when we go wrong, and we should never teach them anything? You can’t
mean to say that Fairies are never greedy, or selfish, or cross, or
deceitful, because that would be nonsense, you know. Well then, don’t
you think they might be all the better for a little lecturing and
punishing now and then?
I really don’t see why it shouldn’t be tried, and I’m almost sure that,
if you could only catch a Fairy, and put it in the corner, and give it
nothing but bread and water for a day or two, you’d find it quite an
improved character–it would take down its conceit a little, at all
The next question is, what is the best time for seeing Fairies?
I believe I can tell you all about that.
The first rule is, that it must be a very hot day–that we may consider
as settled: and you must be just a little sleepy–but not too sleepy to
keep your eyes open, mind. Well, and you ought to feel a little–what
one may call “fairyish “–the Scotch call it “eerie,” and perhaps
that’s a prettier word; if you don’t know what it means, I’m afraid I
can hardly explain it; you must wait till you meet a Fairy, and then
And the last rule is, that the crickets should not be chirping.
I can’t stop to explain that: you must take it on trust for the present.
So, if all these things happen together, you have a good chance of
seeing a Fairy–or at least a much better chance than if they didn’t.
The first thing I noticed, as I went lazily along through an open place
in the wood, was a large Beetle lying struggling on its back,
and I went down upon one knee to help the poor thing to its feet again.
In some things, you know, you ca’n’t be quite sure what an insect would
like: for instance, I never could quite settle, supposing I were a
moth, whether I would rather be kept out of the candle, or be allowed
to fly straight in and get burnt–or again, supposing I were a spider,
I’m not sure if I should be quite pleased to have my web torn down,
and the fly let loose–but I feel quite certain that, if I were a beetle
and had rolled over on my back, I should always be glad to be helped up
So, as I was saying, I had gone down upon one knee, and was just
reaching out a little stick to turn the Beetle over, when I saw a sight
that made me draw back hastily and hold my breath, for fear of making
any noise and frightening the little creature a way.
Not that she looked as if she would be easily frightened: she seemed so
good and gentle that I’m sure she would never expect that any one could
wish to hurt her. She was only a few inches high, and was dressed in
green, so that you really would hardly have noticed her among the long
grass; and she was so delicate and graceful that she quite seemed to
belong to the place, almost as if she were one of the flowers. I may
tell you, besides, that she had no wings (I don’t believe in Fairies
with wings), and that she had quantities of long brown hair and large
earnest brown eyes, and then I shall have done all I can to give you an
idea of her.
Sylvie (I found out her name afterwards) had knelt down, just as I was
doing, to help the Beetle; but it needed more than a little stick for
her to get it on its legs again; it was as much as she could do,
with both arms, to roll the heavy thing over; and all the while she
was talking to it, half scolding and half comforting, as a nurse might
do with a child that had fallen down.
“There, there! You needn’t cry so much about it. You’re not killed
yet–though if you were, you couldn’t cry, you know, and so it’s a
general rule against crying, my dear! And how did you come to tumble