The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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little enough that is, and weary work for me. But I have brought you a new little brother, and watched him safe all the way here.”
Then all the fairies laughed for joy at the thought that they had a little brother coming.
“But mind, maidens, he must not see you, or know that you are here. He is but a savage now, and like the beasts which perish; and from the beasts which perish he must learn. So you must not play with him, or speak to him, or let him see you: but only keep him from being harmed.”
Then the fairies were sad, because they could not play with their new brother, but they always did what they were told.
And their Queen floated away down the river; and whither she went, thither she came. But all this Tom, of course, never saw or heard: and perhaps if he had it would have made little difference in the story; for was so hot and thirsty, and longed so to be clean for once, that he tumbled himself as quick as he could into the clear cool stream.
And he had not been in it two minutes before he fell fast asleep, into the quietest, sunniest, cosiest sleep that ever he had in his life; and he dreamt about the green meadows by which he had walked that morning, and the tall elm-trees, and the sleeping cows; and after that he dreamt of nothing at all.
The reason of his falling into such a delightful sleep is very simple; and yet hardly any one has found it out. It was merely that the fairies took him.
Some people think that there are no fairies. Cousin Cramchild tells little folks so in his Conversations. Well, perhaps there are none—in Boston, U.S., where he was raised. There are only a clumsy lot of spirits there, who can’t make people hear without thumping on the table: but they get their living thereby, and I suppose that is all they want. And Aunt Agitate, in her Arguments on political economy, says there are none. Well, perhaps there are none—in her political economy. But it is a wide world, my little man—and thank Heaven for it, for else, between crinolines and theories, some of us would get squashed—and plenty of room in it for fairies, without people seeing them; unless, of course, they look in the right place. The most wonderful and the strongest things in the world, you know, are just the things which no one can see. There is life in you; and it is the life in you which makes you grow, and move, and think: and yet you can’t see it. And there is steam in a steam-engine; and that is what makes it move: and yet you can’t see it; and so there may be fairies in the world, and they may be just what makes the world go round to the old tune of
“C’est l’amour, l’amour, l’amour Qui fait la monde à la ronde:”
and yet no one may be able to see them except those whose hearts are going round to that same tune. At all events, we will make believe that there are fairies in the world. It will not be the last time by many a one that we shall have to make believe. And yet, after all, there is no need for that.