« AnteriorContinuar »
the setting sun. We even hushed our years; but now, when I believe I am song, and bent over our nursling, and really capable of loving you, when I took her to be our own. Thus was it more want to be loved, and to find that our Sea-Child came to our Faëry- nothing dividing me from you, it land.”
seems so unnatural—so horrible—that The Sea-Child bent to embrace her I should be altogether unlike you. friend, for she was somewhat taller You are all of sunbeams and bright than the elfin sprite. They could not hues, and are soft like dewy gossahold each other in their arms, for one mers ; and I - my limbs, through was gleaming air, and the other human which no ray can pass; my head, that substance. But the fairy hung round crushes the flowers I rest it on, as if the child as the reflection of a figure it had been a head carved in stone! in bright water round one who bathes -Oh, sister ! I am wretched at the at the same spot of the same trans- thought. I touched the wing of a parent pool. To the phantom it was butterfly only yesterday with my finmore delightful than to rest and ger, and I could perceive it shrink and breathe upon a bank of flowers : to the shiver with pain. My touch had mortal it seemed as if she was encom- bruised its wing, and I thought I could passed by a soft warm air, full of the see it ache, as it flew frightened odours of opening carnations and of away." ripe fruits.
She burst into tears, and these were "Let us sit here," said the Sea-Child, the first that had been ever shed in 6 and look around us, and discourse." Faëryland. But there they could not
She placed herself on a mossy stone long How, and she soon shook them at the foot of a green birch-tree, and from her eyes, and looked up smiling the fairy sat on the extremity of one and said _“ There thou see'st, dear of the sprays, which hung beside her sister, how unfit I am to live with such companion's face, and which hardly as thou. Better, perhaps, had I met bent a hair's breadth with her weight; my natural fate, and been destroyed and she held by one hand to a leaf on my first arrival by thy monstrous above her, and with the other touched foes, or by the eagle from which thou the dark brown locks that streamed didst save me." around the mortal head. The child • Strange would it have been if we sat, and looked down, and seemed to had not had wit enough to disappoint think, till the fairy said, “ Why art that big and brutal race !" thou sad? Of what art thou musing?" “I never could well understand
The child blushed, and stooped her why it was that they hated either you head, and at last looked up confusedly and said "I never before felt so • They could not do otherwise bestrongly the difference between me ing what they are-thou what thou and you, who call me sister. Here, art-and we the sprites thou knowest while we sit together on the spot Curious is the tale, and long to where I first was wafted to your tell, of all that has happened betwixt hands, it seems to me strange—
them and us." strange!-that ye should have adopted “ How came ye to have such dreadme for your own, and not thrown me ful inhabitants in your isle of Faëry?" back into the waters, or left me a prey
" Ah! that I know not. They and to the mountaineers, from whom ye we seem to belong to it by the same have so long protected me."
necessity. Before thou camest we had s Strange!” said the other, “how no measure of time; which we now strange? We could do no otherwise reckon, as thou knowest, by thy years, than we did. I know not how it is not by ours. Till then, our existence that our Sea-Child often speaks as if was like what thou describest thy it were possible to do aught else than dreams to be. It is in watching thee what one wishes. We felt we loved that we have learned to mark how thy you--we saw that, in that pretty but fancies, and wishes, and actions, rise solid mortal frame, there was a breath and succeed each other, as the sun and beauty like our own, though also and moon, the stars and clouds, travel something akin to those huge enemies, and change. And even now I hardly who, but for our cunning, would swift- 'feel, as thou appearest to do, what is ly have devoured thee."
meant by to-day, yesterday, and to“ I, too, never thoughtofit in former morrow. Of times and years, there
fore, I can tell thee little. We grow before them. When, as it has hapnot old, nor cease to be young. Nor pened, some of us were trodden becan we say of each other as we can of neath their feet, or dashed below their thee-thou art such a one, and none swinging clubs, a faint shriek, a sudelse. We discern differences of sun. den blaze burst from under the blow, shine and shade, of land and sea, of and allof us, lurking beneath the waterwind and calm ; but all of us feel falls, clinging amid the hidden nooks alike under the same circumstances, of flowers, or shrunken into sparry and have no fixed peculiarity of bex grottoes in the rocks, felt stricken and ing, such as that which makes thee so agonized, although none of us could different from us. I know not whe- cease to live. All round this bay, and ther it was I, or some other of my sis- others, larger and more broken of our ters, who visited this field and shore shore, the giant horde of our brothers yesterday, and the day before danced would sit upon the cliffs and crags, in the showering drops of the white looking themselves like prodigious waterfall yonder, up the valley. Each rocks ; and with the rain and storm of us feels as all do, and all as each. about them, and the sea-foam dashing I love thee not more than do my sis up against their knees, would wash their ters, nor they more than I. Of our dark beards in the brine, and seem to past life I only know that we seemed laugh aloud at the sound of the temalways to have been in this our own pest. But when calm and sunshine land, and to have been happy here. were about to return, they always The flowers fill us with odours, the sky sprang from their places on the shore, with warmth; the dews bathe us in and, like one of those herds of wild delight, the moonbeams wind us in a bulls that they chase before them, ring with filmy threads when we dance hurried back with dizzy bellowings, and upon the sands; and when the woods rush of limbs and clubs, into their dark murmur above us, we have a thrill of mountains. Sometimes, indeed, they quiet joy, which belongs not to me were more malicious, and sought more more than to another, but is the com- resolutely to do us mischief. I have mon bliss of all. Of all times have known them tear asunder the jaws of the mountains, and deep ravines, and one of their hill-torrents, so as to pour bare and rocky uplands of our isle, the waters suddenly on our fields and been the abode of a fierce and ugly valleys. Sometimes, too, we have seen race of giants, whom we have been them standing upon the mountains, accustomed to call our brothers, and with their figures marked against the to believe them allied with us by na- sky, plying great stems of trees around ture, though between us there has a mass of snow and ice, till, loosened at ever been a mortal enmity.”
last, it rolled down, mile after mile, “ Often, often," said the Sea-Child, crashing through wood and stream,
have I thought how much happier Thus were our warm bright haunts we should be, had there been no giants buried under a frozen heap of ruins, in the land."
while the laughter of the mountain“ I know not,” replied the fairy, monsters rang through the air, above “how that might be. Much is the vexa- the roar of the falling mass. But tion that they cause us; but it is said often had we our revenge.
Once, that our race is inseparable from theirs, when the storms had gathered fiercely and that if they were altogether de- on those far hills, and rushed in rainy stroyed we also must perish. Never, gusts and black fogs down every till we had thee among us, did their gully, and opened at last over the enmity seem very dangerous, difficult green vale and sunny bay, our brothers as it often was to avoid their injuries. hurried in tumult from their own reAlways, as now, when the shadows of gion, their swinish ears tossing in the the storm-cloud swept from the hills dark folds of their locks and beards, over our plains ; when the dark mist and, with mouths like wolves, drinking rolled out of the ravines down to our in the tempest as they ran. They sunny meadows; the shaggy and huge rioted and triumphed on the shore, creatures strode forth from their caves while the wind whistled loudly round and forests, leaning on their pine clubs, them; and they played with the bilshouting and growling, and with their lows which tumbled on the beach, as weighty tramp defacing our green and I have seen you play with lambs in the flowery sward, and scaring us away green fields. We peeped from the
grottoes where we had hidden our playing round them, stormed back selves, and saw them catch out of the into the depths of their own mountain waters some round black heaps, like world." skins of animals, full of liquid. These “ Could ye not," said the Seathey threw at each other, till at last Child, “have always taken refuge from one burst, and covered the giant them in the lower garden where I have whom it had struck with a red stain. been with you?" On this there was a loud shout-they
• We did not know it till thou wert fung the skins about no more, but among us, and should perhaps never caught them tenderly in their arms, have ventured thither had we not been lifted them to their mouths, bit them driven to distress by the hatred of the open, and drained the contents. This giants for thee. When we had thee increased their tumult and grim joy; for our nursling and sister, their atand they turned to the meadow, and tempts were no longer bursts of viobegan to wrestle, and leap, and tear lence that passed away. They seemed down the young trees, and disport always lying in wait to discover and themselves, till one by one they sank to destroy thee. Had we not known upon the turf in sleep. The storm a strain of music, of power when sung was clearing off; we ventured from to frighten them away, thou, dear our hiding-places, and looked upon the Sea-Child, would long ere this have hairy dismal shapes, that lay scattered been taken from us. When they came and heaped like brown rocks over- rushing down in the wind and dark. grown with weeds and moss. Sud- ness, and sought for thee in every denly we all looked at each other, and thicket, and every hollow-tree, and determined what to do. We pierced under each of those large pink shells through the crevices of our grottoes which we often made thy bed, they till we reached a fount of sunny fire. sang and shouted together such words This we drew upwards by our singing as these : to follow us, and led it in a channel
Lump and thump, and rattling clatter, over the grass till it formed a stream
These the brawny brothers love ; of diamond light, dividing this field
While the lightnings flash and shatter, from the mountains, and encircling While the winds the forest tatter, the whole host of giants. The warm
We too spatter, stamp, and batter, sunshine at the same time began to Whirling our clubs at whate'er's above.' play on them. They felt the soft
But we too had our song; and never sweet flowery air of our lower land,
could these grim wild beasts resist the our songs sounded in their bristled ears, and they began to toss, roll
, spell, when we sang together with soft
voice, snort, and endeavoured to rise and escape to their dark hills. But this was “The giant is strong, but the fairy is wise : not now so easy. They could not pass
And the clouds cannot wither the stars in the bright pure stream. The sunshine the skies.' in which we revelled weakened them - Oh! well I remember,” said her so much that they could not rise and companion," with what delight I first stand, but staggered on their knees, fell heard you sing that song. I fancied upon their hands and faces, and seemed that, if I could only listen long enough to dissolve away, like their own ice. to it, I should become as airy and crags when flung with all their clay gentle as ye are, and no longer be enand withered herbage down into our cumbered with this dark, solid flesh. warm lakes and dells. We thought we were in that green chamber in the there was now a chance of seeing our midst of red rocks, where the pines enemies, who were also our brothers, spread over the brinks of the precifor ever destroyed. We began to de- pices far above the mossy floor we sat liberate whether we also should neces- on, and the vines hung their branches sarily perish with them, when we heard down the stony walls from the pinea sudden gust of wind and flash of rain boughs which they cling to on the -another storm broke from the moun. summit, and drop their clusters into tains -a torrent of snow-water quench- the smooth stream, with its floating ed our diamond flame. The giants water-lilies, which traverses the spot. stood up, bold, wild, and strong as ever There, dear sisters, were ye sporting, -leaped, roared, and swung 'their climbing up the vine trails, and throwclubs, and, with the friendly tempesting yourselves headlong down, or
launching over the quick ripples of the giants, hating our Sea-Child, and destream. Ye had laid me on a bed of termined to drive her from the land, harebells, and I looked up with half. heaved with their pine-stem clubs at shut eyes.
saw your sparkling hosts this great block of stone, until they pass to and fro up the cliff, through had forced it open. Thence, so long the straggling beams of sunshine, when as they had strength to hold it thus, a something blacker than the pine- thick and chilling mist boiled out, boughs on the summit appeared in the poured down the glens and mountains, deepest of their shade. Long tangled and stifled all our island.
When they locks, and two fierce round eyes, and were so wearied with the huge weight a mouth with huge protruding lip, that they could endure no longer, the came on and peered over, till the rock swung to again, and closed the monster spied me, and gave a yell. I opening : but not until the work was saw a crag, with two young pine-trees done for that time, and the land made growing on it, toppling before the wellnigh uninhabitable to thee and thrust of his hand, and at the moment Then in the fearful gloom the of falling to crush me. Then suddenly giants rushed abroad, howling and came your cry and song. A sheet trampling over high and low; and of water, thinner than a rose-leaf, many were the devices which we were and transparent as the starry sky, compelled to use in order to preserve rose from the stream, and seemed to thee from their fury. We scattered form an arch above me. There was
the golden sea-sand, which had been in it a perpetual trembling and eddy- transmuted by the sunbeams, over the ing of the brightest colours, and I saw softest greensward, and watered it the forms of thousands of my sisters with the dew shaken from musk roses, floating, circling, wavering up and and it grew up into a golden trellisdown in the liquid light. All seemed work, with large twining leaves of joining in the song
embossed gold and fruits, like bunches
of stars. When thou hadst been * The giant is strong, but the fairy is wise: sprinkled with the same dew, and so And the clouds cannot wither the stars in
hushed into charmed sleep, we laid the skies.'
thee beneath the bowery roof, and The crag fell, but shattered not my kept watch around thee. The giants crystal vault, down the side of which could not approach this spot, for it it rolled into the stream; and the giant, threw off the darkness, and burnt in with a roar of rage, fell after it, and the midst of storm and fog with an instung by the warm air, and pierced cessant light. But still we were oblithrough and through by the music, ged to be perpetually on our guard, and writhing in the bright stream, half and we shivered and pined in the demelted, half was broken like a lump of solation of our beautiful empire. At ice, and darkened the water, while he last we resolved to try our fortunes in flowed in it away."
a new region. When we had lulled " It was, however, the frequency of thee into deep slumber, we all glided such attempts," said the fairy, “which down the waterfall that pours out of drove us to take refuge in the regions the lake of lilies, and sank with it deep of our friends the dwarfs. We found, into the ground. We were here in too, that we had no longer the mere the kingdom of the dwarfs. risk of being surprised by our enemies * The little people showed us as much in the sudden descent of storm and friendship as the giants had ever dismists, and through the opportunities played of enmity. Their great hall of thick and gloomy lurking-places had a thousand columns, each of a difnear our sunlit haunts. They had dis- ferent metal, and with a capital of a covered a secret by which they could different precious stone. The roof at will darken and deface our whole was opal, and the floor lapis-lazuli. kingdom, and blight all its sweet In the centre stood a pillar, which flowers and fruitage. There is some- seemed cut off at half its height. On where, in the centre of their moun- it sat a dwarf, rather smaller than the tains, in the midst of desolate rocks, a others, but broad and strong. His black ravine. The upper end of this dark and twisted face looked like a is enclosed by an enormous crag, little copy of one of the giants, but his which turns as on a pivot, and is the clear blue eyes were as beautiful as door of an immeasurable cave. The
ours or as thine, my Sea-Child. He NO. CCXCII, VOL. XLVII,
ven from your
sat with his arms folded, and his legs which thou hast dwelt in with us. Thou hung down, and swinging. His head rememberest the still and glistening was turned to one side and rather up- loveliness of the place; and of the moon wards, and on the tip of his nose spun that lighted it, and the sweet moon. perpetually a little golden circle, with flowers that filled its glades, I need a golden pin run through it, on which not' speak. But thou knowest not it seemed to dance unweariedly, turn- what wise instruction the old dwarf ing round and round for ever, smooth King was wont to give us while thou and swift as an eddy in a stream. In wert sleeping under the myrtle shade. its whirl the little circle gave out “ • Mourn not,' he would say, 'fair large flakes of white fire, which form- sisters, that ye are ed a wheel of widening rings above upper land of life into this lower garthe head of the dwarf, flashing off on
den of peace. all sides between the capitals of the " • All things are but as they must pillars, and lighting the whole hall. be, and, were they otherwise, they
The queer cunning look with which would not be the things they are. the dwarf's blue eyes glanced up at sv. Each worketh for itself, and doeth the small spinner, as if it were alive, and knoweth all it can, save in so far and, answering his glances with its as other things oppose it, which are own, amused us extremely.
also accomplishing their due tasks. Thedwarfs, when we entered, were "• Each is but a portion of the whole, all placed round on ranges of seats and vainly seeketh to be aught but rising above each other. Every seat, that which the whole willeth it to be. like a small pile of round plates of "All-that is, dwarfs, and giants, gold, each of them, as we afterwards and fairies, and the world that holds found, having a head on it with some them-subsist in successions of strife ; strange figures. These plates, the and while they seem struggling to dwarfs told us, were all talismans, destroy each other, exert, as alone it is which would one day make the owners impossible for them to do, the enerlords of the world. At the head of gies of their own being. the hall, under a canopy of state, sat
"sAll rise out of death to life, and the king of the dwarfs, who looked many are the semblances of death wonderfully old and wise, with two which still accompany their life at its eyes of ruby, and a long crystal tooth highest. They grow into harmony growing out of one side of his mouth, only by discord with themselves and and a band of gold-wire falling below others; and, while they labourto escape his feet, and twirled on the floor, go- the common lot, rebound painfully ing three times round the throne. from the walls which they strive
“« What seek ye?' said the King; against idly. and his words did not come out of his “ • The giant disturbeth, the fairy lips, but from a little hole in the top brighteneth, the dwarf enricheth the of his crystal tooth.
world. Each docth well in his own ". Help! necromancer.'
work. But therein often must he 5. It belongeth rightly to the help- thwart and cross the work of another. ful, and shall not be denied you. What -"I am oldest, I am wisest of workbring ye?'
ers in the world. I was at the birth ". A young Sea-Child.'
of things, and what hath been I know 66. It is in the youngest that the old. well; but what is future I know.not est may see hope. She is welcome. yet, nor can read whether there shall What fear ye?
be a new birth of all that may bring "" The rage of the tall giants.' death to me.'
66. We are deeper than they are “ Thus did the old King teach us a high. I can protect you against sad yet melodious contentment, that them.'
seemed suited to that visionary gar. “ He rose up and walked before us, den. This quiet state, however, was and his golden beard streamed behind not to last, nor the wisdom of the over both his shoulders, and seemed dwarfs to secure them happiness. We to be a stately cloth, woven with longed for our upper world of dayfigures, for us to walk on. There was light and freedom, and thou seemdarkness round us, and we advanced edst rather dreaming than awake, upon this shining path, following the Yet thou beamedst ever fairer and dwarf, till suddenly he disappeared, fairer, and didst grow in stature and and we found ourselves in the garden in loveliness. Thus was it that thou