Mabel On A Midsummer Day

Mabel on a Midsummer Day

"Arise, my maiden, Mabel,"

The mother said; "arise,

The golden sun of a midsummer day

Is shining in the skies.

"Arise, my little maiden,

For thou must speed away,

To wait upon thy grandmother

This beautiful midsummer day.

"And thou must carry with thee

This wheaten cake so fine,

This new made pat of butter,

This little flask of wine;

"And tell the dear old lady,

This day I cannot come,

For your father went out yestermorn.

And he is not come home.

"And more than this, poor Amy

Upon my knee doth lie;

I fear me, with this fever pain

The little child will die!

"And thou must help thy grandmother:

The table she canst spread;

Canst feed her little dog and bird;

And she canst make her bed.

"And she canst fetch the water

From the lady well hard by;

And she canst gather from the woods

The twigs so brown and dry;

"Canst go down to the lonesome glen,

To milk the mother ewe;

This is the work, my Mabel,

That thou wilt have to do.

"But listen now, my Mabel,

This is midsummer day,

When all the fairy people

From elfland come away.

"And when thou in the lonesome glen,

Keep by the running burn,

And do not pluck the strawberry flower,

Nor break the lady fern.

"But think not of the fairy folk,

Lest mischief should befall;

Think only of poor Amy,

And how thou lov'st us all.

"Yet keep good heart, my Mabel,

If thou the fairies see,

And give them kindly answer

If they should speak to thee.

"And when into the fir wood

Thou goest for twigs of brown,

Do not, like idle children,

Go wandering up and down.

"But fill thy little apron,

My child, with earnest speed;

And that thou break no living bough

Within the wood take heed.

"For they are spiteful brownies

Who in the wood abide;

So be thou careful of this thing,

Lest evil should betide.

"But think not, little Mabel,

Whilst thou art in the wood,

Of dwarfish, willful brownies,

But of the Father good.

"And when thou goest to the spring

To fetch the water thence,

Do not disturb the little stream,

Lest this should give offense.

"For the queen of all the fairies,

She loves that water bright;

I've seen her drinking there myself

On many a summer night.

"But she's a gracious lady,

And her thou need'st not fear;

Only disturb thou not the stream,

Nor spill the water clear."

"Now all this I will heed, mother,

Will no word disobey,

And wait upon the grandmother

This beautiful midsummer day."

Away tripped little Mabel,

With the wheaten cake so fine,

With the new made pat of butter,

And the little flask of wine.

And long before the sun was hot,

And the summer mist had cleared,

Beside the good old grandmother

The willing child appeared.

And all her mother's message

She told with right goodwill,

How that the father was away,

And the little child was ill.

And then she swept the hearth up clean,

And then the table spread;

And next she fed the dog and bird;

And then she made the bed.

"And go now," said the grandmother,

"Ten paces down the dell,

And bring in water for the day,

Thou know'st the lady well."

The first time that good Mabel went,

Nothing at all saw she,

Except a bird, a skyblue bird,

That sat upon a tree.

The next time that good Mabel went,

There sat a lady bright

Beside the well, a lady small,

All clothed in green and white.

A courtesy low made Mabel,

And then she stooped to fill

Her pitcher at the sparkling spring,

But no drop did she spill.

"Thou art a handy maiden,"

The fairy lady said;

"Thou hast not spilt a drop, nor yet

The fairy spring troubled!

"And for this thing which thou hast done,

Yet mayst not understand,

I give to thee a better gift

Than houses or than land.

"Thou shalt do well whate'er thou dost,

As thou hast done this day;

Shalt have the will and power to please,

And shalt be loved alway."

Thus having said, she passed from sight,

And naught could Mabel see,

But the little bird, the skyblue bird,

Upon the leafy tree.

"And now go," said the grandmother,

"And fetch in twigs so dry;

All in the neighboring fir wood

Beneath the trees they lie."

Away went kind, good Mabel,

Into the fir wood near,

Where all the ground was dry and brown.

And the grass grew thin and sear.

She did not wander up and down,

Nor yet a live branch pull,

But steadily of the fallen boughs

She picked her apron full.

And when the wildwood brownies

Came sliding to her mind,

She drove them thence, as she was told,

With home thoughts sweet and kind.

But all that while the brownies

Within the fir wood still,

They watched her how she picked the wood,

And strove to do no ill.

"And, oh, but she is small and neat,"

Said one; "'t were shame to spite

A creature so demure and meek,

A creature harmless quite!"

"Look only," said another,

"At her little gown of blue;

At her kerchief pinned about her head,

And at her little shoe!"

"Oh, but she is a comely child,"

Said a third; "and we will lay

A good luck penny in her path,

A boon for her this day,

Seeing she broke no living wood;

No live thing did affray!"



With that the smallest penny,

Of the finest silver ore,

Upon the dry and slippery path,

Lay Mabel's feet before.

With joy she picked the penny up,

The fairy penny good,

And with her twigs so dry and brown

Went wandering from the wood.

"Now she has that," said the brownies,

"Let flax be ever so dear,

'T will buy her clothes of the very best,

For many and many a year!"

"And go now," said the grandmother,

"Since falling is the dew,

Go down unto the lonesome glen,

And milk the mother ewe!"

All down into the lonesome glen,

Through copses thick and wild,

Through moist rank grass, by trickling streams,

Went on the willing child.

And when she came to the lonesome glen,

She kept beside the burn,

And neither plucked the strawberry flower

Nor broke the lady fern.

And while she milked the mother ewe

Within this lonesome glen,

She wished that little Amy

Were strong and well again.

And soon as she thought this thought,

She heard a coming sound,

As if a thousand fairy folk

Were gathering all around.

And then she heard a little voice,

Shrill as the midge's wing,

That spake aloud, "A human child

Is here, yet mark this thing,

"The lady fern is all unbroke,

The strawberry flower unta'en!

What shall be done for her who still

From mischief can refrain?"

"Give her a fairy cake!" said one;

"Grant her a wish!" said three;

"The latest wish that she hath wished,"

Said all, "whate'er it be!"

Kind Mabel heard the words they spake,

And from the lonesome glen

Unto the good old grandmother

Went gladly back again.

Thus happened it to Mabel

On that midsummer day,

And these three fairy blessings

She took with her away.

'T is good to make all duty sweet,

To be alert and kind;

'T is good, like little Mabel,

To have a willing mind.


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