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flowers, pink, white, and blue; and there were birds, and fountains, in the marble basins of which gold-fishes glowed and swam. In the centre of the garden was a round green lawn for the children to play on; but at the end of the garden was a tall thick hedge, on which no blossoms ever grew, and which was prickly with sharp-pointed leaves. and thorns. This hedge also had a name, but the children did not know what it was. It was impossible either to get round the hedge, or to get over it, or to get through it-except in one place, where a small opening had been made. But through that opening no one might pass, for the land on the other side belonged to a dwarf, whose name was Rumpty-Dudget, and whose only pleasure lay in doing mischief. An ugly little dwarf he was, all grey from head to foot. He wore a broad-brimmed grey hat, a thick grey beard, and a grey cloak that was so much too long for him that it trailed on the ground like a grey tail as he walked. On his back was a grey hump, which made him look even shorter than he was-and he was not much over a foot high at his tallest. He lived in a large grey tower, whose battlements the three children could see rising above the hedge, as they played on the round lawn: and over the tower there hung, even in the brightest weather, a dull grey cloud.
Inside the tower was a vast room with a hundred and one corners to it and in each of the corners stood a little child, with its face to the wall and its hands behind its back. Who were the children, and how came they there? They were children whom Rumpty-Dudget had caught trespassing on his grounds, and had therefore carried away with him to his tower. In this way he had filled up one corner after another, until only one corner was left unfilled; and that one, curiously enough, was the one hundred-and-first. Now, it was a wellknown fact that if Rumpty-Dudget could but catch a child to put in that one empty corner he would become master of all the country round about. And since he loved nothing that was not of the same colour and temper as himself, the noble palace would in that case disappear, the garden would be changed into a desert covered with grey stones and brambles, and the dull grey cloud that now hung above the tower would sullenly spread itself over all the heavens. mighty Forest of Mystery, too, would be cut down and sold for firewood; and the elves and fairies would fly westward in pursuit of the flying sun. You may be sure, therefore, that Rumpty-Dudget tried with all his might to get hold of a child to put into that hundredand-first corner. But by this time the inhabitants of the country had begun to realise their danger; and all the mothers were so careful, and all the children were so obedient, that, for a long time, the hundred-and-first corner remained empty.
THE AUNT, THE CAT, AND THE DWARF.
WHEN Hilda, Harold, and Hector were still very young indeed, the Queen, their mother, was obliged to make a long journey to a far-off country, and to leave her children behind her. But before going she took them in her arms and said, 'My darlings, though I must leave you, you will not be left alone, either by night or by day. While you are awake you will be protected by a beautiful white cat that I shall send to you, named Tom, and while you are asleep your fairy aunt will keep watch over you; you will not see her, but you will know that she is with you by your pleasant dreams. Only at one hour of the day will you be left unguarded, and that is the hour before sunset. At that hour Tom will have to be away, and your fairy aunt will not yet have arrived, so you must be very careful of yourselves. You will, I hope, try always to be good children; but in the hour before sunset you must try twenty-four times harder than ever. Nobody knows what may happen when a little child does wrong; but there is great danger that the sun might catch fire and the moon freeze up. So, once more, my darlings, be very careful; for every hour is as long as it is short, but the hour before sunset is the longest and the shortest of all.'
The children promised to remember; and their mother kissed them and went away. The same day Tom the Cat arrived. A beautiful big cat he was, with deep soft fur, round yellow eyes, and a tail as thick as a feather duster. He was also the sweetest-tempered cat in the world, so that the children lived with him several years without even so much as suspecting that he had such a thing as a claw about him. He could purr as comfortably as the hopper of a windmill; and he took care of the children better than a dozen nurses would have done. But, an hour before sunset everyday he always disappeared, and only came back again when the last bit of the sun had gone out of sight. Then he put the children to bed, and purred outside their window until they fell asleep; and as soon as that happened, in floated the Fairy Aunt, to kiss their closed eyelids, and to hover beside their beds and whisper in their ears all manner of charming stories about Fairyland, and the wonderful things that were to be seen and done there. But early in the morning, just before they awoke, she would kiss their eyelids once more, and flit away out of the round window; and the white cat, with his yellow eyes and his thick tail, would come purring comfortably in at the door.
One day, however (the unluckiest day in the whole year), Hilda, Harold, and Hector went out to play as usual on the round lawn in the centre of the garden. It was Rumpty-Dudget's birthday-the only day in the whole year on which he had power to creep through the hole in the hedge and prowl about the Queen's grounds. Never
theless, all went well until the last hour before sunset, when Tom the Cat was forced to be away. Before he went he warned the children to look out for the grey rat; but before he had time to explain what he meant by the grey rat the hour struck, and he could not help vanishing. The children were left to themselves; but they were not at all frightened. They had never heard of Rumpty-Dudget; and this is not so strange as it might at first seem; for it often happens in the world that our worst enemies live so close to us that we are not aware of them until after we have fallen into their power. Hilda, Harold, and Hector, at all events, went on playing together very kindly; for up to this time they had never had a quarrel. The only thing that troubled them was, that Tom the Cat was not there to play with them; they all longed to see his yellow eyes and his thick tail, and to stroke his soft back, and hear his comfortable purr. But it was now very near sunset, and he must soon return. The sun, like
a great red ball, hung a little way above the edge of the world; though he had not caught fire as yet, he was evidently very hot, and it was quite time for him to be at rest.
All at once Princess Hilda, who had been gazing at the sun with her blue eyes wide open, heard a little croaking laugh, and looking down, she saw a strange little creature standing close beside her, all grey from head to foot. He wore a grey hat and beard, and a long grey cloak that dragged on the ground like a tail, and on his back was a grey hump that made him seem even shorter than he was, though at the most he was hardly over a foot high. Hilda was surprised, but not in the least frightened, for nobody had ever yet done her any harm; and besides, this odd little grey man, though he was as ugly as a rent in a new pinafore, grinned at her from one ear to the other, and seemed to be the most good-natured dwarf in the world. So Princess Hilda called to Prince Harold and Prince Hector, who, when they saw what had come to them, were no more frightened than Hilda, and a good deal more amused; and as the dwarf kept on grinning from one ear to the other, the three children began to smile back at him. Meanwhile the great red ball of the sun was slowly dropping downwards; and now his lower rim was just resting on the edge of the world.
Since you have already heard about Rumpty-Dudget, you will have guessed that this gay dwarf was none other than he, and that although he grinned so broadly from one ear to the other, he wished in reality to do the three children harm; and even (if he could manage it) to carry one of them off to his tower, to stand in the hundred-and-first corner, with his face to the wall and his hands behind his back. But Rumpty-Dudget had no power to do this so long as the children stayed on their side of the prickly hedge; he must first tempt them to creep through the opening, and then, when they were upon his own grounds, he could do with them what he pleased. Now the children had often been warned not to creep through the hedge, both by their Queen-mother, before she went away, and by
their Fairy Aunt in dreams, and by Tom the Cat in the daytime; and as they had never had reason to suppose that there was anything prettier on the other side of the hedge than on their own, they had never thought of going thither. Rumpty-Dudget knew this; and as he was even more cunning than he was ugly, he had made up his mind to profit by it.
'My dear young people,' he said, holding out his hands; ‘I am very glad to meet you. It has grieved me to see you all playing here on this ugly lawn, when there is a garden so much more beautiful just on the other side of the hedge. I am very fond of children, and I make it my business to amuse them. If you will just give yourselves the trouble to step through that opening in the hedge, you shall see something that you never saw before.'
The three children thought this sounded very pleasant; but, after a pause, Princess Hilda, who generally took the lead, said,
'We were told not to go on the other side of the hedge.'
'Who could have been so unkind as to tell you that?' cried Rumpty-Dudget, as if he was very much shocked. Besides, one side of the hedge is just the same as another; and if it is wrong to go on the other side, how much more wrong it must be to stay on this.'
Hilda thought awhile before answering; for what Rumpty-Dudget had said certainly sounded reasonable. But why,' she asked at last, 'should there be any hedge at all?'
It is all on account of the hole through it,' the dwarf replied with his most charming grin. There could have been no hole, you see, if there hadn't been a hedge; and that is why the hedge was planted.'
Princess Hilda could not deny that this was true; and, moreover, since she had begun to talk with the dwarf, she had felt a strong desire to see whether the garden on the other side of the hedge was so very much prettier than their own, as he declared. What do you say, boys?' she asked, turning to the two little princes; shall we take just one peep?'
That is right! Come, my dears, at once!' put in RumptyDudget eagerly, taking Hilda and Harold each by the hand, and letting little Hector trot on before; it is already late, and I want you to see my garden before the sun goes down.' So they all came to the opening in the hedge; and, if the truth must be told, the three children were almost as anxious to get through it as RumptyDudget was to have them do so. And the great red ball of the sun kept going down further and further, and now all his lower half was out of sight beneath the edge of the world.
"Now, my dear,' said Rumpty-Dudget to Princess Hilda, 'will you step through first? Ladies always go first, you know.'
Not through holes in the hedges,' replied Hilda, drawing back.
'It is always the men who go first then.'
All but the last quarter of the sun was now hidden behind the edge of the world, and there was no time to be lost, for (as Rumpty
No. 610 (No. cxxx. x. s.)
Dudget well knew) as soon as the sun was quite gone, Tom the Cat would appear. So he said, as amiably as he could, though in reality he felt very angry,
'Well, then, Prince Harold, my fine fellow, you are the next eldest; take my hand and in we go.'
'No,' said Prince Harold, drawing back; 'I think I am too big to get through that little hole. Somebody else must go first.' Rumpty-Dudget trembled with rage and fear; and there was only the smallest bit of the sun yet visible. However, he managed to say in a tolerably smooth voice,
'Little Prince Hector, there, is my man after all! He will come through the hole, and see the pretty things, won't he?'
Now Prince Hector was a sturdy little fellow, and afraid of nothing; so he put his hand in Rumpty-Dudget's, and said boldly,
Yes, I'll go; but if your garden isn't any prettier than you are, I shan't want to stay long.'
'Let me lift you in, my little hero,' said Rumpty-Dudget, taking Hector round the waist with his little bony hands; and I'll warrant you won't come back in a hurry. Now then-jump!'
But just at that moment the last scrap of the sun vanished beneath the edge of the world; and instantly, with a tremendous hissing and caterwauling, Tom the Cat came springing across the lawn like a white-hot snowball. His yellow eyes flashed, his back bristled, and every hair upon his tail stood out so straight, that the tail looked as thick as an old-fashioned muff. He flew straight at Rumpty-Dudget and leaped upon his hump, and bit and scratched him soundly. Rumpty-Dudget yelled with pain, and dropping Prince Hector, he vanished through the hole in the hedge like a hot chestnut into a hungry boy.
But from the other side of the hedge he flung at the three children a handful of black mud; a bit of it hit Princess Hilda on the forehead, and another bit fell upon Prince Harold's nose, and another upon little Prince Hector's chin. And there those three black spots stayed; and all the washing and scrubbing in the world would not make them go away. It is always so with the mud that Rumpty-Dudget throws; it seems to grow down into you until it fastens a root in your heart. And this, probably, was the reason why Princess Hilda (who had until then been the best little girl in the world) began from that time to wish to rule things; and Prince Harold (who had until then been one of the two best little boys in the world) began from that time to wish to have things; and little Prince Hector (who had until then been the other of the two best little boys in the world) began from that time to wish to do things which he was told not to do.
Such was the effect of Rumpty-Dudget's three mud spots.