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The Magician's Show Box and Other Stories by Lydia Maria Child

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The Author of "Rainbows for Children."










There was once a boy, named Gaspar, whose uncle made voyages to China,
and brought him home chessmen, queer toys, porcelain vases,
embroidered skullcaps, and all kinds of fine things. He gave him such
grand descriptions of foreign countries and costumes, that Gaspar was
not at all satisfied to live in a small village, where the people
dressed in the most commonplace way. At school he was always covering
his slate with pictures of Turks wearing turbans as large as small
mosques, or Chinese with queues several yards long, and shoes that
turned up to their knees. Then he read every story he could find of
all possible and impossible adventures, and longed for nothing so much
as to go forth, like Napoleon or Alexander, and make mincemeat of the
whole world.

One day he could bear it no longer; so, taking with him an oaken
dagger which he had carved with great care, off he started on his
conquering expedition. He walked along the sunny road, kicking up a
great dust, and coining to a milestone, threw a stone at a huge
bullfrog croaking at him from a spring, and made it dive under with a
loud splash. Pleased with his prowess, he took a good drink at the
spring, and filled his flask with the sparkling water. At the second
milestone he threw a pebble at a bird, singing in a tree. Off flew the
bird, and down fell a great red apple. "Ah, how fine!" he exclaimed,
picking it up; "and how the bird flies! I wish I had such wings." On
the third milestone sat a quiet-looking little man, cracking nuts; so
Gaspar stopped to crack nuts, and have a chat with him.

The man was very entertaining, and Gaspar listened and listened to his
wonderful stories until he saw the milestone shadow stretching far
along the bank. Then he jumped up and was going to walk on, but hop
went the little man quite across the road. Gaspar went the other side;
hop came the little man back again; and so they dodged about, hither
and thither, until Gaspar's patience was quite exhausted.

"He is only a small fellow, after all," he thought; "I can take a good
run and jump over him." He took the run and gave the jump, but the
little man shot up high into the air, and he might as well have tried
to jump over the moon.

"It is a most singular thing!" said Gaspar to himself; "a little gray
man, not much larger than I am, and yet he seems to be every where at
once, like sheet lightning. There is no getting by him, and all the
time he looks at me with those bright eyes and that quiet smile, as if
he were really very much amused. Well, he must go to sleep by and by,
and then I can step over him and walk off."

So he lay down, pretending to sleep, and the little man lay down also,
with his face turned to the sky. When Gaspar thought him fast asleep,
he arose very softly, believing he could now surely escape; but at his
very first step up came a sly hand, catching him by the foot, so that
down he fell at the old man's side, and there saw the bright eyes
gazing up at the stars, without a wink of sleep in them. But Gaspar
soon forgot his travels, with all his bold intentions, and fell asleep
himself, to dream of skewers and cimeters.

In the morning the little man said, "Come now, it is foolish for you
to go trudging about over the world. You will never see any thing more
than polywogs and sandflies, and those you can find in your native
village. Give me a drink from your flask, and a bite of your apple,
and I can show you more wonders in a day in my show box here, than you
would find wandering about for a lifetime."

Then he drew from the pocket of his gray coat a neat box, carved of
ivory, and having taken a bit of the apple and a sip of the water,
which Gaspar never thought of refusing, he touched a spring, up flew
the lid, and Gaspar peeped in. Ah, but it was a wondrous sight; for on
and on moved a procession of all imaginable things. Lions and
elephants seemed mere puppies, for here were mastodons and
ichthyosauri, and animals that lived before the flood was ever dreamed
of; and as for Turks and turbans, why, there were people with
headdresses that towered up into the skies, and ladies who made
rainbows pale. There were queens whose thrones were all one driven
pearl, and warriors whose swords were a flash of sunbeams.

"Ah, yes!" exclaimed Gaspar; "this is better than travelling. But how
shall I remember all these enchanting sights? I must make a note of
them." And seizing his wooden sword, he began to draw in the sandy
road each figure as it appeared.

Hour after hour the procession passed on in the little ivory box. Hour
after hour he drew it in the sand, and that little man stood by, with
his quiet smile and great politeness. At length a loud hallooing was
heard, and they saw all the boys from the village running towards

"What is going on here?" they called out. "Never were such clouds seen
as have been sailing over the village to-day. Whales and astronomers,
kings and crocodiles, and nobody knows what. They all sail from this
direction, and we have come to see what is going off here. Can it be
you, Gaspar, who are raising such a wind? Did you draw all these
lively things in the sand, and blow them up into clouds?"

Gaspar said he knew nothing about the clouds, but he thought it was
getting rather dark, and was as much surprised as any of the boys, to
see what grand figures he had thrown up into the sky. He begged his
new friend to show the boys his box; but he said, "No, it was not for
them," and put it into his pocket.

They all laughed at it, and said such great creatures never came out
of that little paint box.

Gaspar went back to the village with the boys, and for a while was
quite contented with the remembrance of what he had seen; but at last
his old love of travelling awoke in him. He did not feel satisfied to
have seen wonderful nations and animals merely passing through a show
box, but wanted to see them in living reality; but how was he to get
by the little magician? On foot he knew it was impossible, but thought
he might succeed on a fleet horse. So he went to his friend Conrad,
and offered him the apple which could never be eaten, for his good
cantering horse. Most boys are fond of red apples, but Conrad cared
for nothing else but apples and apple dumplings, not even for his
cantering horse, and readily exchanged him for Gaspar's apple, which
he could be constantly eating. Off rode Gaspar with whip and spur,
sure now that the little gray man could not stop him.

As he cantered along the road very grandly, there were those bright
eyes fixed upon him.

"Whither so fast to-day?" said the gray man, with his queer smile.

"That's nothing to you," answered Gaspar; and on he tried to go; but
hop went the little man, to and fro, just as he did before, and Gaspar
did not like to run his horse directly over him; indeed he might as
well have tried to ride over the winds of heaven; so he jumped off,
exclaiming, "It's no use dodging about in this way; come, now, let's
fight it out;" and he drew his oaken dagger with a great flourish.

"Ah, ha! that is it, is it?" said the magician; and out flashed a
steel dagger. At it they went, striking their weapons against each
other with might and main. At every stroke Gaspar's wooden dagger
became sharper and sharper, and when he left off fighting he found it
was changed into good steel; but it was useless to hope for victory
from such a combatant, who might have pierced him through and through
at any moment, as Gaspar very soon saw; so he put up his dagger, and
they sat down on the stone, cracking their nuts and jokes together in
the old way.

"Now," said Gaspar, "if I had a few bags of nuts like these, I could
make my fortune. They do not grow in our village, and I have told the
boys about them until they are all wild to have some. But I suppose
you cannot give me any, for although you never get out of them, you
seem only to have a handful at a time."

"Gaspar," answered the gray man, "there is no end to my nuts; we might
crack here until doomsday, and I should still have thousands and
thousands of uncracked ones left. I do not think much of them myself,
but you are young and easily amused, and if you would like a bag or
two, why, here they are;" and he held up his hands with a great sack
full of nuts in each. Gaspar jumped on his horse, dragged the bags up
after him, while the little man looked smiling on, and rode home to
the village.

What a shouting there was when the boys saw him riding through the
streets with his great bags of nuts! They offered him bat and ball,
hoop and kite; but Gaspar said he did not care for such childish
things; he wanted something to be of use on his travels round the
world. "You had better go to Lawyer Clang's," called out a newsboy;
"he has a horse such as never was seen afore."

Gaspar rode straight to Lawyer Clang's office, and walked in, horse,
sacks, and all.

"Sir," said he, "what will you give me for this cantering horse and
these very hard nuts?"

"My horse Wayfare; and a more serviceable animal was never known. I am
getting a little tired of him myself, but he is just the thing for
you, if you wish to see the world."

The horse was brought round, a great gaunt creature, but handsomely
bridled and saddled, and Gaspar thought he looked tough and sound, and
would be far more useful than his cantering horse, which was only
suitable for pleasure riding, so he changed horses, threw in the nuts,
and rode off, bidding the boys good by, for many long years, he told

When he came to the first milestone he found the mossy spring was
frozen over. At the second he saw the leafless apple tree, with a
deserted bird's nest upon it; and at the third he discerned something
that looked like the little magician; but he believed it was only a
snow wreath: at any rate, it did not stop the way, and on he rode,
exulting, though a little cold.

It was all very pleasant until night came; and then he was glad to see
an inn, with a bright fire shining through the windows. He pulled in
the reins, but the horse would not stop. He pulled harder and harder,
and called "Whoa!" until he was breathless. It was all of no use. On
went the horse, and the inn, with its bright windows, was soon left
far behind. And over the wide plain he rode all night, through the
wind and the snow, which was not at all agreeable. In the morning he
was quite faint, and wanted to stop at a cottage for some breakfast,
and a good warming for himself, and some oats for his horse. But no;
Wayfare had nothing to do with such trifles. He went calmly on, always
at the same jog-trot pace, and that not a very easy one. Gaspar had to
catch at some berries as he rode through the woods, but found them
poor fare, and was glad to find himself, the next day, getting into a
warmer climate, where even oranges grew; but not many could he gather
as he rode by the trees, and it was very provoking to see the horse,
instead of stopping at a running brook, trot straight through it, and
across a green pasture, as if it were all a parched desert.

"What an old fogy of a horse he is! I am sure he must be made of
wood," exclaimed Gaspar; and he gave a great pound on the horse's
neck. "Hollow, I declare! Nothing but a wooden horse, after all, and
goes by machinery. I wonder how long he is wound up to go, and whether
I shall ever get off the dreadful nightmare's back. What a fool I was
to change my good cantering horse for such a machine as this! But I
must endure it now I am in for it."

Day after day they trotted on, through strange countries, among
unknown people and animals; but the horse never noticed them, nor they
the horse. Gaspar wished to jump off and let the great creature go;
but it was so high, and went on so steadily, that he could not get a
chance. At last they passed through a gate in a high wall, which he
thought must be the Chinese Wall, and a pagoda in the distance soon
convinced him that he was right.

"I shall at least see peaked shoes and mandarins, and that is some
satisfaction," he thought, and rode on, looking about him with great
curiosity, until he came to a palace all gilding and porcelain. Here
the horse came to a stand, as if he had been wound up to go so far and
no farther.

"This I know must be the emperor's palace, and that must be the very
gentleman himself, looking out of the window," said Gaspar. "How
fortunate that uncle Gammon taught me Chinese!" He bowed and
addressed the emperor, who was quite surprised to see such a very
small foreign boy on such a very large horse, speaking his language so
correctly. He came down to examine the horse, and when he found it
went by machinery instead of being alive, expressed the greatest
delight, saying it was just the kind of horse he had always desired,
and if Gaspar would give it to him, he should be made one of his chief
mandarins. Gaspar replied that his greatest desire was to be a
mandarin; so he alighted in the most dignified manner, and entering
the palace, was presented with layers of richly embroidered robes,
which reached to his feet, and just allowed the peaks of his shoes to
peep out. Then he was introduced to a large circle of mandarins who
stood round, incessantly bowing to one another. He began to bow too,
as if he had done nothing else all his life, and when dinner was
served, managed his chop-sticks most dexterously, and smoked as if
smoking had been his only vocation. In short, he ate and bobbed, and
slept and woke, in the most approved manner.

Now he had attained the summit of his wishes. Every thing was entirely
Chinese,--jars, mats, sweetmeats, dresses, bobbing, and stupidity.
Rank, luxury, grandeur he called it, and for a while flattered himself
that he was immersed in perfect happiness; but, somehow,--he could not
tell what it was; perhaps he was not quite old enough,--but somehow he
did become a little weary of being a mandarin. The palace was
deliciously perfumed, but he longed for a puff of fresh wind. Nothing
could be richer than their dresses, but the embroidery was rather
heavy. Nothing could be profounder than their politeness, but it would
have been a relief to have given some boy a good snowballing. Nothing
could be serener than their silence, but he would gladly have given
any body three cheers for nothing.

He began to make plans for escape from this palace of his desires,
when one morning, just as one venerable mandarin was saying to
another, in their usual edifying style of conversation, "Pelican of
the Morning, before the magic charm of thy lofty countenance I am
spell-bound, like an albatross bewildered amid the flapping sails of a
mighty--" down burst the door with a crash, and a lion rushed roaring
in among them. What a scrambling there was of the long-flowered
dresses! What a tumbling, a flying, a groaning, a screaming! Never
before were such confusion and fear in an assembly of bobbing
mandarins. But Gaspar felt his breast swell with courage. Throwing
off his long robes, he sprang upon the lion, and struggled fiercely
with him; but the powerful creature would soon have laid him low if he
had not suddenly remembered the dagger, sharpened in his conflict with
the little gray man. Drawing it from the belt in which he always wore
it, beneath his embroidered robe, he plunged it into the lion's
throat, and victory was won. He did not wait for the dispersed
mandarins to return; but throwing one of the richest dresses over his
shoulder, as Hercules wore the lion's skin, he walked off, taking his
way straight to the gate in the wall, for he had had quite enough of
China and the Chinese empire.

Now began glad days for him--roaming, like a wild hunter, from land to
land, coping single handed with crocodiles and cameleopards, riding
upon elephants, mastering tigers and young hyenas, visiting mosques
and mausoleums. In every land he made collections of its greatest
curiosities in art, literature, science, natural history, and
politics. A sphinx, an obelisk, a winged bull from Nineveh, stuffed
porcupines, live monkeys, fossil remains, a pinchbeck president of the
United States, and many rare specimens even more curious, did he
collect, and after years of wandering, by land and by sea, carry with
him to his native village. There he converted an old barn into a
museum, and gave out to the villagers that he was prepared to instruct
them in all that the world contains. They flocked to the museum, and
he was occupied every hour of the day going from one object to
another, making a little set speech about each to entertain his
bewildered visitors. Great admiration was expressed, and perhaps great
knowledge was acquired. Gaspar felt that he was the benefactor of his
race, and bought a pair of very tight boots to walk around in, and a
neat little silver-tipped stick with which to point out the

But, alas! even now, when the cup of happiness seemed full, was he not
to be satisfied. Had he not attained all that the most eager hopes of
his boyhood had promised? Had not the highest honors and the most
yellow of garments been lavished upon him in that long-desired Chinese
empire? Had he not conquered innumerable wild animals--African,
Asiatic, and above all, American? Was he not the focus of life and
intelligence in his native village? And yet, how weary had he become
of describing to his gaping audience, for the three hundred and
sixtieth time, the daily habits of the laughing hyena, and the exact
manner in which kangaroos jump! What sad indifference to the nature of
whigs and walruses, to the tendencies of sea otters and free
institutions, was creeping over him!

"Ah, if a lion would but walk in again, and if I could but have
another good fight!" he exclaimed one day. At that moment the door
suddenly opened. Hope whispered, "The lion!" and a fair young girl
entered. She glanced around the room, cast her eyes on the president,
the bones of a mastodon, a parrot in the corner, and a mummy or two.

"Old bones and stuffed animals!" she whispered to her companions, and
they all began to laugh.

"I suppose she will call me a stuffed animal too," thought Gaspar;
"but I must show them the specimens." So he stepped forward, and began
to point out the various objects, and go over his usual descriptions.
He did it in his neatest manner; but the girl kept smiling, as if it
were all a great joke, and yet she looked at him with some
interest. Gaspar went into another room to put on his mandarin's dress
and peaked shoes, which he thought would produce a great effect; but
if she had only smiled before, now she fairly laughed. Then he caught
down his dagger which hung on the wall as one of the curiosities, and
felt for a moment as if she were the lion, and he would plunge it into
her; but the next moment he saw her beautiful face bending over
it. "Ah, this dagger I like! How sharp the point is! It looks as if
you might have done something with it. Tell me all about it, will you
not?" said the girl.

"If you will come here a week from to-day, I will tell you its
history," answered Gaspar; and she promised that she would surely

At the appointed time she appeared--alone, now, Gaspar was glad to
see, for he did not like to have her whispering and laughing with the
other girls. However, he hoped she would not laugh now. He led her
through the museum into another room, where he had been painting a
picture of his fight with the lion.

"That is excellent!" said the girl; "that is just the thing. There
goes the dagger into the throat of the lion. How much better than a
petrified peacock, or a labelled dromedary! And you killed the lion
and painted the picture too?"

"Yes," answered Gaspar, quite gently.

"And the dagger--where did you find that?"

Gaspar told her how he had carved it of heart of oak when he was a
boy, and had changed it to steel in fighting with the magician.

"I must see that magician; let us go and find him," said the girl. So
away they went. As they walked along Gaspar told her about the ivory
show box, and regretted that he had lost his flask of water, and
exchanged his apple for the cantering horse, because they had now
nothing to give the little gray man for a peep into it.

"Wait a moment," said the girl; and running into her house, which they
were passing, she brought out a golden cup full of red wine. "I think
he will like this better than the water--do not you?"

When they came to the milestone, there sat the gray man, cracking away
as inveterately as ever. "I should think he would be tired to death,"
said Gaspar. "Think how much I have seen of the world while he has
been cracking those old nuts."

The little man overheard him, and smiled to himself, as much as to
say, "I know;" but when he saw the young girl, he rose up and made
quite a profound bow. "He never bowed to me," thought Gaspar.

"Will you let me look into your ivory show box, and I will give you a
drink of red wine," said the girl.

"It is a poor thing," answered the magician, "not worthy of your
attention; but if you will vouchsafe me a sip of the wine, I have been
cracking these dry nuts so long. Ah, I do begin to be weary!" The
girl peeped into the show box. "All very pretty, but rather stiff and
monotonous," she said. "Not so good as you can paint, Gaspar. Come,
let us go home."

She made the gray man a pleasant little courtesy, took her vase of
wine, and she and Gaspar went back to the village to paint their own
pictures, leaving the little magician to crack his nuts and look into
his show box as long as he pleased.


Rosamond was the child of a village blacksmith, and of a lady said by
the villagers to be a princess from a far land. She herself claimed to
be descended from an Ocean Queen; but no one believed that, except her
little girl, who thought her mother must know best. Rosamond would sit
by her for hours, gazing into the river that flowed through their
garden, and listening to her mothers stories of golden palaces beneath
the water. But she also liked to pry about her father's forge, and
wonder at the quick sparks and great roaring fires. Her cousin Alfred
would stay there with her, but while she was watching the red glow of
the fire and the heavy fall of her father's hammer, he was gazing upon
the violet flame that flickered above her forehead.

One day, when she was playing with him in the picture gallery of the
old castle, in which his mother was housekeeper, she called him to
look at the portrait of a child daintily holding a bird on the tip of
her finger, and arrayed in the quaint richness of the old-fashioned
costume. "She looks like you," her cousin said, "only she has not a
little trembling flame upon her forehead."

"Have I a flame upon my forehead?" asked Rosamond, wondering.

"Come and look," answered Alfred, and he led her to a great mirror,
where she for the first time saw the violet flame. "How beautiful it
is!" she exclaimed.

"O, but it is growing dim; you must not look at it," said
Alfred. "Come and let us run up and down the garden, between the great

But Rosamond, having once seen the violet flame, could not be
satisfied until she had been to the castle to take another look, and
found so much pleasure in gazing at herself in the great mirror, that
she went every day to pay herself a stolen visit, while Alfred was at
school. But one day he found her there, and said, "I see how it is
that the pretty flame has gone; you have been admiring it too much by
yourself. I shall not love you now."

Then Rosamond felt very sorry, and wondered how she could win back
Alfred's love. At length she took all her money, with which she had
intended to buy her old nurse a warm cloak for the winter, and bought
a golden _feroniere_ with a purple stone in it, to wear around
her head in the place of the vanished flame. Then she walked into the
picture gallery with a proud step. "O Rosamond!" exclaimed her cousin,
"can you believe that bit of purple glass can replace the dancing
flame that shone with, such a lovely violet light over your golden
hair? Pray take it off, for it seems mere tinsel to me."

But neither he nor Rosamond could unclasp the _feronere;_ and she
had to go back to the jeweller, of whom she bought it, to ask him to
file it off, which he tried in vain to do; and at last he said, "The
pedler who sold it to me must be right. He said that, once clasped, it
could only be loosened by dipping it into a hidden fountain. What
fountain it is I do not know; but some old priest, who lives in a town
on the mouth of a river, knows."

This was discouraging for Rosamond, there are so many towns and
rivers, and so many old priests, in the world. She looked on the map,
and thought it must be Paris, for that is not so very far from the
sea, and there they know every thing. So, with her mother's leave, and
some jewels she gave her, she went off to Paris, taking a bit of the
mirror set in a gilt frame. When she arrived there, what was her
surprise to find the city entirely inhabited by birds and animals!
Parrots and peacocks prevailed, but ospreys and jackdaws, vultures and
cormorants, crows and cockerels, and many, many other kinds of birds
were also fluttering about, making a perpetual whizzing. Then there
were hundreds of monkeys, all jauntily dressed, with little canes in
their hands, and a great many camels and spaniels, and other animals,
wild and tame, in neat linen blouses. What bewildered her still more,
was to see that they were all skating about on the thinnest possible
ice. Why it did not crack, to let them all through, she could not
imagine. At first she was afraid even to set her foot upon it, but
soon found herself skating merrily about, enjoying it as much as any
of them. Another queer thing was, that, reflected in the ice, all
these birds and animals appeared to be men and women; and she saw that
in her own reflection she was a nice little girl. She wondered how she
looked in her mirror, and took it out to see. "What kind of an animal
am I?" she exclaimed. "O, I see--an ibex. What neat little horns, and
how bright my eyes are! What would Alfred say if he knew I was an

She called out to the skaters to ask them if they would look into her
glass. "Hand it here," answered one, who in the ice appeared very
pale, thin, and respectable. "I am a philosopher; I am not afraid of
the truth." He looked in, and lo, there was a stork, standing on one
leg, with his eyes half closed, and his head neatly tucked under his
wing. "What a caricature!" he exclaimed, giving the glass a toss. It
fell upon the ermine muff of a furbelowed old dowager, who was skating
bravely about, notwithstanding her seventy years. "I will see how I
look," she said, with a simpering smile; and behold, there was a puffy
white owl in the mirror. Down fell the glass, but Rosamond caught and
saved it.

"What a little unfledged thing you are, to be carrying that bit of
broken glass about with you!" called out the philosopher.

"Better be unfledged than a one-eyed stork," answered Rosamond, and
skated swiftly out of sight.

Now, the grandest skater of all was a griffin, who led all the others,
skating more skilfully than any of them, and flitting like mad across
the very thinnest places. It made one's head giddy to see him. His
swiftness and dexterity, and a knack he had of knocking the other
skaters into great black holes under the ice, whenever they crossed
his path, greatly imposed upon them, and they all took care to follow
straight behind, or to keep well out of his way. Now and then a bear
would growl as he glided by; but the next day, Rosamond would see that
bear hard at work building ice palaces, too busy to growl. One day,
skating off into a corner, she found the griffin sitting apart, behind
a great block of ice with his claws crossed, and looking very cold and
dreary, like a snow image. "Would you not like to take a peep into my
glass?" she said to him, quite amiably.

"No, child," solemnly answered the griffin. "I know by your ironical
smile that you have discovered the truth--that I am nothing but a
griffin. But if the skaters believe in me, why undeceive them? Why
should magpies and zebras have any thing better to reign over them?"

"But do you not see how thin the ice is? You will surely break
through some day."

"I know it," he replied. "A good strong trampling, and we are all
scattered far and wide. But I keep the tigers and hyenas at work, and
the more sagacious elephants bear their burdens in quiet, and let me
alone. If there be a lion among them, he roars so gently it does no
harm. And you must be a good girl, and keep silence. I see that you
also wear a crown, and you know how heavy it is."

"Yes, and it is of brass too, like yours. I am trying to free myself
from it," answered Rosamond. "But I do not care for your peacocks and
parrots, and will not tell them yours is not of gold; so do not be
afraid;" and off she went, leaving his majesty in a very uneasy state
of mind. But he had nothing to fear from her, for although she did not
cry, "Vive l'Empereur!" when he skated gorgeously by, she never
revealed the fact that he was only a long-clawed griffin.

Rosamond might have staid a long time in Paris, so amused was she by
all the gay plumage and dazzling confusion around her; but she soon
found that she was dying of starvation. She had always heard French
dishes and bon-bons most highly extolled, and now she found they were
nothing but dry leaves and husks, served up very prettily, to be sure,
but with no nourishment in them. So she looked on the map again, and
decided to go to the shore of the Baltic, and follow it along until
she came to the town in which the priest lived; for it certainly was
useless to look for one among the gayly-plumed skaters in Paris.

Hard walking she found it, among sands and stones, and poor living in
the fishermen's huts scattered along the coast. She was quite glad,
one day, to meet a little girl of her own age, picking berries.
Rosamond helped Greta fill her basket, and then accepted her
invitation to go home with her. After walking through a long green
lane, among fields of waving grain, they entered a town built of white
marble; and Rosamond knew this was the place she sought. They stopped
at Greta's house; but when Rosamond saw how many children there were
in it, she thought she should not be very comfortable there, and asked
for a hotel. Greta told her there was none in the town, but that she
would find herself welcome in any house.

So she walked about until she found a large one with handsome columns
before it, and there she passed the night. In the morning the lady of
the house said, "To-day I am bread maker, for you must know we all
work in this town, and all share our food together. If you stay here,
you must make bread with me."

Rosamond did not like this proposition at all, for her mother had
never taught her to work, and besides, she felt as if, with a crown
upon her head, she were a kind of queen. It seemed to her as if the
villagers also thought so when they looked at her as she walked
through the streets, and she bore herself very proudly for a while,
but at length became so tired and hungry, that she sank down on a
doorstep, her head leaning on her hand; and as she watched the
passers-by through her drooping lids, she noticed how very nice their
shoes and stockings were. Then she saw that her own were much torn and
soiled, and looking down the street, was mortified to trace her way
along by the muddy footprints she had left on the fair white
marble. She went to Greta's mother, and asked permission to wash her
stockings and clean her shoes. But she did not know how to do it
nicely, and they still looked very badly. "Clean bare feet would look
better than such shoes and stockings," said the mother.

"But I could not have bare feet and a crown," answered Rosamond.

"O, is it a crown? Excuse me, I thought it was a snake skin."

Rosamond half smiled, but said sadly, "It seems like a snake, it
stings me so sharply."

"You must go to Father Alter. A lady once came here with a jewelled
girdle which was clasping her to death. He sent her to a fountain high
among the mountains, and she returned in a white dress with a girdle
of wild flowers. She lived with me, and kept a school for
children. She was a lovely lady."

This reminded Rosamond of the priest, and she asked Greta to show her
where Father Alter lived.

She found him sitting in his garden of herbs among poor people who
were waiting for comfort and advice, and Rosamond also had to wait. At
length he turned to her, and laying his hand gently upon her golden
head, said, "I see what you want, my child. You must bathe your
forehead in the fountain, that the weight of this stone may be taken
from it."

"How shall I find the fountain, father?" she asked.

"Ah, my child," he answered, looking tenderly upon her, "the way is
long and difficult, and many who wish to seek it do not find
it. Neither can I point out the path to you. Each must find it for
himself. The fountain wells forth in a green valley high among the
mountains, and this river on which our village is built flows from it.
Yet you cannot follow the stream up to its source, for it is often
lost under ground, or is hidden among dark caverns. Through these
hidden caves I found my way; but your young feet may try the mountain
summits. From these you will discern the valley, and can descend into
it. Yet linger not too long among shining glaciers, for the cold may
come upon you suddenly in that bright sunshine, and steal your life
away. And tread lightly along the mountain paths, for often the
slightest motion will bring down an avalanche. And, my child, take
with you this osier basket, in which lies a little loaf of bread. Fear
not to eat of it every day; but remember always to leave a crumb, lest
you should meet a hungry bird, and have nothing to give it. And thus
will the loaf be always renewed. Do not forget, and a blessing be upon

Rosamond went gravely forth with the osier basket in her hand. As she
passed through the village she could not but long to stay among those
pleasant gardens, and water flowers with the children who were so busy
there; but if she lingered to speak to them, she felt the tightened
clasp of the fillet upon her head, and on she hastened. At first she
thought the mountains quite near; but when she had walked until she
was very tired, they seemed as far off as ever, and so on for several
days. At many a weary milestone she stopped, wondering who had rested
there before her, and whether they had ever found the hidden valley
among those yet distant mountains. At night she staid in some little
cottage by the wayside, always kindly welcomed, and carrying kind
wishes with her when she went away. At noon she would break her little
loaf, and dip it in the stream, remembering to leave a crumb in the
basket; and when she opened the basket for her supper, there would
still be the loaf, whole as ever; and many and many a bird did she
feed on her way.

One day when she had been walking a long distance, and was very
hungry, she had forgotten about keeping the crumb, and was just
breaking the last crust, when she heard the quick, sharp cry of a bird
in distress. Looking round she found a wounded sparrow lying on a
rock. She washed the blood from his feathers, and gave him a crumb of
the bread, very thankful that he had prevented her from eating it all,
for then there would have been none left either for the bird or for
herself. She wrapped the sparrow gently in her dress, and carried it
with her, and wherever she went, along the edge of steep precipices,
or over the rough glaciers, through deep snow or amid cold winds,
still she warmed that bird in her bosom and kept it alive. At length
she reached the summit of the mountain, and saw the red sunset slowly
become gray, and the stars come out one by one in the wide, lonely
sky. So far did it stretch around her, on every side, before it
touched the horizon; so near did it seem, above her, that she felt as
if she were high in the heavens, and turning her face towards her
village, she thought Alfred might perhaps see her there, shining among
the stars. Ah, foolish little girl! Her weary feet soon sank beneath
her, and she fell asleep upon the snow. But the bird fluttered and
chirped in her bosom, as if it knew danger were near, and she suddenly
awoke. "O, good little sparrow," she cried, "if it had not been for
you, I should have been frozen to death in my sleep; but now I will
not stay here longer; we will go down into the valleys."

She began to slide down the mountain, and when the sun rose, saw
beneath her a green, hidden nook, in which stood a solitary tree. She
thought she should reach it immediately; but sometimes her way was
blocked up on all sides, and she had to creep over high rocks, or
through dark chasms, often losing sight of the valley, and fearing she
never should find it. At length, however, she stood safe beneath the
blossoming tree, and there was the sparrow's nest with the young birds
in it. Rosamond fed them with her crumbs, and looking about for water
to give them, found a clear spring bubbling out from under the root of
the tree. As she bent down to dip up some of the water in her hand, a
few drops were sprinkled upon her brass fillet, and it fell from her
head. "Why, this is the very fountain," she exclaimed; "I did not know
it." When she raised her head, the free mountain wind blew through her
hair, and she felt as light-hearted and happy as the bird which had
found its nest.

She slept that night beneath the sheltering tree; the new moon shone
upon her, and the bubbling of the water lulled her into a sweeter
sleep than she had known for many nights. In the morning she gave all
her bread except one crumb to the birds, then descended the mountain,
following the stream glancing over the rocks. But at last she lost
sight of it, and instead of finding herself by the river on which the
marble town was built, she came to the little old mill near her own
home. There was Alfred hard at work, for he had hired himself out as a
miller's boy. Her mother was weeping beneath the willow by the river,
and her father was hammering at his anvil. How pleasant his great,
glowing fire looked to Rosamond, after her wanderings among the icy

Alfred came to tea, and then she had to tell them while she had
been. She described the beautiful white marble town, at the mouth of
the river, and said she wished they could all go and live there. Her
mother's face lighted up as it did when the golden sunset shone upon
it, and she said, "Ah, Rosamond, my home was once there, and there I
long to be again."

The father listened very thoughtfully. "Yes, it would be good to work
there, where all work together; we will go," he said at last. Alfred
decided to leave the mill and go with them.

They were all ready before the new moon was full, and leaving the
village, with its slow stream and low pastures behind, reached the
clear river, after a few days' travel. They walked along its high
banks, among stately groves, until they came to the marble town. The
people were glad to receive them, and they at once felt that they were
among friends.

Rosamond went down to the sea shore with her mother, to whom the ocean
breeze gave a new life; but it was really the old life revived; for
when she was a child, she had lived beside the sea, and in her inland
home had pined for the sight of the great waves.

As they were returning to the town, they met the old priest, who said
he had come to offer them part of his house to live in, but that they
must not live idly there; they must look about them, and decide what
they would like to do.

The next morning Rosamond asked her mother and Alfred to go near the
shore with her. There she showed them a bed of fine clay, of which she
proposed to make vases. She and her mother sat down on the grass
together, and moulded them, just within sight of the waves gently
breaking upon the beach. The vases were so beautiful it seemed as if
they were modelled from the curves of the waves, and contained within
them the rippling sound of the sea upon the shore.

Alfred built up an oven in the father's forge, and baked the
vases. When all were finished, they presented them to their new
friends, who were greatly delighted, saying they had never seen such
beautiful ones.

Rosamond and her mother continued to mould, not only vases, but little
images, which were very much sought after by all the villagers.
Rosamond never knew that the violet flame once more burned upon her
forehead; but she knew that Alfred loved her, and long and happy was
their life, there, by the wide, sunny sea.


One long, summer afternoon, old Zachary and his wife Betsy, having
finished their tea at four o'clock, and having nothing very
interesting to do, thought they would visit Hoppletyhop; the dwarf,
who had promised to grant three wishes to any one who would bring him
the three things he most desired in the world. Old Zachary took the
president's message, a pair of spectacles, and a pipe full of tobacco,
which he smoked by the way. The old woman carried a bowl of hot tea, a
looking glass, and her very best plaited cap. As they went out of the
door, they found their little grandchild, Floribel, reading on the
step, and called to her to follow them. So she ran along with Jack the
Giant-killer in one hand, and dragging with the other her tin wagon,
in which sat her favorite doll, Rosa, drawn by four high-stepping tin

As they passed through the village, their neighbors, who were sitting
in their porches, enjoying the cool breeze, and feeling much too
indolent to do any thing, called out to know whither they were going;
and when told they were on their way to visit the dwarf Hoppletyhop,
advised them to stay quietly at home, for he would be sure to do them
some mischief. Zachary was a little inclined to turn back, when he
heard this; but Betsy said, "Let us go on--I should like to see what
mischief he will do;" and Floribel begged them to go, because she
wished to see if a fairy dwarf was as large as her doll.

As they walked along, she asked them what they should wish. "I shall
wish to be young, and deacon of the church," said her grandfather.
"And I, to have a whole chest of souchong tea, and to be young also,"
said the grandmother. "But I shall wish for a castle as high as the
sky, and a golden dress that will never wear out, and a stick of
barley candy six thousand miles long," said the little girl.

After a long walk they found Hoppletyhop playing jackstraws with a
grasshopper, on a bank of violets. He received them very politely, and
asked each of them to take a stone among the violets. The grandfather
then offered his presents. The dwarf read two sentences in the
president's message, and said he could not stand that; it was too
stupid. He peeped through the spectacles, and said they gave every
thing a twist; and as for tobacco, he could not endure it.

The grandmother set the bowl of tea before him; but it was so hot it
burned his mouth, and he kicked it down hill, smashing the old lady's
best china bowl into a hundred pieces. He was angry when she presented
the looking glass, thinking she wished to make fun of him, because he
was so small. The plaited cap, he said, was not made for a man like
him to wear, and he tore it all to shreds.

Then, turning to Floribel, he said, "Well, my little girl, what pretty
book is that you have in your hand? Ah, the History of Jack the
Giant-killer. A splendid fellow was Jack! my great-grandfather. Just
the book I have always wished to read. Family archives, you know. And
what is this I behold? What, a splendid red chariot! and what a sweet
little doll within! How dumb and amiable she appears! She shall
certainly be my wife, and these four horses shall draw us all over the
world." He sprang into the wagon, seating himself beside the erect
little doll, who immediately began to move her quiet eyes; the horses
shook their manes, and pranced about; and away drove Hoppletyhop,
calling out to Floribel as he disappeared, "Wish your three wishes,
and they shall be granted, whatever they may be."

Then her old grandmother and grandfather implored her, with tears in
their eyes, to wish they might be young again. Floribel thought that
would be delightful, for then they could all go blackberrying
together; so she said in a commanding voice, "I wish my grandmother
and grandfather to be young again;" but she did not think to say how
young, and the next moment was surprised to see two little babies,
lying among the violets, kicking and crying with all their might. "O,
dear me!" she exclaimed. "The poor little things! How they do cry!
What shall I do with them? I do wish grandmother were here, to help
me take care of them!" and one little baby was immediately changed
back into her grandmother.

"How could you wish me to be old again, Floribel?" she
exclaimed. "Pray wish me to be just seventeen." Then the grandfather
began to cry most clamorously, and Floribel knew he also wished to be
seventeen, instead of a little, helpless baby. She did not know what
to do, for with only one wish left, she could not both wish her
grandfather to be older, and her grandmother to be younger. While she
was standing in this perplexity, half stunned by the cries of her
grandfather, and the entreaties of her grandmother, she chanced to spy
a little dog running along, wagging its tail, and without thinking,
cried, "O dear, I wish I were a little dog, and then I should not have
to choose!" and in the twinkling of an eye, to her great dismay, she
became a little brown dog, jumping about.

You may imagine how the poor grandmother felt, when she returned home,
carrying her old Zachary, a little baby, in her arms, with a brown dog
running beside her, instead of her dear little grandchild, who had
always been the best child in the world. The villagers ran out of
their gates to meet her, and could not keep from laughing, to see
their grave neighbor Zachary a little crying baby; but they felt very
sorry about Floribel, for one and all loved the merry little girl. "O,
we told you how it would be," they said. "We told you the dwarf would
do you some mischief." But this did not comfort poor Betsy, who went
sorrowfully into her house, shut the door, and would have had a good
cry herself, if the baby had not been crying so hard that she had more
than she could do to take care of him. "I never saw such a cross
child," she exclaimed. "When he was my old Zachary, he was very good
natured; but now he is little Zach, I can hardly stay in the house
with him." She laid him on the bed, hoping he would fall asleep; but
he screamed as if he had never dreamt of such a thing as sleeping. The
little dog barked as if it fain would do something, and at last hopped
on to the bed, and softly patted the baby to sleep with one of its
fore paws, and then, wearied with the adventures of the day, fell
asleep itself, leaving the old lady to her lonely meditations.

The next morning the baby and dog awoke very early, as little dogs and
babies always do; so that the poor grandmother had to rise, when she
would gladly have slept four hours longer, to give them some
breakfast. Then she looked about for something to dress the baby
in. She opened the closet, and there hung old Zachary's best Sunday
coat. Sad as she felt, she could not help smiling to think how funny
he would look in it now. She took down a white dress of Floribel's,
and began to cut the sleeves and waist smaller, that it might fit the
baby. O, how troubled the little dog was, to see her cutting up the
pretty new dress, which was to have been worn by Floribel, on her
birthday, at a party her cousins were to give for her, at Elderbrook,
their pleasant farm, two miles from the village! And when the little
dog thought how, on the morrow, all the gay cousins would come for
Floribel, and would find only a brown dog, it laid its head on the
grandmother's feet, and whined so piteously that she began to weep,
and said, "We are having hard times, Floribel! yes, very hard times!"
and then the baby began to cry too, as if it understood all about it.

The dog wondered whether it would still be called Floribel; a pretty
name for a little girl, it thought, but not at all the name for a
dog. Then it remembered the time when it was Floribel, and had a
little dog named Frolic, and wondered if any one would love it as much
as Floribel did Frolic. Looking round the room it spied out the doll
house, with the dolls and pretty furniture in it, and thought it could
play with them just as before. But little paws are not so handy as
little hands, and the dog broke off the arm of a chair, smashed in a
doll's head, and made such a disturbance in the doll house, that the
grandmother said, "Come away, puppy; let Floribel's things remain just
as she left them."

"Am I not Floribel?" thought the dog, and barked as much as to say so,
and looked up so dolefully in the grandmother's face, that she said,
"Poor little creature; you had better go out and have a run," and
opened the door. The dog could not resist its active little legs, and
off it sped, until it came to the school house. The children saw a
little brown face with sparkling eyes peeping in, and one whispered to
another, "How much that looks like Floribel's Frolic; do you think he
has come back again?"

"Why, no," said another; "do you not know it is Floribel herself,
changed by the dwarf into a dog?"

"O, dear! what a pity!" exclaimed the children, and some of them began
to cry; but others said it must be fine fun to be a little dog, and
run about all day, with no lessons to learn.

When the teacher saw the children could think of nothing but the dog,
she said it might come in a little while; so it jumped into the room,
and ran all round, from one child to another, receiving many a gentle
pat and kind word, and at length laid itself down under Floribel's
empty seat, looking about with such mournful eyes, that the children
said, "Poor fellow! I am sure it would rather be Floribel, and have
the hardest arithmetic lesson to learn, than be only a little
scampering dog. Would it not, doggy?" and the dog bobbed its head up
and down, as much as to say, "Yes, I am sure I should."

After school the dog and children ran races together; but no child
could run so fast as the dog, with its four legs. It went frisking
home, and the grandmother called out, "Why, Frolic!" thinking, for a
moment, it was the dog they had before, and that Floribel would come
bounding in after it. From that time she always called it Frolic.

The next day the cousins arrived in their wagon, and stopping at the
gate, they saw a little dog in the yard, and called out, "There is
Frolic, returned. I wonder why Floribel does not come out. Has she
forgotten it is her birthday, and that we were to come and carry her
home to the party? And where is grandfather? Why is he not sitting in
his arm chair, in the doorway?"

Running up the path, they saw their grandmother at the window, dancing
a baby up and down. "Where did grandmother pick up that baby?" they
exclaimed, and rushed into the house. There they heard the strange
story, and truly astonished they were. "Can this be grandfather?"
cried Sarah. "This little cooing baby, my own grandfather, who always
said such wise things?"

"And can this little foolish dog be my cousin Floribel, who had such
long curls, and such a sweet smile!" exclaimed Robert. "What will
mother say?"

"Let us dress it up in Floribel's clothes, and mother will think it is
she, when we drive up, in the wagon," said Sarah.

So they put a pink dress and white sun bonnet on the dog; the
grandmother tied a straw hat, that had belonged to the doll Rosa, on
the baby, who gave rather a wistful glance at old Zachary's black
beaver, on the nail, and away they drove.

The mother came to the door to welcome them, and thought she should
see Floribel's smiling face under the white bonnet; but O, there was
only a dog's sharp nose. "What prank are you playing, children?" she
said. "Where have you hidden Floribel?"

"Allow me to introduce grandfather and Floribel," said Sarah, as she
and Robert took the baby and the dog from the wagon.

"What foolish children you are! Whose baby is this?"

The children assured their mother that the baby was their grandfather;
but it was not until the old lady, with many sighs and tears, had told
the tale, that she could believe it. The two women had rather a
melancholy day together, although they did enjoy taking care of the
baby, and were not quite sure that it was not as entertaining, with
its sprightly little ways, as the old gentleman had been with his
grand, moral remarks; and certainly its little shrill pipe was not
half so bad as the old tobacco pipe. Sarah said that although she
loved her grandfather, she could not help being pleased to have him a
baby again; he was so cunning and droll, and she did so like to toss
him about, and feed him, and make him laugh.

She carried him out in the hay, where the party of children were at
play, and great fun they had burying him up in the haycocks, while
Frolic frisked about as merry as any of them. At dinner time, when
they went to the table, under a wide-spreading oak tree, they found
two high chairs, one for Frolic and one for the baby; and there they
both sat, with wreaths on their heads, and behaved with the utmost
propriety, although Frolic was seen, after dinner, to slip down under
the table, and gnaw a bone, as Floribel would not have done, and the
baby cried for a cherry, as grandfathers never do.

Frolic had as pleasant a life as a dog could have. Every one in the
village was kind to the playful creature, who had once been a favorite
little girl, and the children always came flocking about the house,
out of school hours, to play with the dog and the baby. Sometimes some
curious child would ask them if they did not wish to be changed back
again; but the baby would always shake his little bald head, as much
as to say no; for he found himself growing larger and stronger, and
thought it pleasanter to be a healthy baby than an old gentleman with
the rheumatism. But Frolic's head would always bob up and down, as
much as to say yes; for it is surely better to be a little girl than a
dog. The children suggested various ways in which the change might be
effected. "Why not go to the dwarf and ask him to change her back
again?" said one. "Because the dwarf has gone to Chinese Tartary with
Floribel's tin horses," answered another.

"They might ask the fairies to change them with their wands," said
little Amy.

"Nonsense, with your fairies," replied Tom, the blacksmith's son. "I
should like to know where fairies are to be found nowadays!"

But Frolic thought a fairy might possibly be found, and got into wild
habits of running about in the moonlight, and barking a great deal at
bats and night moths, fancying they were fairies; so that all the
neighborhood complained, and begged the grandmother to shut the dog up
evenings in the wood house; for though a pleasant animal by day, it
was altogether too noisy by night.

One day when Frolic was lying at the school house door, where it
learned a great deal listening to the recitations, the teacher read
aloud the story of Orpheus, who could tame wild animals with his lyre,
and then went on to say that she had heard of music by which animals
might be changed into persons. Frolic's white ears were pricked up,
and every word was treasured, and thought over, day after day. The
children wondered why the little dog did not play with them as usual;
they did not know how eagerly it was wandering about, listening to
every strain of music it could catch. The young ladies who played on
the piano could not imagine why that little dog was always under the
windows, and why it gave such a hopeful bark every time they began a
new Polka or Sehnsucht, and why it whined so sadly every time it was
over. When some soldiers marched through the village, they said the
dog had better enlist, he seemed so fond of the trumpet and drum.
When the hand organ players came and excruciated the villagers with a
wiry "Last Rose of Summer," they laughed to see the excited creature
jumping about, and one of them would have carried it off for a dancing
dog, if the grandmother had not run screaming after him. The old black
man who played on the fiddle, for the villagers to dance in the town
hall, said he could not guess why Frolic had taken such a fancy to
Minerva's Quickstep. The congregation could scarcely refrain from
laughing to hear the dismal howl the dog would set up in the church
porch when the whole choir started off in "Old Hundred," as if it were
"Catch who can;" and young Edgar, who played on the flute in summer
twilights, was quite gratified to find Frolic always lying at his
feet, with wistful eyes, and imagined himself a second Orpheus.

But one day, when he had played a most unheard-of melody, Frolic
thought that might possibly be the magical one, and annoyed the young
man so much, by jumping upon him, that he gave the poor creature a
kick, forgetting who it had formerly been. That was a cruel kick;
for, though to appearance but a brown dog, Frolic had the tender
feelings of a little girl, and, shrinking home, passed a most unhappy
night in a dark corner of the garret, thinking every one might be
unkind, now that its good friend, the flute player, had been so. And
in the morning, when the grandmother called, "Frolic, Frolic," it came
very slowly down stairs, and did not once go out all day, but lay on
the rug, looking very much grieved.

Frolic never quite forgot that kick, and sometimes was even afraid to
go among the children, lest one of them might be angry, as the flute
player had been, and felt sadder than ever about being a dog. The
villagers said, "Why, what has come over our Frolic? It used to seem
as merry as a dog could be, scratching at our doors, and stealing our
bones; but now it goes moping about in solitary places, just like
young Edgar, with his long hair. Poor thing! It is certainly a sad
fate, for one who has once been a bright child, the best scholar in
school, winning a medal every week, to be only a barking dog."

A year passed on, and the little dog was still seen about the village;
sometimes merry and frolicking with the children, but more often
walking alone in the fields, or watching over little Zach, who was now
old enough to play in the front yard; when one day, as it was taking a
walk on the shore of the river, it saw a little girl who had paddled
out in an old boat, which was fast filling with water. In her fright
the girl had dropped her paddle overboard, and had no means of getting
ashore. Frolic scampered off to a man who was walking at some
distance, but seeing it was Edgar, who had given him that sad kick,
for a moment scarcely ventured to approach him; then, thinking the
little girl would be drowned if it did not make haste, it ran to
Edgar, and jumped on him, pulling and barking. "Poor Frolic," said
Edgar, "I treated you unkindly once, and now you forgive me." But
Frolic pulled harder and harder, and ran towards the river, and then
back again to Edgar, so that at last he thought something was the
matter, and hastened to the shore. In a few minutes he had rowed out
in another boat, and reached the sinking one just in time to save his
own sister Lucy from drowning. O, how they both thanked Frolic when
they reached the shore! and Edgar said he would never, in all his
life, hurt a living thing again; it was bad enough to be a dog,
without being kicked for it.

From that time Lucy and Frolic became the greatest friends. Wherever
one was seen, the other was sure to be near. Those who passed her
house would see Lucy singing at her work, under the great elm tree,
and little Frolic lying close at her feet, looking up in her face. She
always took the dog with her when she went with Edgar to a neighboring
town, where he taught a singing school. One evening the scholars were
to give a concert, and Edgar said they had better not take Frolic,
lest he should bark; but Lucy answered, "O, let us take the poor
little thing; it loves music better than any thing. I sometimes think
it will sing itself, some day, instead of barking, and be one of your
best scholars;" and the dog looked so entreatingly at Edgar, that he
consented to take it.

As they drove along, Frolic peeped from the bottom of the chaise,
where it was curled up at Lucy's feet, and saw the crimson sunset. A
sudden thought came, that it would be the last sunset it would see
with a dog's eyes. When it scrambled up the stairs to the concert
room, it thought, "I shall never go pattering up stairs again on dog's
paws;" and when it entered the room, and saw the hundred little girls
in white dresses and blue sashes, it looked about very gravely, saying
to itself, "Soon I shall be a little girl in a white dress and blue
sash;" and yet it knew not how all this was to happen.

The concert began; chorus and solo, the sweet, clear strains arose in
the air, and at every one the dog pricked up its ears; but every
strain found and left it a little brown dog, lying on the step of the
platform, and it began to think that a dog it should always
remain. Just as it was in despair came a new piece, a solo, tender and
entreating, as if a spirit were seeking its way through the lonely
night air; and then a full chorus joined in, joyous and triumphant,
with the tender tone running through it. Frolic lay with its head
pressed close on its fore paws, thrilled through and through by the
music. When it was over, Lucy turned to look for her dog, and saw a
child, with rich brown curls, sitting on the step. "Have you any where
seen a little brown dog, with a coral necklace on?" she asked.

"I am the little dog," answered the child. "And here is the coral
necklace you gave me, round my neck."

"You look too good to steal my dog's necklace," said Lucy.

"Do I look too good to be your little dog?"

"Nobody could be better than Frolic, who forgave my brother, and saved
my life, and is so gentle to every one."

"Have you forgotten me, Lucy, in the two years I have been Frolic? Do
you not know your friend Floribel?"

Lucy threw her arms around her. "O Floribel, is it you? You have come
back again! How glad I am! And yet I feel sorry to lose little Frolic,
too. I wish you could be both Frolic and Floribel."

Edgar was gladly surprised when a little girl came out with Lucy, to
ride home with them, instead of Frolic. "I owe it all to you," she
said, "that I have become a little girl. It was your beautiful music."
They had a lovely drive home in the moonlight, and Floribel staid with
Lucy all night. Her grandmother did not much mind whether a little
dog was at home or not. In the morning, instead of an eager paw
scratching at the door, she heard a little girl's happy morning voice,
saying, "Let me in, grandmother, please." When she opened it, in
bounded Floribel, kissed her grandmother, and caught up little Zach,
dancing all about the room, in great delight.

"Pray, be still," cried her grandmother, "and let me see you. Are you
really my own little Floribel, come back?"

"Yes, grandmother, yes, Zach. Frolic has gone, and Floribel has come."

"'Ittle dog done, 'ittle dirl tome; me 'ove 'ittle dog, me 'ove 'ittle
dirl," was Zach's grave remark.

The old lady said, "Yes, my child, it is you; what would your
grandfather say?"

Floribel laughed, and looked at Zach, but thought she would not remind
her grandmother that he was her grandfather. In the two years the old
lady had taken care of the baby and dog, she had almost forgotten they
were ever any thing else; and although she could never have her wish,
to be young again herself, she almost seemed to become so, living with
these two children, who were as happy as kittens together.

A grand festival was held in the village to welcome Floribel's return,
and the neighbors said, "We shall all miss little Frolic, but we are
right glad to have our happy, singing Floribel among us again; and we
hope she will never have any more wishes granted."

"O, dear," exclaimed Floribel, "I do not know about that. But one
thing I am sure of; I shall never wish to be a little brown dog


Little children in the wide world, I have no one here to whom I can
speak; so I must write to you, for it will be some consolation to
think that you may read my letters, and feel sorry to think that a
little child, like yourselves, can be living as I am.

I am writing with an opal pen, at a mother-of-pearl table; and you may
see what pretty violet paper I have, with a silver edge. The room is
of ivory, delicately carved, and chased with silver, and all around
are arches, in which stand fair statues. But there is no window,
except one in the ceiling, formed of a single pearl, through which the
softened sunlight falls. This room opens, by a silver door, into
another, in which sits a fair and stately lady, with hair like heavy
folds of gold, and eyes like the blue sky. Her features are carved
like those of a statue, and she is almost as pale and still. Her blue
silken robe falls richly around her, and a white flower lies, like
marble, upon her hair. She sits and gazes into the fire.

Now, this fire is one of the things I wish to tell you about. It is
the very brightest fire I ever saw; but there is no motion in it--no
flame, no smoke, no glowing coals, that take every moment new
forms. It is always still, still, and seems to be made of shining
metal. I wonder how the lady can sit and gaze into it as she does. And
then there is no warmth in it. No, it is not in the least like our
dear wood fire at home. O, how I long for that! For you must know
this house is not my home, and that I am now a poor little prisoner
here. And yet, how I once wished to come hither! I will tell you about

My own home is a brown cottage by the shore of a great lake, over
which the sun brightly shines. Our garden stretches down to the very
waves of the lake, so that my violets are often sprinkled by their
light foam. In this garden I played and worked with my sister Mary. We
planted our seeds in the spring, and in summer watered and weeded
among the sunny flowers, while mother sat at the door and held the
baby, who laughed, and stretched out her little hands for the blossoms
we threw her. How I wish I could see that darling baby rolling down
the steps into the grass! But I am afraid she will be grown up before
I shall see her again. Why could I not have been contented with all
that happy life? But I had heard there was a great castle beyond the
lake, in which dwelt a beautiful lady, and I dreamed of that lady day
and night. When I went in the morning to bathe in the lake, and the
waves, all golden in the sunrise, broke softly over my feet, I fancied
they had brought me a message from her; and at evening I would lie
down among the tall grasses, and gaze over the sunset waters, longing
to follow the light to her castle door, whence I thought it shone.

The lake was so wide I could not see the other shore; but I knew that
the road which passed our house ran all around it, and I often walked
a long way upon it, hoping to reach the castle.

One day, when I had strayed far from home, a coach, all glittering in
its swiftness, came sweeping by. "O, take me in, take me in!" I
exclaimed; and in a moment I was sitting beside a lady richly arrayed,
and we were speeding on. The lady did not speak to me, but gazed out
of the window, so that I could only see the veil, that fell around her
like shimmering mist. Thus we drove on and on, and every thing passed
us so swiftly that I could see nothing distinctly. Indeed, I did not
look out much, but turned towards the lady, hoping to catch a glimpse
of her beautiful face.

At length we stopped before a strange, dark building, that seemed to
rise up into the very sky. "Can this be the castle I have so longed
for?" I thought in surprise. High steps led to the entrance, and on
each side stood a lion with a woman's head, carved in stone. The door
opened silently, and we entered into a marble hall, and went up broad
marble stairs.

The lady guided me into a room lighted from the ceiling, where I found
a small white bed and a marble bath. Nothing else. "Is this to be my
room?" I wondered. "I should think there might at least be a looking
glass: how shall I know whether my hair is smooth?" But I did not dare
to say this to the still lady. She then walked before me into another
room, and we seated ourselves at a marble table. "Every thing is
marble," I said to myself, "even the lady." Then an old man entered
with a white beard, that looked like icicles frozen upon a
rock. "Marble too," I thought; but his eyes were very gentle. Not a
word was spoken; but white porcelain dishes stood before us, filled
with the most delicate food, and we ate in silence. Then the lady
arose, and I followed her into a lofty room. She seated herself, and
gazed into the fire, while I stood beside her, waiting for her to
speak; but she did not notice me. At length I asked, "Shall I not go
home now?" She did not glance at me, she did not speak. I looked
around the room. Mirrors, mirrors, every where; and in every mirror I
saw the lady, but started when I observed, that I nowhere saw myself
beside her. I went nearer to them. There were the lady and the fire,
reflected and re-reflected a thousand times; but poor little I was
nowhere to be seen. "Am I not, then, any where?" I exclaimed. "The
lady does not hear me! The mirrors do not hold me!" I clasped my hands
together to feel if there was any real life in them, but almost
thought there was not, they were so cold. I went into the marble hall.
Silent all; ah, how silent! I opened door after door. Silver and blue
were all the rooms; no crimson, no gold. Statues and columns were all
around; no paintings, no flowers. Was I not in a great cave full of
stalactites? Longing to tread once more the green earth, I ran down
the broad flight of stairs; but the entrance door was closed, and I
could not remember the word by which the lady had opened it. I went up
the stairs and sought the old man, but every room was empty. At length
I found a little wooden staircase, that led higher and higher, to a
narrow door. I knocked; no answer. I lifted the wooden latch; it did
not open. I sat on the threshold, for I liked that wooden
staircase. It was like the one that leads to my own little chamber at
home, where Mary and I slept so sweetly together. I fancied what Mary
was doing at that moment. It must be night, and they must be wondering
where I was. I would try to find a window, and perhaps I could climb
out. I looked into every room. They were all lighted by windows, high,
high in the ceiling, and I could not hope to reach them. I returned to
the lady's mirrored room. There she sat in her hundred mirrors, but
she saw me not. I went into my little room, and weeping, fell asleep,
to dream that my mother wept for me at home.

In the morning, on first awakening, I wondered where Mary was, for I
forgot where I was myself; but the faint light, that fell like early
dawn through the high window, brought all to my remembrance. A fresh,
white dress lay upon my bed; I put it on, and glided down stairs. The
lady still sat by the fire. "Had she not slept?" I wondered. "Had she
not dreamed of flowers and falling dews, of rosy faces, and of
mother's love, as I had?" She arose silently, and I followed her to
the room where we had taken our supper the evening before. The old man
entered. The lady bowed her head low. I bowed mine. The dishes
appeared upon the table, I knew not from whence, and we again ate in
silence. The fruits were fair to see, but seemed to have no flavor,
no juice. The only drink was water, in crystal vases. How I did want a
cup of good old Brindle's milk, foaming and warm, as we have it at

All that long day I wandered up and down. Once I saw the old man, at
the end of a long corridor. I thought of his gentle eyes, and sprang
towards him; but he vanished, I could not tell how. I began to think
he was a phantom; that it was all a strange dream. If there had only
been a bird to sing, or a frog to hop about, or any thing living! But
the lady was so still she scarcely seemed to breathe, and the old man
came and went like a shadow. There was not even a breath of
wind. Finest lace curtains hung in the rooms, but they never
stirred. How much pleasanter was my little muslin curtain at home,
that fluttered so lightly in the summer breeze! And then my morning
glories, that peeped into my window; they were all in full bloom,
pink, purple, and white, and I was not there to see them.

At length I found my way into this ivory room. The statues here are
not as stern as in the rest of the house. Some are very lovely, and
there is even one of a mother holding a child, which makes me think of
my mother and our little baby. O, how many hours I have passed at the
feet of this statue, weeping as I never wept before!

I know not how many days I have been here, but it seems a very long
while. Did you ever wake in the night, when it was all still, and you
could see the faint starlight through the window? and did it not seem
as if you were awake a very, very long time, and as if a great many
thoughts came, which you never had before? and yet, perhaps, it is
only a little while. So it is with me. It may be only a few days since
I left home; but it seems to me as if the summer must have passed, as
if all the flowers were faded, and the leaves fallen from the trees;
and yet father may still be mowing his grass, and Mary playing in the
hay. Happy, happy Mary!

I would write to her and my mother, and tell them where I am, and
entreat them to come for me, but I know not how to send a
letter. There is certainly no post office here. I have no way to send
my letter to you; but I cannot speak to any one in this silent castle,
and it is a pleasure to write. If I direct it to all the children in
the world, perhaps one of them may some day come here and find it. I
shall not seal my letter, because there is no sealing wax here, and no
seal. I think the lady never writes letters to any one; but sometimes
she writes and throws her paper into the fire. There it shrivels up in
a moment, and the fire burns, or rather glitters, just as before. O,
that fire! It seems more like a keen frost than a fire, and I never
dare to approach it. I never look at it except in the mirrors.

In an old, dark cabinet, curiously carved, standing near the fire, are
a few books, some large and some very small. They are bound in black
leather, and clasped with jewels. I take them down, but cannot unclasp
them. Sometimes the old man comes in and reads aloud to the lady. Then
she turns her face from the fire, a little towards him. Ah, that is
pleasant. His voice is like the summer wind, and I sit beside him to
drink it in, but cannot understand his words. Yet they have a strange
power over me, and I often weep as I do by the mother's statue. He
sometimes looks mildly down upon me, and has even spoken to me; but I
did not understand what he wished to say.

One day, when he left the room, I followed him, very timidly, with
softest steps. He passed slowly through the great halls, and down a
dark staircase, which I had never before seen. Yet it was not
altogether dark; but the light was different from the clear, silvery
light that shines through the upper halls. I heard a heavy door open
and close, and all was hushed. I could not find the door, and after
groping a long while for it, I went back to the ivory room, and cried
myself to sleep, at the foot of my dear ivory statue.

But you must not think I am always unhappy here. How can I be, where
every thing is so beautiful? And another wondrous thing is, that the
rooms are always changing; not much, but a little, from day to day. I
have never seen any thing move except the silken lady and the
silver-haired old man; and these, with a motion that is not like life;
yet I can perceive that there is a change--just as, while you are
looking at the clouds, you can see that they have taken new forms and
tints, and yet cannot tell how it is. I sometimes think there must be
invisible spirits in the castle, there are such strange lights in the
rooms. Perhaps the statues are enchanted queens and princes, for
there seems to be a presence in each one. I wander from one to
another, and gaze, and gaze. O, how lovely they are! If they were only
alive, it would be almost too great a pleasure to live with such
beautiful people. I sometimes lay my hand upon them, to see if they
are not warm, but quickly draw it back again, they are so very
cold. No lips smile for me, no eye looks into mine, no hand is
stretched out towards me.

How I wish some of you, little children, were here! Any child! The
poorest beggar, in her rags, if she could but speak and move. If the
color would come into her cheeks, and the tears into her eyes, I would
throw my arms around her, and kiss her a hundred times. O, she would
not be made of marble. But good night now. It is very late, and only a
little light comes in through the pearl window. I have written a very
long letter for to-day. To-morrow I will write again, only I shall
have nothing to tell, for the days are all alike here. Good night.

* * * * *

Dear Children: I have something new to tell you. One morning, when the
lady arose from the breakfast table, she went down the broad
staircase, and I joyfully followed her. She spoke the magic word at
the door. It opened! We passed down the steps, between the two winged
lions, and stepped into the glittering carriage. Away it sped. I
could not see the driver, but only that there were four white horses.
On we flew, faster and faster. I gazed out of the window at the green
meadows, the woods, the streams; but we passed them so rapidly that
they were all mingled. I could just see that there was something
moving about near the houses, and at work in the fields--men and
women, I suppose; but they were as transparent as air, and I could see
every thing through them. Mere ghosts they seemed to be. Now I could
understand why the lady took so little notice of me. I, and all these
people, were like wreaths of mist to her. I turned towards her. She
was looking out with the same calm eyes. It was all unreal to her, but
she was very real to me, very beautiful. I wished she were not. I
wished she were not in the carriage; that it would stop; that I could
get out, and run, dancing and shouting, through the fields. I broke
the silence. I implored the lady to stop the carriage; to let me go
and find my home; to let me gather one buttercup, one blade of
grass. She drew her glimmering veil more closely around her; I believe
she thought the wind blew a little. On, on, we went! At length we
stopped, and I thought it was my mother's house. I looked out for the
little brown walls, the grass plot, the baby. I saw only the great
castle, frowning down upon me, and the lions with women's faces
looking at me with large, tranquil eyes. When we alighted from the
carriage I tried to escape, but the lady's power was upon me, and I
had to follow her up those stone steps. The door opened and closed. I
threw myself down by it; I pressed myself against it. I wept as if my
heart would break. I know not how long I lay there. All night,
perhaps. It may have been yesterday when I flew so fast through the
green fields. I know nothing about time here. I have come to write to
you again. It is night again. My paper is all wet with my tears. O, if
my mother were only here to kiss me to sleep!

* * * * *

Dear Children: To-day something pleasant has happened. I have found a
little room I never saw before, away off in the corner of a long
entry; and will you believe it? there are the remains of a wood fire
in it--real ashes, which I could blow about with my breath, only I do
not like to disturb them, and a piece of burnt brand. Some one must
have lived in this room, and perhaps not so very long ago. It is hung
with flowered chintz curtains, like those around my bed at home. It
made me so happy to see them, I kissed the flowers and the buds on
them; and yet it made me sad, too, I longed so for my own little
room. I lifted the curtains all around the walls, hoping to find a
window, and found a little one in a corner, but the shutters were
closed. I thought that it might overlook the lake and the hills, and
that perhaps some little girl had once sat there with the soft breeze
blowing upon her, and she had seen the dancing waves of the lake, and
far across it our little brown house, which I would rather see now
than the glancing waters I once loved so well. I pushed and pulled; I
looked for a spring, and ran over all kinds of strange words in hopes
to find one that would open it; but all in vain. There was no bar
across the shutter, and yet it was firmly closed. Then I looked around
the room. There was a small statue carved in wood of a boy, with an
extinguished torch in one hand, stretching out the other as if he were
groping in the darkness. There was another carving in wood of a child
lying asleep, and an angel bending over it binding a wreath of roses
on its head. I looked at this angel, with her softly-folded wings and
loving face, for a long while, and at the little sleeping child, and
thought, perhaps an angel is binding my head with roses while I sleep
in this marble house, for my life here all seems like a sleep and a

There was nothing else in the room except a wooden footstool and a
spinning wheel, the broken thread hanging upon it. On the walls was a
picture of a child with a halo around its head. It might not be a very
good painting, but the face was lovely, and seemed to say, "Come with
me." There was a little straw mat beneath this picture, as if some one
had knelt before it; at least I did. Then I drew the footstool up, and
sat near the ashes, on the hearth. I tried to imagine I was sitting by
the fire at home, close to my mother's side, on my little footstool,
while Mary, and the baby, and father were frolicking together, as they
always do at night; but O, there was only the dead brand. And yet I
would rather sit and look into those ashes, and think what a pleasant
fire was once there, or might be, if rekindled, than gaze, as the lady
does, into that hard, glittering fire, which is always the same.

While I sat there, feeling very homesick and sad, I spied a little
cupboard by the side of the fireplace. I opened it rather
hesitatingly, for I did not know what might be there, and found--what
do you think?--a book! You cannot tell what a joy that was to me, you
who have whole shelves of books. But if you had been shut up for a
long while in a great castle where there was no person who would speak
to you, no book which you could read, not so much as a kitten or a fly
to play with, and nothing to do, day after day, but wander about and
admire curtains and statues, and a lady like a statue,--would you not
be glad to find a book you could read, even Mother Goose? At first I
hardly dared to open it, for I was afraid it might be in some unknown
language, and that would have been too great a disappointment; but at
length I peeped in, and there was a little hymn I used to sing with my
mother, and another and another. It was the very same hymn book I had
at home--one just like it I mean, only very worn and old, as if it had
been read a great many times. And I shall read it many, many times;
for although I once knew all the hymns in it by heart, I have
forgotten them now. But they will soon return to my memory. I sat on
the little stool singing them over to myself in a low voice, until it
seemed as if my mother were really singing them with me; and now I
shall go to bed and sing myself to sleep with one of them.

* * * * *

Dear Children: I have not written to you for several days, because I
have not needed to write, I have been so happy with my hymn book. And
besides, I have found in the cupboard some small, sharp tools, with
which the images in the little room must have been carved, and I am
carving a figure on the wooden stool. It is very pretty, I think. It
is our little baby feeding a robin. Perhaps you would not think it a
good likeness of baby, but I do, it is such a chubby little
thing. Only I cannot carve very well, I have had so little practice.
But I draw a great deal from the statues in the ivory room, and am
learning very fast. I sing to myself while I am at work; and when I
wander, singing, in the great halls, to rest myself, there comes a
strange echo through the lofty rooms. One day, when I was dancing
along, humming a little song I used to sing with Mary, I met the old
man, and he laid his hand upon my head. It seemed for a moment as if
it must be my own father, and I almost threw my arms around him, but
was afraid of the long, silvery beard; and yet it does not look like
icicles now, but is soft and flowing. It made me think of a picture
father has of a wise old man named Eli, and I shall always call him
Eli now, for I like that people should have names. I think the lady's
name must be Intelletta, because I saw it written in a book that was
unclasped, one day. It is a pretty name--do you not think so? But I do
not like it half so well as Mary.

One day I saw a strange sight. I was sitting on the lower step of the
wooden staircase that leads to the narrow turret door, when the lady
passed me by, without noticing me, however. She carried a dazzling
sword erect in her hand, so that the point gleamed above her head. It
was very splendid, to see her thus mounting the stairs. She stood
before the door, but it would not open, although the sword flashed as
if it would flash its way through. She waited very long, and then came
slowly down, with her lips pressed together. I thought she gave one
little glance at me. I arose and followed her, for whenever I see her
move I always follow her. She seated herself by the fire, but did not
look into it. The sword fell from her hand, and she leaned her head
against one of the jewel-clasped books. The old man soon entered,
unclasped the book, and read to her. She rose from her chair, and sat
on a cushion at his feet--a little cushion near mine; and yet she did
not see me.

I will draw you a picture of the lady ascending the stairs with the
shining sword, and yet I can hardly venture to do so. It will not look
like her, for I cannot draw the glittering light in her face, and that
marble flower in her hair; that is too handsome for me to draw. But
there is no fragrance in it, and I would rather have the smallest
violet that blooms in my own dear garden. Good night.

* * * * *

Dear Children: I have not written to you for a long time, and you will
be glad to know the reason why I have not. I was drawing one day with
my pretty opal pen, when I heard a fluttering sound above my head, and
there was a rosy bird flying about and singing. O, I knew that song so
well! I often heard it at home when I was lying half asleep and half
awake in the morning, and when I was quite awake I had often looked
through all the garden, in every vine and tree, but had never found
the bird; and now it had come to sing to me again. It alighted on the
table. I did not touch it, but sat with my hands folded, looking and
listening; and I listened even after it had flown away, and all was
silent again. It flew away through the pearl window in the ceiling,
which was open, and has remained so ever since; and now I can look up
into the blue sky and see clouds drifting by, and the sun shining
in. It shines directly upon me and makes me so happy.

After the rosy bird had gone, I missed my drawing of the lady with the
sword, and I think he must have carried it away. Perhaps he will fly
with it to mother, and she will wonder what it is. She will not know
that I drew it, for I never drew before. If she should know it was my
drawing, she would send me a little note by the rosy bird.

* * * * *

Evening. Yes, the bird came again to-day, and brought me a blue
forget-me-not. I know it very well; it came from Mary's garden. You
would have thought some great misfortune had befallen me, if you had
seen how I wept over that little flower; but it was only because it
made me too happy. I did so long to fly away with the bird. All I
could do was to write a little note, and tie it under his wing, hoping
mother would find it. So I wrote,--

"Dearest Mother: I am your own little Anna. I am in the castle of the
Lady Intelletta. I wish you could see how beautiful it is here. I
will come home as soon as I can possibly get out. Cannot you come for
me, mother?"

* * * * *

Dear Children: The next day the bird brought me a note. It was written
on a bit of paper torn out of a book; but I did not care for that. It

"Anna dear: Why have you gone away from us? Mother is so ill weeping
for you, that she cannot come for you. You must come to us. Your own
sister, Mary."

Then there was one word added, in a trembling hand--"Mother." I knew
who had written that.

I took the note and went to the lady. I threw myself sobbing at her
feet. I entreated her, if she had any pity, to let me go home. I
clasped my arms around her silken robe. She did not draw it away; she
did not know I was there. The rosy bird flew into the room and
sang. She heard him. She rose and followed him. He flew out of my open
window. The lady gazed up as if she had never seen the drifting clouds
before. I fell once more at her feet. She looked at me a moment,
passed her hand over my forehead, as if striving to recollect
something, but resumed her seat in silence. It was a long while before
I could control myself; but at last I sat down and wrote a note to
mother, begging her to be well, and to come for me, and promising
never to leave her again. I sent it by the bird, and he brought me an
answer, to tell me that mother was better, and they were all coming
for me the next day.

I searched all over the castle for the gentle Eli, for I thought he
would let me out. I went up the wooden stairs, and down the dark
stairs, and through every corridor, but he was nowhere to be found. I
thought they were all standing outside the great door, but tried in
vain to open it. O, how wearied and bruised I was, with throwing
myself against it! At night the bird came with a note which told me
they had all come for me, and had gone away; that they could not
believe I was in the dark castle, for I had said I was in a beautiful
place, and they should wait now until I came for them. And I also must
wait, and be as patient as I can. I am happier than I was before,
because the rosy bird comes every day, and brings me either a note
from home, or a flower, or a leaf. The soft air comes in through my
window, and the sunshine, and I know they all love me at home, and
have not forgotten me. So I go on drawing, that I may have copies of
all these statues to hang on our walls, and I have almost finished
carving the footstool. How pleased baby will be when she sees it!
Ah, when will that be! darling little baby!

* * * * *

Dear Children: Happiest of the happy am I! Now let me tell you. I was
just finishing off my footstool, and thinking whether the baby's hair
was quite curly enough, when the door gently opened and the old man
entered. How he had found my little room I could not imagine. He
looked at the footstool, then taking it in one hand and leading me by
the other, went through the long corridors to the lady's room. He
opened one of the great books, and there was a picture of a baby
playing with a robin-red-breast, just like my carving. The lady
looked from the carving to the picture, from the picture to the
carving, and at last seated herself upon my little wooden footstool,
with her rich dress sweeping the floor on either side, and held out
her hand to me. I put mine into it,--it was not so very cold,--and she
sat looking into my face for some long minutes. I looked into her
eyes, and they made me think of the evenings when I used to lie on the
frozen snow, and gaze up at the bright winter stars, shining through
the bare branches of the elm tree. At length she said to me, "How did
you come to this castle?" I could not but smile at the question, and
answered, "I came in a carriage with you, but you did not see me,
perhaps; I was hidden by your glimmering veil."

"Ah, that veil! I will never wear it again," she said; and then I had
to tell her about my mother and the baby, the flowers and the bees,
and all we did at home. And now that she would hear me, I told her how
I longed to be there once again, and entreated her to let me go. "Yes,
we will go," she said, and led me to the door, which flew open.

For a moment I so feared to see that splendid, never-stopping
carriage, ready to receive us, that I did not venture to look out; but
when I took a peep, and saw it was not there, I sprang upon the
sphinx, ran along its back, and gave a great jump from its head, quite
across the gravel walk, into the grass beyond, and rolled down to the
bottom of the bank. I scrambled up again, my white dress stained with
the grass, and saw the stately lady smiling at me. I ran off to gather
handfuls of dandelions and buttercups, and then away I went to the
lake, to let the little waves break over my feet. O, how delightful
that was! I heard the lady singing a low cadence like that of the
waves, and saw how beautiful she was in the sunlight, so much more
lovely than when she sat by that spell-bound fire. How glad mother
will be to have me bring this queenly lady home! I thought, and walked
along with my hand in hers. But when we came to our garden wall, over
I sprang, and fell down into my violet bed. O, how sweet my violets
were! I felt as if I could lie there forever among them, but
remembered the lady, and gathering two violets, gave her one, and put
the other into my bosom. "But you will crush it, child," she said.

"O, yes, I love it so!" I answered, and was bounding through the
garden, when I suddenly thought it would not be very polite to let the
lady find her way alone; so I gave her my hand, and led her to the
house. There sat my mother, with the baby asleep in the cradle beside
her. What happened then I do not know; but I found myself sitting in
my mother's lap, with my head on her shoulder, and could hear, as if
in a dream, a murmuring sound of the wind in the locust tree, the
bees, the brook, the lady's clear tones, and sweetest of all, my
mother's low voice answering her. Father and Mary also were sitting on
the step, and baby lay sleeping in the cradle, with her dear little
face looking just as it did when I went away. Soon we all went in to
tea. How the urn smoked, and how good the baked apples tasted! I
could not help smiling to see the lady eat bunns, for I thought of her
handsome frosted cakes that never had any raisins in them. After tea I
undressed the baby; she really seemed to remember me, and we had a
grand frolic together. Then I was so happy at night, when Mary and I
fell asleep with the moon shining in through the vine leaves twining
around our little window! I believe the rosy bird sang in the
jessamine all the night long; at least I dreamed that he did.

This morning I have been all over the farm, calling upon the cows, the
sheep, and the chickens. Old Nabby, my brown hen, has ten little
chickens, and I have come home just in time to take care of them. I
left her sitting on her nest. Will you believe it? father has not
quite got through his haying yet. They say I have not been gone such a
very long time, but it seems a year and a day to me, and mother says
it seems even longer to her; for until the bird brought the note, she
did not know what had become of me, and was afraid I was drowned in
the lake.

The lady has invited us all to go to the castle to-morrow, and father
says he will row us across the lake. Will not that be delightful? I
have always so longed to sail on the lake! I cannot say that I care
much to see the castle again, but I shall like to show mother and Mary
all the beautiful statues, and to bring home my drawings and baby's
footstool. Good by now; there is mother calling me to dinner. While
she went out to call father I just stole a little time to write to
you, here in my room, at my little rosewood desk. It is not so pretty
as the mother-of-pearl table, but I like it better. It was my last
birthday present.

Dear Children: I believe there was never before such a sunny day as
yesterday. Early in the morning we sailed off in the boat, with the
water splashing and dancing around us, baby and all so happy. We were
three hours sailing across the lake. I did not know that it was so
wide. We landed on the slope before the castle; the great doors were
thrown open, and in the dark archway stood the old man, looking like a
picture, with his long, white beard, and flowing hair. He welcomed
mother to the castle; then the lady bowed her stately head, and we all

The old man took my mother by the hand, and led her down the
mysterious stairs. I think they must have entered the heavily-closing
door, which I could not find when I had once groped about there; for
when she returned she wore upon her breast a jewel that glowed like
living fire. Then he led her up the wooden stairs, bearing her baby in
her arms. She lifted the little latch, and entered the turret door,
while the lady and I waited below. When she came out of the door it
seemed as if the sun were descending upon us, such a radiant light was
in her face. She gave her hand to the lady Intelletta, then stooped
and kissed me upon the forehead with a kiss that was like a burning

As my mother and the lady left the stairs, a statue of a young girl
started into life. Her marble flowers became fragrant and blooming,
as she knelt to offer her upraised basket. My mother took a rose, and
presented it to the lady, who placed a fair white lily in her
hand. Then side by side they moved along. And now a lovely statue of a
winged boy flew forth from its niche, and struck upon its lyre. The
whole castle awoke into life. The statues of grave men, with a scroll
in one hand and their heavy robes draped in the other, descended from
their pedestals. Young princes clustered around us, with graceful
garments and waving hair, their swords bound to their sides, and their
eyes full of light. A golden-haired princess looked upon me with the
loveliest smile, and told me I must always be her sister. In one room,
a queen, who had long been pale marble, arose from her throne in
gorgeous robes, and joined in our procession. A lady with a wide brow
and jewelled hair, rode towards us in a car drawn by lions. I
remembered what a funny picture I had one day made of those lions,
when they had not the power of motion, and was almost afraid they
would eat me up, by way of revenge. But they were very forgiving. A
young warrior, whom I had always greatly admired, because he appeared
to have so much life in him, even when he was but a statue, now rode
gently towards us, bowing low before my mother. But I knew by the
fire in his eyes, and the restrained prance of his spirited horse,
that he would some time perform brave deeds. When we entered my
silver room, the beautiful ivory mother bent and kissed her child, who
leaped with joy into life. A little girl, on a gazelle, bounded from a
corner. A boy, on an eagle, soared high into the sunshine through the
open window, then came circling down, and led the eagle near us.
Lovely girls scattered flowers, their light dresses fluttering around
them as they tripped along. They smiled upon me as if they knew me;
and well they might, for when they were nothing but carved ivory I had
sat before them day after day, with my opal pen and lilac paper,
trying to draw them. Then, too, they had seen my tears when I so
longed for home. How different it was from that silent time, to have
my own dear mother beside me, and all the beautiful, cold statues
awakened into life!

We all dined at the same marble table, served by the same invisible
hands; but the fruits were juicy as well as fair to see, and the water
had become fragrant wine, and there was no silence now, but
conversation like the most enchanting fairy tales. After dinner we
went to the lady's mirrored room. The fire was not still, and coldly
brilliant, but burned with a motion like that of a fountain--
self-contained. And yet I like better our wood fire at home. It is
so pleasant to put on fresh sticks, and rake open the coals! But it
was splendid to see it burning in a hundred mirrors, where all the gay
and stately figures were reflected like sparkling light, as they
danced around the room in swift circles. Yes, and the lady also
danced. My rosy bird sat on the old cabinet and sang his sweetest
song, and above all, in the height of the lofty room floated the angel
who was crowning the child with roses, and by her side was the happy

It was early dawn when we sailed home across the lake. I lay in the
bottom of the boat, with my head upon my mother's lap--not asleep, I
believe--but listening to the water rippling against the boat, and
faintly recalling the beautiful figures I had been seeing all day, I
knew them all so well. But how different from the marble statues were
the eyes beaming with life, the lips that spoke, and the glowing
motions of living forms. O, yes, we shall often accept the lady
Intelletta's invitation to visit her lordly castle.

I brought away my drawings, and have been pinning them on the walls
this morning. Mother says they are very ornamental to the rooms, but
I shall soon draw better ones. The baby creeps along the floor to her
little footstool, and points to the robin-red-breast, then looks at me
and laughs.

Mary and I are so tired to-night that we are going to have some bowls
of bread and milk on the door step, and go to bed when baby does--at
seven o'clock. Will not that be pleasant?

To-morrow I shall go to the village post office to put in this
letter. I shall not write you any more now that I have mother and Mary
to talk with; and I should not have written to you at all after I left
the silent castle,--now no longer silent,--only I thought you might be
interested to hear about my return home. I shall enclose all I have
written in one large envelope, sealed with a winged head; and I think
it will reach some of you, for I shall direct it "To all the Children
in the wide World,"--care of the South Wind.


In old heathen times, on the shore of the Adriatic lived a little girl
whose greatest pleasure was to wander by the side of the lonely
sea. She liked better to sit on a high rock with the spray just
tossing against her feet, than to play with her village companions,
who laughed at her for her wild ways, and asked her if she were the
child of Neptune, and if she dwelt in a shell palace under the water;
although they knew very well that old Menos, the fisherman, was her
father, and that she lived in a little hut, just above the line of
seaweed which the highest tides leave upon the beach.

One day Ida roamed far along the beach, amusing herself making deep
footprints in the sand, which the rising tide quickly filled, when at
last she came upon a high wall of rock, too steep to climb, yet
looking as if a pleasant bay might be beyond. She scrambled along the
rock, slippery with seaweed, until she could peep round into a great
cave, before which was a little beach of smooth, white sand, with
dark, frowning rocks all around, except where the sea broke gently in
upon it. In the darkness of the cave an old woman leaned over a
book. Its brilliant cover attracted Ida, who, half in fear, stole
nearer and nearer, treading so softly in the sand that her foot-steps
could not be heard, and at last seated herself in the shadow by the
old woman, and listened to the wonderful stories which she read, in a
low, murmuring voice.

"High upon Olympus, on his golden throne, the blue sky shines above
him, and around stand the immortals;" and then, mingled with the sound
of the waves, came songs from Apollo's lyre, and descriptions of
Bacchus, drawn by his soft-footed leopards, of Venus and her snowy
doves, of fauns and nymphs, and wondrous people, of whom Ida had never
before heard. She listened until the sun set and night darkened upon
the waters, then slowly retraced her way home, thinking every cloud
that floated above her might be a messenger from Olympus, and that
every fleck of foam was perhaps the little white hand of a nereid,
sporting amid the waves.

In vain came her cousin Larra, the next morning, to ask her to go in
quest of crabs and sea-urchins with the other children. Ida went off
alone on another quest. The old woman sat in the cave with the morning
sun glancing upon her silver hair, and upon a most beautiful picture,
to which she had just turned. Now, Ida was an affectionate child. She
loved her father, although she but seldom saw him, as he was out upon
the sea for weeks at a time; and she loved her aunt Lydian, and her
cousins, and all who were kind to her; yet she could not but see that
Apollo, with his golden lyre and flashing eyes, had something more
glorious in him than she had ever seen in her father, even on that day
when he came smiling home, bringing the largest fish he had ever
caught; and Minerva's helmet was certainly more splendid than the
piece of cloth aunt Lydian wore on her head; and cupids, with
fluttering wings, were much prettier than her little brown-armed
cousins without any. So she forgot all her old friends, and day and
night her dreams were full of lofty forms with golden hair and faces
like the noonday sun.

And being an affectionate child, she liked to do something for those
she loved; and she began to fancy what she could do for these unknown
immortals of whom she dreamed. The old woman had retreated into the
depth of the cave, whither Ida did not venture to follow her; and she
would sit just within it, gazing through its dark arch upon the wide
waters, and wondering if the bright sunbeams which pierced through the
clouds, and slanted far down upon the distant sea, were not stairs by
which she might ascend to Olympus. Then she would think of the boat
her father made for her of the ivory tusks he once brought from a
far-off land; of the pile of shells she had herself collected, all
very valuable to her, but she doubted a little whether they would be
much valued upon Olympus, and she could not go thither without some
offering worthy of the immortals.

One day she found upon the shore a shell curved like a beautiful
vase. "Ah, this is just the thing!" she exclaimed. "I will fill it
with honey; there is nothing so delicious as honey; even the immortals
must like that!" And away she went, deep into a wooded dell, where the
stores of the wild bee were hidden.

How she found her way to Olympus is known only to herself. I believe
she first climbed some rocks, then a cloud, then sprang over a rainbow
bridge, and at last scaled a long sunbeam, which led her straight to
the marble steps of Jupiter's high throne.

How joyfully she mounted! sometimes looking up to marvel at the height
of the steps, which seemed to ascend into the very sky, sometimes
looking down at her little shell of honey, thinking how brightly it
shone, like pure gold, and how pleased Jupiter would be with it. At
last she stood upon the summit of Olympus, and with timid step walked
through the circle of gazing immortals, until she came before the
throne of Jupiter. There she knelt to lift the shell vase and honey
nectar to his sceptered hand, but trembled so much that she spilt the
honey on his jewelled footstool. It seemed as if she beheld at once
every face in that grand assembly. Jupiter apparently did not notice
her; but Juno fixed her haughty gaze upon her, Apollo shot a glance of
scorn, Minerva frowned, Venus turned away her head, Bacchus looked
annoyed, Mercury smiled, and poor little Ida, covering her face with
her apron, fled through the Golden Hall, and down the marble steps.

On the very lowest one she sat down with her feet in a cloud, and wept
most bitterly. Soon she heard a fluttering in the air, and Iris
glanced by and vanished in the cloud. Presently she returned, bringing
with her a little girl whom Ida had often seen frolicking among the
other children, a sunny-haired, rosy-cheeked child, named Hebe, the
veriest romp in the village. Ida had always thought her a foolish
little thing, because she was always playing about like a kitten, and
never came to the sea shore to listen to the winds, and see the great
waves roll in; and now here she was, ascending the marble stairs, with
her white feet, and rosy smile, and rainbow colors, from the wings of
Iris, glittering all around her. Ida knew by the crystal vase she
bore, that Hebe was to serve the immortals, and she longed to peep in
and see how they would receive her; but she feared the haughty gaze of
Juno, and the scornful glance of Apollo; so, burying her face in her
hands, she remained weeping on the step. After a long while she heard
a light motion beside her, and looking up, saw the beautiful eyes of
Psyche, looking gently down upon her.

"Ah, little girl," she said, "you were sadly awkward. I pitied you
very much, for I know what it is for a mortal to stand among the
immortals; I never could have been here if I had not been brought by

"But I also loved them," sobbed Ida. Psyche smiled a little. "Yes, my
child, you were dazzled by their beauty, and thought you could fly up
hither on the first morning breeze. But know--the gods are not easily
approached; weary were the works I had to perform before I could be
admitted, although led by Cupid. And know also, that all who enter
must come with fair foreheads and serene eyes. You are a wee thing,
with sad, shy eyes; and then those dusty feet of yours--Jupiter would
never like to have those treading upon his golden floors. It is
useless to sit weeping here. Minerva will order you off if she finds
you. She has the care of the steps. You had better go back to your
village and learn to spin with your mother."

"But I have no mother," cried Ida, "and my father is always out
fishing. If I go among the children they will only laugh at me,
because I told them such grand stories about the immortals, and left
their plays to wander alone on the shore; and how can I go back to
seaweed and rocks again, after having had a glimpse of this golden
Olympus? O, I wish I were only a little brown leaf!" and she wept
more and more, as if her very heart would break.

Psyche looked thoughtfully at her a while, and then said, "Would you
like to be one of the Doves of Venus?"

"O, yes!" exclaimed Ida, her eyes brightening.

"But remember you will have to obey her every fancy, and fly far and
wide; and her jewelled car is not light, nor does she drive with
gentle rein."

But Ida, with clasped hands, entreated that she might become one of
Venus's Doves; so Psyche kissed her tearful face, and she was changed
into a dove with soft, bright eyes, dainty red feet, and a breast
white as the sea foam. She flew into the circle of immortals, and none
recognized in her the little stumbling girl, except Mercury, who

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