[Frontispiece: "With these on you will see everything as it really is, no matter how it may look to other people."]
THE ENCHANTED ISLAND
FANNIE LOUISE APJOHN
E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
681 FIFTH AVENUE
By E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
All rights reserved
"With these on you will see everything as it really is, no matter how it may look to other people" . . . Frontispiece
The toucan . . . seized the basket by the handle and flew away
Up sprang the lid, and there behold! were the wonderful big pellets
He was trying to induce her to make an effort to pass the dead tigers
THE ENCHANTED ISLAND
Once upon a time many years ago there lay five islands in the South Pacific ocean where the weather was always fine.
Four of them were set in a kind of square, but the fifth, which was much smaller than any of the others, stood in the center of the group so that it was nearer to each island than they were to each other, for they were all so many miles apart that they could not see each other's shores.
The little island in the middle was not inhabited, but was surrounded by very dangerous reefs. It was called the Island of Despair, though nobody seemed to know how it got its name, and was supposed to be haunted.
It had not always been there, and that was another reason why it was looked upon as an uncanny place, for all the grandmothers and grandfathers could remember when there had been nothing but the great sea between the four islands, and then suddenly one morning a ship had come upon the small island and nearly wrecked itself on the great rocks about it. After that of course it was put on all the charts, but even so, many a ship had since gone on the rocks in a storm and been lost.
Each of the four big islands was a separate kingdom, and had nothing to do with the others. The largest of all was called the Island of Sunne because it was the nicest and had the finest weather. It never rained there in the day time, but only at night, which you must admit was very convenient.
However, every place has disadvantages, and instead of mothers telling their children that it was not fine enough to go for a picnic they often said it was too fine, which meant that the very bright sunshine and blue sky would be apt to dazzle them, and then they would have to sit in a dark room every day for a week before they would be able to see anything again.
The King of Sunne was a good, kind man, who never made war with any of the other kingdoms, and was quite satisfied with all that he had. The Queen was very nice too, and gave a great deal of money to the poor, so it was not to be wondered at that the country was very prosperous, and the people thought their rulers the best in the world.
The King and Queen had only one son, who was called Daimur. When Prince Daimur was sixteen years of age his father gave him the most beautiful horse he could find in the kingdom, and the Prince was so delighted with his present that he used to ride all day long in the forests, sometimes with his servants, and sometimes alone.
One day, as he was returning from a long ride, he passed a small hut deep in a wood, which he did not remember ever having seen there before. He dismounted, and going up to the door asked for a drink of water.
An old man opened the door and asked him to come in. He did so, and the old man got him a pitcher of water from the well, but did not offer him anything to eat. The Prince wondered at this, as it was nearly noontime, and the people of the forest were extremely hospitable.
"You are wondering, my dear young Prince," said he, "why I have no dinner cooking. It is because I am so poor that I have nothing to eat in the house, and I do not know what is to become of me."
Thereupon the Prince pulled out of his knapsack a package of meat, some bread and butter, cakes, and a big piece of fine cheese.
"Poor old man," he cried, "take this food, which I will not need, and I will send you some more to-morrow."
The old man thanked him with tears in his eyes, and the Prince rode away.
Next day, when Daimur was again setting out to ride he called some of his servants and bade them fill up several baskets with food and provisions of various kinds, which he intended to give to the old man at the cottage.
When all was ready they set out, and soon reached the wood, but what was Daimur's surprise to find the cottage door broken down and the poor old man lying upon the floor.
Daimur ran forward and attempted to raise him.
"Tell me what has happened, my poor old friend," he cried, "who has done this?"
"Alas, my enemy has found me," whispered the old man, "and I am dying."
Then he motioned to Daimur to send the servants away from the room, as he had something he wished to tell him. As soon as Daimur had shut the door the old man said:
"Prince Daimur, I am not merely the old man you see lying here; I am also a fairy, and am called the Good Old Man of Sunne. By my powers I have been able to keep away all evil and unhappiness from this island, and at one time from all the other islands in this Land of Brightness. But I have had for the last two hundred years a very powerful enemy who is known as the Evil Man of Despair. He makes his home now upon the Island of Despair, and wicked men consult him when they have deeds of treachery to do.
"He has a great many chemical secrets which he learned in foreign lands, and as I am older than he and not so clever he has outwitted me many times upon the other islands, and evil times have followed, with wars and bloodshed. I have always lived upon this island, and of late took refuge in your father's wood, as I had a warning that he was going to seek me out and kill me.
"Last night when it was very dark a tremendous wind sprang up and the fury of it burst my door open. I knew it was he, although he did not speak, but in a moment the cottage was filled with a sweet smell of spices which soon became overpowering and I lay like one stupefied, too weak to move. I heard him moving around searching for my treasures. He did not find them, however, and I am going to give them to you, as in a few moments I will be dead, and then I do not know what will become of this Land of Sunne. Alas! Alas!"
Prince Daimur was greatly moved, and tried to tell him that he might get better if he sent back and fetched the Court doctor, who was very wise, but the old man shook his head feebly.
"No, it is of no use," he said, "I am very old, and the poison has killed me. My brain is already growing numb, and I must act quickly, Look on that nail behind the door and you will find the door key. Bring it to me."
Daimur did so, and the old man pinched it. It split in two and there could be seen a smaller key resting in a groove in the middle.
"Now," said the old man, "put this in the lock which you will find in the under side of the window sill and turn it. Bring me what you see."
Daimur did as he was told, and after fitting the little key into the lock and turning it, he found that a piece of the window sill rose up and disclosed a small black morocco case like a pocketbook lying in the cavity. This he carried to the old man, who grasped it eagerly in his feeble hands.
"This," he said, "contains my greatest treasures. In this case is a small black velvet cap. It is a poor, worn-looking one, but whoever wears it knows all things, and will be able to act wisely. Inside the cap you will find a pair of silver-rimmed spectacles. With these on you will see everything as it really is, no matter how it may look to other people. You must, however, be careful, as the Evil Magician has always coveted these treasures and if he finds out that you have them he will do his best to get them from you. Let no one know that you possess them, and always keep them concealed about you. As the Magician will no doubt came back to search the cottage I advise you to burn it up as soon as I am gone. See, you had better take the magic key too, as it will open any lock, however large or small. Beware of evil times, my poor Prince, as my good influence will no longer be felt in this kingdom."
With these words the old man began to shrink thinner and thinner, narrower and narrower, until Daimur could see through him, and finally he was just a streak of pale sunlight upon the floor, which wavered and faded, and at last went out completely.
Daimur was so surprised that he sat quite still for a time. Then rising to his feet and putting the key into the black case with the spectacles, he hid it in his bosom, and went out to call his servants. He told them that the old man was dead and would not need the food, and sent them on with it to the home of a poor farmer who had a sick wife, telling them to ride around by the high road and meet him, as he was going to ride that way.
As soon as they were out of sight he built a little pile of chips and dry leaves under the edge of the house, and set fire to it. What was his astonishment to see the flames leap up at once over the whole cottage, which burnt like paper. In a moment there was nothing left but a little pile of ashes, which the light wind took up into the air, where it formed a white cloud that sailed off into the sky, leaving a perfectly green space where the cottage had been, with no marks of fire at all.
Prince Daimur rode slowly out of the forest, thinking of all the good old man had said, and wondering very much, as he had never heard before of the Evil Magician of Despair, although he had heard his father say that a good fairy had always presided over the fortunes of his kingdom, but Daimur had thought it only a saying.
He longed to put on the magic cap and spectacles, but was afraid the Evil Magician might be hovering around, so he made up his mind that he would wait until some need arose before he took them from their case again.
It was not long before, as the Good Old Man had foretold, evil days came upon the kingdom of Sunne.
The King's brother, who until this time had apparently been very well satisfied to live peacefully in his castle and mind his own affairs, which, were quite important enough to suit almost anyone, now began to stir up trouble in the kingdom.
He made speeches, traveling from place to place, and told the nobles how foolish they were to be satisfied to stay in the Island of Sunne and work so hard collecting rents when they might go to war and win some of the other islands and take possession of all the silver and gold, fine castles and estates there.
After a while he made some of them very dissatisfied with their lot, and the King had to threaten to put him in prison if he did not stop it. I do not know how it would have ended if a dreadful accident had not occurred which threw the whole kingdom into the deepest gloom.
The King and Queen with some of the Court were one day out for a sail on the bay, when a sudden squall arose which upset the boat, and all were drowned.
The people of Sunne were greatly grieved and very much alarmed as well, for the Prince was still quite young, and could not be expected to know much about ruling a country. They, however, did not have very much to say in the matter, as the dissatisfied uncle at once proposed to reign as King Regent until Daimur was eighteen years of age.
As most of the best statesmen and all the King's close advisers had been drowned, there was nobody in particular to disagree with him, and he immediately took possession of the palace and began ordering everyone around.
Soon people hated him, and he made the taxes so high that it took nearly all the money they could earn to pay them. This was to keep up an immense army which he had formed with the intention of making war against the other islands as soon as he had built a large fleet.
When Daimur was eighteen all the people of the kingdom demanded that he should be crowned king.
Daimur wanted to be crowned at once too, so that he could put back all the good laws his father had made, and save his country from going to war, but his uncle begged him to wait for a couple of months.
One night shortly after his birthday, Daimur had gone to his apartment and was sitting at his window thinking sadly of his troubled kingdom, when suddenly his door was opened and before he could say a word a gag was thrust into his mouth, his hands and feet were tied, and he was carried quickly downstairs, out of doors and down the garden path to the sea, where he was dumped into a boat that was anchored at the little wharf there. The night was very dark, and Daimur could not see because they had thrown a cloak over him and fastened it over his head, but he could tell that it was a small boat by the way it rocked when they moved about. The men ran up a couple of sails and pushed off to sea. The boat raced swiftly through the waves, but Daimur thought the journey would never end as he lay bound in the bow of the boat, and half smothered by the cloak. They sailed all night. The sun came up and it was a very warm day, but still they kept on, and it was not until the middle of the afternoon that they came at last to land and ran onto a sandy beach. Here the men pulled the poor Prince out of the boat more dead than alive, set him free, and putting off a large jug of fresh water and a big bag of biscuits, sailed away again and left him.
In vain Daimur cried after them to return, not to leave him there alone. They paid not the slightest attention.
After watching them for some time he saw in the distance a large sailing barge running towards the small boat, which he recognized as his uncle's, so how he felt certain that his uncle had caused him to be left upon the Island of Despair in order to take possession of the Kingdom of Sunne.
After a while poor Daimur gave up staring blankly at the sea, and taking up his jug of water and his bag of biscuits walked slowly up the shore to a shady place and sat down to eat and drink a portion, for he was nearly dead of hunger and thirst.
He had been sitting there only a few minutes when he heard a strange noise overhead, and looking up he saw a large hawk pursuing a beautiful brown dove. The dove flew this way and that, squeaking piteously, and at last fluttered to the ground at Daimur's feet, while the hawk swooped down to seize it; but Daimur jumped to his feet, and waving his arms beat it off and it flew away in fright.
When it was gone Daimur turned to look at the brown dove, which was lying quite still on the grass with its eyes closed.
"Poor thing," thought he, "I wonder if water would revive it," and he poured out a little in his hand and dropped some of it into the bird's beak.
In a few seconds the dove opened its eyes, and to Daimur's surprise spoke.
"Thank you, brave young man," it said. "You have saved my life, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am. The reason I am so weak is that I am nearly dead of hunger and thirst."
"Unfortunate creature," exclaimed Daimur, as he gave it a few drops more of the water, "I have some biscuits which you shall share," and so saying he proceeded to crumble one of the biscuits, which the dove seemed to hesitate to take.
"Unhappy young man," it said in a sorrowful voice, "I cannot take your last morsel, for this is the last pure food and fresh water you will ever get while you stay on this island."
"That may be quite true," replied Daimur, "but I cannot eat any of it while I feel that another creature is more in need of it than I," and after some pressing the dove hungrily ate up the biscuit.
When he had finished he was apparently much stronger, and hopped upon Daimur's knee.
"Look at me," he said, "and tell me what I am."
"You are a very beautiful brown dove with a golden crest," said Daimur.
"I am more than that," said the dove with a sigh; "I am Cyril, King of the Island of Shells, one of those which surround this Island of Despair, and you, I am sure, are a Prince or a King also, who has been put here to be out of the way."
"Yes," answered Daimur, "I am Prince Daimur of the Island of Sunne, and my wicked uncle has sent me here to starve, so that he may be made King in my stead."
"I thought it was something like that," said the dove.
"But that is not the worst of it," he went on. "You are wondering how I came to take the form of a dove. As you can see for yourself, I am enchanted. I was brought here with my wife the Queen and one little daughter, the Princess Maya, who is now seventeen years old. We too were given a bag of food and some water, but naturally I began to search for other food to eat when that was gone.
"I found that all the trees upon this island were fruit trees of different kinds and bore the most tempting and luscious fruits. There was also a well of clear water in the middle of the island, all neatly stoned around, which was fed by a small shallow stream flowing from the hill at the north side. You can imagine my relief. I had no fears of starvation anyway.
"We immediately began eating the fruit, and found it so delicious and satisfying that we threw the biscuits into the sea. What was my alarm in two days' time to find that I was growing stupid. I could not get enough sleep. The Queen was the same, and as for the Princess, when she was not eating fruit she was sleeping. We thought it must be the sea air, but on the third day we could hardly open our eyes at all, and as soon as we had eaten some fruit for breakfast we fell sound asleep, and when I woke I looked around in vain for my wife and little daughter.
"They were nowhere to be seen. Only beside me were a grey dove and a white one sitting on a branch sound asleep. Then on looking down I saw that I too was sitting on the branch, and that I was a brown dove, and I knew immediately that this was the work of the Evil Magician of Despair, and that it was through eating the charmed fruit that we had become changed into birds.
"It was not long before we found that there were many others here, who like ourselves had been sent out of their country. And to make it more horrible I discovered that the longer they stayed and the more fruit they ate the more stupid they became. Some of the older ones could not remember anything at all, and did nothing all day long but eat, drink and sleep.
"I do not eat more than will keep me alive, and I try to keep the Queen and our daughter from eating much too, knowing that we also are in danger of losing our minds. I have gone about imploring the others on the island to be careful, in hope of our being at some future time able to escape, but to very little purpose. Of course they must eat the fruit or starve, and most of them prefer losing their minds to going hungry."
Prince Daimur listened to the tale with a shiver, for he did not in the least want to be enchanted and lose his mind.
"Have you ever seen the Magician?" he asked after a pause. "I have been told he knows many secrets of chemistry."
"No," answered the dove. "We have never seen him. We feel that he is coming sometimes by the great wind that goes sweeping by, but as it is always coming and going in the path to the shore I think he must go back and forth a great deal from this island to some of the others. We know that he has a house on the hill on the north side somewhere, but have never been able to get close enough to see it, as the wind is always so strong around the hill that we cannot fly against it."
Now all this talk of wind made Daimur think of the day he had found the Good Old Man of Sunne in his cottage with the door blown in, and when he put his hand in his bosom, there safe and sound was his little case with his cap, spectacles and key, which in his distress he had entirely forgotten.
He opened the case and putting on the spectacles looked at the dove.
What he saw before him was not a dove, but a tall, splendid looking man, very thin, with a sad, pale face. He was clad in a rich suit of brown velvet, and wore a gold crown on his head, and he looked at Daimur in some surprise as the Prince next drew on the cap.
Now he knew all things. He knew that the Magician had been called away suddenly by his uncle, and that his uncle intended to have the Magician construct some tale whereby he could make the people believe that Daimur had died a natural death.
He turned to the dove, or King Cyril, as he really was, and said:
"You may think it strange for me to put on these articles at this particular time, but by them I am enabled to see and to know all things, and I must ask you to swear that you will tell no one I have them, for the Evil Magician is looking for these very treasures, and their possession would make him a hundredfold stronger than he is.
"I am able through this cap to know that he is now at Sunne with my wicked uncle, and will not be back until to-morrow night, so come, let us walk about, and I will look for something to eat besides this enchanted fruit."
King Cyril promised solemnly that he would tell no one about Daimur's treasures, not even the Queen, for fear he should be overheard, and then they set forth on their way. King Cyril flying slowly in front and giving Daimur time to look about.
They had gone but a short distance and had come to an opening in the trees, when Daimur said.
"I see a field of potatoes on that slope about two miles away."
"Potatoes!" exclaimed Cyril. "How can you see so far?"
"Oh, it is quite easy with these spectacles on," said Daimur. "Let us go and see them."
They set out, and after a long and tiresome walk through tangled underbrush Daimur found himself on the edge of the potato field. King Cyril resting on a branch beside him.
"Now, if I only had a spade," said Daimur, as he fell to looking about for a sharp stick or anything which would dig up the earth. After quite a search he found, half buried in sand and dead leaves, an old spade with part of the handle gone.
"What good luck!" he exclaimed, as he seized it and commenced digging up a hill of potatoes, and he soon had a large mound of them on the ground.
Then the question was where to put them, as it would never do to let the Evil Magician suspect that Daimur was not going to eat the charmed fruit, but was taking his potatoes instead.
After searching about for half an hour they suddenly broke through the trees and found themselves on a shore, the like of which they had never seen before. It was wild and rocky and barren, and some of the rocks were of very curious shapes. A few were high and conical, like caves, and had smooth flat floors.
They began to look for a cave in the rocks near the shore, and at last found one at the foot of a great tree which overshadowed it. This cave had an opening in front looking out to the sea.
King Cyril flew into the air as high as he could and looked for the hill where they knew the Magician lived. He was quite breathless when he came down, but he said that the hill was away at the other end of the island, and that they were facing the south.
"Then we must be looking towards the Island of Laurel," said Daimur, "and these must be some of the rocks on which ships are often wrecked."
"Do you think," he continued as he looked about him, "that if we were to make a fire in the cave the Magician could see the smoke?"
"I do not know," answered King Cyril, "it might be very risky to try; but anyway let us see if there is not another entrance to the cave."
He flew around it carefully, pulling away the bushes which grew close to it with his beak, and at last called Daimur to come and see the nice back door he had discovered, for the cave ran for some distance into the earth, and at the end of it, behind some shrubs, was another opening about five feet high.
"Now," said Daimur, "we can come and go from this end and there will be no danger of the Magician seeing us."
With grateful hearts they went back to get their potatoes.
After Daimur had carried all the potatoes into the cave and piled them up in a heap he took King Cyril on his shoulder and went back for the biscuits and water, as he was feeling very hungry and thirsty.
"Can you not call the Queen and the Princess," asked Daimur, "so that they may share some of this food?"
"You are very kind," said King Cyril, "but I am afraid they are both asleep yet. They were so hungry this morning that they ate more fruit than usual, but I will go and see," and off he flew, leaving Daimur to wonder how long it would be before he could get away from this strange and dreadful island.
In a short time King Cyril flew back, followed by a beautiful grey dove, the Queen, whom Daimur perceived through his wonderful spectacles to be a handsome woman dressed in a grey satin gown, and wearing a small crown of gold set with diamonds and sapphires.
Beside her flew a little white dove, the Princess Maya, and Daimur could see that she was a golden-haired young girl, all dressed in white frilly lace.
He asked them to be seated and have some biscuits and water, which though poor fare was at least wholesome and nourishing.
The Queen wept at the sight of a human being again after such a long time, and the Princess stared at him as much as good manners would let her, and thought him extremely handsome (as indeed he was), for she had seen nothing but doves for the last four years.
King Cyril then told them how Daimur was going to do them a good deal of good, and had already found a hill of potatoes and a cave where they could live so that they might have no fear of animals or birds of prey.
Queen Emily was very much overjoyed, and extremely grateful to Daimur for saving her husband from the hawk, about which he had just told her, and as soon as they had had sufficient to eat she asked to see the cave. Daimur picked up the balance of the biscuits and the jug of water, and they all went to look at it.
The Queen and Princess thought it a lovely place, and volunteered to stay and gather bits of moss and leaves for Daimur to sleep on at night, while he and King Cyril continued their search for food.
Accordingly they set out again, Daimur still wearing his cap and spectacles, the King on his shoulder.
After walking for some time Daimur, who was carrying the old spade, set it down suddenly.
"There are yams here," he said, "lots and lots of them," as he looked about at a mass of slender vines which twined about the trees and climbed towards the light. He set to work with his spade, and in a few minutes had about a dozen nice big ones lying on the ground.
"We will leave them here for the present," he said to King Cyril, "while we see whether we can discover anything else."
A short distance farther on Daimur stopped again to examine some more vines.
"Why these are peanut plants," he said to King Cyril (though he had never seen peanuts growing in his life before), "we must have some of these," and he dug up enough to fill all his pockets.
Again they continued their walk, and Daimur now began examining the trees. Certainly they were very fine ones, some of them reaching away up into the sky, and taller than the tallest buildings in the Island of Sunne.
They were all hanging full of the most luscious fruits. Monstrous oranges, beautiful peaches, cherries as big as plums, and plums bigger than anything you ever saw, bananas, cocoanuts, dates, figs, breadfruits, and grape vines bearing heavy clusters of black, red, and white grapes, grew in abundance, and although Daimur felt very much tempted to pick some of the lovely things he saw, he did not, as his spectacles showed plainly that they were all poisoned.
"It seems to me," said Daimur, "that everything which grows above the ground is poison, but that everything that grows in the ground is good to eat.
"So you see," he continued, addressing King Cyril, who was fluttering about him in a great state of excitement, "we need not starve after all. Now let us go back to the cave, as it is beginning to grow dusk, and besides I am very thirsty. And good gracious! That reminds me that we have not found any pure water yet, and we have very little left."
They hastened back to where they had left the yams, and taking off his coat Daimur threw them into it and they started off towards the cave.
When they drew near it the Queen and Princess came flying to meet them, and crying that they had found a great treasure.
"What have you found?" asked Daimur in surprise, hoping it was not another of the Evil Magician's wicked devices.
"Water," replied the Queen. "It is just outside the cave and bubbles up from between two rocks. It must be a natural spring as it tastes quite pure and fresh."
Daimur went with the Princess to look at it, and found it was indeed as they had said. Between the cave wall and a rock which jutted from the bank a little spring bubbled up and trickled into a small rocky basin, which it overflowed and so ran into the sea sand.
Daimur knew by his cap that it was pure, and they were all much relieved to think they had been so lucky as to find both pure food and pure water in such a short time.
"Thank goodness," said Daimur, "we are safe for the present at least."
"We found something else, which I am sure will be nice," said the little Princess.
"What is it?" asked Daimur.
"Come and I will show you," she said. "Mother and I discovered them while looking for leaves for your bed, but we could not carry them."
A little distance up the sand the Princess led him to where there was a large nest of turtles' eggs, which Daimur joyfully dug out of the sand and carried to the cave.
"Now we will have a splendid feast," they said.
They waited until it was quite dark and then dug a hole inside the opening at the back of the cave, and made a fire. Luckily Daimur had a little silver box of matches with him. They roasted the potatoes and yams in the coals, toasted the peanuts, and baked the turtle eggs on a hot stone, and thoroughly enjoyed their supper.
Then, as they were all very tired, Daimur jammed some branches across one corner of the cave for the doves to sleep on, and gratefully threw himself down on the nice soft bed which the Queen and the Princess had prepared for him, and they all slept soundly until morning.
Next morning they ate some of the food which they had put aside for breakfast, took a drink of water from their little spring, and then Daimur put on his cap and spectacles, shouldered his spade and filled his pockets with potatoes and peanuts and some of the biscuits.
"Now," he said to the three doves, "I want King Cyril to come with me and see if we cannot locate something like a boat near the Magician's hill so that we may get away from this place."
Queen Emily and the Princess begged to go too, so they all set out together.
It was a long way across the island, but finally they came to the poisoned spring which flowed near the Magician's hill, and there they saw many doves of all colors drinking and splashing around in the shallow well, while others sat stupidly on the branches of the trees devouring fruit.
The poor King and Queen shuddered at the sight and kept close to Daimur, who was so busy thinking that he hardly noticed them.
"By my cap," he said to himself, "I know there is a stair to the Magician's house from the shore on the other side of this hill, and the house is a strong stone one built into the hill. I wonder," he thought, "if we can find the stair."
They walked, or rather Daimur walked and the doves flew slowly towards the hill, but soon came to a great wall of rock that jutted out for half a mile, and over which they could see by the tree tops a terrific wind was blowing.
Daimur announced his intention of trying to scale the wall, but even as he spoke a sudden gust of wind swept down upon them, causing the trees to scatter fruit in all directions, and almost upsetting the three doves.
"What did I tell you?" said King Cyril. "We do not get much of it here, but look how the treetops are bending above us. It is of no use to try to climb up."
Feeling rather disconsolate Daimur turned around and started following the great wall of rock which ran away around the hill, winding in and out until it ran right into the sea.
"This wall is the same on the other side of the island," said the King, "it runs into the sea on that side also, so that the Magician's dwelling is completely shut off from the rest of the island."
They went on, keeping close beside the wall, until they came to the place where it crossed the sand of the seashore, and Daimur stood lost in thought, gazing at the rough stones which towered above his head. Then with a sudden exclamation he took his spade from his shoulder and commenced digging in the sand at the foot of the wall.
He soon found that it was only buried about three feet in the sand, and in a few minutes he had succeeded in making a hole under it wide enough to crawl through on his hands and knees, the doves immediately following him.
Once inside, the shore looked very much the same as it did elsewhere, and the only wind was the natural breeze, fresh and briny, which blew in from the sea.
They crept along, keeping close to the ground, under the shade of the trees, and after a while came up close to the hill, which at this side seemed to be of solid rock, and ran very close to the water.
Built against the hill was a long, low house of white stone, with a flight of marble steps leading up to the door, while directly in front of it running out a short distance was a wide landing, seemingly composed of one immense slab of white stone.
They crept close to the house, but Daimur was afraid to mount the stair for fear of being seen from one of the windows which faced the sea on each side of the door. He was very anxious to know who was in the house, but to his surprise his cap could not tell him anything about it.
The Princess eagerly volunteered to go.
"I am white like the gulls that are flying about," she said, "and will not likely be noticed."
Up she flew and alighted on the window sill, which was open, and after looking carefully in, she disappeared inside.
The King and Queen and Daimur waited in the greatest suspense for more than half an hour. At the end of that time she reappeared, looking very frightened.
"There is a witch in there," she whispered. "Let us go back at once."
They said nothing further, but all hurried away as fast as they could, crawled under the stone wall, and Daimur threw back the sand against it, and smoothed it down. They did not stop until they had reached the cave. Then they all sat down, very tired, and the Princess told them what she had seen.
"I went in at the window," she began, "and was in a great kitchen. At the far end of it I saw a room with a window in the end of it, so as there seemed to be no one about I cautiously slipped into the other room, which from the bottles and pots on the shelves I thought must be a sort of chemist's work-room.
"I hopped up on the window sill and looked out, and saw a beautiful large ship with three masts tied up in a small bay at the end of the house. I was then coming away, when I heard a noise and looking around, saw coming through the kitchen a very ugly old crone hobbling towards me, muttering to herself.
"I crept into a large box that stood empty in a corner, and saw her go up to a big wicker basket near the window out of which I had just been looking. She opened the basket and out came a long green snake, which fastened itself around her neck. I quite quivered with terror.
"'How are you to-day, my daughter?' asked the old crone.
"'Oh, much better, thank you,' said the reptile, in a horrible rattling voice. 'Did you find the magic tablets yet, mother?'
"'Alas, my dear,' replied the witch, 'I found hundreds of them. They are on a shelf behind the cupboard, in a dark corner, but are locked up in a glass box. I am afraid the Magician carries the key with him, and I dare not break the lock.'
"'Oh, dear, how much longer must I wait to get out of this horrid shape? I wish I had not touched his old bottles and made him angry,' said the snake, and it began to shed streams of tears which ran down and made little green lizards that crawled about on the floor.
"'Not much longer, dear,' replied the witch. 'The Magician is coming back to-night, and nothing can be done now, but he is going away again on a special journey in five days' time, to hunt for some treasures which he says he must have, so I will go out across the fields as soon as he is gone and consult my old cat as to what is best to be done.'
"The Witch then put the snake back in the basket, fastened down the lid, and went away, so after a while, not seeing anything more of her, I crept out of my hiding place, determined to get some of the tablets which will give us back our human shapes."
"Did you see them?" asked the Queen quite breathlessly.
"I did," replied the Princess, "I got in behind the cupboard, which has a piece gone out of the back, hopped up on the shelf, and found them quite easily. They are locked up in a strong glass box, and are as big as corn kernels."
"Well, well," said Daimur, after a pause. "Why, I have a key here that will unlock anything. We shall go back when the Magician goes away next time, and see if we cannot get some of the magic tablets."
Feeling very cheerful indeed they then went with Daimur while he dug a great many more potatoes, nuts and yams, and helped him to make a fire afterwards to cook them for supper. While the fire was getting hot Daimur went out along the shore to see what he could find. The tide was out, and he went looking about for clams. He was not disappointed, for he soon found a great many nice big ones, and you may be sure they tasted very delicious when baked in their shells.
Long after they had had their supper, when it was quite dark, they heard a great wind blowing, and Daimur, putting on his cap knew that it was the Magician coming home.
All the next day the King and Queen and little Princess Maya went about quietly among the doves in the woods and told them about Daimur, and about the tablets they hoped to get to release them from their enchantment, and begged them if they valued their lives to leave the fruit they were eating and come and live in the cave with them.
They soon had nearly all the brightest doves fluttering excitedly to the cave, so anxious were they to seize any chance that might set them free.
The very stupid ones were harder to rouse, but by dint of coaxing and driving they managed to get them all into the cave, where pure food and fresh water soon began to clear their poisoned brains, and in a few days' time they were nearly all as bright and wide awake as when they came to the island.
The cave at night now was full of chattering and whispering, and Daimur had put up a great many more branches for them to sleep on.
He had plenty to do, for there was now a large number of doves to provide for, and they ate a surprising quantity of food, and for fear the Magician should see him he had to go for potatoes and other provisions at night.
It was thought best for the birds to fly through the island occasionally in the day time, so that the Magician might not be suspicious.
The first night, after they were all inside and had finished supper, Daimur told them of the ship which was anchored at the Magician's door, and they immediately cried out, "It is the one he stole from Prince Redmond," and Prince Redmond, a big black dove with a huge red ruff and red crest, nodded, and said he knew it must be his.
Then they talked about the magic tablets, and Daimur told them he felt sure his little key would open the glass box.
Now Daimur was naturally very much interested to know who these doves were and from which of the islands they came, so they decided that each should tell his own story.
King Cyril was the first one called upon, and after Daimur had stirred up the fire he began:
"I am, as most of you know, Cyril, King of the Island of Shells.
"My father was a kind, gentle man, who was more interested in study than in governing his kingdom. He had only two sons, my brother Arnolde and myself, and we grew up together and were the greatest friends until I married.
"As my father was getting very old, and I was the elder son, I soon had to devote a good deal of my time to the management of the kingdom, and my brother, who was three years younger than I, and who took absolutely no interest in matters of state, was now left very much to himself.
"One day he announced to my father that he was about to marry a charming young lady who was living with her aunt, a duchess, in another part of the kingdom. My father was naturally displeased that he should have chosen for his wife some one who was not very high in rank, but upon making inquiries he found to his horror that the young lady was the daughter of a magician who had never liked our family.
"My father did everything in his power to try and persuade my brother to give up the idea of marrying the lady, saying that she would no doubt have some of her father's secrets and might be dangerous, but my brother would not listen, and was married almost immediately, taking his bride to a castle of his own which was near the royal palace.
"In a short time the new Princess began to show what she was. Not that she was ever disagreeable, but she was too nice. My wife and I began to suspect her of magic at once, and were quite sure of it when we saw her effect on my brother. He became so unfriendly that he actually would not speak to me at all, and gradually many of the ministers were the same. My father was so broken-hearted over the affair that he died inside of a year, and I ascended the throne.
"Hardly had the Queen and I been crowned when there began to be strange murmurings among the nobles. They said that my brother was such a clever fellow, and I so stupid, that he should be reigning in my stead. As he had always been noted throughout the kingdom as a very athletic young man, who found learning a great trouble, I was convinced that my sister-in-law was at the bottom of this opinion.
"By accident I found out how she accomplished her evil purpose. She had a little gold snuff box full of a magic powder, which when thrown into people's eyes made them see everything just as she wished they should.
"One day the Queen was seated in the garden reading, and I was walking towards her, when I saw my sister-in-law creep noiselessly across the lawn behind the Queen's chair, open a little gold box, and take out a pinch of something, which she was just in the act of throwing into the Queen's eyes when I screamed at her. In her fright she dropped the snuff box and ran away, and upon opening it we found that it contained a rose-colored powder. We guessed what it was for, and walking to the river bank we threw box and all into the stream, but the incident you may be sure made us very uneasy.
"After that my sister-in-law did not try to hide her hatred for us, and it was only a few weeks later, when we were one day out driving, that we were set upon by a large band of men in disguise, among whom I recognized my own brother and many of the gentlemen of my court.
"We were seized, bound, tied up in sacking, and hidden away in a cellar until night, when we were brought out here and left on the shore, more dead than alive. Here we have been for four years, living in a state of enchantment, until now Prince Daimur has come to bring us the hope of freedom."
Everybody sympathized with King Cyril and the Queen and Princess, and Daimur assured him that as soon as he had taken his own kingdom from his wicked uncle he would go with him and help him to win back his country from his brother and witch of a sister-in-law.
Then as it was quite dark Daimur took his shovel and went off to get as many potatoes as he could before going to bed.
The next night after everyone was inside and supper was over, it was decided to be Prince Redmond's turn to tell his story. He accordingly began, everyone listening attentively:
"I am the youngest of three brothers. My father was King of Laurels and loved us very dearly. I cannot remember my mother, as she died when I was quite young.
"My eldest brother Tasmir was a fearless fellow, who did a great deal of riding, and was always on the lookout for adventure. I was very fond of him and often went with him, as I liked riding and adventure too, while my second brother Sadna, who detested any kind of outdoor exercise, stayed at home holding receptions and going to balls. He was a vain fellow, fond of fine clothes and flattery, and we used to laugh at him.
"Sometimes he would say 'Oh, never mind, my good brothers, I shall get ahead of you both one of these days,' which answer we always took good-naturedly.
"It so happened when my father was quite advanced in years that he slipped one day and fell, and was so badly injured that he became an invalid and could only sit in a chair and be wheeled about.
"He was very fond of flowers, and we had an immense conservatory where he spent most of his time. It was his wish to possess a flowering plant from every part of the world. Each ship which came in brought some new specimen, until there remained but a single little spot on earth which had not contributed a plant. As this place was surrounded by a desert which no one would venture across, it did not seem as if my father would get the 'Wonder Plant' as it was called. He was very anxious to possess it and offered a large sum of money to anyone who would find it and bring it back, but in vain.
"Then Tasmir asked permission to go and seek it, and promised that he would return within a year. After much consideration the King consented to let him go, and Tasmir was overjoyed. I was very much cast down at the thought of being alone but Sadna seemed to be secretly glad.
"Before departing my brother gave me a locket of silver which he said I was to wear about my neck constantly until he returned. If it remained bright I would know he was alive and well, but should it turn black I would know that he was dead, and it would be of no use searching for him.
"I wore the silver locket, and at the end of the year it was still bright, although Tasmir had not come home. Up to this time my father had been patiently waiting for Tasmir's return, but now he became very anxious and wanted my brother Sadna to set out in search of him.
"This Sadna refused to do, saying that he knew quite well Tasmir was dead, and it served him right for going on such a foolish errand in a wild country, which so upset my father that he at once summoned all the magicians and wise men in the kingdom to see if they could tell him what had become of Tasmir. None of them could tell him anything, excepting the Evil Magician, who had come with the others, and he said Tasmir was dead.
"Then my poor father believed it, although I tried to make both him and my brother understand that it was not true, as my locket was still bright. They would not listen to me.
"Sadna immediately seized the King and locked him up in a large unused wing of the castle, giving out the news to our subjects that his father was out of his mind and unfit to reign, and that he, Sadna, wished to be crowned at once.
"I was horribly disappointed with my brother, and taking all the money I had in the world, I bought a good ship, which I manned with fifty of the best sailors in the kingdom, and started out to look for Tasmir.
"We had gone only a short distance out to sea when a terrific storm arose. It lasted all night, and in the morning we found ourselves stranded high on the flat reefs to the south of this island, and were obliged to take refuge on shore, as we feared the ship might go to pieces in the storm.
"We came inland, brought some food with us, and when in the evening we went back to the shore we found the sea calm enough, but the ship had completely disappeared, as had also our small boats. Not a timber or a splinter remained. We knew that the ship could not have sunk, as it lay in shallow water and it would be impossible to break up and not leave some wreckage on the shore.
"I did not know what to think, but finally agreed with some of the sailors that pirates had stolen the ship and also our small boats during the day. As we had no possible means of escape we were obliged for the meantime to seek food and shelter in the interior of the island, believing that perhaps before long we would be able to hail some passing boat.
"We soon found our way to the fruit trees, you may be sure, with the result that in three days we had all been transformed into birds, which shape we had no hope of changing for our own again until you, Prince Daimur, came to rescue us."
"And your brother Tasmir," asked Daimur, "do you still believe him to be alive?"
"Indeed," replied Prince Redmond sadly, "I do not know. My locket, being a charmed one, could not be transformed with me, and is still around my neck, but it seems to be turning darker every day. Wherever Tasmir is I fear he is dying."
"Well," said Daimur, "do not give up hope. Just as soon as you are delivered from this place you will be able to go and seek him, and I will give you every assistance in my power. In the meantime I will try and find out something about him."
So they retired to rest with hopeful hearts, each to dream of freedom.
The next evening, after supper was over, some of the doves brought forward a very plain-looking old dove, who wore suspended around her neck on a thin chain a little gold key.
They all begged her to tell Daimur her story, and after some hesitation she began:
"I am not a Queen," she said, "I am only the Duchess of Rose Petals, but through my misfortune I am causing a great deal of misery to my dear, dear niece, Queen Amy of the Island of Roses." Here she shed a few tears, then shaking her feathers, she continued her story.
"When my cousin, the late King Richard, died he left no heir. In his will, however, he named his successor. He said that whichever of his nieces (his two brothers each had one daughter) should grow up more beautiful and more clever than the other should be crowned Queen on her eighteenth birthday, and that until then the Prime Minister should manage the affairs of the country.
"As the girls were both in their sixteenth year at the time there were two years to wait.
"We all thought it a silly plan, and that it would have been much better to name one of the girls as Queen and be done with it, but of course the King's wishes had to be observed, and the people settled down to wait.
"The two Princesses after that were very seldom seen, each being kept busy by her respective parents learning all manner of things which she would need to know if she became Queen, and at the same time building up her beauty.
"Princess Amy was always my favorite niece. She was a dear good-hearted little thing with pretty golden hair, a fine pink-and-white complexion, and the kindest blue eyes in the world.
"Princess Bethel was neither good-looking nor sweet-tempered, and no one thought she had any chance of being chosen Queen, especially as she was known to be rather stupid. I really felt sorry for her, as I knew she could not manage to change her looks altogether in two years, but she had a surprise in store for us.
"Her father was a studious man, fond of making scientific experiments, and I used to hear that she spent a great deal of her time in the laboratory watching the making of strange mixtures, but I did not pay much attention to this, as it was nothing new.
"Nobody ever saw her excepting heavily veiled, and her mother said that they were trying a new treatment for her complexion and that the sun must not touch her skin.
"The two years passed away, and at last a day was named in May when the choice of Queen should be made.
"For days the roads were full of people traveling towards the Palace gates, and when the great day dawned bright and clear the square in front of the Palace looked as though a large army had encamped there. Flags were flying everywhere, and inside, the Palace all preparations had been made to crown the chosen Queen and have a great feast.
"The first thing the two Princesses had to do was to appear at nine o'clock in the morning before seven of the greatest college professors in the kingdom and write examinations on seven different subjects, the result of which would be announced before the assembled multitude.
"At seven o'clock it was given out that Princess Amy had made very high marks in all subjects and had come away ahead of Princess Bethel. At this loud cheers were heard for Princess Amy, and it was murmured about that she would be Queen.
"At midday all the Court were assembled, and the two Princesses, each with her parents, walked slowly into the great ballroom.
"A murmur of admiration arose, for indeed they both looked exceedingly beautiful in their white satin dresses, richly trimmed with lace.
"I noted with pride that Princess Amy's golden hair and blue eyes were brighter than ever, her complexion more delicately pink and white, but what was my surprise on turning my eyes towards Princess Bethel to see that her complexion was a great deal finer, and her hair most wonderful.
"In place of the straggly brown locks she used to possess she now had the most beautiful masses of shining hair, falling to the floor in waves and ringlets. It was of a very pale yellow, but the charm of it lay in the way it seemed to change color, sparkling with every beautiful shade around it as she walked. It was most fascinating.
"We were all amazed, and after the first glance nobody saw Princess Amy at all. The two girls walked down the hall, and every eye was fixed on Princess Bethel and her wonderful glistening hair.
"It was only a few moments before it was announced from the Palace to the people assembled outside that the beautiful Princess Bethel had been chosen Queen,—everybody had forgotten about the examination for cleverness,—and the crowning immediately took place, after which the new Queen and Princess Amy appeared on the balcony and bowed to the people, who were waiting to see them, and who professed themselves completely satisfied with the choice of Princess Bethel as Queen.
"The news quickly spread throughout the kingdom, and many people traveled from the other side of the island just to get a look at the new Queen and her wonderful hair.
"I was sorry for Princess Amy; not that she seemed to mind not being chosen—she was too sweet-tempered to be jealous—but she certainly had not been treated fairly. I felt too that there was something peculiar about the Queen's hair, and after considerable thought and a number of quiet inquiries I determined to see for myself if she really had such hair, and such a fine complexion.
"Queen Bethel's mother spent a great deal of her time at the Palace with her daughter, and I became very friendly with her and used to visit her there a great deal. I had to wait my chance, but at last it came.
"One afternoon I drove to the Palace alone, and was told that the Queen was taking a nap and must not be disturbed, and that her mother was taking an airing, but would be back in an hour.
"I said I would wait in the Queen's private drawing room until her mother came in, and was shown upstairs, but the moment I was alone I hurried swiftly and softly to the Queen's apartments. Just as I thought, the door was locked. I went to a linen closet a short distance down the hall where I knew I could get a small step-ladder, and mounting this I got into the room through the transom.
"I let myself down by stepping on the door handle, and found I was in the Queen's boudoir. I could hear someone snoring in the next room quite loudly, so after making sure that nobody was about I tiptoed gently to the door.
"On the bed, looking very pale and homely, lay the Queen, and there upon the dresser was her beautiful hair. Beside the hair was a queer looking pot marked
PERFECT COMPLEXION DYE One Application warranted to stand two washings.
"I could have laughed for joy, but I had no time to waste, and quickly putting both the complexion dye and the hair into my large pocket I crept back to the boudoir.
"Here of course I had no difficulty in unlocking the door and getting out into the hall, and after pushing the key under the door, closing the transom and carefully putting the stepladder back into the linen closet, I left the Palace, saying that I could not wait any longer.
"I flew home and sent for Princess Amy's mother and father. I showed them the wig and the dye. They were speechless with indignation and surprise at the way their daughter had been imposed upon. At my request they agreed to take possession of the articles until we could have arrangements made for settling the matter.
"We then called upon the Prime Minister and told him the whole story, and he called a special meeting for twelve o'clock next day, at which all members of Government were ordered to attend, and it was added that they might bring their wives with them. Somehow or other the news went around that the meeting was to be over the new Queen, and at twelve o'clock next day the long table which ran the whole length of the great assembly room was crowded, and most of the ladies had to sit in groups about the room.
"'Call the Queen,' said the Prime Minister.
"The Queen's mother hurried in in a terrible flutter, and said that the Queen had a frightful headache and begged to be excused.
"The Prime Minister replied that he was sorry, but if she was not able to come down we would have to go upstairs to her and hold the meeting.
"That settled it. In a few moments the Queen appeared, very pale indeed, and with her head tied up in a lace scarf. She looked anything but beautiful without her fine hair and lovely complexion, and her small green eyes flew around the room as if looking for a means of escape. I could see that everybody was shocked at sight of her.
"The Prime Minister came immediately to the point. He told the Queen that reports were circulating to the effect that her beautiful hair was not real. At this she flew into a perfect rage and stamped her foot at him, crying that it was real.
"'Well, well, then,' said the Prime Minister, 'kindly remove your lace scarf and let us see for ourselves.'
"This of course she refused to do, whereupon the Prime Minister held out his hand for a bag which Princess Amy's father was carrying, and drew out first the complexion dye and then the wig, which he passed around for inspection. When he laid the Queen's beautiful hair on the table everybody jumped up with an exclamation of amazement and looked at Bethel, who gave a scream and tried to snatch it, but her mother drew her back.
"'What is it made of?' was the question they all asked. I knew, I had guessed it for quite a long time, but had not felt certain until I had it in my hands.
"'It is made of spun looking-glass, colored a delicate yellow,' I said, 'and was made by Princess Bethel's father, who, as you all know, is very clever. See, here is a doll's wig that he made for Princess Amy several years ago. You will note that it is not colored, that it is made of clear glass, and is coarser, but the idea is the same. If you need any further proof I have three witnesses whose testimony I think you will be willing to accept.'
"'Wonderful, wonderful,' they all exclaimed, as they still examined the wig.
"'Who told you anything about it?' screamed the Queen. 'What do you mean prying into my affairs? I'll pay you well for this, Aunt Sophie.'
"But nobody paid any attention to her. The Prime Minister was asking what should be done with her, and various things were suggested. One old Baroness would keep calling out, 'Have her beheaded, have her beheaded,' and several members of Parliament felt that she ought to be imprisoned for life, and also her father and mother.
"No doubt they would have been imprisoned for at least a number of years had not Amy's father risen and said that his daughter asked that for her sake they would not punish either Bethel or her parents, but let them go home, as she thought the shame of all this exposure would certainly be punishment enough. Most of the ladies thought so too, and finally it was agreed to do as Amy had asked.
"So Princess Bethel was ordered to leave the palace at once, and it was said that her father and mother had a dreadful time trying to live with her for many a long day afterwards, but we all agreed that it served them right.
"That very day Princess Amy was crowned Queen, and nobody was more happy than I, for I knew that she would rule wisely and well.
"I was not mistaken, for she soon began to make new laws and change the old ones for the good of her subjects.
"I was one day with her in the cellars under the Palace looking through some old chests of books, when we came upon one very large chest made of solid steel, which stood in a small room alone. The key, a tiny golden one, was in the lock and we opened it. The chest was lined with gold, but had nothing in it but one gold coin in the bottom.
"'Why, what a splendid bank this would make,' said Queen Amy, 'I believe I shall start one.'
"That very day she began saving gold in the big chest, and continued putting by as much as she could spare to use it in a time when the crops might be poor, or war threatened.
"There were very few banks in the kingdom, and it was not long before poor people were bringing their savings to the Palace to be put in the chest. She had a great number of little glass boxes made, which fitted into trays, and each box bore the name of the depositor. The key of the chest she carried on a fine strong chain about her neck night and day.
"One evening word came that the Princess Bethel's mother was very ill and wished to see her niece. The Queen instantly called for her carriage, and ordered a company of guards to accompany her, then as she had to drive through a wood and was a little afraid of highwaymen she took the gold key from her neck and fastened the chain around mine, telling me not to remove it until she returned.
"I watched her drive away, and then went for a walk over the lawn towards the water. I reached the little pier and stood for a few moments looking at a small row boat which was tied there, wondering whether I should go out for a few minutes on the bay, but as the night was rather chilly I turned to go back for a wrap.
"I had not taken six steps before I was seized in a kind of whirlwind which sprang up from the water and almost choked me. In my hurry to get away I turned in the wrong direction and stepped off the pier into the boat, striking my head.
"I can remember clutching the key as I fell, and after that I knew nothing until I awoke and found myself lying on the sands of this island. Here I have been for two years, and in that time who knows what may have happened to my poor Amy, for without this key she cannot open the treasure chest."
Here the dove stopped and heaved a great sigh. "Fear not," said Daimur, "you shall go back in a very short time to your beloved niece if all goes as well as we hope."
Then as it was very late they all settled themselves for the night and were soon fast asleep.
Early in the morning Daimur was up and astir, and after breakfast he went for a walk alone. As he went along he thought of the stories he had heard, but most of all he thought of Prince Tasmir and wondered if he were still alive.
He had come to a clear space in the depths of the wood, and being rather tired, he leaned against a large tree, and looking up at the sky through the branches said aloud to himself:
"I wonder where Tasmir is?"
"I am here," said a faint voice immediately back of him.
Quite startled, Daimur turned sharply around and looked behind him. There was no one in sight. He looked into the branches of the tree against which he was leaning, thinking it might have been the voice of a dove, but there was nothing to be seen. But he noticed that the leaves of the tree were dropping, and what was still more strange on that island, it was a laurel tree, and not a fruit tree.
"Tasmir," he murmured in a low tone, "where are you?"
"I am here," came the voice again, "in this tree, and more dead than alive."
Immediately Daimur put on his spectacles, and standing back looked at the tree. He could see imprisoned in the center of the trunk a young man with a pale, thin face. His eyes were wild and his hair long, and he looked back at Daimur with such a sad expression.
"Poor, poor fellow," said Daimur, "your plight is worse than your brother's. This is more of the Evil Magician's work."
"Yes, he has enchanted me, and I am slowly dying," answered Tasmir in a weak voice. "You can see that the leaves of my tree are dropping."
"What can I do to save you?" cried Daimur.
"You must make a hole in the side of the tree and let the sap run out. When it has all run away the tree will dry up in a day, and I will be able to break through the wood, as it will be brittle like dried-up egg shell. You will have to do it at once, however, as I cannot last much longer than another day. I am nearly drowned now with sap."
Daimur hastily drew out his knife, and finding a place where some bushes grew close against the tree he pulled them back and began cutting a hole in the bark. He worked for more than an hour before he had penetrated through to the pith. Then the sap burst forth and ran out in a stream, sinking into the earth at the root.
"It will not be dry until night," said the poor prisoner, "and then perhaps I will be able to break my way out."
Daimur, who had been consulting his cap, now found that the Magician was moving around the island, so he left the sap to drain away and hurried back to the cave where he lay hidden for the rest of the day.
After supper Daimur called Prince Redmond to one side.
"Redmond," said he, "I have news of your brother Tasmir; he is still living."
At this Redmond was so overjoyed that he almost fainted, but after a moment recovered himself and asked Daimur to tell where his brother was and what he knew of him.
Then Daimur told him about his walk in the forest that morning, and how he had heard Tasmir's voice come out of the tree. When he had finished Redmond was in a great flutter of excitement and happiness, and wanted to go at once and see if the sap had all drained away.
Daimur put on his cap again, and having ascertained that the Magician was safe in his house, he led the way to the great laurel tree, where they could see by the light of the moon that the sap had ceased to run. The tree was drying up.
"Is it dry enough yet?" he called softly to Tasmir.
"No, not yet," came the faint answer from the tree, "but it is drying fast."
Daimur sat down on the ground to wait, and Prince Redmond perched in a neighboring tree, so excited at the prospect of seeing his dearly loved brother alive that he could hardly keep his hold on the branch.
After a while they heard a faint cracking noise like the breaking of glass, and Daimur immediately jumped to his feet.
"Can I not help you?" he called softly.
"Yes," answered Tasmir, "you must cut the bark. I am so weak I will not be able to break that. Cut a slit in it right up the tree."
This Daimur did, slitting it for above five feet up from the root. No sooner had he stepped back than there was a great rending sound, the bark flew open, and out staggered the poor thin young prince, so weak and faint from his efforts that he could not stand, but had to lie for a while on the grass. His brother Redmond at once fluttered to his side and cried out how glad he was to see him, and that he had never expected to behold him again alive.
"Is it you, dear Redmond?" asked Tasmir. "I never expected to be able to speak to you again. I knew you, although you did not know me, and often watched you flying past. I tried to call you, but you never heard me. I would have been dead in a few hours' time had it not been for this good young man," he said, and he turned gratefully towards Daimur, who was pushing together the bark on the tree so that the slit would not be noticed.
They waited until Prince Tasmir had taken some of the biscuits and water, and a few of the nuts that they had brought with them, and felt strong enough to walk, and then they made their way slowly back to the cave, where much excitement prevailed at the appearance of Tasmir and the story of his rescue.
He was made to lie down and rest, and more food was pressed upon him, and the food and the fresh sea breeze which blew into the cave soon revived him.
They told him all about themselves and their plans, and it was agreed that he would be of great assistance to Daimur in helping to make their escape.
After a while when Tasmir had become quite rested, he turned to Redmond and said:
"My dear brother, I know that you are anxious to hear how I came into the Evil Magician's hands, and I now feel well enough to tell you my story."
All chatter immediately ceased, and everyone sat listening attentively for Tasmir to begin.
"You will remember," he said, "that I took passage on a ship called the 'Seafoam,' which was bound for Aeda Land, where the great desert lay which I would have to cross to get the Wonderful Plant.
"This ship was recommended as being safe and fast, and Sadna said the Captain was a fine honest man who would do his best to make me comfortable.
"It was a long, low boat, built apparently for speed, as it did not seem to have much room for cargo, and what cargo was being loaded aboard I noticed consisted mostly of oil and gunpowder. However, I was well pleased enough with the accommodation offered me, and in due time the ship set sail.
"After we had been out a few days I began to notice the crew. They were the most murderous looking crowd of ruffians I had ever seen, and seemed to be continually quarreling among themselves.
"The Captain too I thought anything but honest looking.
"One evening while it was yet very early I told the Captain I would go to my cabin, for the weather being rough I was feeling rather seasick; but after reaching my stateroom I decided that fresh air would do me more good than sleep, so went up on deck and stood at the side of the cabin looking out at the sea, and trying to make out by the stars which direction we were following.
"It was quite dark, for the time of year was late fall and the evenings closed in quickly. As I stood there in the shadow of the cabin two people came towards me, talking in low tones.
"'When?' asked one voice, which I recognized as that of the first mate.
"'To-morrow night,' said the Captain's rough bass. 'We'll run up the merry old skull and crossbones as soon as it gets dark, change our name, and get out the guns. We ought to meet the Hesperus before morning, and she carries a full cargo of Spanish gold.'
"'But what will we do with the Prince,' asked the first mate. 'Kill him and throw him overboard?'
"'Oh, make him walk the plank at midnight, after we are all ready. We'll tell him the ship's been captured. He'll never know he's aboard the "Maneater." He has a tidy sum of gold with him, and that we'll divide, you and I.'
"They passed out of hearing and left me rooted to the spot with horror.
"I was aboard a pirate ship, and the 'Maneater' at that, for years the terror of all travelers on the high seas!
"How could I escape? That was the one thought which filled my mind. You may be sure I did not sleep at all that night, and early next day had laid my plans.
"I went first and inspected the small boats. The Captain's gig was the smallest and lightest, and hung near the bow ready to launch. I watched my chance and when the cook was busy elsewhere stole a big package of ship's biscuits and a pail of fresh water. These I stowed away in the gig under the tarpaulin that covered it. Then I cut the ropes nearly through so that with much added weight it would drop into the water some twelve feet below.
"I waited impatiently for nightfall, and when supper time came told the Captain that as I still felt rather seasick I thought I had better retire to my stateroom.
"I waited until I knew that the crew were all at supper, and then stole out to the stern of the ship, raised one of the hatches carefully, and spreading some oakum on the top of a tar barrel set it afire and laid the hatch on again, after which I hurried back to my stateroom to await the result.
"An hour passed. I began to fear that the fire had smothered for want of air, and wished I had left the hatch open a little. Eight o'clock came, and I heard the crew beginning to run about, and the Captain's voice shouting orders. I could tell by the creaking of the ropes in the pulleys that the flag of Sunne was being hauled down and the black flag hoisted.
"Then there was a rumbling of heavy guns being pulled about the decks, and after that the sound of hammering, and I knew they were changing the name plate.
"Fearing they would lock me in my stateroom I packed as much gold into my purse as it would hold, distributed the rest throughout my clothing, and stole out of the cabin to the little passageway, where I lay crouched behind the stair leading to the deck.
"All at once I heard a cry of 'Fire, fire,' and then a rush of feet towards the stern.
"Now was my chance. With a bound I rushed on deck, pulled the tarpaulin cover off the gig and sprang in. It dropped with a splash into the water. Fortunately the sea was comparatively calm, and the boat did not upset. I seized the oars and rowed away. I could see the flames shooting to a height of perhaps twenty feet, and judged from the space over which they spread that my fire must have crept through part of the hold. The powder was all loaded in the bow, and was in no great danger.
"Sharply outlined against the flames the men ran to and fro hauling water in buckets from the sea. I rowed on and on, thinking only of getting away from the pirates before they got the fire under control and missed me, but as I watched I saw that the fire was getting beyond them and soon I saw that nearly the whole ship was in flames. Suddenly there was a distant booming sound, and the flames shot into the sky in all directions, and when the black smoke had cleared away there were little dots of flame all over the sea, where pieces of the burning vessel were floating about.
"I was now about two miles away, and could not tell whether any of the crew had escaped or not. Indeed I do not care, as they had all murdered scores of innocent men and women in the years they had been scouring the seas. It seemed to me a fitting thing that they should have lost their lives by the very powder with which they intended to kill others.
"By and by all the flaming specks disappeared, and I was alone on the dark sea, for all I knew, miles away from land."
"I kept on rowing until daylight, when ahead of me I saw a streak of land. It was a great way off, so I rested and ate before recommencing my rowing. I was afraid to stop for fear a storm should spring up and wreck my small craft.
"It was early evening when I finally reached land, which was a rocky shore backed by high cliffs and mountains.
"I landed on the barren shore very stiff and weary, with my hands blistered and bleeding, and stumbled a short distance up the steep mountain path.
"I had not gone far before I met two shepherds who were eating their evening meal at the door of a little hut at one side of the path. I must have looked rather ill, for they both got up and took me into the hut and were very kind to me. They gave me a big bowl of warm broth, some oaten cakes, and made me stay the night with them. I tried to tell them of my adventure, but as they spoke a strange tongue they could not understand me. I made up my mind that I had better stay with them until I could find out where I was.
"The chief business of that mountainous country is sheep raising and weaving baskets from a very pliable kind of shrub that grows on the slopes of the mountains. I hired as a shepherd to a sheep rancher, and also began to learn to weave baskets to while away the time as I watched the sheep. Before long I learned the language, which is a very simple one, and found that I was in Aeda Land, but that the desert I sought lay far to the south, through the mountain passes. It was already winter high up in the mountains, and the passes were full of snow, so I would be obliged to wait until spring before going on.
"I settled down to wait and soon became so skilful at weaving that I could make more baskets in a couple of days than many of the older weavers could make in a week.
"Early in the spring the merchant ships arrived for their annual cargo of wool and baskets, and after I had sold my baskets I found that I had added quite a nice little sum in silver to my store of gold.
"The snow had now all melted in the mountain passes, so I said good-bye to my kind friends the shepherds, giving each of them a tiny basket as a keepsake, in which I had hidden some gold pieces, packed a knapsack, and set off on foot for the desert country.
"It was a long walk up the steep mountain path, but after two days' journey I reached the top and could look down into the valley. Miles away stretched the yellow sands of the desert, perfectly bare, excepting for a sort of island of trees in the middle. All around the desert lay the mountains excepting to the west, where the sandy valley extended to the sea. Villages and peach orchards lay just at the foot of the mountains, and extended part way up to slopes, but the largest village appeared to be on the seacoast, and to that one I directed my steps.
"As I descended the steep winding path the air became warmer, and when I reached the valley I found that it was already midsummer there, and the fruit was ripening on the trees.
"I came at last to the town on the edge of the sea, where I put up at an inn, and after a much-needed rest I sought out the inn-keeper and asked for information about the Wonderful Plant.
"Nobody, he told me, had ever crossed the desert, though hundreds had tried to do so, for everyone knew that it was in the very center of the oasis that the Wonderful Plant grew. He had never been able to find out why it was a Wonderful Plant; some said it had a flower that never died, the perfume of which would keep off trouble, others said that its leaves, crushed and eaten, would cure all ills, and yet others thought that if planted in an orchard it would ensure a wonderful fruit crop forever afterwards.
"However, nobody really knew, because there were great creatures that guarded the oasis and chased travelers. Giants they were, with dreadful twisted features, and sometimes they rode horrible twisted horses, and sometimes awful camels. Nobody had ever been killed by them, for all had been wise enough to return as quickly as possible when the giants approached.
"Sometimes indeed travelers had been attacked and chased by a huge toucan which lived on the oasis, and which knocked them down and battered them with its wings, but they had managed to escape with their lives. Nobody, he added, had tried to cross for a long time now; it was altogether too impossible.
"I was very much interested, especially in the toucan, and asked what manner of bird it was.
"'It is a terrible creature,' answered the inn-keeper, 'and the terror of the countryside. It is at least ten feet in length and has an enormous beak. It delights to steal our peaches, and in spite of all we can do ruins a good many crops every year. Scarecrows, be they ever so large, do not frighten it, and it will eat all the fruit from a dozen trees in an hour. It merely stands on the ground, shakes the tree with its beak until the fruit falls, and then gobbles it up.'
"I asked him what it lived on when there were no peaches to eat, but he did not know. It did not matter, he added gloomily, it did damage enough, and had just the day before cleaned off two of his very best trees.
"For the next few days I wandered about, going to the edge of the desert and wondering how I was going to get across the yellow sands over which no traveler had ever journeyed far.
"One day as I sat under a tree on a favorite stone meditating I noticed a large dark object coming through the air towards me. It was the toucan. I kept still and watched him. He stopped over a peach tree which grew at the bottom of an orchard not far off, and alighting on the ground walked over and deliberately shook the tree. Down fell the delicious fruit in a shower. Harder and harder he shook until not a peach that was at all ripe remained. Then he walked around and leisurely swallowed the peaches as a chicken swallows corn kernels.
"He had not finished before the farmer came running out with his wife and sons, all beating tin pans and shouting. The toucan let them approach quite close, and then made a sudden dive at them with his wings down, rose in the air right over their heads and flew away with a loud chuckling kind of noise that sounded like a laugh. The farmer and his family fell over each other in their fright, and when they had recovered their feet the bird was far away.
"It was all so funny that I had to laugh, and then I thought of a scheme for getting across the desert."
That afternoon I went up the mountain sides for a short distance and found some good reeds that would make a basket. It took me several days to weave what I wanted. I made a basket five feet long by two and a half feet wide, and put a false bottom in it, leaving a compartment underneath deep enough for me to crawl into. I put a hinge on the side of this bottom compartment so that I could let the side up and down, and lock it from the inside. When the basket was finished I wove a strong openwork cover for the top, leaving spaces just a little smaller than a peach, and fastened it securely to the basket.
"I took my basket to the edge of the desert, hid it in a tree, and went to purchase peaches enough from the nearest farmer to fill it. I carried several pails before it was full, taking care to put the most luscious ones on top, and after fastening the cover with the clamps I had put on it, crawled into the bottom compartment, fastened up my side opening and lay still to await results.
"It must have been two hours, and I was beginning to feel very much cramped when I heard a whirring of great wings, and then the toucan alighted on the ground beside me. He had evidently spied the basket and was curious to know what it was. He came over and then I could feel him pecking at the peaches through the woven covering.
"It was only a moment before somebody saw him, for every farmer had a boy watching, and the cry rang out, 'The toucan, the toucan!' I could see people running hurriedly towards us waving shovels, scythes, hoes, and various other implements. The toucan did just what I had hoped he would. He seized the basket by the handle and flew away over the desert with it, and I lay in the bottom looking down at the desert sands below, and thinking of what a dreadful death I should have if he dropped me.
"On we sailed, leaving the village far behind. I turned my head and looked towards the center of the desert. We were nearing the oasis, and I could see great trees with something silvery shining between them which I supposed must be a lake. Nearer and nearer we drew, and now I could see quite plainly the tree tops waving in the wind, but no water. The top of the wall appeared under me suddenly. Then we were quite a distance past the wall and settling down among trees upon a green space. The toucan alighted on the grass, put the basket down and again began pecking at the peaches through the cover. I opened my side fastening, crawled out and jumped to my feet sword in hand, supposing the toucan would attack me, but I evidently startled him, as he gave a loud clack, seized the basket again and flew with it over a tall hedge a short distance away.
"I looked about me then, and found myself on a beautiful lawn under magnificent trees, with here and there a wide avenue leading among gardens of gorgeous flowers and fountains of splashing water bordered by flower beds. There were many comfortable seats under the trees, and hammocks hung here and there in a most inviting manner. I walked along the nearest avenue which led under the trees, and came out upon a broad stretch of lawn in the center of which stood the most beautiful building I had ever seen. It was long and low, and all of carved white marble, decorated here and there with black marble facings. Many windows and glass doors stood open, and lacy white curtains swayed in the breeze. There was no one in sight, and I walked on towards the hedge over which I had seen the toucan disappear.
"Suddenly I heard a woman's voice say, 'Bowser, Bowser, what have you there? Oh, you wicked bird, you've stolen somebody's washing.' A pause and then the voice went on:
"'Why, it's a peach basket! What a strange contrivance! Go away, Bowser. Oh, Richard, come and see what Bowser has brought home.'
"Another pause, and then a man's voice.
"'My dear, that's been made for something else besides peaches. Look at the opening at the bottom. Why a man could hide in there quite easily, and good gracious! Here's a man's handkerchief, with T on the corner.' (I felt myself turning pale.) 'Do you suppose there is somebody in our stronghold, Mary? Good Bowser, where is the tramp? That's it. Bowser get him, old boy! Bring him here.'
"I shrunk away from the hedge, and was just turning to look for a place where I could hide, for I had no mind to be dragged forth in this unceremonious way, when a dark form appeared over me, seized me around the middle, and the next moment I was lifted through the air and laid in a heap on the other side of the hedge.
"I jumped to my feet, not knowing who or what I should see, drawing my sword as I did so, but when I caught a glimpse of a nice motherly looking woman and a mild-looking old gentleman standing before me apparently very much alarmed, I hastily stepped forward and made a low bow, begging their pardon for having intruded in this unseemly fashion. I explained my errand, told them who I was, and how I had contrived to get there, and when I had finished they both looked much relieved.
"'That is quite all right, Prince Tasmir,' said the old gentleman, 'and now if you will come into the house and partake of some refreshment I will tell you about the Wonderful Plant which you have come so far to seek.'
"'First, may I ask,' I said, 'does Bowser bite?'
"'No,' said the old gentleman, 'he is quite good natured, and besides he has no teeth.'
"'Well,' I said, 'I am rather grateful to him for carrying me safely here, and I should like to give him those peaches, but did not wish him to bite me in two while I was doing it.'
"So saying I went to the peach basket, where Bowser was vainly endeavoring to get the peaches out, and opened the fastenings, while he hopped around me on his huge legs and uttered his strange chuckling laugh. I picked out a few dozen of the ripest for the old lady, and let Bowser have the rest, which we left him swallowing greedily.
"They took me around to a spacious veranda, where a dark-skinned maid served us with delicious iced drinks, fruit and small cakes, and then the old gentleman told me about the Wonderful Plant."
"'You are no doubt wondering,' he said with a smile, 'who we are and what manner of oasis this is, and I am going to tell you about ourselves first.
"'To begin with, we are not fairies, but quite ordinary mortals, and we live here alone. We have no children, and no pets but Bowser, but we are never lonesome. Now Bowser is just a common toucan, and I found him on the ground under a big tree one morning, where a bad storm the night before had tossed him out of the nest. We brought him in and my wife cared for him, and the only reason he is so big is that he has such a voracious appetite and eats ten meals a day. In fact he is eating practically all the time, and I believe is still growing. I suppose his brothers and sisters might be as large as he if they could get enough to satisfy their appetites the way Bowser does. He would eat most families out of house and home, but as our store-room never gives out it does not matter. But although we do our best to feed him enough to satisfy his appetite we cannot cure him of stealing peaches. We are very sorry for the poor farmers whose orchards he raids, but in one sense it is rather a good thing, as it serves to keep people afraid of him, and he is our only watchdog.
"This desert around us was not always here. The whole valley was once much higher than now, and was a happy little kingdom where we all dwelt in peace and prosperity until the unlucky day when the Evil Magician came this way and swept the whole kingdom out to sea, drowning everyone, including the king and queen and their little son and daughter, and leaving nothing here but bare sand.
"'We were absent from home when it happened. I was a merchant, and had gone to buy a new supply of goods, and my wife accompanied me, otherwise we would have met the same fate as our friends and neighbors.
"'You can imagine the sight which met our eyes when on our return we came out at the head of the pass on yonder mountain and looked over the valley. At first we thought we must surely have lost our way and come upon some strange barren place, but on looking about we saw certain familiar landmarks which made it clear to us that a hurricane must have swept our kingdom away, and of course all our possessions.
"'We rode on, trying to find some trace of our house, but nothing could be seen on the bare sands but a clump of bushes and a few small trees which had somehow escaped the force of wind and water.
"'On reaching this spot we thought it better to stay and camp for the night, as the day was fast fading and we would have to wait until daylight to go back through the mountains.
"'Fortunately we had plenty of food left, and after tying our horses and giving them their supper I went to gather some dead twigs to make a fire while my wife unpacked our camp outfit.
"'While we were thus engaged I thought I heard a sound of crying. We both listened, and it came again. Leaving our tasks we followed the sound and behind a scrubby willow tree came upon a most beautiful young woman crouched on the ground weeping and moaning, and at the same time digging into the earth with a small wand as if in search of something. She did not appear to heed our approach.
"'"What have you lost, my dear? Is it money?" asked my wife, thinking that she like ourselves was homeless on account of the storm. She jumped and looked at us in a startled manner, then rising to her feet answered sadly:
"'"No, it is not money, but something much more precious. It is a little black seed, and I am afraid I shall not find it again."
"'"Oh, if that is all, perhaps you can get another," I said, thinking that misfortune had probably affected their reason.
"'"Come," I continued, "we will have to remain here to-night, but in the morning we will help you to find it if it can be found," and I left my wife to comfort her while I went back to see to my fire. We soon had our kettle boiling and supper laid out, and the strange young lady seemed very grateful for our hospitality. After supper she sat and looked into the flames for a long time in silence while we discussed our plans for the future.
"'By and by we too became quiet, and then she spoke.
"'"I am not a mortal like yourselves," she said, "I am the fairy who is called 'Peaceful,' and my home is in the island of Laurels, far from here. Your good Queen was my very dear friend, and I was on my way to pay her a visit and show her a precious seed which I had just brought with me from a distant land when I came upon this scene of desolation.
"'"The seed I carried was a present from an owl who is over a thousand years old, and wiser than any fairy I know. It was the seed of the Wonderful Plant. Wherever it grows there it will remain for all time. It cannot be dislodged, and the owner of it will be rich and influential forever. Its flowers are of the purest gold, and can be taken off and sold to the goldsmith. I was going to take the seed to my home and plant it in my garden, so that I would have at least one spot on earth where the Evil Magician could not endanger my good influence. He is the terror of my life, and I see that he has been even here, for it was he that swept your kingdom out to sea, and this little clump of earth and bushes is only a fragment that broke off one corner.
"'"I heard about it from the eagle that dwells on that high mountain top. When I reached this spot to-day my distress was so great that I dropped my precious seed, and now I must leave it here for I know I will not find it."
"'I tried to comfort her by saying we would help her to look for it as soon as it was light, but she shook her head.
"'"No," she said, "it is of no use to look further. The seed sprouts immediately if the ground is damp, as this is. It will be sprouted by morning, and I must protect it here."
"'She said no more, and as our own troubles filled our minds we fell to talking again and making plans and did not notice that she disappeared.
"'We must have fallen asleep shortly afterwards, as we were both awakened by a sound of swishing and neighing. We jumped to our feet. The blackness of the night surrounded us. Our fire had died down to ashes. Suddenly the noise came again, and our two horses dashed past us at a gallop as if being chased. "Horse thieves," we whispered, and turned to follow, but after running for several minutes over the sand we found ourselves entering what seemed to be a dense wood, as we came into rather sharp contact with large trunks and heavy branches of trees.
"'How we had got there, we did not know, and visions of mountain robbers filled our minds. We threaded our way between the trees as well as we could and ran on over smooth turf until we came to an avenue, down which a light shone brokenly through the trees. Here we could run much faster, and turning a corner, saw our horses trotting quietly some distance ahead. The light showed brighter, and then as we emerged from the trees we found that it came from the windows of a long low building. As we stood, dazzled by the brightness, and wonderstruck, a voice beside us made us turn in alarm. It was the fairy, who we now remembered, had not been with us since early in the evening.
"'"Do not be afraid," said she, "I could not rest until I had safely protected my Wonderful Plant, so I have built this house around it and enclosed the grounds with a high brick wall. There is a good stable at the back and I have just shut your horses in for the rest of the night. Come now and I will show you the house."
"'She took us in at the front door and showed us through the house. It was magnificently finished and beautifully furnished, as you shall see for yourself presently, and my wife and I declared that we had never seen anything to equal it. When she had finished she said:
"'"I have a proposition to make. I cannot remain in this country. I must go home at once, as I am needed. You have lost your home and all you possessed. Will you not stay in this beautiful house and tend my Wonderful Plant? It must be watered and carefully pruned each day in order to keep it at its best, and someone must remain here to gather the seeds as they ripen and hide them, lest at any time the Evil Magician or his emissaries come and steal one. The plant they cannot touch, and only myself can pluck the blossoms, but the seeds, which are so precious, may be taken by anyone.
"'"This oasis is now a pleasant place surrounded by fine lawns and planted with beautiful trees, and I will give you plenty of servants, a cellar full of provisions which will never run out, a library full of books, and all sorts of amusements. You will have everything but human companionship. No stranger must ever enter these gates, for I must guard against any possibility of having a seed stolen. What do you say, will you accept my offer?"
"'We considered a few moments. Our friends and possessions were gone, and we stood indeed alone in the world and quite destitute. The thought of seeing no human being did not affect us, as we had each other, so we very gratefully accepted the good fairy's offer, and when she had given us a few more instructions and told us that she would visit us twice a year she departed. Here then we have lived ever since in peace and comfort.'