The Seven Plaits of Nettles, and other stories by Edric Vredenburg


Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd.
London · Paris · New York
Publishers to Their Majesties the King & Queen & to T.R.M., the Prince & Princess of Wales


The Seven Plaits of Nettles.
When Our Ship Comes Home.
The Golden Wish.
The Princess and the Frog.
The Three Snowflakes.

Once upon a time there was a very bad King who ruled over a very good country.

It was a good country because the land was rich, and things grew well, and because the people worked hard and were thrifty and intelligent. The 6King was bad because he was terribly extravagant, because he spent fortunes upon fortunes on pleasure, because he gambled all the money in his mint away, and, with all this fearful spending, he never thought of giving anything to the poor. He was a very bad King indeed, just the meanest, poorest thing in kings that ever sat upon a throne!

When the King’s pockets were empty, and the treasury chest and mint were also empty, the only thing His Majesty could do was to increase the taxes. This he did on an average about every other fortnight, and the consequence was that his thrifty, hard-working people had to give all their money to pay the King’s debts. This the people did not in the least like doing, and the King was very unpopular indeed; in fact, matters went to such a pitch that his subjects 7would not bow to him when they met him in the streets of his capital.

But the King did not seem to mind this one bit; he continued his extravagances and his wicked gambling, he cleared out the treasury chest more often than ever, and he taxed the people harder and harder every day.

But everything must come to an end sooner or later, you know, and it really seemed as if the end of that country had almost arrived, for the people began to starve, and such things as fires were only known in the houses of the richest. But the King borrowed money on his crown, sceptre, and family jewels, and went on anyhow, as usual.

Now it so happened that there lived in a suburb of the King’s city a very beautiful girl, whose name was Ellaleen. She lived in a nice house with her father and mother and brothers and sisters, and it was altogether a very 8nice family. Not only was it a good-looking, well-behaved family, but it was also a very healthy one, and had a very healthy appetite, which is perhaps a drawback when there is next to nothing to eat.

Well, Ellaleen took matters very much to heart. She objected to growing thinner every day, and it made her more miserable than she could express to see her father and her mother and her brothers and sisters all growing thinner, while each one pretended that he or she was not a bit hungry, so that others could have more. It made her wretched to see her suffering neighbours, and the poor peasants who soon became too sickly to work; and, indeed, what was the use of working when all the profits were taken away? Ellaleen felt as if she would have given her life to save her country!

9Now this beautiful and tenderhearted girl had a dream one night, a strange dream, because it was so wonderfully vivid.

She dreamt that a funny old woman, all dressed in red, came to her bedside, and said in a clear voice:

“Ellaleen, if thou wilt journey alone to the willow copse, on the south side of the Blue Mountain that lies to the south of the city, thou shalt there find the means to save thy country.”

This sentence the little old woman 10repeated three times, and Ellaleen, when she woke in the morning, felt like a second Joan of Arc, for, of course, you know that Joan of Arc was told in a dream that she was to save her country.

Ellaleen did not wait for breakfast—not that it would have made the least difference if she had, for there was no breakfast to wait for (the King’s-taxes had called the day before)—but having obtained permission from her father and mother, whom she had told about her dream, she started off for the willow copse on the south side of the Blue Mountain.

It was late by the time she arrived there—quite dusk, in fact—and it was very much further than she expected. As she entered the copse her heart beat high with excitement, for there, on a fallen tree, sat the old woman of her dream. As soon as the old woman saw her she rose and came quickly forward.

“On a Fallen Tree sat the Old Woman of her Dream.”

12“Ellaleen, I am glad thou hast come,” she said in a kindly voice, and taking the girl by her hands; “and art thou prepared to suffer much to save the people from their fearful affliction?”

“Indeed, indeed I am,” replied Ellaleen with all her heart.

“Then come with me,” said the little old woman, and she led the way to the edge of the copse.

“See, there is the Yellow Mountain,” she continued, pointing south.

They could not help seeing the Yellow Mountain, for the setting sun reflected its glory upon it and made it shine like red and liquid gold.

“Thou must travel there through the night,” went on the little old woman. “After the sun has set, the moon will rise and shine upon the mountain, and 13it will be no longer yellow, but like molten silver; and when thou hast arrived at the mountain, which will be about dawn, thou wilt climb its steeps and descend the other side to fields upon fields of nettles. And when thou hast come to the fields of nettles, thou must take off thy shoes and stockings, and bare thine arms, and then thou must pluck the longest nettles at the root, and with them make seven plaits, each plait two yards long. And all the time thou workest thou must not grumble, but sing cheerily, although thou art ready to cry out with pain and fatigue. Thinkest thou, Ellaleen, that thou canst do all this?”

“I will try,” answered the girl. “And when I have made the seven plaits, what am I to do with them?”

“Thou art to return the way thou wentest, bare-footed and bare-armed, bringing with thee the seven plaits of 14nettles. And when thou art come to the lake on the top of the mountain, the lake that supplies the country, thou art to throw the plaits one by one into the water; and having done so, thou art to return home.”

“And then?” asked Ellaleen.

“And then thou must wait and see what will happen,” replied the little old woman. “And now, Ellaleen, thou must set out on thy hard task, and thou hast indeed my blessing.”

With that the old woman left the girl, with the shadow of evening falling on her.

Ellaleen did as she had been told. She journeyed to the Yellow Mountain, which shone in the moonlight like a pillar of burnished silver, and she arrived at its summit as the day dawned. Then she descended the other side, and soon came to the fields of nettles.

“Nobody had ever known such Nettles before.”

16Such nettles! such fearful nettles! with prickles as large as needles. But Ellaleen did not hesitate, she took off her shoes and stockings, and bared her white arms, and singing, stepped into the mass of horrid weeds.

How loudly she sang! If she had not done so she must have cried out in agony, for the cruel nettles tore her poor arms and legs and feet. She had never known such nettles as these; nobody had ever known such nettles as these! She thought that she must really give up in despair, but she did not. She sang on, and she worked on, and she gathered those nettles near the roots, and wove them, with her poor hands, into seven plaits. Then wearily and slowly, but indeed happily, she went back the way she came, and to the Blue Mountain, and to the lake on its summit.

Ellaleen threw the plaits of nettles one by one into the lake, and as each 17one touched the water great waves arose, and there were sounds like peals of terrific thunder. As the last rumble died away, Ellaleen turned her back upon the lake, and dragged her poor body home and waited to see what was going to happen next.

“Dear me, isn’t it wonderful? isn’t it delicious?” everybody exclaimed. Then everybody had some more.

It was the water they were talking about. It had suddenly acquired the most exquisite flavour. Everybody, including the King, drank it, and nothing else. Even at the village inn, water was asked for, and only water. It was really more than marvellous.

Then something still more marvellous happened.

Everybody began to feel very drowsy, and before twenty-four hours had passed everybody fell fast asleep, 18not only every living soul in the country, but every animal, just as in the Sleeping Beauty story.

And they slept on and on and on, during the spring, the summer, autumn, and the winter, through another spring and through another summer. And while they slept there appeared to everyone in Dreamland a little old woman dressed in red, who told them what Ellaleen had done, and how she suffered for her country’s good.

Then everybody woke up suddenly, and rubbing their eyes, stared at each other and the country. The country was worth staring at. Never before had been seen such harvest fields with their rich golden corn; never before had the fruit trees borne such splendid fruit. The vineyards were heavy with grapes; and every garden, palace garden and cottage garden, was filled with magnificent vegetables and beautiful 19flowers. The country was as rich as it possibly could be.

And the King? Well, the King had his sleep and his dream as well as the others, and when he woke up and rubbed his eyes he was not a bit like the same King.

He called his courtiers and his people together, and in their presence he journeyed to the Blue Mountain and thence to the Yellow Mountain, and he climbed its steeps and descended to the other side. And when he came to the 20fields of nettles he took off his shoes and stockings and bared his hands, and then he stepped into the cruel weeds, singing all the time.

And he made not seven plaits but seventy, and he could make no more because he was exhausted.

“Thus,” he said to his people, “do I try to punish myself.”

From that day forth he turned into a good king, and taxed his people only justly. And by degrees he paid off his debts and got back his crown and sceptre and family jewels, and so was respectable and presentable once more.

And the water in the lake? Well, it turned again into ordinary water. And Ellaleen? I suppose you think she married the King and lived happily ever after; but she did nothing of the sort.

“He Stepped into the Cruel Weeds.”

22She stayed at home, and looked after her father and mother and brothers and sisters. And she went out, too, and looked after the poor who were in trouble and the rich who were in trouble; and she was loved and adored by one and all.


“Dear, dear me, how very silly of me to fall asleep. Whatever shall I do? there is no knowing what may happen, it is really too terrible to think about.”

The speaker was a fish. In the ordinary way fishes don’t talk much, but this happened to be a fairy fish, and fairy fishes can do most things. Most 24things, but not all things, otherwise this particular little fairy fish would not have been in such trouble.

The facts are simply these. The little fish had fallen asleep, and the tide having gone out, had left it in a very tiny pool of water on the seashore. The pool of water was so small that it ran the risk of being dried up by the sun, and that would be truly awful for the little fish, for if the water dried up it would die.

Now what made matters even worse was that this little fairy fish was in reality a beautiful mermaid—a beautiful mermaid with hair like the golden sands, eyes as blue as the sea, and lips as red as coral. But this was in her own country, some miles away in the rolling ocean. In her own country, too, she had the wonderful power of being able to change her shape. The pretty mermaid could become a sole, or a lobster, 25or an oyster, but unfortunately she had not this power out of her own country.

Now the mermaid had changed herself into a little Red Mullet, and, as we have just said, had fallen asleep and had been caught in a tiny pool of water on the seashore. Poor little thing, it could not change back again, and so was a prisoner.

But worse was to happen.

“Oh, Etty, here is a dear little fish; let us take it home and cook it for mother’s supper,” said a little voice.

The little voice belonged to a little girl who was talking to another little girl.

The Red Mullet trembled and grew pale. Enough to make it! Fancy hearing some one talking about eating one for supper.

“Oh, yes, do let’s,” said the other little girl, as they both peered into the pool. “Mother will be pleased; but how shall we carry it?”

26“Oh, anyhow, pick it up in your fingers, Etty,” replied the first little girl.

The Red Mullet shivered, and quivered its tail, and turned even paler; it was losing its colour altogether, and that’s a serious matter for a Red Mullet!

“Well, I don’t know,” said Etty, thoughtfully, “poor little thing, perhaps it has a father and mother, and brothers and sisters in the sea, it seems a pity to eat it.”

The Red Mullet buried its nose in the sand, and blew little bubbles to the surface of the water. It was very much excited indeed!

“But it will die here I should think,” said the other little girl; “let us throw it into the sea so that it can go back to its father and mother, and brothers and sisters, if it likes. Pick it up, Etty, and throw it into the sea.”

Etty did not quite like touching the cold little fish, nevertheless she did, and threw it into the sea that came rippling up in tiny waves to her feet.

“Poor little Thing, perhaps it has a Father and Mother.”

28The Red Mullet remained quite quiet for a second or two, the shock had been so great, and then it darted away to its home in the ocean.

Etty and her sister went home too.

Sorrow was in the land; great sorrow, for there were poverty and sickness in nearly every house. Everything had gone wrong in that country for some time, and somehow things could not get right again; it was such a pity!

Etty and her sister walked hand in hand and bare-footed on the seashore, and it was nearly a year since they had let the Red Mullet free. The two little girls were looking out for that ship which never would come. Mother had told them that everything would come right when their ship came home, but it was such a long time coming. They began 29to fear that it had gone down to the bottom of the sea, and that things would never come right.

And what was to happen to them all? It was so hard to live, so very hard; food was so scarce and the hospitals were full to overflowing.

“I wonder,” said Etty suddenly, looking up into her sister’s face, “I wonder where that little pink fish is, that we found last year.” Wonder, indeed they would have wondered, if they could have seen the little pink fish at that moment. The Red Mullet, no longer a Red Mullet, but a beautiful mermaid, was under the waves only a few yards from the two children. In her hands she carried a strange-looking casket, which she brought nearer and nearer to the shore; then she gave it in charge of a friendly wave that washed it almost to the children’s naked feet.

“What can it be?” they said, and 30that is exactly what you would have said under the same circumstances. Then they pulled it to land and tried to open it. It was not very difficult and they soon succeeded.

“Oh, Etty, what lovely beads!” said one little girl.

“Lovely beads!” repeated Etty; “let’s take some home to mother.”

They took a handful each of the contents of the casket, and, burying the casket in the sand, went home.

As they started off they both turned and listened for a moment. “I thought I heard a lovely laugh,” said Etty.

She had; it was the laughter of the mermaid, the happy, merry laughter of the sea fairy, who was pleased to see her present had been received. They gave the beads to mother, who started when she saw them. They showed them to their father, who gave a great cry and sprang to his feet.

“Why do you do that?” said Etty, in much surprise. And her sister wondered also; what did it mean?

“Mean, my dears,” answered their father in a choking voice, “it means that our ship has at last come home. These are not beads but pearls.”

“We have plenty more of them,” said the children.

Their father put on his hat and went out. They came back shortly with the casket and all the pearls, and they were 32such lovely pearls; indeed, that was not very wonderful, for the Red Mullet had taken a world of trouble to find the most beautiful pearls in the ocean and had been quite successful.

Now, the children’s parents were by no means greedy people, they shared the fairy’s gifts with their neighbours, with the happy consequence that where sorrow and sickness had been, happiness and health were in their stead.

And that is just as it should be, isn’t it? And what is the moral of this little tale? Be kind to all living creatures, even down to a tiny Red Mullet, and there is no knowing what may happen; perhaps your ship will come home, sooner than you expect, if you earn a mermaid’s gratitude.


Lady Elizabeth was really a very nice girl. She was affectionate, and generous and distinctly clever. Lady Elizabeth was also pretty, and of course that goes a very long way; but for all that Lady Elizabeth was not happy, for the very simple reason that she was not contented.

34The fact was that her father, the Earl, had lost a lot of money, and as earls go, he was poor, and the consequence was that Lady Elizabeth had to put up with a great deal that she did not like, and do a great many things that she did not care to do. She grumbled at having to perform the household duties, she grumbled at the servants, and grumbled because she had to go out and do the shopping and marketing herself.

From morning till evening she sighed for riches, and even if she woke up in the middle of the night, her thoughts turned to gold; and when thoughts continually turn to gold it is very bad for them, and is sure to make the thinker discontented and wretched.

Now it was through always having the same longing, morning, noon, and night, that a very strange and terrible thing happened to Lady Elizabeth; one of the most wonderful and awkward, things that could happen to anybody.

“She had to perform many Household Duties.”

36To begin with, I must tell you that there is in the sea a shoal of magic fishes. Some people say that there were originally in the shoal ten thousand fish, other people put the number down at only seven thousand five hundred, but that really doesn’t matter much; but what does matter to the story is this, that Lady Elizabeth bought one of these magic fishes in the market, and eat it that same night for her supper.

Not that she knew that the fish she had eaten was anything out of the way. In fact, nobody knew this, neither the cook, nor the fishmonger from whom it was purchased, nor anybody else; but eat it Lady Elizabeth did and had to take the consequences.

“Dear me!” she exclaimed, after supper, trying to keep her heavy eyes open, “I feel ever so sleepy.”

37“Better go to bed,” said the Earl.

“I think I will,” replied Lady Elizabeth, with a little yawn, and giving her father a kiss, she went upstairs to her bedroom.

“Oh, dear,” she exclaimed, as she proceeded to undress herself, “what an unfortunate girl I am. Fancy an earl’s daughter having no maid to help her to bed when she is sleepy. Bah!” and here she stamped her little foot, “I wish everything were gold, that I could sell it.”

Having made this foolish remark, she was naughty enough to break the strings of her petticoat, for they had become knotted. Then she jumped into bed, and before her pretty head had touched the white pillow she was fast asleep, beyond even the land of dreams.

She slept soundly all the night through, not waking up till the sun was shining in at her window, in all 38his golden glory; indeed it was a glorious day, golden, bright, and beautiful!

Lady Elizabeth jumped from her bed with a song on her lips, and her eyes bright with health and beauty. But of a sudden the song ceased, as she cried out in wonder and alarm, and her eyes became fixed with extraordinary astonishment. She had poured the water from the jug into the basin, and as soon as she touched it with her pink fingers it had frozen hard. Frozen quite solid, not into ice, but into pure gold. Pure gold, worth hundreds of pounds!

It was the same in the bath, a bath both deep and wide. As soon as her little pink toe touched the water it froze into a large block of yellow gold, worth thousands upon thousands of pounds.

Lady Elizabeth Buys the Magic Fish.

40She was so bewildered, so excited, so delighted that she could hardly dress herself, but she managed to do so somehow, and then ran downstairs to tell her father the good news. He was a rich man now, and could have servants, and horses and carriages and everything else that he desired!

Lady Elizabeth and the Earl gloated over the gold, and the household came and stared at it in mute wonder. More water was poured into the bath and the same thing happened as before; when touched by Lady Elizabeth’s fair fingers it turned into the precious metal. But wonder must give way to other feelings. The Earl’s daughter began to feel hungry, very hungry in fact, for she had a good appetite and it was long past breakfast-time; she had had nothing to eat since her supper of Magic Fish the night before.

It was a nice breakfast, coffee and rolls, fresh butter and eggs, and jams and other nice things. Lady Elizabeth 41said her grace, sat down, poured herself out a cup of coffee and raised it to her rosy lips.

Lady Elizabeth let the cup fall with a crash, breaking it to atoms, as she sprang to her feet with a scream, while the Earl fell off his chair in amazement. He was an elderly earl, and rather nervous, and sudden shocks upset him.

But really it was enough to upset anybody, for as soon as his daughter’s lips touched the coffee it had turned 42into solid gold. No wonder she dropped the cup, it was so heavy.

She tried a second cup with the same result; then, with trembling fingers, she touched the loaf of bread, when it turned to gold immediately; eggs, jam, butter, even the very crumbs turned into golden nuggets, and as Lady Elizabeth found it impossible to eat gold, she went without any breakfast whatsoever.

Her father was much concerned. Magicians were sent for from all over the country, but they could do nothing but stare with wonder and help themselves to the golden eggs to pay for their travelling expenses.

The Poodle turns into a Golden Dog.

44The same thing happened at luncheon, at dinner, tea and supper. Lady Elizabeth was starving. In the evening another remarkable event took place. She happened to touch the pet poodle, when it immediately became a golden dog. The Earl, at this, became more nervous than ever, and shrieked whenever his daughter came near him. The servants shunned her, too, fearful of the consequences of touching her. Poor Elizabeth; a more unhappy girl did not go to bed that night! But she had eaten the Magic Fish and wished for gold, and her wish had been fulfilled.

The same happened the next day. Crowds of people came from far and near to see the wonder of the age, and while they wondered, Lady Elizabeth was slowly starving to death.

“Oh,” she cried, “if only I could be like an ordinary girl again. I vow I would never be discontented any more. I would do my best to be cheerful and never, never grumble again.”

As she made this vow there came a peal of thunder, and of a sudden the golden water, the golden bread, jam, butter, and even the eggs the Magicians 45had taken for their travelling expenses, turned back into their natural state. And to the joy of Lady Elizabeth, her father, and the people who loved her, she once more could work, eat, and drink again.

From that day to this she was never discontented, and never once longed for the gold which was hers for so short a while.

By the way, I was nearly forgetting to say that the pet poodle did not turn into a live dog again. He remained a golden one, and made an exceedingly handsome ornament for the fireplace.


There was once a Frog.

He lay in a pool near the horse-pond in the farmyard, behind the King’s Castle. To look at, he was not by any means a remarkable frog. He was neither bigger nor smaller than other frogs of his kind; neither was he greener, browner, nor more yellow. He certainly was a perfect swimmer, and his croak was perhaps just a little more musical than the croak of the other frogs, but in other respects he was exactly like them. He spent his 47days catching worms and flies, and dodging ducks who were always on the lookout to catch him. His was the usual frog’s life—and yet, and yet he was no ordinary frog.

There was once a Princess.

She lived in the Castle beyond the pool, on the other side of the horse-pond. She was no ordinary Princess. Princesses, of course, are always beautiful; but this one was more beautiful than any. Her hair was more golden than real gold; her eyes as blue as an eastern sky; her teeth as white as the whitest of pearls, while her smile was as sweet as an angel’s. She was as good as she was beautiful.

Indeed, she was no ordinary Princess. She loved the world and everybody in it. She loved her dear old father, the King (she had no mother and brothers and sisters to love, poor Princess); she 48loved all the King’s subjects, from the oldest old man to the youngest new baby, and she loved all animals—yes, all animals, from the noble horses to—well, even to the frogs in the pool beyond the horse-pond, in the farmyard at the back of the Castle.

Now, the King was very rich, and so his daughter had everything she desired, and what she desired most was the means to do good to others, and to be able to care for all the maimed and injured animals in her father’s kingdom. She had comfortable stables built for the poor old horses, kennels for the poor old dogs, almshouses for the poor old men and women, and happy homes for homeless babies. The Princess was the ministering angel of the country.

In the Castle itself she had aviaries filled with beautiful birds, and aquariums full of fish and all sorts of queer animals, including even a frog with an injured foot, that the Princess herself had found in the pool in the farmyard behind her father’s Castle. 50This was the Frog that was no ordinary frog, except in appearance. He lived in the Castle, and was happy; and his foot got quite well, except when he hopped he had a slight limp.

Now, everything went happily until the lovely Princess was eighteen years old, and then something fearful happened. A terrible and cruel war broke out between the King, her father, and a neighbouring Emperor, and alas! the King got the worst of it. He lost every battle from the very beginning; town after town fell into the hands of the enemy; the happy villages were burnt down; the crops and the cattle were seized, and the King and his daughter sat in the Castle with only a few soldiers to guard them, expecting every moment the arrival of the Emperor’s victorious army.

They had no money—all their treasures had been sold to pay for the horrid war. The old men and women were miserable in the almshouses; the babies cried in their homes; the horses and birds and fishes had been set free, for there was no money with which to buy them food, and there was misery over all the land. The poor Princess had no pets except one that had been 52left behind in the aquarium—the Frog that was no ordinary frog, and that had a limp when he hopped, and whose croak was rather more musical than the croak of other frogs. Well, it came at last, the Emperor’s conquering army, and it swept all before it; the Castle was taken, and the King and the Princess had only just time to escape by the back door, and through the farmyard by the pool, near the horse-pond, and so on to the woods, where they hid themselves from their enemies. The Frog was with them—yes, in a safety-matchbox, in the Princess’s pocket. It was certainly not comfortable there, but he preferred it to being left behind in a castle filled with strangers. The next day found the King and his daughter miles away from their old home, seated hand in hand upon a bank, hungry and miserable. No one would have taken them for a King and a Princess, for he wore an ordinary felt 53hat, instead of a crown, and she wore nothing on her head but her own beautiful golden hair, which was more beautiful and brilliant than the finest gold. Well, they went all that day without anything to eat but berries, and at night they slept in the woods again; and so they journeyed on, more miserable and hungry. The Frog, too, was not very happy, and having the cramp in his lame foot, kicked somewhat vigorously in his matchbox, so that the Princess heard him, and pitied him, and determined to let him go when they came to some water.

54Now, they had not gone much farther before they came to a pond, and here, I think, comes the wonderful part of the story. The Princess took the Frog from the matchbox and held it for a moment in her hand, and as she did so, she burst into tears, and her tears fell upon the little creature.

“Alas!” she cried, “you are the last of my poor pets I loved so dearly.”

Then there suddenly came a flash of light, and a noise like terrible thunder, and the King, in his fright, fell on his back, while the Princess opened her dark 55blue eyes in wonder. There stood before her a handsome Prince, who smiled and held out his hands to her.

“The spell of a wicked fairy is broken,” he said. “The Frog you took 56from the pool was no ordinary frog—in reality, he was an enchanted Prince; your love for, and the tears that fell on him, have restored him to his own form again.”

“Come,” he continued, “we three will go over those blue hills together, to my lovely country. And you shall be my Princess, and we will rule the land together.”

And so they went away, hand in hand, the Princess between her father and the Prince, and they went over the blue hills to the most beautiful country you can imagine. And then, before long, the Princess built stables and kennels for the old horses and poor dogs, and almshouses for the old men and old women, and houses for the homeless babies; and she was never so happy as when doing good to others, and everybody loved her, for, truly, she was the ministering angel of the land.

Once upon a time there were three snowflakes, and they were called Faith, Hope, and Charity. When I say three snowflakes, I don’t quite mean that, but three little girls dressed in white, and looking like snow Princesses as they trudged along across the white covered country.

58They were the Earl’s daughters, and, as I have just said, their names were Faith, Hope, and Charity. I wonder what the Earl would have called a fourth daughter, supposing he had had one.

The three snowflakes lived at the Castle, which was on a hillside, surrounded by a beautiful park, and overlooking the valley.

In the summer it was a lovely valley, with a river running through it, and beautiful green woods coming down to the edges of the water.

Now the winter had come it was all white, except the river, which looked grey in the distance. In one corner of the valley lay the village, and in the last cottage of the village there lived a little girl called Ruth.

Ruth was very poor, indeed, she was so poor that she possessed nothing. 59The tiny cottage she stood in had been rented by her grandmother, and now her grandmother was dead; the only relation she had left in the world had been taken from her.

There was not a crumb of bread in the cupboard, not a stick with which to make a fire, not a penny in the girl’s 60pocket, so no wonder she stood looking out of the window with dismay in her face.

The window was a little open, and through the opening came three flakes of snow.

They fell upon the brick floor and melted slowly away.

Ruth shuddered; it was the first snow of the year, it might mean the beginning of a long, hard, cruel winter.

She shuddered again, and then of a sudden knelt on the brick floor and 61clasped her hands in prayer, and this showed she had Faith in her heart.

And as she prayed the sun broke through the snow clouds, and poured in through the window, and shone on the girl’s brown hair. She rose with a smile on her lips and a light dancing in her eyes, for there was Hope in her breast.

Ruth opened the window and took in the withered flowers on the sill.

“Poor flowers,” she said, “you will be warmer inside.”

Now this was Charity, for kindness is Charity, and we can be kind even to flowers.

Then, of a sudden, there came shouts of laughter from the lane without, and the sound of merry voices; the door of the cottage flew open, and in ran the Earl’s daughters, the three snowflakes.

“Oh, Ruth,” said Charity, “we have heard of your trouble, and our father has sent us to help you.”

And Charity kissed Ruth on the cheek.

“And you are to come and live in the lodge by the gates,” said Faith, putting her arms round the poor girl’s waist, and leading her to the door of the cottage.

“And you are to be happy the whole 63year long,” cried Hope, clapping her hands, and turning, she led the way, skipping and laughing, up the lane.

And so it happened that Ruth went and lived in the lodge of the great lord’s beautiful estate, and there she may be living, contented and happy, to this day.


The Children’s Gem Library.
A series of six cloth bound Story Books by the most popular Writers for Children.

Effie’s Little Mother, by Rosa Nouchette Carey.
Tic-tac-too, by L. T. Meade.
Betsy Brian’s Needle, by M. A. Hoyer.
The Seven Plaits of Nettles, by Edric Vredenburg.
The Rainbow Queen, by E. Nesbit.
Mildred and her Mills, by Nora Chesson.
All the above Illustrated in colour and black and white. 64 pages. 25c. each. Complete, in a neat case, $1.50.

Humorous Books by Louis Wain.
Big Dogs, Little Dogs, Cats and Kittens. Thirty-six pages of coloured and black and white pictures.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
Pa Cats, Ma Cats and their Kittens. Thirty-six pages of coloured and black and white pictures.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
With Louis Wain to Fairyland. Described by Nora Chesson. Thirty-six pages of coloured and black and white pictures.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
Louis Wain’s Cats and Dogs. Untearable linen leaves. Twenty-four full-page coloured pictures, and four black and white.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
These books are in Louis Wain’s inimitable style, and will amuse both old and young alike.

New and Amusing Books
By T. E. Donnison, etc.

Odds and Ends and Old Friends. Thirty-six pages of coloured and black and white pictures.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
Old Fairy Legends in New Colours, with Verses by Nora Chesson. Thirty-six pages of coloured and black and white pictures.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
Old Friends in New Frocks, with Verses by Nora Chesson. Untearable linen leaves. Twenty-four full-page coloured pictures, and four black and white.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
The familiar Nursery Tales and Rhymes treated in a very clever and entirely new manner.

Rhymes without Reason. Pictured and penned by E. M. and M. F. Taylor. Thirty-six pages of coloured and black and white pictures.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
Wallypug Tales. A novel and extremely humorous creation of G. E. Farrow, illustrated with 36 full-paged pictures in colour, by Alan Wright.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
The Wallypug stories have brought the author into the front rank of writers for children.

Proverbs Old, Newly Told, by Clifton Bingham. Thirty-six pages of coloured and black and white pictures.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
The well-known proverbs treated in a very original and humorous fashion.

Books by the Rev. Canon Duckworth, D.D., C.V.O.,
Sub-Dean of Westminster; Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the King.
The Holy Land. Illustrated with forty-nine pictures in colour and black and white, from original drawings, painted in Palestine, by W. J. Webb. Coloured map. Thirty-six pages.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled 2.00
Through the Holy Land. Thirty-two pictures in colour and black and white, by W. J. Webb.

Paper 40c.
Linen leaves 75c.
By the late Rev. H. R. Haweis, M.A.,
Author of “Music and Morals,” “Arrows in the Air,” “Christ and Christianity,” etc.

The Child’s Life of Jesus. Illustrated with twenty full-paged coloured and forty-three black and white pictures. One hundred pages.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, gilt edges 2.00
Written in Mr. Haweis’s charming and forcible language, which makes the life of our Saviour readily understood by children.

Books on Natural History.
By Dr. W. G. Ridewood, etc.,
D.Sc., F.L.S., F.Z.S.
(Associate of the Royal College of Science; Lecturer on Biology at the Medical School of St. Mary’s Hospital; Assistant to Professor Ray Lankester, at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington.)

Illustrated Natural History. By Dr. W. G. Ridewood, D.Sc., F.L.S., F.Z.S. With 150 coloured illustrations, and 50 in black and white, of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles and Insects.

Pictorial cover 2.00
Books About Animals.
My Animal Book. Thirty large full-paged pictures in colour, and four in black and white.

Picture boards 1.50
With Father Tuck to Animal Land. Edited by Edric Vredenburg. One hundred pages of pictures and stories. Twenty pages in full colour.

Paper Edition, Picture boards 1.50
Paper Edition, Cloth boards 2.00
Linen leaves, Picture boards 2.50
Linen leaves, Cloth boards 3.00
Fairy and Nursery Tales.
With Father Tuck to Fairyland. Re-told by Edric Vredenburg and others. One hundred pages of the old familiar Fairy Tales, illustrated with twenty pages in colour, and numerous black and white pictures.

Paper Edition, Picture boards 1.50
Paper Edition, Cloth boards 2.00
Linen leaves, Picture boards 2.50
Linen leaves, Cloth boards 3.00
With Father Tuck to Nurseryland. Edited by Edric Vredenburg. One hundred pages of the old nursery favourites, illustrated with twenty pages in colour, and eighty pages in black and white.

Paper Edition, Picture boards 1.50
Paper Edition, Cloth boards 2.00
Linen leaves, Picture boards 2.50
Linen leaves, Cloth boards 3.00
Father Tuck’s Annual. Edited by Edric Vredenburg. 128 pages, with 160 illustrations in colour and black and white, and numberless stories, verses, puzzles, etc.

Bound in Picture boards 1.25
Bound in Cloth, gilt edges 2.00
A most welcome gift to every child.

The Crystal Fairy Book. Sixty-four pages of Stories and Poems, by Nora Chesson, M. A. Hoyer, Grace C. Floyd, etc. Edited by Edric Vredenburg. Full of pictures in colour and black and white.

Picture boards 1.00
Guardian Angels. Poems and Stories by Nora Chesson, Helen M. Burnside, etc. Edited by Edric Vredenburg. Sixty-four pages, profusely illustrated in colour and black and white.

Picture boards 1.00
Once Upon a Time. Sixty-four pages of Stories and Poems, by Nora Chesson, M. A. Hoyer, Grace C. Floyd, etc., profusely illustrated in colour and black and white, by Maud Goodman, Arthur Dixon, and others. Edited by Edric Vredenburg.

Picture boards 1.00
Playtime Stories. Told by E. Nesbit, Nora Chesson, Grace C. Floyd, and Edric Vredenburg. Sixty-four pages, illustrated in colour and black and white, by Maud Goodman, M. Bowley, Hilda Cowham, etc.

Picture boards 1.00
The Emerald Fairy Book. Ninety-six pages, with Stories and Poems by Clifton Bingham, Grace C. Floyd, M. A. Hoyer, etc. Illustrated by Frances Brundage, Dorothy Furniss, etc. Edited by Edric Vredenburg. Illustrated throughout with pictures in colour and black and white.

Picture boards 1.50
Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales. Illustrated with sixty-nine pictures in colour and black and white, by E. J. Andrews and S. Jacobs. Edited by Edric Vredenburg.

Bound in Picture boards 2.00
Bound in Cloth, gilt edges 2.50
Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Illustrated with ninety-five pictures in colour and black and white, by E. J. Andrews and S. Jacobs. Edited by Edric Vredenburg.

Bound in Picture boards 2.00
Bound in Cloth, bevelled gilt edges 2.50
The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm need no recommendation to parents, the stories and the morals learnt from them are likely to last as long as the English language.

Standard Story Books.
Children’s Stories from Dickens. Stories of the Child Characters of the great Novelist, by his grand-daughter, Mary Dickens, and others. Illustrated with twelve full-page coloured and eighty black and white pictures, by Harold Copping, Frances Brundage, etc.; 104 pages.

Bound in Picture boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, bevelled, gilt edges 2.00
Tales from Tennyson, told by Nora Chesson. Illustrated with seventy-four pictures in colours and black and white, by Frances Brundage and M. Bowley.

Bound in Pictorial boards 1.50
Bound in Cloth, gilt 2.00
Stories of the Round Table and other Poems retold in a delightful manner, suitable for young readers.

The Children’s Shakespeare, by E. Nesbit. Illustrated with twelve full-page coloured and seventy black and white pictures, by Frances Brundage, M. Bowley, etc. Edited by Edric Vredenburg.

Bound in Pictorial boards 2.00
Bound in Cloth, gilt edges 2.50
The principal tales of Shakespeare, written in a charming style, easily understood by young people.

Royal Children of English History, by E. Nesbit. Illustrated with ten full-page coloured and sixty-nine black and white pictures by Frances Brundage and M. Bowley.

Bound in Pictorial boards 2.00
Bound in Cloth, gilt edges 2.50
Most interesting episodes in English History, from Alfred the Great to Queen Victoria.

LAMB’S TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE. The most sumptuous edition ever published. Containing Introductions, copious Notes, and Six New Tales by Dr. F. J. Furnivall, M.A. Illustrated by Harold Copping, with 22 full-page highly artistic Photogravure Plates and 142 other Illustrations. 2 vols., royal 8vo.

Cloth, gilt top $5 net.
Painting Books.
25 cents each.
All Sorts A.B.C.
Sunnyside Farm.
Land of Toys.
Father Tuck’s Bird.
Father Tuck’s Animal.
Father Tuck’s Flower.
Father Tuck’s Butterfly.
Playtime Pictures.
Pleasant Hours.
40 cents each.
Farmyard Pictures.
Father Tuck’s Zoo.
Father Tuck’s Flowerland.
Father Tuck’s Fruit.
Flags of all Nations.
Children of all Nations.
Our Farm.
God is Love.
They are pronounced the best.

They are full of interest.

They are exquisitely reproduced in every known process.

They represent an enormous variety of subjects.

They are Refined, Artistic, Humorous, Instructive, and thoroughly Up-to-Date.

There are upwards of 10,000 Designs.

They are sold by all leading Dealers throughout the World.

Complete Descriptive List FREE at all Dealers.

Every Card bears our Name and Trade Mark. None genuine without.