Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub
[blocks in formation]
[graphic][merged small]

E

VERYBODY who reads fairy tales ought to know

something about the great enchanter Merlin, for this personage was a man of great note in King Arthur's time. He was a mighty magician or conjuror. As to the men who amuse us at Christmas by making watches go from one box into another, and by tearing up ladies' handkerchiefs and mending them again, they are all not to be compared for a single moment to the great Merlin. He was not a man who would condescend to play funny tricks with cards and balls, and yards of ribbon-not he! He only cared for great big enchantments, such as moving houses, and carrying off men and women through the air, and any other serious business of the same kind. He was something like an enchanter, was Merlin ; and the only pity is that he lived so very long ago; for if he were not dead he might make his fortune any

winter he chose by conjuring, when the time came for the juvenile parties.

Well, one day this great Merlin was on a journey. He had walked two hundred and ninety-five miles in search of a certain

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

a

herb he wanted. It was for a most powerful charm, the object

. being twofold: firstly, to make a donkey play the pianoforte, and secondly, to cure a schoolboy of putting his hands in his pockets and wearing out his trousers at the knees; so you can fancy Merlin had to take a good deal of trouble, having to achieve such a difficult thing. At the end of the two-hundred

Note. It has been observed, that in flat and well-cultivated countries like England, stories of fairies take a simple and homely form, the fairies being kindly and helpful in matters of domestic routine-sweeping the floor of the farmhouse, skimming the milk, churning the butter while the maids are asleep; while in Scandinavia and the Highlands they fly away with people, shut them up in caveras, and betray them to danger and death.

a

and-ninety-fifth mile he found the herb he wanted. It was called STYCKE,” or by others—“CUDD'GELLE,” and Merlin had always found it useful both for donkeys and schoolboys. In fact, since the time of the great enchanter, schoolmasters have found it so handy that they have been in the habit of keeping a variety of this herb called “KAYNE,” constantly in use in their establishments. Well, Merlin trudged on with the herb in his pocket, but he began to feel hungry and tired, as it was only natural for even a conjuror to do who had walked two hundred and ninety-five miles; so he looked around for a place to rest and refresh himself, and soon caught sight of a labourer’s cottage.

Merlin walked in ; and whether it was that his long beard inspired respect, or whether it was that the good people of the house were nice hospitable folks, it is certain that the enchanter could not have been better received if he had been King Arthur himself. The best bread and the freshest bowl of milk were placed at his service, and the good woman, in particular, seemed most anxious to do honour to her guest.

Merlin, however, saw that something was weighing heavily on the spirits of his entertainers, and questioned them concerning the cause of their grief. The wife would not reply; but the husband, after scratching his head a long time without finding any ideas there, at length answered “ that they were sorry because they had no children.”

” “If I'd only a son, yer honour, I'd love ’un—gin he were ever sic a little 'un; for we feels lonely, like—the old woman and I—and that's what it is sets me thinking that a child ’ud be company, like, for the wife, when I was away.

“But would you be satisfied with a very little child indeed ?" asked the enchanter Merlin.

66 “I don't care how little," said the countryman, “ if he be

« ПредишнаНапред »