Part 3 out of 4
it that the midshipman in charge guessed what it was, and bade pull
up to it as fast as they could. So somehow or other the Jack-tars
got the lobster out, and set the mayor free, and put him ashore at
the Barbican. He never went lobster-catching again; and we will
hope he put no more salt in the tobacco, not even to sell his
And that is the story of the Mayor of Plymouth, which has two
advantages--first, that of being quite true; and second, that of
having (as folks say all good stories ought to have) no moral
whatsoever: no more, indeed, has any part of this book, because it
is a fairy tale, you know.
And now happened to Tom a most wonderful thing; for he had not left
the lobster five minutes before he came upon a water-baby.
A real live water-baby, sitting on the white sand, very busy about
a little point of rock. And when it saw Tom it looked up for a
moment, and then cried, "Why, you are not one of us. You are a new
baby! Oh, how delightful!"
And it ran to Tom, and Tom ran to it, and they hugged and kissed
each other for ever so long, they did not know why. But they did
not want any introductions there under the water.
At last Tom said, "Oh, where have you been all this while? I have
been looking for you so long, and I have been so lonely."
"We have been here for days and days. There are hundreds of us
about the rocks. How was it you did not see us, or hear us when we
sing and romp every evening before we go home?"
Tom looked at the baby again, and then he said:
"Well, this is wonderful! I have seen things just like you again
and again, but I thought you were shells, or sea-creatures. I
never took you for water-babies like myself."
Now, was not that very odd? So odd, indeed, that you will, no
doubt, want to know how it happened, and why Tom could never find a
water-baby till after he had got the lobster out of the pot. And,
if you will read this story nine times over, and then think for
yourself, you will find out why. It is not good for little boys to
be told everything, and never to be forced to use their own wits.
They would learn, then, no more than they do at Dr. Dulcimer's
famous suburban establishment for the idler members of the youthful
aristocracy, where the masters learn the lessons and the boys hear
them--which saves a great deal of trouble--for the time being.
"Now," said the baby, "come and help me, or I shall not have
finished before my brothers and sisters come, and it is time to go
"What shall I help you at?"
"At this poor dear little rock; a great clumsy boulder came rolling
by in the last storm, and knocked all its head off, and rubbed off
all its flowers. And now I must plant it again with seaweeds, and
coralline, and anemones, and I will make it the prettiest little
rock-garden on all the shore."
So they worked away at the rock, and planted it, and smoothed the
sand down round, it, and capital fun they had till the tide began
to turn. And then Tom heard all the other babies coming, laughing
and singing and shouting and romping; and the noise they made was
just like the noise of the ripple. So he knew that he had been
hearing and seeing the water-babies all along; only he did not know
them, because his eyes and ears were not opened.
And in they came, dozens and dozens of them, some bigger than Tom
and some smaller, all in the neatest little white bathing dresses;
and when they found that he was a new baby, they hugged him and
kissed him, and then put him in the middle and danced round him on
the sand, and there was no one ever so happy as poor little Tom.
"Now then," they cried all at once, "we must come away home, we
must come away home, or the tide will leave us dry. We have mended
all the broken sea-weed, and put all the rock-pools in order, and
planted all the shells again in the sand, and nobody will see where
the ugly storm swept in last week."
And this is the reason why the rock-pools are always so neat and
clean; because the water-babies come inshore after every storm to
sweep them out, and comb them down, and put them all to rights
Only where men are wasteful and dirty, and let sewers run into the
sea instead of putting the stuff upon the fields like thrifty
reasonable souls; or throw herrings' heads and dead dog-fish, or
any other refuse, into the water; or in any way make a mess upon
the clean shore--there the water-babies will not come, sometimes
not for hundreds of years (for they cannot abide anything smelly or
foul), but leave the sea-anemones and the crabs to clear away
everything, till the good tidy sea has covered up all the dirt in
soft mud and clean sand, where the water-babies can plant live
cockles and whelks and razor-shells and sea-cucumbers and golden-
combs, and make a pretty live garden again, after man's dirt is
cleared away. And that, I suppose, is the reason why there are no
water-babies at any watering-place which I have ever seen.
And where is the home of the water-babies? In St. Brandan's fairy
Did you never hear of the blessed St. Brandan, how he preached to
the wild Irish on the wild, wild Kerry coast, he and five other
hermits, till they were weary and longed to rest? For the wild
Irish would not listen to them, or come to confession and to mass,
but liked better to brew potheen, and dance the pater o'pee, and
knock each other over the head with shillelaghs, and shoot each
other from behind turf-dykes, and steal each other's cattle, and
burn each other's homes; till St. Brandan and his friends were
weary of them, for they would not learn to be peaceable Christians
So St. Brandan went out to the point of Old Dunmore, and looked
over the tide-way roaring round the Blasquets, at the end of all
the world, and away into the ocean, and sighed--"Ah that I had
wings as a dove!" And far away, before the setting sun, he saw a
blue fairy sea, and golden fairy islands, and he said, "Those are
the islands of the blest." Then he and his friends got into a
hooker, and sailed away and away to the westward, and were never
heard of more. But the people who would not hear him were changed
into gorillas, and gorillas they are until this day.
And when St. Brandan and the hermits came to that fairy isle they
found it overgrown with cedars and full of beautiful birds; and he
sat down under the cedars and preached to all the birds in the air.
And they liked his sermons so well that they told the fishes in the
sea; and they came, and St. Brandan preached to them; and the
fishes told the water-babies, who live in the caves under the isle;
and they came up by hundreds every Sunday, and St. Brandan got
quite a neat little Sunday-school. And there he taught the water-
babies for a great many hundred years, till his eyes grew too dim
to see, and his beard grew so long that he dared not walk for fear
of treading on it, and then he might have tumbled down. And at
last he and the five hermits fell fast asleep under the cedar-
shades, and there they sleep unto this day. But the fairies took
to the water-babies, and taught them their lessons themselves.
And some say that St. Brandan will awake and begin to teach the
babies once more: but some think that he will sleep on, for better
for worse, till the coming of the Cocqcigrues. But, on still clear
summer evenings, when the sun sinks down into the sea, among golden
cloud-capes and cloud-islands, and locks and friths of azure sky,
the sailors fancy that they see, away to westward, St. Brandan's
But whether men can see it or not, St. Brandan's Isle once actually
stood there; a great land out in the ocean, which has sunk and sunk
beneath the waves. Old Plato called it Atlantis, and told strange
tales of the wise men who lived therein, and of the wars they
fought in the old times. And from off that island came strange
flowers, which linger still about this land:- the Cornish heath,
and Cornish moneywort, and the delicate Venus's hair, and the
London-pride which covers the Kerry mountains, and the little pink
butterwort of Devon, and the great blue butterwort of Ireland, and
the Connemara heath, and the bristle-fern of the Turk waterfall,
and many a strange plant more; all fairy tokens left for wise men
and good children from off St. Brandan's Isle.
Now when Tom got there, he found that the isle stood all on
pillars, and that its roots were full of caves. There were pillars
of black basalt, like Staffa; and pillars of green and crimson
serpentine, like Kynance; and pillars ribboned with red and white
and yellow sandstone, like Livermead; and there were blue grottoes
like Capri, and white grottoes like Adelsberg; all curtained and
draped with seaweeds, purple and crimson, green and brown; and
strewn with soft white sand, on which the water-babies sleep every
night. But, to keep the place clean and sweet, the crabs picked up
all the scraps off the floor and ate them like so many monkeys;
while the rocks were covered with ten thousand sea-anemones, and
corals and madrepores, who scavenged the water all day long, and
kept it nice and pure. But, to make up to them for having to do
such nasty work, they were not left black and dirty, as poor
chimney-sweeps and dustmen are. No; the fairies are more
considerate and just than that, and have dressed them all in the
most beautiful colours and patterns, till they look like vast
flower-beds of gay blossoms. If you think I am talking nonsense, I
can only say that it is true; and that an old gentleman named
Fourier used to say that we ought to do the same by chimney-sweeps
and dustmen, and honour them instead of despising them; and he was
a very clever old gentleman: but, unfortunately for him and the
world, as mad as a March hare.
And, instead of watchmen and policemen to keep out nasty things at
night, there were thousands and thousands of water-snakes, and most
wonderful creatures they were. They were all named after the
Nereids, the sea-fairies who took care of them, Eunice and Polynoe,
Phyllodoce and Psamathe, and all the rest of the pretty darlings
who swim round their Queen Amphitrite, and her car of cameo shell.
They were dressed in green velvet, and black velvet, and purple
velvet; and were all jointed in rings; and some of them had three
hundred brains apiece, so that they must have been uncommonly
shrewd detectives; and some had eyes in their tails; and some had
eyes in every joint, so that they kept a very sharp look-out; and
when they wanted a baby-snake, they just grew one at the end of
their own tails, and when it was able to take care of itself it
dropped off; so that they brought up their families very cheaply.
But if any nasty thing came by, out they rushed upon it; and then
out of each of their hundreds of feet there sprang a whole cutler's
Ghoorka swords, Pins,
And so forth,
which stabbed, shot, poked, pricked, scratched, ripped, pinked, and
crimped those naughty beasts so terribly, that they had to run for
their lives, or else be chopped into small pieces and be eaten
afterwards. And, if that is not all, every word, true, then there
is no faith in microscopes, and all is over with the Linnaean
And there were the water-babies in thousands, more than Tom, or you
either, could count.--All the little children whom the good fairies
take to, because their cruel mothers and fathers will not; all who
are untaught and brought up heathens, and all who come to grief by
ill-usage or ignorance or neglect; all the little children who are
overlaid, or given gin when they are young, or are let to drink out
of hot kettles, or to fall into the fire; all the little children
in alleys and courts, and tumble-down cottages, who die by fever,
and cholera, and measles, and scarlatina, and nasty complaints
which no one has any business to have, and which no one will have
some day, when folks have common sense; and all the little children
who have been killed by cruel masters and wicked soldiers; they
were all there, except, of course, the babes of Bethlehem who were
killed by wicked King Herod; for they were taken straight to heaven
long ago, as everybody knows, and we call them the Holy Innocents.
But I wish Tom had given up all his naughty tricks, and left off
tormenting dumb animals now that he had plenty of playfellows to
amuse him. Instead of that, I am sorry to say, he would meddle
with the creatures, all but the water-snakes, for they would stand
no nonsense. So he tickled the madrepores, to make them shut up;
and frightened the crabs, to make them hide in the sand and peep
out at him with the tips of their eyes; and put stones into the
anemones' mouths, to make them fancy that their dinner was coming.
The other children warned him, and said, "Take care what you are
at. Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid is coming." But Tom never heeded them,
being quite riotous with high spirits and good luck, till, one
Friday morning early, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid came indeed.
A very tremendous lady she was; and when the children saw her they
all stood in a row, very upright indeed, and smoothed down their
bathing dresses, and put their hands behind them, just as if they
were going to be examined by the inspector.
And she had on a black bonnet, and a black shawl, and no crinoline
at all; and a pair of large green spectacles, and a great hooked
nose, hooked so much that the bridge of it stood quite up above her
eyebrows; and under her arm she carried a great birch-rod. Indeed,
she was so ugly that Tom was tempted to make faces at her: but did
not; for he did not admire the look of the birch-rod under her arm.
And she looked at the children one by one, and seemed very much
pleased with them, though she never asked them one question about
how they were behaving; and then began giving them all sorts of
nice sea-things--sea-cakes, sea-apples, sea-oranges, sea-bullseyes,
sea-toffee; and to the very best of all she gave sea-ices, made out
of sea-cows' cream, which never melt under water.
And, if you don't quite believe me, then just think--What is more
cheap and plentiful than sea-rock? Then why should there not be
sea-toffee as well? And every one can find sea-lemons (ready
quartered too) if they will look for them at low tide; and sea-
grapes too sometimes, hanging in bunches; and, if you will go to
Nice, you will find the fish-market full of sea-fruit, which they
call "frutta di mare:" though I suppose they call them "fruits de
mer" now, out of compliment to that most successful, and therefore
most immaculate, potentate who is seemingly desirous of inheriting
the blessing pronounced on those who remove their neighbours' land-
mark. And, perhaps, that is the very reason why the place is
called Nice, because there are so many nice things in the sea
there: at least, if it is not, it ought to be.
Now little Tom watched all these sweet things given away, till his
mouth watered, and his eyes grew as round as an owl's. For he
hoped that his turn would come at last; and so it did. For the
lady called him up, and held out her fingers with something in
them, and popped it into his mouth; and, lo and behold, it was a
nasty cold hard pebble.
"You are a very cruel woman," said he, and began to whimper.
"And you are a very cruel boy; who puts pebbles into the sea-
anemones' mouths, to take them in, and make them fancy that they
had caught a good dinner! As you did to them, so I must do to
"Who told you that?" said Tom.
"You did yourself, this very minute."
Tom had never opened his lips; so he was very much taken aback
"Yes; every one tells me exactly what they have done wrong; and
that without knowing it themselves. So there is no use trying to
hide anything from me. Now go, and be a good boy, and I will put
no more pebbles in your mouth, if you put none in other
"I did not know there was any harm in it," said Tom.
"Then you know now. People continually say that to me: but I tell
them, if you don't know that fire burns, that is no reason that it
should not burn you; and if you don't know that dirt breeds fever,
that is no reason why the fevers should not kill you. The lobster
did not know that there was any harm in getting into the lobster-
pot; but it caught him all the same."
"Dear me," thought Tom, "she knows everything!" And so she did,
"And so, if you do not know that things are wrong that is no reason
why you should not be punished for them; though not as much, not as
much, my little man" (and the lady looked very kindly, after all),
"as if you did know."
"Well, you are a little hard on a poor lad," said Tom.
"Not at all; I am the best friend you ever had in all your life.
But I will tell you; I cannot help punishing people when they do
wrong. I like it no more than they do; I am often very, very sorry
for them, poor things: but I cannot help it. If I tried not to do
it, I should do it all the same. For I work by machinery, just
like an engine; and am full of wheels and springs inside; and am
wound up very carefully, so that I cannot help going."
"Was it long ago since they wound you up?" asked Tom. For he
thought, the cunning little fellow, "She will run down some day:
or they may forget to wind her up, as old Grimes used to forget to
wind up his watch when he came in from the public-house; and then I
shall be safe."
"I was wound up once and for all, so long ago, that I forget all
"Dear me," said Tom, "you must have been made a long time!"
"I never was made, my child; and I shall go for ever and ever; for
I am as old as Eternity, and yet as young as Time."
And there came over the lady's face a very curious expression--very
solemn, and very sad; and yet very, very sweet. And she looked up
and away, as if she were gazing through the sea, and through the
sky, at something far, far off; and as she did so, there came such
a quiet, tender, patient, hopeful smile over her face that Tom
thought for the moment that she did not look ugly at all. And no
more she did; for she was like a great many people who have not a
pretty feature in their faces, and yet are lovely to behold, and
draw little children's hearts to them at once because though the
house is plain enough, yet from the windows a beautiful and good
spirit is looking forth.
And Tom smiled in her face, she looked so pleasant for the moment.
And the strange fairy smiled too, and said:
"Yes. You thought me very ugly just now, did you not?"
Tom hung down his head, and got very red about the ears.
"And I am very ugly. I am the ugliest fairy in the world; and I
shall be, till people behave themselves as they ought to do. And
then I shall grow as handsome as my sister, who is the loveliest
fairy in the world; and her name is Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby. So
she begins where I end, and I begin where she ends; and those who
will not listen to her must listen to me, as you will see. Now,
all of you run away, except Tom; and he may stay and see what I am
going to do. It will be a very good warning for him to begin with,
before he goes to school.
"Now, Tom, every Friday I come down here and call up all who have
ill-used little children and serve them as they served the
And at that Tom was frightened, and crept under a stone; which made
the two crabs who lived there very angry, and frightened their
friend the butter-fish into flapping hysterics: but he would not
move for them.
And first she called up all the doctors who give little children so
much physic (they were most of them old ones; for the young ones
have learnt better, all but a few army surgeons, who still fancy
that a baby's inside is much like a Scotch grenadier's), and she
set them all in a row; and very rueful they looked; for they knew
what was coming.
And first she pulled all their teeth out; and then she bled them
all round: and then she dosed them with calomel, and jalap, and
salts and senna, and brimstone and treacle; and horrible faces they
made; and then she gave them a great emetic of mustard and water,
and no basons; and began all over again; and that was the way she
spent the morning.
And then she called up a whole troop of foolish ladies, who pinch
up their children's waists and toes; and she laced them all up in
tight stays, so that they were choked and sick, and their noses
grew red, and their hands and feet swelled; and then she crammed
their poor feet into the most dreadfully tight boots, and made them
all dance, which they did most clumsily indeed; and then she asked
them how they liked it; and when they said not at all, she let them
go: because they had only done it out of foolish fashion, fancying
it was for their children's good, as if wasps' waists and pigs'
toes could be pretty, or wholesome, or of any use to anybody.
Then she called up all the careless nurserymaids, and stuck pins
into them all over, and wheeled them about in perambulators with
tight straps across their stomachs and their heads and arms hanging
over the side, till they were quite sick and stupid, and would have
had sun-strokes: but, being under the water, they could only have
water-strokes; which, I assure you, are nearly as bad, as you will
find if you try to sit under a mill-wheel. And mind--when you hear
a rumbling at the bottom of the sea, sailors will tell you that it
is a ground-swell: but now you know better. It is the old lady
wheeling the maids about in perambulators.
And by that time she was so tired, she had to go to luncheon.
And after luncheon she set to work again, and called up all the
cruel schoolmasters--whole regiments and brigades of them; and when
she saw them, she frowned most terribly, and set to work in
earnest, as if the best part of the day's work was to come. More
than half of them were nasty, dirty, frowzy, grubby, smelly old
monks, who, because they dare not hit a man of their own size,
amused themselves with beating little children instead; as you may
see in the picture of old Pope Gregory (good man and true though he
was, when he meddled with things which he did understand), teaching
children to sing their fa-fa-mi-fa with a cat-o'-nine tails under
his chair: but, because they never had any children of their own,
they took into their heads (as some folks do still) that they were
the only people in the world who knew how to manage children: and
they first brought into England, in the old Anglo-Saxon times, the
fashion of treating free boys, and girls too, worse than you would
treat a dog or a horse: but Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid has caught them
all long ago; and given them many a taste of their own rods; and
much good may it do them.
And she boxed their ears, and thumped them over the head with
rulers, and pandied their hands with canes, and told them that they
told stories, and were this and that bad sort of people; and the
more they were very indignant, and stood upon their honour, and
declared they told the truth, the more she declared they were not,
and that they were only telling lies; and at last she birched them
all round soundly with her great birch-rod and set them each an
imposition of three hundred thousand lines of Hebrew to learn by
heart before she came back next Friday. And at that they all cried
and howled so, that their breaths came all up through the sea like
bubbles out of soda-water; and that is one reason of the bubbles in
the sea. There are others: but that is the one which principally
concerns little boys. And by that time she was so tired that she
was glad to stop; and, indeed, she had done a very good day's work.
Tom did not quite dislike the old lady: but he could not help
thinking her a little spiteful--and no wonder if she was, poor old
soul; for if she has to wait to grow handsome till people do as
they would be done by, she will have to wait a very long time.
Poor old Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid! she has a great deal of hard work
before her, and had better have been born a washerwoman, and stood
over a tub all day: but, you see, people cannot always choose
their own profession.
But Tom longed to ask her one question; and after all, whenever she
looked at him, she did not look cross at all; and now and then
there was a funny smile in her face, and she chuckled to herself in
a way which gave Tom courage, and at last he said:
"Pray, ma'am, may I ask you a question?"
"Certainly, my little dear."
"Why don't you bring all the bad masters here and serve them out
too? The butties that knock about the poor collier-boys; and the
nailers that file off their lads' noses and hammer their fingers;
and all the master sweeps, like my master Grimes? I saw him fall
into the water long ago; so I surely expected he would have been
here. I'm sure he was bad enough to me."
Then the old lady looked so very stern that Tom was quite
frightened, and sorry that he had been so bold. But she was not
angry with him. She only answered, "I look after them all the week
round; and they are in a very different place from this, because
they knew that they were doing wrong."
She spoke very quietly; but there was something in her voice which
made Tom tingle from head to foot, as if he had got into a shoal of
"But these people," she went on, "did not know that they were doing
wrong: they were only stupid and impatient; and therefore I only
punish them till they become patient, and learn to use their common
sense like reasonable beings. But as for chimney-sweeps, and
collier-boys, and nailer lads, my sister has set good people to
stop all that sort of thing; and very much obliged to her I am; for
if she could only stop the cruel masters from ill-using poor
children, I should grow handsome at least a thousand years sooner.
And now do you be a good boy, and do as you would be done by, which
they did not; and then, when my sister, MADAME
DOASYOUWOULDBEDONEBY, comes on Sunday, perhaps she will take notice
of you, and teach you how to behave. She understands that better
than I do." And so she went.
Tom was very glad to hear that there was no chance of meeting
Grimes again, though he was a little sorry for him, considering
that he used sometimes to give him the leavings of the beer: but
he determined to be a very good boy all Saturday; and he was; for
he never frightened one crab, nor tickled any live corals, nor put
stones into the sea anemones' mouths, to make them fancy they had
got a dinner; and when Sunday morning came, sure enough, MRS.
DOASYOUWOULDBEDONEBY came too. Whereat all the little children
began dancing and clapping their hands, and Tom danced too with all
And as for the pretty lady, I cannot tell you what the colour of
her hair was, or, of her eyes: no more could Tom; for, when any
one looks at her, all they can think of is, that she has the
sweetest, kindest, tenderest, funniest, merriest face they ever
saw, or want to see. But Tom saw that she was a very tall woman,
as tall as her sister: but instead of being gnarly and horny, and
scaly, and prickly, like her, she was the most nice, soft, fat,
smooth, pussy, cuddly, delicious creature who ever nursed a baby;
and she understood babies thoroughly, for she had plenty of her
own, whole rows and regiments of them, and has to this day. And
all her delight was, whenever she had a spare moment, to play with
babies, in which she showed herself a woman of sense; for babies
are the best company, and the pleasantest playfellows, in the
world; at least, so all the wise people in the world think. And
therefore when the children saw her, they naturally all caught hold
of her, and pulled her till she sat down on a stone, and climbed
into her lap, and clung round her neck, and caught hold of her
hands; and then they all put their thumbs into their mouths, and
began cuddling and purring like so many kittens, as they ought to
have done. While those who could get nowhere else sat down on the
sand, and cuddled her feet--for no one, you know, wear shoes in the
water, except horrid old bathing-women, who are afraid of the
water-babies pinching their horny toes. And Tom stood staring at
them; for he could not understand what it was all about.
"And who are you, you little darling?" she said.
"Oh, that is the new baby!" they all cried, pulling their thumbs
out of their mouths; "and he never had any mother," and they all
put their thumbs back again, for they did not wish to lose any
"Then I will be his mother, and he shall have the very best place;
so get out, all of you, this moment."
And she took up two great armfuls of babies--nine hundred under one
arm, and thirteen hundred under the other--and threw them away,
right and left, into the water. But they minded it no more than
the naughty boys in Struwelpeter minded when St. Nicholas dipped
them in his inkstand; and did not even take their thumbs out of
their mouths, but came paddling and wriggling back to her like so
many tadpoles, till you could see nothing of her from head to foot
for the swarm of little babies.
But she took Tom in her arms, and laid him in the softest place of
all, and kissed him, and patted him, and talked to him, tenderly
and low, such things as he had never heard before in his life; and
Tom looked up into her eyes, and loved her, and loved, till he fell
fast asleep from pure love.
And when he woke she was telling the children a story. And what
story did she tell them? One story she told them, which begins
every Christmas Eve, and yet never ends at all for ever and ever;
and, as she went on, the children took their thumbs out of their
mouths and listened quite seriously; but not sadly at all; for she
never told them anything sad; and Tom listened too, and never grew
tired of listening. And he listened so long that he fell fast
asleep again, and, when he woke, the lady was nursing him still.
"Don't go away," said little Tom. "This is so nice. I never had
any one to cuddle me before."
"Don't go away," said all the children; "you have not sung us one
"Well, I have time for only one. So what shall it be?"
"The doll you lost! The doll you lost!" cried all the babies at
So the strange fairy sang:-
I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world;
Her cheeks were so red and so white, dears,
And her hair was so charmingly curled.
But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
And I cried for her more than a week, dears,
But I never could find where she lay.
I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day:
Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arm trodden off by the cows, dears,
And her hair not the least bit curled:
Yet, for old sakes' sake she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world.
What a silly song for a fairy to sing!
And what silly water-babies to be quite delighted at it!
Well, but you see they have not the advantage of Aunt Agitate's
Arguments in the sea-land down below.
"Now," said the fairy to Tom, "will you be a good boy for my sake,
and torment no more sea-beasts till I come back?"
"And you will cuddle me again?" said poor little Tom.
"Of course I will, you little duck. I should like to take you with
me and cuddle you all the way, only I must not;" and away she went.
So Tom really tried to be a good boy, and tormented no sea-beasts
after that as long as he lived; and he is quite alive, I assure
Oh, how good little boys ought to be who have kind pussy mammas to
cuddle them and tell them stories; and how afraid they ought to be
of growing naughty, and bringing tears into their mammas' pretty
"Thou little child, yet glorious in the night
Of heaven-born freedom on thy Being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The Years to bring the inevitable yoke -
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life."
I come to the very saddest part of all my story. I know some
people will only laugh at it, and call it much ado about nothing.
But I know one man who would not; and he was an officer with a pair
of gray moustaches as long as your arm, who said once in company
that two of the most heart-rending sights in the world, which moved
him most to tears, which he would do anything to prevent or remedy,
were a child over a broken toy and a child stealing sweets.
The company did not laugh at him; his moustaches were too long and
too gray for that: but, after he was gone, they called him
sentimental and so forth, all but one dear little old Quaker lady
with a soul as white as her cap, who was not, of course, generally
partial to soldiers; and she said very quietly, like a Quaker:
"Friends, it is borne upon my mind that that is a truly brave man."
Now you may fancy that Tom was quite good, when he had everything
that he could want or wish: but you would be very much mistaken.
Being quite comfortable is a very good thing; but it does not make
people good. Indeed, it sometimes makes them naughty, as it has
made the people in America; and as it made the people in the Bible,
who waxed fat and kicked, like horses overfed and underworked. And
I am very sorry to say that this happened to little Tom. For he
grew so fond of the sea-bullseyes and sea-lollipops that his
foolish little head could think of nothing else: and he was always
longing for more, and wondering when the strange lady would come
again and give him some, and what she would give him, and how much,
and whether she would give him more than the others. And he
thought of nothing but lollipops by day, and dreamt of nothing else
by night--and what happened then?
That he began to watch the lady to see where she kept the sweet
things: and began hiding, and sneaking, and following her about,
and pretending to be looking the other way, or going after
something else, till he found out that she kept them in a beautiful
mother-of-pearl cabinet away in a deep crack of the rocks.
And he longed to go to the cabinet, and yet he was afraid; and then
he longed again, and was less afraid; and at last, by continual
thinking about it, he longed so violently that he was not afraid at
all. And one night, when all the other children were asleep, and
he could not sleep for thinking of lollipops, he crept away among
the rocks, and got to the cabinet, and behold! it was open.
But, when he saw all the nice things inside, instead of being
delighted, he was quite frightened, and wished he had never come
there. And then he would only touch them, and he did; and then he
would only taste one, and he did; and then he would only eat one,
and he did; and then he would only eat two, and then three, and so
on; and then he was terrified lest she should come and catch him,
and began gobbling them down so fast that he did not taste them, or
have any pleasure in them; and then he felt sick, and would have
only one more; and then only one more again; and so on till he had
eaten them all up.
And all the while, close behind him, stood Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid.
Some people may say, But why did she not keep her cupboard locked?
Well, I know.--It may seem a very strange thing, but she never does
keep her cupboard locked; every one may go and taste for
themselves, and fare accordingly. It is very odd, but so it is;
and I am quite sure that she knows best. Perhaps she wishes people
to keep their fingers out of the fire, by having them burned.
She took off her spectacles, because she did not like to see too
much; and in her pity she arched up her eyebrows into her very
hair, and her eyes grew so wide that they would have taken in all
the sorrows of the world, and filled with great big tears, as they
too often do.
But all she said was:
"Ah, you poor little dear! you are just like all the rest."
But she said it to herself, and Tom neither heard nor saw her.
Now, you must not fancy that she was sentimental at all. If you
do, and think that she is going to let off you, or me, or any human
being when we do wrong, because she is too tender-hearted to punish
us, then you will find yourself very much mistaken, as many a man
does every year and every day.
But what did the strange fairy do when she saw all her lollipops
Did she fly at Tom, catch him by the scruff of the neck, hold him,
howk him, hump him, hurry him, hit him, poke him, pull him, pinch
him, pound him, put him in the corner, shake him, slap him, set him
on a cold stone to reconsider himself, and so forth?
Not a bit. You may watch her at work if you know where to find
her. But you will never see her do that. For, if she had, she
knew quite well Tom would have fought, and kicked, and bit, and
said bad words, and turned again that moment into a naughty little
heathen chimney-sweep, with his hand, like Ishmael's of old,
against every man, and every man's hand against him.
Did she question him, hurry him, frighten him, threaten him, to
make him confess? Not a bit. You may see her, as I said, at her
work often enough if you know where to look for her: but you will
never see her do that. For, if she had, she would have tempted him
to tell lies in his fright; and that would have been worse for him,
if possible, than even becoming a heathen chimney-sweep again.
No. She leaves that for anxious parents and teachers (lazy ones,
some call them), who, instead of giving children a fair trial, such
as they would expect and demand for themselves, force them by
fright to confess their own faults--which is so cruel and unfair
that no judge on the bench dare do it to the wickedest thief or
murderer, for the good British law forbids it--ay, and even punish
them to make them confess, which is so detestable a crime that it
is never committed now, save by Inquisitors, and Kings of Naples,
and a few other wretched people of whom the world is weary. And
then they say, "We have trained up the child in the way he should
go, and when he grew up he has departed from it. Why then did
Solomon say that he would not depart from it?" But perhaps the way
of beating, and hurrying and frightening, and questioning, was not
the way that the child should go; for it is not even the way in
which a colt should go if you want to break it in and make it a
quiet serviceable horse.
Some folks may say, "Ah! but the Fairy does not need to do that if
she knows everything already." True. But, if she did not know,
she would not surely behave worse than a British judge and jury;
and no more should parents and teachers either.
So she just said nothing at all about the matter, not even when Tom
came next day with the rest for sweet things. He was horribly
afraid of coming: but he was still more afraid of staying away,
lest any one should suspect him. He was dreadfully afraid, too,
lest there should be no sweets--as was to be expected, he having
eaten them all--and lest then the fairy should inquire who had
taken them. But, behold! she pulled out just as many as ever,
which astonished Tom, and frightened him still more.
And, when the fairy looked him full in the face, he shook from head
to foot: however she gave him his share like the rest, and he
thought within himself that she could not have found him out.
But, when he put the sweets into his mouth, he hated the taste of
them; and they made him so sick that he had to get away as fast as
he could; and terribly sick he was, and very cross and unhappy, all
the week after.
Then, when next week came, he had his share again; and again the
fairy looked him full in the face; but more sadly than she had ever
looked. And he could not bear the sweets: but took them again in
spite of himself.
And when Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby came, he wanted to be cuddled
like the rest; but she said very seriously:
"I should like to cuddle you; but I cannot, you are so horny and
And Tom looked at himself: and he was all over prickles, just like
Which was quite natural; for you must know and believe that
people's souls make their bodies just as a snail makes its shell (I
am not joking, my little man; I am in serious, solemn earnest).
And therefore, when Tom's soul grew all prickly with naughty
tempers, his body could not help growing prickly, too, so that
nobody would cuddle him, or play with him, or even like to look at
What could Tom do now but go away and hide in a corner and cry?
For nobody would play with him, and he knew full well why.
And he was so miserable all that week that when the ugly fairy came
and looked at him once more full in the face, more seriously and
sadly than ever, he could stand it no longer, and thrust the
sweetmeats away, saying, "No, I don't want any: I can't bear them
now," and then burst out crying, poor little man, and told Mrs.
Bedonebyasyoudid every word as it happened.
He was horribly frightened when he had done so; for he expected her
to punish him very severely. But, instead, she only took him up
and kissed him, which was not quite pleasant, for her chin was very
bristly indeed; but he was so lonely-hearted, he thought that rough
kissing was better than none.
"I will forgive you, little man," she said. "I always forgive
every one the moment they tell me the truth of their own accord."
"Then you will take away all these nasty prickles?"
"That is a very different matter. You put them there yourself, and
only you can take them away."
"But how can I do that?" asked Tom, crying afresh.
"Well, I think it is time for you to go to school; so I shall fetch
you a schoolmistress, who will teach you how to get rid of your
prickles." And so she went away.
Tom was frightened at the notion of a school-mistress; for he
thought she would certainly come with a birch-rod or a cane; but he
comforted himself, at last, that she might be something like the
old woman in Vendale--which she was not in the least; for, when the
fairy brought her, she was the most beautiful little girl that ever
was seen, with long curls floating behind her like a golden cloud,
and long robes floating all round her like a silver one.
"There he is," said the fairy; "and you must teach him to be good,
whether you like or not."
"I know," said the little girl; but she did not seem quite to like,
for she put her finger in her mouth, and looked at Tom under her
brows; and Tom put his finger in his mouth, and looked at her under
his brows, for he was horribly ashamed of himself.
The little girl seemed hardly to know how to begin; and perhaps she
would never have begun at all if poor Tom had not burst out crying,
and begged her to teach him to be good and help him to cure his
prickles; and at that she grew so tender-hearted that she began
teaching him as prettily as ever child was taught in the world.
And what did the little girl teach Tom? She taught him, first,
what you have been taught ever since you said your first prayers at
your mother's knees; but she taught him much more simply. For the
lessons in that world, my child, have no such hard words in them as
the lessons in this, and therefore the water-babies like them
better than you like your lessons, and long to learn them more and
more; and grown men cannot puzzle nor quarrel over their meaning,
as they do here on land; for those lessons all rise clear and pure,
like the Test out of Overton Pool, out of the everlasting ground of
all life and truth.
So she taught Tom every day in the week; only on Sundays she always
went away home, and the kind fairy took her place. And before she
had taught Tom many Sundays, his prickles had vanished quite away,
and his skin was smooth and clean again.
"Dear me!" said the little girl; "why, I know you now. You are the
very same little chimney-sweep who came into my bedroom."
"Dear me!" cried Tom. "And I know you, too, now. You are the very
little white lady whom I saw in bed." And he jumped at her, and
longed to hug and kiss her; but did not, remembering that she was a
lady born; so he only jumped round and round her till he was quite
And then they began telling each other all their story--how he had
got into the water, and she had fallen over the rock; and how he
had swum down to the sea, and how she had flown out of the window;
and how this, that, and the other, till it was all talked out: and
then they both began over again, and I can't say which of the two
And then they set to work at their lessons again, and both liked
them so well that they went on well till seven full years were past
You may fancy that Tom was quite content and happy all those seven
years; but the truth is, he was not. He had always one thing on
his mind, and that was--where little Ellie went, when she went home
To a very beautiful place, she said.
But what was the beautiful place like, and where was it?
Ah! that is just what she could not say. And it is strange, but
true, that no one can say; and that those who have been oftenest in
it, or even nearest to it, can say least about it, and make people
understand least what it is like. There are a good many folks
about the Other-end-of-Nowhere (where Tom went afterwards), who
pretend to know it from north to south as well as if they had been
penny postmen there; but, as they are safe at the Other-end-of-
Nowhere, nine hundred and ninety-nine million miles away, what they
say cannot concern us.
But the dear, sweet, loving, wise, good, self-sacrificing people,
who really go there, can never tell you anything about it, save
that it is the most beautiful place in all the world; and, if you
ask them more, they grow modest, and hold their peace, for fear of
being laughed at; and quite right they are.
So all that good little Ellie could say was, that it was worth all
the rest of the world put together. And of course that only made
Tom the more anxious to go likewise.
"Miss Ellie," he said at last, "I will know why I cannot go with
you when you go home on Sundays, or I shall have no peace, and give
you none either."
"You must ask the fairies that."
So when the fairy, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, came next, Tom asked her.
"Little boys who are only fit to play with sea-beasts cannot go
there," she said. "Those who go there must go first where they do
not like, and do what they do not like, and help somebody they do
"Why, did Ellie do that?"
And Ellie blushed, and said, "Yes, Tom; I did not like coming here
at first; I was so much happier at home, where it is always Sunday.
And I was afraid of you, Tom, at first, because--because--"
"Because I was all over prickles? But I am not prickly now, am I,
"No," said Ellie. "I like you very much now; and I like coming
"And perhaps," said the fairy, "you will learn to like going where
you don't like, and helping some one that you don't like, as Ellie
But Tom put his finger in his mouth, and hung his head down; for he
did not see that at all.
So when Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby came, Tom asked her; for he
thought in his little head, She is not so strict as her sister, and
perhaps she may let me off more easily.
Ah, Tom, Tom, silly fellow! and yet I don't know why I should blame
you, while so many grown people have got the very same notion in
But, when they try it, they get just the same answer as Tom did.
For, when he asked the second fairy, she told him just what the
first did, and in the very same words.
Tom was very unhappy at that. And, when Ellie went home on Sunday,
he fretted and cried all day, and did not care to listen to the
fairy's stories about good children, though they were prettier than
ever. Indeed, the more he overheard of them, the less he liked to
listen, because they were all about children who did what they did
not like, and took trouble for other people, and worked to feed
their little brothers and sisters instead of caring only for their
play. And, when she began to tell a story about a holy child in
old times, who was martyred by the heathen because it would not
worship idols, Tom could bear no more, and ran away and hid among
And, when Ellie came back, he was shy with her, because he fancied
she looked down on him, and thought him a coward. And then he grew
quite cross with her, because she was superior to him, and did what
he could not do. And poor Ellie was quite surprised and sad; and
at last Tom burst out crying; but he would not tell her what was
really in his mind.
And all the while he was eaten up with curiosity to know where
Ellie went to; so that he began not to care for his playmates, or
for the sea-palace or anything else. But perhaps that made matters
all the easier for him; for he grew so discontented with everything
round him that he did not care to stay, and did not care where he
"Well," he said, at last, "I am so miserable here, I'll go; if only
you will go with me?"
"Ah!" said Ellie, "I wish I might; but the worst of it is, that the
fairy says that you must go alone if you go at all. Now don't poke
that poor crab about, Tom" (for he was feeling very naughty and
mischievous), "or the fairy will have to punish you."
Tom was very nearly saying, "I don't care if she does;" but he
stopped himself in time.
"I know what she wants me to do," he said, whining most dolefully.
"She wants me to go after that horrid old Grimes. I don't like
him, that's certain. And if I find him, he will turn me into a
chimney-sweep again, I know. That's what I have been afraid of all
"No, he won't--I know as much as that. Nobody can turn water-
babies into sweeps, or hurt them at all, as long as they are good."
"Ah," said naughty Tom, "I see what you want; you are persuading me
all along to go, because you are tired of me, and want to get rid
Little Ellie opened her eyes very wide at that, and they were all
brimming over with tears.
"Oh, Tom, Tom!" she said, very mournfully--and then she cried, "Oh,
Tom! where are you?"
And Tom cried, "Oh, Ellie, where are you?"
For neither of them could see each other--not the least. Little
Ellie vanished quite away, and Tom heard her voice calling him, and
growing smaller and smaller, and fainter and fainter, till all was
Who was frightened then but Tom? He swam up and down among the
rocks, into all the halls and chambers, faster than ever he swam
before, but could not find her. He shouted after her, but she did
not answer; he asked all the other children, but they had not seen
her; and at last he went up to the top of the water and began
crying and screaming for Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid--which perhaps was
the best thing to do--for she came in a moment.
"Oh!" said Tom. "Oh dear, oh dear! I have been naughty to Ellie,
and I have killed her--I know I have killed her."
"Not quite that," said the fairy; "but I have sent her away home,
and she will not come back again for I do not know how long."
And at that Tom cried so bitterly that the salt sea was swelled
with his tears, and the tide was .3,954,620,819 of an inch higher
than it had been the day before: but perhaps that was owing to the
waxing of the moon. It may have been so; but it is considered
right in the new philosophy, you know, to give spiritual causes for
physical phenomena--especially in parlour-tables; and, of course,
physical causes for spiritual ones, like thinking, and praying, and
knowing right from wrong. And so they odds it till it comes even,
as folks say down in Berkshire.
"How cruel of you to send Ellie away!" sobbed Tom. "However, I
will find her again, if I go to the world's end to look for her."
The fairy did not slap Tom, and tell him to hold his tongue: but
she took him on her lap very kindly, just as her sister would have
done; and put him in mind how it was not her fault, because she was
wound up inside, like watches, and could not help doing things
whether she liked or not. And then she told him how he had been in
the nursery long enough, and must go out now and see the world, if
he intended ever to be a man; and how he must go all alone by
himself, as every one else that ever was born has to go, and see
with his own eyes, and smell with his own nose, and make his own
bed and lie on it, and burn his own fingers if he put them into the
fire. And then she told him how many fine things there were to be
seen in the world, and what an odd, curious, pleasant, orderly,
respectable, well-managed, and, on the whole, successful (as,
indeed, might have been expected) sort of a place it was, if people
would only be tolerably brave and honest and good in it; and then
she told him not to be afraid of anything he met, for nothing would
harm him if he remembered all his lessons, and did what he knew was
right. And at last she comforted poor little Tom so much that he
was quite eager to go, and wanted to set out that minute. "Only,"
he said, "if I might see Ellie once before I went!"
"Why do you want that?"
"Because--because I should be so much happier if I thought she had
And in the twinkling of an eye there stood Ellie, smiling, and
looking so happy that Tom longed to kiss her; but was still afraid
it would not be respectful, because she was a lady born.
"I am going, Ellie!" said Tom. "I am going, if it is to the
world's end. But I don't like going at all, and that's the truth."
"Pooh! pooh! pooh!" said the fairy. "You will like it very well
indeed, you little rogue, and you know that at the bottom of your
heart. But if you don't, I will make you like it. Come here, and
see what happens to people who do only what is pleasant."
And she took out of one of her cupboards (she had all sorts of
mysterious cupboards in the cracks of the rocks) the most wonderful
waterproof book, full of such photographs as never were seen. For
she had found out photography (and this is a fact) more than
13,598,000 years before anybody was born; and, what is more, her
photographs did not merely represent light and shade, as ours do,
but colour also, and all colours, as you may see if you look at a
black-cock's tail, or a butterfly's wing, or indeed most things
that are or can be, so to speak. And therefore her photographs
were very curious and famous, and the children looked with great
delight for the opening of the book.
And on the title-page was written, "The History of the great and
famous nation of the Doasyoulikes, who came away from the country
of Hardwork, because they wanted to play on the Jews' harp all day
In the first picture they saw these Doasyoulikes living in the land
of Readymade, at the foot of the Happy-go-lucky Mountains, where
flapdoodle grows wild; and if you want to know what that is, you
must read Peter Simple.
They lived very much such a life as those jolly old Greeks in
Sicily, whom you may see painted on the ancient vases, and really
there seemed to be great excuses for them, for they had no need to
Instead of houses they lived in the beautiful caves of tufa, and
bathed in the warm springs three times a day; and, as for clothes,
it was so warm there that the gentlemen walked about in little
beside a cocked hat and a pair of straps, or some light summer
tackle of that kind; and the ladies all gathered gossamer in autumn
(when they were not too lazy) to make their winter dresses.
They were very fond of music, but it was too much trouble to learn
the piano or the violin; and as for dancing, that would have been
too great an exertion. So they sat on ant-hills all day long, and
played on the Jews' harp; and, if the ants bit them, why they just
got up and went to the next ant-hill, till they were bitten there
And they sat under the flapdoodle-trees, and let the flapdoodle
drop into their mouths; and under the vines, and squeezed the
grape-juice down their throats; and, if any little pigs ran about
ready roasted, crying, "Come and eat me," as was their fashion in
that country, they waited till the pigs ran against their mouths,
and then took a bite, and were content, just as so many oysters
would have been.
They needed no weapons, for no enemies ever came near their land;
and no tools, for everything was readymade to their hand; and the
stern old fairy Necessity never came near them to hunt them up, and
make them use their wits, or die.
And so on, and so on, and so on, till there were never such
comfortable, easy-going, happy-go-lucky people in the world.
"Well, that is a jolly life," said Tom.
"You think so?" said the fairy. "Do you see that great peaked
mountain there behind," said the fairy, "with smoke coming out of
"And do you see all those ashes, and slag, and cinders lying
"Then turn over the next five hundred years, and you will see what
And behold the mountain had blown up like a barrel of gunpowder,
and then boiled over like a kettle; whereby one-third of the
Doasyoulikes were blown into the air, and another third were
smothered in ashes; so that there was only one-third left.
"You see," said the fairy, "what comes of living on a burning
"Oh, why did you not warn them?" said little Ellie.
"I did warn them all that I could. I let the smoke come out of the
mountain; and wherever there is smoke there is fire. And I laid
the ashes and cinders all about; and wherever there are cinders,
cinders may be again. But they did not like to face facts, my
dears, as very few people do; and so they invented a cock-and-bull
story, which, I am sure, I never told them, that the smoke was the
breath of a giant, whom some gods or other had buried under the
mountain; and that the cinders were what the dwarfs roasted the
little pigs whole with; and other nonsense of that kind. And, when
folks are in that humour, I cannot teach them, save by the good old
And then she turned over the next five hundred years: and there
were the remnant of the Doasyoulikes, doing as they liked, as
before. They were too lazy to move away from the mountain; so they
said, If it has blown up once, that is all the more reason that it
should not blow up again. And they were few in number: but they
only said, The more the merrier, but the fewer the better fare.
However, that was not quite true; for all the flapdoodle-trees were
killed by the volcano, and they had eaten all the roast pigs, who,
of course, could not be expected to have little ones. So they had
to live very hard, on nuts and roots which they scratched out of
the ground with sticks. Some of them talked of sowing corn, as
their ancestors used to do, before they came into the land of
Readymade; but they had forgotten how to make ploughs (they had
forgotten even how to make Jews' harps by this time), and had eaten
all the seed-corn which they brought out of the land of Hardwork
years since; and of course it was too much trouble to go away and
find more. So they lived miserably on roots and nuts, and all the
weakly little children had great stomachs, and then died.
"Why," said Tom, "they are growing no better than savages."
"And look how ugly they are all getting," said Ellie.
"Yes; when people live on poor vegetables instead of roast beef and
plum-pudding, their jaws grow large, and their lips grow coarse,
like the poor Paddies who eat potatoes."
And she turned over the next five hundred years. And there they
were all living up in trees, and making nests to keep off the rain.
And underneath the trees lions were prowling about.
"Why," said Ellie, "the lions seem to have eaten a good many of
them, for there are very few left now."
"Yes," said the fairy; "you see it was only the strongest and most
active ones who could climb the trees, and so escape."
"But what great, hulking, broad-shouldered chaps they are," said
Tom; "they are a rough lot as ever I saw."
"Yes, they are getting very strong now; for the ladies will not
marry any but the very strongest and fiercest gentlemen, who can
help them up the trees out of the lions' way."
And she turned over the next five hundred years. And in that they
were fewer still, and stronger, and fiercer; but their feet had
changed shape very oddly, for they laid hold of the branches with
their great toes, as if they had been thumbs, just as a Hindoo
tailor uses his toes to thread his needle.
The children were very much surprised, and asked the fairy whether
that was her doing.
"Yes, and no," she said, smiling. "It was only those who could use
their feet as well as their hands who could get a good living: or,
indeed, get married; so that they got the best of everything, and
starved out all the rest; and those who are left keep up a regular
breed of toe-thumb-men, as a breed of short-horns, or are skye-
terriers, or fancy pigeons is kept up."
"But there is a hairy one among them," said Ellie.
"Ah!" said the fairy, "that will be a great man in his time, and
chief of all the tribe."
And, when she turned over the next five hundred years, it was true.
For this hairy chief had had hairy children, and they hairier
children still; and every one wished to marry hairy husbands, and
have hairy children too; for the climate was growing so damp that
none but the hairy ones could live: all the rest coughed and
sneezed, and had sore throats, and went into consumptions, before
they could grow up to be men and women.
Then the fairy turned over the next five hundred years. And they
were fewer still.
"Why, there is one on the ground picking up roots," said Ellie,
"and he cannot walk upright."
No more he could; for in the same way that the shape of their feet
had altered, the shape of their backs had altered also.
"Why," cried Tom, "I declare they are all apes."
"Something fearfully like it, poor foolish creatures," said the
fairy. "They are grown so stupid now, that they can hardly think:
for none of them have used their wits for many hundred years. They
have almost forgotten, too, how to talk. For each stupid child
forgot some of the words it heard from its stupid parents, and had
not wits enough to make fresh words for itself. Beside, they are
grown so fierce and suspicious and brutal that they keep out of
each other's way, and mope and sulk in the dark forests, never
hearing each other's voice, till they have forgotten almost what
speech is like. I am afraid they will all be apes very soon, and
all by doing only what they liked."
And in the next five hundred years they were all dead and gone, by
bad food and wild beasts and hunters; all except one tremendous old
fellow with jaws like a jack, who stood full seven feet high; and
M. Du Chaillu came up to him, and shot him, as he stood roaring and
thumping his breast. And he remembered that his ancestors had once
been men, and tried to say, "Am I not a man and a brother?" but had
forgotten how to use his tongue; and then he had tried to call for
a doctor, but he had forgotten the word for one. So all he said
was "Ubboboo!" and died.
And that was the end of the great and jolly nation of the
Doasyoulikes. And, when Tom and Ellie came to the end of the book,
they looked very sad and solemn; and they had good reason so to do,
for they really fancied that the men were apes, and never thought,
in their simplicity, of asking whether the creatures had
hippopotamus majors in their brains or not; in which case, as you
have been told already, they could not possibly have been apes,
though they were more apish than the apes of all aperies.
"But could you not have saved them from becoming apes?" said little
Ellie, at last.
"At first, my dear; if only they would have behaved like men, and
set to work to do what they did not like. But the longer they
waited, and behaved like the dumb beasts, who only do what they
like, the stupider and clumsier they grew; till at last they were
past all cure, for they had thrown their own wits away. It is such
things as this that help to make me so ugly, that I know not when I
shall grow fair."
"And where are they all now?" asked Ellie.
"Exactly where they ought to be, my dear."
"Yes!" said the fairy, solemnly, half to herself, as she closed the
wonderful book. "Folks say now that I can make beasts into men, by
circumstance, and selection, and competition, and so forth. Well,
perhaps they are right; and perhaps, again, they are wrong. That
is one of the seven things which I am forbidden to tell, till the
coming of the Cocqcigrues; and, at all events, it is no concern of
theirs. Whatever their ancestors were, men they are; and I advise
them to behave as such, and act accordingly. But let them
recollect this, that there are two sides to every question, and a
downhill as well as an uphill road; and, if I can turn beasts into
men, I can, by the same laws of circumstance, and selection, and
competition, turn men into beasts. You were very near being turned
into a beast once or twice, little Tom. Indeed, if you had not
made up your mind to go on this journey, and see the world, like an
Englishman, I am not sure but that you would have ended as an eft
in a pond."
"Oh, dear me!" said Tom; "sooner than that, and be all over slime,
I'll go this minute, if it is to the world's end."
"And Nature, the old Nurse, took
The child upon her knee,
Saying, 'Here is a story book
Thy father hath written for thee.
"'Come wander with me,' she said,
'Into regions yet untrod,
And read what is still unread
In the Manuscripts of God.'
"And he wandered away and away
With Nature, the dear old Nurse,
Who sang to him night and day
The rhymes of the universe."
"Now," said Tom, "I am ready be off, if it's to the world's end."
"Ah!" said the fairy, "that is a brave, good boy. But you must go
farther than the world's end, if you want to find Mr. Grimes; for
he is at the Other-end-of-Nowhere. You must go to Shiny Wall, and
through the white gate that never was opened; and then you will
come to Peacepool, and Mother Carey's Haven, where the good whales
go when they die. And there Mother Carey will tell you the way to
the Other-end-of-Nowhere, and there you will find Mr. Grimes."
"Oh, dear!" said Tom. "But I do not know my way to Shiny Wall, or
where it is at all."
"Little boys must take the trouble to find out things for
themselves, or they will never grow to be men; so that you must ask
all the beasts in the sea and the birds in the air, and if you have
been good to them, some of them will tell you the way to Shiny
"Well," said Tom, "it will be a long journey, so I had better start
at once. Good-bye, Miss Ellie; you know I am getting a big boy,
and I must go out and see the world."
"I know you must," said Ellie; "but you will not forget me, Tom. I
shall wait here till you come."
And she shook hands with him, and bade him good-bye. Tom longed
very much again to kiss her; but he thought it would not be
respectful, considering she was a lady born; so he promised not to
forget her: but his little whirl-about of a head was so full of
the notion of going out to see the world, that it forgot her in
five minutes: however, though his head forgot her, I am glad to
say his heart did not.
So he asked all the beasts in the sea, and all the birds in the
air, but none of them knew the way to Shiny Wall. For why? He was
still too far down south.
Then he met a ship, far larger than he had ever seen--a gallant
ocean-steamer, with a long cloud of smoke trailing behind; and he
wondered how she went on without sails, and swam up to her to see.
A school of dolphins were running races round and round her, going
three feet for her one, and Tom asked them the way to Shiny Wall:
but they did not know. Then he tried to find out how she moved,
and at last he saw her screw, and was so delighted with it that he
played under her quarter all day, till he nearly had his nose
knocked off by the fans, and thought it time to move. Then he
watched the sailors upon deck, and the ladies, with their bonnets
and parasols: but none of them could see him, because their eyes
were not opened,--as, indeed, most people's eyes are not.
At last there came out into the quarter-gallery a very pretty lady,
in deep black widow's weeds, and in her arms a baby. She leaned
over the quarter-gallery, and looked back and back toward England
far away; and as she looked she sang:
"Soft soft wind, from out the sweet south sliding,
Waft thy silver cloud-webs athwart the summer sea;
Thin thin threads of mist on dewy fingers twining
Weave a veil of dappled gauze to shade my babe and me.
"Deep deep Love, within thine own abyss abiding,
Pour Thyself abroad, O Lord, on earth and air and sea;
Worn weary hearts within Thy holy temple hiding,
Shield from sorrow, sin, and shame my helpless babe and me."
Her voice was so soft and low, and the music of the air so sweet,
that Tom could have listened to it all day. But as she held the
baby over the gallery rail, to show it the dolphins leaping and the
water gurgling in the ship's wake, lo! and behold, the baby saw
He was quite sure of that for when their eyes met, the baby smiled
and held out his hands; and Tom smiled and held out his hands too;
and the baby kicked and leaped, as if it wanted to jump overboard
"What do you see, my darling?" said the lady; and her eyes followed
the baby's till she too caught sight of Tom, swimming about among
the foam-beads below.
She gave a little shriek and start; and then she said, quite
quietly, "Babies in the sea? Well, perhaps it is the happiest
place for them;" and waved her hand to Tom, and cried, "Wait a
little, darling, only a little: and perhaps we shall go with you
and be at rest."
And at that an old nurse, all in black, came out and talked to her,
and drew her in. And Tom turned away northward, sad and wondering;
and watched the great steamer slide away into the dusk, and the
lights on board peep out one by one, and die out again, and the
long bar of smoke fade away into the evening mist, till all was out
And he swam northward again, day after day, till at last he met the
King of the Herrings, with a curry-comb growing out of his nose,
and a sprat in his mouth for a cigar, and asked him the way to
Shiny Wall; so he bolted his sprat head foremost, and said:
"If I were you, young Gentleman, I should go to the Allalonestone,
and ask the last of the Gairfowl. She is of a very ancient clan,
very nearly as ancient as my own; and knows a good deal which these
modern upstarts don't, as ladies of old houses are likely to do."
Tom asked his way to her, and the King of the Herrings told him
very kindly, for he was a courteous old gentleman of the old
school, though he was horribly ugly, and strangely bedizened too,
like the old dandies who lounge in the club-house windows.
But just as Tom had thanked him and set off, he called after him:
"Hi! I say, can you fly?"
"I never tried," says Tom. "Why?"
"Because, if you can, I should advise you to say nothing to the old
lady about it. There; take a hint. Good-bye."
And away Tom went for seven days and seven nights due north-west,
till he came to a great codbank, the like of which he never saw
before. The great cod lay below in tens of thousands, and gobbled
shell-fish all day long; and the blue sharks roved above in
hundreds, and gobbled them when they came up. So they ate, and
ate, and ate each other, as they had done since the making of the
world; for no man had come here yet to catch them, and find out how
rich old Mother Carey is.
And there he saw the last of the Gairfowl, standing up on the
Allalonestones all alone. And a very grand old lady she was, full
three feet high, and bolt upright, like some old Highland
chieftainess. She had on a black velvet gown, and a white pinner
and apron, and a very high bridge to her nose (which is a sure mark
of high breeding), and a large pair of white spectacles on it,
which made her look rather odd: but it was the ancient fashion of
And instead of wings, she had two little feathery arms, with which
she fanned herself, and complained of the dreadful heat; and she
kept on crooning an old song to herself, which she learnt when she
was a little baby-bird, long ago -
"Two little birds they sat on a stone,
One swam away, and then there was one,
With a fal-lal-la-lady.
"The other swam after, and then there was none,
And so the poor stone was left all alone;
With a fal-lal-la-lady."
It was "flew" away, properly, and not "swam" away: but, as she
could not fly, she had a right to alter it. However, it was a very
fit song for her to sing, because she was a lady herself.
Tom came up to her very humbly, and made his bow; and the first
thing she said was -
"Have you wings? Can you fly?"
"Oh dear, no, ma'am; I should not think of such thing," said
cunning little Tom.
"Then I shall have great pleasure in talking to you, my dear. It
is quite refreshing nowadays to see anything without wings. They
must all have wings, forsooth, now, every new upstart sort of bird,
and fly. What can they want with flying, and raising themselves
above their proper station in life? In the days of my ancestors no
birds ever thought of having wings, and did very well without; and
now they all laugh at me because I keep to the good old fashion.
Why, the very marrocks and dovekies have got wings, the vulgar
creatures, and poor little ones enough they are; and my own cousins
too, the razor-bills, who are gentlefolk born, and ought to know
better than to ape their inferiors."
And so she was running on, while Tom tried to get in a word
edgeways; and at last he did, when the old lady got out of breath,
and began fanning herself again; and then he asked if she knew the
way to Shiny Wall.
"Shiny Wall? Who should know better than I? We all came from
Shiny Wall, thousands of years ago, when it was decently cold, and
the climate was fit for gentlefolk; but now, what with the heat,
and what with these vulgar-winged things who fly up and down and
eat everything, so that gentlepeople's hunting is all spoilt, and
one really cannot get one's living, or hardly venture off the rock
for fear of being flown against by some creature that would not
have dared to come within a mile of one a thousand years ago--what
was I saying? Why, we have quite gone down in the world, my dear,
and have nothing left but our honour. And I am the last of my
family. A friend of mine and I came and settled on this rock when
we were young, to be out of the way of low people. Once we were a
great nation, and spread over all the Northern Isles. But men shot
us so, and knocked us on the head, and took our eggs--why, if you
will believe it, they say that on the coast of Labrador the sailors
used to lay a plank from the rock on board the thing called their
ship, and drive us along the plank by hundreds, till we tumbled
down into the ship's waist in heaps; and then, I suppose, they ate
us, the nasty fellows! Well--but--what was I saying? At last,
there were none of us left, except on the old Gairfowlskerry, just
off the Iceland coast, up which no man could climb. Even there we
had no peace; for one day, when I was quite a young girl, the land
rocked, and the sea boiled, and the sky grew dark, and all the air
was filled with smoke and dust, and down tumbled the old
Gairfowlskerry into the sea. The dovekies and marrocks, of course,
all flew away; but we were too proud to do that. Some of us were
dashed to pieces, and some drowned; and those who were left got
away to Eldey, and the dovekies tell me they are all dead now, and
that another Gairfowlskerry has risen out of the sea close to the
old one, but that it is such a poor flat place that it is not safe
to live on: and so here I am left alone."
This was the Gairfowl's story, and, strange as it may seem, it is
every word of it true.
"If you only had had wings!" said Tom; "then you might all have
flown away too."
"Yes, young gentleman: and if people are not gentleman and ladies,
and forget that noblesse oblige, they will find it as easy to get
on in the world as other people who don't care what they do. Why,
if I had not recollected that noblesse oblige, I should not have
been all alone now." And the poor old lady sighed.
"How was that, ma'am?"
"Why, my dear, a gentleman came hither with me, and after we had
been here some time, he wanted to marry--in fact, he actually
proposed to me. Well, I can't blame him; I was young, and very
handsome then, I don't deny: but you see, I could not hear of such
a thing, because he was my deceased sister's husband, you see?"
"Of course not, ma'am," said Tom; though, of course, he knew
nothing about it. "She was very much diseased, I suppose?"
"You do not understand me, my dear. I mean, that being a lady, and
with right and honourable feelings, as our house always has had, I
felt it my duty to snub him, and howk him, and peck him
continually, to keep him at his proper distance; and, to tell the
truth, I once pecked him a little too hard, poor fellow, and he
tumbled backwards off the rock, and--really, it was very
unfortunate, but it was not my fault--a shark coming by saw him
flapping, and snapped him up. And since then I have lived all alone
'With a fal-lal-la-lady.'
And soon I shall be gone, my little dear, and nobody will miss me;
and then the poor stone will be left all alone."
"But, please, which is the way to Shiny Wall?" said Tom.
"Oh, you must go, my little dear--you must go. Let me see--I am
sure--that is--really, my poor old brains are getting quite
puzzled. Do you know, my little dear, I am afraid, if you want to
know, you must ask some of these vulgar birds about, for I have
And the poor old Gairfowl began to cry tears of pure oil; and Tom
was quite sorry for her; and for himself too, for he was at his
wit's end whom to ask.
But by there came a flock of petrels, who are Mother Carey's own
chickens; and Tom thought them much prettier than Lady Gairfowl,
and so perhaps they were; for Mother Carey had had a great deal of
fresh experience between the time that she invented the Gairfowl
and the time that she invented them. They flitted along like a
flock of black swallows, and hopped and skipped from wave to wave,
lifting up their little feet behind them so daintily, and whistling
to each other so tenderly, that Tom fell in love with them at once,
and called them to know the way to Shiny Wall.
"Shiny Wall? Do you want Shiny Wall? Then come with us, and we
will show you. We are Mother Carey's own chickens, and she sends
us out over all the seas, to show the good birds the way home."
Tom was delighted, and swam off to them, after he had made his bow
to the Gairfowl. But she would not return his bow: but held
herself bolt upright, and wept tears of oil as she sang:
"And so the poor stone was left all alone;
With a fal-lal-la-lady."
But she was wrong there; for the stone was not left all alone: and
the next time that Tom goes by it, he will see a sight worth
The old Gairfowl is gone already: but there are better things come
in her place; and when Tom comes he will see the fishing-smacks
anchored there in hundreds, from Scotland, and from Ireland, and
from the Orkneys, and the Shetlands, and from all the Northern
ports, full of the children of the old Norse Vikings, the masters
of the sea. And the men will be hauling in the great cod by
thousands, till their hands are sore from the lines; and they will
be making cod-liver oil and guano, and salting down the fish; and
there will be a man-of-war steamer there to protect them, and a
lighthouse to show them the way; and you and I, perhaps, shall go
some day to the Allalonestone to the great summer sea-fair, and
dredge strange creatures such as man never saw before; and we shall
hear the sailors boast that it is not the worst jewel in Queen
Victoria's crown, for there are eighty miles of codbank, and food
for all the poor folk in the land. That is what Tom will see, and
perhaps you and I shall see it too. And then we shall not be sorry
because we cannot get a Gairfowl to stuff, much less find gairfowl
enough to drive them into stone pens and slaughter them, as the old
Norsemen did, or drive them on board along a plank till the ship
was victualled with them, as the old English and French rovers used
to do, of whom dear old Hakluyt tells: but we shall remember what
Mr. Tennyson says: how
"The old order changeth, giving place to the new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways."
And now Tom was all agog to start for Shiny Wall; but the petrels
said no. They must go first to Allfowlsness, and wait there for
the great gathering of all the sea-birds, before they start for
their summer breeding-places far away in the Northern Isles; and
there they would be sure to find some birds which were going to
Shiny Wall: but where Allfowlsness was, he must promise never to
tell, lest men should go there and shoot the birds, and stuff them,
and put them into stupid museums, instead of leaving them to play
and breed and work in Mother Carey's water-garden, where they ought
So where Allfowlsness is nobody must know; and all that is to be
said about it is, that Tom waited there many days; and as he
waited, he saw a very curious sight. On the rabbit burrows on the
shore there gathered hundreds and hundreds of hoodie-crows, such as
you see in Cambridgeshire. And they made such a noise, that Tom
came on shore and went up to see what was the matter.
And there he found them holding their great caucus, which they hold
every year in the North; and all their stump-orators were
speechifying; and for a tribune, the speaker stood on an old
And they cawed and cawed, and boasted of all the clever things they
had done; how many lambs' eyes they had picked out, and how many
dead bullocks they had eaten, and how many young grouse they had
swallowed whole, and how many grouse-eggs they had flown away with,
stuck on the point of their bills, which is the hoodie-crow's
particularly clever feat, of which he is as proud as a gipsy is of
doing the hokany-baro; and what that is, I won't tell you.
And at last they brought out the prettiest, neatest young lady-crow
that ever was seen, and set her in the middle, and all began
abusing and vilifying, and rating, and bullyragging at her, because
she had stolen no grouse-eggs, and had actually dared to say that
she would not steal any. So she was to be tried publicly by their
laws (for the hoodies always try some offenders in their great
yearly parliament). And there she stood in the middle, in her
black gown and gray hood, looking as meek and as neat as a
Quakeress, and they all bawled at her at once -
And it was in vain that she pleaded -
That she did not like grouse-eggs;
That she could get her living very well without them;
That she was afraid to eat them, for fear of the gamekeepers;
That she had not the heart to eat them, because the grouse were
such pretty, kind, jolly birds;
And a dozen reasons more.
For all the other scaul-crows set upon her, and pecked her to death
there and then, before Tom could come to help her; and then flew
away, very proud of what they had done.
Now, was not this a scandalous transaction?
But they are true republicans, these hoodies, who do every one just
what he likes, and make other people do so too; so that, for any
freedom of speech, thought, or action, which is allowed among them,
they might as well be American citizens of the new school.
But the fairies took the good crow, and gave her nine new sets of
feathers running, and turned her at last into the most beautiful
bird of paradise with a green velvet suit and a long tail, and sent
her to eat fruit in the Spice Islands, where cloves and nutmegs
And Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid settled her account with the wicked
hoodies. For, as they flew away, what should they find but a nasty
dead dog?--on which they all set to work, peeking and gobbling and
cawing and quarrelling to their hearts' content. But the moment
afterwards, they all threw up their bills into the air, and gave
one screech; and then turned head over heels backward, and fell
down dead, one hundred and twenty-three of them at once. For why?
The fairy had told the gamekeeper in a dream, to fill the dead dog
full of strychnine; and so he did.
And after a while the birds began to gather at Allfowlsness, in
thousands and tens of thousands, blackening all the air; swans and
brant geese, harlequins and eiders, harolds and garganeys, smews
and goosanders, divers and loons, grebes and dovekies, auks and
razor-bills, gannets and petrels, skuas and terns, with gulls
beyond all naming or numbering; and they paddled and washed and
splashed and combed and brushed themselves on the sand, till the
shore was white with feathers; and they quacked and clucked and
gabbled and chattered and screamed and whooped as they talked over
matters with their friends, and settled where they were to go and
breed that summer, till you might have heard them ten miles off;
and lucky it was for them that there was no one to hear them but
the old keeper, who lived all alone upon the Ness, in a turf hut
thatched with heather and fringed round with great stones slung
across the roof by bent-ropes, lest the winter gales should blow
the hut right away. But he never minded the birds nor hurt them,
because they were not in season; indeed, he minded but two things
in the whole world, and those were, his Bible and his grouse; for
he was as good an old Scotchman as ever knit stockings on a
winter's night: only, when all the birds were going, he toddled
out, and took off his cap to them, and wished them a merry journey
and a safe return; and then gathered up all the feathers which they
had left, and cleaned them to sell down south, and make feather-
beds for stuffy people to lie on.
Then the petrels asked this bird and that whether they would take
Tom to Shiny Wall: but one set was going to Sutherland, and one to
the Shetlands, and one to Norway, and one to Spitzbergen, and one
to Iceland, and one to Greenland: but none would go to Shiny Wall.
So the good-natured petrels said that they would show him part of
the way themselves, but they were only going as far as Jan Mayen's
Land; and after that he must shift for himself.
And then all the birds rose up, and streamed away in long black
lines, north, and north-east, and north-west, across the bright
blue summer sky; and their cry was like ten thousand packs of
hounds, and ten thousand peals of bells. Only the puffins stayed
behind, and killed the young rabbits, and laid their eggs in the
rabbit-burrows; which was rough practice, certainly; but a man must
see to his own family.
And, as Tom and the petrels went north-eastward, it began to blow
right hard; for the old gentleman in the gray great-coat, who looks
after the big copper boiler, in the gulf of Mexico, had got
behindhand with his work; so Mother Carey had sent an electric
message to him for more steam; and now the steam was coming, as
much in an hour as ought to have come in a week, puffing and
roaring and swishing and swirling, till you could not see where the
sky ended and the sea began. But Tom and the petrels never cared,
for the gale was right abaft, and away they went over the crests of
the billows, as merry as so many flying-fish.
And at last they saw an ugly sight--the black side of a great ship,
waterlogged in the trough of the sea. Her funnel and her masts
were overboard, and swayed and surged under her lee; her decks were
swept as clean as a barn floor, and there was no living soul on
The petrels flew up to her, and wailed round her; for they were
very sorry indeed, and also they expected to find some salt pork;
and Tom scrambled on board of her and looked round, frightened and
And there, in a little cot, lashed tight under the bulwark, lay a
baby fast asleep; the very same baby, Tom saw at once, which he had
seen in the singing lady's arms.
He went up to it, and wanted to wake it; but behold, from under the
cot out jumped a little black and tan terrier dog, and began
barking and snapping at Tom, and would not let him touch the cot.
Tom knew the dog's teeth could not hurt him: but at least it could
shove him away, and did; and he and the dog fought and struggled,
for he wanted to help the baby, and did not want to throw the poor
dog overboard: but as they were struggling there came a tall green
sea, and walked in over the weather side of the ship, and swept
them all into the waves.
"Oh, the baby, the baby!" screamed Tom: but the next moment he did
not scream at all; for he saw the cot settling down through the
green water, with the baby, smiling in it, fast asleep; and he saw
the fairies come up from below, and carry baby and cradle gently
down in their soft arms; and then he knew it was all right, and
that there would be a new water-baby in St. Brandan's Isle.
And the poor little dog?
Why, after he had kicked and coughed a little, he sneezed so hard,
that he sneezed himself clean out of his skin, and turned into a
water-dog, and jumped and danced round Tom, and ran over the crests
of the waves, and snapped at the jelly-fish and the mackerel, and
followed Tom the whole way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.
Then they went on again, till they began to see the peak of Jan
Mayen's Land, standing-up like a white sugar-loaf, two miles above
And there they fell in with a whole flock of molly-mocks, who were
feeding on a dead whale.
"These are the fellows to show you the way," said Mother Carey's
chickens; "we cannot help you farther north. We don't like to get
among the ice pack, for fear it should nip our toes: but the
mollys dare fly anywhere."
So the petrels called to the mollys: but they were so busy and
greedy, gobbling and peeking and spluttering and fighting over the
blubber, that they did not take the least notice.
"Come, come," said the petrels, "you lazy greedy lubbers, this
young gentleman is going to Mother Carey, and if you don't attend
on him, you won't earn your discharge from her, you know."
"Greedy we are," says a great fat old molly, "but lazy we ain't;
and, as for lubbers, we're no more lubbers than you. Let's have a
look at the lad."
And he flapped right into Tom's face, and stared at him in the most
impudent way (for the mollys are audacious fellows, as all whalers
know), and then asked him where he hailed from, and what land he
And, when Tom told him, he seemed pleased, and said he was a good
plucked one to have got so far.
"Come along, lads," he said to the rest, "and give this little chap
a cast over the pack, for Mother Carey's sake. We've eaten blubber
enough for to-day, and we'll e'en work out a bit of our time by
helping the lad."
So the mollys took Tom up on their backs, and flew off with him,
laughing and joking--and oh, how they did smell of train oil!
"Who are you, you jolly birds?" asked Tom.
"We are the spirits of the old Greenland skippers (as every sailor
knows), who hunted here, right whales and horse-whales, full
hundreds of years agone. But, because we were saucy and greedy, we
were all turned into mollys, to eat whale's blubber all our days.
But lubbers we are none, and could sail a ship now against any man
in the North seas, though we don't hold with this new-fangled
steam. And it's a shame of those black imps of petrels to call us
so; but because they're her grace's pets, they think they may say
anything they like."
"And who are you?" asked Tom of him, for he saw that he was the
king of all the birds.
"My name is Hendrick Hudson, and a right good skipper was I; and my
name will last to the world's end, in spite of all the wrong I did.
For I discovered Hudson River, and I named Hudson's Bay; and many
have come in my wake that dared not have shown me the way. But I
was a hard man in my time, that's truth, and stole the poor Indians
off the coast of Maine, and sold them for slaves down in Virginia;
and at last I was so cruel to my sailors, here in these very seas,
that they set me adrift in an open boat, and I never was heard of
more. So now I'm the king of all mollys, till I've worked out my
And now they came to the edge of the pack, and beyond it they could
see Shiny Wall looming, through mist, and snow, and storm. But the
pack rolled horribly upon the swell, and the ice giants fought and
roared, and leapt upon each other's backs, and ground each other to
powder, so that Tom was afraid to venture among them, lest he
should be ground to powder too. And he was the more afraid, when
he saw lying among the ice pack the wrecks of many a gallant ship;
some with masts and yards all standing, some with the seamen frozen
fast on board. Alas, alas, for them! They were all true English
hearts; and they came to their end like good knights-errant, in
searching for the white gate that never was opened yet.
But the good mollys took Tom and his dog up, and flew with them
safe over the pack and the roaring ice giants, and set them down at
the foot of Shiny Wall.
"And where is the gate?" asked Tom.
"There is no gate," said the mollys.
"No gate?" cried Tom, aghast.
"None; never a crack of one, and that's the whole of the secret, as
better fellows, lad, than you have found to their cost; and if
there had been, they'd have killed by now every right whale that
swims the sea."
"What am I to do, then?"
"Dive under the floe, to be sure, if you have pluck."
"I've not come so far to turn now," said Tom; "so here goes for a
"A lucky voyage to you, lad," said the mollys; "we knew you were
one of the right sort. So good-bye."
"Why don't you come too?" asked Tom.
But the mollys only wailed sadly, "We can't go yet, we can't go
yet," and flew away over the pack.
So Tom dived under the great white gate which never was opened yet,
and went on in black darkness, at the bottom of the sea, for seven
days and seven nights. And yet he was not a bit frightened. Why
should he be? He was a brave English lad, whose business is to go
out and see all the world.
And at last he saw the light, and clear clear water overhead; and
up he came a thousand fathoms, among clouds of sea-moths, which
fluttered round his head. There were moths with pink heads and
wings and opal bodies, that flapped about slowly; moths with brown
wings that flapped about quickly; yellow shrimps that hopped and
skipped most quickly of all; and jellies of all the colours in the
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