stood among its flowers she sang,–
“Through sunlight and summer air
I have sought for thee long,
Guided by birds and flowers,
And now by thy song.
O’er hill and dell
Hither to comfort thee
Then from the vine-leaves two little arms were stretched out to her,
and Thistledown was found. So Lily-Bell made her home in the shadow
of the vine, and brought such joy to Thistle, that his lonely cell
seemed pleasanter to him than all the world beside; and he grew daily
more like his gentle friend. But it did not last long, for one day
she did not come. He watched and waited long, for the little face
that used to peep smiling in through the vine-leaves. He called and
beckoned through the narrow opening, but no Lily-Bell answered; and
he wept sadly as he thought of all she had done for him, and that now
he could not go to seek and help her, for he had lost his freedom
by his own cruel and wicked deeds.
At last he besought the silent Brownie earnestly to tell him
whither she had gone.
“O let me go to her,” prayed Thistle; “if she is in sorrow, I will
comfort her, and show my gratitude for all she has done for me: dear
Brownie, set me free, and when she is found I will come and be your
prisoner again. I will bear and suffer any danger for her sake.”
“Lily-Bell is safe,” replied the Brownie; “come, you shall learn
the trial that awaits you.”
Then he led the wondering Fairy from his prison, to a group of tall,
drooping ferns, beneath whose shade a large white lily had been
placed, forming a little tent, within which, on a couch of thick green
moss, lay Lily-Bell in a deep sleep; the sunlight stole softly in,
and all was cool and still.
“You cannot wake her,” said the Brownie, as Thistle folded his arms
tenderly about her. “It is a magic slumber, and she will not wake
till you shall bring hither gifts from the Earth, Air, and Water
Spirits. ‘T is a long and weary task, for you have made no friends
to help you, and will have to seek for them alone. This is the trial
we shall give you; and if your love for Lily-Bell be strong enough
to keep you from all cruelty and selfishness, and make you kind and
loving as you should be, she will awake to welcome you, and love you
still more fondly than before.”
Then Thistle, with a last look on the little friend he loved so well,
set forth alone to his long task.
The home of the Earth Spirits was the first to find, and no one
would tell him where to look. So far and wide he wandered, through
gloomy forests and among lonely hills, with none to cheer him when
sad and weary, none to guide him on his way.
On he went, thinking of Lily-Bell, and for her sake bearing all;
for in his quiet prison many gentle feelings and kindly thoughts had
sprung up in his heart, and he now strove to be friends with all, and
win for himself the love and confidence of those whom once he sought
to harm and cruelly destroy.
But few believed him; for they remembered his false promises and
evil deeds, and would not trust him now; so poor Thistle found few
to love or care for him.
Long he wandered, and carefully he sought; but could not find the
Earth Spirits’ home. And when at length he reached the pleasant
garden where he and Lily-Bell first parted, he said within himself,–
“Here I will stay awhile, and try to win by kindly deeds the flowers’
forgiveness for the pain and sorrow I brought them long ago; and they
may learn to love and trust me. So, even if I never find the Spirits,
I shall be worthier Lily-Bell’s affection if I strive to atone for
the wrong I have done.”
Then he went among the flowers, but they closed their leaves, and
shrank away, trembling with fear; while the birds fled to hide