The Project Gutenberg eBook of Puck's Broom

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Title: Puck's Broom

Author: E. Gordon Browne

Illustrator: K. Nixon

Release date: December 11, 2020 [eBook #64012]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Tim Lindell, Jane Robins, George A. Smathers
Libraries (University of Florida) and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



Transcriber's note

Corrected various punctuation.



Puck's Broom

The wonderful adventures
of George Henry & his dog Alexander
who went to seek their fortunes in
the ONCE UPON A TIME Land....


E. Gordon Browne

Illustrated by

Kathleen I. Nixon

New York
Moffat Yard & Company


[Pg 7]




How George Henry came into the world, and what Puck and the fairies thought about it. Some wise words about nurses and parents. Alexander the Greatest appears for the first time. Why George did not believe in the fairies.



All about the birthday party. A particularly jolly tea with special games and fireworks. All about the other fireworks, which were quite a surprise. How the fairies meant to invite George to their party, and what the old frog said.

[Pg 8]



The fairy invitation arrives. George's first pair of trousers. Midsummer Eve and the preparations for the fairy party. Puck's anger, and the nasty things that the old frog said. What happened at the party in the wood.



George is ill and very cross. His wonderful dream. What was it all about? What the doctor said to him about the fairies. "Perhaps there is and perhaps there isn't." The fairies listen to a story. "To-night!" George hears the dream-music.



George and Alexander set out in search of adventure. The dream-music calls to him again. Can dogs talk? "Wish as hard as ever you can!" Just like a bit of a story-book! The little green gate. The delightful little house in the wood, and the tea waiting there for George and Alexander. The Land of Dreams.



George's house. The twisty-curly paths which led to the sea. The old man sitting on the seashore. The hour-glass. "Are you Father Time, please?" "A stitch in time saves nine." "Follow your fortune, little George!" And it was Puck after all!

[Pg 9]



Alexander could really talk, for barking is talking. George learns more about the little house. The golden weathercock guides them on their way. Everything and everybody can talk. This way to Once-upon-a-Time!



All about the wonders in this strange country. "She lives not far from here." Oh, it was ever so much bigger than one expected! A game at 'catch-my-tail.' The dragon who went to look for his fortune. George is told that he is not real. A ride on the dragon's back.



The witch's kitchen. What a witch really looks like. Her curious smile. Wonders will never cease! What happened when the kettle boiled. "Will you ride on your catoplane?" George guesses again. It is all very puzzling.



The tower which came to life. "Who's 'Him,' please?" How witches can read your thoughts. Why the giant was so sad. They fly toward the glowing mountains, and George sings a song.

[Pg 10]



The funny little man who told George all about it. "Ask for what you want." The wonderful meal. Picking up gold and silver. Tom Tiddler's sack. Alexander is George's best friend after all. George's fortune grows heavier and heavier, then lighter and lighter. The story of the golden sausage.



The path which was like the letter S. At the top of the mountain. "Where does that music come from?" The little weathercock again. Home once more. What George found in his sack. Never throw your fortune away!



Topsy-turvy thoughts. Fancy a giant with an umbrella! George finds a new suit, and Alexander disappears. To the Castle of the Thousand Towers. The knight who was bound on a quest. They arrive at the castle.



About the wonders they saw in the castle. "The King bids you welcome." George becomes a squire. They see the King. Why he was so lonely and sad. What happened to the beautiful Princess Fortunata.



The quest to free the enchanted princess. "The weathercock knows the way." They lose their way in the great forest. The mysterious voices in the air, and how George heard about the magician's castle. The greatest adventure of all.

[Pg 11]



On the shores of the black lake. The giant appears again. How they came safely across the lake. The giant begins another story. The prince and his bicycle.



The castle on the glass hill. 'Whizz' once more! "Don't forget to ask for what you want!" The terrible guardians of the gate and how they were utterly vanquished. "Don't forget the password!"



How George learned the password which was a magic charm. "Nobody but you may hear it." How Sir Tristram and the dragon fought, but it was not anything to bother about. George fares on his quest alone.



What happened to George in the magician's castle. A story which is like a patchwork counterpane. How difficult it was to remember the charm! Alexander barks just in time. The Chinese box-trick. The Princess Fortunata! "The magician is coming!"

[Pg 12]



What had become of everybody? The dream-music again. The little house changes. "George is home at last!" The party and supper which George had never heard about before. How each of the guests gave him a present, and the beautiful Queen gave him the best of all. "Of course, you've guessed it, too!"



Alexander's bark again. How George and the doctor talked about Fairyland. What they all said about George's adventures. How Mother has a little house in the wood, too, and why she goes there. How George began to understand why his fortune lay right under his very nose.



How the old frog actually laughed! Why George Henry was a wonder-child after all, and why Puck was delighted.

[Pg 13]






[Pg 15]

THIS is a true story.

It all happened through George Henry not believing in the fairies, just as some boys but very few girls would do.

Boys believe in Red Indians and pirates, and think fairies are all stuff and nonsense; but they are quite wrong, for Puck can turn himself into anybody or anything he chooses. So if one day when you are ploughing the foaming main you sight a pirate ship flying the skull and crossbones at the masthead, it may not be a pirate at all, but only Puck himself.

Beware! If he catches you he will make you walk the fairy plank, and you will fall off it[Pg 16] splash! right into Fairyland, and find yourself turned into a cross old frog or something quite as disagreeable.

This story should be read aloud. You should seat yourselves in a ring—that will please the fairies—and look happy, even if you aren't as happy as you might be. Sour looks curdle cream and stories as well.

"What!" you say. "Dragons and witches and giants! Do you expect us to believe in them?"

Well, why not? Do you only believe in what you have seen? All the best books are full of wonders like these, and everything wonderful must be true.

So, once again, this is a true story.

Now turn to the next page and begin!

[Pg 17]

George sleeping in bed with Puck looking on


George Arrives

GEORGE HENRY was born under a lucky star, which means that a star laughed when he came into the world. This happens to very, very few of us; perhaps it is because we are born naughty and ready to be stood in the corner at once.

The fairies knew all about George Henry, however, and were delighted, for he was a darling boy. Puck brought them the news wrapped up in a leaf and packed inside a nutshell in order to keep it dry.

Of course you have heard of Puck. He is the little fairy who often plays mischievous tricks upon people; but if children behave nicely he is always ready to be their friend.

[Pg 18]

Santa Claus often pays him a visit about Christmas-time in order to find out if any children have not been as good as gold during the past year. Then the naughty children find their stockings empty on Christmas morning, and wish and wish—too late—that they had thought in time of what Father and Mother had told them.

Well, the fairies danced that night in the greenwood to the music of the cricket, the grasshopper, and the frog. Puck told them all about George Henry and what a very fine boy he was going to be.

George's father and mother thought so too, and Nurse said that he was the finest child she had ever seen. Nurses always know.

The birds and animals soon heard the news too, and there was such a chattering, jabbering, twittering, squeaking, and I really don't know how to tell you what other curious noises in the wood that night.

This 'wonder-child,' as the fairies called him, was named George Henry—'George' after his grandfather, who gave him a large silver drinking-mug as a christening present, and 'Henry' after his father. His mother would have liked to add 'Alexander' as a third name,[Pg 19] but it was given, after all, to a new black, woolly puppy which came into the house about this time; so that was all right. It is a great pity to waste fine names like Alexander.

George Henry and Alexander grew up together and were great friends. Alexander learned to walk long before his little playmate, who used to toddle along holding on to the dog's tail, and very often falling over on top of him when his legs grew tired.

As soon as he got past his toddle-days he loved to walk about everywhere and see everything.

The world was full of the most wonderful things; there was a pigsty in which lived a family of little pigs with curly tails. They used to squeak "Good-morning" to him every time he passed by.

He loved their curly tails, and often tried to make Alexander's tail like theirs, but it was of no use. It either stood straight up on end or else disappeared between his legs.

It was fine, too, to see the geese marching along like soldiers with the old gander at their head; to watch the old hen fussing and clucking after her little fluffy chicks, who would never come home when they were told—"Like[Pg 20] naughty little boys, you know," said Nurse.

It would take hours to tell you all the things Alexander and he saw together—the animals, the birds, the trees, the flowers; and they all loved him. But he never saw the fairies—though they often waved their little hands to him; and Puck sometimes rode on Alexander's back through the woods and led them to all the prettiest spots—but George never knew.

By and by, when they had grown up a little more, and George was in sailor trousers, while Alexander had a great big bark which quite made you jump the first time you heard it, Father and Mother began to wonder what George would be when he became a man.

He loved playing at soldiers, and had boxes and boxes full of them which Grandfather and Grandmother, uncles and aunts, and other kind people gave him from time to time. He played with them on the nursery floor, up and down stairs until the housemaid, Anne, fell over them, on his bed when he ought to have been asleep, until Father said: "Ah, the boy will be a general and win great battles when he grows up!"

[Pg 21]

"No!" answered Mother. "George is born for something better than that."

He knew all about everything in the shop windows, better than even the people to whom the shops belonged.

"He will be a great merchant!" said his grandfather.

"Pooh!" answered Mother. "Buying and selling? My little George was not born for that."

He began to use paper and pencil, and then a paint-box.

"Ah!" said the aunt who had given him all these things. "George will be a great artist who will draw and paint most wonderful pictures."

"Rubbish!" replied Mother. "George was born to do something great. He can always draw pictures to amuse himself."

Then he learned to write, and wrote the most wonderful stories which no one except himself could understand.

"He will be a great writer and write stories which everybody will read," said his grandmother.

"I never heard such nonsense!" cried his mother, quite vexed. "Don't I tell you that he[Pg 22] is going to do great things? Anybody can write stories; besides, he might sit up late at night and catch colds and I don't know what else if he began writing stories!"

Puck was delighted to hear them all guessing in this way, and laughed until he fell off the top of a big sunflower on which he was sitting.

"Oh, dear!" he cried. "How funny these big people are!" And he flew away into the wood to tell the fairies all about it.

They laughed and laughed for days and days, and were never tired of hearing Puck talk like Grandfather, Father, Mother, and Aunt.

Even the old bull-frog in the large pond, right in the middle of the darkest part of the wood, croaked "Ker-ek!" which was his way of laughing. He always had a cold, poor fellow, because his feet were never, never dry, and nobody ever thinks of giving frogs medicine. Perhaps they have neither nurses nor aunts.

And so the days and months went by, and presently George was big enough to go to school. It was quite a nice school, so Puck said, for he went there when he had time. Puck liked to listen to the fairy stories best of all,[Pg 23] and often sat on the teacher's shoulder and whispered in her ear. You would have been surprised and delighted to hear what splendid stories she told the children on those days, and she could never imagine how they came into her head.

Now, it is a very sad thing to have to tell you, but Puck soon found out that George did not believe that there were any fairies, nor—worse still—that there ever had been any.

One day he actually fell asleep when the very best story of all was being told! Puck didn't know what was to be done, and the fairies couldn't help him, for they had never heard of a boy like this before. "Dear me!" they said. "If there were no fairies how could there be any fairy stories? How stupid of little George not to believe in us! We believe in him, and he is only a boy and not a fairy at all."

So Puck set to work to think what to do, and went wandering through the woods, asking all the birds, all the beasts, and even the insects if they knew what to do with a boy called George who didn't believe in the fairies. None of them were able to help him. An old horned beetle[Pg 24] said, "I should pinch him!" but Puck didn't think that pinching was of much use.

When George went to bed, Puck used to sit on his pillow and tell him the most beautiful dreams, but George forgot all about them when he woke up. What can one do with a boy like that?

Nurse, however, just nodded her head wisely and said: "Wait and see!" There are thousands of nurses saying the same thing all over the world. They just know what will happen later on, and that is all. They never tell anyone else. If they do they are not real nurses, and should be given a month's notice.

George's nurse was what people called a 'comfortable' person. She was big and round, and her shoes creaked just now and again—quite a lady-like creak. She did not often smile, but when she did you felt sure the sun was shining and that the world was a jolly place to live in. Nurses—real nurses—know everything; very likely they have been taught by the fairies, but if you asked your nurse this question she would never tell you. Oh no!

Nurse always spoke of Alexander as "that black imp," but he knew how to coax a piece of biscuit from her whenever he wished. He[Pg 25] used to sit down on the nursery hearth-rug with his head on one side, thump gently with his tail on the floor, and bark very gently, "Wuff! Wuff!" without stopping, for ever so long.

It must be a grand thing to be a dog like Alexander whenever one wants a biscuit.

George was very busy just now, for he had made up his mind to be an aviator. An aviator is a man who flies up in the air on a machine which looks something like a large bird, and makes a noise like ever so many cats quarrelling. It flies straight up, and then before you can say "Knife!" it is out of sight. There are no tunnels or stations, no tickets such as you have on the railway. You just go straight ahead until you get there.

No wonder George didn't think about the fairies when his head was full of such wonderful things.

But Father said: "Time enough to fly when you are grown up."

Mother said: "An aviator? No, George, darling! You can come for a ride in the carriage with me this afternoon."

And Nurse said—of course, the same as before.

And so the months and the years went by;[Pg 26] George grew bigger, Alexander grew fatter, Nurse grew more and more comfortable, and Puck grew crosser and crosser. At last, one day, everybody woke up and said: "George Henry is eight years old to-morrow!"

George and Alexander runnding along a country path and happy

[Pg 27]


HAVE you seen the fairies ride
All down the magic glen?
Green jackets, red caps,
Teeny, weeny men!
Hearken to their music,
The winding of the horn!
A fairy boy is born!
Mind you keep the doors shut
When they're riding by,
Lest you get some fairy dust
In your little eye.
If that were to happen,
In a flash you'd be
Changed into a fairy.
Goodness gracious me!
Green jackets, red caps,
See them trooping past.
Hear their bridles jingling—
Shut the door fast!

[Pg 29]

George plaing with toys and Alexander looking on


George Grows Up

IT was not long before everybody knew all about it. George was going to have a party! Not an ordinary party, but a splendid one. There were invitations for all George's friends, both boys and girls; for Grandfather, Grandmother, uncles, aunts, and all kinds of grown-ups who could help to hand round the tea and cakes and let off fireworks when it grew dark.

George was quite ready to have the fireworks first thing in the morning as soon as he woke up; but Father said, "No!" Mother said,[Pg 30] "No!" and Nurse said nothing, but just looked. Nurses don't like fireworks, though they sometimes pretend they do.

Everybody—except Alexander—must have been getting ready for this birthday for weeks and weeks, for when George woke up a little earlier than usual on the great day there was quite a stir and bustle in the house. The postman could hardly carry his bag along the path up to the front door. It was packed full of presents.

Alexander had a big red silk bow fastened round his neck, and nearly fell all the way downstairs through twisting his head round to try and bite it off. Even Nurse, for once, almost ran, she was in such a hurry.

It is a wonderful thing to have a birthday if you have enough kind uncles and aunts to help. Uncles must be strong enough to carry you on their shoulders like a never-tiring horse, then to change into bears which you can shoot at, and, almost before they have finished dying under the sofa, they must be ready to change into anything else you may want.

Aunts are best when they smile all the time and bring out sweets and chocolates from some hidden part of their dresses, like conjurers, just[Pg 31] when you are tired and want to rest for a minute. Alexander liked aunts, and was always ready to beg for biscuits even when he met one of them in the middle of the street or in a shop. Uncles were all right, but rather tiring. Dogs don't always want to play games.

Well, the number of presents was perfectly delightful, and everybody had sent exactly what George wanted. But in the middle of breakfast he looked up suddenly and said: "It's Alexander's birthday too. Hasn't he got any presents?"

"What?" said Father, turning quite red in the face and forgetting that he was holding a piece of bacon on the end of his fork.

"Dear me!" said Mother, looking as if she were going to cry. "Oh, where's Nurse?"

Nurse appeared in the room at once, and when she heard that it was Alexander's birthday, do you think that she said "What?" or "Dear me?" Not at all.

She just went to the door and called: "Alex—ander!"

Alexander arrived with a rush and a bang, looking as if nothing in the world would ever surprise him.

"Alexander," said Father solemnly, "I have great pleasure in telling you that this is your[Pg 32] birthday. I wish you many happy returns of the day!"

"Wuff!" replied Alexander, wagging his tail, and looking at Father as much as to say: "Don't keep me waiting any longer. You know how hungry I am!"

Father smiled, and suddenly in his hand he held a most beautiful silver collar, on which was written Alexander's name. He took off the red bow and put the collar round Alexander's neck. Alexander said nothing, but sat and waited.

Mother wished him 'many happy returns' too, and then—where had she hidden it?—there was a pretty tin of sugary biscuits with 'A' printed on the top.

"Wu—uff!" said Alexander, and wagged his tail so hard that he nearly fell over.

George looked quite pleased. "I'm so glad he wasn't forgotten," he said; "it didn't seem fair for me to get such lots of things, and Alexander nothing at all."

It was soon four o'clock, and the guests began to arrive, first in ones and twos and then in threes and fours.

It was a lovely summer day, and after games in the garden there was a Punch and Judy[Pg 33] which everybody liked, especially Father and the uncles. Alexander sat quite still until Punch's dog appeared, and then he had to be led indoors and shut up, for he grew quite fierce, and was just getting ready to bite Punch's nose off.

Punch without a nose wouldn't be a Punch at all, and then the man who keeps him would never be able to go to parties again. But Alexander never thought about that.

By this time everybody was ready for tea, which was served in a large tent in the garden. On the middle of the table stood a very large cake stuffed full of plums. Nurse had made this with her own hands, and there were no cakes like hers. One could eat two and even three large-sized slices and scarcely feel a little bit uncomfortable afterward.

No one could eat any of this cake, however, until most of the white and brown bread and butter—you were allowed to have jam spread on it—scones, tea cakes, cream cakes, ice cakes, jam puffs, tartlets, and oh! heaps of other things had disappeared. Then Father stood up with a large knife in his right hand, and made a little speech. Everybody clapped their hands and laughed—even the uncles and aunts who had had no tea at all.

[Pg 34]

George sat in a high chair looking as proud as a king. Kings always look proud, and queens, their wives, look proud too, but in quite a nice way. If you have ever seen them riding by in a carriage drawn by six white horses in gold harness you will understand exactly why you cannot really look proud in a cab with one horse, or in a taxi-cab which flies along with a fizz and a bang. You only just have time to get the eighteenpence ready for the driver. If you were a king you wouldn't ever have to do that.

After the speech George cut the cake and Father helped, so that everybody, grown-ups and all, had a slice.

Then George had to speak. "Thank you very much," he said. "I hope you've enjoyed the party. I know I have, and so has Alexander. Now we're going to have the fireworks!"

It was not dark yet, so there were games and races, followed by a little rest, during which Mother told them stories. Then Uncle William, the funny man of the party, gave an imitation of all the animals in a farmyard, which was even better than the real thing, of a railway train coming out of a tunnel, and, last of all, of Father getting up in the morning.

Father laughed so much at this that Mother[Pg 35] had to pat him very hard on the back for several minutes. Uncle William was not allowed to tell the story of the two cats on the wall, because Alexander did not like cats—even cats which weren't real.

At last it was time for the fireworks, and all the children seated themselves at one end of the garden and waited patiently. Suddenly bang! up went a red star, then a green one; then showers and showers of little green ones. Then bang! bing! bang! fizz! crack! jumped the crackers. Rrrrrrr! whirled the Catherine wheels, slowly at first, then fast, faster, and so fast that they made your eyes quite sore watching them.

Hiss! Whizz! Bang! went a rocket with a tail as long as from here to the end of the next street. Higher and higher it flew, until, all of a sudden, just as you thought it was quite out of sight, it burst, and—ah!—hundreds of little stars lit up the sky and made it look lighter than even the lightest day.

But there was something better to come still. At the end of the shrubbery a light shone faintly and then went out. Then shone more and more lights, until you could see that great big letters as tall as yourself were growing up. And then—all[Pg 36] of a sudden—in a blaze of light there was spelt out for all to see, GEORGE.

Such crackings and bangings, such shouts and cheers from all over the garden you never heard, nor anyone else either.

That was a real surprise.

Just as people were getting ready to put on their coats and say "Thank you very much for your delightful party," another light shone out over the high tree near the garden gate.

"Hullo!" said Father. "Hullo, what's this? A surprise from Uncle William, I expect," and he stood still and watched.

Brighter and brighter grew the light, longer and longer, until it looked like a great tongue of fire. Then it swept along over the trees, under the trees, in and out and round about, until it looked as if thousands of little lanterns were shining everywhere.

"It sounds as if there were music somewhere, quite far off," said Mother. "Well, I don't know what it can be."

Uncle William, who was supposed to know all about it, said that he hadn't done it, but nobody believed him.

Little by little the lights died out, and then it was time to go home to bed.

[Pg 37]

George was quite sleepy, and was very glad to find his head resting on a soft pillow. After he had said his prayers and said "Good-night," he called out to Nurse: "Do you know who made those jolly little lights, right at the end of the fireworks?"

Nurse stood silent for a moment: "Perhaps I do; perhaps I don't," she replied.

"Oh," said George, "tell me, then!"

"Good-night, Master George." Out went the light, and if George hadn't been so sleepy and tired he might have found out all about it then and there; but that would have meant that all kinds of things which were just going to happen wouldn't have happened at all, which would have been a pity.

Puck sat cross-legged on an old toadstool, and the fairies danced all round him in their magic ring.

"It was a jolly party!" he said to the old frog. "You ought to have been there."

"Ker-ek!" replied the frog. "My throat was rather sore to-night, so of course I could not go. I hear there were fireworks."

All the fairies stopped dancing and burst out laughing when they heard him say this.

[Pg 38]

"What are you laughing at?" he croaked.

Puck jumped off his stool and turned head over heels.

"Tell him! Tell him!" they all cried out.

"Well," said Puck, "we were all there. The fairy music band played; the fire-flies and glow-worms made beautiful fireworks, more beautiful than the grown-ups had bought—and no one knows who did it. What fun!"

"Ugh!" said the frog. "I don't see anything to laugh at."

"Don't you?" said Puck. "Well, wait until we have our party and invite George."

"He won't come," croaked the frog.

"Won't he?" replied Puck. "Won't he?"

Frog sitting on a small toadstool and leaning against a large one and holding his belly

[Pg 39]


OH, who would be an old, old frog,
With a cold in his head
And no cosy bed?
Oh, who would be a cross old frog,
Who grumbles and growls
All night to the owls?
Oh, who would be a rude old frog,
Who never says 'please,'
Does nothing but sneeze?
Oh, who would be a wet old frog,
Who lives, as a rule,
In a deep, deep pool?
Oh, who would be a queer old frog,
As hoarse as a crow?
Would you?—Oh dear, no!

[Pg 41]


Midsummer Eve

IN a few days' time it would be Midsummer Eve, and then the little fairies have a dance and supper all to themselves. Very few people have ever been there, and even fewer know anything at all about it. Only the very best people receive invitations, and, of course, there are never very many of the best people in the world.

It is very hard indeed to be good, but—oh dear!—to be best! Why, it means being good, and going on being good, until you are so good that Mother thinks something must be the matter with you and sends for the doctor.

[Pg 42]

Anyway, the fairies sent George an invitation, but he didn't understand what it meant, for it was written on an oak leaf which Puck blew in through the bedroom window. George thought it was only a common leaf and never picked it up.

"Well, has George answered his invitation yet?" said the old frog to Puck a few days before the dance.

"No," replied Puck, "he hasn't, but he's coming."

"Coming, indeed!" croaked the frog, who had just caught a worse cold than ever. "Well, I'll believe it when I see him, and not before."

"All right," said Puck. "You'd better go home, or else you won't be able to come to the party with that cold of yours."

There was such a bustling, a running about, a flying here and a flying there in the wood all day and all night getting ready for Midsummer Eve. Such a brushing and combing, such a sewing and darning, polishing and scrubbing, and I don't know what else! Such a baking and brewing, cooking, stewing, and such nice smells! Puck carried bits of these away in his pocket, and George had the most delightful[Pg 43] dreams of all the things he liked best to eat and drink.

Nurse smiled when he told her, and Alexander listened with his head a little on one side, hoping to hear the word 'biscuit' or 'bone.' His idea of a really good party was a pile of bones and biscuits, with leave to eat them on the drawing-room carpet. This is just as good fun as waiting outside on the stairs for the jellies and creams when there is a dinner-party at your house.

George had already forgotten about aeroplanes, and was very proud of being in trousers. When he first wore them he could not help looking down almost every minute to see if they were still there. The worst of wearing trousers is that you have to be so careful. Dogs like Alexander will jump and bump against them, leaving dirty paw-marks, just when you are not looking. Directly one begins to grow up there are really such a number of things one must think about.

George used to stand with his legs wide apart and his hands in his pockets like Father, until Nurse sewed the pockets up tight one night when he was fast asleep. Trousers without pockets are like jam tarts without jam.

George said nothing when he found it out, but[Pg 44] in the garden after breakfast he remarked to Alexander: "When I grow up—really grow up—I am going to have pockets all over me, just as many as ever you can imagine. There will be so many that no one will ever be able to sew them up again."

Alexander nodded. After all, he might be able to keep his bones in a suit with as many pockets as that!

Midsummer Eve came at last. Everything was ready in the wood; even the old frog's cold was better, though he was still rather hoarse. The fairy ring was as smooth as velvet, and the fairy band had learned quite a number of new tunes.

Puck was as busy as he could be, and whenever there was a moment to spare he brought another piece of moss for the seat which he had been making for George. It was right in the middle of the wood in a little open space with high trees all round it. Whenever the wind came the trees rustled softly, and it sounded just as if they were putting their heads together and whispering secrets. Most of these trees were very old; so old that they had grown quite bent, and their long, twisted boughs hung down almost to the ground.

[Pg 45]

On Midsummer Eve the moon always shines brightly, and lights up the fairy ring with a soft, silvery light. No one knows whether Puck asks her to do it, but if you will look out of your window—if you can wake up at the right moment—you will see for yourself that it is quite true, for so many of the best things always happen while we are fast asleep in bed.

George went to bed as usual. Alexander flopped down on the mat outside the door and curled himself up. One by one the lights in the house went out, and soon everybody was fast asleep. It was as still as still can be.

Far, far off sounded the first notes of the fairy music. Alexander pricked up one ear for a second, then sighed and fell fast asleep again.

George turned over in his bed and began to snore. Puck flew in through the half-open window and rested for a moment on his pillow.

"It's all ready, George," he whispered. "We're only waiting for you!"

George snored a little louder.

"George!" cried Puck, "George, come along! Don't be late!"

George was dreaming. He was dreaming that he was in school saying the multiplication table, twice times, three times, and some of four[Pg 46] times. He actually wasn't thinking about the fairies at all!

Puck sat for a moment thinking what he should do; then he flew out through the window and back to the wood.

The multiplication table, indeed! No one ever thinks of such things on Midsummer Eve. It is a time to dream of dancing, music, light, laughter, the wind in the trees, the tinkle, tinkle of water in the little brooks, the song of birds—they are all awake then—of almost anything else, but not twice times two.

The fairies were just beginning to dance when Puck flew into the middle of the ring, and he looked so angry that they all stopped, wondering what could have happened.

He could say nothing at first but "twice times four is ten," which is nonsense, but he had never learned his tables and never wanted to. He said this over and over again, just as if it were a rhyme, and they all listened, though they did not understand a bit what it meant.

"Oh, ho!" said the old frog, who was sitting there puffing himself out as if he were trying to turn himself into a toy balloon. "Oh, ho! I see what it is. George won't come after all. I told you so. Oh, ho! Oh, ho!"

[Pg 47]

"For shame!" all the fairies cried out. "For shame! Nasty old thing! You're quite glad he isn't coming."

Puck sat with his head in his hands, thinking and whispering to himself, "Three times four are seven," which was worse than ever.

The fairies felt so sorry for him. They all came and sat round him in a ring with their little heads in their hands. They did not know why he was doing this, but they did it to cheer him up. The old frog sat puffing, just as if some one had wound him up like a clockwork toy and he wasn't able to stop.

After a long time Puck looked up and said: "Well, it's no use waiting. He won't come to-night."

The old frog was so pleased when he heard this that he opened his mouth to say "I told you so," but he had puffed himself out to such a size that he fell over backward suddenly into a pool with a great splash, and never spoke another word for the rest of the evening.

"No, he won't come," said Puck, "it's no use waiting. I always thought he would learn to believe in us after a time, but he won't, he won't!" And he spun himself round on one[Pg 48] leg like lightning a hundred times without stopping. He was really angry!

The fairies all spun themselves round on one leg too, but this made them so dizzy that they fell over one another in heaps, and for a few minutes they really didn't know whether they were on their heads or their heels. At last they were all right side up again, wondering what it was all about.

"Let's go on with the dance now!" cried Puck. "I'll tell you all about it to-morrow."

The fairy music began again; the fairies danced round the ring, and all the animals in the wood came out to watch them. The moon looked on with a smile; she was always very fond of the fairies, and never minded shining a little longer than usual if the fairies wanted to go on dancing.

At midnight they were ready for supper. First of all they had—but wait a bit!—it is not time to tell you about that yet, with George snoring away in bed, and saying his tables over and over to himself.

After supper they danced again, and acted a little play in which they pretended to be grown-up people at a party.

[Pg 49]

One fairy pretended to be Alexander, and barked "Wuff! Wuff!" so like him that all the rabbits ran back into their holes in a fright. It was delightful to hear the tinkle of the fairy laughter.

If you strike a glass very, very softly with a spoon several times, that sounds something like a fairy laughing—but not quite.

Puck had forgotten about George now, and was enjoying himself as much as the rest of them. He pretended that he was an aeroplane, and flew round and round until he looked as if he would fly away for good.

Then he turned head over heels ever so many times until you could hardly see him. Then he pretended to be the old frog, "Oh, ho! Oh, ho!" and puffed himself out and coughed until the fairies nearly died of laughing.

By and by the moon began to disappear behind a cloud. This was her polite way of saying that it was time for her to go to bed, because the sun was just getting up.

The party was at an end; and soon over the top of the hill peeped the sun, very red in the face, ready to begin his day's work.

[Pg 50]

[Pg 51]


FROM gossamer and flowers' bloom
The fairies weave
Their dainty little handkerchiefs,
I do believe.
And so ... and so ...
Whene'er they want to blow their noses
They merely sniff their fragrant posies.
'Tis different quite for you and me,
For all of us,
Who aren't grown up—for Nurse always
Makes such a fuss.
Oh dear! Oh dear!
She says I'm in complete disgrace
If I forget to wash my face.
And noses, so she always says,
Were made to blow.
She's very old and very wise,
And ought to know.
I wish ... I wish ...
Sometimes I hadn't any nose.
And yet I must have one—so I suppose.

[Pg 53]



WHETHER it was the cakes or the fireworks, no one ever knew. Father said that it must have been the cakes. Nurse thought it was the fireworks. The doctor, who came in a little motor-car with just room for himself inside, shook his head and looked very solemn.

George was not well and was kept in bed. The doctor sent a large bottle of medicine, and Nurse shook the bottle very hard before giving George two large tablespoonfuls. Alexander sat at the end of the bed and looked on. Perhaps he thought he ought to[Pg 54] have some medicine too, for he was always ready to taste anything, and even a tin of boot polish didn't seem to disagree with him. There were very few things that he hadn't tasted.

The doctor came every morning for four days, and every morning his little motor puff-puffed outside the garden gate whilst he went upstairs into the bedroom where George was, and said: "Well, and how are we this morning? A little better, eh?"

But George always said that he felt a little worse, and wanted to get up and go out for a walk with Alexander. He was cross with everybody, and at last Mother thought he must be really ill.

She sat by his bed and read stories to him; sometimes he listened, and sometimes he just kicked his legs about in bed and said: "Oh, do let me get up. I hate being in bed."

"You must be good, George dear," said Mother, "or else you will never get well."

It was no good. George wouldn't even listen to Nurse now, so it was not a bit of use talking.

He wouldn't take his medicine; he wouldn't lie quiet. He did everything he ought not to do. Even Alexander looked as if he would[Pg 55] like to cry, and never once wagged his tail. This showed how sorry he felt for himself and for everybody else.

At last George was so tired that, as it was growing dark, he fell asleep. Nurse sat by the side of his bed with a large pair of spectacles on, knitting a pair of stockings.

As fast as she knitted stockings for George he wore them out, but she didn't seem to mind. What the boys do who haven't got nurses it is difficult to say. Think of all the stockings there must be in the world with holes in their heels and toes and knees! It was quite quiet. Nurse sat as still as still could be; if her fingers hadn't been moving all the time you would have thought she was fast asleep.

It grew darker and darker, until at last the moon came out from behind a cloud and shone through the window. It was just the kind of night on which the fairies love to be dancing in the wood. Perhaps they were.

"What a splendid sleep you've had, darling," said Mother, as she kissed George next morning.

George sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. "I've had such a dream!" he began.

[Pg 56]

"Won't you tell me all about it?" asked Mother.

George thought for a long time, then shook his head. "It's all gone again," he said. "I can only just remember that I went for a long walk with Alexander, and we came to such a wonderful place. I think I met Nurse there, but she looked quite different ... and yet she was just the same."

Nurse smiled.

"Were you really there?" asked George.

"Perhaps," she replied. "Now it's time for your medicine."

By the time he had finished his medicine George had forgotten about the dream, but he kept remembering it in bits all day long.

Alexander looked delighted when George was allowed to get up and come into the garden. Perhaps he knew all about the dream, for he would often stop when he was digging up a bone, and look as if he were trying to remember something.

Dogs have splendid dreams sometimes. When they give short little barks in their sleep they must be chasing cats. But what do cats dream about?

The doctor did not look at all solemn to-day.[Pg 57] He sat in the garden and talked to George about motor-cars and aeroplanes. But George was all the time trying to remember his dream, and told the doctor little bits of it whenever he remembered.

"Do you believe in fairies?" George asked the doctor suddenly.

"Fairies?" said the doctor. "Well, you believe in them, don't you?"

"I don't know," replied George. "I think my dream last night was about fairies, but they weren't very like the fairies in the books I read. Is there a real Fairyland?"

"Well, you see," replied the doctor, looking very solemn again, "you really ought to go there and find out."

"But how can I find out," asked George, "if I don't know whether there is a Fairyland or not? How can I find the way there?"

The doctor scratched his head. "Well, I expect Nurse or Mother will tell you all about it," he said.

"Nurse always answers, 'Perhaps there is and perhaps there isn't.' I don't believe any of you really know at all," cried George.

The doctor shook his head, looked as if he were going to say something, then smiled and[Pg 58] said: "Perhaps!—that's just what we've all got to find out about a great many things, George. If you really want to find the way there, I expect you will. Only you must wish hard, as hard as ever you can!" and with a laugh he went down the garden path, stepped into his motor, and puff-puffed away.

"I don't believe there are any fairies," said George, with a stamp of his foot. "It's just silly nonsense, and they only say that there are fairies to tease me."

Puck was sitting on a toadstool watching the little fairies, who were having a flying race. They flew round and round and up and down, and the colours of their little wings were as beautiful as the most beautiful rainbow. Maybe the rainbow is made out of fairies' wings.

When they were tired they all fluttered down to the ground again and sat down on the grass in a ring. They love to sit like this, because most of the good games are played when one sits round in a ring. The fairies are never tired of playing games. Even their work is play to them, and so they never need to go to school.

No one ever heard of a fairy schoolmaster or[Pg 59] schoolmistress. If there were such people, they would be playing all the time, and so they couldn't possibly be teachers.

They had forgotten all about George, for they really believed by now that there was not a boy of that name at all. When grown-up people forget about the fairies, is it because they are getting old and thinking about what they should eat and drink, and what clothes they should wear? The fairies know that grown-ups do these silly things, and don't mind, but children ought to know better. The fairies were not playing a game just then. They were listening to Puck, who was telling them a story. It is hard to guess what the story was about, for the fairies do not have fairy stories. What seems so wonderful to us is only what happens to them every day, and so whoever tells a story in Fairyland must think of something quite different.

They enjoyed the story very much, for they laughed and clapped their hands, and even the old frog forgot his cold.

"To-night! To-night!" they all cried when Puck had finished, and then they all danced round and round so fast that it would have hurt your eyes to look at them.

[Pg 60]

The moon shone more brightly than ever that night. The sky was covered with bright, twinkling stars, and a soft, warm breeze rustled through the tops of the trees in the wood.

George would have loved to go for a walk, but he was tucked up safely in bed, and Alexander was lying on the mat outside his door. Nurse had left him alone for some time, and he couldn't get to sleep. He wanted to dream again and go back to that wonderful country of which he remembered so little.

He tossed about on his pillow, wishing that he were outside in the garden or anywhere except in bed. He could hear the old clock outside on the landing, tick, tock, tick, tock, and now and again Alexander gave a little bark which showed that he was fast asleep and dreaming.

Suddenly he heard another sound. It seemed to be far off, but little by little it sounded nearer and nearer.

"It's just as if somebody were blowing little trumpets," thought George to himself. "I wonder where it can be?"

The sound of the music floated in the air, died away, and then, more sweetly than ever, echoed and echoed until it seemed as if it might indeed be fairy music.

[Pg 61]

"I must get up and see what it is," said George. "It might be soldiers, though they don't seem to have a drum."

He jumped quickly out of bed and went to the window. There was nothing to be seen, not even a shadow on the lawn.

"That's very queer," thought George. "I wonder that Alexander hasn't heard it."

After waiting for a few minutes he got back into bed, and scarcely had he laid his head on the pillow when far, far away sounded the fairy music.

"Lovely! Lovely!" murmured George. "It must come from that country I dreamed about last night."

[Pg 63]


IF you would view the fairy rout,
And see them dance and twirl about,
Then turn your jacket inside out.
But hush! Be silent—not a sound!
They'll pinch you—yes!—if you are found
Without their leave on fairy ground.
They'll pinch you black, they'll pinch you blue,
Green, yellow, red, and every hue!
Remember what I'm telling you!
*  *  *
don't run
round the fairy
ring in the wrong
the opposite way to the sun. It is
ever so dangerous! Don't forget this.

[Pg 65]


The Land of Dreams

IT was still, so still in the wood that you could have heard a pin drop. One doesn't usually drop pins in a wood, but on the floor, or on a chair, or somewhere else where they are sure to run into you just when you are not expecting anything of the kind.

There was not a breath of wind; the trees, standing in rows like giant sentinels, seemed to be waiting for somebody. Who could it be?

A lovely path of soft green moss ran through this wood from one end of it to the other. Far away one could see a little patch of blue. This was the sky. The trees were so high[Pg 66] that they formed a roof overhead and shut out nearly all the light.

By and by there was a joyful bark, and dashing through the wood came a black dog with his tail waving behind him. It was Alexander! He was enjoying himself.

George came hurrying along after him. Though he had been running for quite a long time he didn't seem to be a little bit tired. His cheeks were rosy, his eyes were bright, and he sang aloud for joy. He was so glad to be out with Alexander once more.

"Wait for me, Alexander!" he cried. "Wait for me. Don't be in such a hurry!"

Alexander came bounding toward him, and after chasing one another in and out of among the trees they threw themselves down on the soft moss to rest for a moment.

"I think I should like to lie here all day," said George. "I don't remember coming to this part of the wood before. I wonder how we got here. Do you know, Alexander?"

"I brought you here, little George," said Alexander—at least, it sounded as if he had said that, and for a moment George thought he had really spoken.

"That would be fun," he thought to himself[Pg 67] as he lay back with his head against the trunk of a tree. "What would they say if I went home and said that Alexander had been talking to me?"

Suddenly, far, far off he heard the music again. It seemed to be calling, calling to him: "Come, little boy, come and dance and play! The sun is shining; the soft wind is blowing. Come and play with us!"

"What nonsense!" said George aloud. "I must be dreaming again. I wonder if the doctor gave me that medicine to make me dream. What was it he said to me about Fairyland?"

"Wish as hard as ever you can!" said Alexander.

George was so startled when he heard Alexander speak for the second time that he fell down backward. Then he sat up slowly and looked at him. The dear black dog was sitting up, looking at George with—yes!—a smile on his face, and wagging his tail gently to and fro.

"Now am I dreaming or not?" said George.

Alexander still smiled and wagged his tail, but he said never a word this time.

[Pg 68]

"Come on!" cried George, and he ran down the path as hard as ever he could.

He ran and ran until suddenly he found himself right out of the wood and in the midst of a most beautiful meadow. A little stream of clear blue water flowed gently along past banks carpeted with flowers. There must have been hundreds of them, and every one a different colour.

The sun was shining as he had never seen it shine before, and yet he did not feel a bit too hot.

He looked around him, but there was no one to be seen. The only sound was the soft gurgle, gurgle of the stream flowing over the stones. He lay down by the side of it, and hollowing his hands to make a cup, dipped them in the water; then, raising them to his mouth, took a deep, delicious drink.

George drank again and yet again; then, lying face downward, gazed into the stream. It was full of little fishes; golden, silver—there were so many that he could not even count them, and each was more beautiful than the other.

"This is jolly!" he thought. "It's just like a piece out of a story, only better."

[Pg 69]

He rose to his feet and stood for a moment thinking. "I know; I want to cross the stream," he said, when—lo and behold!—just in front of him there was a little bridge, exactly wide enough for one person at a time. He crossed it with Alexander at his heels; then, turning round to look back, found that the bridge had vanished!

This was a curious thing to happen, but George hadn't time to wait. He wanted to go on and on and find out where the wonderful music came from.

"Wu-uff!" barked Alexander, and it sounded for all the world as if he were saying: "What fun, George! What fun!"

On they dashed, first George in front and then his dog. Right across the meadow they went, and suddenly found themselves on a broad white road which went winding and winding along as far as ever you could see.

"This is like 'Over the hills and far away,'" laughed George. "Come on, old boy!" And on they ran again, so fast that the road looked as if it were unwinding itself quickly like a ball of ribbon.

"I expect we shall soon get there now," said[Pg 70] George. "We must be miles and miles away from home."

The road grew narrower and narrower until it became quite a little path, and this path led them up to a little green gate, which appeared suddenly in front of them as if it had popped up out of the ground.

"This must lead to just where I want to go," said George. He was quite accustomed to talking aloud now. Somehow his voice sounded different, and he felt as if he must talk, for it seemed as if some one—he didn't know who—was listening to him all the time.

Across the top of the gate was written in shining letters "Please open me."

George pushed it open and walked through; then he saw that on the other side was "Please shut me." He shut it carefully behind him and walked on.

Once more, in front of him, sounded the music, but clearer and louder, as if it were only round the corner—but there was no corner.


He found himself in a narrow, shady glade. The trees, the grass, everything was a cool, delicious green. It was like looking down a long tunnel lighted by a soft green light. The little path went straight down-hill as[Pg 71] far as one could see, and never seemed to end.

George was beginning to wonder where he was going to, and if he had not wanted to find out about the music he would have turned back, for it felt like tea-time. He could not remember at what hour he had started out; nor how he had got into the wood; nor did he know how he was going to find his way back. But he knew that it was close upon tea-time, which is quite a different feeling from breakfast and lunch-time, as you all know.

"I wish there was a house here," he thought. "I should like tea with plenty of jam and cake."

There was really no end to the surprises of this most wonderful day. The path went straight—as if it had been told—into a wide open space, and there stood a delightful little house with smoke curling up from its chimneys.

George stood still for a moment and looked at it with eyes wide open in surprise. Alexander rushed forward, barking joyfully, and jumped against the door.

George followed him, and then stood still[Pg 72] again, for painted on the door in tiny letters was GEORGE'S HOUSE.

"How funny!" he thought. "There must be another George living here. I hope he will be kind and give me tea."

He lifted the latch and walked inside. There was no one there, but in the middle of the most comfortable little room stood a table with the cloth laid; tea, bread and butter, cake, jam (two kinds)—quite a birthday tea, in fact.

Alexander was already seated in one of the chairs as if he were in the nursery at home and eager to begin.

"Well!" said George, "this is nice!" And before you could count 'two' he had seated himself at the table, poured out a cup of tea, and was spreading strawberry jam on to a large piece of fresh bread and butter. How they both enjoyed themselves! There never was such a tea!

When they had eaten all they could there was still plenty left on the table. It almost looked as if some one had been cutting bread and butter and cake for them all the time.

George remembered to say his grace, and then, all of a sudden, he felt very sleepy.

[Pg 73]

"It's not nearly bed-time yet, but I wonder if there's a bedroom. I should like to lie down just for a minute or two," he said. Alexander yawned and stretched himself.

George looked round, and there in the corner he saw a stair, so up he went and found himself in a little bedroom. The bed looked so comfortable that he lay down on it, while Alexander curled himself up at the foot with a sigh of content.

The wind blew gently in through the window, bringing with it the scent of sweet flowers. Really it was just like asking George to go to sleep.

He closed his eyes, and in a moment was far away in the Land of Dreams.

Once more was heard the strain of music, sweet and clear, and with it, wafted on the wings of the wind, came the sound of hundreds of tiny little voices laughing.

[Pg 74]

[Pg 75]


HERE we come.
Hark the drum!
Here we go
In a row,
Silence keep
Whilst we peep.
He's asleep.
Leave him this,
A fairy kiss,
Dreams of bliss.
Round and round
Softly fly,
Singing sweetly

[Pg 77]


Father Time

GEORGE dreamed that night as he had never dreamed before. It was a curious dream, full of dragons, giants, fairies, aeroplanes, motor-cars, all mixed up together. But all the time he half remembered where he was and kept thinking: "I am in bed in the little house that belongs to George, and it must be a dream-house. If it is, then I am dreaming inside a dream."

Every time he thought this he woke up—or seemed to wake up—and then fell asleep again. Alexander dreamed about large bones and crackly biscuits. That was the kind of dream he liked best.

[Pg 78]

Morning came—but perhaps there had never been any night—and George really awoke, sat up, and rubbed his eyes. The sun was shining through the window, and Alexander had gone.

He washed his face and hands and went downstairs. The table was laid for breakfast with porridge and cream—a jug full!—eggs and bacon, toast, rolls hot from the oven, fresh butter, jam, and marmalade.

The Mr George who lived in this house was a nice person to know. George felt that he would like to stay here for quite a long time if he could only send a message to Mother and let her know where he was.

He sat down feeling quite delighted at having breakfast all by himself, and just as he was drinking his second cup of tea the door opened and in came Alexander.

"Oh, where have you been?" cried George. "Don't you want any breakfast?"

"Wuff! Wuff!" replied Alexander, which meant: "Don't ask me silly questions like that, but give me something to eat."

He ate a good breakfast and drank a whole saucerful of milk, which he hardly ever got at home.

After breakfast George thought it was time[Pg 79] to start again. He had quite forgotten about going home now. It seemed quite the right thing to put on his cap and set off again to—where, goodness only knows!

Alexander stood waiting by the door, and George said aloud: "Thank you, Mr George, for your kindness," just to show that he hadn't forgotten his manners; then they went out into the bright sunshine.

George's House stood in a lovely little spot. Birds called to one another from the branches of the high trees; rabbits scuttled in and out of their holes, played hide-and-seek, and even flopped just under Alexander's nose.

George took a deep breath: "Oh, I am enjoying myself," he cried. "Aren't you, Alexander?"

"Ra-ther!" barked Alexander, and ran round and round chasing his tail while all the rabbits sat and watched him. It certainly did seem as if he had spoken that time—but no!—it wasn't possible!

Off they went again. There were sure to be more adventures if one only kept on and on to the end of the wood. Little paths ran in all directions, and each one looked greener and nicer than the other.

[Pg 80]

"I expect they all go to the same place in the end," said George, and so, without waiting for a moment, he ran as hard as he could down the nearest at hand. It twisted and turned in all directions; sometimes it seemed as if it were turning round and coming all the way back again. At last it gave quite a little jump and went straight ahead.

They walked and ran, and ran and walked by turns; it grew lighter and lighter until they could see the sun shining on the—yes, it was!—the sea.

Now, if there is one place which is jollier than all the others it is the seashore on a sunny day. There is always paddling, bathing, digging, making castles and lakes; besides, the fun of getting caught by a splashy wave is worth while getting wet twice over.

Hurrah for the sea! You could almost hear it calling, for in the summer-time all the little boy-waves love to play with their friends the human boys. Dogs are welcome too if they will swim in after sticks.

In another moment George and Alexander were out of the wood and on the seashore. Such miles of hard yellow sand as far as one[Pg 81] could see, and a sea as blue, or even bluer than the sky.

Off came George's clothes, and in he splashed with Alexander after him. The water was as warm as toast, and made him feel like having five minutes more every time he thought of coming out.

George dried himself in the sun and put on his clothes, while Alexander rolled about in the sand and shook himself until he looked like a great mop with all its hair on end. But after a bathe there are usually biscuits, and there were certainly none here.

"I expect we shall find some," said George. "If we don't, we must go back to George's House and have dinner."

He turned to walk up the beach toward the long sand-hills which ran in a line along the shore, and there, sitting not far off him, he saw an old man. This old man had white hair, not very much of it, and a long beard which flowed down to his knees. He was holding something in his hand; George could not see what it was.

"Perhaps he's lost his way. Come on, Alexander; we'll go and ask him," said George.

He was quite a nice old man, and smiled[Pg 82] such a kind smile when George took off his cap politely and said: "Good-morning."

"Good-morning, little George," he answered.

"I say, do you know my name?" asked George in surprise. "Oh, are you the Mr George who lives in that little house in the wood, because I slept there. This is Alexander, my dog; he was there with me. He's a very well-behaved dog unless he sees a cat or a rabbit, and then it's an awful bother to get him back. Have you got a dog? And what is that thing you have in your hand? Oh, I forgot I was never to ask more than one question at a time. I am very sorry I was rude."

The old man smiled again. "No, my name is not George. The little house belongs to—well, you will find that out by and by. I haven't a dog of my own, but I know all about dogs. This is an hour-glass. It tells the time. You see the sand trickling down from one glass into the other. When all the sand has trickled through I turn the glass over, and it begins all over again."

"Oh, I say, how jolly!" cried George. "May I look? I've seen an hour-glass in a picture-book I have at home, but this is a real one, isn't it?"

[Pg 83]

"Quite real," answered the old man; "as real as you are, little George."

George gazed at the hour-glass for some time; then suddenly he remembered something. "Why, I know who is holding the hour-glass in the picture," he said. "It's Father Time.... Oh, you look just like him! Are you Father Time, please?"

"Well, that is what people call me," said Father Time, stroking his long beard and looking at George with a queer look, as if he were trying to see right inside him.

"Then you can really fly?" asked George. "Nurse always says that 'Time flies.' I don't see your wings ... but perhaps you don't need any," he added politely.

Father Time smiled very kindly, and spoke in a very soft, gentle voice: "Yes, I fly, and I have wings, though you cannot see them. The young people think that I fly far too slowly, and when they are grown up they think I fly too quickly.... But the sand in my hour-glass is always falling, falling, never quickly, never slowly."

"And do you have to look after all the clocks in the world?" asked George. "There are ever so many. We've got six in our house,[Pg 84] and Father and Mother have got watches as well."

"Yes," replied Father Time. "It gives me a great deal of work, but if it were not for me you wouldn't have any clocks and watches."

"Oh, that would be queer!" exclaimed George. "We should never know if it was time to go to bed or time to get up. Nurse wouldn't like that, for she loves everything to be 'on the tick,' she says. 'A stitch in time saves nine' is what she is always telling me."

"A great many people say that," answered Father Time. "If everybody remembered it, my old cloak wouldn't be as ragged as it is," and he showed George a number of holes and tears which certainly looked as if they needed mending.

Alexander whined and then barked: "Come on, don't talk so much, please!"

"Down, Alexander!" cried George. "We're going in a minute. Oh, please, can you tell me the way to——" And then he stopped, for he really didn't know where he wanted to go to.

"You had better go up the road over there," said Father Time, pointing. "You will find a finger-post which will show you the way. You can't miss it; it is quite easy to find. Good-bye!"

[Pg 85]

"Oh, wait a minute!" cried George, for old Time was already some way off. He turned and waved his hand.

"Time waits for no man!" he said. "Follow your fortune, little George!"

"He is a funny old man," thought George. "Follow my fortune? Whatever does he mean?"

Far, far off, he heard the sweet music once again. It sounded more inviting than ever. "It's like the story of Dick Whittington, only he had a cat and not a dog. I believe the music is saying: 'Follow your fortune, your fortune, oh, follow!' Come and look for the finger-post, Alexander!" And he ran up the sands toward the road.

Puck flew into the wood. "He's here!" he cried.

The fairies danced round him in delight. "Hurrah!" they cried. "Hurrah!" sounds different altogether and much nicer in their language. "Tell us all about it!"

So Puck sat down and told them all about George's adventures right from the beginning. If you have not remembered everything you must turn back and read it all again for yourself.

[Pg 86]

"Ker-ek!" croaked the old frog. "But what's all this about Father Time? How do you know he met Time. I don't believe it!" and then he nearly fell backward in surprise, for there stood the old man in front of him.

"Now do you believe?" said Puck's voice, and the fairies burst out laughing, for it was Puck himself all the time!

When the old frog had stopped coughing Father Time had disappeared, and Puck sat there smiling.

"What a clever Puck I am!" he cried, turning head over heels.

[Pg 87]


TIME flies
On wings of light.
He flies by day.
He flies by night.
Time flies,
And ne'er doth he
Stay still and rest
For you and me.
Time flies.
The clock strikes—hark!
The day has gone,
And now 'tis dark.
Time flies.
You go to bed.
'Tis day once more,
And night has fled.
Time flies.
You're young to-day.
Time touches you—
You're old and grey.

[Pg 89]


More Adventures

IT really was a delightful country to live in. There was no need to ask your way to anywhere—you just went. Almost before he knew where he was George found himself back in front of the little house.

Smoke was still curling up from the chimneys, so somebody must have been putting more coal on the fire—at least, it would seem so.

It was quite time for dinner; and, sure enough, dinner was ready. It doesn't matter what George had to eat—it would make you feel both hungry and cross if you knew.

When the meal was over George thought it was quite time to follow his fortune, but where and what was it?

[Pg 90]

"Oh, Alexander shall show me the way," he said, and he stepped outside into the garden, where that always hungry creature was cracking a large bone.

"Alexander, I mean to follow my fortune," he said, "but I don't know where it is. Can you help me?"

To his surprise, Alexander looked up, wagged his tail, and then said quite as plain as could be: "All right; let me finish this bone and then I'll come!"

George stared at him. "Can you really talk, Alexander?"

"Talk? Of course I can talk," he replied. "Who ever heard of a dog who couldn't talk? I've talked to you ever since I've known you, only I don't talk like a boy. I talk like a dog."

This was quite true, for he still had a 'doggy' voice, and there was a sound of "Wuff, wuff!" in everything he said.

"Good gracious!" cried George. "I never knew you were talking. I thought you were only barking."

"Well, barking is talking. What would be the use of my barking if it meant nothing?" replied Alexander rather crossly, for he hated to be interrupted in the middle of a meal.[Pg 91] "Sit down a minute and then I shall be ready."

George sat down and waited quietly. It was quite still everywhere; there was a soft little breeze which was just enough to set the flowers in the garden nodding their heads. It kissed George gently on the cheek, and then gave a puff which made the golden weathercock on the roof-top turn round and round until it must have become giddy.

"Now I'm ready," said Alexander, licking his lips and brushing his whiskers carefully, in case there might still be a fragment left of his meal.

"Alexander, can you tell me whose house this is?" George asked.

"Whose house?" said Alexander. "Why, you know. It's written on the door."

"Yes, I know that; but who is this Mr George?"

"You are, of course," laughed Alexander, and gave a jump of delight. "You are! Fancy not knowing that it was your own house! Ha, ha! What fun!" and he began running after his own tail, faster and faster, until he looked like a black Catherine wheel.

"Oh, I say!" cried George. "My house! Oh, I wish I could bring Father and Mother[Pg 92] to see it. Can't I send them an invitation to tea? But I don't see a letter-box anywhere, and I can't write a proper letter. Can you?"

"No!" replied Alexander. "I don't want to. I don't know why people want to write letters at all when they can go for walks and talk to one another—and have games and meals," he added.

"Oh, well, I must just tell them all about it when we get back again. Now we had better start for—you know, wherever my fortune is."

Alexander looked round him for a moment. "I think I know the way, but we may as well ask the weathercock, so as to be quite sure."

"Ask the weathercock? How can that help us?" George was becoming quite puzzled.

Alexander said nothing, but gave a short, sharp bark. There was a faint "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" from the roof in reply; then—could George believe his eyes?—the golden cock stepped off his little perch and fluttered down to their feet.

He was a smart little bird! All gold from the comb on his head to the spurs on his feet, and he twinkled and shone so in the sunshine that he was quite dazzling to look at. He flapped his wings, pecked Alexander playfully behind[Pg 93] the ear, and then crowed: "Cock-a-doodle-doo-oo-oo!" and it sounded for all the world as if he were saying: "How do you do-oo-oo?"

"George is going to follow his fortune," said Alexander. "Can you put us on the right road?"

"I'd better come with you for part of the way," replied the weathercock. "It's just along down there."

"How do you know the way so well, please?" asked George.

"I know the way to everywhere. A brother of mine stands on the roof of your home. Haven't you ever seen him point?"

"Yes, of course," said George; "I've often stood and watched him turning round and round."

"Well, you don't suppose he's doing that for fun, do you?" asked the cock, looking at him with a bright and shining red eye. "He's pointing out the way."

"I'm afraid I don't understand."

"Well, he's pointing out the way to there.... Every one wants to go there, some time or other. If you don't want to go, why did you ask me?"

"Come along!" said Alexander. "George will understand by and by. He's a stranger here, you know."

[Pg 94]

The weathercock strutted on ahead of them, and George and Alexander followed.

"He can talk too," said George. "Everybody seems able to talk here."

"Of course," replied Alexander. "Why shouldn't they? Everything and everybody talks in its own way if you only know how to listen. Why, the wind's talking all the time. Can't you hear it?"

George stood still and listened. "It does seem to be saying something. It sounds just like: 'Oh-oo! Oh-oo!'"

Alexander laughed—such a funny, wuffy laugh. "It's humming a tune to the trees. Can't you see them nodding their heads in time to the music? If the wind were angry they would be shivering and shaking with fright. Perhaps it will talk to us by and by."

"Come on!" cried the cock, looking round, "I have to get back to work or else the wind will be coming along and scolding me for wasting time."

They walked along down a winding path, up a little hill, down another, and there in front stood a post with a large finger pointing straight ahead.

"Here you are!" said the cock. "Go straight[Pg 95] on until you arrive there. The weather will be quite fine, and your fortune is waiting for you. If you want to get back ask any of my family you may meet and they will show you the way. Good-bye!" He flapped his wings, crowed "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" and disappeared.

George went up to the finger-post, and there, printed on it in large letters, was: "THIS WAY TO ONCE-UPON-A-TIME."

"Another adventure!" he cried. "Come on, Alexander!"—but Alexander was already scampering down the road, barking joyfully.

[Pg 96]

[Pg 97]


WEATHERCOCK, oh, weathercock,
Shall I find the road I seek
If I follow you?
Turning, turning, ever turning
North, south, east, and west;
Weathercock, oh, weathercock,
Which way is the best?
Pointing, pointing, ever pointing
With your golden bill.
Does the road to fortune lead me
Up or down the hill?

[Pg 99]


A Nice Dragon

IT was really very jolly in this Once-upon-a-Time Land, though nothing wonderful happened at first. There were beautiful green trees, scattered about everywhere in twos and threes as if they were keeping one another company; there were large fields full of flowers; little rivers bustling along as if they were in a great hurry to get somewhere, and then turning a corner and flowing quite slowly as if they had remembered that it didn't really matter after all; and far off in the distance, with snowy peaks glittering in the sunshine—mountains!

[Pg 100]

The road led them along up and down like a switchback. It was quite easy walking; in fact, the road almost seemed to walk by itself. Whenever they felt thirsty there was a spring of delicious cold water bubbling up by the roadside, and when they felt hungry there were apples, pears, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries all growing and ready for anybody who would take the trouble to pick them.

"I think it's time we got somewhere," said George.

"We're nearly there," replied Alexander. "I know She lives not far from here."

"She? Who is She?" asked George.

"Why, Her, of course," and Alexander ran on ahead and round the corner before George could ask another question. Suddenly he heard a loud barking, and thinking that Alexander was chasing a rabbit, or perhaps a cat, he ran as hard as he could, turned the corner, and saw——

Well, I never! It was wonderful, and yet it was in Once-upon-a-Time Land, where things like this happen every day. It was just as one sees it in picture-books, only naturally it looked ever so much bigger than one expected.

[Pg 101]

"A dragon!" cried George. "I haven't got a sword or anything at all to fight with. If it begins to breathe fire it will burn me right up! And what is Alexander doing? Why, I do believe he's playing with it."

And so he was, and what was even funnier still, the dragon actually seemed to like it. Alexander ran down its long, long back, which rippled and shone in the sunshine like scales of golden flame, bit the end of its tail playfully, and barked right under its great nose. The dragon opened its great mouth, showing rows and rows of sharp, pointed teeth, and laughed a really jolly laugh.

"You seem to want a game," it said, in a great deep voice which sounded as if it came from somewhere half-way down its back. "Come on, little George; just wait until I uncurl myself."

It gave itself a shake and uncoiled all the twists in its back, which cracked like little pistols, bang! bang! then jumped once or twice in the air to stretch its legs.

"See if you can catch my tail!" it cried, and then began a regular game of 'Catch me who can!' The dragon didn't seem to run exactly, but moved along somewhat like a snake,[Pg 102] only ever so fast, with its tail hanging temptingly behind. Every time George put out his hand to catch hold of it, whisk!—away it went again! Alexander leapt this way and that way, and every time he came to the ground again found that the dragon was not where he expected it to be. Then the dragon began to make loops and curves of itself, as if it were writing all the letters of the alphabet with its long back.

At last all three lay down on the ground quite out of breath.

"I'm not so old as I thought I was," said the dragon. "I haven't had such a good game for a long time. Phew! I'm absolutely boiling hot!" and out came a long tongue like yards and yards of red flannel, and it smoothed its scales as far as it could reach.

"Alexander does just the same when he's washing himself," thought George.

"So you're going to look for your fortune?" said the dragon after a while.

"Yes," replied George, "I am. I hope Alexander will find his too."

"I hope so," smiled the dragon. "I like to see people who are looking for fortunes, though they don't always find them, even when they're[Pg 103] under their very noses. I knew a dragon once—it's not a long story—who went to look for his fortune."

"Was it in Once-upon-a-Time Land?" asked George.

"Of course," replied the dragon. "People don't understand dragons anywhere else. They tell the most stupid stories about us, as if we went about doing nothing but eat up people and breathe fire. You might as well say that dogs do nothing else but kill cats," he added, with a laugh.

Alexander looked very solemn, and as if butter would not melt in his mouth.

"Well, this dragon, as I was saying, went out to look for his fortune. He was quite a young dragon, and ought to have stayed at home as his mother told him. He had never been farther than the end of the valley where they lived, though of course he thought he knew all about everything.

"So his mother kissed him good-bye, told him to take care not to catch cold, and watched him disappear in the distance. It was a fine day, and the young dragon went along thinking of all the great things he was going to do, and bumping his head against[Pg 104] trees because he never looked where he was going.

"He met nobody and nothing for a long time. About midday he began to feel very hungry, and almost wished he were at home again. But at last, on the top of a hill, he saw a man standing by the door of a house; at least, he thought it must be a house, but he wasn't quite sure, for he had never seen one before. It was really a miller standing by his mill, whistling for the wind to come and turn the sails round.

"He was a friendly miller. He invited the dragon to rest for a while and have something to eat. After the dragon had eaten forty loaves and two hundred currant buns and drunk all the water out of the water-butt, he began to feel better, and told the miller what he was looking for.

"'Looking for your fortune, are you?' said the miller. 'Well, you've come to the right place, for the road to fortune starts from here and from nowhere else.'

"He saw that the dragon was quite young and rather vain, so he thought he would play a joke upon him.

"'Do you see those long fingers?' he said,[Pg 105] pointing to the sails of the mill. 'They are pointing out the way to your fortune.'

"'Oh!' replied the dragon. 'They are all pointing different ways. How can I tell in which direction to go? Does my fortune lie everywhere all around me?'

"'No, no,' said the miller. 'Just stand quietly here for a bit, and by and by you will learn all about it.' Then he went inside the mill and waited to see what would happen.

"Presently the breeze heard the miller whistling and came blowing along in answer to his call. The sails of the mill shook, and then, very slowly, commenced to turn.

"'Dear me!' thought the young dragon. 'They seem to be pointing in a different direction now. This is very funny. I must see what it means,' and he walked right up to the sails, which were now whirling round quite fast.

"Suddenly, smack! on his nose came the first sail; smack! came the second, and SMACK! the third.

"The dragon tumbled head over heels backward. He was so frightened that he picked himself up and ran away as fast as he could with his tail between his legs, never once looking behind him.

[Pg 106]

"The miller laughed until he was so tired that he could laugh no more. 'That will teach him not to be so greedy next time,' he said, for he was rather vexed at seeing so many of his loaves and buns disappear down the dragon's throat.

"The dragon went on running until, to his great surprise, he found himself at the door of his home. His mother saw him coming, and there was a good tea waiting for him, you may be sure.

"He was very glad to find himself safe and sound and far away from the dreadful mill, but at the same time felt very sorry that he had not found his fortune. His mother listened to everything he told her, and then she said: 'My son, you have found your fortune, after all.'

"'Where?' asked her son, looking around him in surprise, as if he expected to see he didn't know what.

"'There, my child; it lies there, right under your very nose.'

"He looked down, and there he saw——"

"Oh, what was it?" cried George.

"Can't you guess?" said the dragon. "Dear me, I am surprised. Why, the dragon guessed at once. They don't seem to teach boys anything at school nowadays."

[Pg 107]

"Oh, I learn heaps of things," said George.

"Umph!" snorted the dragon. "I expect it's just heaps of rubbish. I don't suppose you know half as much as a dragon of the same age as yourself."

"But dragons don't go to school, do they?" asked George.

"Why not?" replied the dragon. "Of course they do; but they don't sit on benches in a schoolroom. They learn out of doors, which is the proper place for a school. They learn useful things, such as how to see what they see and hear what they hear; not to go about the world like blind mice, not believing in the fairies like a little boy I once heard of."

Alexander laughed. "He means you, George. You know, you never liked fairy stories, did you?"

George blushed. "I never said I didn't believe in them, but it always seemed as if they couldn't be real."

"Are you real?" suddenly asked the dragon.

"Of course I am," said George. "I'm as real as real can be."

"Well, you're not a bit, not a little bit real," replied the dragon. "Any boy who is lucky enough to find his way into this country, and[Pg 108] then doesn't believe in the fairies, is not more real than a soap bubble, and will burst into little bits just as a bubble does."

Alexander laughed. "I should love to see George all in little bits. I wonder if we could ever fit him together again."

"No; he'd be just like Humpty Dumpty," said the dragon. "There have been hundreds of little boys like that, and I have never heard of one who was mended again. Some were patched up, but there were always pieces missing, and they were never the same boys. Their mothers soon got tired of them and gave them away to the rag-and-bone man."

George sat quite silent for some time. He didn't like being laughed at, and felt that both the dragon and Alexander thought him quite as stupid—or even more so—as the dragon in the story.

"Come, we'd better be starting," said the dragon. "She doesn't like to be kept waiting."

George was just about to ask who She might be, but he shut his mouth with a snap and pretended that he knew all about it.

"Get on my back!" ordered the dragon, and George jumped on at once and seated himself comfortably.

[Pg 109]

Off the dragon went like a great, long railway train, faster and faster, until they shot into a forest and it became as dark as the darkest tunnel.

"Wuff! Wuff!" barked Alexander. "Hold tight, George!"

[Pg 111]

do you
believe in the
fairies? If you
don't, then close the
book at once, and leave
George and Alexander to
seek their fortunes by themselves.

[Pg 113]


The Witch

SUDDENLY the dragon's eyes lit up as if they were lamps. They could see a little way ahead, but all around it was so dark that you could almost feel it. George thought—he was always having funny thoughts now—that if he put his hand out some of the black darkness would rub off on it.

After a time they seemed to be going down-hill. Far away gleamed a light which grew brighter and brighter every moment. At last George could see that they were close to the mouth of a large cave, in front of which sat a perfectly enormous black cat with green eyes shining like lights on a railway signal.

[Pg 114]

Its tail was standing straight up on end, black and bushy; never had George seen such a tail before. The dragon went on past the cat into the cave, round corners, on and on until at last he stopped with a jerk, and George fell off his back.

"Here we are," said the dragon, "just in time. I thought at first we were late, and then, my word!—we should have caught it! Come on!" and he led the way into the witch's kitchen.

All that George could see at first was a huge open fireplace upon which great logs of wood were crackling. Over the fire hung a big round kettle from which at times came weird gurgling sounds. The queerest shadows of goblins and imps danced about as if they were really alive. Altogether it was a most uncomfortable place to be in.

Curled up on the hearth was another cat; a yellow animal with red eyes which stared and stared at them as if it wondered who on earth they could be.

"So here you are at last!" said a voice from somewhere, so suddenly that it made George jump.

He looked round on every side, but for a long[Pg 115] time could see nothing. At last, in the dim light, he could just make out what looked like the figure of an old, old woman with a very crooked back and a queer, wrinkled face. She was sitting in a dark corner in a high-backed chair, looking into the fire as if she were reading all kinds of stories in it.

"Come here, George," she said. "Tell me all about your fortune."

It was really rather annoying that everybody seemed to know all about George and what he was going to do. However, it couldn't be helped, so he walked up to the witch, feeling just a little bit afraid, and looked straight into her eyes.

Her face was covered with hundreds of little wrinkles, which crossed and recrossed one another almost without end. She looked as if she had lived for hundreds and hundreds of years, and was, oh, so tired of everything! Her eyes were very bright, and shone with a pale light which made George feel a little bit giddy at first, though he couldn't think why.

Her voice was quite gentle, rather sad, and sounded as if it came from far, far, away. Perhaps it had grown tired too.

"So you are following your fortune?" said[Pg 116] the witch. "Dear me! Do you know who I am?"

"Please, ma'am," replied George, "you're a witch."

"And a very wicked old woman too, who turns little boys into frogs and toads, and flies through the air on a broomstick. Isn't that what you've learned about me?" asked the witch, with a queer smile. Where had George seen that smile before?

He blushed rosy red, for he certainly had always heard that witches were wicked women. Had not Father once called some old woman who was always telling disagreeable stories about other people behind their backs a wicked witch? George had asked this same old woman if she had brought her broomstick with her. She had been quite cross, and called him "a rude little boy."

"If you please, ma'am," he said, "I expect there are good witches as well as bad witches."

"Ah, well! Let us hope I'm a good witch, one who will help you to find your fortune, and Alexander's too"; and the witch stretched out her thin old hands to the fire to warm them.

Wonders will never cease! George suddenly caught sight of Alexander lying down side[Pg 117] by side with the yellow cat—and when he was at home not a single cat was allowed to put even one foot inside the garden!

"He's quite an old friend," said the witch. "My dear Golden Girl and he are almost like brother and sister."

Alexander licked the end of the cat's nose, and she patted him gently with her paw and purred.

"Sit down and tell me all about it," continued the witch, pushing a three-legged stool toward George. He perched himself on it with his legs swinging in the air, and commenced to talk—at least, he always said afterward that he did—but what with the witch nodding, the cat purring, and the kettle boiling it is more than likely that he fell asleep.

Suddenly the kettle began to boil furiously, and clouds of steam poured out of its spout.

"Nearly ready! Nearly ready!" said the witch, and counted slowly up to ten. Then: "Take off the lid, Alexander!" she cried.

Alexander jumped up and lifted off the kettle-lid with his tail as if he had been used to doing it all his life.

In a moment the kitchen was full of steam, which wreathed and curled itself into the[Pg 118] queerest shapes and figures. George wondered what was going to happen next, but sat still and said nothing.

The witch rose from her chair and hobbled up to the kettle, helping herself along with a long-handled stick. She leaned over the kettle, looking down into it for a moment or two, then, waving her stick, commenced to sing in a high, shrill voice. It sounded at first as if she were singing the multiplication table. George remembered bits of it, and this is what he said she sang:

"Twice times one is two,
Bubble, bubble brew!
Water boil and fire burn,
Turn around and turn and turn.
Up and down, and down and up,
Fill the pot and fill the cup.
Blood of toad and juice of nettle
Stew and stew within the kettle.
Stir about with witch's stick.
Quick!... Quick!
"Oh, ho!... Oh, ho!
Twice times four is eight,
Now it's getting late.
Add a little puppy's tail
And a dragon's shining scale.
From the boy who's sitting there
Cut a lock of curly hair!
Ah, ha!... Ah, ha!"

[Pg 119]

"Ah, ha! Ah, ha!" sang Golden Girl and Alexander together, and the kettle bubbled and boiled: "Oh, ho! Oh, ho!"

This went on for quite a long time, and George wondered if the witch were going to cut off a lock of his hair. How nasty a stew with hair in it would taste. Ugh!

"It's time to start now. Are we all ready? Dragon! Where's that lazy dragon?" cried the witch.

"Here I am!" replied the dragon, appearing from somewhere or other: "I'm quite ready. Will you ride on your catoplane?"

George wondered whatever a catoplane might be, but was too polite to ask. The witch quickly put on a long cloak and waved her stick, and the wall of the kitchen flew open.

"Come along; don't keep me waiting!" she said to George, and he jumped off his stool and followed her. He could see nothing, but felt that they were in the open air again.

"Here's my broomstick!" he heard the witch say, with a laugh; he felt himself lifted on to something, and then—whirrrr! whizzz!—off they went.

"Oh, are we in an aeroplane, please?" asked George, feeling tremendously excited.

[Pg 120]

"Aeroplane, indeed!" sniffed the witch. "I should like to see the aeroplane that could fly as fast as this. Look and see for yourself, George!"

George looked in front of him. He certainly seemed to be seated on something like a broomstick, and right in front of him sat the yellow cat, flashing its red eyes into the darkness like searchlights. Alexander was seated quite close to her, looking as pleased as Punch.

George looked behind him and heard the noise of an engine, throb, throb, and saw a black something turning, turning without stopping.

"I suppose that's the motor," he said.

"Guess again, George!" laughed the witch.

George looked and looked. "No, I can't guess," he confessed.

"Well—wait and see!" And the witch smiled. Her smile was just like—no, it wasn't.... Oh, it was very puzzling!

[Pg 121]


The High Mountains

"WE must be going faster than a railway train," said George.

"We're going faster than twenty trains," replied the witch. "In a minute or two we shall catch up the daylight.... Ah, there you can see it already!" And she pointed to a speck of light toward which they were travelling at lightning speed.

The light grew brighter and brighter, and at last they shot into the most dazzling sunshine, and there, ahead of them, were the lovely mountains with their snowy tops all aglow. They were travelling high up above[Pg 122] the land, and the only thing to be seen was a tremendously tall tower which stood erect in the middle of the plain.

"Blow the horn!" cried the witch, and Alexander barked "Wu-uff!" three times, while Golden Girl miaowed like ten railway engines all blowing off steam at the same time. The tower suddenly came to life, and, to George's astonishment, as they drew closer he saw that it was a giant holding out a hand nearly as big as a station platform.

They flew straight on and alighted gently on the outstretched hand, and then the engines stopped. George looked behind him and saw two large cats, as black as coal, sitting at the end of the broom.

"There, you see!" said the witch. "You never would have guessed."

"I haven't guessed now," replied George. "Did those two cats drive the machine along?"

"Of course!" laughed the witch. "That's why it's called a catoplane. If you wait until we start again you'll see how it's done." Then, turning, she called out: "Good-morning, friend! Are you quite well to-day?"

"Good-morning!" replied the giant in a deep voice which rumbled and rolled like thunder. "I'm fairly well, thank you. What brings you here?"


[Pg 123]

"We're just giving George and Alexander a lift. George is following his fortune, you know."

"Ah, to be sure!" said the giant. "I remember hearing about it the last time the storks passed this way. They generally bring me some news of what is going on down below there."

George looked up at him with wide-open eyes. It isn't every day that one gets a chance of seeing a live giant, except in a circus—and even then they are disappointing, for they are not really a little bit like the picture which is shown outside. No circus would be big enough to hold this giant. He looked as if he were quite a mile long. His face was as big as an enormous moon, but he looked quite kind and smiled all the time.

"Are you off to the mountains?" he asked. "I expect you'll find Him there. He's not been very busy lately, but He's expecting you, I'm sure."

"Who's 'Him,' please?" asked George.

"Wait and see," replied the witch. "Little boys should always wait, and then—perhaps—they will see."

There seemed to be a great deal of waiting in this country, but George was learning to[Pg 124] be patient. Alexander was busy talking to the cat, and the witch was whispering in the giant's ear, as he had bent down his head quite close to her.

"I wonder why he stands there all by himself," thought George. "He must feel very lonely with his feet down ever so far below him and his head in the clouds. I wonder if he ever goes to bed, and how does he get enough to eat? I shouldn't like to be as big as that."

"He wants to know all about you, you see," said the witch to the giant. George gave such a start! He had forgotten that she was there. How had she been able to read his thoughts?

"I'm a witch, my dear, and can tell everything," smiled the witch, answering his thoughts. "I can see right inside your little head if I want to. If I couldn't, I shouldn't be a witch at all."

"Well, it's rather a long story to tell you all about myself," began the giant. "It would take weeks and weeks. Even then we shouldn't have finished, for then there would be the story of all the weeks during which you had been listening to me."

"But I should know all about that," said George. "You would have been telling me the story, of course, and I should have been here."

[Pg 125]

The giant thought for a moment. "Yes ... but then I should have to tell you the story of how I told you the story ... and even then it wouldn't have an end, for——"

"You're half asleep!" cried the witch. "We can't wait to hear any more just now. You can tell it to George by and by."

"It's always by and by," grumbled the giant. "I've been trying to tell some one for years and years, and just as I'm going to begin it's always time to go somewhere and do something. Where's the dragon?"

"Playing with his tail, or else fast asleep, I expect," said the witch. "I never in all my life knew such a lazy creature. He's only awake when there's a chance of a game. If he comes along after we've gone, tell him your story."

"It's no use. He just jumps about and never listens. The last time he was here he played with my boots and bit a great piece out of one of them. He said he was sorry, but I've had a sore toe ever since. You wouldn't believe what a lot I have to put up with," and the poor giant looked as if he were going to cry.

"There, there!" said the witch soothingly. "You shall come with us if you're good, only don't cry. Remember, the last time you flooded[Pg 126] the whole country and gave all of us dreadful colds. And what a bother it was making extra handkerchiefs for you."

"Oh, may I come with you?" cried the giant. "I should like that! I get such pins and needles in my feet standing here."

"Why do you stand here?" asked George.

"To look out, of course," said the witch; and then, as she saw George was going to ask another question, she gave the order to start.

The two black cats curled their tails round the end of the broom and then began to turn round and round in the air.

"Doesn't it make them dreadfully giddy?" asked George.

"No, of course not," said the witch. "It might do so if they were ordinary cats—but they're not. Listen to them purring."

What George had imagined was the throbbing of an engine was indeed the purring of the two cats as they whirled round in opposite directions. The witch was riding straight toward the mountains, and the giant with huge strides was keeping close by their side. He nodded to them from time to time, and George waved his hand in reply.

He was really a nice giant, and it was just as[Pg 127] well to keep him cheerful and happy, for it would be very disagreeable to have a flood.

The mountains came nearer and nearer, and George thought he had never seen anything so splendid in all his life. Even the giant looked quite small beside them.

"Are we going right to the top, the very tip-top of that mountain?" asked George, pointing.

The witch did not answer for a moment. Then she turned to him and said: "Sing!"

"What shall I sing?" asked George in surprise, for he only knew some old nursery rhymes, and wasn't quite certain if he could remember the words or not.

"Listen to the music," answered the witch. "That will tell you the words."

True enough, there was music in the air all around them, as if the trees, the water, and the wind were all playing together. George listened, and then, to his surprise, began to sing all about the thoughts which he had been turning over in his mind.

[Pg 128]

"The mountain-tops are, oh, so high!
They make a hole right through the sky.
They glow with such a lovely light,
And far below them lies the night.
Their slopes are clad in fir and pine,
The queen has ne'er a dress so fine.
"And there they've stood, so I've heard say,
Ever so long and one long day.
And they will stand, so I've heard tell,
For ever and one day more as well.
So winds blow warm and winds blow cold
Over the mountain-tops so old.
"The mountain-tops so old and proud,
They wear a crown of mist and cloud.
For they were there when things began,
Ages before the oldest man.
Oh, mountain-tops, you're older far
Than great-great-great-great-grandpapa!"

[Pg 129]


Tom Tiddler's Ground

THEY were now quite close to the mountains, and the witch gave the order to come to earth. The catoplane floated gently down until it came to rest in a beautiful grassy spot all ringed round with trees.

The giant was standing just a little way off, looking around him.

"Can you see Him?" called the witch.

"Yes, He's just coming," cried the giant. "Coo-ee! Coo-ee!"—and he waved his great hand to some one.

[Pg 130]

The witch, George, Alexander, and the cats all sat down and waited. Presently a funny little man came running along through the trees. He had a queer wrinkled-up face, with a smile in one corner of his mouth. He wore a high sugar-loaf hat with a bunch of feathers stuck in it, and a long golden cloak which floated behind him in the wind.

He stepped right into the middle of their circle, and, taking off his hat, made a low bow.

"Welcome!" he said, "welcome! I hope you are all quite well. So you want to follow your fortune?"—with a queer look out of the corner of his eye at George.

"Yes, please," replied George. "At least, I suppose I'm following it. I don't know where it is or where I am."

"To be sure!" chuckled the little man, sitting down suddenly as if he worked with springs. "Well, of course, you're here!"

"I know that," laughed George.

"If you know that, why did you ask me?" said the little man, cocking his hat on one side. "You're here: you might be there, but you're not. Now you know all about it.... Would you like something to eat?"

[Pg 131]

"Oh yes, please!" cried George, "I should like some——" And he stopped for a moment to think what he would like.

"Ask for what you want," said the little man. "I expect it's here. There are all sorts of things lying about if one knows where to look for them."

George looked around him. "I don't see anything——" he began.

"Of course not!" snapped the witch. "How can you when you don't know what to look for."

George did not wait a moment. "A plate of roast beef and potatoes, and a large bone for Alexander, please!"

"Help yourself!" said the little man.

There, sure enough, was a large plate of beef on George's knees, and Alexander was contentedly gnawing a huge bone.

"I've got no knife and fork," said George, looking at his plate longingly.

"Why don't you ask for them?" grumbled the witch. "You don't expect knives and forks to come of themselves, do you?"

"A knife and fork, please!" He had hardly spoken when Golden Girl got up—where had she found them?—and handed him a knife and fork; just the right size too!

[Pg 132]

"Aren't you going to have something to eat?" asked George.

"By and by," replied the witch. "Perhaps I shall eat you if I get very hungry," and she smiled as if it were a good joke.

There never was such good roast beef, and George was quite sorry when it was all finished.

"Might I have some apple tart—and a spoon," he added quickly, just remembering in time.

The apple tart appeared from nowhere, and George, when he had finished it, said his grace to himself, so as not to make the others feel that they had had no lunch.

The little man had wrapped himself up in his cloak and was sitting quite still. Now he jumped up. "What is your fortune?" he asked George.

"I don't know. No one ever told me—unless, of course, it's money. Father always says he's going to make his fortune some day, and he means money. I should like lots of money."

"Lots of money, eh?"—and the queer little man smiled a queer little smile. "Well, you've come to the right place for that!" and they all burst out laughing.

[Pg 133]

Then the little man sang in a voice like a shrill tin whistle:

"Here we are on Tom Tiddler's ground,
Picking up gold and silver,"

until the echoes answered: "Gold and silver! Gold and silver!"

George stared at him. "Are you Tom Tiddler?"

The little man bowed low. "At your service! This is my land. Make yourself at home, I beg you," and then sat down again.

"But I don't see any gold and silver," said George.

"Pick it up!" replied Tom Tiddler. "You'll see it quick enough then."

George bent down, and there, sure enough, in his hand was a lump of something sparkling in the light.

"Gold!" he cried, and he commenced to pick up more and more. He soon had a large heap by his side.

"How can I carry all this away?" he thought to himself.

Tom Tiddler jumped up and handed him a large sack.

"Oh, thank you!" and George shovelled all the gold and silver into it, while all the others[Pg 134] sat watching him in silence. No one offered to help him, which he thought rather rude.

The sack was very heavy when he had filled it, and he could only just manage to lift it.

"Now that you've found your fortune, what are you going to do?" asked Tom Tiddler. "Go home, I suppose, and spend it." And they all laughed once more.

"I don't see anything to laugh at," said George. "I would go home, only I don't know my way."

"It's straight ahead until you get there, and then you stop," replied Tom Tiddler.

George thought this rather rude and not funny, so he turned and walked away a short distance. He felt as if he would like to cry, and began to wish he were at home again. Something cold touched his hand, and there was Alexander looking up at him, just in the old way, as if he were saying: "I'm here; don't mind what the others say. I'm always your friend."

George stooped down and patted him. "Dear old Alexander! Let us go back now. I don't like Tom Tiddler at all."

Alexander wagged his tail, but said never a word.

[Pg 135]

There was a sudden whirr—and there was the witch flying away far above their heads. George was rather glad, for he felt that he wanted only Alexander and nobody else.

Tom Tiddler came up to him again, and said with a bow: "May I show you the way, little master? You mustn't mind their laughter; you will understand better by and by. So many come here, following their fortunes like you, and don't even know what their fortunes are."

With another bow he turned and led the way up a rocky path which seemed to lead right into the heart of the mountains.

George followed him, carrying his bag. How heavy it was and how it hurt his shoulder! He got hot and then hotter, and at last, speaking half to himself, he said: "It is too heavy for me to carry.... I can't carry it any farther.... I'd sooner have no fortune at all if it's as difficult to take away as this is.... Oh, I wish it were gone!" Then, all in a moment, the sack no longer seemed to weigh anything. It might have been empty.

He felt so pleased and happy that he raced along after Tom Tiddler, but he could never quite catch him up, for the little man skipped along, jumping from rock to rock like a young[Pg 136] goat. At last he gave a bigger jump than ever, and—hey presto!—like a Jack-in-the-box he was gone.

George rubbed his eyes. Yes, there was no doubt about it. Unless he had slipped through a hole in the ground or flown away, no one could tell what had become of him. He turned to Alexander, and was just going to ask him what they should do when he saw the great round face of the giant appear, as if it were floating in the air.

"This is a funny place," thought George. "One never knows what is going to happen next. Where did the poor old giant come from, I wonder."

"Hullo!" said the giant as he caught sight of them. "Hullo! Here you are at last. I've been waiting for you. They've all gone, I suppose."

"Yes, they've gone. How did you get here?" asked George.

"Oh, I'm just standing down in the valley below. I can put my head over the edge of the hill, and it's more comfortable for talking. Look over!"

George peeped over the edge of the cliff, and there, sure enough, below them in the valley[Pg 137] were the great feet belonging to the giant. They looked, so far off were they, as if they must belong to some one else.

It was quite a long time before the giant spoke again. "Let us talk. You do want to talk, don't you? I was just thinking over one or two stories to tell you—not the whole of my life, you know—that's very long, as I told you before. It's a queer thing about stories. They grow just as you and I do. Every time I tell a story I find that it has grown longer. Some of them, so I've been told, have no end."

"Oh," said George, "but they must have an end, however long they are! They generally end with 'and so they married and lived happily ever after.'"

"I never heard that kind of story. It couldn't end that way if you were telling a story about a sausage. Sausages don't marry, do they?" And the giant laughed until all the echoes joined in with "Ha, ha! Ho, ho!"

"Is the story you are going to tell me about a sausage?" asked George.

The giant did not reply, but after a short pause he began: "Once there was a sausage. It was the most beautiful sausage I ever saw. Everybody loved it. It belonged to a prince[Pg 138] who was very, very rich. He had so many sausages that he was never able to count them, and he had to go long past twelve times in the multiplication table even then.

"This sausage was large, round, and covered all over with gold paper to keep it from catching cold. It was rather delicate when it was young, but as it grew up——"

"Sausages don't grow up!" exclaimed George in surprise.

"Don't interrupt me," answered the giant. "As it grew up it became stronger and more beautiful every day. The prince was never tired of looking at it and admiring it.

"One day he thought it was time for him to get married, and so he wrote a letter to a lovely princess who lived not far away, and asked her if she would accept his hand and his sausages.

"The princess, however, was not very fond of sausages. She had once been ill after eating them, and had never cared for them since. So she wrote back and said that she was very sorry but she could not accept his kind invitation.

"The prince became very sorrowful when he received her letter, for she was a beautiful princess—almost as beautiful as his sausage. So he made up his mind to go and see where he[Pg 139] could find a wife who would like both him and his sausages.

"He mounted his horse and rode away," continued the giant in a slow, sleepy voice, and George closed his eyes for just one minute, he felt so drowsy....

[Pg 141]

Hush! You must take forty winks
before turning over the page. It would
be unkind to hear the rest of the story
before George woke up.

[Pg 142]

[Pg 143]


Over the Hills and Far Away

GEORGE woke with a start.

"And so the princess said to the prince: 'I had no idea it was a golden sausage. Why didn't you tell me that at first? It makes all the difference.' And so ... and so...." the giant had fallen fast asleep.

"Of course, they married and lived happily ever after!" cried George. "Didn't I tell you so?"

There was no answer. Suddenly he heard what sounded to him like thunder. It rumbled and rolled, nearer and nearer, louder and louder. At last a tremendous clap made the[Pg 144] stones roll down the mountain-side, and the trees quivered and shook in fright.

"What shall we do, Alexander?" exclaimed George, for he hated thunder; and he wasn't in bed, so he couldn't bury his head under the clothes. If you do this—as everybody knows—the thunder can't get at you, and just rolls and bumps about under the bed until it gets tired.

Alexander yawned and stretched himself. "Oh, it's only the old giant snoring. I don't wonder, after talking so long about princesses and sausages. Nobody ate a sausage in the whole story. I wish I'd been there, that's all! We'd better be going. He won't wake up for at least a week now."

Sure enough, the poor old giant was fast asleep, and snoring so that you could have heard him twenty miles off. You could hardly hear yourself speak for the noise.

Well, it was no use waiting, so George and Alexander started to follow the little path which wound in and out, like the letter S, up the mountain-side. It was the easiest thing in the world to climb. It was as nice as going upstairs on a very soft carpet, up—up, until they were right above the fir-trees, and it[Pg 145] grew colder and colder. In another moment they were walking on real snow!

"We're nearly at the top now," said Alexander.

George had never been up to the top of a mountain before. Fancy going home and telling everybody what he'd done! Of course he would have to pretend that it was really very difficult, just as people do in books. But would anyone believe him?

Up—up, until at last there they were right on the very tip-top. Far below for miles and miles stretched a great plain, green and beautiful to behold. Was it fancy, that faint sound of music?

"Alexander, where does that music come from?" asked George.

"It comes from there," replied Alexander. "Over there, you know."

"But I don't know—and where is 'over there,' and why does nobody ever answer questions properly?"

Alexander looked as if he were going to say, "Wait and see," but George looked really vexed—so he didn't.

"We'd better go down and see," he said, and bounded down the mountain-side. Oh, you[Pg 146] have no idea how fast they ran! It was almost like flying.

At last they came to a forest of pine-trees through which the path seemed to lead. Into the forest they ran helter-skelter. There must have been thousands of trees; there seemed to be no end to them, and no way through except by the little path which curled in and out and round about.

Curly paths are the best; they enjoy having a little fun, for just as you think you are getting to wherever you want to go you find that the path has turned itself round and is staring you in the face.

Straight paths just go there. They are rather dull unless you are in a hurry, and then it doesn't matter.

This path was sometimes curly and sometimes not. It never seemed to be quite sure what it wanted to do. At last it made up its mind, unrolled itself, and ran as straight as the straightest line right through the wood and out into the sun again.

"Look there!" cried George, pointing, to the branch of a tree just in front of them. There, perched on it and shining away like anything, was the little weathercock!

[Pg 147]

"You've come at last," he crowed. "It's just time for tea. Come along!" and he fluttered down to the ground beside them.

"How did you get here?" asked George.

"I've been here all the time," answered the weathercock. "Where else should I be?"

George gazed all round him; then he caught sight of a little house he thought he knew, with the smoke curling up from its chimneys. "Why, that's my house! How did it get here?"

"Really, you do ask a lot of questions," complained the little cock. "The house hasn't moved. You've been moving. Didn't you want to get back here?"

"Yes, of course, but—oh, well, I don't understand. I thought we were going somewhere else all the time."

"There is no such place as 'somewhere else' that I ever heard of," said the cock. "Where did you expect to get to? You said you wanted to get home, and here you are, aren't you?"

Alexander ran on ahead and disappeared through the garden gate. George waited for a moment to watch the cock fly up to his little perch on the roof again, and then went in. Tea was spread on the table just as usual. Oh, it was good to be home again! There was no time[Pg 148] for talking. George put down his sack, which he had held in his hand all this time and quite forgotten. What's the good of talking at tea-time, except to say "Yes, please," and "Thank you"? Besides, it is rude to talk with your mouth full, and if you are enjoying your tea your mouth is full all the time. Anyway, that is what George thought. He didn't even stop to see if Alexander was getting anything to eat.

At last he finished, and Alexander, who had found some biscuits somewhere, licked the last crumb from his nose.

"Don't forget your sack, George," he said, in a queer kind of voice.

George gave a start of surprise, then picked up the sack from the floor. It had grown quite, quite small, and weighed almost nothing at all. He opened it, and there inside was—what do you think?—a heap of golden-coloured leaves!

He burst out laughing! So this was his wonderful fortune!

Alexander gazed at him, and neither of them said a word for a moment.

"I see," said George. "I think I see. My fortune isn't made of gold at all. Well, I don't mind a little bit. The sack was very heavy to[Pg 149] carry at first, and I felt as cross as cross could be. I'll put these leaves on the fire."

"No, no!" cried Alexander. "Don't do that! You must never throw away anything that Tom Tiddler has given you. It might bring you bad luck.... You know, so many people throw away their good fortune, and they never, never get a chance of finding it a second time. And they never find their way back here."

"Do you mean that other people have been here in the house?" asked George.

"No, of course not. This is your house. Every one has his own house here until he—or she—grows up. Then they don't seem to want to come back. They're funny people, these grown-ups. I often wonder whether it's wearing trousers and long skirts that makes such a difference to them."

This was quite a long speech for Alexander, so he put his head down on his paws and fell fast asleep.

George wanted to ask ever so many more questions, but all of a sudden he felt sleepy too, so he climbed the stairs to the dear little bedroom, lay down on the bed, and fell fast asleep.

[Pg 150]

[Pg 151]


TOMMY, Tommy Tiddler,
Oh, so bent and old,
Will you please to give me
Heaps and heaps of gold?
No, my little master,
If you have the mind
To take away my treasure,
Seek, and you will find.
Tommy, Tommy Tiddler,
Have you got a sack?
Too small are all my pockets
To carry it all back.
Here, my little master,
This is deep and wide.
Pack the treasure safely—
Room for all inside.
Heavy is my burden,
Long and steep the road.
Oh, I find my fortune
Is too great a load!

[Pg 153]


Sir Tristram

IT must be very queer living in a country where everything happens in a topsy-turvy kind of way. For one thing, there would be no time to get dull. You cannot help feeling a little bit excited if you never know from one minute to another what o'clock it is, where you are, whether you are going to have your dinner or not, and, if you go out for a walk, what strange people you are likely to meet.

George thought about all these things when he woke up. It must have been morning, for it was quite light, and the sun was shining away as it always seemed to shine in this country. Did it ever rain here? If it did, it must have[Pg 154] been quite a nice, gentle kind of rain—baby showers, not the kind that pours and pours and keeps you waiting with your nose flattened to the window-pane, wishing that it would clear up. It never does—until bed-time.

The night-time is the proper time for the rain, only what would the people do then who sell umbrellas? Fancy a world without umbrellas!

If it ever did rain here, what on earth would the giant do? He would probably catch a dreadful cold, and then, if he began to sneeze, he would blow the roof off one's house! It would be much worse than the worst thunder-storm.

Of course, nobody ever heard of a giant with an umbrella. If it were open, it would darken the whole sky worse than a fog, and fogs are bad enough.

George had now been quite a long time in this country; one, two—well, it was no use counting, for perhaps even numbers weren't the same. It would be very difficult to remember things if the twice-times-two table were turned upside down. Try it and see for yourself!

Still, though many wonderful things had happened, he had not found his fortune; at least—well, there again, those leaves in the sack[Pg 155] which Alexander had told him not to throw away must be worth something, or what was the use of keeping them?

There was no postman either. How was he to write to Mother?—though, after all, George wasn't quite sure if he could write a long letter without any mistakes in spelling. Perhaps there wasn't any spelling in this country. If that were true it would be more delightful than ever.

Suddenly, "Wuff! Wuff!" he heard Alexander's bark! "I'm coming!" he cried, and jumped out of bed. He never could remember whether he had undressed or not when he went to bed. Anyway, his clothes were on—but were they his clothes? Of course they were not!

He was dressed in a suit of brown and green, brown the colour of the sweet-smelling earth and green the colour of the soft grass. A little cloak of the same colours lay neatly folded on the chair beside his bed, and a cap with a long golden feather hung from a peg on the wall.

How pleased George did feel with himself when he looked in the glass! "I can go and visit the king in this suit," he thought to himself. "I suppose there is a king in this country. Oh, there's sure to be one somewhere about in a[Pg 156] castle, and perhaps there will be a little prince as well."

He went downstairs, two steps at a time. Breakfast was laid as usual, and through the window he could see Alexander lying at full length licking his lips, so he had eaten his bone or whatever else it may have been.

Breakfast was soon over, and George was ready once more for all sorts of adventures. He went out into the garden, but lo and behold, Alexander had disappeared!

He whistled and called for some time, but it was all of no use. Alexander had gone off to look for adventures himself, and would be sure to return by and by.

The little golden cock was turning round in the breeze, but although George waited for some time, hoping that he would fly down to earth again, it was all in vain.

"I suppose I must go out by myself this morning," thought George. "I'll just go straight on as usual until I find a road to somewhere. It's sure to be all right."

He went off toward the wood and turned down the first path he saw. It went straight ahead, for a wonder, and after some time he saw, sure enough, a little sign-post.

[Pg 157]

Written on it in large letters, so that it was easy enough even for small boys to read, was:


"I say!" said George. "A thousand towers! Why, that's ten times one hundred! Whoever lives in a castle like that, I wonder."

He lost no time in running on, until he found himself on a broad white road which seemed to stretch for miles and miles ahead as far as he could see. He stood still for a moment, thinking of the best plan for travelling such a long distance. Suddenly he heard a Jingle, jingle! Trot, trot! and there, coming toward him out of another part of the wood, was a knight on horseback.

George knew he was a knight, because he had often seen pictures of knights in the olden days, clad in armour, with long plumes flowing from their helmets.

This knight might have stepped out of a picture-book. He wore a great sword at his side, and carried a long spear with a sharp point. When he saw George he pulled up his horse and spoke in a kindly voice: "Well, my young squire, and whither are you bound?"

[Pg 158]

George took off his cap. "If you please, I am going to the Castle of a Thousand Towers. Can you tell me if it is very far away?"

The knight looked down at him and smiled. "How many miles to Babylon?" he asked.

"Why, that's in the nursery-rhyme book!" cried George.

"Ah!" replied the knight. "It's sure to be true, then. Nothing like a good rhyme, is there? I'm bound in the same direction, so you had better get up behind me and we can travel together."

He bent down and lifted George into the saddle, and off they went.

"I suppose this is a real war-horse—what the books call a charger, isn't it?" asked George, holding on tight.

"Yes, of course," replied the knight. "He's the finest horse in the land. He can carry me for days and days and never tire."

"Do you really ride for days and days on horseback, seeking adventure?" George felt quite excited at the thought.

"Yes. You can't be a knight, you know, unless you seek adventures. I'm looking for dragons at present. You haven't seen one hereabouts, have you?"

[Pg 159]

George was silent for a moment. What was he to say? If he told the knight about his friend the dragon something horrid was sure to happen, and he was such a friendly dragon too!

At last he said: "I don't expect there are any dragons near here; not any dangerous dragons, I mean. Some dragons are quite friendly, you know."

The knight laughed. "Dragons are meant to be killed. They're always doing wicked things—carrying off beautiful princesses or breathing fire and burning up whole villages. I don't call that very friendly, do you?"

After this they rode on for some time in silence. At last George asked: "Have you ever been to the castle?"

"No. I have never been in this part of the country before. I never stay in the same place for long. When I do I shall hang up my sword, spear, and shield and turn my good horse out to rest. My work will be finished then."

They rode on again, jingle, jingle, trot, trot, along the road and across an open plain, with not a house or a human being in sight. The knight began to sing, first in a very low voice as if to himself, and then louder, so that George could hear the words:

[Pg 160]

"Sword, sword,
Gleaming so bright,
Sword, sword,
Aid me in the fight.
Out of the scabbard
And sturdily smite!
"Shield, shield,
Guard me 'gainst blow,
Shield, shield,
Of oncoming foe.
Keep me unscathed
Wherever I go!
"Lance, lance,
Steady and true,
Lance, lance,
Pierce through and through.
Into the battle
I'll charge, lance, with you!"

The horse seemed to trot in time with the melody, and George nodded his head as he had seen Father doing when he was listening to Mother playing the piano after dinner. Nid, nod, nid, nod—he kept on nid-nodding until he woke up with a jerk and found that he must have been half asleep.

"Look, there's the castle!" said the knight, pointing straight in front of him.

There it was, sure enough! It stood all by itself on a hill, round whose grassy sides a road[Pg 161] wound and curved up to the great gates. These gates were made of some bright metal, and on the top of each was carved a great crown. Whether there were really one thousand towers or not it is impossible to say, but there were towers everywhere, all shining like burnished gold in the bright sunshine.

As they drew nearer they could hear the blare of trumpets. Presently the gates swung open without a sound, and the trumpeters, mounted on white horses, came riding through, playing such stirring music that George felt as if he wanted to wave his cap and cheer.

They formed up in two lines, one on each side of the road; the knight rode through the gates into the courtyard. Here he dismounted and lifted George down from the saddle.

"Here we are at last!" he said.

A long flight of marble steps led up to the entrance. The knight took George by the hand, and up they went, ever so high, together. At the top stood two soldiers in armour. They saluted, and the door of the castle opened as if by magic.

[Pg 163]


At Court

THEY found themselves in a great hall. It was so great that they could only see the roof by almost bending backward. If you imagine that it was anything like the hall at home you are greatly mistaken.

The floor was made of shining wood, and marble pillars of different colours towered up above them to the great glass-domed roof. It would take a whole week to tell you all the wonders there were to be seen. Pictures of kings and queens, of knights in armour and lovely ladies; mirrors, fountains full of goldfish, cages full of singing-birds—all the riches of the world seemed to be here.

[Pg 164]

The two walked on hand in hand for a long way without meeting a single person, and George was just going to ask if anybody lived there when from behind a curtain there came toward them a man clad in scarlet and gold, carrying a long white wand in his hand. He bowed solemnly and, holding back the curtain, said: "The King, my master, bids you welcome. Be pleased to enter and refresh yourselves after your journey."

He stood on one side to let them pass through into the dining-room, where a meal was already laid. After taking off his armour the knight sat down, looking as if he were quite accustomed to dining in castles. He told George later on that kings always expected you to eat and drink directly you arrived, and were very vexed if you didn't.

"I don't think people can go and dine with our King like this," said George, "but I expect that's because there are no knights. At least, I haven't heard of any."

"I expect you would find them if you knew where to look for them," replied his friend.

"There used to be knights in King Arthur's time," said George. "Mother reads to me all about the Round Table out of a book at home.[Pg 165] There was Sir Launcelot and Galahad; and oh, please, would you mind telling me your name? Mine is George."

"A very good name too. My name—but I cannot tell you that yet awhile. I am on a quest, and my real name I may not tell."

George gazed at him. "I think you look like Sir Tristram. May I call you by that name, please?"

The knight smiled. "'Tis a great name, and a great knight bore it; so, if it please you, Tristram I will be to you, but to you alone."

"Oh, it's a secret between ourselves then!... Will you take me with you on your quest?"

"You are full young to be a squire, but you too are in search of adventure, are you not?" asked Sir Tristram.

"Yes, I'm seeking my fortune," replied George.

"I expect it's not far off. We will look for it together," and the knight smiled kindly.

Then they set to work and ate all the good things which had been provided for them. The gentleman in scarlet and gold—who, Sir Tristram told George in a whisper, was the chamberlain—reappeared, and bowing solemnly, said: "The King hopes that you are feeling refreshed[Pg 166] from your journey, and wishes to hear of your adventures." He then turned and led the way through another door.

They followed him down a long passage and found themselves in the presence of the King. He was standing quite alone and without his crown on, but you could see that he was a real king. He bade them welcome and listened attentively while Sir Tristram related his adventures.

"And you, young squire?" he said, turning with a smile to George. "Are you, too, following a quest?"

"I am seeking my fortune, your Majesty," replied George.

The King was silent for a while, as if in thought.

The windows of the room looked out upon a fair country of great forests, fields of waving corn, and hills covered with vineyards. George thought that it would be a splendid place to come to for the summer holidays.

"To-night," said the King, "I hold my court, and all those who seek their fortunes or are looking for adventure are welcome. I shall hope to see you both," and with a kindly nod he bade them farewell.

[Pg 167]

George dined again with Sir Tristram, and the dinner was delicious. He wondered what was going to happen, but didn't like to ask any questions. He felt just a little bit lonely, too, without Alexander.

After dinner was over the chamberlain led them down the hall and up a great staircase, so wide that eight people abreast could have walked up it. He paused for a moment before two folding doors, over which hung thick curtains edged with gold embroidery, and then, bowing low, said: "I pray you enter."

The doors flew open and the two friends entered. They found themselves in a great room ablaze with light, but without a single person in it. Suddenly George caught sight of the King sitting on a throne at the far end of the room. He looked so lonely and tired that George felt ever so sorry for him.

At the foot of the throne stood two trumpeters, who played delightful music as George and Sir Tristram stepped toward the King and bowed low.

"Welcome!" said the King. "Welcome! Ye seek adventure, noble knight and squire, in which to gain renown for your arms. Here ye will find adventure enough for the bravest."

[Pg 168]

He bade them be seated, and then he spoke as follows:

"Many years ago, when my father reigned over this country, there lived a mighty magician. He was very rich, much richer than my father, and very proud. His wife was dead, and he lived with an only daughter, who was said to be very beautiful but very bad-tempered.

"My father had never seen them, but my grandfather had often told him that this magician, who was called Xystipos, might come to pay a visit as soon as his daughter was fully grown up.

"But alas! there came a great sickness, and my father and mother both died and left me to reign alone.

"Now there lived in a country not far from here a princess, the daughter of my father's old friend the king of that country. Both her parents and my parents wished us to marry, and indeed we were both willing, for we loved one another.

"When I became King I paid a visit to their country, and the marriage was then arranged to take place in a few weeks.

"But shortly after my return a messenger arrived who announced that Xystipos was on his[Pg 169] way to pay me a visit. He arrived the next day. Nobody saw him enter the castle, or knew how he had travelled such a great distance.

"He was a tall, dark man, with a long black beard and eyes which glowed like fire. His voice was deep and mysterious. He spoke but seldom, and seemed as if he could read one's very thoughts.

"I wondered why he had come, until one day he said to me: 'Why have you not married? This country needs a queen.'

"I told him that I was soon to marry the Princess Fortunata, to which he replied: 'No, that will never do. She is too young, too poor. You need a wife who is rich, beautiful, wise. Such a maid is my daughter. Marry her, and you shall be the richest and most powerful king in this land.' He smiled a smile that made me shiver with fear.

"'I cannot!' I cried. 'I love the Princess Fortunata!'

"He smiled again and said no more.

"But the next day, and every day for a week, he asked me to marry his daughter. I told him each time that it was quite impossible.

"At last he said: 'I return now to my home. You shall marry my daughter in the end whether[Pg 170] you like it or not. Farewell!' He was gone before I could say a word in reply.

"Now on the very day on which the Princess and I were to be married there arose a great storm, and darkness fell over the whole city. When the sky grew clear again the Princess had vanished. Although we searched high and low, nobody could find her.

"I returned at last to my home, miserable and heart-broken. There I found a letter from Xystipos. No one knew how it had come. In it was written: 'If you would win back your Princess, you must seek and find her.' That was all."

[Pg 171]

While the King paused for a moment the trumpeters played:

[Image] [Trumpets] [XML]

[Pg 173]


The Quest Begins

"THAT happened five years ago," continued the King, "and from that day to this I have never been able to find out where the magician lives. I fear that Fortunata is lost for ever!"

Sir Tristram knelt before the King. "Grant me this quest, I pray you, sire!"

The King sat in silence for a moment. "Be it so!" he replied. "But I fear you little know the dangers and the trials which await you. Arms and money I can provide, but in no other way can I help you. If you succeed, then ask of me what you will and it is yours. Many have set out on this quest, but none return.[Pg 174] Now my court is deserted, for a sad king has but few friends."

It was a clear, sunny morning. Sir Tristram and George were already upon their way to seek the enchanted Princess.

George was riding—actually riding!—upon a beautiful pony which the King had given him. You may imagine how proud he felt!

In which direction should they go? Sir Tristram and he talked it over, and, as it did not matter very much, they rode down the hill and out on to the plain, hoping by and by to come upon a good road to somewhere.

"It will be all right," said George. "On we go!"

He had scarcely said this when he caught sight of a little weathercock perched up on the top of a house roof. To be sure! His friend the weathercock had told him to ask any of his family he might meet to show him the way.

This weathercock was pointing straight down a long road across the plain, and when George told Sir Tristram this he nodded his head and said: "'Tis well! The weathercock knows the way better than we do."

They rode and rode until at last they came[Pg 175] to a great forest. And now a dreadful thing happened, for when they were right in the middle of it they lost their way.

Sir Tristram dismounted. "Let us eat and then rest awhile. We shall find our way by and by. Here the adventure begins, young squire."

So they sat down under a great tree and ate and drank. After they had finished their meal Sir Tristram took off some of his armour and lay down on the soft mossy bank. After a time he fell asleep.

George nearly fell asleep too. He felt only half awake, and lay on his back listening to the sighing of the wind in the trees and the twittering of the birds. Sometimes it sounded as if they were talking to one another, and sometimes as if they were laughing. Who ever heard birds laugh?

He felt in his pocket for his knife, as he wanted to try to make a whistle out of a piece of wood as Father did. In one pocket he found nothing and in the other some leaves, which he took out to throw away.

"Why, these must be Tom Tiddler's leaves!" he thought. "Alexander said that I wasn't to throw them away. I'll put one of them in my cap."

[Pg 176]

He fixed one carefully in the side of his cap, and put the others back in his pocket. Then, all of a sudden, he seemed to hear voices, quite tiny voices, talking high up in the air above him.

"Yes!" said the first voice, "it is a long way to the magician's castle."

George sat up and listened eagerly.

"Nobody has ever found the way there yet," said the second voice.

"That's because they are so stupid," was the reply. "You must follow the sun until it sinks, and then follow it again when it rises, until you arrive."

"No, no!" exclaimed another voice. "First of all you must cross the black lake, and that is impossible."

"Then there is the glass mountain to climb," cried a fourth voice. "That's ever so slippery, you know!"

"And then there are the two guardians of the gate. Nobody ever passed them alive!" The fifth voice said this.

"And even if you get into the castle, that's no use, for it is enchanted ground," said a squeaky voice. "You have to know the magic word, and nobody knows that."

[Pg 177]

"Pooh! Rubbish!" answered a great big voice. "The weathercock who sits on the very tip-top of the highest tower of the castle knows it. But nobody has ever asked him yet."

Then the voices were silent. George stood up and looked all round him, but he could see nobody. As he looked up into the trees a few birds flew away, and then there was silence in the forest.

"Well, we know the way to the castle now," he thought. "Oh, what an adventure it's going to be! Won't Alexander be sorry that he missed it!"

[Pg 179]


OH, fear not, brave knight,
Fear no danger nor trouble.
To guard against witchcraft
Your thumbs you must double!
If ogres terrific
With loud fee-faw-fums
Dismay you, I pray you,
Oh, double your thumbs!

[Pg 181]


The Giant Again

SIR TRISTRAM and George journeyed onward, following the sun through the great forest. At last they came into open country, and found themselves on a rocky road which dipped down-hill as if it never meant to stop. It led them into a valley, and then on again into a deep gorge, which came to an end on the shores of a great lake.

"The black lake!" cried George. "Look, it's as black as pitch! What a horrid place!"

Sir Tristram dismounted and gazed around him. "I marvel how we shall ever fare across it. I cannot swim, and even if I could I must[Pg 182] leave my armour behind. The doughtiest knight cannot fight in his doublet."

George looked out on to the waters of the lake, but it was so wide that he could not see the other side. High above his head towered rugged cliffs as black as the waters of the lake, and in the distance he caught sight of a mighty pillar standing erect on the summit.

He looked again. "I do believe it's the old giant!" he cried.

"A giant!"—and in a moment Sir Tristram was on his feet and had drawn his mighty two-handed sword.

"Oh, please, don't!" implored George. "He's a friend of mine. He's quite a good giant. He wouldn't harm anybody."

"How can that be?" asked Sir Tristram. "A good giant?... Still, if you know him I must take your word for it."

"Coo-ee!" cried George. "Coo-ee!" His voice echoed against the rocky walls as if a hundred voices were all crying "Coo-ee!" together.

The pillar moved, stopped for a moment, and then moved on again, and then—plop!—into the lake went one of the giant's feet, and then plop! went the other. He was now in the[Pg 183] water right up to his neck, so you can tell from that how deep it was!

"Good-evening!" rumbled his great voice. "I've been waiting for you ever so long. You want to cross the lake, I suppose? Come along then!" And he stretched out his huge hand.

"Come along, Sir Tristram!" commanded George. "It's all right. There's heaps of room on his hand for both the horses and ourselves."

They led the horses on to his outstretched hand, and without another word the giant began to wade across the lake. On and on he went until they lost sight of the shore; on and on until the water began to grow shallower again. After an hour's journey they arrived, and the giant lowered them gently on to dry land.

"I must go for a run to dry myself," he said, and in one—two—three tremendous strides he was out of sight.

Sir Tristram leant on his sword. "In faith, he is a mighty giant. I fear me that even my trusty blade would be of little avail against him."

George smiled. "Oh no! He's fearfully strong, but he's very kind, although he does tell very long stories."

[Pg 184]

"Stories?" asked Sir Tristram. He had hardly spoken when the giant was at their side again.

"I'm quite dry now!" he roared. He seemed to be very pleased with himself, and smiled a huge smile as he asked: "Did I hear you saying that you wanted to hear a story? Wait a minute!"—and before they guessed what he was about he was lying on the ground with his head close up to them.

"I'm afraid it's going to be very long," whispered George to Sir Tristram, who sat with his sword between his knees, gazing at the giant in astonishment.

"Well, once upon a time there was a prince——"

"Had he a sausage?" asked George.

"Yes. How did you know?... Oh, I must have told you that story before. It doesn't matter, for I never tell it twice in the same way. My stories are always changing; the older they are the longer they grow."

George sighed. "Oh dear! This is going to be a dreadfully long story. Never mind; I missed most of it the last time, and perhaps he'll go to sleep again."

The giant continued: "Now this prince was[Pg 185] very rich. He had twenty castles, each with two hundred rooms, and a bicycle."

"A bicycle? That's nothing!" said George. "I'm going to have a bicycle myself."

"Don't interrupt!" grumbled the giant. "This was a special bicycle. It had twenty-five wheels."

"But it wouldn't be a bicycle, then. A bicycle has only two wheels," cried George.

"What was it, then, if it wasn't a bicycle?"

George thought for a moment. "I don't know," he replied.

"There you are! You don't know. Of course it was a bicycle. I've told this story, oh, hundreds of times, and I've always called it a bicycle. That's a sure proof!" The giant smiled triumphantly.

"I beg your pardon for interrupting you," said George politely.

"Not at all. You see, you know now what a bicycle is. You didn't before I told you.... Well, this prince went out one day on his bicycle to hunt——"

Sir Tristram looked quite startled. "To hunt?" he exclaimed.

"Yes, to hunt. Princes always go out hunting.... Well, he hunted and he hunted and[Pg 186] he hunted for weeks and weeks and weeks...." Here the giant paused. "Oh, I forgot. She said I was not to delay you by telling stories. So you'd better be going on your way."

"Did She send you here?" asked George, who knew what the giant meant.

"What a lot of questions you ask! Hurry up or you'll be late." And without another word the giant rose, stepped over a high mountain which stood in his way, and disappeared.

"Come along, Sir Tristram!" said George, "I'll tell you all about it as we ride along."

[Pg 187]


A PIG lived in a lordly sty;
A fat, fat pig was he,
And every day he used to try
To eat enough for three.
Sing hey, sing ho,
I'd have you know
He ate enough for three!
He grew so fat, he grew so round,
As round as round could be.
He weighed at least five hundred pound,
And, oh, so proud was he!
Sing hey, sing ho,
I'd have you know
He weighed as much as three!
Now all the pigs from far and near
Were jealous as could be.
And oh, they shed a bitter tear
At breakfast, lunch, and tea.
Sing ho, sing hey,
A doleful sight to see!
For though they ate with all their might,
It was no use, for he
Ate all the day and half the night
[Pg 188]
As greedy as could be!
Sing ho, sing hey,
Yes, all the day
He stuffed right greedily!
One day the farmer to his wife,
The farmer said, said he:
"Fetch me my very sharpest knife,
The knife as sharp as three!
Sing hey, sing ho,
Now quickly go
And fetch my knife to me!"
He took the knife, and to the sty
He went as quick could be.
"The fattest pig to-day must die,
The pig as fat as three.
Sing ho, sing hey,
We'll have to-day
His sausages for tea!"

[Pg 189]


The Arrival at the Castle

IT was the end of the third day when at last the two travellers espied a hill rising out of the plain. It shone and glittered as if it were made of diamonds, so they guessed that this must be the rays of the sun shining on the glass hill where the magician lived.

As they came closer they could see that the hill was very high and steep, and that there was no road leading up to the castle on the top.

"We can never win to the summit of that hill," said Sir Tristram in a melancholy voice.

"Oh, it will be all right. She knows all about it. She sent the giant to help us over the black lake, I'm sure," said George cheerfully.[Pg 190] But he certainly did not like the hill at all. It was steeper than a switchback, and you know how steep that is!

At last they arrived at the foot of the hill. It was so slippery that their horses stumbled and nearly fell at the first step.

"That's no good," said George. "We must just sit down and wait."

They dismounted and waited. Nothing happened for a long time. "I do wish She were here!" sighed George.

There was a whizz! overhead, and down swooped the witch on her broomstick.

"What a long time it takes for little boys to learn to ask nicely for what they want," she said, with a smile. "Jump up! You can leave your horses behind. They will look after themselves."

Up they climbed without delay, for Sir Tristram was too astonished to say a single word.

Whizz!—off they went again. Up—up—up—and then, in the twinkling of an eye, there they were on top!

"Here we are!" said the witch. "Off you get! I expect we shall meet again before long. Don't forget to ask for what you want"—and,[Pg 191] with a smile which was more crooked than ever, she disappeared.

"This is indeed a mighty adventure," said Sir Tristram. "See, yonder lies the magician's castle!"

George looked in the direction in which the knight pointed, and there was indeed the strangest castle he had ever seen. It was built of polished glass, and all the windows looked like great wide-open eyes which were staring at them. The gates were made of brass in the shape of letters of the alphabet, all mixed up together.

On the top of the highest tower stood a weathercock, a fierce-looking bird with green eyes and a long black beak. But fiercer still looked the two guardians of the gate. These were two enormous dogs with two great round eyes like blazing fires. They were almost as large as elephants.

Suddenly they caught sight of the two strangers and, opening their huge mouths, they growled, "Grrrr!" It was enough to make you shiver and shake with fear.

Sir Tristram drew his sword. "Methinks this will be a great battle," he said. "Stay you[Pg 192] here, and if I do not return, still I shall have fallen as a knight should fall."

"No, no!" cried George. "Don't you remember what the witch told me? I must ask for what I want. I want the dragon!... Oh, look!" and there, sure enough, in front of them was his old friend the dragon, blinking his eyes and wagging his tail.

"I thought you would want me before long, George," he said. "Do tell that friend of yours to put away his sword. It looks dreadfully sharp, and I never did like swords. It isn't any good here, for you are on enchanted ground. Just let me get my breath, and I'll soon finish this business."

He lay there and panted, while the two great dogs growled and growled worse than ever.

"Nasty beasts!" said the dragon. "I mustn't go too close to them or else they might bite me. I'll give them a taste of something they won't like."

He began to crawl toward the dogs very slowly, and when he was within a few yards of them his mouth opened wide like a great pit, and out shot a tremendous flame. One! Two!

George rubbed his eyes. The dragon was[Pg 193] lying there licking his scales, but the dogs had disappeared. Two small heaps of white ashes lay in the place where they had been.

"That's all right!" said the dragon. "Now you can walk in, but don't forget the password."

[Pg 195]


What the Weathercock Said

THE password—what could it be? George puzzled and puzzled until he almost grew dizzy with thinking, but no, he couldn't remember. Then, at last—of course! The weathercock on top of the castle knew. He remembered the voices which he had heard talking in the forest and what they had said.

But how could he get the weathercock to tell him? He whistled and called, but all in vain. Nothing whatever happened.

Then suddenly the thought came into his head: "Why, those voices I heard in the forest[Pg 196] must have been birds talking.... Why didn't I hear them before that day?... They must have been magic birds ... perhaps fairies?... Oh, I wonder if Tom Tiddler's leaves had anything to do with it? I know I put one in my cap.... Where is my cap?"

He bent down and picked it up from the ground. The leaf was still where he had placed it. He placed it on his head, and then, looking up at the weathercock, cried "Coo-ee!"

The cock turned round slowly and, fixing its green eye upon George, asked: "Who calls?"

"A friend!" George thought this was quite the right thing to say. It was the answer to the sentry's "Who goes there?" He felt that as he was squire to a knight it was as good as being a soldier.

The cock went on turning. At last: "You're George, aren't you?" he said.

"Yes," replied George. "I met your brother not so long ago. He lives close by my house in the wood."

"Ah!" said the cock, and went on turning and turning.

"I hope he won't be long," thought George. "He doesn't seem as nice as my friend."

[Pg 197]

"What do you want?" said a voice in his ear.

He gave a jump, for there was the cock standing by his side.

"I suppose you want the password? She brought you here, so it will be all right. I must whisper it—nobody but you may hear it." The cock turned, whispered in George's ear, and before you could wink an eyelid was back on top of the castle.

"Where's Sir Tristram?" George looked everywhere, but there was no sign of him.

At last, after he had walked quite a long way, he caught sight of him and the dragon actually—yes, actually fighting! He was horrified, for the dragon was leaping, turning, and twisting in all directions, while Sir Tristram's sword was hissing and flashing through the air like lightning.

"They'll hurt one another, I'm sure!" And George ran as near to them as he dared, calling out: "Stop! Oh, stop!"

The dragon stopped at once and called out: "It's all right! Don't be afraid. I'm only showing your friend one or two tricks in fighting. We shouldn't dream of hurting one another."

[Pg 198]

"This is indeed a glorious dragon," said Sir Tristram, leaning on his sword and smiling. "Little did I think that I should ever be friends with one. He has taught me much that I did not know before."

"Oh, so you were only pretending?" George laughed, and then said solemnly: "I've learnt the password, but it's ever so difficult, and I'm not to tell it to anybody else."

The knight did not answer him for a moment. "I think then, young squire, it would be best for you to go upon this quest alone. Your friend the dragon has told me that She wishes it."

"Oh!" cried George. "All by myself?"

The dragon laughed. "We'll wait here for you, George. You came to seek your fortune, you know, and you're not far off it now. You're getting warm!"

"All right!" answered George. "If you hear me cry 'Coo-ee!' you must come to my help at once. This is going to be a tremendous adventure. Alexander doesn't know how much he is missing. Here goes!"—and waving his hand to the two friends, he ran off. He looked back once and saw that they had again commenced to play at fighting, and then he ran on again until he came to the great gates.

[Pg 199]

He paused for a moment to repeat the password over to himself; then said it out aloud. The gates swung open with a clang, and, as he walked through, shut behind him.

[Pg 201]

Whisper this!

It is the password, and this is how you must say it. Stand with both feet firmly pressed together, crook the little finger on each hand into one another, and say three times



For goodness sake don't let anyone hear you! It is a very powerful charm, and might—if a wicked magician were anywhere near at hand—lift your house up into the air and pop it down into a sandy desert, five thousand miles away!

[Pg 203]


Princess Fortunata

GEORGE never was able to remember clearly what happened in the magician's castle. He used afterward to tell the story in bits, and Mother put all the bits together, little by little, just as one sews a counterpane, until there was a whole story. How long he was there, whether he felt afraid, whether it was only a dream, whether it was all magic—who knows?—and, after all, what does it matter?

He first remembers that he was going upstairs. Not ordinary stairs, you know, like those in your house. No; these stairs were[Pg 204] quite different. They were moving all the time. As fast as he mounted one step, two and even three steps moved up, so that he was always farther and farther away from the top. He was very puzzled for some time to know what to do. So at last he stopped and repeated the magic charm. Then the steps began to move in the opposite direction.

Now the steps had stopped moving, and began to curl and wind in the most vexing manner. Round and round they went, and round and round went George, until he was quite giddy.

"These stairs are always coming back to the same place, I declare!" he thought. "This will never do. I shall go on climbing until this time next year, and oh, shan't I be tired!"

Again he repeated the charm, and the stairs became straight as a straight line. Up and up he went. Would they never end?

He was at the top and standing before a door which was closed. He turned the handle; he pushed and pushed.... He seemed to hear somebody laughing, and laughing in a very disagreeable, ill-tempered way. It sounded as if it came from inside the room, or whatever it[Pg 205] was behind the door. George became very angry. He just hated anybody laughing at him. He would show them what he could do!

He must remember to say the charm sooner next time. But it was so difficult to remember anything in this queer place!

Where was he now? There seemed to be faces—thousands of faces—peeping at him from every side, from every hole, and from every corner.

Where had he seen these faces before? He couldn't tell, and yet he knew them.... Why, of course! They were the reflections of his own face in mirrors, hundreds and thousands of mirrors! How very strange it looked! Well, there was nothing to be afraid of.

The mirrors grew dull and duller, and then bright and brighter. George saw himself wherever he looked; even the ceiling and the floor seemed made of glass. How horrid! Even if you were very good-looking you wouldn't like to see nothing but your own face, would you?

There must be a door somewhere.... If he didn't find the door soon he would become enchanted, and that would never do.... What had he forgotten?... Ah, the charm!

[Pg 206]

He was standing on the bank of a great river. It was very dark, and he could scarcely see a foot in front of him, but he could hear the roar of the water as it went rushing and roaring by.

Was it his fancy, or were there voices mocking him? It sounded as if they were saying something. "Ooooh! Ooooh! Ooooh! It is so-oo-oo co-o-old! Hoo-oo! As co-old as i-ice!"

"I can't swim a little bit," thought George. "Even Alexander couldn't swim across this horrible river.... I wonder if I counted 'one, two, three!' and jumped in, whether I should be drowned.... One ... two...."

Could that be Alexander's bark in the far-away distance? "Jump in, George!" the dear dog seemed to be saying.

Well, this was an adventure!... "One, two...."

The river had disappeared. George found himself in a most wonderful garden. The sun was shining overhead in a blue sky, and everywhere he looked he could see nothing but flowers.... What a perfectly delightful scent! The grass was so soft, too. He must just sit down and rest for a moment....

[Pg 207]

He began to feel very thirsty.... Why, there were lovely pears and apples on those trees over there. He must just pluck one!... He felt so tired, and it was so cool sitting in the shade. He could almost hear little voices singing a lullaby to him....

What was the good of bothering about anything? It was ever so jolly here.... Wouldn't it be fun if Alexander were here too! What races they would run!... No, they would just lie down together and.... Hark! Was that Alexander's bark once more? "Wake up! Wake up!"

What a bother! But the sound kept ringing in his ears, and slowly—oh, so slowly!—he walked toward a little door in the garden wall.

He was walking down a long passage, and on each side of him were doors. He could not make up his mind which door to open. Never mind! It didn't matter very much. Perhaps they weren't real, but only magic doors. He opened the next door he came to and walked into ... no, not a room, but just a little space scarcely as large as a cupboard, with a door in the wall facing him.

[Pg 208]

He opened that, and found himself facing another door.

"This is a bother!" he thought. "Just like a Chinese box-trick. You open one box and then you find another inside it, and then another inside that. They keep on getting smaller and smaller until.... Why, this place is getting smaller!"... And so it was!... He had hardly room to move now.

He turned round to go back again, but found the door shut behind him.

"I'll just open one more." He opened it, and found himself in a most beautiful room, and there, lying on a couch fast asleep, was—the Princess Fortunata! Just like a story-book, isn't it?

Now it is just here that George's story begins to get a little patchy, like the counterpane.

He remembers trying to wake the Princess. She remained fast asleep in spite of all that he did. She was very beautiful, just like a pink and white rose, but he could not remember what dress she wore, or what the colour of her hair was, or anything else at all, so you must make up the rest of it for yourselves.

He woke her up at last. Did he kiss her, like the Prince in Sleeping Beauty? He[Pg 209] never remembered—or said that he didn't remember. I wonder!

She opened her eyes and gazed at him, as if just awakening from a dream.

What did she say? What do princesses say to brave knights who rescue them from enchantment?

You may be sure that she said just the right things. Princesses always do. They are taught the right words to say by their governesses, in case they might become enchanted when they grow up. You never know what a fairy god-mother may do, especially if she be a bad fairy!

Now came the hardest part of all—to escape with the Princess from the enchanted castle.

The Princess took George gently by the hand like a nice, kind, grown-up sister, and said: "We must hasten. In another moment the wicked magician will be here, and then we are lost!"

So they ran hand in hand to the door and down a passage. "Faster!" cried the Princess, and George ran faster than he had ever run before.

"Faster, faster!" cried the Princess again, and on and on they sped until George wondered if there was any end at all to the passage.

[Pg 210]

Suddenly, boom! boom!—like the rolling of thunder!

"The magician is coming! Hasten, oh, hasten!" On and on they ran.

Boo-oom! Closer and closer! Faster and faster the two ran, until it seemed as if they were flying through the air.

Boom! It sounded almost in their very ears. They caught sight of a little door, so tiny you could scarcely see it, and rushed toward it; George pulled it open, pushed the Princess through, and was just going to follow her when—crash!

[Pg 211]


Another Party

HE was lying on a soft mossy bank, and Alexander—yes, Alexander!—was gently licking the tip of his nose.

"Wherever have you been?" he cried, sitting up and looking at the dear, dear dog in surprise and delight.

"Oh, I've just been having a little snooze," wuffed Alexander, and yawned a real doggy yawn.

George was so pleased that he got up and hugged him. After Alexander had shaken himself, for his coat was just a little ruffled up after George's embrace, he sat down and smiled—such[Pg 212] a friendly smile! Only a dog can smile like that.

"Where have I been, Alexander?" asked George.

"You know, George," replied Alexander. "Why do you ask me?"

"Where's the Princess?"

"At home, where she ought to be, I suppose."

"Oh! Well, where am I, now?"

"Look around you!"

George looked, and there, standing just in front of him, was the little house. It felt like coming home again.... Home? Ah, yes; but wasn't it time to be returning to their real home?

He got up and walked toward the house. "I wish ... I wish my fortune were here!" he said. "I would like to go home and see Mother and Father again!"

Once more they heard the sweet music, but louder and louder, as if it were coming toward them.

"Shall I ever find my fortune, Alexander?" said George after tea. It was tea, not breakfast, so it must have been evening.

[Pg 213]

"There, my child; it lies right there under your very nose."

"Where?" George looked down, and then remembered. "That's what the mother said in the dragon's story, isn't it?... Oh, dear, everything is so puzzling! Where is Sir Tristram? Shan't I ever see him again?"

"Time for bed now!" Alexander yawned and stretched himself, and not another word would he say.

It was nice to be in bed in this cosy little room. There were such jolly patterns on the wall-paper, and they seemed to be changing all the time. Sometimes there were trees and rivers, sometimes birds and animals, sometimes ships and whales. Perhaps it was a dream wall-paper. Would there be another adventure to-morrow? It would be fun to go back to the Castle of the Thousand Towers and visit the King. Just fancy if he invited George to stay with him! Did the Princess get back quite safely?

What was happening?

The room seemed to be full of a soft rosy light. The walls seemed to be growing and spreading in all directions. The bed—why, it wasn't a bed[Pg 214] at all! It was a beautiful couch of soft moss, and the room had disappeared altogether.

George was lying in the forest, in the middle of a glade surrounded by trees of all shapes and sizes. Music was everywhere—above him, around him, ebbing and flowing like the tide of the sea. Little voices were whispering, laughing, singing; what were they saying? Could it be: "George is home at last!"

Why, this wasn't home! It was ... what was it?

Thousands and thousands of tiny lights! They came on and on, until the whole glade was lit up as bright as day. Still there was not a soul to be seen! What was that? "Wuff! Wuff!"—and there was Alexander with—a green bow round his neck!

"What are you doing here?" cried George.

"I've come to your party, George," said Alexander, and standing on his hind legs he made a low bow. What next, I wonder?

George stared at him in astonishment.

"Ah, here are some old friends coming!" And Alexander bounded away as if he thought George understood what he meant. Some old friends?

[Pg 215]

A blast of trumpets, and lines of trumpeters marched two by two into the glade. They formed into two lines, and then down the middle there came the King and his Princess—now his Queen—wearing their royal robes and their crowns! They looked perfectly splendid! With them was Sir Tristram in full armour.

They walked up to George and shook hands with him. "Thank you so much for inviting us to your party," said the Queen, with a heavenly smile. "I haven't been to a party for ages and ages. I am so glad we are not late. What a sweet spot you have chosen for the entertainment."

The entertainment? What did she mean, or was it one of Alexander's jokes?

A whirr, whirr, and there in the middle of the glade was the witch.

"Well, George!" she said, with a smile. "You look surprised to see me. You did invite me, you know, so I'm not a rude old witch, whatever you may think. The giant's coming too. He stopped to tell the storks a story, but he'll arrive in time for supper."

Supper? So there was going to be a supper!

The dragon was the next guest to appear. He and the weathercock came—not arm in arm,[Pg 216] but—well, you know what one means by arm in arm when dragons are walking. They were both very pleased to see George, and the dragon was full of jokes and fun.

Last of all came Tom Tiddler, helping old Father Time along, and then Alexander with his two friends the cats.

"Are we all here?" asked the witch. "We can't wait for the giant. He's always late. Let's begin!"

They seated themselves in a circle round George, and all looked at him as if they were expecting something.

"Now then, George!" said the witch. "We are waiting to hear all about your fortune."

Everybody clapped their hands—not the dragon, the weathercock, and those without hands—and cried: "Bravo! Bravo!"

George felt very shy. "It's a long story," he began.

"All stories are long; all good stories," said a voice, and there was the giant peeping at them from behind the trees!

"It's all right," he explained. "I'm lying down, so I shan't be in anybody's way."

So George told them his story—all that you[Pg 217] have read in these pages, and everybody listened, and now and then told a little bit themselves when it came to the part which they knew.

At last they came to the end. "And so they married and lived happily ever after!" said the Queen, with a smile.

George jumped to his feet and clapped his hands. "I told you I was right!" he cried to the giant. "All stories end in that way."

"Ah, but your story isn't finished, so I shall be right," said the giant. "You're not married, you know. Ha, ha!"

"Stop laughing at once!" ordered the witch. "You'll curdle all the cream if you're not careful. Laugh down in your boots and then it won't matter."

"I can't," replied the giant. "I've tried, oh, ever so hard, and it always comes out the wrong way. Whatever I do is wrong."

"Oh, please, don't cry!" begged George. "I'm sure you did try. It must be difficult to remember that you are a giant."

"It's a long, long way to my boots," said the giant. "I expect the laughter gets tired about half-way, and bursts. Then, you know, it's no good. When your laughter bursts it flies out of[Pg 218] your mouth before you know where you are. I remember——"

"You are not to remember," commanded the witch. "It's time for supper."

She waved her stick, and in a flash there was the supper all ready laid. What a pity that all suppers can't be arranged as easily as this!

Well, they ate and they drank, and all the time sweet music was played by invisible musicians. It was far, far finer than George's last birthday-party.

After supper everybody—except the giant—told stories or sang songs, and Alexander showed them how dogs signal to one another by tail-wagging.

Then there was a moment's silence. Old Father Time arose and said: "I must go on my way once more. It is now time to say farewell."

"Stop a minute!" cried Tom Tiddler. "We must give George a present. Each one of us must give him something as a remembrance—or else he might forget us!"

He put his hand in his pocket, drew something out and presented it to George. It was a leaf!

"A leaf for remembrance! George will find[Pg 219] out what it means by and by," he said, with a smile. "Now then, it's somebody else's turn."

Each in turn shook hands with George and gave him a present. Now, what did they give?

Last of all came the beautiful Queen. With a radiant smile she took George in her arms and kissed him. It was just like being kissed by sweet roses, honeysuckle, and all the fragrant flowers you can think of!

"I have given him the best present of all," she said. "For his end to the story is really the sweetest; 'they lived happily ever after.' George is a fairy boy, after all, aren't you, George?"

How madly the music was playing! Tum-tee-rum-tee-tiddle-tee-tum! Almost as if one ought to dance to it. Yes, he would dance with the beautiful Queen!

He opened his eyes—but where was everybody? Gone, all gone!

Around him were hundreds and hundreds of tiny figures dancing, singing, flying through the air. Many of them were wearing green jackets and red caps and were playing—ah, the music—the same sweet melody he had heard so often!

[Pg 220]

Could they be—the fairies?

Where was he? He seemed to be moving along. He was actually in a carriage which was being dragged along by any number of these tiny people. On the box sat a little figure—could it be Tom Tiddler? He guessed all in a flash it was—of course, you've guessed it too—Puck.

Puck turned round and smiled at George. "Home! We're going home now. Mother wants you. Mind you don't forget your fortune, George!"

On they drove; through the wood with the moon shining down on them above the trees; down the hill past the windmill, which made George think of the young dragon who went to look for his fortune; and into the garden. Home at last! Alexander met them at the gate.

"Welcome home, George!" he wuffed. "Hasn't it been an adventure?"

George sat up straight in the carriage as if he had been a prince or a victorious general coming home from the war. At last the carriage stopped.


Then George, who felt as if he had been in a dream, turned to the fairies and said:[Pg 221] "I am pleased to be home again. Thank you so much for bringing me all this way. I have enjoyed myself, oh, ever so much!"

Puck took off his cap and bowed. "You're here: you might be there, but you're not. Now you know all about it!"

"Why, Tom Tiddler said that!" cried George.

Before he could say another word the fairies were all flying away in the air. Tinkle, tinkle!—you should have heard their tiny laughter!

Puck smiled: "Don't forget us, little George! Don't forget us! You are a fairy boy, after all, aren't you?" and in an instant—whish!—he was gone!

"George, darling!" Who was that calling him? Could it be Mother?

What a long time he must have kept her waiting!

[Pg 223]


Back to the World

"GEORGE, darling!" George rubbed his eyes. Ah, it was the beautiful Queen kissing him again.

"George!" Ah, it was the witch this time. He knew her voice well enough. She must have come back again. It felt like a dream, but there were dreams within dreams, and he didn't really know which was the true dream. He must be back in his little house again ... but hadn't the fairies brought him home? The fairies? Then had he been dreaming about these adventures, and, if so, where was he now? There were really fairies, anyway; he was quite sure about that!

[Pg 224]

And so he went on thinking and thinking, although the voice, such a sweet voice, kept repeating "George, darling!"

What was that? Alexander's bark! "Wuff! Wuff!" That was all right. Alexander would explain everything.

"Wuff! Wuff!" right in his ear. He sat up with a start.

Why, he was in bed in his own room! There was Alexander sitting with his head a little on one side looking at him, and thump-thumping with his tail on the bed-clothes.

And there were the beautiful Queen and the witch ... no, it wasn't ... it was Mother bending over him and saying "George, darling!" and there was Nurse sitting knitting. How odd!

"You have been sound asleep, dear. It was Alexander who woke you up at last," said Mother. Nurse said nothing, but she smiled such a peculiar smile. Where had George seen that smile before? Could Nurse be a witch?

His head was so full of all his wonderful adventures that he wanted to begin to tell them all about it at once. But Mother said "No!" and Nurse said "No!" and Alexander said nothing, but just lay on the bed and smiled all the time.

[Pg 225]

Oh, it was annoying! Every time he began his story Mother said: "George, dear, you mustn't get so excited," and Nurse said: "Time for your medicine!"

The doctor arrived in his little motor, puff-puffing away as hard as ever.

"Well, how are we to-day?" he said. "Feeling a little better, eh?"

"I'm all right," answered George. "I want to get up and go out with Alexander!"

"H'm! You weren't so well after you had been out yesterday, you know. You should take care of yourself." And the doctor bent over him, felt his pulse, looked at his tongue, and did all the tiresome things doctors do when we aren't well.

"He really seems much better. In fact, you can let him go for a walk so long as he doesn't overheat himself," George heard him say to Mother.

"Doctor!" called George, just as the doctor was getting ready to go. "Doctor, come here!" And as the doctor came up to the bedside he whispered in his ear: "I've been there!"

"Been there?" The doctor was puzzled.

"Yes. You remember my asking you if there[Pg 226] was a real Fairyland, and you said that if I really wanted to find the way there I must wish as hard as ever I could. Well, I've been there, and oh, I've had such adventures!"

The doctor smiled. "How many miles to Babylon?" he asked.

Now who had said that to George before? Why, it was Sir Tristram! Wasn't it queer that the doctor should say it too?

"Lucky boy!" said the doctor, taking up his hat again. "Lucky boy! We grown-ups have no luck at all. I lose my way every time I try to get there."

"What a pity!" cried George. "I'm sure your house is ready waiting there for you."

"Well, well," replied the doctor. "See that it's kept well aired for me when you're there next time, won't you? I might manage to get there some time, if only by accident."

It took George days and days to tell his story properly. Mother was never tired of hearing it, and asked heaps and heaps of questions; Father said the mere thought of a real live dragon, and especially a wicked magician, made him shiver and shake. He really did shake all over, but perhaps he was only pretending.

[Pg 227]

Nurse nodded her head very wisely, but though George asked her if she had ever seen a witch, no, she wouldn't answer anything but: "Perhaps I have; perhaps I haven't."

Uncle William was delighted to hear that Alexander could talk, and used to read him bits out of the newspaper and ask him what he thought about the weather, and all kinds of nonsense. He loved the part about Tom Tiddler, and really could imitate his voice so well that George sometimes couldn't tell the difference.

George often talked to Mother about his little house in the wood. One day when they were sitting in the garden he said to her: "You have a house there too, haven't you?"

"Yes, I have a little house," replied Mother. "I have been back to it quite lately. I sometimes forget about it for a time, but I always like to go back to it when I am feeling a little tired or cross. It is so nice to rest there."

"Has Father got a house there?"

"Yes. I once had a tiny peep at it. It was so untidy, just as he likes things to be. Papers and books all over the floor; clothes all unfolded,[Pg 228] and a smell of tobacco in every room. He called it a 'heavenly little house.'" And Mother laughed merrily at the thought.

"Did you really see it?"

"Yes, but it was only a peep, you know. He has seen the inside of mine once, and he said he thought he would have to sleep outside in the garden if he ever came to pay me a visit. The house was far too neat and tidy for a big clumsy man."

"Did you ever see the fairies?"

"Long, long ago. You see, once you have been back to your little house they know that you belong to the 'right people,' and only pay you a visit on very special days."

"Oh, then shall I go back to my little house again?" asked George.

"Of course you will, so long as you don't become too grown-up. If you forget your house it will fall into ruins, and by and by you will never be able to find it again."

"Ah, that's what Alexander said!" answered George.

There seemed to be no end to the things George was learning from his adventures. One day he said to Nurse: "The dragon's fortune—[Pg 229]the little dragon, I mean—lay right under his nose, didn't it?"

"Yes," replied Nurse, "right under his nose."

"Is mine under my nose?"

"Yes, if you look for it. It's been there all the time." Nurse smiled more like a witch than ever.

George had a long talk with Alexander about this. Although Alexander only seemed to wuff-wuff, George was quite certain that he could understand him now.

"I believe," said George, with his hands deep in his pockets—big pockets he had specially asked for—"I believe Mother's a piece of my fortune, quite a large piece. Father's another and"—here he hugged Alexander—"you're another! Of course, I mustn't forget Nurse," he added.

Mother was very pleased when she heard this, and one day after tea she showed George something she had found in his room on the day he came back from the Once-upon-a-Time Land. They were leaves—golden-brown leaves—from Tom Tiddler's sack! George had almost forgotten about them.

"I have been keeping these safe for you," she said. "You must not lose them. It would never do to throw away your fortune."

[Pg 230]

"No; I would like to have them always, so that I shall never forget. Now that I know where my fortune is I don't want to go searching for it again, though I did enjoy myself."

Mother took a piece of paper out of the pocket of her apron. "You remember that each of the guests at your party gave you a present. What were they? Do you know still, or have you forgotten?"

George thought for some time. "I can half guess, you know, but I'm not sure."

"Well, they gave you each a gift which you could not buy for gold or jewels. Think of what you would like to be?"

"I should like to be happy," said George at once.

"That's one!"

"Oh, and healthy too. It's horrid to be ill, and I should like to be brave like Sir Tristram and ... oh, I know, full of fun and laughter like the dragon."

"Yes; there are still some more."

"Well, wise like the witch or like Tom Tiddler. Oh"—here he clapped his hands—"unselfish like Alexander! He's always ready to forgive me, even if I hurt him."

[Pg 231]

Alexander, who was lying at his feet, looked up and wagged his tail.

"And what did the beautiful Queen give you? Her present was the best of all!"

"The best of all?" How sweet she had looked, the dear Queen, almost—no, just the same as Mother!

"Have you guessed, dear?" said Mother, bending down and kissing George.

In a moment he knew. "Of course, how stupid of me! It's the last and the best!" And he hugged her and Alexander in turns.

[Pg 233]


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[Pg 235]


What the Fairies Thought

PUCK was sitting on top of his favourite toadstool, balancing a blade of grass on his nose. The fairies were watching him do one trick after another with delight. He wasn't the least bit cross now.

"Ker-ek!" croaked the old frog. "You make me dizzy."

"Are you there still?" said Puck, turning a somersault on to the ground. "I thought your cold was no better."

"I haven't got a cold," grumbled the frog. "I haven't always got a cold. Sometimes it's a cold, sometimes it's not."

[Pg 236]

"Well," said Puck, "you see, he came to our party after all."

But the old frog didn't answer. He made all kinds of queer noises, blew himself out like a balloon, and really frightened the fairies. They ran as fast as they could with dewdrops and honey-balls—their medicine, you know—to help him.

"I'm all right!" he gasped. "I'm all right. I was only laughing."

This was too much for the fairies. They laughed and laughed until they were tired, for who had ever heard of an old frog laughing?

"What were you laughing at?" Puck asked.

"Why, at you, of course!" replied the old frog. "Your party was delightful. It quite cured my cold. And that boy of yours, George Henry, is a nice little boy. I'll teach him to swim one day."

This was quite a long speech for the old frog, and he was quite hoarse for two days after it.

Puck stood up on a tall thistle and bowed solemnly. "Listen!" he said. "George Henry is a wonder-child. I said he was, and so he is. If he hadn't had a large piece of fairyness in him he would never, never have come to the party at all. His great-great-great-grandmother,[Pg 237] you know, was quite half a fairy. And his mother makes up stories about us in her head. I knew I was right!"

"You are clever!" cried the fairies in chorus.

"Am I not a clever Puck?" he cried, turning head over heels. "Clever, clever, clever!" And he danced round and round the old frog with all the fairies after him.

Well, that's a good thing! All the fairies understand that George Henry is a kind of a fairy, and quite believe that in time he will grow more and more like one, although the storks "Pooh, pooh!" whenever they hear this, and ask: "What about us? He's our boy!"

George is growing up fast, and will soon be a man—and yet that's not really true, for he's not a man at all, but just George.

Alexander said one day—but you will have to wait until another time to hear that!

[Pg 238]

[Pg 239]


Now take hands, and dance and sing
Round and round the fairy ring.
Sing and dance with mirth and joy,
George, he is a fairy boy!
Gifts we gave him. What were they?
Happiness the livelong day;
Happiness and heart's delight
Was the gift of every sprite.
Better far than sacks of wealth
Were our gifts of youth and health.
Health to keep him young and gay
Was the gift of every fay.
Gifts we gave him from our store;
Yet again we gave one more.
"Live for others, not yourself,"
Was the gift of every elf.
And the last, and quite the best,
Better far than all the rest,
This he learned on fairy ground:
"'Tis Love that makes the world go round!"