The Project Gutenberg eBook of Fairy Tales Told in the Bush

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Fairy Tales Told in the Bush

Author: Sister Agnes

Release date: January 16, 2021 [eBook #64310]

Language: English

Credits: The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from scans of public domain works at The National Library of Australia.)













Of these Fairy Tales told to children in the Australian bush, “The Magic Gun” and “The Underground River,” are original, but the others have been brought from the old country, not in book form, but in the memory of a lover of fairies and children.

“The Origin of the Yarra Yarra” was told to the writer by old King Barak, the last King of the Yarra tribe, a few days before his death.

These tales, as told here, charmed the writer in the “Sixties” when Melbourne was a place of bush and swamp. They now charm little slum children in the so-called “slum parts” of the city of Melbourne, “The Palace of Truth” and “The Magic Gun” being always asked for when stories are to be told.




The Little Man in Brown, or the Boy who Lied 3
The Magic Gun 21
The Underground River 31
The Origin of the Yarra Yarra (Ever-flowing) 51
Forget-me-not 61
The Palace of Truth 75



Each wall was covered with shelves, and each shelf was full of books Frontispiece
The boy grew bold and began to read 2
The sale of the bull 11
Barak telling the story of the Magic Gun 20
Eating the berries 30
The fish gave a flap, a jump, and reached the water 45
Barak snatched the honeycomb away, and put it in his mouth 50
Finding the footprint of the “Shining One” 56
The Man in the Moon 60
Marie finding the man 67
Marie going to the Moon 69
They came in sight of an enormous tree, upon which grew golden apples 74
The toys running away 82






The little man in brown, or the boy who lied.

Long, long ago in the days when there were no schools, there lived a man and his wife and their only child. He was a bright, clever boy, and his parents were very ambitious for their dear boy, and wished him to become a great and renowned man. They saw that the children who could not read or write, but who just played all day long, had to go to work while still very young, and were generally so stupid that they could never earn much money; so they determined to let their boy have an education, and be able, later on, to have an easier life than they themselves had ever enjoyed. They worked early and late and saved every penny, even when their boy was still a baby, and by the time he was old enough to learn, they had saved enough money to pay a learned man who lived in the town to teach the boy. Boy he[4] was always called, and I am very glad there is no other name for him, because of his bad ending.

When Boy was fourteen years old, he knew so much about books that there was not a single book in the learned man’s library that he had not read. Oh, he was very clever and knowing, and he told his mother and father that he now knew enough to go and earn a good living. “In the morning,” said he, “I shall set out to make a fortune.”

Long before daybreak, the boy set out on his journey, carrying a bundle done up in a big red handkerchief. It contained a clean shirt, a pair of socks, a loaf of new bread, and a bottle of milk. His parents were very sad when he went away, but they knew he would never have any chance to become great and famous in the town where every one knew him as “the boy.”

Away trudged the boy, up hill and down dale, until at last, just before sunrise, he came to a hill where, as he imagined, cock had never crowed and man had never walked before. Tired and hungry, he sat down to eat his loaf and drink his milk, and, just as he had finished, a little old man dressed all in brown suddenly appeared before him. The boy rubbed his eyes to make sure he was not dreaming, for a[5] minute before he had been alone; now, here was this funny little man looking at him. The little man wore knee-breeches and silk stockings, a cut-away coat, and a cocked hat, all of brown, and the funny thing was that the colour of his clothes matched the colour of his eyes and hair.

“Well, my boy,” said the old man, “you look surprised to see me.”

“Yes, sir, I am; I thought no one lived here.”

“Can’t people be in a place without living there? You yourself are here at present, but I suppose you don’t live here.”

“No, sir; I am going out into the world to make my fortune.”

“Just the boy I want. I am looking for a boy who will promise to do a little work for me for six months, and for that little work he is to get £50. Will you come and do it?”

“That I will,” cried the boy, jumping up gladly.

“Stay, though, there is one question I must ask first,” said the little old man. “Can you read or write?”

“Yes,” answered the boy proudly, “I can read anything in my tutor’s library.”

“Ah! then you won’t do for me, and I must go on my way in search of a boy capable of[6] doing what I want, but unable to read or write.”

“Why do you want——” began the boy; but he was speaking to space, the little old man in brown had disappeared. Suddenly the boy formed a resolution. He would go home again, make himself look quite different, and come to-morrow morning to this same place, and then, if the little old man came—— Well, the boy had been taught to read and write, but he had not been taught to be truthful or honest. His parents thought that did not help people to get rich or famous.

Back he went to his home, and when he told his mother what he intended to do, she was quite pleased. “See,” she said to her husband, “how clever the boy is; this is what book-learning has done. No one else would think of such a clever trick.”

Next morning, at sunrise, there was a boy again sitting on the top of that distant hill, where the boy had breakfasted the day before. Indeed it was “the Boy,” although he looked quite different. He had dyed his fair hair and his eyebrows, making them look almost black, and he had rubbed the juice of a certain bark on his skin to make him seem dark. There he sat, a dark foreign-looking boy, eating his breakfast and impatiently waiting for the little old[7] man to come again. He had not long to wait. How he came the boy never knew, but he suddenly knew he was not alone, and looking up saw the old man looking at him.

“Ah, a fair boy yesterday, and a dark one to-day. I hope there is more luck for me with the dark than there was with the fair. What are you doing here, boy?”

“I’m looking for work, sir,” answered the boy, trying not to show how delighted he felt.

“Good,” said the old man, “and I’m looking for a boy who wants work.”

“Will you engage me, sir?”

“Softly, softly, there are one or two things to speak about first. Can you read and write?”

“No, sir,” answered the boy, not even turning a shade paler under his dye, for you see he had never been taught to be truthful or honourable.

“Good again; then if £50 a year will suit you, you can come at once.”

Of course the boy said “Yes” to that, and the old man led him to a house just over the next hill, a pretty house standing in a big natural garden.

“Come in,” said the old man, unlocking the door, “come in and I’ll show you what you must do to earn your money.”

The boy was astonished to find that the house was really only one big room; each wall[8] was covered with shelves from the ceiling to the floor, and each shelf was full of books. The boy was then told that he would be quite alone in the house, as his master meant to travel for six months. Usually he lived there by himself, but he had studied so much that his brain was tired, and he knew that if he wished to get really well and strong again, he must travel away, and not look at a book for six months. So he had hired the boy just to dust his beloved books in his lonely house, and, as it was so far away from people, he had to give a big sum of money, as wages, to get any one to stay there alone.

The boy stood looking around in astonishment. “Where am I to sleep?” he asked.

“Why, on that couch, of course,” said the old man; “you’ll find plenty of blankets under it.”

“And what am I to eat?”

“Ah! ah! ah!” laughed the old man, “trust a boy to make provision for that. There is, my boy, a wonderful secret connected with this house. When a certain magic word is pronounced, a table is lowered by invisible hands, and on the table you will find everything you wish to eat and drink. Now say it after me, ‘Corremurreplatyemurrepleuemurretimemurrejcherymurrepljeskuskiski.’”

Slowly the boy repeated the strange word[9] after the old man, and, as he finished, there descended a table even as he had been told. On the table was a baked fowl, a duck, vegetables, puddings, tarts, cakes, sweets, and two or three kinds of drinks. Oh, these things were good! The boy soon knew that, and when he had eaten and drunk as much as he could, the man said he must get away as soon as possible, as he felt his brain could not stand the strain of even the backs of the books much longer.

“I know you can’t read and write, boy,” said the old man, “and yet I want you to promise me you won’t read a single word in these books, nor even open them.”

The boy promised readily enough, and then the old man went off. At first the boy worked at the dusting, never daring to open one of the books in case the old man should suddenly appear as he had done on the hill-top; but, as day after day passed, and there was no sign of him, he grew bold and began to read. What he read was very, very strange, stranger than anything he had ever heard of. Soon indeed he knew that his master must be the cleverest man in the world, for he learned from his books how to turn himself into any animal, and then to change back again into himself. How he longed to try it, but he dare not, because one condition[10] was, that a person turning into an animal found a leather halter round his neck, and only a human being could undo it, so that he might turn back again to what he had been before.

Long before the six months were over, the boy was longing to go and try this wonderful unheard-of thing, but he dared not go until the old man came back, or he not only would have had to go penniless, but the old man might suspect him, and watch him and his actions.

At last, however, the little old man returned. “Have you kept your promise?” were his first words. “You have not read the books?” and the boy vowed and protested that he had not even opened the books. The old man examined his precious volumes, and, finding them in good order, paid the £50, and the boy then set out for his home. His father and mother could hardly believe he had earned so much money in such a short time.

“Easy come, easy go,” is a homely saying, and certainly “Boy’s” £50 went very easily indeed, and soon it was all spent. “You must go and earn some more money,” said his mother.




“Ah! ah!” laughed Boy, “not I; I’ve learned how to get money without working, no more working for me. I’ve learned how to turn myself into any animal I like. The worst of it is, though, if I change into an animal used by man, like the horse, cows and dogs, a halter will be around my neck, and I can’t change back again until the halter is taken off. Now, to-morrow is market day, and all the farmers will be in the town, so I’ll change myself into a bull, and you can take me to market and sell me, but remember to take the halter off my neck.”

“Never fear,” said his father, “I’ll remember.”

Early next morning, when Boy’s father went into the yard, there stood a beautiful black bull which he at once led off to the market. Quite a commotion was made by the fine bull.

“Come here,” cried the farmer who first saw it, “come here, and look at this prize bull.”

A crowd gathered around, and soon the farmers had made up their minds to buy it between them, as no one was rich enough to buy such a costly bull for himself alone. £1,000, and well worth it, they all declared. So five of them clubbed together and bought it. One farmer, who had a big strong stable, was to take care of the fine beast. Together they took the bull to the stable, saw it safely locked up, and the key put in the farmer’s pocket.

Next day the five owners brought some friends to see their prize, but, lo, the bull had disappeared.[13] They looked at the fastenings of the door—nothing wrong—and there was no other way by which the bull could have escaped, so they all declared that the farmer had hidden the bull and meant to sell it secretly. Poor man, he was at once hurried off to prison. Where was the bull? Why, no sooner had the farmers locked the door, than the bull changed himself into a fly, and flew through the keyhole. When the boy’s father reached home, there was his son sitting by the side of the fire enjoying a meal, while his mother rocked herself from side to side, laughing at the trick he had played the farmer.

“A thousand pounds! now, if we had another thousand, we would never need to work again. Change yourself into another animal next market day, and I’ll sell you again.”

“No,” said the son, “we must wait awhile, there will be a great noise about the bull that has disappeared.”

And indeed there was a noise about it. Everybody’s tongue clattered so loudly that even the little old man in brown heard a whisper about it. “Ah,” thought he, “that boy has played me false. A bull could not disappear unless some one knew my magic secret. I must keep a watch on that town, and see if any other valuable animal comes to the market.”


After some time people forgot all about the strange disappearance of the bull, and, as the boy’s father continuously worried him to work the magic trick again, he at last consented.

This time it was a beautiful prancing horse that was seen and admired by the market people. £1,000 was asked for it. The little old man, disguised in a great cloak and turned-down hat, began to bargain for it, and soon the father had sold it, and had begun to take the halter off its neck.

“Stop,” cried the little man, “I bought that horse as he stood, the halter included.”

“No, no, only the horse,” said Boy’s father.

“How could I lead the horse away without a halter? but to stop all dispute you shall have another £100.” The little old man threw down the money, jumped on the horse and galloped away.

“I’ve caught you at last,” said he to the horse, “now I mean to kill you; liar and thief that you are, for such sins you must die.” The little old man in brown galloped the horse up hills, and down dales and across rivers, but the horse never seemed even to tire. “Well, as you won’t die in one way you must in another. I shall have a goad made in such a way that every time I strike you with it blood will flow.”


At the first blacksmith’s to which he came, he stopped and called aloud for the smith to come out. Out came the smith, holding a heavy hammer in his hand, and the little old man in brown gave his directions for the goad; but the smith was not clever, so the old man had to get down, and go into the smithy to draw a plan of what he wanted made. The horse was left in charge of a boy. “Take the halter off my neck.” The boy in charge was so surprised to hear a horse speak that he obeyed, and the horse at once scampered off.

“Hey, mister, mister, your horse is running away.” These words brought the little old man out very quickly; sure enough there was the horse some distance off, galloping as fast as he could go. The old man changed himself into a horse and galloped after him. Of course there was no one to place a halter on him, so there was no halter to take off, and he could change again as soon as he wished to. The fresh horse soon gained upon the tired one.

“Dear, dear, this will never do, I must dodge him. I’ll change into a hare and sneak off into the bushes,” thought the boy; but no sooner had the boy become a hare than the old man became a greyhound, and began to get very close to him indeed. “Oh, dear! he is gaining on me, I shall change into a bird,[16] and fly into the trees;” but no sooner had the boy become a little bird than the old man became a hawk and got closer still.

“Look!” cried a lady who sat at the window in her room, “look at the hawk chasing that poor little bird.” Quickly she opened the window, and the little bird flew in. To her astonishment it changed at once into a ring, and, lo, there it was on her finger!

A knock was heard at the door. “Come in,” said the lady. In came a little old man dressed in brown.

“Madam, I have lost a little bird; it was being chased by a hawk; it flew in here.”

“Yes,” answered the lady; “a strange thing happened; no sooner had it flown in here than it became a ring on my finger.”

“Madam, I claim my property,” said the little old man, stretching out his hand for the ring.

She took off the ring sadly, but it slipped from her fingers and rolled into the passage.

“What shall I do?” thought the boy. “I know, I’ll turn into a great bundle of straw, and crowd him out of the place.” You see, he was such a selfish boy he never even thought about the lady who had allowed him to fly into the room.

The lady was horrified to see the door filled[17] up with straw; but, lo! the little old man at once turned himself into a donkey, and began to eat the straw. At every mouthful he of course ate what was really a piece of the boy, and the boy knew he must soon die at that rate. Hurriedly the boy changed himself into a mouse, but, alas! there was no mouse-hole for him to run and hide in, and before he could reach the door, the cat that belonged to the lady saw him, pounced upon him, and ate him up.

So that was the end of the boy who tried to get rich by stealing and lying. You might think that the £1,100 the old man had given the father made him a rich man for life. Not so, the neighbours and he soon spent it in gambling and drink, and in a short time he was as poor as he had been before his son began practising his magic tricks.








The Magic Gun.

It was September, the wattle blossom month, and many people were in and around beautiful Healesville, where the wattle is to be seen at its best. Old King Barak, the last King of the Yarra tribe, sat outside his hut at Coranderrk, surrounded by white people.

“You all too greedy,” he grumbled, “you come to see black man, black man make native fire, black man throw boomerang, black man throw spear; white man give him black brother pennies, pah, white man greedy, no give black man baccy, only pennies.” A few of the white people gave the dirty old chief a silver coin, then they went off to another hut to buy native baskets, and to see the funny black babies. One small boy stayed behind.

“I am not greedy, Barak; see, I have brought you a shilling.”

Barak greedily snatched the shilling.

“Last time,” said the boy, “you told me the story of the Yarra Yarra, and you promised to[22] tell me the story of the Magic Gun to-day if I brought you another shilling. Do be quick and tell me, because the others will want to go back to the township as soon as they have bought some baskets and things.”

Charmed by the gift of the shilling, the old man told the small white boy the story of the Magic Gun in quavering voice, sometimes scarcely to be heard, for he was very frail; indeed, though little Tom Jones did not know it, this was the last time he, or any one else, was to hear the story of the Magic Gun from poor old King Barak of Coranderrk Station.

Tom drew a deep breath as the old man finished his story.

“Let me look at the gun, Barak,” he pleaded.

The old black took him into his hut, and proudly showed him an old-fashioned gun.

“And that is the gun that Buckly, the white man who was lost and lived among the blacks, really used?”

“Course it is, didn’t I tell you,” said King Barak.

“And he really used nails instead of bullets?”

“Course he did with this gun, it’s a Magic Gun,” answered the old man.

“And he put his knife into its——”

“Tom, Tom, we are going, come along,” called the voice of authority, so Tom could not[23] finish his questioning, but had to drive away with the others.

That night, when the others were fast asleep in bed, Tom dressed himself very quietly—there was no need to get a candle, for there was a bright moon by whose light he could see quite well. He hurried, for he meant to go to Coranderrk Station, two miles away, sneak Barak’s Magic Gun, and just see for himself what its powers were like.

Fortune favoured Tom. Barak had somehow or other got some beer, although no one was allowed to sell beer to black men. Barak was in a drunken sleep and had not locked his door. Tom tiptoed in, took the Magic Gun from its place on the wall, and went out on his search for game. Tom walked steadily on until he was some miles from home. By this time the sun was rising, the whole country was bathed in a golden and purple light, but Tom had no thoughts for beauty or scenery. The Magic Gun filled his thoughts. He walked until, from very weariness, he sat down to rest against a log; not a thing had he seen upon which to try the Magic Gun, which had to be primed with nails instead of powder.

He enjoyed the bread and butter he had brought with him, and after he had finished it he felt rather sleepy—indeed, he closed his[24] eyes for a moment—only for a moment, however, for just as he was pinching himself to keep awake, he saw a big old man kangaroo standing erect, looking at him, not many feet away. Stealthily Tom took his Magic Gun from the ground, raised himself and prepared to fire. With a bound the kangaroo was off, Tom following at a hot pace.

“Sure luck with the Magic Gun,” said Tom to himself, for though the kangaroo went like the wind, Tom kept up with it. On and on they went, for miles and miles it seemed to Tom, until at last the kangaroo seemed to be winded, for he suddenly stopped and backed up against a tree facing Tom. With a shaky hand Tom put in six nails, raised the gun to his shoulder and fired.

Bang went the gun; the air was so full of smoke that for some minutes nothing could be seen for it, but as it cleared away Tom shouted for joy, for the old man kangaroo was nailed to the tree as securely as if he had been held by several pairs of hands, while the nails were driven in.


A shout of laughter came from the tree-top. Tom, looking up, saw an old kookooburra (or laughing jackass) with head bent back, laughing[25] and chuckling; soon he was joined by two young birds. The old one flew down, looked first at the dead kangaroo, then at Tom, after which he flew back to the branch on which he had been sitting and indulged in another burst of laughter; in this he was joined by the two young birds.

It seemed to Tom to be a personal insult. They must be laughing at him, because he knew no better than to shoot a kangaroo. He remembered now, the kangaroo was always hunted with dogs, never shot.

“Cheeky things,” said Tom, “I’ll teach them a lesson. They know I dare not shoot a kookooburra, so they think they can laugh at me as much as they like. I know what I’ll do, with this Magic Gun I can split the branch on which they are standing, then they won’t laugh so loud and long. One nail will be enough to do it.”

No sooner thought of than it was done. Bang went the gun once more, and before those rude kookooburras could fly away, the branch had opened, in slipped their little toes, and there they were caught nicely in a trap.

“Gour-gour-gah-gah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!” laughed the three trapped birds, but this time they were laughing at their own silliness in being caught so easily.


“They shall just stay there until I have been down the river and back again; but to go down the river I must have something to sail or row in. King Barak said that a knife was the thing to use instead of powder for that work. Now for making a canoe with the Magic Gun,” said Tom, at the same time placing an open penknife in the gun. Once more he raised it to his shoulder, but this time he fired at a great gum tree. The knife shot forth, struck the tree, and, as if guided by an invisible hand, cut the bark to the exact size and shape of a canoe. Tom gave a strong tug and pulled the bark clean away from the tree. There it lay, a very strong canoe, and in a short time Tom had dragged it across to the river, launched it, sprang in, and using the gun as a paddle, sailed gaily down the river.

It was so jolly! Of course it would have been better fun if some one had been with him, but then, none of the others really believed in the power of the Magic Gun, and King Barak said that if an unbeliever were present when he tried to use it, nothing could come of it.

Down the river went the canoe, nearing the dreadful place where the undercurrents met, the undercurrents which no one would face, not even the blacks, except in a magic canoe. Tom could now see the bridge which was just[27] the other side of the dreaded part, where anything that was thrown in got sucked down. As he looked his blood froze in his veins, and his heart seemed to stop beating with fear of what he saw. From under the bridge came an awful shapeless mass, the only distinct part about it being a head with glaring eyes and big horns.

“The Bunyip,” wailed Tom, trying now to paddle to the shore and so escape the horrid thing coming towards him. Suddenly, a happy thought struck him. Why, of course, the Magic Gun could kill even a “Bunyip.”

With trembling hands he placed his knife in the muzzle of the gun, fired, and saw the knife describe a circle over the Bunyip’s head and fall into the water. Hurriedly he took some nails from his pocket and charged the gun with them, fired, and was horrified to see that when the nails struck the Bunyip, fire and smoke came from every hole made by them. Nearer and nearer came the horrid flame-belching creature until it touched the boat, and at the same instant Tom sprang overboard, swam to the shore, and fled, followed by the awful Bunyip.

Faster and faster went Tom, until at last he dropped to the ground because his legs refused to carry him any further. Then he felt the[28] creature catch hold of him, and he sprang up wildly to fight it. But instead of the awful Bunyip, he saw his father, who gazed at his small son in surprise, and wanted to know why he had gone off alone so early in the morning, why he had borrowed Barak’s silly old gun, and what he meant by sleeping in the sun at that time of day.

Tom denied that he had been asleep. He looked at the Magic Gun. It was certainly rusty, as if it had been in the water, and he determined to get his father to go with him up the banks of the Yarra until they should come to the tree where he knew they would find the kangaroo skin nailed with the nails from the Magic Gun, and the three kookooburras caught in the split branch of the same tree; then he would be compelled to believe in its power.






The Underground Lake.

Tom Jones went to stay with his uncle at Mount Gambier during the Christmas holidays, and, as he said when he wrote to his father, “he was enjoying every minute of his visit to the land of lakes.”

The people who lived in and around the Mount were arguing about the Blue Lake. Was it really part of a great underground river, or was it just the crater of a worn-out volcano that had got filled up with water? They had argued about this for years, and Tom liked to listen to both sides, although he knew that all the arguing that would ever be done could never make him believe anything but the underground river belief.

There was the beautiful blue water, shut in by high banks which made it look like a big basin, half full of blue water. The water was always fresh and sweet, no bottom could be[32] found in the middle of the Lake, there was always a strong current too, oh, of course it was one of the wonderful underground rivers!

One day Tom went down to see the man in charge of the pumping station, with whom he was a great chum. They had been friends ever since Tom, soon after he came to the Mount, had helped to clean the boat that was wanted in a hurry to take a visitor across the Lake. There was only one boat kept, and it had to be as clean as man could make it before it could go on the Blue Lake, as the people of the town used the water for drinking.

Tom went very often to the Blue Lake. He meant to be an explorer when he grew up, and he was trying to fit himself for that work because he believed that whatever you meant to be as a man you should train yourself for while still a boy. On this special day (a day Tom never forgot because of what happened later through something he heard then at the pumping station) he had been exploring the country as usual, and on his way home called in to see his friend, the man-in-charge. There were several men talking to his friend, and just as Tom drew near them he heard an old man say—

“Well, I tell you what I know, not what I’ve heard; the Blue Lake is an underground river, and when you hear my reason for saying that,[33] you’ll agree with me. Let me see, it was about twenty years ago, when, instead of being a grey-headed old fellow as I am now, I was a black-headed young fellow, and I had the best pair of grey horses in this district. I didn’t believe in the underground river theory then, because I didn’t know then what I did a little while after. One day I was driving my pair of greys along the edge of the Blue Lake, when one of them slipped down the bank, fell into the water and sank. I soon got some men to help me drag the Lake, but no horse could we find; so I sadly set off for home with my one grey horse. I hadn’t got very far along the road towards McDonald’s Bay when a friend of mine met me, leading my lost grey horse. ‘This is yours, is it not?’ said my friend. It was mine, I knew it by the brand on him. Now, where do you think my friend found him? Why, in the water, on the other side of the hill that separates the Blue Lake from McDonald Bay. So I knew that if my horse got underground in that way from Blue Lake to McDonald Bay, there must be a river flowing under there.”

When the old man finished telling his story, he went away chuckling to himself, and every one laughed at his joke, every one, that is, but Tom, who went towards his uncle’s house[34] slowly, thinking, thinking, thinking about the underground river.

When Tom reached home tea had long been over, and to explain why he was so late he told them the story of the grey horse as it had been told by the old grey-headed man. Tom’s uncle said he also thought the Blue Lake was part of an underground river, and Tom then determined to explore and find the hidden openings where the river entered and went out of the big basin.

Next morning Tom set to work at once to explore the Blue Lake. First he made a map of that part of the country. Then he drew a straight line from McDonald Bay to the Lake, then marked it straight across to the opposite end of the Lake. This done, he made a sounding line of a long rope with heavy lead tied at the end, and leaning over the edge of the bank he tried banging his line against the place where he hoped the opening might be. Many times he struck with his leaded line, but each time it hit against the bank. Tom sighed sadly, thinking that if only he lived in England instead of in Australia, there would come a little fairy, most likely the Queen of the Fairies herself, and she would take him down into the water and show him the hidden openings and other wonders. But Australia was a new[35] country, and very few people here believed there were fairies anywhere.

Just as Tom had sadly given up all hope of fairy aid, he felt the line pulled gently, oh so gently at first, then harder and harder, until at last he could scarcely hold it in his hands.

“I won’t give up,” thought Tom, “the worst that can happen if I fall in is a wetting. I can easily swim out.”

He held on and was gradually drawn down beneath the water; deeper and deeper he went, until at last he was jerked on one side, and found himself on the bank of a fiercely rushing torrent.

Tom’s first thought was one of triumph. “I knew it was an underground river,” he cried aloud. He jumped around as if a pistol shot had been fired, when a voice near by said, “The least you might do is to thank me for bringing you here.” There stood a tiny gnome dressed all in green. “I pulled the leaded line that you threw down into the water, and I must say that for a boy who has the sense to try and find the opening of the river, you know very little about your country. Australia a new country indeed? It was thousands of years old before Britain was in existence. Oh, I know what I’m talking about, for I have[36] lived underground for a good many hundred years.”

Tom was so thoroughly surprised that he stood quite still, and stared at the little gnome, who continued: “No fairies either? Oh indeed, I could tell a different story. No one to help the poor little Australians? The helpers are here right enough, but most little Australians not only don’t want the help of the gnomes and fairies, but don’t believe there are such beings anywhere. Why, even the one I have just helped has not a word of thanks for what I have done for him.”

“Oh, I do thank you, how much I can’t say; I wanted to prove that the Blue Lake is a river, yes, I wanted to prove that more than anything else in the world, and I am so glad you have let me come to see it. Please may I explore some more of the river?”

Not only did the kind gnome allow Tom to see the wonders underground, but he offered to act as guide. As soon as Tom had eaten a bunch of wild cherries that the gnome gave him, he was not only dry and comfortable, but had become as small as the gnome, and could understand the talk of bird, beast and fish.

Tom was surprised at the great change, and told the gnome he had often enough eaten wild cherries before, and nothing strange had taken[37] place; but the gnome explained that only cherries picked by a gnome, and by him given to a human being, had the power to so change the one who ate them.

“Now,” said the gnome, “you shall see the source of this underground river. It would take rather long to get there by walking, so we shall go on my airship.”

He gave a strange cry, and at once was answered by a bird which was something like an albatross. It flew down by the gnome.

“Come,” said the little fellow, at the same time jumping on the back of the big bird. Tom took his place next to his guide, and at the gnome’s bidding the bird rose and flew upstream. It was a delightful sensation of rushing, swooping, then rising again, making Tom just a little frightened at first; but the bird had such a broad back, with such a comfortable hollow place for Tom to nestle into, that he soon enjoyed his sail through the air.

“Don’t bother to look at the places we pass, just get used to this way of travel, and on our return journey I shall point out the things of interest.”

Tom obeyed, for he did not care to look down from his lofty perch; and by the time they reached the source of the river he had become quite used to the rapid rush and could look[38] about fearlessly. Now the river came bubbling out of the hills far away in the north of a South Australian spring which flowed along for a few miles and then seemed to trickle back into the earth; but instead of doing that it trickled down into a cave, a big wonderful cave, lighted up by thousands of strange white glistening things, some hanging from the roof, others standing upright on the floor.

“Oh,” cried Tom, clapping his hands joyously, “it’s the fairies’ palace, I know.” The gnome told him it was only one of many, for Australia was just honeycombed with them. A few had been found by the human beings, for instance, the Narracoorte Caves and the Buchan Caves, both of which were really far too near the surface of the earth for safety, that is, for the safety of the fairies.

“There are no human beings living near this cave for miles and miles,” said Tom’s guide; “indeed, we feel sure some of our caves will never be found, and this is one of them.”

“Why are no fairies here now?” began Tom; but his question ended in a shriek, for first he felt some invisible hands pull his hair on one side, then on the other, while some one else tickled his sides and tweaked his ears and nose. All done so gently, that, after the first shriek, Tom felt ashamed of his fear, especially as he[39] saw the gnome grinning at him in a friendly way. Tom entered into the joke too. “I know who you are, you need not hide; please, oh please let me see you.”

“Shut your eyes,” said a sweet voice.

Tom obeyed. He felt something pass swiftly near his face, but he remained quite still with eyes closed. “Open,” cried the same voice. He had not to be told twice, and the sight that met his eyes kept him as still and silent as when he had been surprised at seeing the gnome. The place seemed to be just full of fairies, all dressed in green and gold, some sitting on the beautiful standing crystal, others floating in the air, others peeping from behind the hanging crystals, while in front of Tom stood the Queen surrounded by her fairies in waiting. He knew she was the Queen by the crown on her head, and the sceptre in her hand.

“Do homage,” whispered the gnome; so down on one knee went Tom and kissed the tiny hand held out by Her Majesty.

“Oh, you are beautiful, beautiful,” said Tom. “You are as beautiful as the golden wattle blossom on the green trees.” What a laugh rang through the crystal cave! A laugh like the tinkling of hundreds of tiny golden bells.

“Little boy, if you had the magic sight with[40] which to look at the wattle trees, you would see that often when people think they are looking at wattle blossom they are really looking at the Fairies of the Sunny South.”

“Why does the wattle blossom die so soon?” said the Queen.

“Indeed,” said Tom, “I have often wondered why it lasts so short a time when once it is picked.”

“Because the fairies, who play amongst it, fly away from every branch the humans break off from the trees.”

“I shan’t pick any more,” said Tom; “but, oh, I do hope I shall have the magic sight and be able to see you among the blossom next wattle time.”

“Unless we give you the power, you will not be able to see us. We were here when you came into the cave, and we meant to let you see us because we know about the Magic Gun. We know too that you believe in and love fairies.”

“Now you shall join in a game with my subjects. After that we must say good-bye, for I and my fairies have much work to do.”

Tom enjoyed the fairy game very much. The fairy by a wave of her sceptre, gave him the power to float through the air, and the game was one of hide and seek among the[41] crystals. All too soon for Tom, the fairies, in obedience to a word from Her Majesty, ceased their play, and stood before her. She gave her commands, they said good-bye to Tom, and, in a moment he and the gnome were alone once more.

“Don’t look so sad,” said the gnome, “for I have good news for you. Just listen to this. The fairy Queen was so pleased with you to-day, that she has consented to a plan of mine for you to see just where the water enters and leaves the place known as the Blue Lake. When we get down to the place where I pulled you into the water, I have permission to turn you into a fish. You may stay in the Blue Lake for a whole day, and, as soon as you swim through the place where the river flows into the sea, you will turn into a boy again, and just swim to land.”

Tom thanked the gnome, you may be sure, and was eager to be off at once. So getting on to the big bird’s back again, they flew quickly away on the return journey. This time Tom had no fear. He looked down at the water below, and at the banks of the river without the least tremble; but he could not properly enjoy the wonderful things he saw because he was thinking all the time of the treat in store for him.


Arrived at the entrance to the lake, Tom was given to eat nothing more than a blade of grass picked from the bank of the river. He felt a shudder pass through him, and it seemed as if the water called and beckoned to him—he could not keep back.

“Good-bye, kind little gnome, I must jump into the water. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

He found himself floating through the water murmuring “Thank you, thank you,” but already he was some distance across the Lake. What fun it was floating about without the least effort! He swam across to the landing stage where the caretaker keeps the very boat Tom helped, one day, to clean. He poked his nose out to look at things.

“A fish! a fish! I’m positive I saw a fish,” exclaimed a man who was standing on the steps talking to the caretaker.

“I’m positive you did not see a fish, sir,” answered the other. “I have lived here long enough, and at first I fished often enough, but I never saw a fish or felt a bite; nothing lives in this water.”

Tom poked up his nose again, this time to see who was talking to the man-in-charge, for the voice of the man seemed familiar to him. The man was his uncle. It was such a surprise[43] to see his uncle there, that Tom gave a jump in the water. Both men were looking at the spot, and this time it was the man-in-charge who cried, “A fish! a fish! I’m positive I saw a fish.” Then he darted away to a place from which he drew forth a rod, baited it, jumped into his boat, and with Tom’s uncle rowed to a spot where Tom had been just a few minutes before.

“Now for some fun,” thought Tom. “I’ll nibble the line some distance above the hook, and they will get wild after a time.” And they did get wild when time after time the line was dragged down, and yet the bait was never touched. Tom at last grew quite careless, he nibbled nearer and nearer the hook, and at last was caught. How it happened he did not know, but he was firmly hooked; it hurt his lip when he tried to back away, so he at last allowed the man to pull him up into the boat. “If there is one fish there must be more,” cried his uncle; “unhook him and bait again.”

It hurt Tom worse still when the hook was dragged out of his lip, but what his uncle said hurt the worst: it was, “I’ll put the poor thing out of its misery, give me your pocket knife.” He held Tom, the fish, in his left hand, took the knife, and was just going to stab when Tom cried out in agony, “Uncle, uncle, don’t you know me.”


Both men stopped what they were doing to look at the fish! “It spoke,” said Tom’s uncle. In his surprise he did not hold the poor fish so tightly. Tom gave a flap, a jump, and as he reached the water, he cried aloud, “Hurrah! hurrah!”

“No more fishing here for me,” said Tom’s uncle. “Nor for me,” said the man-in-charge, and they rowed quickly to land.

Tom lost no time in getting away, right away, from the place where he had so nearly met his death.

“I won’t be inquisitive again as long as I’m a fish,” he said, and swam straight for the place he had marked as the part where the river ran out from the Lake to join the sea. Ugh! as he floated through the big opening into the underground river, he seemed to be able to feel the darkness, because it was so black, but after a little while his eyes got used to it, and presently he saw on either side of the river many beautiful crystals which glowed softly. He knew he was now passing through another cave, and he wondered if any fairies were watching him. Then the river wound round again, and, lo! there was still another cave shining brightly on all sides, for its wall roof and floor were almost covered with fungi.




“Some of us are here,” cried a sweet voice, “and you shall have just a glimpse of us at our work.” At the same instant he saw fairies in all directions, all hard at work, making the fungi grow brighter and brighter.

“Tell me what you are doing,” said Tom. “How do you make it all glow like that?”

“The fairies’ secret, little man. Good-bye! Good-bye.”

“Good-bye,” answered Tom. “Thank you for the glimpse.”

He had scarcely finished speaking when he felt himself being borne along at an awful pace; the water was rushing to meet the sea. They met, and Tom felt himself hurled down ever so far below the surface of the water, then tossed up again. He had gone down as a fish, but he came up as a boy, and his wet clothes kept him from swimming very easily. Just as he thought he would not have strength to swim much further, he heard a voice say—“There is a boy sinking, pull over and take him in the boat.”

In a few minutes he was safe among a boatload of picnickers who had driven from the Mount to Dingley Dell, the beautiful place where Adam Lindsay Gordon lived for many years.

“Why, it is young Tom Jones,” cried one of the rowers. “Did you walk all the way here[47] from your uncle’s place in the Mount? It is a good nineteen miles.”

“No,” answered truthful Tom. “I swam from the Blue Lake.”

But no one would listen to his tale of adventures. They hurried him to “Adam Lindsay Gordon’s” Cottage, wrapped him in shawls, and soon drove away with him to a doctor, because, they said, he was raving. In vain Tom pointed to a nasty jagged cut in his lip, and told them he had been a fish for a time. They would not listen, and even to this day, if he begins to tell his wondrous adventures, they smile so broadly that Tom gives up the attempt to make them know the truth about the river theory.

Tom knows what he knows, however, and he is certain he has not seen the last of the fairies, but that in the wattle blossom season they will allow him to see them among the golden blossoms on the river banks.







The Origin of the Yarra Yarra

Long years ago, before the white men came to the Sunny South, there lived a little black boy with his mother and father near the happy hunting grounds among the Baw Baw Mountains. Barak was the little boy’s name.

Barak was all very much of everything about him. He was very fat and shiny, his eyes were very black, his hair very frizzy, his nose very flat, and his lips very thick, his laugh very jolly, and his heart very kind.

One day his mother said to him, “Barak, your mother is sad; honey is the only medicine that will make her happy. Go, find the wild honey and bring some in the honeycomb.”

Barak being very kind, went to look for honey for his mother. A long, long way he went before he found a honey tree, and when he found one he sat down under it and cried, for a[52] big, big bear was licking his paws after having eaten all the honey.

“Boo hoo! Boo hoo!” cried Barak. “Mother is sad because she has no honey, and you have eaten it all up.”

“Good little fat boy,” said the bear, “there is another honey tree behind this one. I am very thirsty, and the water is a long way from here; bring me some water, and I will climb the tree and give you honey.”

Barak dried his tears and smiled.

“Good, big bear, bring me the honey first, then I will get the water for you.”

Now the bear was very thirsty indeed after having eaten so much sweet honey, and the sun was shining so fiercely that he really felt too hot and tired to walk to the water, while he could easily climb the honey tree. Barak stood under the tree, watching the bear, who quickly brought down a small piece of honeycomb.

“Give it to me to take to my mother,” said Barak.

“When I have drunk the water, you may have the honeycomb,” said the bear, watching the golden honey drop slowly from the comb. But even while he was speaking, Barak snatched the honeycomb away, and when the bear tried to get it back again, the little boy put it in his[53] mouth, and the honey dropped down his throat.

“Where is the water you promised me?” growled the bear.

“I promised to get you some water if you gave me some honey, but you would not give me the honey.”

“You have eaten the honey,” cried the big bear.

“But you did not give it me, big bear; I took it.”

Then the big bear took up stones to kill the fat little black boy, who ran quickly behind a tree, and there was such a chasing around and around that tree that at last Barak got so tired he thought he must fall to the ground, but he kept on running, and he cried aloud to the Great Spirit to help him.

Now the Great Spirit knew that Barak had wanted the honey for his mother, and that he had only eaten it so that the big bear should not get it again. So when he heard the little boy cry to him for help when the big bear’s breath was hot on him as he ran, the kind Great Spirit was sorry for the little boy who had only been foolish.

“I will send a Shining One to help him,” he said.

How glad Barak was when a Shining One suddenly caught him up in his arms and ran[54] away with him. It was a hot, hot day; but Barak could hear, first, the gurgle of a stream, then the sound of deep running water, and as he peeped over the shoulder of the Shining One to see if the bear were very near, he saw a strange sight, for as the Shining One ran, he dragged his right foot along the ground, and the earth opened and water flowed in the opening.

In and out among the trees, often doubling back, then on again, ran the Shining One, with the bear following fast. All day long they went, until the sun went down like a ball of fire and the moon rose looking very much like the fiery sun, showing that the next day would be another scorcher.

In the moonlight the big bear looked very terrible.

“He is coming nearer!” cried Barak. “Oh, don’t let him catch me!”

“Don’t be afraid,” said the Shining One, in a quiet voice that made Barak feel happy even in his fear. “Tell me what you can see following the bear?”

“Yarra Yarra it is,” said the boy joyfully; “a deep swift river flows in the track you make with your foot as you pass along.”

“And look in front of you now, what do you see there?”


“The sea, the beautiful sea,” said Barak.

“We will go on the sea to the Great Spirit who sent me when you called to Him for help; but the bear, who only thinks of revenge, will be caught between the river and the deep blue sea.”

And so it happened.

Barak was taken in the Shining One’s arms right up to the Great Spirit who had heard and answered his cry for help, and the bear, who only wanted revenge, was drowned.

Barak’s mother waited long for the honey. When she found no dear little black son coming back to her, she followed his tracks until she came to the tree from which the chase had begun. There she found marks of her dear boy’s feet, and knew he had been chased by a big, big bear. There, too, she found, where all had been dry and hard, a hole in the earth, as if some one had thrust in their foot with great force, and from this hole flowed water.




Barak’s mother followed the flowing water for many days, for she could not go fast like the Shining One. At last she came to the place where the water flowed into the sea, and there, on the seashore, was the big bear quite dead and harmless. Far away over the seas was a bright, beautiful light, and even as the lonely mother stood looking at it, the bright clouds parted, there came forth the Shining One, and as he left the golden glory Barak’s face shone out. He beckoned with his hand, and his mother heard him say, “Come with the Shining One, mother; I am waiting for you here.”








“Marie, Marie, go and make those boys cease their quarrelling.” It was the old housekeeper who ruled over “Sunny Farm” whose voice could be heard calling to Marie, her daughter, and the boys who were quarrelling were the seven sons of King Olaf, who, wishing them to be strong sturdy fellows, had sent them to live at a farm in the country, for they had all been ill, and the sweet fresh air and pure milk and the outdoor life would do more to make them strong and healthy than all the medicine in the world. So said the Court physician (who perhaps was tired of having to doctor such troublesome patients).

At first they enjoyed the free country life, but after a short time they tired of it, and longed for the excitement of town and the palace.[62] At least, six out of the seven princes were tired of it, but the seventh, Prince Charlie, wished he might stay there always. His days were always full and happy, for, unless his brothers insisted upon his joining in their rough games, he followed the farmer at the animals’ feeding time, watched the chaff-cutting, and the hundred and one interesting things at the farm, and when he was tired would go indoors and sit in the big cool kitchen, where he was sure to find Marie, gentle, blue-eyed Marie, busily sewing, or, perchance, reading a book. Marie always greeted his entrance with a smile, and willingly read to him, or told him a story while she plied her needle. To-day, however, the princes had insisted that Charlie must join in their game, which consisted of each throwing up a golden ball at the same time to see which could throw his the highest. They all threw their balls at the same time, so, of course, it was quite impossible to say whose went highest, and a great noise and squabbling ensued. Such a noise that it disturbed the farmer’s wife in the kitchen, so she sent her little daughter Marie to make peace amongst them.

Out ran Marie to do her mother’s bidding, but at the door she saw an old bent man with a bundle of sticks on his back, and a wallet at his side. He was listening to the great hubbub[63] coming from the field where the princes were quarrelling.

“Hey day! where away so fast?” he asked, as Marie was running past him after having made him a deep curtsey.

“Mother sent me to stop that dreadful noise, but I know it will be hard work. They are growing more and more disagreeable every day.”

She ran on, and, when she reached the princes, they were actually fighting with their fists. The only one who would listen to her pleading was Prince Charlie, who readily left his brothers and went with her back to the house.

When they entered the kitchen, the old bent man was enjoying a cup of tea. He looked up and asked how Marie had managed the quarrel, as the noise seemed as great as ever.

“They would not stop, at least, I mean that six of them would not. Of course Prince Charlie came away. He does not care for fights.”

“Ah, I’ll remember that,” said the Old Man, and that night, when the princes were in bed and asleep, the Old Man (who was no less a personage than the Old Man in the Moon, who had come to the earth for various reasons) went to the bedroom where lay the seven brothers, opened the golden ball of each (with[64] the exception of Prince Charlie’s), then, holding each of the six in turn by the hair with his magic tweezers, he kept them suspended in the air until their size had become so small that they could easily be put in their golden balls, popped them in, closed the balls, and placed the six of them in his wallet.

All this had been done without a word being said to the farmer or his wife. The Old Man came back to the room, and sat down again by the fire, remarking that he would go to bed now, as the moon would be level with the earth at four o’clock, and he must be there punctually to step in and do his work. They had all risen to go to their rooms, when great thundering knocks resounded on the door, and a voice cried—

“Open in the King’s name!”

The farmer hastily unlocked the door, and there entered Prince Claude, the cousin of the seven princes. He was followed by several soldiers.

“Where is the King?” he demanded.

“In the palace, I suppose,” answered the farmer.

“The King is here,” said the Prince; “do you not know that the late King, the father of the seven princes, died yesterday, and I have come to take his eldest son back to the palace to be King in his father’s place?”


The farmer started to go to the room where the seven princes had slept, but he was stopped by the Old Man of the Moon.

“You need not go,” said the Old Man, “it is too late. This evening, after they had gone to bed, I did what your wife has so often asked me to do.”

“What was that?” they cried out together.

“Why, I took means to stop their quarrelling.”

Then he told them how he had done it, showed them the tweezers with which he had worked the magic, showed them also the six golden balls containing the six princes.

“There are only six,” said the farmer’s wife.

“Ah, yes, Prince Charlie ceased quarrelling when told to do so, therefore he is still sleeping in bed.”

“He, then, must be King in his father’s place,” said Prince Claude, but he did not mean what he said, for he had quickly formed the wicked plan of doing to Prince Charlie what the Old Man had done to the other princes.

When every one was in bed, and the house quite still and silent, Prince Claude went to the room where the Old Man slept, quietly took the magic tweezers and the wallet, and in a very few minutes had secured poor Prince Charlie in his own golden ball, and placed it with the[66] other six in the wallet which he then placed by the Old Man’s side again.

At six o’clock, when the farmer roused the household, it was discovered that not only had the Old Man gone, but Prince Charlie had disappeared. Prince Claude pretended he knew nothing about it, and soon gladly set off for the palace, for he was the one who must now be King. Poor little Marie went about her work very sadly, taking long walks when she had time to do so, and asking every one she met if they had seen any one answering to the description of Prince Charlie.

Almost a year had gone by, when, one day, as she wandered about further from home than usual, she heard some one moaning, and going towards the spot from whence the sound came, she saw a man tied to a tree, his face all swollen and looking full of agony.

“Water, water, for the love of heaven, a few drops of water!”

“Poor man,” said tender-hearted Marie, and she soon brought him some water in her hat from the stream near by.

“You do not know me,” moaned the man, “but I know you, you are Marie of ‘Sunny Farm.’”




Of course Marie asked her usual question, and this time she got an answer. The man told her that he was Prince Claude. This she could not believe at first, for he was dressed in rags. He told her what he had done to Prince Charlie, how he had also gone to the palace, and had been crowned King, but that his conscience had troubled him so much that he had done many wicked and foolish things to try and forget his sin. He told her, too, how his subjects had rebelled against him, and had driven him away from the palace, and that robbers had set upon him, robbed and beaten him, taken away his good clothes, and put those rags upon him, and had then tied him to a tree, where, all through the hot day, he had been in sight of the water, and could not get a drop.

“You have been very wicked,” said Marie, “but at least you have told me where to look for dear Prince Charlie. I cannot cut the leather which binds you to the tree, so, before I set out to find Prince Charlie, I shall run back to the farm, and get my father to come and set you free.”

The farmer came, but long before he arrived Prince Claude was dead, and all that could be done for the wretched man was to bury him.




Not another instant did Marie lose. At once she set off on her long journey to the point where the moon touches the earth. For days and days she walked, begging food at houses by the way, and at last she reached the desired point; but, alas! when she saw the Old Man and asked him to give her back Prince Charlie’s ball, he told her that the balls were not in his keeping, and the only one to help her was the boatman who ferried a boat across daily from the moon to the stars, for the seven balls had been placed in the sky as seven stars. They waited until the queer boat came alongside the moon, and the Old Man helped Marie into the boat.

When the boatman heard Marie’s story and her request, he at once steered towards a point where shone seven stars in this fashion.

The one in the centre shone brightly, but those around it were dim and gave but little light. “That is Prince Charlie’s, I am sure,” said Marie, “the one in the middle;” and when she looked closely at it, she found a little mark that Prince Charlie had made upon it one day. How she thanked the boatman! But the boatman smiled at her sadly, for he knew that any one once touched by the magic tweezers and enclosed in the golden ball, could never be brought to life again.

The boatman rowed her back to the moon, and the Old Man helped her out gently and lovingly. “Kind little girl,” he said, “you[71] can never see bonnie Prince Charlie again in this world, but take the ball to the earth, bury it in your garden, weep tears of loving sorrow over the tiny grave, and you will be rewarded.”

Marie clasped the ball lovingly. When she reached the earth again, she set off at once for home, hardly stopping to rest or eat by the way, for she wished to see what would happen when she buried the golden ball.

“Oh, my dear! my dear!” cried her mother, when Marie returned, “how I have missed you!”

“Little one, you must never go away again; we cannot spare you,” said her father.

“I shall never leave you again, dear mother and father; for all I love is here now.”

She buried the golden ball in her garden just under her bedroom window, and indeed she did water the little grave with the tears of love, as the Old Man had told her to do, and the next time he came to visit the farm, she led him to the little grave, and, lo, it was covered with a pretty blue flower which had a tiny golden centre.

“Ah!” said the Old Man, “did I not tell you you would be rewarded?”

“The blue eyes and the golden hair of Prince Charlie will never be forgotten now; they seem[72] to say to me, ‘Forget-me-not, forget-me-not,’” answered Marie.

And ever since that time the tiny flower has been called “Forget-me-not.”






The Palace of Truth.

There was once a King who had three sons, three such haughty sons, indeed they were as bad as it was possible for princes to be. Their mother had died when the youngest was a baby, and every one had petted and spoilt them until they had become unbearable. At last the Queen of the Fairies decided that if they were to do any good in the world as Princes, she had better have a hand in their education. Tutors they had had until at last there was not to be found any one in the Kingdom who would undertake to teach them. The present one had given notice that he meant to leave, but the Fairy Queen stopped that.

Their last day (for some time) amongst mortals had come. Oh, it had been a terrible day for every one in the Palace! It seemed as if the Princes had gone mad, and they had ended up by breaking every piece of crockery in every bedroom, little dreaming what hard work it would mean for them in Fairyland.

Night came, the three Princes were in bed[76] and fast asleep. Suddenly they awoke, hearing their names distinctly called. Each Prince sat up in bed, gazing, in something like fear, at a lovely little vision, the Queen of the Fairies herself. They were only conscious of a beautiful face, above a shimmer of gold, looking sadly at them. “Princes you are called, but, unless the Fairies themselves help you, you will never be worthy of the title. You must come with me to the ‘Palace of Truth,’” said the Queen.

“Only give us one more chance,” they all said together.

“You have had too many chances already; get up and put on your clothes.”

They obeyed in silence.

“Turn out your pockets.” They obediently pulled out string, knives, and other things.

“Stand up in front of me and look at me.” The three Princes fixed their eyes upon the Fairy’s face. She waved her golden wand gently to and fro, and, as she waved it over them, they gradually grew smaller and smaller, until at last they were as tiny as it is possible for human beings to become.

“Now I shall call my carriage, and you may drive with me.” She called, her voice sounding like the tinkle of a silver bell, and in answer to her call, there came through the open window a carriage made of mother-of-pearl and drawn[77] by butterflies. The drive really was delightful, and when they found themselves rapidly going over the Black Forest, they looked at each other joyfully.

“We have never been allowed to go near the Black Forest,” said Prince Thomas.

“No, that was the one thing we could not persuade any one to let us do, because it is haunted by hobgoblins and devils,” said Prince Richard.

“You are going there, now,” replied the Fairy, and to their astonishment the butterflies flew down to the ground in the very heart of the Forest. The three Princes got out of the carriage at a sign from the Fairy Queen. She then told them that their education in Fairyland had begun, and they must walk through the Forest until they arrived at the Palace of Truth.

She gave them each a present. Prince Thomas received a tiny walking-stick. Prince Richard two small round stones. Prince Henry a small box. The Princes thought these were stupid presents, but were afraid to say so; only they determined to throw them away as soon as they were alone.

All too soon the Fairy Queen drove away in her carriage, and the boys in fear took hold of hands, and tried to feel brave, but oh dear! how frightened they were! As long as they kept to[78] a narrow path, which seemed to go on and on for miles, nothing happened, but if they wandered ever such a little way from the path, they heard growls and horrid noises, and saw creatures glaring at them. So they kept to the path and walked forward until they felt so weary that they really had to rest; so they sat down on the edge of the path, in the shade of a tree, and as they sat there they heard a curious grind, grind, grinding noise as of two stones grinding something between them.

Their curiosity at last made them go to try and discover what the noise really was, but, when they attempted to go near the bush from behind which the noise came, they were driven back by the silly little Stick that the Fairy had given Prince Thomas. It looked such a funny little thing as it went hoppity, hoppity, hop on its one leg that they could do nothing but roll on the ground and laugh, and then the silly Stick stood bolt upright with its crook turned towards them, and somehow it looked exactly like their last teacher. You see, it really was their last teacher turned into a stick by the Fairy, and given this work to do. When the Princes discovered the likeness in the Stick to the tutor, they laughed more than ever—indeed they laughed until they could laugh no more.

As they lay very still on the ground, tired[79] with laughing, they heard the grinding sound cease. Prince Thomas jumped up quickly, and ran to look behind the bush. This time the Stick did not attempt to stop him. There he found three plates of bread and milk, three cups of coffee, and three slices of bread and butter. How the Princes enjoyed that meal, prepared by the Two Stones who, of course, were the two cooks from the Palace transformed by the Fairy. After breakfast, they went on their journey again, not because they wished to go, for indeed they wanted to lie still under the trees and be lazy, but the Stick drove them along, and, if one of them dared to go away from the right path, the Stick just whacked him until he went back to the path.

All day they went along that narrow path, only stopping for meals, and, when evening came, they were really tired and gladly followed the Stick to the shelter of a bush, where, to their surprise, they found three nice soft blankets. It did not take them long to roll themselves up snugly, and they were soon fast asleep. I know you have guessed that the blankets came out of the wee box given by the Fairy to Prince Henry.

For days and days they marched through the Forest, never seeming to get any nearer the end of it. Each day was just like that first one—The Stick compelled them to keep to the road,[80] their meals were prepared by the Two Stones, and their blankets spread from the mysterious box.

At last one day they came in sight of an enormous tree, upon which grew golden apples, and, for the first time during their journey in the Forest, they saw people. But were they people? they looked like it, except for their noses, which were dreadfully long. Noses of all lengths they saw. There was one man whose nose wound round his legs and tripped him up when he tried to walk. “Keep away, keep away,” shouted this man, “take warning by me; if you eat of the fruit of this tree, if you even take a bite, you cannot leave off.” Even while he spoke, he kept on grabbing and eating. Fortunately for the Princes the Stick kept strict watch, and would not even let them go on the side near the tree, and when they were safely past, he hopped behind, to protect any of them running back to the fascinating fruit trees.

But soon they forgot all about the tree at the sight which met their eyes. Straight in front of them was a beautiful Palace, built of pure glass, and the narrow path along which they had journeyed for so many days led up to the very steps of the Palace. Hoppity, hoppity, hop went the Stick, leading the way. Open flew the door to admit them, but it closed with a[81] bang when they were inside. Hoppity, hoppity, hop went the Stick down the big hall to a room at the far end, and when the Princes went into the room, the Stick hung itself upon a nail by the door, its work for the day being finished.

The room, which was to be their dining-room, play-room, and bedroom combined, for many days to come, was clean, but very plainly furnished with three beds, three chairs, a table, and an enormous cupboard on the top of which stood a big Noah’s Ark. The Princes tried to open the big cupboard, but could not; then they thought they would get the Noah’s Ark down and play with that, but it was so far out of their reach that even a chair held on top of another chair standing on the table was not high enough to get it down. The Princes gazed sadly at the coveted toy.

“I wish,” said Prince Thomas, after some time, “I wish it would come down.” No sooner had he uttered the wish than the little men and animals all came rushing pell-mell from their Ark, and were soon on the table. “What fun,” cried the Prince, “to play with things that can come to you of their own accord.”




For some time the strange new toy charmed the three Princes, but it was impossible for such spoiled boys to play together for long without a quarrel, and a big quarrel began between Henry and Richard for the possession of the camels. They quarrelled so badly that fists began to be used, and only stopped when Thomas called to them to look at the funny playthings, for they were all running away. Off the table scampered animals, as well as Noah and the other men, and before the Princes could stop them, they had climbed up the cupboard, gone into their Ark and shut the door. No amount of coaxing could bring them down this time, and as the top of the cupboard was quite out of reach, the Princes decided to go to bed.

A real bed was very comfortable after having lain on the ground in the Forest for so many nights. They were so excited with the strange Palace and the wonderful Noah’s Ark that they could not sleep, so they talked for a long time—at least, Thomas and Henry talked, but Prince Richard shut his eyes and tried to sleep. His brothers’ voices kept him awake, and by degrees the bed which had seemed so comfortable grew harder and harder; really he was growing more and more grumbly, although he did not know it. He turned from side to side impatiently, then, alas! a grumble slipped out: “Bother this bed, it is so hard that I——” The sentence was never finished, for the bed shot up on its end and sent Richard sprawling to the floor in the midst of the blankets. The worst of it was that[84] the bed refused to allow him to sleep in it that night. There it stood up on end, and the united efforts of the three Princes could not bring it into its usual position. The other Princes invited Richard into their beds, but as soon as he attempted to get in, the bed began to rise upon end, and he was tumbled out.

“No use,” said Richard, “I know it is my own fault; I grumbled, so I must sleep on the floor to-night. The Fairies mean to punish me.”

After breakfast next morning the Princes intended to play with the animals of the Noah’s Ark again, but no amount of wishing would bring them down from their resting-place, for morning is the time for lessons, not for toys.

While they were still standing in front of the cupboard, looking up at the Ark and wishing their hardest, the Stick came in and drove them out of the room, down the big hall, and into a small room. There he left them, and, as the door banged behind him, they looked round the room in curiosity. It seemed to be full of dead flies, butterflies, and other insects, and while they were wondering why they should be brought into what seemed to be a burying-place for dead insects, the Queen of the Fairies appeared before them.

“Princes,” she said scornfully, “these poor dumb things which could not protect themselves[85] were tormented and killed by Princes, who are not worthy even of the term boy, which stands for bravery—and Princes should be the leaders of boys, the bravest of the brave.” She looked terrible in her anger. The poor Princes dared not utter a word.

She went on, “You had your ‘fun,’ as you called it, now you have got to pay for it, and this is the price. Every day from morning till night, you must stay in this room, and work at these poor little insects. Every leg and every wing must be put on its owner’s body in the right place. When all are ready, I shall appear.”

The Fairy vanished, and the Princes, who had learned to obey during their journey through the Forest, set to work. Weary work it was too, and the worst of it was, that, if one of the Princes grumbled ever so little, the insect upon which he was working fell to pieces, and the parts had to be patiently searched for, and put together again.

At last, however, every insect was complete, and just as the Princes gave a sigh of relief as they looked at their finished task, there stood the Queen of the Fairies before them. No anger was in her face now, but a sweet loving smile. She gently waved her wand over the dead insects, and, lo, a buzzing and humming immediately began as they stirred, flew round[86] the room, and out of the window into the fresh air.

The Queen looked sadly at the Princes. “If you had been cruel only, your work would now be done, your education finished, but, alas! there are two more rooms through which you must go. The work will be hard, but if you will remember that grumbling undoes the work you grumble about, your task will be much easier than this sad one has been to you.”

She vanished as suddenly as she had appeared, and the faithful old Stick came hoppity, hoppity, hop into the room, and, following it, they were led into a big room full of broken crockery. They gave a start of dismay as they saw how much there was. Could it be possible they had destroyed so many things? “Look,” said Prince Thomas, pointing to six big tables, “there are the bedroom sets we smashed up the day the Fairies took us away. I do wish we had been wiser, then we would not have had to work so hard now.” His brothers agreed, and although this was rather a selfish motive for wishing to be good, still it was a big step in the right direction, and the first real step they had taken towards going back to their father’s Palace.

They set to work with a will, patiently putting the big pieces in order, and then searching[87] for the small bits to fit in. A long, long time it took, and knowing that the least grumble might mean the whole of the crockery falling to pieces, and the pieces all having to be put together again, they tried so hard to be patient that not a single grumble escaped one of them.

What joy when the whole of the things were mended! This time the Fairy did not appear, but they were led by the Stick into another room full of queer rolls of paper. What could they be? Looking closely at them, they soon discovered. Alas! all the bad or disobedient or rude words they had ever spoken were plainly to be seen. “Oh dear!” said Prince Richard, “can it be possible that we were such bad, disobedient, rude boys? we should have had more niceness than that.”

“Yes, indeed,” replied his brothers.

Ah, if they had but known it, that speech showed they were a good distance on the road to “home.” As they spoke the Fairy appeared and told them they must rub out the awful words, and then bury the rolls in the garden. It was not very difficult work, only tedious, and the more they rubbed, the sorrier they became for having said such words. When three rolls were cleaned, they each shouldered one, and bore them through the open French window, and down a long winding path, which[88] led to a flower garden quite out of sight of the room in which they had worked at the rubbing. There were many mounds in this garden, and on each grew pretty flowers.

The Princes set to work to dig a hole for each bundle. This was quite a fresh kind of labour for them, and at first they thought it great fun to use a pick and shovel, but, before long, each Prince felt his back aching rather badly. The pain grew greater and greater until at last the grumbling began. It did not go on very long, however, for the sight of the three rolls, tumbling along the garden path, making straight for the house, made them remember the Fairy’s caution about grumbling. At once they ran after the rolls meaning to bring them back, but no matter how fast they ran, the rolls kept some distance in front of them, and reached the house first.

“Positively no more grumbling for me,” remarked Prince Richard.

“Nor for me.”

“Nor for me,” echoed his brothers.

When they had carried the rolls back once more, and had dug until their backs ached, they wisely lay down on the ground and rested, then set to work again, and soon finished the digging and buried the rolls.

When they brought the second lot of rolls[89] to be buried, they were delighted to see pretty roses growing out of the mounds where they had buried their first burdens.

At last, after many weeks of patient work, the room was cleared of rolls, and the Princes waited for the Fairy to appear, or for the Stick to come and lead them to another room. Neither of these things happening, and seeing the door of the room open (it had been closed while they worked at the rubbing) they went out into the great hall. Every door on either side of the hall was open, and boys of all sizes were hurrying along, either coming out of the rooms, running along the hall, or going out of the big door at the end, while an old man, bent nearly double, rang a big bell and called loudly:

“Examination day is here, hurry to the Examination room, the Fairies are waiting there.”

He kept on repeating this, as he walked up and down, and the Princes quite meant to go to the Examination, but their attention was attracted by a queer-looking boy whose arms flapped about as if he thought they were wings, whose head was rather like a big bluebottlefly’s, and who seemed to be trying to climb up the wall, at the same time making a buzzing noise with his mouth.


“What are you doing?” asked one of the Princes.

“I’m (buzz) going to the (buzz, buzz) examination (buzz, buzz, buzz).”

“But why are you doing that sort of thing; do you think you are a fly?”

“(Buzz) I’m only (buzz, buzz, buzz) going to the door (buzz, buzz).” He looked at his questioners in a surprised way. Prince Thomas began to answer, but he never finished that answer, for the door closed with a resounding bang. They ran to it and tried to open it, but it was too firmly closed against them. It had opened for those ready for examination to go through, and they had missed their chance. However, the old man who had been calling every one to go to the Examination, did not mean to miss his chance. It was the rule that those unfit for examination, who remained in the hall after the big door closed, should be taken by the old man, and given to the gnomes for slaves.

Imagine the Princes’ surprise when they found themselves picked up and thrust into a great leather bag in company with the buzzing boy, and a few other queer looking creatures who bore some resemblance to boys. The old man carried them to the foot of a great mountain, rolled away a stone which concealed[91] a hole in the mountain, and calling out, “Only eight this time, here they come,” emptied the bag into the opening. Down fell the victims, and when they reached the bottom, the gnomes danced around them in glee. The new-comers were quickly set to work, and kept at it too, and it was a good thing the Princes had learned patience in the Palace of Truth, or they would have grumbled and received the horrible punishments they saw inflicted on the buzzing boy and the others who had failed to learn patience during their trial time in Fairyland.

Of course the gnomes knew there must be some mistake as soon as they saw the Princes. They were not failures, but they kept them as slaves, put chains on them, and made them work as hard as the others had to, making gold for the earth. How much time the Princes spent in gnomeland they never knew, but they always kept a sharp look out for any chance to escape, and at last it came.

The gnomes were holding a great festival, as they always do once every thousand years, and the right time for it came while the Princes were with them. The slaves were set to work alone, but most of them went to sleep when there were no gnomes’ goads to make them keep awake.

First the gnomes had great jumping trials,[92] when they jumped over the great fires, seeing, not who could jump highest, but who could bear to jump nearest the fire. Then they drank quantities of a very fiery liquid that made them first fight with each other, and then fall into a heavy sleep. The Princes knew this sleep would last for many hours, so now was the chance they had longed for, and must at once use. Quickly they filed through the heavy chains which bound them, and ran off in what they hoped was the right direction. On and on they ran, although soon tired with their unaccustomed exercise; but success meant freedom from slavery, so, though very tired, they persevered in their running.

At length they saw a point of light, and when they reached it, lo! it led them out into a beautiful meadow filled with green grass and flowers. They threw themselves at full length on the sweet smelling grass, so delightful to touch and see and smell after their long imprisonment in the gold-mine.

Presently Prince Thomas said, “There is a great thing like an umbrella here, if you will help me, I shall climb to the top, see what there is to be seen, and tell you, for we must soon decide in which direction to journey on.”

The great thing was a big toadstool.

With his brothers’ help the Prince climbed[93] to the top, but almost at once he took a flying leap to the ground again, crying, “Hide, get under this shelter, for there is a great monster coming this way.”

They crept under the toadstool, but to their horror, the monster stopped quite close to them, and began to think aloud.

“Enemies encompass me on every side, my nephew has secretly been working against me, telling lies, and stirring the people to rebellion.” Here he sighed deeply. “If only my three sons were with me! but alas, the fairies took them away many years ago, and they have never been heard of since.”

The Princes who had listened to all the old man (who seemed a monster to them because of their tiny size) said, began to understand. This was their father, the King. They peeped out at him. Yes, their dear father, though now an old, old man with white hair. So their cousin, Prince Claude, was a traitor.

A great longing filled the breast of each Prince. Oh, to be big enough to fight for and take care of their dear father. No thought of self now. Ah, that was just what their lessons in Fairyland had taught them. This unselfish desire to help another was the one thing needed to restore them to their proper size, and to their astonishment each saw, not only himself,[94] but the other two, grow and grow and grow until they were quite as big as their father.

The King had flung himself on the ground, and lay still with his eyes closed. Hearing a noise, he looked up and saw three strong-looking young men standing before him.

“Treachery,” he cried, springing to his feet and drawing his sword, “Prince Claude has sent you to follow and kill me.”

He would have struck at them, but they stood quite still, and, as they uttered the one word “Father” his sword dropped from his hand.

It did not take long for them to tell him what had happened since their disappearance with the Fairies, neither did it take long for him to tell of the sad state of affairs in his Kingdom, brought about by their cousin, who was trying to make the people rebel against their lawful King.

Great was the rejoicing in the City that night. A great supper was made, bonfires were lighted, the bells were rung, and the King presented his sons to the chief Ministers of State. Prince Thomas being the eldest had, of course, to remain at home, and help the King to govern the land. Prince Richard led the Army, and quickly put down all rebellion in the Kingdom. Prince Henry took command of the Navy, and gained great victories at sea.


The Kingdom, governed and guarded so wisely by the Fairy-taught Princes, was known throughout the whole world as the Happy Kingdom.