Chapter 20289607

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter TitleCUCKOO FAIR.
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-01-24
Page Number163
Word Count1258
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleThe Magic Rose: A Story of Fact and Fancy
article text

The magic Rose.


Hey presto! This is quick travelling, for here we are in England—quick travelling, and yet you are to understand that twelve years have elapsed since we were in Italy. This is all

rather bewildering, but, then, this story has to deal with fairies and their ways, which always are bewildering to us poor mortals. However, it is no fairy scene that rises before our eyes at present. It is the 12th of April, and fair-day in Mossfteld. Mossfield is a little out-of-the world country village in Sussex, where, from one year's end to another, nothing occurs to vary the monotony of existence, saving and excepting the annual fair. Cuckoo Fair the country folk call it, as they solemnly declare that the note of the bird who all the summer through incessantly utters its own name is heard first on the 12th of April. Almost before sunrise the bellowing of oatUt. bleating of sheep, and

barking of dogs, mingled with the frantic yelli of drovers, announces that the fair, long and eagerly anticipated, has commenced. The' morning is always devoted to business oonnaeted ] with the buying and selling of stock, Ac, but! after dinner the real fun and enjoyment begins/ with the arrival of the womenkind of the village,' arrayed in finery of all the hues of the rainbow, who join and appropriate their respective hus bands, fathers, brothers, or friends, and with them wander through the delightful mazes ot the fair. There were-lines of stalls laden with sweetmeats and fruit, cakes and gingerbread, toys and jewellery, and ornaments of various descriptions. Then there were all tho amuse ments. The Mossfield folk were thoroughly enjoying it all, 'as with their fat red faces shining with soap, and grinning with pleasure and their hands full of oranges or gingerbread, they lin gered now at one stall, or show, another. These last were really all as familiar to the fair goers as to the proprietors themselves, for they always turned np every year without fail as Cuckoo Fair came round, and they always exhi bited the same old things time after time, and apparently the Mossfieldites never wearied of seeing them. However, on this particular Fair day, there was actually something quite new for the simple country folk to marvel at. This was a woman with a strange, dusky skin, very dark, soft, big eyes, and coarse, jet black hair visi ble under the gay kerchief she wore tied over her head instead of a hat. Her curiously fashioned dress had once been bright with scarlet and orange colour, but was now faded and travel-stained, though the upper part of her bodice and full sleeves were clean, and white as snow. Beside her stood a frail little wooden stand, on which was placed a case with a glass lid. This oase contained a number of little folded papers all of different colours; and slung on to the side of the stand was a tiny wire cage with a little bird in it, with vivid green and red plumage. A printed card fastened upon the case invited people to pay a penny, whereupon the bird would tell them their for tunes. " Your fortune, lady—your fortune, gen tleman," said the Italian woman in her funny broken English. Then one of the crowd sur rounding the little stand shuffled forward, scarlet in the face and grinning with self-con- 1 sciousnesB, and proffered his penny, upon whioh' the woman took the bird from its cage on her finger, and lifting the glass lid of the case, held the bird over the folded papers. It picked one up in its beak and presented it to the owner. The gentlemen's fortunes were at one end of tha case and the ladies at the other. The pool little paroquet was kept busy, as soon the Moss field Jacks and Jills waxed bolder, and eagerly Said their pennies to ascertain what the future ad in store for them. It was always some thing splendid, followed by useful, but nnro mantic recipes for destroying vermin, curing corns, Ac. Amongst the rest there stood a little girl, who, having no penny with which to buy a fortune, could only look on at the others making merry over theirs. Not that she was thinking much of her companions. Her atten tion was centred on the Italian woman, whose hollow cheeks and weary air of suffering and exhaustion filled the little girl's heart with sor rowful pity. She was a very pretty little maiden, refined and graceful-looking in spite of her shabby clothes and patched boots, which any other Mossfield girl would have scorned to wear to the fair. All she displayed in the way of finery was an oval silver locket tied round her throat with narrow black velvet. Suddenly, as Gillian (for such was the little girl's old-fashioned name) stood watching the Italian woman and thinking how terribly ill she looked, the poor fortune-seller was seized with a fit of coughing which attracted every, one's attention. She had, indeed, a frightful cough, so fierce and violent that it seemed as if it would tear her poor wasted frame to pieces. After a time the cough ceased, and the woman, quite exhausted, sank down on the ground beside the little stand, her eyes streaming and her dark face livid. " Send for the doctor," said some. " Send for the parson,?' said others, but th*} all kept saying first one thing, then another, and doing nothing, and finally, as fair day came but once a year and time was precious, the little stand was deserted for fresh amuse ments. The Italian leant her aching head back against the stand, and closed her tired sad eyes. •' I have brought you a gloss of water; coult you drink a little ?" said a soft, sympathetic little voioe, and the woman again raising her heavy eyelids saw a childish form bending over her, and a little fair, sweet face full of com passion. She eagerly accepted the cold, fresh water, and after drinking every drop murmured gratefully: " I thank you much." Gillian—for Gillian it was—then ran to return the glass to the flower-stall keeper of whom she had begged the water, after which she hastened back to the Italian's side, having, thought of a plan which she resolved if possible to carry out. " You are very sick," she said gently, but the, woman smiled a little and shook her head to show that she did not understand English. " I want you to come home with me to my grannie," went on Gillian, raising her voice, and taking the girl's hand as if to lead her, away. When at last the Italian seemed to understand what her little friend required of her, with weak, slow movements she lifted the case from the stand, and taking the latter to pieces, strapped them together in a bundle, which she slung across her shoulders; Gillian insisted on carrying the case which contained the fortune papers, bo that the Italian had only the light sticks on her back, and the bird-cage to carry in her hand, as, she meekly trudging by Gillian's side, the strange companions left the fair together. [will be continued next week.]

Daring one week in November Mr. Jar Gould's transactions in the New York stock market are stated to have daily exceeded 250,000 shares, representing $25,000,000, hia commissions in Wall-street being distributed among over a hundred brokers.