AMUSEMENTS FOR EVERYBODY 107
must hear how you have occupied yourselves in my absence. (Puck presents a goblet to the Queen, which she accepts with a smile.) Thanks, my ever thoughtful Puck. (Drinks and hands the cup to Puck again.)
Sprite.—And now is your Majesty sufficiently rested to tell us of your travels?
F. Queen.—Three nights ago, a moonbeam told me of a little maid, who lives far, far from here, and who, she said, deserved the best gifts we fairies could bestow. For she was always good and kind to the poor dumb creatures round her, and once little Gretel had given all the pennies that she had saved for Christmas-time, to save a poor little kitten, which some boys were ill-treating.
Sprite.—And your Majesty went to reward her?
F. Queen.—Yes. I found her asleep in bed, with a little furry ball curled up beside her. I kissed her on each cheek and left two dimples there; I opened the door of her soft little heart and left a sunbeam within; and then I gently touched her eyes so that the world should always look fair and bright to her. These were the best gifts I had to bestow, and, having seen her smile in her sleep, I knew my spells were working and came home. And now, good Puck, tell me, how have you passed the time in my absence ?
Puck.—One day I watched two little children feeding the birds, and as I lay hidden in the heart of a rose, I saw a little bird fall from its nest. "They will catch it and shut it up in a cage," I said; but, no: they lifted it carefully and went into the house. Presently I saw them at an upper window. They leaned out until they could reach the nest under the eaves, and then they placed the birdie gently in its old home. When they were out in the woods that day, I put on my squirrel's robe and ran quickly up the nut-trees, and as they passed I shook the trees, and showers of ripe nuts fell about their feet.
F. Queen.—That was well done, dear Puck. And now, my pretty Sprite and little Tricksy, what have you to tell ? (Tricksy and Sprite look very sorrowful.)
Tricksy.—Alas! ours is a sad, sad tale.