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They both started up to welcome their visitor. Great-heart put them on their ease at once, for he dropped his burlesque tone and manner, as, clasping a foot of each of his listeners, he said somewhat solemnly and sadly,
“I fully enter into your feelings, kind creatures. Far be it from me to entice your offspring from you against your will, but honestly and sincerely I believe a short excursion will do your little ones much good, --it can do them no harm ; however, I leave the matter entirely in your hands. If you agree, believe me I will take every possible care of them. Impressionable, sharp children as they are, they shall-you have my word for it-see and do nothing up above there but that from which a lesson, and a good one, may be learnt; principles, too, that it is my dearest wish may be instilled within their baby minds, to bud forth in their full-grown fairyhood for the guidance and benefit of others. You know there are good and bad fairies. Yours must be good ones.” Then Great-heart got bright again as he cried out, “And now, where are my little tad
This meant us, of course. You may be sure we were not long in bounding to him. As we sit upon his knee, are fondled by his dear hands, and gaze into those clear, honest eyes, hear something more of Great-heart, our parents' preserver, our own friend and counsellor.
This was it. Some years before the old people had had a great liking for a swim up to shore, then for a quiet bask in the afternoon sun on a mossy bank straight above our heads. It happened to be a lovely summer, the sort of one you rarely get. Day after day Spottie and Croaker went and basked, until it quite got to be a daily custom with them. But it was willed that they were not to enjoy it for long. They could not be left in peace ; it seemed hard, but it was so. A ruthless band of urchins found them out, and began to make their lives a burthen to them. We have heard of all the cruel and barbarous tricks they played off upon their victims, but you must not hear of them; the thought thereof shocks us even now as we write. Suffice to say, that at length it became positively dangerous for them to go. They, however, hoped to hide themselves from their tormentors by getting under broad leaves, and so forth. It was certainly not prudent of them to go at all; but as they were left unmolested for some few days, they fancied their stratagem had succeeded, and the boys would not come back again, so they incautiously took to lying about once more unconcealed upon the bank. One unusually hot afternoon they both fell asleep, contrary to their usual practice. Then were they indeed in imminent peril, for the horde swooped down upon them once more, and would, previously baulked, without doubt have this time killed our parents with their vile tortures.
But suddenly came Great-heart to their aid ! Just in the nick of time, only, when our mother's life hung by a thread, and our father's was hardly worth the purchase. As wounded and bleeding they lay panting in the summer air, very nearly at their last gasps, Great-heart found them, and before him fled the cowardly herd. But with eagle eye did he mark down the ringleaders for future punishment, as he turned to give prompt aid to the poor sufferers. With tender hands he raised their tortured forms, made for them soft litters of twig and moss, bound up their wounds, soothed them with many a caress. Mixed with something from a silver flask, down their throats he poured the crystal water. In time his generous endeavours were rewarded. Symptoms of returning animation began to show themselves, his patients' eyelids to quiver slightly, then our father's eyes to slowly open. Soon Great-heart heard the faintest of feeble croaks, but it was so tiny a one that to this day (he tells us) he hardly knows which of the two gave vent to it. This was encouraging, and he persevered in his treatment. With his usual gallantry, he had selected the softest couch for our mother, and spread a fine linen cover above and around her. By degrees full consciousness returned, and as he watched, he was rewarded by the appearance of a fitful smile upon Madame Froggie's lips. He enforced strict silence, as it looked rather as if the sufferers were trying to frame a sentence or two in gratitude. In time, he got them together on to a larger litter, then carefully and tenderly bore them away to his home, where he brought the life that had so nearly fled, back once more. In a glass tank he made them a temporary resting-place until their full strength had returned to them. Then, with many a friendly caution as to their future outings, he took them to the bank, and shot them down home again. Each time our parents had tried to raise their voices in thanks to their benefactor, he had stopped them almost severely. But Great-heart had promised that he would come and see his friends, provided of course he were for the time being endued with such elfin power as to enable him to do so comfortably. By applying in the proper quarter that was done. So, from time to time had he visited us, till we looked upon him quite as one of the family, and had learnt to love him accordingly.
tell you that from that time when they returned from their nearly fatal adventure, the old people only but rarely and cautiously ventured up to earth again. Their nerves had naturally received a severe shock, and more particularly in our dear mother's case were they filled with an almost morbid dread of the wickedness prevailing, and the dangers to be encountered, in what was always spoken of in our circle as
“the cruel Above." This will explain in some degree the strong stand taken by Spottie against our proposed journey. Our father had more liberal and expanded notions, to say nothing of a boundless trust in the wisdom and good sense of Great-heart. For our part, thoughtless as we were, you may imagine where our inclinations pointed. At the mere thought of such a change we were nearly mad with excitement. We could only rush from our parents to Great-heart and back again, entreating in our child-fashion for permission to go. So long and earnestly did we plead that consent came at last. It was decided that we should go up with Great-heart on the morrow, for he was to stay one night below in our watery home. Imagine our delight! To leave the restricted area of our then small world for the bright fields, the gay cities, the lovely human forms and faces we had read and dreamt about! Not to have to think of them as