All the Way to Fairyland
AUTHOR OF "WYMPS"
WITH EIGHT COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS
AND A COVER BY MRS. PERCY DEARMER
THE BODLEY HEAD
LONDON AND NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1897, BY
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.
By the Same author:
WYMPS: FAIRY TALES. With eight coloured illustrations by Mrs. Percy Dearmer.
THE MAKING OF A SCHOOLGIRL.
AT THE RELTON ARMS.
THE MAKING OF A PRIG.
GEOFFREY AND CHRISTOPHER
TRISTAN AND ISEULT
MARGARET AND BOY
AND ALL THE OTHER CHILDREN
WHO WOULD LIKE TO GO
ALL THE WAY TO FAIRYLAND
I. THE COUNTRY CALLED NONAMIA II. WHY THE WYMPS CRIED III. THE STORY OF HONEY AND SUNNY IV. THE LITTLE PRINCESS AND THE POET V. THE WONDERFUL TOYMAKER VI. THE PROFESSOR OF PRACTICAL JOKES VII. THE DOLL THAT CAME STRAIGHT FROM FAIRYLAND VIII. THOSE WYMPS AGAIN!
List of Illustrations
BY MRS. PERCY DEARMER
I. A PRINCESS FLOATING ABOUT ON A SOFT WHITE CLOUD . Frontispiece
II. THE WYMPS SAY THAT QUEER BEGAN IT
III. SUNNY WAS SO ASTONISHED THAT SHE STOPPED CRYING AT ONCE
IV. "COME WITH ME, POET," SAID THE LITTLE PRINCESS
V. THE ROCKING-HORSES RUSHED OVER THE GROUND
VI. HE CURLED HIMSELF UP IN THE SUN AND CLOSED HIS EYES
VII. THE LADY EMMELINA IS ALWAYS KEPT IN HER PROPER PLACE NOW
VIII. "WILL YOU COME AND PLAY WITH ME, LITTLE WISDOM?"
The Country Called Nonamia
Ever so long ago, in the wonderful country of Nonamia, there lived an absent-minded magician. It is not usual, of course, for a magician to be absent-minded; but then, if it were usual it would not have happened in Nonamia. Nobody knew very much about this particular magician, for he lived in his castle in the air, and it is not easy to visit any one who lives in the air. He did not want to be visited, however; visitors always meant conversation, and he could not endure conversation. This, by the way, was not surprising, for he was so absent-minded that he always forgot the end of his sentence before he was half-way through the beginning of it; and as for his visitors' remarks—well, if he had had any visitors, he would never have heard their remarks at all. So, when some one did call on him, one day,—and that was when he had been living in his castle in the air for seven hundred and seventy-seven years and had almost forgotten who he was and why he was there,—the magician was so astonished that he could not think of anything to say.
"How did you get here?" he asked at last; for even an absent-minded magician cannot remain altogether silent, when he looks out of his castle in the air and sees a Princess in a gold and silver frock, with a bright little crown on her head, floating about on a soft white cloud.
"Well, I just came, that's all," answered the Princess, with a particularly friendly smile. "You see, I have never been able to find my own castle in the air, so when the West Wind told me about yours I asked him to blow me here. May I come in and see what it is like?"
"Certainly not," said the magician, hastily. "It is not like anything; and even if it were, I should not let you come in. Don't you know that, if you were to enter another person's castle in the air, it would vanish away like a puff of smoke?"
"Oh, dear!" sighed the Princess. "I did so want to know what a real castle in the air was like. I wonder if yours is at all like mine!"
"Tell me about yours," said the magician. "I may be able to help you to find it." Of course, he only said this in order to prevent her from coming inside his own castle. At the same time, a little conversation with a friendly Princess in a gold and silver gown is not at all unpleasant, when one has lived in a castle in the air for seven hundred and seventy-seven years.
"My castle in the air is much bigger than yours," she explained. "It has ever so many rooms in it,—a large room to laugh in and a small room to cry in—"
"To cry in?" interrupted the magician. "Why, no one ever thinks of crying in a castle in the air!"
"One never knows," answered the Princess, gravely. "Supposing I were to prick my finger, what should I do if there was n't a room to cry in? Then, there is a middling-sized room to be serious in; for there is just a chance that I might want to be serious sometimes, and it would be as well to have a room, in case."
"Perhaps it would," observed the magician, who had never listened so attentively to a conversation in the whole of his long life. "What else will you have in your castle?"
"I shall have lots of nice books that end happily," answered the Princess; "and they shall be talking books, so that I need not read them to find out what they are about. I shall have plenty of happy thoughts in my castle, too, and lots of nice dreams piled up in heaps, and—well, there is just one thing more."
"What is that?" asked the magician.
"Well, I think I should like to have a Prince in my castle, a nice Prince, who would not want to be just dull and princely like all the princes I have ever danced with, but a Prince who would like my castle exactly as I have built it and would play with me all day long. That would be something like a Prince, wouldn't it?"
"You could not possibly have a Prince," said the magician. "If you allowed some one else even to look into your castle in the air, it would vanish away like a puff of smoke. I have lived in my castle for seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and I have never allowed any one to put a foot in it."
"Is it so beautiful, then, your castle in the air?" asked the Princess, wonderingly.
"I'm sure I don't know," said the absent-minded magician; "I don't think I ever noticed. I came to live in it, because it was the only place in which I could be left alone. That reminds me, that if you do not go away at once I shall be obliged to become exceedingly angry with you."
"By all means," said the Princess, who had the most charming manners in the world; "but I should like to have my castle first."
"I have n't got it here," said the magician, looking about him vaguely. "I know I saw it somewhere not long ago, but I can't remember what I did with it. However, if you ask the people of Nonamia, they will be able to tell you where it has gone. You will find that they are very obliging."
"Will they not be surprised?" asked the Princess.
"Dear me, no! The Nonamiacs are never surprised at anything," said the magician; and he drew in his head from the window. The Princess in the gold and silver frock sailed away on her cloud, and landed presently in the flat, green country of Nonamia.
"Have you seen my castle in the air?" she asked, very politely, of the first Nonamiac she met.
"What is it like?" asked the Nonamiac, without showing the least surprise.
"It is ever so large and ever so beautiful, and it is packed full of happiness, and there is a nice Prince inside," answered the Princess.
"Ah," said the Nonamiac; "then it must be the one I saw being blown along by the South Wind. But there was no Prince inside."
The Princess thanked him and hastened away in the direction of the South Wind until she met another Nonamiac, to whom she explained as politely as before what she wanted to know.
"Ah," said the Nonamiac, "that must be the castle I met just now as it was being carried off by the North Wind. But I saw no Prince inside."
The Princess turned round and hurried after the North Wind as fast as she could go. As soon as she met another Nonamiac, however, she had to turn round once more, for he told her that her castle had just been stolen by the East Wind; and when she had been walking quite a long time in the direction of the East Wind, she met yet another Nonamiac, who told her that it was the West Wind who had taken away her castle in the air.
"It is too bad!" said the little Princess, sitting down exhausted on a large stone by the side of the road. "Why should all the winds be playing with my castle in the air?"
"Castles in the air generally go to the winds," observed a traveller in a dusty brown cloak, who was sitting on another large stone, not very far off. She was quite sure he had not been there the moment before, but, in Nonamia, there was nothing remarkable about that. The Princess wiped the tears out of her eyes with a small lace handkerchief, and looked at the stranger.
"Mine is a very particular castle in the air, you see," she said. "It is ever so large and ever so beautiful, and it is packed with happiness and dreams, and perhaps there is a Prince in it, too."
"A Prince?" said the stranger. "What sort of Prince?"
"A nice Prince," explained the Princess, "who can play games and tell stories and be amusing. All the Princes I know can do nothing but dance, and they are not at all amusing. I am afraid, though," she added, sighing, "that I am going to have my castle without a Prince, after all."
"Would it do," asked the traveller in the dusty brown cloak, "if you were to have a Prince without a castle?"
"Oh, no!" answered the Princess, decidedly. "If you knew how beautiful my castle in the air is, you would not even ask such a stupid question!"
Then she again took up her small lace handkerchief, and she brushed the dust from her gold and silver gown, and polished up her bright little gold crown, and made herself as neat and dainty as a Princess should be; for, in Nonamia, one never knows what may happen next, and it is just as well to be prepared. And, in fact, no sooner was she quite tidy than the West Wind came hurrying along with her castle in the air; and the Princess gave a shout of joy and sprang inside it; and the West Wind blew, and blew, and blew, until the castle that was packed full of happiness, and the little Princess in the gold and silver gown, were both completely out of sight. The traveller looked after them and felt a little forlorn; then he picked up his stick and walked on until he came to the magician's castle. This may seem a little surprising, as he had no wings of any kind and the magician's castle was in the air; but it must be remembered that it all happened in Nonamia.
"Dear, dear! Here 's another of them!" grumbled the magician, when he looked out of his window and saw the stranger standing below. After being alone for seven hundred and seventy-seven years, it was a little exhausting to have two visitors on the same day. Besides, a traveller in a dusty brown cloak is not at all the same thing as a dainty Princess in a gold and silver gown.
"Good-day," said the stranger. "Are you the magician who has given a castle in the air to a Princess in a gold and silver frock with a bright little crown on her head?"
"Very likely; but I cannot say for certain," said the absent-minded magician. "I believe there was something of the kind, now you come to mention it; but I could n't tell you what it was. However, I don't mean to give away any more castles in the air, so the sooner you leave me alone, the better."
"I don't want a castle in the air," laughed the stranger. "People who spend their lives in building real houses never have time to build castles in the air! I want to find the Princess, not the castle."
"That you will never do as long as she is happy in it," said the magician. "People who live in castles in the air are never to be found, unless they have grown tired of living in them."
"Oho!" chuckled the stranger. "Are you tired of living in yours, then?"
The absent-minded magician tried to determine whether he should be angry or not, when the stranger said this; but, by the time he had made up his mind to be angry, he had forgotten what there was to be angry about, and while he was thinking about it, the man in the dusty brown cloak walked away and left him.
Evidently, it was not very long before the Princess grew tired of living in her castle in the air, for the very next day, as the traveller was once more resting on the large stone by the side of the road, down she came, castle and all, and stopped just in front of him. Truly, there is no end to the wonderful things that happen in Nonamia!
"Hullo!" said the traveller, smiling. "What is it like inside your castle?"
"It is not half so nice as I expected to find it," said the Princess, popping her head out of the top window. "You see, there is no one to play with; and even if your castle is the most beautiful castle in the world, it is always dull when there is no one to play with, isn't it?"
"I don't know," answered the stranger; "I have never had any one to play with. What else is wrong with your castle?"
"Well," continued the Princess, "it is all very well to have a castle that is packed with happiness; but, when it is packed so tight that you cannot get it out without some one to help you, it is not much good, is it?"
"I don't know," answered the stranger; "my happiness has never been packed so tight as all that. Have you anything else to complain of?"
"A great many things," said the Princess. "It is all that stupid magician's fault. When I said, 'a small room to cry in,' I did n't really mean a room to cry in, did I? But every way I turn, there is always the room to cry in, staring me in the face! I am sure there is something seriously wrong with my castle in the air."
"No doubt about it," said the traveller; "and it is clearly the magician's fault."
"When you came to live in your castle in the air," continued the Princess, plaintively, "did you find that it was very different from the one you had built?"
The traveller in the dusty brown cloak burst out laughing.
"I have no time to build castles in the air," he said. "I build real houses for other people to live in, people who would, perhaps, have no houses at all if I did not build them. That is more important than building castles in the air for one's self."
"What are your real houses like?" asked the Princess.
"They are strong," answered the stranger, proudly. "All the four winds joined together could not blow them down. No one has ever built such strong houses as mine."
"Are they beautiful, too?" asked the Princess.
"I have no time to look after that," answered the stranger. "I build more houses than any one else in the world; and still, there are people who are waiting for houses to live in. I must build as fast as I can, day after day, year after year."
"Then why are you not building houses now?" asked the Princess. The great builder looked sorrowful.
"There is something wrong about my real houses, too," he confessed. "The people who live in them are never quite contented; and I have come away to think out a new plan by myself, so that the next houses I build shall be the most wonderful houses in the world."
The Princess leaned her chin on her hand, and looked quite thoughtful for a moment or two.
"May I come and help you to build real houses, for a change?" she said presently. "I am dreadfully tired of building castles in the air that do not turn out properly—though, of course, that was principally the magician's fault! Still, if you were to show me the way, I might be able to build something real that would turn out properly; and that would be ever so much more amusing."
"It is not at all amusing," said the traveller, shaking his head. "You would soon grow tired of it; besides, you would have no Prince to play with."
"I don't think I want a Prince to play with," said the charming Princess in the gold and silver frock. "He might turn out to be as dull as my castle in the air, especially if the magician had anything to do with it! I would much sooner come and help you to build real houses."
The traveller in the dusty brown cloak still shook his head.
"Little ladies in gold and silver gowns can only build castles in the air," he said.
"Do the people who live in your houses never build castles in the air?" asked the Princess.
"I never thought of asking them," answered the great builder. "I have been too much occupied in building their real houses."
"Then let us go and ask them now," said the Princess; and she came down from her castle in the air, and stepped once more on to the dusty road, and held out her little white hand to the traveller. Her castle in the air vanished like a puff of smoke the moment she stepped out of it.
"What would be the use of that?" asked the traveller, smiling. He took the little white hand, however, for no one could have refused that much to such a very charming Princess.
"Why," said the Princess in the gold and silver frock, "then we could make their real houses just like their castles in the air; and only think how packed with happiness they would be!"
The traveller looked at her in amazement. It was certainly astonishing that so great a builder as he should find out what was wrong with his houses, from a Princess with a bright little crown on her head who had never done anything but build castles in the air. Still, we must remember that it all happened in Nonamia; and that accounts for a great deal.
"You are quite right," said the traveller; "you know far more about it than I do. You shall come and help me to build real houses, and they shall be the most wonderful houses that have ever been built."
"All beautiful to look at, and packed with happiness inside!" cried the dainty little Princess, clapping her hands for joy. "And we won't let that stupid magician spoil our real houses, will we?"
The magician was looking out of his window at nothing at all, when they came past his castle, hand in hand.
"We are going to build the most wonderful houses in the world," cried the Princess,—"ever so much more wonderful than the stupid castle in the air you gave me!"
This was not very gracious of her, for, after all, the magician had given her exactly what she had built for herself. However, as he had already forgotten both of them and could not think of anything to say, and as they were in too great a hurry to stay and help him, there is nothing more to be said about the magician, except that he is still living in his castle in the air and looking out of his window at nothing at all, which is a right and proper occupation for a magician who is absent-minded. As for the traveller and the charming Princess, they spent the rest of their days in building the most wonderful houses in the world for the people who had nowhere to live. And as for the people who had nowhere to live, it was only natural that they should all find their way to the country called Nonamia, where a little lady in a gold and silver gown taught them to build a castle in the air, and a great builder in a dusty brown cloak made it into a real house that was packed with happiness.
It is a little difficult to believe that this is all true; but then, it must be remembered that it all happened in Nonamia, ever so long ago!
Why the Wymps Cried
The wymps and the fairies have never been able to agree. Nobody quite knows why, though the Fairy Queen, who is the wisest person in the whole world, was once heard to say that jealousy had something to do with it. The fairies say, however, that they would never dream of being jealous of people who live at the back of the sun and do not know manners; while the wymps say it would be absurd to be jealous of any one who lives at the front of the sun and cannot take a joke. All the same, the Fairy Queen is always right, so somebody must certainly be jealous of somebody; and it is well known that if the wymps and the fairies are invited to the same party, it is sure to end in a quarrel. It is really a wonder that the Fairy Queen has not lost patience with the wymps long ago; but people say that she has more affection for her naughty little subjects at the back of the sun than any one would imagine; and the Fairy Queen is so wonderful that it is quite possible to believe this.
Once, matters became so serious that there would have been a real war, if the Queen had not called an assembly of her subjects on the spot—which happened to be on the roof of a blacksmith's forge—and asked them what the fuss was all about.
"Please, your Majesty," said one fairy, half crying, "the wymps shut me up at the back of the sun for fifteen days, and they gave me nothing to eat, your Majesty; they said that if I couldn't take a joke I couldn't take anything. And I should never wish to take one of their jokes, please your Majesty."
"Do not trouble about that," said the Fairy Queen, gravely. "For my part, I shall never expect you to take a joke from any one. Now, Capricious, what have they done to you?" she added, as another fairy with a round dimpled face came forward in a great hurry.
"Please, your Majesty," began Capricious, trying to make a very cheerful voice sound extremely doleful, "I found a wymp in the nursery, after the children had gone to bed; and he was quite upset because the Wymp King had made a joke and no one could see it; and he asked me to go behind the sun with him, so that I might help him to see the joke that the King had made. But when I got there, your Majesty, I said it was much too dark to see anything and I was not at all surprised that no one could see the King's jokes; and the King was so angry that he ordered me to be poked through the sun again; and here I am, please your Majesty."
Her Majesty smiled approvingly.
"You have made a joke worth two of the Wymp King's," she said; "and I shall appoint you as a reward to go to Wympland with a message from me. Do not trouble to thank me," she added, as the round dimpled face of Capricious grew a little crestfallen, "for there is no time. The sun is just going to rise, and the moment it is above the horizon you must go straight through it once more and tell the King that I invite him to breakfast in Fairyland. And now I must be off, for I have a smile to paint on the face of every child in the world before it wakes."
So the Fairy Queen flew away to paint a million or two of the most beautiful smiles in the world; and the other fairies popped down through the roof and did all the blacksmith's work for him and dropped a nice dream on his pillow just to show they had been there; and Capricious sat on the edge of the chimney-pot, until the sun came above the horizon and it was time for her to take the Queen's message to Wympland.
The Wymp King knew better than to refuse the Queen's invitation to breakfast; so he yawned three hundred and fifty-four times, rubbed his eyes to keep them open—for it is a well-known thing that the Wymp King is nearly always asleep—and started off in the direction of Fairyland. The Queen was as pleased to see him as if he had never been naughty at all; but, of course, she was far too much of a Queen to let him guess that he was really there to be scolded. So she made him sit next to her at breakfast, and gave him a cup of stinging-nettle tea to keep him awake, and allowed him to make as many jokes as he pleased. The Wymp King, in consequence, was extremely happy; and when the meal was over and the Queen began to look stern, he had to think very hard indeed before he remembered that he was nothing but a naughty little wymp after all.
"This state of things cannot go on," said the Fairy Queen. "What is the use of my being a Queen if I am not to be obeyed?"
"Your Majesty's chief use is to look like a Queen and to forgive your disobedient subjects," said the Wymp King, who had taken so much stinging-nettle tea that he was almost bristling with jokes.
"Ah," sighed the Fairy Queen, looking sideways at the Wymp King, "it is not at all easy to rule a country like mine."
"It is very fortunate for the country to be ruled by a Queen like you," said the Wymp King, who had not been so wide awake for a thousand years.
"Do you think so? Then Wympland shall have a Queen for a change, and you shall stay here instead and take a holiday," said her Majesty, promptly. The Wymp King saw that he was outwitted, but he would not have been a wymp if he had lost his temper about it; so he chuckled good-humouredly, and pretended not to see that he had really been cheated of his kingdom and was nothing but a prisoner in Fairyland. However, the Fairy Queen gave him very little time even to keep his temper, for she turned him into a tortoise and sent him to sleep under a flower-pot in the garden; and then she called for Capricious to come and help her to choose a Queen for Wympland. Capricious put her round, dimpled face on one side, and thought deeply for thirteen seconds and a half.
"There is Molly, the shoemaker's daughter," said Capricious, when she had finished thinking. "She is seven years old, and she is almost as fond of sleeping as his Wympish Majesty. She would make an excellent Queen for Wympland."
"I remember Molly," said the Fairy Queen, thoughtfully. "She has ruled the shoemaker and the shoemaker's wife and the shoemaker's customers for seven years and a half; doubtless, she will have no difficulty in ruling Wympland. So let no time be lost, Capricious, and see that Molly wakes up from her morning sleep and finds herself on the Wymp King's throne. She will look after the wymps for a time, and I shall have some peace. Besides," added the Fairy Queen with her wise smile, "if the wymps can only be made to cry for once in their lives, we shall probably have no more difficulty with them."
Capricious, who was just an ordinary little fairy and never thought about anything much except singing and dancing, was quite unable to understand the Queen's last remark.
"Shall I tell Molly what she is to do when she gets there, please your Majesty?" she asked in rather a puzzled tone.
"Do?" said the Queen. "The rulers of Wympland never have to do anything. If Molly will only keep her subjects amused, that is all they will expect from her."
That was how it was settled, and that was how Molly woke up from her morning sleep and found herself on the Wymp King's throne, with four little wymps standing in a row just in front of her. Molly stared at the throne on which she was sitting, stared around at the dimly lighted Land of the Wymps, and stared at the four little wymps who stood and laughed at her.
"Who are you?" she asked, opening her eyes as wide as she could. "Are you live dolls, or fairies, or just other children for me to play with?"
The four wymps laughed more than ever when she said this, and began to sing a funny little song all together, just to explain who they were. This was the song:—
"We are Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer, There 's nothing to fright you and nothing to fear! Four little wymps at the back of the sun, Brimful of wympery, rubbish, and fun!
"You 'll find we are wympish; but then, we 're not bores, Though we own to a weakness for wiping off scores. Ah! Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer Are never far off when mischief is near!
"Of Kings we 've had many, but never a Queen; So bewymping a monarch we 've surely not seen; And—Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer Though we are, yet we know how to welcome you here!
"You 'll surely bewymp all the wymps you come near Besides Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer; By the time you have gone and your wymping is done, The world will have changed at the back of the sun."
"Are you really wymps?" exclaimed Molly, when the four little fellows had finished explaining who they were; for, like every properly educated child, Molly knew quite well that the wymps lived at the back of the sun, although she had never been there before.
"To be sure we are," answered Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer. "And you are our new Queen."
"Am I?" said Molly. "Oh, what fun!"
"Of course it's fun," said Skilful. "Everything is fun up here."
"Except the King's jokes," said Wilful.
"And the Fairy Queen's commands," said Captious.
"And the interference of the fairies," said Queer.
"How do the fairies interfere?" asked Molly.
"They come without being invited," said Skilful.
"They don't play fair," said Wilful.
"They always expect to win," said Captious.
"They cry for nothing at all," said Queer.
"I cry sometimes," observed Molly.
"When?" asked all four, in a tone of alarm.
"When I 'm hungry," said Molly, "or tired; or sometimes, when I tumble down; or when I feel cross."
"You should never cry," said Skilful, in a superior tone. "It takes up so much time, and when you 've done crying you 've got exactly the same thing to cry about as before. If you are hungry, don't cry but get something to eat."
"And if you 're tired, don't cry but go to sleep. Nothing could be simpler," said Wilful.
"And if you tumble down, don't cry but pick yourself up again," said Captious. "If you know how to tumble down properly, it is the best fun in the world. We spend most of our time up here in learning new ways of tumbling down."
"And if you are cross," added Queer; and then he stopped and looked doubtfully at the other three. "What is she to do if she feels cross?" he asked them. They shook their heads in reply.
"Nobody is ever cross in Wympland," they explained to Molly. "People who know how to make jokes, really good jokes, soon learn how to take them as well, and then there is nothing left to be cross about. You don't feel cross now, do you?"
Molly assured them that she did not feel in the least cross, and their faces brightened again.
"Perhaps, if you will tell us when you begin to feel cross we shall be able to do something for you," they said; "but, whatever you do, you must not cry in Wympland. It is only the fairies who do that, and they don't know any better. As long as the sun has had a country at the back of it, no wymp has ever been known to cry. Now, let us go and find somebody to tease!"
"I thought Queens could always do as they like," objected Molly, as they took her two hands and made her jump down from the throne without finding out whether she wished to come or not.
"Oh, no," said Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer. "You make a great mistake. The King always does as he is told in Wympland. So come along with us and see us tease somebody."
"I don't want to tease anybody," said Molly, decidedly. "I am going to be a real Queen. Real Queens do just as they like; it is only Kings who do as they are told. If you are not going to let me have my own way I might just as well have stopped at home, instead of coming all this way on purpose to be your Queen!"
The four little wymps looked very perplexed. "May she do as she likes?" they asked one another, and shook their four little heads doubtfully.
"She might order us about," said Skilful.
"Or laugh at us," said Wilful.
"Or expect us to obey her," said Captious.
But Queer turned three somersaults in the air, just to show that he did not care a bit if they did not agree with him; and then he bowed to Molly almost as gracefully as a fairy might have done at the front of the sun.
"She is a real Queen," he said; "and real Queens must be obeyed."
And when Molly declared that she should probably cry if they did not immediately allow her to have her own way, the other three wymps were obliged to follow Queer's example.
"You are a real Queen, and you may do as you like," they said in a resigned tone; and Molly clapped her hands with delight.
"Then please fetch me some plum-cake, and a large ice, and lots of barley sugar; I am so hungry," she said. Immediately, everything she asked for was lying before her on the King's throne, and they all sat down and enjoyed such a dinner as only a wymp or a real Queen would know how to appreciate. When they had finished, Molly said she should like to see the rest of Wympland, for nobody at the front of the sun had ever been able to tell her anything about it; so they led her all over it, which did not take them longer than the rest of the afternoon, for the world at the back of the sun is smaller than some people think, and that is a very good thing, for after all it is better to live on the right side of the sun if one is not a wymp.
"It is a very flat country," said the little Queen, as she trotted along with two wymps on each side of her.
"It has to be flat," explained Skilful. "If it were tilted ever so little we should roll into the sun and out at the other side, don't you see; and no true wymp ever wants to do that."
"It is rather dark, too," continued the little Queen.
"Of course," said Wilful, proudly. "It is always the same here. Now, when you get to the front of the sun you never know whether it is going to be light or dark. There are no surprises of that sort at the back of the sun."
"And where," asked Molly, "is the royal palace?"
"Wherever you like," answered Captious in an obliging tone. "Would you like it here, or will you have it a little nearer the sun? Of course it is warmer, near the sun, but you will find it much noisier because the stars are so fond of chattering."
"I should like it here, please," said Molly, who did not want to wait another minute for her palace. Hardly were her words spoken than a perfectly charming little palace appeared in front of her, just large enough for such a very small Queen to feel happy in. It was all made of rainbows and starshine and dewdrops; every thing that is bright and sweet-looking had helped to make her palace, and from the very middle of it rose a tall, silvery bell-tower, from which peals of laughter were ringing merrily.
"Oh, oh! how beautiful!" exclaimed Molly. "But how is it that my palace is so bright while Wympland is so dull?"
"Ah," said Queer, softly; "we wished for the palace, you see, and the things we wish for are never dull."
"It is a dream-palace," added Wilful; "and dreams are never dull either."
"I hope it will not go away as my dreams do when I wake up in the morning," said Molly.
"Oh, no," they assured her. "It cannot disappear until we wish it to go away again; and that we shall never do as long as it induces you to stay with us."
"Do you always wish for what you want?" asked Molly.
"Dear me, yes," said Captious. "What is the use of having a lot of things lying about that you don't want? There is only just enough room in Wympland for the things we do want, so we wish for them as we want them, and that is much more convenient. You should try it."
"Everything you see here," added Skilful, "has been wished for, some time or another. Neither Wympland, nor the wymps, nor our bewymping little Queen would be here at all if somebody had not wished for them."
"And if we were all to wish hard at the same moment," said Wilful, "not one of us would be left standing here, nor would there be any country at all at the back of the sun."
"But we shall never wish that, now that we have a real Queen of our own," said Queer.
Then, for the first time, Molly noticed that this strange little country at the back of the sun had no people in it; for, ever since she had waked up on the King's throne, she had seen no one except Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer.
"Where are all the other wymps?" she cried.
"Ah," they said, mysteriously; "most people don't know it, but the wymps go through the sun every morning and spend the day in making fun for the people on the other side. That is how the people down in the world are taught to laugh instead of to cry. There would be no laughter at all at the front of the sun if it were not for the wymps."
"How strange!" said Molly. "I always thought it was wrong to make fun of people."
"So it is," said Queer; "nobody but a bad wymp would do such a thing. A true wymp makes fun for people, and that is a very different thing."
"A very different thing," echoed the other three. "We only make fun of people who have never learnt how to laugh, and very difficult it is to make them into fun at all. It's very poor fun when it is made, too,—most of it," they added, sighing.
Molly was just going to ask them how they managed to make people into fun at all, when a number of sounds like pistol-shots suddenly came from the direction of the sun, and the four wymps grew wildly excited and seized her by the hands and began to race over the ground with her as fast as they could.
"The wymps have come home!" they gasped breathlessly. "If we make all the haste we can, we shall be there in time to see them arrive."
It seemed to Molly that to run after her subjects was a curious thing for a real Queen to do. However, she was far too much out of breath to say anything, and the next moment they had reached the back of the sun; and there were dozens of little wymps, all tumbling through it, one on the top of the other, until they made a large heap of themselves at the feet of their new little Queen.
"They are bidding you welcome," whispered Queer, as the heap remained motionless at Molly's feet; and, except for the fact that a good many shouts of laughter were coming from it, no one would have thought it was made of wymps at all.
"Oh, please get up," implored their little Queen. "It is very nice of you to be so glad to see me, but I am sure it must be very uncomfortable to lie about on the floor like that."
Immediately, the heap dissolved itself into wymps again; and they crowded round Molly, tumbling up against her so clumsily and chattering and laughing so noisily, that she thought it was quite time to remind them that she was a real Queen.
"Do you think you could make a little less noise?" she begged them. "I don't like noise at all. If you will only try to speak one at a time, I may be able to answer everybody."
The wymps were so amazed to hear that she did not like noise that they became silent for a whole minute in order to think about it. "You see," said Queer, apologetically, "we have never had a Queen before, so we are not quite sure what she does like. Kings always like plenty of noise; at least, it does not seem to wake them up, and that is the great thing."
"Yes, that is it!" cried all the little wymps together. "We have never had a Queen before, so we don't quite know how to treat her."
"Supposing," continued Queer, "that you were to tell us the kind of things that a real Queen would like us to do?"
"Yes, yes!" shouted all the other wymps, gleefully. "Tell us what a real Queen would like us to do!"
So Molly clambered up on the King's throne, and tried to look as much like a Queen as a very little girl, in a very short frock and a very pink pinafore, knows how to look; and the wymps stood in front of her, closely packed together; and she began to tell them some of the things that a real Queen would like them to do.
"First of all," said Molly, "a real Queen does n't like her toes trodden on, and her pinafore crumpled, and her hair pulled. She does n't like being screamed at, either; and she never allows herself to be ordered about by any one. She likes to order other people about instead, and she likes the other people to be very pleased when she orders them about, and not to go slowly and look disagreeable and grumble. She likes a new frock every Sunday, and a birthday every month; and she always drinks milk for supper. It is supper time now," added the little Queen, beginning to yawn.
All the wymps at once hurled themselves helter-skelter through the sun again, in search of milk for their new Queen's supper. But Queer ran faster than any of them, and he took the very milk that Molly's own mother had just milked into the pail for herself; and the strangest thing of all was that, although the pail became empty before her eyes and she had to go without any supper, Molly's mother was quite happy after that and did not worry any more about her little girl who had so strangely disappeared in the morning. That shows what the wymps can do when they forget to be wympish. And Molly drank her milk and went to sleep in her dream-palace, and was the happiest little Queen on either side of the sun; and the wymps—well, it is impossible to describe what the wymps felt like.
Molly was Queen of Wympland for a great many days, and there had never reigned such peace at the back of the sun, nor in the whole world of Fairyland either. It was so remarkable that the Fairy Queen sent for Capricious, one day, and asked her why nobody had anything to grumble about. Any one might have thought from the Fairy Queen's tone that she was not particularly pleased at so much contentment, but of course that could not possibly be the case.
"Please, your Majesty," said Capricious, who had been waiting anxiously to be asked this very question for quite a long time, "it is because the wymps are so much occupied in looking after their new Queen that they have no time to play tricks on us."
"Ah," said her Majesty, smiling wisely, "does she seem happy at the back of the sun?"
"Everybody is happy at the back of the sun, please your Majesty," said Capricious. "They play games all day long to amuse their new Queen, and they never quarrel except for the right to do things for her little Majesty. If she stays there much longer it will soon be impossible to distinguish a wymp from a fairy!"
"It is time she went home again," said the Fairy Queen, smiling wisely for the second time. "How do the shoemaker and his wife get on without her?"
"Their house is so quiet that the shoemaker has never made better shoes," answered Capricious. "The shoemaker's wife, though, can do nothing but sit out in the sunshine and wait, for she cannot bear the silence indoors. Even wympcraft cannot make her forget everything, your Majesty."
"Molly must certainly go home again," said the Fairy Queen; "and she must go to-morrow morning."
Capricious sighed dismally.
"Must she really go, your Majesty?" she ventured to say; "and will the wymps be free again to plague us with their tiresome wympish jokes?"
The Fairy Queen smiled wisely for the third time.
"Wait until to-morrow morning," she said. "You may have as good a joke against the wymps as they have ever had against you."
That night, Molly had a dream straight from Fairyland which reminded her that, although she had a whole palace of her own and quantities of little subjects to do her bidding, she was really the daughter of the shoemaker on the other side of the sun. So, when Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer came to play with her in the morning, she told them she could not be their Queen any longer, as it was time for her to go back to the front of the sun. The four little fellows looked more dismal than a wymp had ever been known to look before, and so did all the wymps in Wympland as soon as they heard that their bewymping Queen was going away from them.
"Can we do nothing to make you stop with us?" they asked her. "Have we been too rough with you, after all? You must forgive us if we have, for we are not accustomed to Queens, at the back of the sun. If we try to be less noisy, will you not stay with us a little longer?"
"Dear little wymps," cried Molly; "you never tread on my toes now, nor crumple my pinafore, nor pull my hair. I do not want to go away from you, but it is time for me to go back to the other side of the sun. Will you please show me how to get there, dear little wymps?"
When they saw that she was quite determined to go, they led her very sadly to the back of the sun; and nobody made a single joke on the way, and there was not a smile to be seen in the whole of that sad little procession. There had never been so little laughter and so much dolefulness in the Land of the Wymps.
"How am I to get through that?" asked Molly, rubbing the tears out of her eyes and looking up at the back of the big round sun; "and shall I tumble all the way down when I get to the other side?"
"It is quite easy," explained Skilful. "You have only to shut your eyes and jump through it, and the sunbeams will catch you on the other side; and you can slide down the one that shines into the shoemaker's garden, where your mother sits watching for you."
Then Molly rubbed her eyes again, for there were still a great many tears in them, and the more she rubbed them away the faster they came again, until she was really afraid the wymps would see that she was crying; and that would never do, for she felt quite sure that a real Queen should never cry. So she kissed her hand to her sad little subjects and promised to come back again some day; and then she shut her eyes tight and jumped through the big round sun and slid down the sunbeam that shone into the shoemaker's garden. And as she sped down the shining, slippery sunbeam, she could hear Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer in the distance, singing their funny little song about her:—
"You have surely bewymped all the wymps you came near, Besides Skilful and Wilful and Captious and Queer! And now that you 've gone and your wymping is done, The world has grown sad at the back of the sun."
Molly never knew what happened when they finished singing; but the fairies knew, because they were hiding all round the edge of the sun at the time. And it was the most remarkable thing that had ever happened in Wympland.
The wymps say that Queer began it; and this is extremely likely, for Queer was always a little different from the other wymps. Anyhow, they very soon followed his example; and so it was that all the wymps at the back of the sun sat down on the ground and cried, because their bewymping little Queen was no longer with them. And all the fairies who were hiding popped up their heads and peered over the edge of the sun and stared in amazement at what was going on in Wympland.
So the Fairy Queen was right, as she always is, and the wymps were made to cry for once in their lives; and the fairies have as good a joke against the wymps as the wymps ever had against the fairies. Perhaps that is why the wymps play so few tricks on the fairies, now; but the Fairy Queen only smiles when people say that, so she probably knows better.
The Story of Honey and Sunny
There was once a wonderful country in which everything was beautiful. All the trees, and the flowers, and the birds, and the animals were just as beautiful as could be imagined; and the shops, and the houses, and the palaces were the same. Of course all the little girls and boys were beautiful, too; but that is the same everywhere. Now, whether it was because of the beauty of his kingdom, or whether it was merely on account of his royal birth, it is impossible to say, but the King was so extremely nervous that his life was no pleasure to him.
"I cannot bear anything noisy," he said. "Noise is so very alarming." So when the baby Princess cried, he sent her away to another King's country, to be brought up in a village nobody had ever heard of, so that her royal father should not be disturbed. And when he heard that the Queen, his wife, had gone after her, he hardly raised his royal eyebrows. "She laughed too much," he observed, thoughtfully.
The palace grew quieter day by day. The ladies in waiting were forbidden to wear high heels because they made such a clatter on the marble floors; so everybody knew for the first time how short everybody else was. Every courtier whose boots creaked was instantly banished, and if he had a cough into the bargain he was beheaded as well; but the climate was so delightful that this very rarely happened. In time, everybody at court took to speaking in a whisper, in order to spare the King's nerves; and it even became the fashion to talk as little as possible. The King was immensely pleased at this. "Anybody can talk," he said; "but it is a sign of great refinement to be silent." After that, even the ladies in waiting were sometimes silent for quite half an hour. It is true that the King talked whenever he felt inclined, but that, of course, was necessary.
The silence of the court soon spread over the country. Laws were made to forbid the people to keep chickens, or pigs, or cows, or anything that was noisy; and the children were ordered, by royal proclamation, never to laugh, and never to cry, and never to quarrel, so that when the King rode out from his palace not a sound should meet his ears. But this was not all; for the birds were so frightened by the stillness of everything that they stopped singing altogether, and the leaves on the trees ceased to rustle when the wind blew; and even the frogs and the toads were startled at the hoarseness of their own voices and did not croak any more, which was the most remarkable thing that ever happened, for it takes a very great deal to persuade a frog or a toad that his voice is not charming. The only sound that broke the silence was the occasional humming of bees, for the King still allowed the people to keep bees if they liked. "Bees are not noisy," he said. "They do not grunt, or bark, or croak. I can bear to listen to the humming of bees." Even the bees did not hum so much as bees generally do; for the sun soon found that nobody laughed when he was shining his very best, so he went behind a cloud in a temper and stayed there for years and years and years; and the bees could not do without sunshine, even if the King could. So the country grew less beautiful and more gloomy every year.
But the village without a name in the other King's country, where the little Princess was being brought up, was a very different kind of place. It was full of happy people, who made as much noise as they pleased, and laughed when they were glad, and cried when they were sad, and never bothered about anything at all. And the chickens ran in and out of the cottages with the children, and the birds sang all the year round, and the sun had never been known to stop shining for a single minute. It was the jolliest country imaginable, for nobody interfered with anybody else, and the King never made any laws at all, and the only punishment that existed was for grumbling. It is true that there was hardly any conversation, for everybody talked at once and nobody heard what anybody else said; but as it was not often worth hearing, that did not matter in the least. Everybody was happy and jolly, and that was the great thing.
Little Sunny the Princess grew up without knowing that she was a Princess at all; and nobody else knew that she was a Princess either; and even the Queen had almost forgotten that she was a King's wife. That was nobody's concern though; and they lived in the tiniest cottage of all, and Sunny romped with every girl and boy in the place and was loved by them all. They had called her Sunny because she could look straight at the sun without blinking, which was more than the boldest of them could do; and it was such a good name for her that she was never called anything else. Besides, nobody knew her real name, and as it is much too long to be mentioned here, and as the Queen had forgotten it long ago, it really is of no consequence at all.
One fine day, Sunny sat up in the chocolate tree, listening to one of the stories that Honey the gardener's son was so fond of telling her; and Honey the gardener's son lay on the grass below, and tried to catch the chocolate drops with which she was pelting him.
"Why are all your stories so much alike, Honey?" asked Sunny the Princess. "Why does the Prince always go out into the world to find a Princess? Why should n't the Princess go and find the Prince, for a change? I wish I was a Princess; I would start to-morrow. What fun!"
She laughed her very happiest laugh and found an extra large chocolate drop and threw it into his mouth. Honey laughed as well as any one could laugh with a chocolate drop in his mouth, and tried to think of an answer to her question. Honey was not his real name either, but it was the one they had given him because he knew the language of the bees, as, indeed, every true son of a gardener should.
"Perhaps the stories are wrong," he said. "I only tell them to you as I have them from the bees. Or perhaps none of those particular Princesses ever wanted to go out into the world to find anybody."
"Or perhaps," added Sunny, "they were just found before they had time to look for a Prince themselves. Do you think that was it? Anyhow, I don't want to wait for a Prince, for Princes never come this way at all; so I am going out into the world to seek my own fortune, and I shall start this very moment!"
She jumped down from the chocolate tree as she spoke, and danced round Honey, clapping her hands with excitement. Honey was not surprised, for nobody was ever surprised at anything in that country, but he was just a little bit sad.
"And I shall ask the first Prince I meet if he will come back with me," continued Sunny; "just as the Princes always ask the Princesses in the stories. He won't know I am not a Princess, will he? And you won't tell him, will you, Honey dear?"
"I shall not be there," said Honey the gardener's son. "I don't think I want to look for a Princess; and I certainly cannot leave my garden."
"Oh," said Sunny, and she was almost grave for an instant. "But I will come back some day, when I have found my Prince, and then you shall be my gardener," she went on consolingly. "And you don't mind my going without you, do you, Honey dear?"
"The Princes in the stories always went alone," answered Honey.
So that was how Sunny the Princess went out into the world, without knowing that she was a Princess. And of course everybody in the village missed her; but the Queen, her mother, and Honey, the gardener's son, missed her most of all. Before she went, however, Honey taught her a song which she was to sing if she ever found herself in trouble; and this was the song:—
"Friends of Honey, Come to Sunny; Whizzing, whirring, Stillness stirring, Sunlight blurring; Friends of Honey, Fly to Sunny!"
and this she learned by heart before she started.
Now, she travelled a great many days without meeting with any adventures at all. It was such a delightful country that everybody was pleased to see her, and she never had any difficulty in getting enough to eat, for she had only to smile and that was all the payment that anybody wanted. But one day, as she was walking through a wood, a great change suddenly came over everything. Every sound was hushed, and the birds stopped singing, and the wind stopped playing with the leaves; there was not a rustle or a movement anywhere, and the sun had gone behind a cloud. In the whole of her short life the little Princess had never seen the sun go behind a cloud, and she felt extremely inclined to cry. The further she went, the darker and gloomier it grew, and at last she could not bear it another minute; so down she sat by the side of the road and wept heartily.
"Hullo! you must stop that noise or else you will be banished," said a voice, not very far on. Sunny was so astonished that she stopped crying at once and looked up to see a little old man with a white beard staring at her. He was a very sad-looking little man, and his mouth was drawn down at the corners as though he had been on the point of crying all his life and had never quite broken down.
"Why must I stop?" asked Sunny. "If you feel unhappy you must cry, must n't you?"
"Dear me, no," said the sad little man, in a tone of deep gloom. "I am always unhappy, but I never cry. The whole country is unhappy, but nobody is allowed to cry. If you cry, you must go away."
"What a funny country!" cried Sunny, and she at once began to laugh at the absurdity of it.
"Don't do that," said the little man, in a tone of still greater alarm. "If you go on making any fresh noises, you will get beheaded. Why can't you be quiet? You can do anything you like, as long as you do it quietly."
"May n't I laugh?" exclaimed Sunny. "What is the use of feeling happy if you may n't laugh?"
"It is n't any use," said the sad little man. "Nobody ever is happy in this country. Nobody ever has been happy since the King was bewitched and the sun went away in a temper, and that was sixteen years ago. Nobody ever will be happy again, unless the spell is broken; and the spell cannot be broken until a Princess of the royal blood comes this way, without knowing that she is a Princess."
"How absurd!" said Sunny. "As if a Princess could be a Princess without knowing she is a Princess!"
"Why not?" asked the sad little man, crossly. He had lived alone in the dark, silent wood for such a long time that he began to find the conversation tiring.
"Oh, because there are bands and flags and balls and banquets and cheers and Princes and lots of fun, wherever there is a Princess," replied Sunny.
The sad little man looked more sad than before.
"Then the spell will never be broken," he said, miserably; "because all that noise would be stopped at once. If you have done talking you had better go, or else we shall both be banished; and I advise you to take off those wooden shoes of yours, unless you want to be clapped into prison. But, first of all, tell me if you can look straight at the sun without blinking."
He always asked that of every little girl who came his way, in case she should happen to be a Princess; for he was really a very wise little man in spite of his sadness, and he knew that only eagles, and Princesses who did not know they were Princesses, could look straight at the sun without blinking. And he was so tired of feeling sad without being allowed to cry, that he longed to have the spell removed from the country, so that he need not keep back his tears any longer.
"Why, of course I can, if there is a sun," laughed Sunny. And to her astonishment the sad little man dropped straight on the ground, and put his fists in his eyes, and began to cry at the very top of his voice, just like any child in any nursery.
"Whatever is the matter?" exclaimed Sunny.
"Matter?" shouted the little man, who was shaken with sobs from head to foot. "I was never so happy in my life! I have been longing to cry for sixteen years."
There had certainly not been so much noise in that wood for sixteen years. For no sooner did the old man begin to weep, than the trees began to rustle, and the birds began to sing, and the frogs began to croak; and over it all came a faint glimmering of white light, as though the sun were beginning to stretch himself behind the cloud.
"What does it all mean?" demanded Sunny.
"Go on to the palace and see," sobbed the sad little man, and he pointed out the way to her between his tears. And Sunny set off running in her wooden shoes as fast as she could go, and there never was such a clatter as she made when she reached the town and ran straight through the gates and all along the streets; and on either side of her the people fell down in heaps, from sheer amazement at hearing such a noise after sixteen years of silence. So nobody tried to stop her; and she ran faster and faster and faster, and the light grew brighter and brighter and brighter, till at last she stood in the courtyard of the King's palace. There she saw beautiful ladies in magnificent court dresses creeping about on their bare feet, and handsome courtiers in elegant costumes walking on tiptoe in carpet slippers; and there was the Captain of the King's guard drilling the soldiers in whispers, and there were the soldiers pretending to fire with guns that had no gunpowder in them; and there was the head coachman making faces at the stable boy because he could not shout at him, and there was the stable boy standing on his head because he was not allowed to whistle. And into the middle of it all came the clatter of Sunny's wooden shoes, as she ran across the courtyard, and up the steps, and into the palace; and down dropped the ladies in waiting in graceful groups, and down dropped the courtiers just anyhow; and all the soldiers fell down in neat little rows, and the Captain of the King's guard sat down and looked at them; and the head coachman shouted as he had wanted to shout at all his stable boys for the last sixteen years, and the stable boy waved his cap and cried "Hurrah!" And Sunny went clattering along the great hall, past the page boys who were playing marbles with india-rubber marbles, and past the kitchen where the fires burned without crackling and the kettles never boiled over, and up the wide marble staircase, and along all the passages, until the sound of her coming even reached the King's ears.
Now the King sat on his throne with cotton wool stuffed in his ears, in case there should by accident be the least sound in the palace. But, in spite of that, he heard the clatter of Sunny's shoes coming closer and closer, and he began to feel terribly nervous lest there really was going to be a noise at last.
"What is that noise? Take it away and behead it at once!" he said to the Prime Minister, in his most distinct whisper. But the noise outside was now so great that the Prime Minister could not hear a word; and the next moment the door was flung open, and Sunny the Princess ran into the room. And the King looked so funny as he tried to make the Prime Minister hear his whispers, and the Prime Minister looked so funny as he tried to hear the King's whispers, that Sunny was obliged to laugh; and when she had once begun she found she could not stop, so she laughed and laughed and laughed; and when the poor, nervous old King turned again to the Prime Minister to tell him to behead some one at once, he found that the Prime Minister was laughing too; and immediately all the pages in the hall, and the courtiers in the courtyard, and the cooks in the kitchen, and the townspeople in the streets, and the children in the nurseries, were all laughing as heartily as they could. And when the sun heard all this laughter, he finished making up his mind immediately, and came out from behind the cloud and shone his very best once more. So there was the sunshine again, and there was everybody laughing, except the King.
Now, when the King found that no one was paying any attention to his royal whispers, he began to grow angry, and without thinking any more about it he shouted at the very top of his royal voice. And this was so remarkable, after sixteen years of whispering, that the laughter was instantly hushed; and even Sunny the Princess became grave, because she wanted to see what was going to happen next.
"Who are you?" demanded the King, pointing at her with his sceptre.
"I am Sunny, of course," she said, stepping up to the throne in quite a friendly manner. All the courtiers looked at one another and nodded.
"She is Sunny, of course," they said, just as though there could be no doubt about it whatever.
"She is the little Princess your daughter," said a fresh voice from the doorway. And there stood the Queen, who had not been able to stay by herself any longer and had just come after Sunny as fast as she could. When the King saw her, he quite forgot that she used to laugh too much, and he came down from his throne in a terrific hurry and he kissed her several times before the whole court; and Sunny kissed them both there and then; and all the ladies in waiting in the room kissed all the pages that were to be seen; and the courtiers stood in rows along the wall and never got kissed at all.
So that was how Sunny found out she was a Princess; and there were bands and flags and balls and banquets and cheers and Princes and lots of fun. For that evening the King gave a magnificent ball, to celebrate the return of his daughter Sunny; and all the Princes in the kingdom were invited to it.
"Now," said the Queen, as she carefully put on Sunny's beautiful new crown, "you will be able to find your Prince, as you said you would."
But Sunny shook her head and wondered why she felt so sad when everything seemed to be going so well; and when the Queen had gone downstairs to look after the supper, she went to the open window and looked out into the garden. As she did so, there came a faint buzzing and humming close at hand, and three beautiful brown bees flew down and settled on her round white arm. And Sunny gave a cry of joy and knew all at once why she had been feeling so lonely; and she began to sing the song Honey the gardener's son had taught her:—
"Friends of Honey Come to Sunny; Whizzing, whirring, Stillness stirring, Sunlight blurring; Friends of Honey, Fly to Sunny!"
She had not nearly finished singing it before there came a distant murmur in the still, warm air, and the murmur grew louder and louder until it would almost have deafened any one if there had been any one there to deafen. But the people in the palace were so occupied in dressing for the ball that a thunderstorm would not have made any difference to them; and as for Sunny, the sound only reminded her of the village without a name, where she had been so happy with Honey. So she leaned out of the window as far as she could, and waited until she saw a dense cloud coming gradually towards her, so large that it covered the whole of the setting sun. When it reached the palace it hung just above it, and she could see quite plainly that it was made of millions and millions of bees. Then the three bees which had dropped on her round white arm floated up into the air and flew round her head three times and went away to join the cloud of bees overhead. Sunny knew then that they were going to do what she wanted; and she clapped her hands and laughed, as the humming and buzzing began all over again, and the cloud moved away as quickly as it had come. "Hurry, hurry, dear little bees!" she cried from the palace window; and the next moment there was not a bee left in the whole kingdom, for they had all gone to the village without a name, in the other King's country.
Everybody wondered why the Princess was so disdainful to all the Princes who danced with her, that night. But nobody wondered any more when Honey the gardener's son arrived; and this really happened, only three days later. And he came, all in his gardener's clothes; and he walked straight into the palace, just as Sunny had done; and she met him in the great hall, where the King and the Queen and the whole court were having a reception to receive one another. And they both shouted with happiness and ran straight into each other's arms; and they kissed and kissed and kissed, and then they fell to talking as fast as they could; and they both talked at once for three quarters of an hour, before either of them heard a word. Then they sat down on the steps of the King's throne, just because it happened to be there, and Sunny told him everything that had happened to her. Nobody interfered, not even the Prime Minister, for Sunny had done so many curious things since her arrival that one more or less made very little difference.
"It is very dull being a Princess," said Sunny. "And I don't like palaces much, after all; they are such stuffy places! The people who live in them are rather stuffy, too. And there is n't a chocolate tree in the whole of the garden; did you ever know such a stupid garden? Oh, I am so glad you have come, Honey dear!"
"Have you found your Prince?" was all that Honey said.
"Princes are not a bit amusing," said Sunny. "There were fifty-two Princes at the ball, the other night, but I did n't like any of them. I am dreadfully tired of being a Princess. It is ever so much nicer in the village, under the chocolate tree."
"Of course it is," said Honey. "We 'll go back, shall we?" And nothing the King could say would make them see any other side to the question. Indeed, as the Queen pointed out to him, if he had not allowed the people to keep so many bees it might never have happened at all. So the end of it was, that the Queen stayed with the King; and Honey and Sunny were married that very same day and went back to live in the village without a name. And there they built a very small house in a very big garden, and they planted it with rows of chocolate trees, and rows of acid-drop bushes, and lots of almond rockeries; and the fairies came and filled it with flowers from Fairyland that had no names at all, but were the most beautiful flowers that any one has ever seen, for they never faded or died but just changed into something else when they were tired of being the same flower.
So no wonder that Honey and Sunny were happy for ever and ever!
The Little Princess and the Poet
There was once a Poet whom nobody wanted. Wherever he went, he was always in the way; and the reason for this was his inability to do anything useful. All the people in all the countries through which he passed seemed to be occupied in making something,—either war, or noise, or money, or confusion; but the Poet could make nothing except love, and that, of course, was of no use at all. Even the women, who might otherwise have welcomed him, could not endure the ugliness of his features; and, indeed, it would have been difficult to find a face with less beauty in it, for he looked as if all the cares and the annoyances of the world had been imprinted on his countenance and left it seared with lines. So the poor, ugly Poet went from place to place, singing poems to which nobody listened, and offering sympathy to people who could not even understand his language.
One day he came to a city he had never visited before; and, as he always did, he went straight to the part where the poorer people lived, for it was all about them that he wrote the poetry to which nobody listened. But, as usual, the poor people were so full of their troubles that they could not even understand him.
"What is the use of telling us we are unhappy?" they grumbled. "We know that already, and it does not interest us a bit. Can you not do something for us?"
The Poet only shook his head.
"If I did," he replied, "I should probably do it very badly. The world is full of people who are always doing things; the only mistake they make is in generally doing them wrong. But I am here to persuade them to do the right things for a change, so that you may have your chance of happiness as well as they."
"Oh, we shall never be happy," the people said. "If that is all you have to say, you had better leave us to our unhappiness and go up to the King's palace. For the little Princess has been blind from her birth, and her great delight is to listen to poetry, so the palace is full of poets. But none of them ever come down here, so we do not know what they are like."
The Poet was overjoyed at hearing that at last he was in a country where he was wanted; and he set off for the palace immediately.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" demanded the royal sentinels, when he presented himself at the palace gates.
"I am a Poet," he replied. "And I have come to see the Princess, because she is fond of poets."
"We have never seen a poet like you," said the sentinels, doubtfully. "All the poets in the palace have smooth, smiling faces, and fine clothes, and white hands. Her Royal Highness is not accustomed to receiving any one so untidy as yourself."
The Poet looked down at his weather-beaten clothes and his toil-worn hands; and he stared at the reflection of his wrinkled, furrowed face in the moat that surrounded the palace; and he sighed in a disappointed manner.
"I am a Poet," he repeated. "How can a man be a poet if his face is smooth and his hands are white? No man can be a poet if he has not toiled and suffered and wandered over the earth, for the sake of the people who are in it."
Just then he heard a woman's voice speaking from the other side of the gates; and looking through them, he saw a beautiful, pale Princess, standing there all by herself, with a look of interest on her face.
"It is the little blind Princess," thought the Poet, and he bowed straight to the ground though he knew quite well that she could not see him. The sentinels saluted, too, for they were so accustomed to saluting people who never saw them at all that the blindness of the little Princess made no difference to them.
"Tell me," said the Princess, eagerly, "the name of the man with the wonderful voice, who is saying all those beautiful, true things."
"Please your Highness," said the sentinels, "he says he is a Poet."
"Ah," cried the little Princess, joyfully, "at last you have come; I have been waiting for you all my life! At last I have found a real Poet, and the Queen-mother will see now that all those people in there, who say the same things over and over again in their small, thin voices, are not poets at all. Come in, Poet; why do you stay so long outside?"
So the drawbridge was let down, and the sentinels saw what a mistake they had made and did their best to pretend that they had not made it at all; and for the first time in his life the Poet felt that he was not in anybody's way.
"Come with me, Poet," said the little Princess, holding out her small white hand to him. "If you will take my hand, I shall feel quite sure you are there."
So the little blind Princess and the Poet went into the palace, hand in hand.
"I have found a Poet," she announced to the whole court, just as it was sitting down to luncheon.
"What! Another?" groaned the King from the top of the table. "I should have thought five-and-forty were quite enough, considering the demand."
"This is a real Poet," continued the little Princess, still holding the Poet's hand. "I knew him by his wonderful voice. I am so glad he has come; and now, we can send away all the others, who are not poets at all."
Now, this was a little awkward, for the five-and-forty poets were all present; and being mostly the younger sons of kings, who had only taken up poetry as an accomplishment, they were also suitors for the Princess's hand, which made it more awkward still. So the Queen coughed uncomfortably, and all the ladies in waiting blushed uncomfortably, and the five-and-forty poets naturally looked uncomfortable into the bargain. But the little Princess, who could see nothing and never had been able to see anything, neither blushed nor felt uncomfortable.
"Will some one give place to the Poet?" she asked with a smile.
The Queen, who was generally full of resources, felt that it was time to interfere.
"Do not listen to Her Royal Highness," she said, soothingly, to the five-and-forty poets. "She is so terribly truthful that she does not know what she is saying. I have tried in vain to break her of it."
"Don't know where she gets it from," growled the old King, who had a great dislike to scenes at meal times.
The five-and-forty poets recovered their composure, when they heard that the Princess was rather to be pitied than blamed; and the Queen was able to turn to the cause of the disturbance.
"Will you be kind enough to go?" she said to the Poet. "My daughter did not know who you were because, unfortunately, she cannot see. She actually mistook you for a poet!"
"It is the first time," said the Poet, "that any one has made the mistake. However, you are quite right and I had better go. You will not like my poetry; I see five-and-forty gentlemen who can write the poetry that will give you pleasure; mine is written for the people, who have to work that you may be happy. Little lady," he added, turning to the Princess, "I pray you, think no more of me. As for me, I shall love you to the end of my days."
Then he tried to go, but the small, white fingers of the little blind Princess were round his own rough, tanned ones, and he could not move.
"I loved you before you came," she said, smiling. "I have been waiting for you all the time. Why are you in such a hurry to go, if you love me?"
The listeners grew more scandalised every moment. No one had seen such love-making before. To be sure, the five-and-forty poets had written love songs innumerable, but that was not at all the same thing. Every one felt that something ought to be done and nobody quite knew how to do it. Fortunately, the King was hungry.
"I think you had better say the rest in private, when we have had lunch," he said grimly, and the courtiers looked immensely relieved, and a place was found next to the Princess for the Poet; and the Queen and her ladies in waiting proceeded to make conversation, and lunch went on as usual.
"Now," said the King, with a sigh, for meals were of far greater importance to him than poetry, "you shall tell us one of your poems, so that we may know whether you are a poet or not."
Then the Poet stood up and told them one of his poems. It was about the people who lived on the dark side of the city, and it was very fierce, and bitter, and passionate; and when he had finished telling it, he expected to be thrust out of the palace and banished from the country, for that was what usually happened to him. There was a great silence when he sat down again, and the Poet did not know what to make of it. But the small, white fingers of the little Princess had again stolen round his, and that was at least consoling.
The Queen was the first to break the silence.
"Charming," she said with an effort, "and so new."
"We have heard nothing like it before," said the ladies in waiting. "Are there really such people as that in the world? It might be amusing to meet them, or, at least, to study them."
The King glanced at all the other poets and said nothing at all. And the five-and-forty kings' sons, who, if they were not poets, were at least gentlemen, rose from their seats with one accord.
"Her royal Highness was quite right," they said. "We are not poets at all."
Then they took leave of every one present and filed out of the room and rode away to their respective countries, where, of course, nobody ever suspected them of being poets; and they just remained Princes of the royal blood and nothing else to the end of their days.
"And you, little lady?" said the Poet, anxiously.
"It was wonderful," answered the little blind Princess. "But there was no love in it."
By this time the Queen had ceased to be impressed and had begun to remember that she was a Queen.
"We are quite sure you are a poet," she said in her most queenly manner, "because you have told us something that we did not know before. But we think you are not a fit companion for her royal Highness, and it is therefore time for you to go."
"No, no!" cried the Princess. "You are not to go. You are my Poet, and I want you to stay here always."
Matters were becoming serious, and every one set to work to try to turn the little Princess from her purpose.
"He is shockingly untidy," whispered the ladies in waiting.
"And so ugly," murmured the Queen; "there is nothing distinguished about him at all."
"He will cost the nation something to keep," added the King, without lowering his voice at all.
But the little Princess turned a deaf ear to them all and held out her hand again to the Poet.
"I do not believe a word they say," she cried. "You cannot be ugly, you with a voice like that! If you are ugly, then ugliness is what I have wanted all my life. Ugliness is what I love, and you are to stay here with me."
In the end, it was the Poet himself who came to the rescue.
"I cannot stay with you, little lady," he said gently. "It is true what they say; I am too ugly to be tolerated, and it has been my good fortune that you could not see me. I will go away and put some love into my poetry, and then, perhaps, I shall find some one who will listen to me."
But the poor little Princess burst out sobbing.
"If I could only see," she wept, "I would prove to you that I do not think you ugly. Oh, if I could only see! I have never wanted to see before."
"Little lady," whispered the Poet, bending over her, "I am glad that you cannot see."
And then, he turned and fled out of the palace and out of the city and away from the country that contained the little Princess who had loved him because she was blind. And he wandered from place to place as before; but he told no one that he was a poet, for he had felt ashamed of his poetry ever since the little Princess had said there was no love in it. But there came a day when he could keep silent no longer, so he went among the people once more and told them one of his poems. This time, he had no difficulty in making them understand, for he told them the story of his love for the little blind Princess.
"Why," said the people, when he had finished, "the maid is easily cured, for it is well known among our folk that a kiss on the eyelids when asleep, from a true lover, will open the eyes of any one who has been blind from birth."
Now, when the Poet heard this, he was greatly perplexed. For to open the eyes of his little Princess was to kill her love for him; and yet, he could not forget how she had wept for the want of her sight, and here was the power to give it back to her, and it rested with him alone of all men in the world. So he determined to make her happy at any cost, and he turned his face towards the King's palace once more and arrived there at midday, after travelling for seven days and seven nights without ceasing. But, of course, that was nothing to a poet who was in love.
"Dear me," said the King irritably, when the Poet appeared before him; "I thought you had gone for good. And a pretty time we 've been having of it with the Princess, in consequence! What have you come back for?"
"I have come back to open the Princess's eyes," answered the Poet, boldly.
"It strikes me," grumbled the King, "that you opened everybody's eyes pretty effectually, last time you were here. You certainly can't see the Princess now, for she has gone to sleep in the garden."
"That is exactly what I want," cried the Poet, joyfully. "Let me but kiss her eyelids while she is sleeping, and by the time she awakes I shall have gone for ever."
"The Queen must deal with this," said the King, looking helpless in the face of such a preposterous suggestion. Her Majesty was accordingly sent for, and the Poet explained his mission all over again.
"It is certainly unusual," said the Queen, doubtfully, "not to say out of order. But still, in view of the advantage to be gained, and by considering it in the light of medical treatment—and if you promise to go away directly after, just like a physician, or—or a singing-master,—perhaps something might be arranged."
The end of it was that the Poet was taken into the garden, and there was the little blind Princess sound asleep in her hammock, with a maid of honour fanning her on each side.
"Hush," whispered the Queen. "She must not awake, on any account."
"No," echoed the poor, ugly Poet; "she must not awake—on my account."
Then he bent over her, for the second time in his life, and touched her eyelids with his lips. The Princess went on dreaming happily, but the Poet turned and fled out of the city.
"At least," he said, "she shall never know how ugly I am."
That day, every Prince who was in the palace put on his best court suit, in order to charm the Princess. But the Princess refused to be charmed. She looked at them all, with large, frightened eyes, and sent them away, one by one, as they came to offer her their congratulations.
"Why do you congratulate me on being able to see you?" she asked them. "Are you so beautiful, then?"
"Oh, no," they said in a chorus. "Do not imagine such a thing for a moment."
"Then why should I be glad because I can see you?" persisted the Princess; and they went away much perplexed.
"Tell me what is beautiful," said the little Princess to her mother. "All my life I have longed to look on beauty, and now it is all so confusing that I cannot tell one thing from another. Is there anything beautiful here?"
"To be sure there is," replied the Queen. "This room is very beautiful to begin with, and the nation is still being taxed to pay for it."
"This room?" said the Princess in astonishment. "How can anything be beautiful that keeps out the sun and the air? Tell me something else that is beautiful."
"The dresses of the ladies in waiting are very beautiful," said the Queen. "And the ladies in waiting themselves might be called beautiful by some, though that of course is a matter of opinion."
"They all look alike to me," sighed the little Princess. "Is there nothing else here that is beautiful?"
"Certainly," answered the Queen, pointing out the wealthiest and most eligible Prince in the room. "That is the handsomest man you could ever want to see."
"That?" said the Princess, disconsolately. "After all, one is best without eyes! Can you not show me some ugliness for a change? Perhaps it may be ugliness that I want to see so badly."
"There is nothing ugly in the palace," replied the Queen. "When you get used to everything you will be able to see how beautiful it all is."
But the Princess sighed and came down from her golden throne and wandered out into the garden. She walked uncertainly, for now that she was no longer blind she did not know where she was going. And there, under the trees where she had been sleeping a few hours back, stood a man with his face buried in his hands.
"Little lady," he stammered, "I tried to keep away, but—"
Then the little Princess gave a shout of joy and pulled away his hands and looked into his face for a full minute without speaking. She put her small, white fingers into every one of his wrinkles, and she touched every one of his ugly scars, and she drew a deep breath of satisfaction.
"Just fancy," laughed the little Princess to the Poet; "they have been trying to persuade me in there that all those Princes and people are—beautiful!"
The Wonderful Toymaker
Princess Petulant sat on the nursery floor and cried. She was only eight years old, but she had lived quite long enough to grow extremely discontented; and the royal household was made very uncomfortable in consequence.
"I want a new toy," sobbed the little Princess. "Do you expect me to go on playing with the same toys for ever? I might just as well not be a Princess at all!"
The whole country was searched in vain for a toy that would be likely to please the Princess; but, as she already possessed every kind of toy that has ever been heard of, nobody succeeded in finding her a new one. So the little Princess went on crying bitterly, and the royal nurses shook their heads and sighed. Then the King called a council in despair.
"It is very absurd," grumbled his Majesty, "that my daughter cannot be kept amused. What is the use of an expensive government and a well-dressed court, if there are not enough toys for her to play with? Can no one invent a new toy for the Princess Petulant?"
He looked sternly at all his councillors as he spoke; but his councillors were so horrified at being expected to invent something straight out of their heads that no one said anything at all until the Prime Minister summoned up courage to speak.
"Perhaps, if we were to send for Martin," he suggested, "her royal Highness might consent to be comforted."
"Who is Martin?" demanded the King.
"He is my son," said the Prime Minister, apologetically; "and he spends his days either dreaming by himself or playing with the Princess Petulant. He will never be Prime Minister," he added sadly, "but he might think of a way to amuse the Princess."
So the King dismissed the council with much relief and sent for Martin to come and play with his daughter. Martin walked straight up to the royal nursery and found the spoilt little Princess still crying on the floor. So down on the floor sat Martin too; and he looked at her very solemnly out of his round, serious eyes, and he asked her why she was crying.
"I want a new toy," she pouted. "I am tired of all my old toys. Don't you think you can find me a new toy to play with, Martin?"
"If I do," said Martin, "will you promise not to be cross when I run faster than you do?"
The Princess nodded.
"And will you promise not to mind when I don't want to play any more?"
The Princess nodded again.
"And will you promise not to call me sulky when I don't feel inclined to talk?" continued Martin.
"Yes, yes!" cried Princess Petulant. "You won't be long before you find it, will you, Martin?"