentioned before, was to coin a new word
for his dictionary.
Leaving Mary Louise to her slumbers, the princess mermaid sat herself
down before her mirror and combed her hair. Presently, she went over
to her wardrobe and took out a beautiful shimmery pink shawl. What
it was made of I cannot tell, except that it shivered and quivered
with little colors like a rainbow. Perhaps it was made of changeable
At any rate, Mary Louise, who at that moment opened her eyes, thought
it was the most exquisite thing she had ever seen.
"Is it really for me? Is it really?" she asked with a cry of delight,
as the mermaid came toward her.
"Of course it is, my dear," replied the mermaid princess," and as soon
as you have put it on, and combed your hair--you needn't wash your
hands and face, you know--the banquet will be ready."
Mary Louise clapped her hands and hopped, or, rather, flopped about,
so happy was she to receive such a gift in the depths of the sea.
When she was dressed in the lovely shawl, and a beautiful
mother-of-pearl comb fastened in her hair, the princess mermaid declared
she looked "too sweet for anything!" Then they floated down, arm in
arm, to the great dining hall.
The great dining hall of King Seaphus was considered by all the
inhabitants of Merland--that is, all those who had been lucky enough
to have seen its splendor--to be the most magnificent of its kind
The dining table, or banquet board, as it was called, was made of
mother-of-pearl. The pale, shimmery cloth was woven from the most
delicate of sea-grasses. The gold and silver plates shone with a
strange luster, and the goblets, fashioned of the thinnest and most
exquisite pearl, gave the impression that they were strange sea lilies.
King Seaphus seated himself majestically at th head of the banquet
board, and little Mary Louise was shown the place on his right. At the
other end sat the Mermaid Princess. Mermen in dark green liveries
served the meal. But what delighted and interested Mary Louise the
most was the way in which the food was served. Instead of ordinary,
everyday dishes, it appeared in little airtight boats, which the
servants guided dexterously to the table, and when opened, the steam
escaped in hundreds of little bubbles that took on all the hues of
the rainbow. These slowly ascended through the pale green water
until they reached the surface, where they probably floated off in
the air, until they burst, like fairy soap-bubbles.
All kinds of delicious fish, little pink and white crabs, goldfish,
luscious oysters, and, finally, coral-candy, made up the different
courses of the dinner. When it was over and the coffee was served
in a beautiful room adjoining, King Seaphus smoked a big cigar, which,
to Mary Louise's amazement, glowed and burned like any ordinary
Havana her father smoked at home.
After King Seaphus had smoked away in perfect silence for some time,
he turned to Mary Louise and asked:
"Where were you going, my dear, when you met my daughter?"
"Oh, nowhere in particular," replied little Mary Louise quickly. "You
see, I was playing on the beach when I saw the Princess,
"Then I combed her hair with my magic comb," said the Princess, coming
to the relief of little Mary Louise, who was very much embarrassed by
the question. You see, she was not at all accustomed to hold
conversation with royalty, and to be talking to a Merman King was,
perhaps, even more disconcerting.
"We took the subway," continued his daughter, "we caught the Iceberg
Express, and, well, here we are."
"So I see," said the King.
Mary Louise gave a giggle and, forgetting her embarrassment, exclaimed,
"And just as we were safe on board, after the Polar Bear porter had
told us to 'watch our step,' there was an awful explosion, and we
found ourselves floating about in the midst of a lot of cracked ice."
"Indeed," exclaimed King Seaphus, "this is the second time in the last
month we've had an accident on the Sea Bottom Subway. I must call
in my Prime Minister and have an investigation begun at once."
Pulling vigorously on a beautifully braided sea-grass rope, he awaited
the coming of a page. Little Mary Louise heard the far-off tinkle
of the bell, and presently the Mer-bell-boy appeared.
"Summon his most excellent self, the Prime Minister," commanded King
The Mer-boy page glided away and presently appeared, deferentially
escorting the Prime Minister. The latter was a very distinguished
looking person. His long, white beard was parted gracefully in the
center, no doubt by the action of the water as he swam up to where
the King sat. As befitted so important an official, he was clad in
a long, red robe, which reached nearly to the end of his fin-tail.
His head was adorned with a crimson cap and tassel made of the softest
"What is your majesty's command?" he asked, bending low before King
Seaphus. The King did not reply for a moment. He was a wise King,
and thought for several minutes before he spoke. This made the Prime
Minister fidget about on his tail. If he had been a Prime Minister
of any land, and not of the sea, he probably would have stood first
on one leg and then on the other, but, as he had no feet, he shifted
about uneasily on his fin-tail until the King spoke.
"I hear there has been another wreck on the Sea Bottom Subway."
The Prime Minister coughed, and little bubbles rose from the end of
his nose, the sight of which almost caused Mary Louise to giggle
aloud. But she remembered her manners in time and saved herself the
mortification of such a breach of etiquette.
"Yes, Your Royal Highness," admitted the Prime Minister, "but I
understand it was not at all serious. One of the Iceberg cars was
demolished, and one of the Polar Bear porters, I believe, although
I am not certain at the moment, was slightly injured. None of the
passengers was hurt, with the possible exception of a Star Fish, who
complained of a slight pain in one of his five fingers--I forget,
for the moment, which finger."
"Is the road again in operation?" inquired King Seaphus.
"Not yet, your Royal Highness," replied the Prime Minister, "but I
have every assurance from the management that trains will be running,
at the very latest, by tomorrow morning."
"You will have to spend the night with us, then," said the Princess,
turning to Mary Louise, with a smile. "You know," she added in a
whisper, "I'm glad there was an accident; otherwise you would not have
come to our castle, and we might not have grown to be such friends."
"Don't whisper, my daughter," said King Seaphus. "Your mother will
think, should she hear that you had been so rude during her absence,
that she cannot leave home to even visit her mother for a week without
your becoming demoralized."
The Prime Minister coughed behind his hand, while the little bubbles
rose again through the pale green of the sea-water. Mary Louise
felt quite embarrassed, and the little Princess blushed. King Seaphus
looked sternly at all three.
Just then a loud knocking was heard on the castle door. "Billows and
breakers!" exclaimed the King, "what is that?"
King Seaphus waited anxiously as the knocking on the castle door
continued. "Billows and breakers," he exclaimed again, expectantly
waiting for the visitor or visitors to be announced.
Just as his impatience was nearly exhausted, a court page appeared
escorting a Polar Bear and a Star Fish. Mary Louise at once recognized
the former as the porter on the Iceberg Express. The visitors bowed
respectfully to the King, and the little Star Fish winked one of his
five small eyes at the Princess. The Polar Bear smiled at Mary Louise,
but said nothing.
"Well," exclaimed King Seaphus, after a brief silence, "you honor us
by your presence, but, what do you want?"
"I want redress," cried the Star Fish in a queer little gurgle.
"You want what?" thundered the King, realizing now that his visitors
were looking for damages on account of the accident. This naturally
worried him, as he was a heavy stockholder in the Sea Bottom Subway.
"One of my five fingers has been badly bruised," continued the Star
Fish, "for which reason I shall sue for damages."
"I have suffered internal injuries," said the Polar Bear, speaking up
quickly, encouraged by the independent manner of the Star Fish.
"Internal injuries!" laughed the King; "infernal fiddlesticks, I have
heard that tune before!"
"Your Highness," interposed the Star Fish, "my condition is quite
serious. As I have but five fingers, to have one of them injured is
far worse than to have one of my feet, for of the latter I have
The King looked at him inquiringly. Although he was Monarch of the
Sea, perhaps he did not know that a Star Fish, while he has hundreds
of little feet, has no legs at all. Even his feet do not move as
ordinary feet do, one before the other; they can only cling like little
suckers pulling him slowly along from place to place.
"Neither am I like the everyday common fish. My mouth is in the center
of my body, and I have a little scarlet-colored sieve through which
I strain the sea-water. I couldn't think of swallowing sea-water
with everything that might be floating in it."
"Holy mackerel!" exclaimed the King, under his breath, "I'd better
settle with this individual as quickly as possible. He'll drive me
crazy if I don't, and maybe, cause me no end of trouble."
"Your Royal Highness," began the Polar Bear, "I was hit by a large
piece of ice in the chest."
"In the ice-chest or in the ice-box?" inquired the King, his humor
getting the better of his anger, for he could never let go by an
opportunity to make a pun.
"Your Royal Highness," interrupted the Star Fish, "I wish to state
that I took this little trip for my health. My doctor told me I must
go South. So I boarded the Iceberg Express at Cape Cod, intending
to spend the summer in the mountains."
"In the mountains!" roared King Seaphus. "You don't go to the seashore
for the mountains! You should have gone inland to the White Mountains
or the Catskills--those are well-known summer resorts."
"May it please your Royal Highness," said the Star Fish, stroking his
beautiful purple coat with on eof his five little finger, "I was bound
for the Caribbean Sea, which is as full of mountains as New Hampshire
and Vermont are. Of course, none of them have caps of snow like Mount
Washington, for it's nice and warm in the Caribbean Sea; that's the
reason I want to go there. But, if the Iceberg Express is wrecked,
how am I to continue my journey?"
"Sufferin' mackerel!" exclaimed King Seaphus; this time he uttered
the words aloud and not under his breath, "Sufferin' mackerel! I'll
see that you get there, if I have to charter a special train!"
"But what about my finger?" asked the Star Fish.
"Oh, I'll reimburse you for your ticket," exclaimed the King. "And
now, what can I do for you?" he asked, turning to the Polar Bear.
"Train Porters have very low wages," replied the Polar Bear.
"Very well," answered King Seaphus, " I will see that yours are
doubled," and he waved the two visitors away with a haughty gesture.
The court page then escorted them to the door.
"You heard what I said," cried the King, turning to the Prime Minister.
"Now go to the General Manager of the Sea Bottom Subway and inform
him of my wishes. Also that he must have an express ready to start
for the Caribbean Sea tomorrow morning without fail."
The Prime Minister bowed respectfully and departed.
"Whew!" exclaimed the King, smiling at Mary Louise and his daughter
as soon as the three were again alone, "if that Star Fish wasn't a
walking encyclopedia! He had everything at his five finger-ends!"
"I think I'll take the same train as the little Star Fish," said
Mary Louise, "for I've never been to the Caribbean Sea and I think
it must be a lovely place."
"May I go with Mary Louise?" asked the Mermaid Princess.
"Well, I don't see why not," answered her father, after a pause, "only
you must get back inside of a fortnight, for your mother will be home
by that time."
"I must see that my mother-of-pearl trunk is packed," said the Princess.
"Come with me, Mary Louise." Then curtseying to the King, they swam
up the water stairway to the room of the little mermaid.
The next morning found Mary Louise and the Mermaid Princess waiting
anxiously at the station for the Iceberg Express. On the platform
they recognized among the passengers their little friend, the Star
Fish. In a few minutes the express thundered into the station. "Watch
your step!" yelled the Polar Bear Porter as he helped Mary Louise
and the Princess on board. Then with a rush and a roar the Iceberg
Express started on its journey for the Mountains of the Sea!
Mary Louise and the Mermaid Princess settled themselves back comfortably
in their seats and looked about them. The Iceberg Express certainly
had every convenience. Of course almost everything was made of ice.
But, then, so is most everything in a Pullman car made of steel.
There was really very little difference except that the ice was much
prettier, it was so clear and white, and the moss cushions that covered
the seats were soft and springy. The crystal chandeliers that hung
from the ceiling were resplendent with little twinkling lights, and
the curtains at the ice-paned windows were made of the thinnest spun
ice threads. Even the little drinking cups that were packed in a
column, one within the other, at the ice water tank, were made of thin
"I don't feel the least bit cold," said Mary Louise, turning with a
laugh to her mermaid friend. "Do you?"
"Not the least bit," she replied.
"It's so different, though, from the first train we were on," continued
Mary Louise. "It isn't anything like it really. Why, the first
train was only an ordinary iceberg, don't you remember?"
"That's because we never went inside," replied the mermaid. "We
didn't have the opportunity, the explosion came so soon."
"That's so," agreed Mary Louise. "The only think I distinctly remember
is the Polar Bear porter calling out to be careful, and then the awful
explosion. After that we were in the water and there was nothing
around us but cracked ice."
"Dining car in the rear," announced the Polar Bear porter, walking
down the isle with a menu card held gracefully in his paw. "Last call
for the dining car!"
"Goodness!" exclaimed Mary Louise. "Let's hurry, or we won't be able
to get anything to eat, and I always love to eat in a dining car."
Jumping up from the seat, she and the Princess swam down the aisle,
across the vestibuled platform, through the next car, and then into
There were quite a number of passengers still seated at the different
little tables. A soldierly looking Penguin sat at one and a few tables
beyond a motherly looking Seal with a baby boy Seal at her side was
just finishing some delicious looking pink water ice.
Mary Louise and the Mermaid sat down at the nearest table and looked
over the menu. It was great fun selecting what they wanted, and
when they had finished their water ices they felt that they had dined
They then returned to their seats and looked out of the window for a
time. Strange sights met their eyes as the train rushed on. There
were no telegraph poles to count, nor cows to see grazing in green
meadows. Instead, however, were numerous fish swimming here and there,
some of gorgeous coloring, others of white or silver hue. Hills and
valleys of sand, as well as long meadows of seaweed, stretched away
for miles and miles. Strange-looking sea animals crawled close to
the rushing train. If they came too close the suction of the water
drew them along until they disappeared beneath the car.
As darkness settled down over the quiet deep, Mary Louise turned from
the window with a sigh. "I feel sleepy already," she said, "and
it's only supper time!"
"We'll tell the porter to make up our berths," said the Mermaid
Princess. He can do it while we are having our supper in the dining
On their return they found their berth in readiness. Soft green seaweed
curtains hung gracefully to the floor, one of them being drawn aside,
showing a little white bed. It looked as comfortable as her own little
bed at home, Mary Louise thought.
It took the two little mermaids but a few minutes to undress, and as
soon as their tired heads touched the pillow they were sound asleep.
Softly the seabells are ringing away,
Dipping and dripping and white with the spray,
Ding-dong, and ding-dong, and ding-dong, so deep,
The seabells are singing me softly to sleep.
Over and over again in her dreams little Mary Louise repeated this
song. Then suddenly the bells seemed to change their tune. They
clanged out wildly until a sudden loud crash awoke her with a start.
The engine whistle was sending forth loud, warning cries. The Mermaid
Princess began to tremble with fright.
"What do you suppose is the matter?" she whispered.
"I'm sure I don't know," replied little Mary Louise. "Perhaps there's
something on the track."
By this time all the passengers were thrusting their heads out through
the curtains of their berths.
"Porter, Porter!" called the Penguin, who had been vainly pressing
the electric call-button.
But as usual, when a porter was wanted he is nowhere to be found.
Then the Baby Seal began to cry. Suddenly all the lights went out.
Mary Louise hastily caught up her clothes and commenced dressing.
"Thank goodness," she said in a trembling voice, "I don't have to
bother with stockings!"
"I never was anything but a Mermaid," said the Princess in a frightened
whisper, "so I don't know anything about them!"
"Where's my waist?" asked Mary Louise, hardly able to keep from crying.
"I can't find it anywhere, and it's so dreadfully dark, too."
"Oh, dear me!" suddenly cried the Mermaid Princess. "I believe I'm
trying to get yours on over mine. I'm so excited I forgot that I
already had on my own."
"Well, I'm dressed at last," exclaimed Mary Louise after wriggling
and squirming about for a few minutes longer. "Isn't it awful hard
work dressing in a berth?"
Suddenly the engine bell clanged out more furiously than ever. The
whistle shrieked again and again. Mary Louise looked with frightened
eyes at the princess who gave a cry of terror and threw her arms about
her neck as the lights again went out. Then there was a sudden crash,
and the Iceberg Express shivered and toppled over.
The next instant Mary Louise and the Mermaid Princess found themselves
in the water.
It was quite warm and pleasant, and in a few minutes they reached the
surface. To their surprise they saw their fellow passenger, the little
Star Fish, swimming near them, and not far away, on a piece of ice,
the Polar Bear porter.
"Where are we?" asked Mary Louise. But no one replied to her question,
although the Star Fish looked all around, before and behind and both
sides at once, which I'm sure you can't do no matter how hard you
may try--while with his fifth eye he kept a bright lookout for sharks.
Presently the Polar Bear porter replied, "I think we are in the
And if you don't know where that is, please get out you map of North
America, although school is over, and find it.
"I never thought we'd get here so soon," said the little Star Fish
at last. "You see, I boarded the train somewhere off Cape Cod. And
that's a long way from here."
"I got on much farther north," said the Polar Bear porter, fanning
himself with a large sea shell. "Gracious me, but it's dreadfully
hot down here."
"This Caribbean Sea is as full of mountains as New Hampshire and Vermont
are, but none of them have caps of snow like that which Mount Washington
sometimes wears," said the Mermaid Princess. "Snow wouldn't last a
second under this hot sun."
"Where did you learn all this?" asked Mary Louise.
"Oh, I went to the Coral School for Girls," answered the Mermaid
Princess, and she sighed, for she suddenly remembered she was a long
way from home.
Just then the little Star Fish met a soft little body, much smaller
than himself, who invited him to visit her relatives, who live, by
millions, in this mountain region.
So off they started for Coraltown, where this little Miss Polyp lived.
Her father and mother, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, were
all polyps. they had built the coral islands by fastening themselves
to the tops of the mountains under the sea, year after year, and at
last their soft bodies had turned into stone. And now you know how
these millions of little polyps finally made the small islands that
dotted the surface of the water.
After the Star Fish and his little friend had swum away, Mary Louise
spied a boat drifting toward them. So she and the Mermaid Princess
scrambled inside, and the polar Bear porter hoisted a sail, which
he found wrapped around a mast in the bottom of the boat.
"Hip, hurrah, we're off once more,"
Shouted the Polar Bear, waving his paw,
And the Mermaid Princess laughed in glee
As he held the tiller and sailed o'er the sea!
By and by the air became colder and the Mermaid said:
"We must be near my father's castle. I think I'll slip into the ocean
and swim home."
"Before you go, please comb my hair with your magic comb so that I
may be a little girl again," begged Mary Louise; "I don't want to be
a mermaid forever."
As soon as the magic pearl comb touched Mary Louise's hair her tail
changed into her own little pair of legs.
"Now kiss me good-by," said the little Mermaid Princess, and, with a
splash, she disappeared in the ocean.
For a few minutes Mary Louise felt quite lonely. Presently she asked
the Polar Bear to be kind enough to land her on the nearest shore.
At once the big kind animal trimmed in his sail and before long they
entered a beautiful bay whose dark waters were dotted with the white
sails of the fisher boats, and directly in front, climbing up to the
sky, a high mountain on which stood a castle, where from a tall tower
all night long shone a light that could hardly be told from the stars
Mary Louise jumped from the boat to the beach, and then turned to
wave good-by to the Polar Bear as he sailed away to the North Pole.
Nearby sat an old fisherman on a bench mending his net.
"Hello, little girl," he said, as Mary Louise hesitated. "Moor your
little hulk 'longside o' me an' I'll spin you a yarn!"
Then he began to tell how, many hundred years ago, all the land around
about was covered with a thick forest instead of the deep blue water
of the bay.
Then came the great giant Cormoran, who was 18 feet high and 3 yards
wide, and his wife Cormelian, who was just as big, and they brought
from the hills great gray rocks which they piled up, one on the other,
hundreds of feet high, until they had made a mountain. And on the
top of this they built their castle, where they lived until the giant's
wife died and was buried under the Chapel rock.
Then Jack the Giant Killer climbed up the mountain, and after a hard
fight Cormoran was killed, and there were no more giants in the land.
Next came the Small People, who cut down most of the forest, and built
cottages for themselves, ploughed the fields and made gardens.
But one day a great enchanter came that way, and his strange dress
and long gray beard frightened the women and children, and they shut
their doors in his face whenever he asked for a drink, for he had
walked far and was tired and thirsty.
At last he found the principal man of the Small People, a little old
crusty fellow and very miserly. And when the great enchanter asked
him for a drink of water, the Small Man told him he didn't keep a hotel
for beggars. And this made the great enchanter so angry that he struck
the ground with his staff, so that it made a deep hole, and then he
went upon his journey.
Soon a little spring of water bubbled up through the hole, and by and
by a stream burst forth that swelled to a river, and after a time the
whole land was drowned, and only the high mountain remained above the
But the Small People who were buried under the water didn't die.
They lived on just the same, waiting for the enchanter to return and
lift the spell, and the land to rise, again with all the people on it.
When the old fisherman had finished his story, he said, "I will take
you in my boat to see the Small People deep down in the water.
"Yes, come with me in my boat and you shall see the Wonderland under
As soon as the old fisherman had hoisted the sail, away they went out
to sea over a wide path of moonlight like a silver road leading straight
out to the sky where it dipped down to the water.
All of a sudden Mary Louise noticed something come close up under the
side of the boat, and remain there staring straight at her. She bent
over until she nearly touched the water, when what she had taken for
a fish appeared to be a very odd-looking little man. He was even
shorter than she, very broad about the shoulders, with funny little
arms and feet that were brought together at the heels, with the
toes turned straight out when he stood up, making them look like a
fish's tail. His eyes were big and round, without any eyelids or
eyebrows. But his mouth was the funniest part, and when he opened
it, he looked like a fish trying to talk. He was dressed in silvery
white, shaded to blue and green.
With a sudden nod, he pointed to the road which opened behind him
down through the depths of the water until lost in the distance.
Little Mary Louise could not take her eyes from him, and, forgetting
all about the old fisherman and the boat, she bent over more and
more, so as to look closer at the funny little old man, until,
splash! down she went into the water.
Then came a tremendous ringing in her ears and she felt her breath
go and she knew nothing more until she found herself standing with
the strange little fish man by the side of a splendid carriage made
of a scallop shell, burnished until it shone with pearl and silver,
and drawn by two beautiful gold-fish and two silver-fish harnessed
with the silken threads of the finest sea-mosses, and driven by an
old coachman that looked like a mackerel.
"We are the sea-horses of the deep,
And we race through the waters blue,
Faster than wind and swifter than tide
We gallop the ocean through."
"Jump in," said the little old fish man; and without a question Mary
Louise stepped into the carriage and sat down on the beautiful
Then the little man got in, the mackerel-faced coachman cracked his
whip, the gold and the silver fishes darted ahead, and away they
Great trees waved their long branches as the carriage swept past,
and odd-looking shapes came out from behind them. Huge mouths opened
and shut, long arms waved about trying to catch anything in their
reach, and fierce looking monsters with fishes' heads came rushing
in from all sides, to stare at little Mary Louise with their great
Presently the little old man stood up and bowing politely, told them
that Mary Louise had never caught a fish with a cruel hook.
Then these dreadful monsters snapped their horny jaws and swam away.
At once the mackerel-faced coachman whipped up his team of gold and
silver fishes and away they went spinning down the road again.
At last the carriage stopped in front of a fine mansion, and Mary
Louise and the little old man jumped out on the smooth beach of
sparkling sand which sloped down to a glassy lake on which curious
and beautiful little boats were sailing in all directions.
Along the edge of the lake were many houses, some stately castles
and some little cottages. The little cottages were covered with
creeping plants abloom with red flowers and the stately castles
with moss like vines.
But the people. Oh dear me! They were the strangest folk! Some
had very long noses and ugly looking teeth in their wide mouths, and
others were so thin they looked like small sticks, and others so
round that they could almost trundle themselves along like a
coach-wheel. Some were dressed in the shabbiest clothes, others in
splendid suits, and some covered with knobs and spikes and strange
"Come," said the little fish man, and he led Mary Louise into his house.
Presently he brought out from a closet a quaintly shaped box. "It
is the legend of Wonderland that a little girl shall break the spell
that hangs over us. For it is deemed well-nigh impossible that a
mortal child would venture beneath the water to visit us. Therefore,
little Mary Louise, if I call all my people together, will you open
this box and deliver us from the spell of the Great Enchanter?"
"I will," she answered bravely, and at once the little old fish man
called together all his subjects.
As little Mary Louise looked at the box she saw printed on the cover
"If a little girl mortal
Shall uncover this prize,
The sea will sink
And the land will rise."
And, would you believe it, the first thing she knew after carefully
opening the box, she was back in the boat with the old sailor, who
was shading his eyes and looking towards a beautiful green island
that had suddenly come out of the water.
The Enchanted Prince
"Would you like to land on the island?" asked the old sailor who
seemed in no wise surprised that an island should suddenly come up
out of the sea.
"Yes," gasped little Mary Louise, "it may be a wonderful place. I
certainly saw strange things beneath the water."
"To be sure you did," replied the old sailor, taking it as a matter
of course that a little girl should make a trip to Wonder Land under
the Sea, and return safe and sound.
But then, you know, Mary Louise may have still retained some of the
charm of the little mermaid's magic comb.
Well, anyway, the old sailor steered his boat over to the green island,
where Mary Louise jumped out and after saying good-by to her sailor
friend, set off to look for new adventures.
After a while, she came to a great wood, where the trees were as big
around as smoke stacks on an ocean liner.
All of a sudden, she heard the sound of a woodman's ax, and the
crackling of the branches as they fell to the ground.
"It must be some giant cutting down a tree," she thought, and she
started off in the direction of the sound, and by and by, she saw a
giant beaver. He was a most wonderful sort of an animal, for he could
swing an ax as well as a man. Near at hand flowed a great river, where
a white water horse snorted as he dashed the spray high in the air
with his forefeet.
"Are you one of Neptune's horses?" asked little Mary Louise. "I once
read a story of a little boy named Hero who rode with King Neptune
in his wonderful chariot."
"No, little girl," answered the beautiful sea horse kindly. "But I
can show you some wonderful things. Jump on my back and I will take
you to a strange place."
Then away went the great Water Horse over the water and through the
spray and Mary Louise wasn't the least bit afraid although she had
no water wings and might have slipped of into the water.
"Where are we going?" she asked, after a while, for by this time they
were far away from the shore and going up a dark river.
"I'm going to show you the beautiful Green Waterfall Cave," answered
the big Sea Horse, shaking his mane until it seemed almost as if it
Well, pretty soon he stopped, telling Mary Louise to bend over his
back, before he swam into a big opening in a gray rock.
"Now lift up your head," he said, and when Mary Louise looked around
she saw they were in a beautiful cave. All about them were strange
people, Mermaids and Water Nymphs, Water Sprites and Mermen, fishes
and dolphins, and even a whale, although he wasn't very large. If
he had been, he wouldn't have been there, for the entrance to the
cave was just wide enough for him to squeeze through.
Well, no sooner did they see the big Sea Horse, than they all said
"Hail to our King!" and crowded around looking curiously at Mary
Louise, and one little mermaid pinched her toe.
"This is Mary Louise," explained the great white Sea Horse. "I have
brought her to our cave to see the wonders of our Water Country."
At once the whale blew a stream of water into the air, the dolphins
turned somersaults and the little mermaid who had just pinched Mary
Louise's toe, stood up on a big pearly shell and sang:
"In this river that leads to the sea,
We all live happy as happy can be,
The crocodile comes and opens his jaws,
And the giant crab stretches out his claws,
And the sword fish chases the sharp toothed shark,
But here we are safe when the day grows dark,
And the pale white moon looks down from the sky,
And the little star winks her golden eye."
And when she had finished, she swam up close to the big Sea Horse
and picking up Mary Louise placed her in a great shell that sailed
over the water just like a boat to the end of the cave where a little
path ran along close to the water's edge till it came to a door.
"Tap gently three times," said the little mermaid.
And then, all of a sudden, it opened and there stood a great Sea
"What do you want?" he asked with a dreadful hiss and his breath was
like steam and his long red tongue like a thin flame.
"O wise Serpent," said the mermaid, "do not frighten little Mary Louise.
She is traveling through our country and means no harm."
"Then she may come into my kingdom," replied the great Serpent, and
he glided swiftly away.
"Do not fear him," said the little mermaid. "I cannot go with you,
but you will be perfectly safe," and she closed the door and swam
away, leaving little Mary Louise all alone.
It was a strange country in which Mary Louise found herself as she
followed the great Serpent who was now some distance ahead. Great
trees and moss-covered rocks were on every side, and only by keeping
to the narrow path was it possible to find a way through them.
By and by the Serpent stopped at a gate in a high stone wall, which
swung open slowly as he tapped upon it.
"Now, let me tell you something," he said, leading Mary Louise to a
seat beneath a beautiful tree in a large garden close by a stately
While she rested on the marble bench the great Serpent coiled himself
in a ring, his head raised about two feet above the ground. He had
wonderful black eyes and as he looked at her she almost fancied there
were tears in them.
"Once upon a time, not so very long ago," he began, "a young prince
lived in this castle. But one day a wicked magician disguised as a
poor beggar came to the kitchen door and asked for bread. Now it
happened to be baking day, and the Royal Baker had just placed a
thousand loaves of dough in the oven. He was tired and hot and said
to the beggar in a cross voice: 'You must wait until evening.' This
made the beggar man dreadfully angry, and the next minute he waved
a crooked stick above his head and cried, 'Let the master of this
castle and his household become snakes!' Instantly, a great change
came over all who lived in the castle. The prince turned into a serpent
and all the retainers became snakes."
As he finished speaking, the poor Snake gave a low cry and hid his head
in the grass.
"Cheer up," said Mary Louise, for she knew at once that the serpent
was the poor prince in disguise. "I have a magic ring!"
Dear me, I forgot to mention that the Princess Mermaid had given it
to little Mary Louise for a charm against evil.
"But what can that do for me?" asked the poor serpent prince.
"Leave that to me," replied little Mary Louise, and she turned the
magic ring around three times, and, all of a sudden, a little Black
"What can I do for you, little Mistress?" he asked.
"This serpent was once a handsome prince," explained Mary Louise, "but
by the magic of a wicked magician has been changed into a snake.
Help him to regain his natural shape."
"That is a hard matter," said the little Black Man thoughtfully. "I
know this wicked magician. He has great power and it takes a strong
charm to work against his evil power."
And then the little Black Man ran his hand through his crinkly hair
and thought for a while.
"There is a crimson apple that grows in the Gardens of the West,"
he said at last, "which if eaten, enables one to regain his natural
shape. But the distance is far, and the way dangerous. And the owner
of the garden refuses admittance to any man. But whether he would
refuse a little girl, I do not know."
"I can but try," said little Mary Louise bravely. And when the serpent
heard this, he lifted up his head and said:
"If you will undertake this great deed for me, I will give you whatever
you desire, even my castle and all my lands."
"I would not take them from you," replied Mary Louise. "I am only a
little girl." And she paused for a moment, wondering when and how
she would return to her dear mother's home.
"How may I reach the Gardens of the West?" she asked anxiously.
"You must go down to the sea and wait for the sun to sink in the west,"
answered the little Black Man. "And when you see golden rays, like
a bright road upon the water, call to King Neptune. I will give you
a whistle made from a pearl shell on which you must blow three times,
and when the King of the Sea hears it, he will come to you. But
whether he will carry you across the ocean in his chariot, I know
not. But you can try."
And the little Black Man disappeared.
"Do you think you will be able to do all this?" asked the serpent
"I do," replied Mary Louise, and she opened the garden gate and made
straight for the great ocean, and by and by she came to the beach,
where the great waves rolled and broke into foamy spray making
the pretty shells glisten in the sun.
No sooner had Mary Louise blown three times upon the magic whistle
than King Neptune drove up in his beautiful chariot. His splendid
horses with foamy manes raised their forefeet and snorted till the
old Sea King was forced to quiet them.
"What can I do for you, pretty maiden?" he asked kindly.
"Oh please, Mr. Neptune, take me to the garden of golden apples. I
must give one to a poor Snake Prince that he may regain his human
King Neptune remained silent for a time. At last he put his hand in
his great pocket and said with a sigh:
"Here is a golden apple. It was to be a present to my wife. But it
will be of greater use to this poor Snake Prince."
"Thank you, thank you," cried Mary Louise, and running hastily back
to the garden she stood before the poor miserable snake.
"Here is the magic golden apple," she cried in a glad voice. No sooner
had the serpent eaten the apple, than, all of a sudden, just as he
swallowed the last piece, he changed into a handsome prince and all
his retainers and servants who were snakes, you remember, regained
their human form.
"Now you shall have whatever is in my power to grant," said the prince,
"even if you ask for my castle."
"I will take nothing from you," replied generous little Mary Louise,
"unless you wish to give me the ring you wear on your finger."
"It is yours," said the prince. "May you always wear it and remember
The Magic Seeds
Little Mary Louise placed the ring upon her finger and then bidding
the Prince good-by turned her steps as she thought, towards home. But
she had gone but a short way when she came to a funny little dwarf
tugging at a great sunflower, and every once in a while he'd shake
the stalk until down would come a shower of black seeds, which he
put in a small basket.
"Hello," cried Mary Louise, "don't you want me to help you?"
When the little dwarf heard her voice, he started to run away, but
Mary Louise caught him by the tail of his coat.
"Don't be afraid of me, little dwarf, I won't harm you."
So the dwarf set down his basket of seeds, and after he had straightened
his coat, for it was half off his back, he said:
"I'll give you some of the seeds. They are very wonderful seeds."
Then little Mary Louise said good-by and by and by she came to a poor
woodcutter's hut. In answer to her knock an old woman opened the
"How do you do!" she said with a bow, and then she told Mary Louise
that her husband had just gone to the village for sunflower seeds.
Wasn't that strange? It made Mary Louise laugh and taking from her
pocket a handful she showed them to the old lady.
"My husband may not find any," she said. "Will you give me two that
I may plant them on each side of our front door?" Then digging a
hole in the ground on each side of the step she planted the seeds.
And, would you believe it? all of a sudden a yellow stalk sprung up,
and pretty soon it was as high as the door and then it was higher
than the roof and before long it reached way up into the sky, so far
and so high that you couldn't see the top.
"Goodness gracious me!" exclaimed the old woman. "What kind of seeds
"I'll climb up and see," and up the stalk went little Mary Louise.
Bigger and bigger it grew until finally it spread out altogether into
a great big meadow covered with sunflowers.
Everywhere the birds were singing and little rabbits hopping about,
and nearby a flock of lambs nibbling the fresh green grass.
"Oh my!" exclaimed little Mary Louise, "this is strange, very strange!"
When, all of a sudden, one of the sunflowers began to sing:
"I love the sun in the big blue sky,
As he rolls along his pathway high,
Through the clouds and over the blue
While he brightly shines on me and you.
There's no one else that I love so much
As the golden sun with his soft warm touch."
And then all the sunflowers joined in the chorus:
"Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful sun,
We turn and follow you as you run
Over the soft and azure sky;
Beautiful sun with your golden eye."
When the song was finished, little Mary Louise went on her way, and
it was very lucky for her that the grass was soft, for she wore no
boots, which I forgot to mention she had left a the foot of the big
giant sunflower by the side of the poor woodman's hut.
Well, by and by, she came to a little shoemaker's shop, where the
shoemaker sat just outside the door.
"Have you a pair of red top boots?" she asked. And would you believe
it? That shoemaker got up and walked inside his shop and took down
a box from the top shelf, and there inside was a beautiful pair of
red top boots, which fitted as if they had been made for her. Well
wasn't that the luckiest thing that could have happened?
But perhaps it was just as lucky that she found money enough in her
pocket to pay for them.
Pretty soon, not so very far, she came to a fountain where all day long
the water played a soft little song:
"Over the pebbles and over the sand
I run till I reach the sea-shore land,
Where the pink shells sing and the big waves roar,
And the mermaids comb their hair on the shore."
"I think I'll follow this pretty book," said Mary Louise, "and maybe
it will take me home."
She ran along its mossy banks until she came to the seashore. Right
there on the soft warm sand sat a mermaid combing her long hair.
With a glad cry Mary Louise ran towards her. But it wasn't her friend
the Mermaid Princess. No, she was a strange little mermaid, who gave
a frightful scream and with a flop of her graceful tail, glided into
the water. Just as she was about to dive down out of sight, she saw
her pretty pearl comb on the beach.
"Don't be afraid of me," said Mary Louise, picking it up and leaning
over the water. "I know your Princess Mermaid--daughter of King
Seaphus," and she handed the little mermaid the pearly comb, who
then swam away to her island of coral and pearl.
"Heigh ho," sighed little Mary Louise, "here I am by the sad sea waves
with nobody to talk to," and as she had nothing to do, she dug a hole
in the sand and thrusting in both her feet, covered them up. All
of a sudden a tremendous crab crawled up and before she could run
away, fastened his great claw in her sleeve.
"Oh I am king of the blue sea crabs,
And king of the sandy shore,
And I can fight as well as bite
With my big tre-men-dous claw.
Oh, I can pinch as well as a clam,
I'm king of all pinchers, you bet I am."
Now little Mary Louise was a brave girl, and unclasping her breastpin,
she stuck the point right in the wrist of the Crab King's claw, after
which he began to sing a different kind of song, and the tears came
out of his eyes, and pretty soon he begged to be let alone.
"I'll give you the most beautiful pearl in all the world," he said,
but Mary Louise only laughed and pointed to her torn sleeve:
"That won't mend my sleeve, King Crab. What right had you to tear it?"
"Oh, please take the pin out of my elbow," begged the tearful Crab
King, so frightened that he couldn't tell whether it was his wrist
or his elbow that Mary Louise was pricking. "I'll give you two pearls.
Oh, please pull out your pin."
As soon as she had put away her breastpin, the Crab King started to
dig in the sand and pretty soon he brought up two lovely pearls.
"But what am I to do with my torn sleeve?" asked Mary Louise, for she
was still angry with that disagreeable old crab.
Without answering, the King of the Crabs crawled off into the tall
sea grass and in a few minutes came back with a little package done
up in sea weed, and after he had unwrapped it, what do you suppose
Mary Louise saw? Why, a beautiful pale sea green coat made of sea
silk. It was very beautiful and looked just like the shimmery green
of the waves.
"Here is a coat of the great Crab King,
It's finer than silk or anything,
For none but a merman has ever worn
A coat so beautifully shimmery shorn,"
cried the King Crab, handing it to Mary Louise. Then he crawled away,
for he wised to have the doctor see his wounded elbow, I imagine.
Just then a little bird began to sing:
"In the valley, green and neat,
I see the print of little feet,
And way, way yonder in the glen
I see a host of little men."
"Dear me!" sighed Mary Louise. "I am too tired to walk any further."
"Jump on my back!" cried a happy voice, and up trotted a little pony
named Dapple Gray.
"Oh, how nice," laughed Mary Louise, and climbing up on the saddle,
rode off on this pretty little pony, and pretty soon, not so very
far, they came to the place where the little men were at work. And
what do you suppose they were doing. Why, you'd never guess if I
gave you until the 4th of July.
They were making maple sugar out of the sap from the maple trees. First
they boiled the sap in great big pots and then put it away to cool in
queer little dishes of various shapes, and when the sugar hardened
it was in the forms of funny little fish, queer little houses, strange
animals, and, goodness knows, what not.
"Oh, we are the Sugar Candy Men,
And we work all day in the snow
To make the maple sugar cakes
To sell in the town below,"
sang one little man who wore a red peaked hat and long turned-up pointed
But when little Mary Louise rode up, they all stopped their work and
looked at her, and the little man with the long turned up pointed shoes
pulled off his red peaked cap and asked:
"What brings you here, Mary Louise? Are you fond of maple sugar candy?"
"I know lots of little boys and girls who are," answered Mary Louise
with a smile.
"Well, hold open your pockets," said the little man, and he stood up
on a stump alongside Dapple Gray and filled her pockets to overflowing.
Wasn't that nice of him?
"You're very generous," said Mary Louise. "What can I do for you?"
"Go to yonder town and tell the dear old lady who keeps the 'Goody
Sweet Tooth-Shop' that we will bring her candy tomorrow morning
"The little red rooster
From his home on the hill
Sounds his merry cock-a-doo
Like a whistle shrill."
"All right," answered Mary Louise, and off she went to the little
town down in the valley.
Well, by and by, after a while, and many a mile, and a song and a
smile, for Mary Louise felt very happy with all those nice candies
in her pocket, she came to a bridge over a river, on the other side
of which nestled a little town among the trees.
Now there was a toll keeper, a funny little old lady with a crutch
under her arm, at the entrance to the bridge.
"Give me a penny, Mary Louise,
For that is the toll you must pay,
If you would cross over the river to Dover,
Dover, just over the way."
Sang the little old lady toll keeper.
"Here is the penny," laughed Mary Louise, leaning down from Dapple
Gray and dropping it into the old lady's apron, which she help up in
"Pass on, little girl," she said, opening the gate, and in a few minutes
Dapple Gray was clattering over the bridge. And pretty soon he drew
up before the Goody Sweet Tooth Shop.
"I bring you good news from the little men of the glen," cried Mary
Louise to the little old woman who just then looked out of the door.
"What is the news, dearie?" she asked, shading her eyes with her
"Tomorrow morning, just at dawn,
When the little red rooster blows on his horn,
The maple sugar candy hearts,
Cute little cupids and candy darts,
In a great big box will be laid at your door
to give to the children who come to your store."
said little Mary Louise. And how she ever could have spoken in poetry
is more than I can tell, but perhaps the fairy maple sugar candy, which
she had eaten on her way to town, had lent magic to her tongue.
Then the little old woman made a curtsy, and Mary Louise continued
on her way, and by and by, after a while, she came to a great big bear
sitting on a stone by the roadside. On the ground by his side was
a big bundle tied with a thick leather strap.
Well, as soon as the bear saw Mary Louise, he took off his cap and
"I wish I had a pony,
Either brown or gray,
So I could ride whate'er betide
For many miles away."
"Why, what's the matter?" asked little Mary Louise.
"I have a splinter in my foot," answered the bear.
So Mary Louise dismounted and looked at the bear's foot, and when
she found the splinter, she said:
"Now don't you cry, and don't you pout,
And I will pull the splinter out."
And would you believe it, in less than five hundred short seconds,
she held the splinter under the bear's nose so he could see it, for
the bear was very near sighted and couldn't even see the end of his
"Dear me," sighed little Mary Louise, "I wish I were safe at home with
Mother," she set out once more, and by and by she came to Candy Town.
Now I guess many a little boy and girl wonders where all the Christmas
candies come from, but they wouldn't if they had once seen Peppermint
City, all painted white with red stripes, just like a stick of
Each house was built of white candy with columns of peppermint sticks
supporting the roof. On either side the door stood lovely peppermint
statues and striped pillars held up the little porches and big
The opera house was guarded by a candy lion, and a fountain in the
middle of the town spouted maple syrup. Rock candy crystal chandeliers
hung from the ceilings in the rich man's house and little peppermint
candlesticks made light for the workman's hut. Even the lamp posts
on the corners were peppermint sticks and so were the barber poles.
"Goodness me," said Mary Louise to herself, "I wonder what would happen
if it rained." But you see it never rained in Candy Country, which
was mighty lucky.
"What do you wish?" asked a Chocolate Man, as she knocked on the Candy
The next moment the gate swung open and out marched a regiment of
Lemon Soldiers dressed in Lemon Khaki Uniforms.
"Oh, I'm just lost," replied Mary Louise with a sigh.
"I'm a little traveler who goes
For miles and miles upon her toes.
But sometimes when I'm tired out
I think I hear a kind of voice shout,
'Come, ride with me upon my Goose,'
And other times it is a Moose,
And then again a steed with wings;
Or maybe some kind stranger brings
A ship that sails the ocean wide,
And so instead of walk, I ride."
"Well, well, your a little poetry maker," said the Chocolate Man.
"Now you are the very person to write pretty little verses on our round
peppermint candies." And then he held out his chocolate hand and drew
tired Mary Louise inside the gate, after which he locked it with a
"Come with me to our Candy Factory," and he ran down the street, which
was paved with little red brick candies, until he came to a big Rock
"Look here," gasped Mary Louise, all out of breath with running, for
that Chocolate Man was the best athlete in all Peppermint City, "I
said I was lost. I'm not a poetry maker. I wouldn't make poetry for
anything. I want to see things, not dream about them!"
"Dear me," said the Chocolate Man, and he let go the lollypop door
handle, "I'm sorry. I thought you'd like to stay here."
"Don't feel badly about it," said Mary Louise as he shook hands and
said good-by. "I must find my way home. I've no time to lose."
"Heigh ho, this is a big river," she exclaimed a little later as she
stood on the bank of a swiftly flowing stream.
"There isn't any bridge, how can you get across,
There isn't any boat and you haven't any horse
That could swim across this river with you upon its back,
So I guess you'll have to turn about and go back upon your track,"
sang a cross voice.
"She won't have to do anything of the sort," answered a kind voice
and a little white duck in a boat rowed up to the bank.
"Come, jump aboard," quacked Commodore Drake, for that was the name of
this duck sailor.
Mary Louise jumped in and away they went down the river to the deep
blue sea. And after a while, maybe a mile, and perhaps a little more,
they came to the restless ocean.
"Now," said the duck, with a wheezy, breezy quack, "I'll take you to
the Hotel Wave Crest."
Presently they came to an island where a lovely coral building shone
pinky bright in the rays of the sun. Right in front of it were two
bell buoys who rang little bells to tell the man who owned the hotel
that somebody wanted a room with a fresh salt water bath.
As soon as Commodore Drake had fastened the little boat to the wharf,
he and Mary Louise walked up the steps and into Wave Crest Hotel.
When the proprietor, a nice old Dolphin, saw Mary Louise's lovely sea
green coat, he at once asked where she had bought it.
"The King of the Crabs gave it to me."
"You don't tell me," exclaimed the old Dolphin. "Do you know that coat
is a magic one?"
"What can it do?" asked Mary Louise, even more surprised than you are.
"Why, anybody who wears it can swim like a fish," answered the
good-natured Dolphin. "It's better than a pair of water wings," and
he turned over three times and began to sing,
"Oh, many a mile I've swum in the sea
Like a hoop that rolls on the ground,
Over and over and over again,
Round and around and around,
But I always come right side up at last,
Out in the deep blue sea,
You bet I can do the loop de loo
High diddle diddledy dee."
As he finished speaking, the good-natured Dolphin turned a somersault,
and after that I guess he thought he'd done enough to amuse Mary Louise,
and the little white sailor duck, so he went inside the hotel and
stood at the desk behind the big register book.
Just then a great whale came swimming by, blowing a stream of water
high in the air. Maybe a piece of seaweed had tickled his nose, for
when a whale spouts he's really sneezing, I'm told.
And after that a pretty Cat Fish began to purr, and I guess she would
have asked Mary Louise a lot of questions if all of a sudden a Dog
Fish hadn't barked, which so frightened the pussy cat fish that she
went into her room and locked the door, dropping the kin in her vanity
bag which she hid under her pillow.
"If you'll stay awhile," said the old Dolphin, "I'll give you the finest
fish dinner you ever ate,
"A whale fish steak,
And some sea gull eggs,
And a pint of sea cow's milk,
Green sea weed sauce
And water cress
And oysters served on silk."
But, would you believe it, little Mary Louise didn't feel hungry.
Instead she asked the duck sailor to take her back to the boat and
to sail away, over the ocean's misty spray, until they should come
to the Land of Nod where sleep is sent by the Little Dream God.
As soon as she and the little white duck reached this wonderful little
land, they became sleepy and their eyes winked and blinked and pretty
soon they both lay down on the soft grass and went sound to sleep.
And then the twinkle, twinkle star shone down with its pretty golden
eye and sang a sleepy lullaby,
"Over the ocean cool and sweet
Up to the sea grass's waving feet
Blows the wind from the rainbow west
Whispering low, 'It is time for rest.'"
Now, when Mary Louise and the little white sailor duck woke up in the
land of Nod, they both rubbed their eyes to make sure who stood there
dressed in pink pajamas and little starry crown.
It was the little Dream God. In his hand he carried a silver wand,
in the handle of which was a little whistle which made a soft sound
when he blew upon it.
"Did you have a good sleep?" he asked, and with a laugh, he took off
his crown and sat down on the grass. And oh, what a sweet laugh it
was. Just like the tinkle of a far-away bell or the ripple of a
Well, after a little talk, the big Dream Bird came out of his wicker
cage and said: "I'm going to take Mary Louise for a ride," and away
he flew, while the little white sailor duck went back to his boat
and sailed away, too, over the ocean big and blue.
"Where would you like to go?" asked the Dream Bird. "I'm the bird
who brings dreams to people. Dreams of doing great big wonderful
things, you know. Not sleepy dreams."
"Take me to some place that is different from anything I've ever seen,"
answered Mary Louise.
So the big Dream Bird scratched his head with his foot, but for a long
time he couldn't tell where to go.
Well, anyway, by and by, not so very long, for the big Dream Bird kept
flying on as he scratched his head with his foot, they came to Toy
Land where all the toys of the world are made by little dwarfs and
"Now I'll leave you," said the big Dream Bird, and he flew away, leaving
little Mary Louise in front of a pretty shop full of Little Jack
Rabbits. and, would you believe it, there was a toy Puss in Boots,
Junior, with red top boots and a hat with a gold feather and a sword.
And the workman who made these toys was a funny little dwarf with a
green suit and a red cap and a long white beard.
"This is the land of wonderful toys
That are made for good little girls and boys,
Talking dolls and horses that run,
Everything here is made for fun,
But only good little girls and boys
Can have our wonderful, beautiful toys."
"Heigh ho," said Mary Louise, "what next, I wonder," and she looked
at a toy regiment of wooden soldiers marching down the street.
Just then an old hand organ began to play,
"Oh, where are the songs of yesterday,
And the songs we used to sing,
When you and I in the days gone by
Danced in the Fairy's Ring?"
And up ran a little monkey dressed in a red coat and cap. Mary Louise
gave him a penny, to hand to the old man who had stopped to set
another tune to the organ.
"Over the hills and far away,
I've tramped all my life till I am gray,
And now with my organ and monkey clown
I find myself in little Toy Town,"
sang the old organ grinder as he sat down to rest with the little
monkey on his lap.
"Are you very tired?" asked Mary Louise.
"Pretty tired," answered the old man. "All these years I've tramped
and played, and now I find myself in a town where they make toys for
children. But I see no children. Only playthings which I have no
use for," and the old man sighed and patted the monkey and then he
closed his eyes and fell asleep. And I guess he was very, very tired.
Then Mary Louise slipped away, out of Toy Town where the dwarfs and
the fairies made all the toys in little workshops, only they had the
shades pulled down so that nobody could see them, for they are queer
little people and don't like to be watched.
"Oh, dear," sighed Mary Louise, "I wish I were home. Mother will be
dreadfully worried about me.
"Oh, if I had a Wishing Stone
I know what I would do
I'd wish for lots of lovely things,
And give a lot to you.
But, Oh, dear me. I've never known
Where is this wonder Wishing Stone."
"I know," cried a little voice, and then, of course, Mary Louise looked
all around to see who had spoken, but she couldn't see anybody.
"Who are you?" she asked, halting Dapple Gray on the edge of a big
"Here I am," cried the same little voice, and then, quick as a wink,
a tiny fairy jumped out from behind a bush.
"Don't frighten my pony," said Mary Louise, as Dapple Gray stood up
straight on his hind legs, "he isn't used to fairies."
"No, indeed," whinnied the pony, for that is the way a horse talks,
you know. "I've met lots of people in dear Old Mother Goose Land,
but never a fairy."
"If you come into this forest you will meet many little people like
me," answered the fairy.
"Will they object if I travel through it?" asked little Mary Louise
anxiously. "You see, I'm on my way home."
"You have my permission," answered the fairy. "I'm queen of the Forest
Fays. But I thought you were looking for the Wishing Stone?"
"Maybe I was," answered Mary Louise. "You see, I thought if I could
find it, I'd wish I was home with my dear mother."
"It is not very far from here," said the little fairy. "Follow this
path through the trees and by and by you'll come to it. But let me
give you some advice. Be sure before you make your wish to say,
"Rose red, rose white,
I will try to do what's right."
"Thank you, I'll remember," answered little Mary Louise, and she turned
Dapple Gray down the path to the woody glen.
Well, by and by, after a while, she saw a big white stone. It looked
very like a rude stone chair, only of course, it didn't have any nice
soft cushion in it like the one my grandmother used.
With a cry of joy little Mary Louise jumped from the saddle. "Now
I'll make my wish!" And she sat down in the big stone chair and
closed her eyes.
But, oh dear me. She had been in such a hurry that she forgot to
say the little fairy verse and when she opened her eyes, there she
was in the very same spot.
And, oh, dear me! again. Instead of the Dapple Gray, a little gray
squirrel stood in the very spot where the little pony had been.
"If you would have what you would wish
You must obey each rule,
No matter whether in your home
Or in your Grammar School,"
sang a little yellow bird, as Mary Louise stared in amazement at the
little gray squirrel.
"Oh, dear me," she sighed, "where is Dapple Gray?"
"I was your little pony,
And my name was Dapple Gray.
But now I am a squirrel
Because you did not say;
'Rose red, rose white,
I will try to do what's right,'"
answered the little squirrel.
And then Mary Louise remembered what the little fairy had told her
to say when she made the wish. Oh, dear me. How sad she felt! But
it was too late, and pretty soon the little squirrel ran away, and
poor Mary Louise was left alone in the big Wishing Stone chair.
"Oh dear me," she sighed again, "now what shall I do?" But nobody
answered, not even the little yellow bird, so she jumped down and
started off through the wood, and by and by, after a mile, but never
a smile, she heard somebody laughing. And, oh my, it was a great big,
tremendous hearty laugh. Why, it made all the leaves tremble and the
dry twigs fall to the ground. And then, all of a sudden, a giant
walked by, carrying on his big finger the prettiest yellow bird you
"Why bless my big leather belt," he exclaimed, "it's little Mary
"Oh, Mr. Giant," said Mary Louise, "I've disobeyed the Fairy Queen
and lost my pony Dapple Gray."
"Bless my big hob-nailed club," said Mr. Merry Laugh, for this was
the giant's name, "how did you come to do that?"
So Mary Louise told him how the Fairy Queen had directed her to the
Wishing Stone, but that she had forgotten to say when making her
"Rose red, rose white,
I will try to do what's right."
"Well, I'll give you another chance," said the big kind giant. "Now
let me see," and he took off his big leather cap and scratched his
head, and then he whispered something to the little yellow bird, but
his whisper was so loud that of course Mary Louise heard it, for when
a giant whispers it sounds like a man shouting, so I've been told.
"Come with me," said the giant after the little yellow bird had nodded
her head, and pretty soon, not so very long, they came to his castle,
where the giant made Mary Louise very comfortable in a little chair
which had once belonged to his son.
"Now you rest here while I go and get out my big Gold Book," said Mr.
"Mr. Merry Laugh, the Giant,
Has a big Gold Book,
Bound with leather hinges
And a big brass hook,"
sang the little yellow bird.
"Now let me see," said the good, kind giant, opening the book and
turning over the pages with his great immense thumb. "Ah, here it
is," but before he began to read he took off his spectacles which
were as big as automobile lamps and wiped them carefully on his red
silk handkerchief which was bigger than a sail;
"Whoever disobeys the queen
Can for his guilt atone
By making a little whistle
Out of a turkey's bone."
"Ha, ha, ha!" roared the giant till the crystal chandelier tinkled
like a million little bells and the portrait of his mother-in-law fell
off the wall with a dreadful crash, "I never heard anything so funny
before," and he picked up the portrait and laughed again, only this
time even louder, for his mother-in-law's picture was all smashed to
"Well, that's easy," he said after wiping his eyes. "Tomorrow will
be Thanksgiving and you shall dine with me. And after dinner I'll
give you a magic knife and if you can't make a whistle out of the
drumstick bone, I'll have another portrait made of my mother-in-law."
"That's very good of you," said little Mary Louise.
"Don't mention it," replied the giant. "I have a book that once
belonged to my boy when he was a little fellow. It's called the
Iceberg Express, and you look so like the little girl on the cover
that I'd almost believe you were she."
"I am, I am," shouted Mary Louise, jumping out of her chair. "And
that's the reason I wanted to sit in the big Wishing Stone chair.
I was going to wish I was home with mother."
"You don't say so," exclaimed Mr. Merry Laugh. "Well, well, well.
It takes me back to the time when my boy was a little fellow and
sat on my knee to hear me read Little Journeys to Happyland. How
time flies!" And the big kind giant took his pocket handkerchief
out again to wipe his blue eyes, and after that he went over to the
piano and sang:
"If I had my little boy again
How happy I should be,
I'd piggy-back him all around
And trundle him on my knee.
"But oh, dear me. It's so long ago,
And he's been away so long,
That all I can do is to wish and wish
That he could hear this song."
"Dear me," said little Mary Louise, when the giant had finished. "You
want your little boy and I want my mother."
Well pretty soon when Mary Louise walked into the dining room she
saw the most wonderful turkey that ever graced a Thanksgiving table.
Why, it weighed upty'leven pounds and was stuffed with a bushel of
"Now eat slowly and tuck your napkin under your chin," said Mr. Merry
Laugh, "for we don't have Thanksgiving every day, although we ought
to be thankful every day, just the same." And he stuck in the fork
which was as big as a pitch-fork and began to carve with a knife that
was even larger than General Pershing's sword.
Well, after a while, a mince pie was brought in, so large that it would
have taken Mary Louise thirteen minutes to walk around it if the giant
had placed it on the floor. But of course he didn't. No sireemam.
He first cut a little piece for her and then a great big tremendous
piece for himself, and would you believe he ate two pieces while she
was eating one!
At last, when the dinner was over, and the giant had dried the wish
bone on the steam heater till it was nice and dry, he handed little
Mary Louise the magic knife and told her to make it into a whistle.
And would you believe it if I didn't say so, in less than five hundred
short seconds she had carved out the prettiest little whistle you ever
"Now, little girl," said Mr. Merry Laugh, "blow on it and make a wish.
But don't make the same wish you did before."
"Oh dear me," sighed the little girl. "I only wish one thing, and that
is to be home with mother."
"Get your pony back and I'll help you," said Mr. Merry Laugh kindly.
So Mary Louise blew on her whistle and made a wish, when, all of a
sudden, quicker than a wink, they heard a neigh in the courtyard, and
looking out of the window, saw Dapple Gray.
"Here, take this little ring," said the giant, "and if ever you are
in trouble, turn it around your finger three times and a half."
Just then the little yellow bird began to sing:
"'Tis a little golden ring,
Such a tiny, pretty thing.
But be careful lest you lose it,
For you may have need to use it,
It possesses such a charm
It will keep you from all harm."
"Good luck," said Mr. Merry Laugh as he opened the castle door.
"Good-by and good luck. Drop in the next time you're in town, and
don't forget Castle Merry Laugh, Forest City, U.S.A."
"Thank you," answered Mary Louise.
Just then down flew the beautiful Dream Bird.
"I'll take you home," he said. "Climb up between my wings!"
Then away he went through the air so softly that maybe the little
girl fell asleep, for when she woke up, there she was on the beach
where she had first met the little Mermaid Princess.
"Oh, oh," yawned Mary Louise, "am I really here?" But nobody answered,
so she jumped to her feet and ran home to her mother.
Well, well, have we come to the end of the story, you and I, little
reader? I'm sorry I've nothing more to tell you in this book, but
listen--lean over to me and listen--I've written another book for
the "Little Journeys to Happyland" series--it is called "The Wind
Wagon." Isn't that a strange title? But I know you'll like it--yes,
I'm sure you will.
So don't forget. It will be published next year.
Yours for a story,
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