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The Fairy Spring
by [?]

It was a lovely road, and May went happily on, with thick moss underneath, shady boughs overhead, flowers to nod and smile at her, and friends to guard, guide, and amuse her. Every ant stopped work to see her pass; every mosquito piped his little song in her ear; birds leaned out of their nests to bid her good-day, and the bright-eyed snakes, fearing to alarm her, hid under the leaves. But lovely butterflies flew round her in clouds; and she looked like a pretty one herself, with her blue gown and sunny hair blowing in the wind.

So she came at last to the waterfall. Here the brook took a long leap over some high rocks, to fall foaming into a basin fringed with ferns; out of which it flowed again, to run faster than ever down to join the river rolling through the valley, to flow at last into the mighty ocean and learn a grander song.

“I never can get up there without wings,” said May, as she looked at the high rocks with a tangle of vines all over them. Then she remembered what the brook told her, and called out,–

“Echo, are you here?”

“Here!” answered an airy voice.

“How can I climb up?”

“Climb up.”

“Yes; but can I get through the vines?”

“Through the vines.”

“It is very high, but I can try it.”

“Try it, try it,” answered the voice so clearly that May could not doubt what to do.

“Well, if I’m brave I shall be helped.”

“Be helped,” answered Echo.

“Now I’m coming, and I hope I shall find you, sweet Echo.”

“Find sweet Echo,” sung the voice; and when May laughed, a softer laugh answered her so gayly that she forgot her fear in eagerness to see this new friend, hiding above the waterfall.

Up she went, and as if fairy hands cleared the way for her, the tangled vines made a green ladder for her feet, while every time she stopped for breath and called, as she peeped into the shadowy nooks or looked at the dashing water, “Are you here?” the mocking voice always answered from above,–


So she climbed safely up and sat to rest at the top, looking down the valley where the brook danced and sparkled as if glad to see her on her way. The air blew freshly, and the sun shone more warmly here, for the trees were not so thick, and lovely glimpses of far-off hills and plains, like pictures set in green frames, made one eager to go on and see more.

Skip and Blue-bird kept her company, so she did not feel lonely, and followed these sure guides higher and higher, till she came out among the great bare cliffs, where rocks lay piled as if giants had been throwing them about in their rough play.

“Oh, how large the world is! and what a little thing I am!” said May, as she looked out over miles of country so far below that the towns looked like toy villages, and people like ants at work. A strong wind blew, all was very still, for no bird sang, and no flowers bloomed; only green moss grew on the rocks, and tiny pines no longer than her finger carpeted the narrow bits of ground here and there. An eagle flew high overhead, and great white clouds sailed by, so near that May could feel their damp breath as they passed.

The child felt a little fear, all was so vast and strange and wonderful; and she seemed so weak and small that for a moment she half wished she had not come. She was hungry and tired, but her basket was empty, and no water appeared. She sighed, and looked from the mountain top, hidden in mist, to the sunny valley where mother was, and a tear was about to fall, when Iris came floating to her like a blue and silver butterfly, and alighting on her hand let May see her lovely little face, and hear her small voice as she smiled and sung,–