“Many a hundred years?” thought Tom; but he had seen so much in his travels that he had quite given up being astonished; and, indeed, he could think of nothing but Ellie. So he stood and looked at Ellie, and Ellie looked at him; and they liked the employment so much that they stood and looked for seven years more, and neither spoke nor stirred.
At last they heard the fairy say: “Attention, children. Are you never going to look at me again?”
“We have been looking at you all this while,” they said. And so they thought they had been.
“Then look at me once more,” said she.
They looked—and both of them cried out at once, “Oh, who are you, after all?”
“You are our dear Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby.”
“No, you are good Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid; but you are grown quite beautiful now!”
“To you,” said the fairy. “But look again.”
“You are Mother Carey,” said Tom, in a very low, solemn voice; for he had found out something which made him very happy, and yet frightened him more than all that he had ever seen.
“But you are grown quite young again.”
“To you,” said the fairy. “Look again.”
“You are the Irishwoman who met me the day I went to Harthover!”
And when they looked she was neither of them, and yet all of them at once.
“My name is written in my eyes, if you have eyes to see it there.”
And they looked into her great, deep, soft eyes, and they changed again and again into every hue, as the light changes in a diamond.
“Now read my name,” said she, at last.
And her eyes flashed, for one moment, clear, white, blazing light: but the children could not read her name; for they were dazzled, and hid their faces in their hands.
“Not yet, young things, not yet,” said she, smiling; and then she turned to Ellie.
“You may take him home with you now on Sundays, Ellie. He has won his spurs in the great battle, and become fit to go with you and be a man; because he has done the thing he did not like.”
So Tom went home with Ellie on Sundays, and sometimes on week-days, too; and he is now a great man of science, and can plan railroads, and steam-engines, and electric telegraphs, and rifled guns, and so forth; and knows everything about everything, except why a hen’s egg don’t turn into a