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wood and revel all night long. On moonlight nights they need no lights in the fields, but within the woods it is always dark, and they are forced to use fireflies as lanterns.
Sometimes, in a grassy meadow or pasture, there appears a very green, fresh circle, with a ring bare of grass about it; and to this day people call such a spot a fairy ring, though they know now, as they did not know when the name was given, that the bare ring is not formed by the feet of the fairies dancing in circle. Some of the gorgeous kinds of mushrooms, too, are known as fairy tables.
But the fairies are not supposed to spend all their time in dancing and playing; they take, often, a great part in the lives of human beings. Many of the fairies are good, and are of much help to the people who please them, slipping into their houses by night and doing, in a few hours, work which without them could not be accomplished in days; but some fairies are mischievous and tricky; and even malicious, and delight in doing things to spite and to injure people. Sometimes they overturn or take for themselves food that has been saved; sometimes they turn sour the cream that the housewife intends to use for butter on the morrow; sometimes they undo all the work that a seamstress or a shoemaker has done during the day. If a man can only find out what these mischievous little people like best, he can buy their good will by placing such things where the fairies can readily find them.
Besides the true fairies, there are supposed to be many other kinds of sprites, who are sometimes invisible, but who can appear when they wish. The dwarfs, or gnomes, usually dwell underground, where they guard the gold and silver and precious stones hidden in the earth. The most malicious of the dwarfs, called trolls, live in the hills, and often come out to steal children, and even women. The nixies, who live in the water, try to induce men or children to go with them to their caves under the sea; and if they cannot do this, they are quite capable of carrying their victims off by force.
The Irish people have some very interesting fairy beliefs. Thus, they think that the banshees are little old women who conceal themselves in houses, and by their mournful wailing give notice of any death that is to occur. The pixies, another class of small beings in whom the Irish believe, are supposed to receive into themselves the souls of children who die before they have been baptized.
Though we know now that there are no such beings as fairies and gnomes, yet we can see about us every day things which are to the full as wonderful as any which the old-time peoples believed the fairies could accomplish. Centuries ago, when a story-writer wanted to have his hero go a very long distance in a very short time, he had to introduce a fairy; to-day he simply makes his hero take an express train. Then, a message could be transmitted through space instantly only by means of a fairy messenger; now the telegraph and the telephone do the work quite as quickly and as easily. You see, the old-time peoples saw the things that ought to be, but did not see how they could be; but we to-day do not need fairies to make the world seem marvelous—the things that really exist about us are more wonderful than anything that a man's imagination could invent.
THE BROTHER AND SISTER CERTAIN man had two children, a boy and A girl. The lad was a handsome enough young fellow, but the girl was very plain.
The latter, provoked beyond endurance by the way in which her brother looked in the glass and made remarks to her disadvantage, went to her father and complained of it.
The father drew his children to him very tenderly and said, “My dears, I wish you both to look in the glass every day. You, my son, that, seeing your face is handsome, you may take care not to spoil it by ill-temper and bad behavior, and you, my daughter, that you may be encouraged to make up for your want of beauty by the sweetness of your manners and the grace of your conversation.”
THE REAPER AND THE FLOWERS
By Henry Wadsworth LONGFELLOW
M HERE is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
1 And, with his sickle keen, He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.
“Shall I have naught that is fair?” saith he;
“Have naught but the bearded grain? Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to
He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves; It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
"My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,”
The Reaper said, and smiled; “Dear tokens of the earth are they,
Where He was once a child.
"They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
These sacred blossoms wear.”
And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
In the fields of light above.
O, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The Reaper came that day; 'Twas an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away.
THE SANDS OF DEE
By Charles KingsLEY
MARY, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home, And call the cattle home, Across the sands of Dee!” The western wind was wild and dank wi foam,
And all alone went she.
The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o'er and o'er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
“Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair
A tress o' golden hair,
A drowned maiden's hair
Among the stakes on Dee.”
They row'd her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam, To her grave beside the sea; But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle
home Across the sands of Dee!