Do you believe in fairies?
Oh, I hope you do, because all of the tales in this book are about fairies. Then too, if you believe in fairies they will believe in you, and if you do not—why, you miss the very best part of your life, that is all.
Once upon a time, however, there was a little boy who did not believe in fairies.
I think his eyes were not put in just the right way, or perhaps it was his mother's eyes that were wrong—anyway, neither one of them had ever seen a fairy and it was a very sad thing.
Now, if you grew up to be as large as a grown-up mother without ever seeing a fairy, the chances are that you never will see a fairy at all; but if you are just a little boy—why, there is always hope then. It seemed queer though, that the little boy I am telling you about did not believe in fairies, for his little playmate Pansy did. She told the little boy there must be fairies, because the woods were full of them, and besides she had seen the sunbeam fairies dancing on the walls in dresses of red and green and violet and other beautiful colours.
And she had seen the raindrop fairies too, in queer little rain-coats of silver gray, and the snowflake fairies, so very soft and dainty, who come with little star-shaped blankets to cover the sleeping plants.
All of these his little playmate Pansy had seen, and many more besides which she told the little boy about, but he only laughed and shook his head as he said:
"There aren't any fairies, Pansy,—Mother says there are not."
And then, of course, the little girl was too polite to say anything more.
But old Mother Nature,—she is the very dearest fairy of all,—when she heard the little boy laugh and say, "There aren't any fairies," she shook her head too, very slowly, and said, "Tut, tut, to think of the child saying such a thing! If ever I get the chance I will show him a thing or two."
And she did get the chance the very next day, for the little boy took a notion he would take a walk through the woods, and although he walked down the most beautiful of little twisting paths, not a fairy did he see.
Now that is just the way with a little boy who does not believe in fairies—he could not see one, even if he tried.
And yet, all the time the fairies, and brownies too, were peeping at him from the cups of tiny flowers and moss-covered banks and rustic trees and toadstools and silvery little water-falls.
But they had their tiny fingers on their lips, so, and kept whispering one to another, "H-u-s-h, here comes a little boy who does not believe in fairies," and then little peals of rippling laughter floated through the woods.
But the little boy never knew, and walked straight ahead with his hands in his pockets until, by and by, he grew tired and sat down on a clover bank to rest. Now there was someone else walking through the woods that day, following close behind the little boy.
No, it was not Pansy, though I knew you would think so. It was a little old woman, all dressed in brown from her head to her feet.
Brown was her dress, so soft and rich; brown were the sandals on her feet; and brown the quaint little hood that covered her head.
The sunlight had mixed with the brown of her hair, and her eyes—they were the most beautiful brown of all, and made you think of the wealth of the forest woods, with murmuring brooks and singing winds, and lights and shadows mingled there, and the stars overhead so full of hope and trust.
Oh, yes! the stars believe in the fairies, I am sure.
Very softly did the little old woman's brown sandalled feet touch the pathway as she followed behind the little boy. Sometimes he would get far ahead of her, because she stopped to look at things.
The breeze fairies threw kisses at her as she passed, the sunbeams kissed her hair, and the daisies pressed her feet, they loved her so.
Sometimes she stopped and peeped in the nests where the baby birdlings slept, stroked them gently on their heads, and passed along with a crooning song.
Sometimes she stooped on the grassy banks of the brook and, trailing her soft fingers through the water, played with the speckled perch gliding by. Merry brown squirrels peeped at her from the hollow trees and showed where their winter nuts were stored, and the timid white rabbits hopped close to her side and told of their babies tucked away in the grass.
So the little old woman, all dressed in brown, passed on her way with a smile for everyone, and by and by she came to the very spot where the little boy had stopped to rest. And the little boy lay fast asleep.