Text - "The Enchanted Island of Yew" Frank Baum

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It was a castle of vast extent, built with thick
walls and protected by strong gates. In front of it sloped a pretty
stretch of land with the sea glistening far beyond; and back of it, but
a short distance away, was the edge of the Forest of Lurla.

One fair summer day the custodian of the castle gates opened a wicket
and let down a draw-bridge, when out trooped three pretty girls with
baskets dangling on their arms. One of the maids walked in front of
her companions, as became the only daughter of the mighty Baron Merd.
She was named Seseley, and had yellow hair and red cheeks and big, blue
eyes. Behind her, merry and laughing, yet with a distinct deference to
the high station of their young lady, walked Berna and Helda-dark
brunettes with mischievous eyes and slender, lithe limbs. Berna was
the daughter of the chief archer, and Helda the niece of the captain of
the guard, and they were appointed play-fellows and comrades of the
fair Seseley.

Up the hill to the forest's edge ran the three, and then without
hesitation plunged into the shade of the ancient trees. There was no
sunlight now, but the air was cool and fragrant of nuts and mosses, and
the children skipped along the paths joyously and without fear.

To be sure, the Forest of Lurla was well known as the home of fairies,
but Seseley and her comrades feared nothing from such gentle creatures
and only longed for an interview with the powerful immortals whom they
had been taught to love as the tender guardians of mankind. Nymphs
there were in Lurla, as well, and crooked knooks, it was said; yet for
many years past no person could boast the favor of meeting any one of
the fairy creatures face to face.

So, gathering a few nuts here and a sweet forest flower there, the
three maidens walked farther and farther into the forest until they
came upon a clearing-formed like a circle-with mosses and ferns for
its carpet and great overhanging branches for its roof.

"How pretty!" cried Seseley, gaily. "Let us eat our luncheon in this
lovely banquet-hall!"

So Berna and Helda spread a cloth and brought from their baskets some
golden platters and a store of food. Yet there was little ceremony
over the meal, you may be sure, and within a short space all the
children had satisfied their appetites and were laughing and chatting
as merrily as if they were at home in the great castle. Indeed, it is
certain they were happier in their forest glade than when facing grim
walls of stone, and the three were in such gay spirits that whatever
one chanced to say the others promptly joined in laughing over.

Soon, however, they were startled to hear a silvery peal of laughter
answering their own, and turning to see whence the sound proceeded,
they found seated near them a creature so beautiful that at once the
three pairs of eyes opened to their widest extent, and three hearts
beat much faster than before.

"Well, I must say you do stare!" exclaimed the newcomer, who was
clothed in soft floating robes of rose and pearl color, and whose eyes
shone upon them like two stars.

"Forgive our impertinence," answered the little Lady Seseley, trying to
appear dignified and unmoved; "but you must acknowledge that you came
among us uninvited, and-and you are certainly rather odd in

Again the silvery laughter rang through the glade.

"Uninvited!" echoed the creature, clapping her hands together
delightedly; "uninvited to my own forest home! Why, my dear girls, you
are the uninvited ones-indeed you are-to thus come romping into our
fairy bower."

The children did not open their eyes any wider on hearing this speech,
for they could not; but their faces expressed their amazement fully,
while Helda gasped the words:

"A fairy bower! We are in a fairy bower!"

"Most certainly," was the reply. "And as for being odd in appearance,
let me ask how you could reasonably expect a fairy to appear as mortal
maidens do?"

"A fairy!" exclaimed Seseley. "Are you, then, a real fairy?"

"I regret to say I am," returned the other, more soberly, as she patted
a moss-bank with a silver-tipped wand.

Then for a moment there was silence, while the three girls sat very
still and stared at their immortal companion with evident curiosity.
Finally Seseley asked:

"Why do you regret being a fairy? I have always thought them the
happiest creatures in the world."

"Perhaps we ought to be happy," answered the fairy, gravely, "for we
have wonderful powers and do much to assist you helpless mortals. And
I suppose some of us really are happy. But, for my part, I am so
utterly tired of a fairy life that I would do anything to change it."

"That is strange," declared Berna. "You seem very young to be already
discontented with your lot."

Now at this the fairy burst into laughter again, and presently asked:

"How old do you think me?"

"About our own age," said Berna, after a glance at her and a moment's

"Nonsense!" retorted the fairy, sharply. "These trees are hundreds of
years old, yet I remember when they were mere twigs. And I remember
when mortals first came to live upon this island, yes-and when this
island was first created and rose from the sea after a great
earthquake. I remember for many, many centuries, my dears. I have
grown tired of remembering-and of being a fairy continually, without
any change to brighten my life."

"To be sure!" said Seseley, with sympathy. "I never thought of fairy
life in that way before. It must get to be quite tiresome."

"And think of the centuries I must yet live!" exclaimed the fairy in a
dismal voice. "Isn't it an awful thing to look forward to?"

"It is, indeed," agreed Seseley.

"I'd be glad to exchange lives with you," said Helda, looking at the
fairy with intense admiration.

"But you can't do that," answered the little creature quickly.
"Mortals can't become fairies, you know-although I believe there was
once a mortal who was made immortal."

"But fairies can become anything they desire!" cried Berna.

"Oh, no, they can't. You are mistaken if you believe that," was the
reply. "I could change YOU into a fly, or a crocodile, or a bobolink,
if I wanted to; but fairies can't change themselves into anything else."