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Kingsley, Charles / The Water-Babies A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby
[Illustration: Cover]

[Illustration: "The thing whirred up into the air, and hung poised on
its wings, . . . a dragon fly, . . . the king of all the flies."--P. 74.


A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby




_First Published 1863_
_Edition with 32 Illustrations in Colour by Warwick Goble, Crown
4to, 1909_
_With 16 Illustrations in Colour by Warwick Goble, Demy 8vo, October
_Reprinted November 1910, 1912_
_With 16 Illustrations in Colour by Warwick Goble, Medium 8vo, 1922_










The thing whirred up into the air, and hung poised on its
wings, . . . a dragon fly, ... the king of all the
flies.--p. 74 _Frontispiece_

In rushed a stout old nurse from the next room 20

Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child 32

A quiet, silent, rich, happy place 35

She was the Queen of them all 44

From which great trout rushed out on Tom 88

He watched the moonlight on the rippling river 101

Tom had never seen a lobster before 113

The fairies came flying in at the window and brought her
such a pretty pair of wings 126

A real live water-baby, sitting on the white sand 146

Tom found that the isle stood all on pillars, and that its
roots were full of caves 151

He crept away among the rocks, and got to the cabinet, and
behold! it was open 172

There he saw the last of the Gairfowl, standing up on the
Allalonestone, all alone 201

The most beautiful bird of paradise 210

"That's Mother Carey" 219

Pandora and her box 224

"I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined;
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

"To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think,
What man has made of man."



ONCE upon a time there was a little chimney-sweep, and his name was Tom.
That is a short name, and you have heard it before, so you will not have
much trouble in remembering it. He lived in a great town in the North
country, where there were plenty of chimneys to sweep, and plenty of
money for Tom to earn and his master to spend. He could not read nor
write, and did not care to do either; and he never washed himself, for
there was no water up the court where he lived. He had never been taught
to say his prayers. He never had heard of God, or of Christ, except in
words which you never have heard, and which it would have been well if
he had never heard. He cried half his time, and laughed the other half.
He cried when he had to climb the dark flues, rubbing his poor knees and
elbows raw; and when the soot got into his eyes, which it did every day
in the week; and when his master beat him, which he did every day in the
week; and when he had not enough to eat, which happened every day in the
week likewise. And he laughed the other half of the day, when he was
tossing halfpennies with the other boys, or playing leap-frog over the
posts, or bowling stones at the horses' legs as they trotted by, which
last was excellent fun, when there was a wall at hand behind which to
hide. As for chimney-sweeping, and being hungry, and being beaten, he
took all that for the way of the world, like the rain and snow and
thunder, and stood manfully with his back to it till it was over, as his
old donkey did to a hail-storm; and then shook his ears and was as jolly
as ever; and thought of the fine times coming, when he would be a man,
and a master sweep, and sit in the public-house with a quart of beer and
a long pipe, and play cards for silver money, and wear velveteens and
ankle-jacks, and keep a white bull-dog with one grey ear, and carry her
puppies in his pocket, just like a man. And he would have apprentices,
one, two, three, if he could. How he would bully them, and knock them
about, just as his master did to him; and make them carry home the soot
sacks, while he rode before them on his donkey, with a pipe in his mouth
and a flower in his button-hole, like a king at the head of his army.
Yes, there were good times coming; and, when his master let him have a
pull at the leavings of his beer, Tom was the jolliest boy in the whole

One day a smart little groom rode into the court where Tom lived. Tom
was just hiding behind a wall, to heave half a brick at his horse's
legs, as is the custom of that country when they welcome strangers; but
the groom saw him, and halloed to him to know where Mr. Grimes, the
chimney-sweep, lived. Now, Mr. Grimes was Tom's own master, and Tom was
a good man of business, and always civil to customers, so he put the
half-brick down quietly behind the wall, and proceeded to take orders.

Mr. Grimes was to come up next morning to Sir John Harthover's, at the
Place, for his old chimney-sweep was gone to prison, and the chimneys
wanted sweeping. And so he rode away, not giving Tom time to ask what
the sweep had gone to prison for, which was a matter of interest to Tom,
as he had been in prison once or twice himself. Moreover, the groom
looked so very neat and clean, with his drab gaiters, drab breeches,
drab jacket, snow-white tie with a smart pin in it, and clean round
ruddy face, that Tom was offended and disgusted at his appearance, and
considered him a stuck-up fellow, who gave himself airs because he wore
smart clothes, and other people paid for them; and went behind the wall
to fetch the half-brick after all; but did not, remembering that he had
come in the way of business, and was, as it were, under a flag of truce.

His master was so delighted at his new customer that he knocked Tom down
out of hand, and drank more beer that night than he usually did in two,
in order to be sure of getting up in time next morning; for the more a
man's head aches when he wakes, the more glad he is to turn out, and
have a breath of fresh air. And, when he did get up at four the next
morning, he knocked Tom down again, in order to teach him (as young
gentlemen used to be taught at public schools) that he must be an extra
good boy that day, as they were going to a very great house, and might
make a very good thing of it, if they could but give satisfaction.

And Tom thought so likewise, and, indeed, would have done and behaved
his best, even without being knocked down. For, of all places upon
earth, Harthover Place (which he had never seen) was the most wonderful,
and, of all men on earth, Sir John (whom he had seen, having been sent
to gaol by him twice) was the most awful.

Harthover Place was really a grand place, even for the rich North
country; with a house so large that in the frame-breaking riots, which
Tom could just remember, the Duke of Wellington, and ten thousand
soldiers to match, were easily housed therein; at least, so Tom
believed; with a park full of deer, which Tom believed to be monsters
who were in the habit of eating children; with miles of game-preserves,
in which Mr. Grimes and the collier lads poached at times, on which
occasions Tom saw pheasants, and wondered what they tasted like; with a
noble salmon-river, in which Mr. Grimes and his friends would have liked
to poach; but then they must have got into cold water, and that they did
not like at all. In short, Harthover was a grand place, and Sir John a
grand old man, whom even Mr. Grimes respected; for not only could he
send Mr. Grimes to prison when he deserved it, as he did once or twice
a week; not only did he own all the land about for miles; not only was
he a jolly, honest, sensible squire, as ever kept a pack of hounds, who
would do what he thought right by his neighbours, as well as get what he
thought right for himself; but, what was more, he weighed full fifteen
stone, was nobody knew how many inches round the chest, and could have
thrashed Mr. Grimes himself in fair fight, which very few folk round
there could do, and which, my dear little boy, would not have been right
for him to do, as a great many things are not which one both can do, and
would like very much to do. So Mr. Grimes touched his hat to him when he
rode through the town, and called him a "buirdly awd chap," and his
young ladies "gradely lasses," which are two high compliments in the
North country; and thought that that made up for his poaching Sir John's
pheasants; whereby you may perceive that Mr. Grimes had not been to a
properly-inspected Government National School.

Now, I dare say, you never got up at three o'clock on a midsummer
morning. Some people get up then because they want to catch salmon; and
some because they want to climb Alps; and a great many more because they
must, like Tom. But, I assure you, that three o'clock on a midsummer
morning is the pleasantest time of all the twenty-four hours, and all
the three hundred and sixty-five days; and why every one does not get up
then, I never could tell, save that they are all determined to spoil
their nerves and their complexions by doing all night what they might
just as well do all day. But Tom, instead of going out to dinner at
half-past eight at night, and to a ball at ten, and finishing off
somewhere between twelve and four, went to bed at seven, when his master
went to the public-house, and slept like a dead pig; for which reason he
was as piert as a game-cock (who always gets up early to wake the maids),
and just ready to get up when the fine gentlemen and ladies were just
ready to go to bed.

So he and his master set out; Grimes rode the donkey in front, and Tom
and the brushes walked behind; out of the court, and up the street, past
the closed window-shutters, and the winking weary policemen, and the
roofs all shining grey in the grey dawn.

They passed through the pitmen's village, all shut up and silent now,
and through the turnpike; and then they were out in the real country,
and plodding along the black dusty road, between black slag walls, with
no sound but the groaning and thumping of the pit-engine in the next
field. But soon the road grew white, and the walls likewise; and at the
wall's foot grew long grass and gay flowers, all drenched with dew; and
instead of the groaning of the pit-engine, they heard the skylark saying
his matins high up in the air, and the pit-bird warbling in the sedges,
as he had warbled all night long.

All else was silent. For old Mrs. Earth was still fast asleep; and, like
many pretty people, she looked still prettier asleep than awake. The
great elm-trees in the gold-green meadows were fast asleep above, and
the cows fast asleep beneath them; nay, the few clouds which were about
were fast asleep likewise, and so tired that they had lain down on the
earth to rest, in long white flakes and bars, among the stems of the
elm-trees, and along the tops of the alders by the stream, waiting for
the sun to bid them rise and go about their day's business in the clear
blue overhead.

On they went; and Tom looked, and looked, for he never had been so far
into the country before; and longed to get over a gate, and pick
buttercups, and look for birds' nests in the hedge; but Mr. Grimes was a
man of business, and would not have heard of that.

Soon they came up with a poor Irishwoman, trudging along with a bundle
at her back. She had a grey shawl over her head, and a crimson madder
petticoat; so you may be sure she came from Galway. She had neither
shoes nor stockings, and limped along as if she were tired and footsore;
but she was a very tall handsome woman, with bright grey eyes, and heavy
black hair hanging about her cheeks. And she took Mr. Grimes' fancy so
much, that when he came alongside he called out to her:

"This is a hard road for a gradely foot like that. Will ye up, lass, and
ride behind me?"

But, perhaps, she did not admire Mr. Grimes' look and voice; for she
answered quietly:

"No, thank you; I'd sooner walk with your little lad here."

"You may please yourself," growled Grimes, and went on smoking.

So she walked beside Tom, and talked to him, and asked him where he
lived, and what he knew, and all about himself, till Tom thought he had
never met such a pleasant-spoken woman. And she asked him, at last,
whether he said his prayers! and seemed sad when he told her that he
knew no prayers to say.

Then he asked her where she lived, and she said far away by the sea. And
Tom asked her about the sea; and she told him how it rolled and roared
over the rocks in winter nights, and lay still in the bright summer
days, for the children to bathe and play in it; and many a story more,
till Tom longed to go and see the sea, and bathe in it likewise.

At last, at the bottom of a hill, they came to a spring; not such a
spring as you see here, which soaks up out of a white gravel in the bog,
among red fly-catchers, and pink bottle-heath, and sweet white orchis;
nor such a one as you may see, too, here, which bubbles up under the
warm sandbank in the hollow lane, by the great tuft of lady ferns, and
makes the sand dance reels at the bottom, day and night, all the year
round; not such a spring as either of those; but a real North country
limestone fountain, like one of those in Sicily or Greece, where the old
heathen fancied the nymphs sat cooling themselves the hot summer's day,
while the shepherds peeped at them from behind the bushes. Out of a low
cave of rock, at the foot of a limestone crag, the great fountain rose,
quelling, and bubbling, and gurgling, so clear that you could not tell
where the water ended and the air began; and ran away under the road, a
stream large enough to turn a mill; among blue geranium, and golden
globe-flower, and wild raspberry, and the bird-cherry with its tassels
of snow.

And there Grimes stopped, and looked; and Tom looked too. Tom was
wondering whether anything lived in that dark cave, and came out at
night to fly in the meadows. But Grimes was not wondering at all.
Without a word, he got off his donkey, and clambered over the low road
wall, and knelt down, and began dipping his ugly head into the
spring--and very dirty he made it.

Tom was picking the flowers as fast as he could. The Irishwoman helped
him, and showed him how to tie them up; and a very pretty nosegay they
had made between them. But when he saw Grimes actually wash, he stopped,
quite astonished; and when Grimes had finished, and began shaking his
ears to dry them, he said:

"Why, master, I never saw you do that before."

"Nor will again, most likely. 'Twasn't for cleanliness I did it, but for
coolness. I'd be ashamed to want washing every week or so, like any
smutty collier lad."

"I wish I might go and dip my head in," said poor little Tom. "It must
be as good as putting it under the town-pump; and there is no beadle
here to drive a chap away."

"Thou come along," said Grimes; "what dost want with washing thyself?
Thou did not drink half a gallon of beer last night, like me."

"I don't care for you," said naughty Tom, and ran down to the stream,
and began washing his face.

Grimes was very sulky, because the woman preferred Tom's company to his;
so he dashed at him with horrid words, and tore him up from his knees,
and began beating him. But Tom was accustomed to that, and got his head
safe between Mr. Grimes' legs, and kicked his shins with all his might.

"Are you not ashamed of yourself, Thomas Grimes?" cried the Irishwoman
over the wall.

Grimes looked up, startled at her knowing his name; but all he answered
was, "No, nor never was yet"; and went on beating Tom.

"True for you. If you ever had been ashamed of yourself, you would have
gone over into Vendale long ago."

"What do you know about Vendale?" shouted Grimes; but he left off
beating Tom.

"I know about Vendale, and about you, too. I know, for instance, what
happened in Aldermire Copse, by night, two years ago come Martinmas."

"You do?" shouted Grimes; and leaving Tom, he climbed up over the wall,
and faced the woman. Tom thought he was going to strike her; but she
looked him too full and fierce in the face for that.

"Yes; I was there," said the Irishwoman quietly.

"You are no Irishwoman, by your speech," said Grimes, after many bad

"Never mind who I am. I saw what I saw; and if you strike that boy
again, I can tell what I know."

Grimes seemed quite cowed, and got on his donkey without another word.

"Stop!" said the Irishwoman. "I have one more word for you both; for you
will both see me again before all is over. Those that wish to be clean,
clean they will be; and those that wish to be foul, foul they will be.

And she turned away, and through a gate into the meadow. Grimes stood
still a moment, like a man who had been stunned. Then he rushed after
her, shouting, "You come back." But when he got into the meadow, the
woman was not there.

Had she hidden away? There was no place to hide in. But Grimes looked
about, and Tom also, for he was as puzzled as Grimes himself at her
disappearing so suddenly; but look where they would, she was not there.

Grimes came back again, as silent as a post, for he was a little
frightened; and, getting on his donkey, filled a fresh pipe, and smoked
away, leaving Tom in peace.

And now they had gone three miles and more, and came to Sir John's

Very grand lodges they were, with very grand iron gates and stone
gate-posts, and on the top of each a most dreadful bogy, all teeth,
horns, and tail, which was the crest which Sir John's ancestors wore in
the Wars of the Roses; and very prudent men they were to wear it, for
all their enemies must have run for their lives at the very first sight
of them.

Grimes rang at the gate, and out came a keeper on the spot, and opened.

"I was told to expect thee," he said. "Now thou'lt be so good as to keep
to the main avenue, and not let me find a hare or a rabbit on thee when
thou comest back. I shall look sharp for one, I tell thee."

"Not if it's in the bottom of the soot-bag," quoth Grimes, and at that
he laughed; and the keeper laughed and said:

"If that's thy sort, I may as well walk up with thee to the hall."

"I think thou best had. It's thy business to see after thy game, man,
and not mine."

So the keeper went with them; and, to Tom's surprise, he and Grimes
chatted together all the way quite pleasantly. He did not know that a
keeper is only a poacher turned outside in, and a poacher a keeper
turned inside out.

They walked up a great lime avenue, a full mile long, and between their
stems Tom peeped trembling at the horns of the sleeping deer, which
stood up among the ferns. Tom had never seen such enormous trees, and as
he looked up he fancied that the blue sky rested on their heads. But he
was puzzled very much by a strange murmuring noise, which followed them
all the way. So much puzzled, that at last he took courage to ask the
keeper what it was.

He spoke very civilly, and called him Sir, for he was horribly afraid of
him, which pleased the keeper, and he told him that they were the bees
about the lime flowers.

"What are bees?" asked Tom.

"What make honey."

"What is honey?" asked Tom.

"Thou hold thy noise," said Grimes.

"Let the boy be," said the keeper. "He's a civil young chap now, and
that's more than he'll be long if he bides with thee."

Grimes laughed, for he took that for a compliment.

"I wish I were a keeper," said Tom, "to live in such a beautiful place,
and wear green velveteens, and have a real dog-whistle at my button,
like you."

The keeper laughed; he was a kind-hearted fellow enough.

"Let well alone, lad, and ill too at times. Thy life's safer than mine
at all events, eh, Mr. Grimes?"

And Grimes laughed again, and then the two men began talking quite low.
Tom could hear, though, that it was about some poaching fight; and at
last Grimes said surlily, "Hast thou anything against me?"

"Not now."

"Then don't ask me any questions till thou hast, for I am a man of

And at that they both laughed again, and thought it a very good joke.

And by this time they were come up to the great iron gates in front of
the house; and Tom stared through them at the rhododendrons and azaleas,
which were all in flower; and then at the house itself, and wondered how
many chimneys there were in it, and how long ago it was built, and what
was the man's name that built it, and whether he got much money for his

These last were very difficult questions to answer. For Harthover had
been built at ninety different times, and in nineteen different styles,
and looked as if somebody had built a whole street of houses of every
imaginable shape, and then stirred them together with a spoon.

_For the attics were Anglo-Saxon._

_The third floor Norman._

_The second Cinque-cento._

_The first-floor Elizabethan._

_The right wing Pure Doric._

_The centre Early English, with a huge portico
copied from the Parthenon._

_The left wing pure BÅ“otian, which the country
folk admired most of all, because it was just like
the new barracks in the town, only three times as

_The grand staircase was copied from the Catacombs
at Rome._

_The back staircase from the Tajmahal at Agra.
This was built by Sir John's
great-great-great-uncle, who won, in Lord Clive's
Indian Wars, plenty of money, plenty of wounds,
and no more taste than his betters._

_The cellars were copied from the caves of

_The offices from the Pavilion at Brighton._

And the rest from nothing in heaven, or earth, or under the earth.

So that Harthover House was a great puzzle to antiquarians, and a
thorough Naboth's vineyard to critics, and architects, and all persons
who like meddling with other men's business, and spending other men's
money. So they were all setting upon poor Sir John, year after year, and
trying to talk him into spending a hundred thousand pounds or so, in
building, to please them and not himself. But he always put them off,
like a canny North-countryman as he was. One wanted him to build a
Gothic house, but he said he was no Goth; and another to build an
Elizabethan, but he said he lived under good Queen Victoria, and not
good Queen Bess; and another was bold enough to tell him that his house
was ugly, but he said he lived inside it, and not outside; and another,
that there was no unity in it, but he said that that was just why he
liked the old place. For he liked to see how each Sir John, and Sir
Hugh, and Sir Ralph, and Sir Randal, had left his mark upon the place,
each after his own taste; and he had no more notion of disturbing his
ancestors' work than of disturbing their graves. For now the house
looked like a real live house, that had a history, and had grown and
grown as the world grew; and that it was only an upstart fellow who did
not know who his own grandfather was, who would change it for some spick
and span new Gothic or Elizabethan thing, which looked as if it had been
all spawned in a night, as mushrooms are. From which you may collect (if
you have wit enough) that Sir John was a very sound-headed,
sound-hearted squire, and just the man to keep the country side in
order, and show good sport with his hounds.

But Tom and his master did not go in through the great iron gates, as if
they had been Dukes or Bishops, but round the back way, and a very long
way round it was; and into a little back-door, where the ash-boy let
them in, yawning horribly; and then in a passage the housekeeper met
them, in such a flowered chintz dressing-gown, that Tom mistook her for
My Lady herself, and she gave Grimes solemn orders about "You will take
care of this, and take care of that," as if he was going up the
chimneys, and not Tom. And Grimes listened, and said every now and then,
under his voice, "You'll mind that, you little beggar?" and Tom did
mind, all at least that he could. And then the housekeeper turned them
into a grand room, all covered up in sheets of brown paper, and bade
them begin, in a lofty and tremendous voice; and so after a whimper or
two, and a kick from his master, into the grate Tom went, and up the
chimney, while a housemaid stayed in the room to watch the furniture; to
whom Mr. Grimes paid many playful and chivalrous compliments, but met
with very slight encouragement in return.

How many chimneys Tom swept I cannot say; but he swept so many that he
got quite tired, and puzzled too, for they were not like the town flues
to which he was accustomed, but such as you would find--if you would
only get up them and look, which perhaps you would not like to do--in
old country-houses, large and crooked chimneys, which had been altered
again and again, till they ran one into another, anastomosing (as
Professor Owen would say) considerably. So Tom fairly lost his way in
them; not that he cared much for that, though he was in pitchy darkness,
for he was as much at home in a chimney as a mole is underground; but at
last, coming down as he thought the right chimney, he came down the
wrong one, and found himself standing on the hearthrug in a room the
like of which he had never seen before.

Tom had never seen the like. He had never been in gentlefolks' rooms but
when the carpets were all up, and the curtains down, and the furniture
huddled together under a cloth, and the pictures covered with aprons and
dusters; and he had often enough wondered what the rooms were like when
they were all ready for the quality to sit in. And now he saw, and he
thought the sight very pretty.

The room was all dressed in white,--white window-curtains, white
bed-curtains, white furniture, and white walls, with just a few lines of
pink here and there. The carpet was all over gay little flowers; and the
walls were hung with pictures in gilt frames, which amused Tom very
much. There were pictures of ladies and gentlemen, and pictures of
horses and dogs. The horses he liked; but the dogs he did not care for
much, for there were no bull-dogs among them, not even a terrier. But
the two pictures which took his fancy most were, one a man in long
garments, with little children and their mothers round him, who was
laying his hand upon the children's heads. That was a very pretty
picture, Tom thought, to hang in a lady's room. For he could see that it
was a lady's room by the dresses which lay about.

The other picture was that of a man nailed to a cross, which surprised
Tom much. He fancied that he had seen something like it in a
shop-window. But why was it there? "Poor man," thought Tom, "and he
looks so kind and quiet. But why should the lady have such a sad picture
as that in her room? Perhaps it was some kinsman of hers, who had been
murdered by the savages in foreign parts, and she kept it there for a
remembrance." And Tom felt sad, and awed, and turned to look at
something else.

The next thing he saw, and that too puzzled him, was a washing-stand,
with ewers and basins, and soap and brushes, and towels, and a large
bath full of clean water--what a heap of things all for washing! "She
must be a very dirty lady," thought Tom, "by my master's rule, to want
as much scrubbing as all that. But she must be very cunning to put the
dirt out of the way so well afterwards, for I don't see a speck about
the room, not even on the very towels."

And then, looking toward the bed, he saw that dirty lady, and held his
breath with astonishment.

Under the snow-white coverlet, upon the snow-white pillow, lay the most
beautiful little girl that Tom had ever seen. Her cheeks were almost as
white as the pillow, and her hair was like threads of gold spread all
about over the bed. She might have been as old as Tom, or maybe a year
or two older; but Tom did not think of that. He thought only of her
delicate skin and golden hair, and wondered whether she was a real live
person, or one of the wax dolls he had seen in the shops. But when he
saw her breathe, he made up his mind that she was alive, and stood
staring at her, as if she had been an angel out of heaven.

No. She cannot be dirty. She never could have been dirty, thought Tom to
himself. And then he thought, "And are all people like that when they
are washed?" And he looked at his own wrist, and tried to rub the soot
off, and wondered whether it ever would come off. "Certainly I should
look much prettier then, if I grew at all like her."

And looking round, he suddenly saw, standing close to him, a little
ugly, black, ragged figure, with bleared eyes and grinning white teeth.
He turned on it angrily. What did such a little black ape want in that
sweet young lady's room? And behold, it was himself, reflected in a
great mirror, the like of which Tom had never seen before.

And Tom, for the first time in his life, found out that he was dirty;
and burst into tears with shame and anger; and turned to sneak up the
chimney again and hide; and upset the fender and threw the fire-irons
down, with a noise as of ten thousand tin kettles tied to ten thousand
mad dogs' tails.

[Illustration: "In rushed a stout old nurse from the next room."--_P.

Up jumped the little white lady in her bed, and, seeing Tom, screamed as
shrill as any peacock. In rushed a stout old nurse from the next room,
and seeing Tom likewise, made up her mind that he had come to rob,
plunder, destroy, and burn; and dashed at him, as he lay over the
fender, so fast that she caught him by the jacket.

But she did not hold him. Tom had been in a policeman's hands many a
time, and out of them too, what is more; and he would have been ashamed
to face his friends for ever if he had been stupid enough to be caught
by an old woman; so he doubled under the good lady's arm, across the
room, and out of the window in a moment.

He did not need to drop out, though he would have done so bravely
enough. Nor even to let himself down a spout, which would have been an
old game to him; for once he got up by a spout to the church roof, he
said to take jackdaws' eggs, but the policeman said to steal lead; and,
when he was seen on high, sat there till the sun got too hot, and came
down by another spout, leaving the policemen to go back to the
stationhouse and eat their dinners.

But all under the window spread a tree, with great leaves and sweet
white flowers, almost as big as his head. It was magnolia, I suppose;
but Tom knew nothing about that, and cared less; for down the tree he
went, like a cat, and across the garden lawn, and over the iron
railings, and up the park towards the wood, leaving the old nurse to
scream murder and fire at the window.

The under gardener, mowing, saw Tom, and threw down his scythe; caught
his leg in it, and cut his shin open, whereby he kept his bed for a
week; but in his hurry he never knew it, and gave chase to poor Tom. The
dairymaid heard the noise, got the churn between her knees, and tumbled
over it, spilling all the cream; and yet she jumped up, and gave chase
to Tom. A groom cleaning Sir John's hack at the stables let him go
loose, whereby he kicked himself lame in five minutes; but he ran out
and gave chase to Tom. Grimes upset the soot-sack in the new-gravelled
yard, and spoilt it all utterly; but he ran out and gave chase to Tom.
The old steward opened the park-gate in such a hurry, that he hung up
his pony's chin upon the spikes, and, for aught I know, it hangs there
still; but he jumped off, and gave chase to Tom. The ploughman left his
horses at the headland, and one jumped over the fence, and pulled the
other into the ditch, plough and all; but he ran on, and gave chase to
Tom. The keeper, who was taking a stoat out of a trap, let the stoat go,
and caught his own finger; but he jumped up, and ran after Tom; and
considering what he said, and how he looked, I should have been sorry
for Tom if he had caught him. Sir John looked out of his study window
(for he was an early old gentleman) and up at the nurse, and a marten
dropped mud in his eye, so that he had at last to send for the doctor;
and yet he ran out, and gave chase to Tom. The Irishwoman, too, was
walking up to the house to beg,--she must have got round by some
byway,--but she threw away her bundle, and gave chase to Tom likewise.
Only my Lady did not give chase; for when she had put her head out of
the window, her night-wig fell into the garden, and she had to ring up
her lady's-maid, and send her down for it privately, which quite put her
out of the running, so that she came in nowhere, and is consequently not

In a word, never was there heard at Hall Place--not even when the fox
was killed in the conservatory, among acres of broken glass, and tons of
smashed flower-pots--such a noise, row, hubbub, babel, shindy,
hullabaloo, stramash, charivari, and total contempt of dignity, repose,
and order, as that day, when Grimes, gardener, the groom, the dairymaid,
Sir John, the steward, the ploughman, the keeper, and the Irishwoman,
all ran up the park, shouting "Stop thief," in the belief that Tom had
at least a thousand pounds' worth of jewels in his empty pockets; and
the very magpies and jays followed Tom up, screaking and screaming, as
if he were a hunted fox, beginning to droop his brush.

And all the while poor Tom paddled up the park with his little bare
feet, like a small black gorilla fleeing to the forest. Alas for him!
there was no big father gorilla therein to take his part--to scratch
out the gardener's inside with one paw, toss the dairymaid into a tree
with another, and wrench off Sir John's head with a third, while he
cracked the keeper's skull with his teeth as easily as if it had been a
cocoa-nut or a paving-stone.

However, Tom did not remember ever having had a father; so he did not
look for one, and expected to have to take care of himself; while as for
running, he could keep up for a couple of miles with any stage-coach, if
there was the chance of a copper or a cigar-end, and turn coach-wheels
on his hands and feet ten times following, which is more than you can
do. Wherefore his pursuers found it very difficult to catch him; and we
will hope that they did not catch him at all.

Tom, of course, made for the woods. He had never been in a wood in his
life; but he was sharp enough to know that he might hide in a bush, or
swarm up a tree, and, altogether, had more chance there than in the
open. If he had not known that, he would have been foolisher than a
mouse or a minnow.

But when he got into the wood, he found it a very different sort of
place from what he had fancied. He pushed into a thick cover of
rhododendrons, and found himself at once caught in a trap. The boughs
laid hold of his legs and arms, poked him in his face and his stomach,
made him shut his eyes tight (though that was no great loss, for he
could not see at best a yard before his nose); and when he got through
the rhododendrons, the hassock-grass and sedges tumbled him over, and
cut his poor little fingers afterwards most spitefully; the birches
birched him as soundly as if he had been a nobleman at Eton, and over
the face too (which is not fair swishing, as all brave boys will agree);
and the lawyers tripped him up, and tore his shins as if they had
sharks' teeth--which lawyers are likely enough to have.

"I must get out of this," thought Tom, "or I shall stay here till
somebody comes to help me--which is just what I don't want."

But how to get out was the difficult matter. And indeed I don't think he
would ever have got out at all, but have stayed there till the
cock-robins covered him with leaves, if he had not suddenly run his head
against a wall.

Now running your head against a wall is not pleasant, especially if it
is a loose wall, with the stones all set on edge, and a sharp cornered
one hits you between the eyes and makes you see all manner of beautiful
stars. The stars are very beautiful, certainly; but unfortunately they
go in the twenty-thousandth part of a split second, and the pain which
comes after them does not. And so Tom hurt his head; but he was a brave
boy, and did not mind that a penny. He guessed that over the wall the
cover would end; and up it he went, and over like a squirrel.

And there he was, out on the great grouse-moors, which the country folk
called Harthover Fell--heather and bog and rock, stretching away and
up, up to the very sky.

Now, Tom was a cunning little fellow--as cunning as an old Exmoor stag.
Why not? Though he was but ten years old, he had lived longer than most
stags, and had more wits to start with into the bargain.

He knew as well as a stag that if he backed he might throw the hounds
out. So the first thing he did when he was over the wall was to make the
neatest double sharp to his right, and run along under the wall for
nearly half a mile.

Whereby Sir John, and the keeper, and the steward, and the gardener, and
the ploughman, and the dairymaid, and all the hue-and-cry together, went
on ahead half a mile in the very opposite direction, and inside the
wall, leaving him a mile off on the outside; while Tom heard their
shouts die away in the woods and chuckled to himself merrily.

At last he came to a dip in the land, and went to the bottom of it, and
then he turned bravely away from the wall and up the moor; for he knew
that he had put a hill between him and his enemies, and could go on
without their seeing him.

But the Irishwoman, alone of them all, had seen which way Tom went. She
had kept ahead of every one the whole time; and yet she neither walked
nor ran. She went along quite smoothly and gracefully, while her feet
twinkled past each other so fast that you could not see which was
foremost; till every one asked the other who the strange woman was; and
all agreed, for want of anything better to say, that she must be in
league with Tom.

But when she came to the plantation, they lost sight of her; and they
could do no less. For she went quietly over the wall after Tom, and
followed him wherever he went. Sir John and the rest saw no more of her;
and out of sight was out of mind.

And now Tom was right away into the heather, over just such a moor as
those in which you have been bred, except that there were rocks and
stones lying about everywhere, and that, instead of the moor growing
flat as he went upwards, it grew more and more broken and hilly, but not
so rough but that little Tom could jog along well enough, and find time,
too, to stare about at the strange place, which was like a new world to

He saw great spiders there, with crowns and crosses marked on their
backs, who sat in the middle of their webs, and when they saw Tom
coming, shook them so fast that they became invisible. Then he saw
lizards, brown and grey and green, and thought they were snakes, and
would sting him; but they were as much frightened as he, and shot away
into the heath. And then, under a rock, he saw a pretty sight--a great
brown, sharp-nosed creature, with a white tag to her brush, and round
her four or five smutty little cubs, the funniest fellows Tom ever saw.
She lay on her back, rolling about, and stretching out her legs and head
and tail in the bright sunshine; and the cubs jumped over her, and ran
round her, and nibbled her paws, and lugged her about by the tail; and
she seemed to enjoy it mightily.

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Library mainpage -> Kingsley, Charles -> The Water-Babies A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby