|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||Gladys and the Fairies|
Gladys and the Fairies.
Gladys walked along by the elf's side in perfect silence. " Is this Fairyland ?" she asked at length, in keen disappointment she had thought it would be so wonderfully beautiful, and behold it was all grey and white, sombre and misty.
" This is Shadowland," he answered, '* here are pictures of all the troubles and sorrows of the creatures beiow us j here are stored various unprized belongings of those creatures ; here," and he pointed to an immense book bound in lion's skin, '* here are recorded their acts-foolish, thoughtless, and wicked j shall I show you your page?"
" Ah, no," cried Gladys, shrinking back. *« No, show me something else-show me the pictures, I love pictures," The elf went on again in silence for a short distance, and then stayed before a great wall, over which a grey cloud hung.
" See, do you know tnis ?" he said, push- ing away a piece of the soft cloud, and re- vealing one picture.
It was a small bare-looking room, the furniture old and plain, and on the walls were pasted a few cheap pictures. Beside a bed with a snow-white counterpane and hangings sat a lady with a worn, kind face and sweet, sad eyes, that seemed to be gazing wistfully at something out of the window. Gladys recognised her in a mo- ment ; it was Miss Hotham's mother, and on the bed lay her little crippled brother.
Such a pitifully white face it was, with big tired eyes, and golden hair pushed back from the white, blue-veined brow. The little fellow was playing happily with a box of common metal soldiers that he seemed to love dearly. Gladys's thoughts turned for a second to her handsomely furnished nurseries and splendid toys, of which she always wearied in a few mo- menta, and her cheeks flushed.
Behind the sweet, patient little sufferer there ever seemed a great white cloud, where, shadowy and soft, Gladys saw a pair of lovely angel's winga. Now they came nearer and nearer, and a look of ter- rible sorrow passed over the mother's face ; now they seemed fainter and further away, and she looked bright aud hopeful again. Gladys wondered what the mothor'e eyes were gazing eo wistfully at through the window, and pressed for- ward, to see. To her surprise, all along the street rose up, instead of houses, row upon row of basins, labelled "Beef tea, Beef
««My poor little Dick," murmured the mother, reaching down the bread and butter
and weak lemon-water.
Suddenly, in this wonderful living pio ture the door was flung open and a young girl, Gladys's governess, came eagerly into
«« I got away, mother ! Dick ; Dick, darling, I got away I" she cried gladly, «« and I have some of my money. ,But, Oh ! My darling! My darling!" and with a terrible fear at her heart, sho fell on her knees by the little bed. Out of the cloud the girl had seen for a moment a shadow of those grand white wings behind the sweet pale child. «' Oh, Dick-my little darling Dick," and she held the tiny fragile figure in her strong young arms as if she would never, never give it up.
«« Deai*, dear Nellie," he said in his weak,
loving little voice, and stroking the bright bowed head with thin-Ah, such thin fin-; gers. «« What is it ? Was Miss Gladys naughtier than ever P"
" Cover it up Î Ah, cover it up !" cried Gladys in a choking voice to the elf, *' I will not look at it. Ah, don't show me any more pictures," and silently and sadly the elf draws the gray cloud again.
They walk among the grey shadows for some time and then stop again. «« Do you see this cliff ?" said the elf, pointing to a great white cliff hovering above them. .«Do you see this water falling drop by drop and wearing it away ? Do you know
what it is ?"
'« Wait a bit," said Gladys, with wrinkled brow, and thinking hard. *« I think I re- member j Miss Hotham told me in my last physical geography lesson, before I was ill. " Doesn't it "-hesitatingly-«' doesn't it form stalig-stalag-stalagfites ?"
" No ; this is not limestone-these are not stalactites-these are "-and his voioe sank to a solemn impressive whisper-«« these are steel drops! Every time you refuse to take them they flow here and wear away our beautiful country. Beware 1 Beware I Oh, mortal !" and he stalked on with his pear-blossom cap pulled over his eyes, and Gladys meekly followed.
«« Won't you, Oh, won't you show me something nice," pleaded Gladys, weary of the sad, sad sights of Shadowland, and the elf turned round and looked keenly at her
face for some minutes.
«« Yes, I think it has done you good," he said at last, slowly, noting the great tears standing in her brown eyes, the sorrowful droop of the curly, golden head, and the
crimson shamed face.
«« I am so, to sorry, I didn't think I was so very horrid," said Gladys at last, burst- ing into tears; not a storm of howling and Bobbing like she generally indulged in when Miss Hotham thwarted her in any way, but sad, penitent tears.
«* Heyday-tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean," said the little elf, skip- ping up to her side with a twinkle in his dancing eyes, and wiping away her tears with a tiny handkerchief woven by a spider. «« Come, come, deeds will tell j come now with me and I will show you a glimpse of real Fairyland." And Gladys brushed away her tears and followed her
el fine leader.
«< This is Dreamland," he said, as they went hurriedly through a land that seemed all clouds and fancies, and different things woven up together j '« you have been here before-come, haste your steps, for ere Hy- perion drives his horse in, you must away. That-that is Fairyland," and be pointed to a great golden veil that seemed to fall softly and naturally from one of the clouds,"'tis there the fairies live-there beyond the veil."
" May I go in," said Gladys timidly, and gazing spellbound at the wonderful cur- tain. "Ah, no-no-you cannot enter," the elf replied ; '* but see, I will lift up a corner, kneel down and you shall see."
And Gladys knelt down, lifted the cur- tain, and looked in.
(TO BE CONTINUED.)