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The Girl who

 

Believed in Fairies.

 

By: Linda Corby

 

DEDICATION

These Fairy Stories are published in living memory of my beloved daughter Natasha Daphne May Corby, who requested such of me before passing on, on the 27.7.90 at the age of twelve. Natasha described them as lovely children’s fairy stories with a proper and moral twist, suitable for children between the ages of five to twelve. I enjoyed telling these and other stories of mine to Natasha and her older sister Clarissa when they were this age, as I will to their little sister April who is now two.

 



 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Natasha requested that I gave a percentage of my royalties from these fairy stories to the Children’s Hospice “Oakwell”, which is being done.

 

With thanks to the below listed on behalf of my family and myself.

 

(Paediatrician) Dr. Clifford Spratt and his team.

Sister Sheila Moran and her staff on Robin Ward, Jersey General Hospital

Doctors and Nurses from Ward 4/2 U.C.L.H. and Great Ormand Street Hospital

Our G.P. Dr. Watts

Mrs. Shirley Harwood and all the staff on the Jersey Maternity Ward, Jersey General Hospital

Mrs. Margaret McGovern, Jersey Hospice Care

Mrs. Anne Lingley Head of Home Oakwell Respite Centre and her Staff

Mr. John Lingley

Mrs. Eileen Smith

Miss. Yvonne Howie

Mrs. Mary Gueno

Mrs. Wendy Michelle

Mrs. Dorothy Sauvage

Mrs. Karen Mundy

Mrs. Louise Meyer

Mrs. Joanne Capern

Mrs. Elizabeth Sullivan

Natasha’s Teachers at Les Quennevais School

Her home Tutor, Mrs. Marysia Philpot

Health Visitors Karen Huchet and Hazel Fairbanks

Marni Baudains Special Needs Social Worker

The Malcolm Sargent Fund Mrs. Diane Ibbotson

Channel Television Telethon Group for arranging Natasha’s holiday in Florida

and also The Paul Newman Hole in the Wall Gang Group

 

Copyright 1993 L.G. Corby

Second Edition published by L.G. Corby

 

 


 

 

THE GIRL WHO BELIEVED IN FAIRIES

 

          Susan’s Mother put the telephone down on the hall table and called out “Susan dear, run and tell Daddy that he is wanted on the telephone”.

          Susan skipped gaily out to the garden where she found her Father gazing curiously at a strange plant with shiny leaves. He was a botanist and grew all sorts of peculiar flowers and plants. She gave him the message and he ambled off into the house puffing thoughtfully on his pipe.

          Susan bent down to look at the plant. It was different from any plant she had ever seen before. The leaves were large and had orange spots all over them. As Susan looked closer she found that the plant had tiny flowers like silver bells. She was fascinated by the flowers and put her hand out to touch them. As her fingers touched the tiny bells they gave out a strange tinkling sound.

          “I said what do you want?” said a cross little voice.

          Susan stepped back from the plant, frightened. She saw a little man poke his head round on of the orange spotted leaves.

          “I said what do you want?” said the little man.

          As he came out from behind the plant, Susan saw that he was dressed from head to toe in a green suit with orange spots, exactly like the leaves of the strange plant.

          “Oh!” said Susan in a startled voice “Wh….who are you?”

          “I’m an elf, who d’you think I am?” said the little man, crosser than ever.

          “Oh,” said Susan, “I’m a little girl, my name is Susan.”

          “I’m pleased to meet you,” said the little man, holding out a hand as small and delicate as a cake crumb, “I’m Spike.”

          Susan shook his hand very gently between her thumb and forefinger.

          “Sit down,” said the little man, “But be very careful of the plants.”

          Susan sat down on a nearby patch of lawn. The elf came and sat down beside her and started to talk. She found that he was a gay, chatty elf. It turned out that when she had rung the tiny bell it had woken him from his sleep and that was why he had been so cross.

          Susan and the little man had quite a long chat together and she found that she was growing more and more enchanted by him. She told him about her life at home with her parents and her toys. He told her how he lived in the plant with his brothers and sisters and of all the exciting parties that they had with their fairy friends. Susan was thrilled by the elf’s stories and wished that she could meet his friends and join in their parties.

          She felt sad when it was time for her to go into the house and had to leave Spike, but before she went she arranged with him that they should meet the following evening.

          When Susan was getting ready for bed she told her Mummy about the little elf and all the wonderful things he had said, but her mother told her she was too old to believe in fairies. “Drink up your hot milk dear,” she said, “Its time you were in bed.”

          Susan tried to tell her father about the little man, but he did not listen. He said “Yes dear” and carried on reading his paper and puffing at his pipe. She went to bed feeling lonely and unhappy.

          The following day Susan met Spike again. Again they had a long chat and again they arranged to meet again the following evening. After this they met every evening. Susan would play solitary games with her toys all day long, waiting for the evening to come when she would be able to see Spike. Each beautiful summer evening they would sit together on the lawn and Spike would tell her wonderful stories of the games that he and his friends played all night long when she was in bed. Susan longed to go with him to his fairyland home in the plants. He promised her one day that she would. Whenever she tried to fix up a definite time with him, however, Spike started to talk about something else and Susan thought that he did not really want to take her.

          The summer gradually passed. The flowers withered and the leaves turned to gold. The evenings were chilled and Susan could no longer sit with Spike on the damp lawn. They now met for their evening talk in the summerhouse at the bottom of the garden. Susan found that the little man was no longer his cheerful, chatty self. He had gradually changed and become sad. Susan asked him why this was, but he would not tell her.

          As the autumn wore on and the evenings got darker, Susan found that it was more difficult to see Spike. He seemed to get lost in the shadows of the summerhouse. Also, his voice seemed to fade and she thought that the chilly weather had given him a cold and that he was losing his voice.

          One evening, when the last of the leaves had fallen from the trees and there was a frost upon the grass, Susan found that Spike was unbearably sad. He told Susan that she probably would be unable to see him anymore. Susan cried “Why not?” but all the little man said was “You’re getting too big, you’re getting too big.” Susan could not understand what he meant.

          The following evening Susan waited in the summerhouse, but Spike did not arrive. The tears poured down her cheeks and fell onto the wooden floor. She thought she heard his soft voice trying to comfort her, but when she looked he was not there and she thought it must have been her imagination.

          She waited for Spike again the following evening, but again he did not come.  She wandered sadly round the garden until she came to the strange plant with shiny leaves and orange spots on and recalled the many happy times with Spike. The silver bells had now died and the leaves had started to turn brown at the edges. She gently lifted of the plant and looked underneath, hoping vainly to find her friend Spike asleep. She lifted each leaf in turn, but he was not there. She put the leaves back into place and was about to give up her search and go into the house when she saw something shining against the stem of the plant. She picked it up and found it was a beautiful silver ring that looked as though it were made from gossamers and dew drops.

          Susan was about to try the ring on her finger when she heard the voice of her mother calling from the house. “Susan, Susan! time for bed dear.” She slipped the ring into the pocket of her coat and ran into the house.

          Susan was just about to get into bed when she remembered the ring. She waited until her mother had kissed her goodnight and turned off the light and then she slipped out of bed and crept down the stairs. She took the ring from the pocket of her coat which was hanging in the hall and scurried back upstairs with it. She got into bed and tried on the ring. It fitted her finger perfectly. She turned off the light, lay her head on the pillow and went straight off to sleep.

          Susan was wakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a tinkling bell. She rubbed her eyes and found that Spike was beside her. He was laughing happily and ringing a silver bell in her ear. “Wake up! Wake up!” he said.

          She put her hand out to touch him to find out if her were really there and she found that her hand was no larger than his.

          “Ha ha,” laughed Spike, “Welcome to fairyland.”

          Susan looked down at herself and found that she was now the same size as Spike. At first she was frightened at her change in size and was about to cry.

          “Come on! Come on!” said Spike, “They’re all waiting for us.”

          “Who are?” sniffed Susan

          “Everybody; the fairies; elves; everybody. They’re all waiting. We’ve got a party ready for you. Marvellous things to eat and drink; jellies and lemonade made from morning dew’ cakes and biscuits made from honey; and the most gorgeous fruit-salad you’ve ever seen made from all the flower seeds in the garden. Come on! Come on!”

          With this Spike jumped off the bed and skipped out of the door and Susan, without stopping to think, happily followed him.

          The fairyland party was everything that Spike said it would be. The food was the most delicious that Susan had ever tasted and the fairies and elves were the gayest, happiest company of creatures that she had ever met.

          They played hide-and-seek until they were tired out from laughing for sheer happiness, hiding under the yellow, golden russet autumn leaves; and dodging round and round the white toadstools. They played leap-frog, jumping over one another again and again. Some of the more daring elves even leaped over a wrinkled old frog who had ambled onto the scene of their revels. They played ring o’ ring o’ roses, falling with shrieks of laughter on the thick carpet of crunchy leaves. Susan had never had so much fun in all her life. She laughed so much that she had no breath left to laugh anymore.

          The moonlight faded and the morning sun was beginning to appear behind the trees. The fairies and the elves were worn out and were dropping off to sleep. Susan sat down for a rest on the dry leaves beside Spike. She began to wonder what her mother would think when she went into her bedroom and found that she was not there. She tried to tell Spike about it, but he was nodding off to sleep and mumbled “I’m tired….go to sleep.” He began to snore and Susan shook him to try and wake him up, but it had no effect. She looked round at the others, but they were all gently snoring. She got up and tiptoed carefully between the sleeping fairies and back to the house and her own room. She climbed into her warm cosy bed and went fast asleep.

          “Susan! Susan! Wake up dear.” Susan’s mother gently shook her awake. Susan rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed.

          “Oh mummy I’ve had the most marvellous night. I’ve been to a party with the fairies and elves. We played the most exciting games. It really was fun.”

          You’ve been dreaming dear,” said her mother.

          “No mummy I haven’t. Honestly.”

          You’re the most imaginative child,” said her mother, pulling back the bedclothes. She looked very curiously at Susan’s finger. “that’s a very pretty ring dear,” she said. “Wherever did you get it?”

          Susan looked down at her beautiful ring and said, “From fairyland.”

 


 

THE GIRL WHO CAME TO STAY

 

          Susan didn’t like playing with other children. She found their games rough and boisterous. Therefore she wasn’t very pleased when her mother told her that her Aunt Jane was coming to stay for a few days.

          On her first night there Sylvia came into Susan’s room when Susan was in bed reading.

          “What are you reading?” she demanded.

          When Susan told her that it was a book of fairy stories she burst out laughing.

          “You don’t believe in fairies do you?” she said.

          When Susan said she did Sylvia went into a fit of mocking laughter. Susan was very angry and said that, not only did she believe in fairies, but she had seen them and played with them. When Sylvia jeered at this Susan blurted out the story of how she had met Spike and how she had found the fairy ring. She even showed Sylvia the ring on a ribbon round her neck, but immediately regretted it for Sylvia snatched the ribbon and the ring and ran off with it, laughing.

          Susan didn’t like quarrels or scenes and so she didn’t run after Sylvia in order to get the ring back. She guessed Sylvia would be ashamed of her silly prank and would give the ring back to her the following day.

          Back in her bedroom, Sylvia was examining the ring with great curiosity. She didn’t believe Susan’s silly story, but she had to admit that it was a very strange ring. She slipped it onto her finger and got into bed.

          In the middle of the night, Sylvia was wakened by the sound of a tinkling bell and, when she opened her eyes, she saw an elf on her pillow. He was shouting “Wake up! wake up!” When she got up in bed she found that she had shrunk to the size of a fairy.

          Spike was surprised to see that it wasn’t Susan sitting up in bed, but suppose that Susan has lent this strange girl the magic ring as a special treat so that she could see fairyland. He jumped off the bed and slipped out of the door. “Come on!” he shouted to Sylvia and she followed him.

          In fairyland, Sylvia enjoyed all the feasting, dancing and games that Susan had enjoyed. She wasn’t as gentle as Susan; and in some games she was rough and when she became excited she was inclined to pinch. However, she was a jolly girl and joined in everything with great spirit.

          Sylvia was still wide awake and full of energy when all the fairies had fallen asleep. She was annoyed because they wouldn’t wake up and play with her. She realised that it was time for her to go back to bed, but she didn’t want to go. It was such a wonderful party and she didn’t want it to end. A wicked thought came into her mind. She would steal something and take it away with her to remind her of the wonderful time she had had in fairyland. She looked round, but couldn’t see anything. The fairies didn’t seem to have any possessions. What could she take? She saw a tiny baby fairy sleeping next to his mother. Yes, she would take him. She picked him up in her arms and tiptoed back to her room.

Back in her room Sylvia became her normal size. Before getting into bed she looked for somewhere to put the baby fairy. She saw a small white vase on her dressing table and placed him inside. He stirred uneasily at the bottom of the hard uncomfortable vase as Sylvia went to sleep in her soft bed.

          The next day when Sylvia got up she was not at all sorry for what she had done. She called Susan into her room and told her all about it. She showed her the baby fairy in the bottom of the vase.

          “Look at him!” she jeered. “Urgh! he looks like a horrid pink grub. If you put your finger you’d squash him.”

          Sylvia pretended to put her finger inside the vase.

          Susan was furious. “You wicked girl,” she said. “How could you? He’ll die without his mother. You wicked, wicked girl!”

          She snatched the vase from Sylvia’s hand and ran out of the room.

          Sylvia was astonished. She had never seen Susan angry before. She wanted to run after and get the baby fairy, but she was afraid.

          Susan didn’t know what to do with the baby fairy. She knew that would be terrified when he woke up and found that he was not by his mother’s side. She couldn’t possibly return him to fairyland until night came. She decided to make him more comfortable. She made him a tiny cot out of a matchbox and some cotton wool. Very gently, so as not to wake him, she took him out of the vase and placed him inside the cot.

          When night came Susan didn’t go to sleep. She knew that she had to get back the ring if she was to return the baby fairy to his mother in fairyland. She sat in a chair by the side of her bed until she knew that Sylvia would be asleep, then she crept into Sylvia’s room. She found that Sylvia still had the ring on her finger. Wicked girl! Did she intend to go back to fairyland in order to steal another baby fairy?

          Very gently, Susan slipped the ring off Sylvia’s finger. She tiptoed back to her room, put on the ring, and got back into bed.

Susan was awakened in the middle of the night, not by the tinkling of the fairy bell, but by the mutter of angry voices. She sat up in bed and saw a circle of fairies and elves round the matchbox cot of the baby fairy. The baby was crying. His mother lifted him out and, holding him in her arms, comforted him by making soft soothing noises.

          When they saw that Susan was awake, the fairies and elves gathered in an angry circle around her.

          Susan realised that they were holding her responsible for the theft of the baby fairy. She explained to the how Sylvia had stolen the ring and how she put the baby fairy into a white vase on her dressing table. She showed them the vase and how told them how angry she had been with Sylvia and how she had taken the baby fairy from her and made it comfortable as best she could in the match-box cot.

          When Susan had finished telling her story, the fairies were more angry than ever. They muttered to one another as they examined the white vase. They decided that Sylvia was a wicked girl and must be taught a lesson. Spike said that there was only one punishment fit for Sylvia. She must receive the same treatment that she had given the baby. She must be shrunk down to the size of a baby fairy. Susan tried to persuade them against this cruel punishment, but they had made up their minds. They all marched purposefully to Sylvia's room. A group of elves carried the vase on their shoulders.

          The fairies put a magic potion on to Sylvia's head to shrink her down to the size of a baby fairy. They lifted her out of bed and placed her in the bottom of the vase.

          Sylvia woke up when she found herself lying on the hard bottom of the vase. She looked up at the rim of the vase and saw a circle of grim-faced fairies looking down at her. She realised what had happened and cried out for the fairies to have pity on her. They left the bedroom without heeding her cries.

          Sylvia had never felt so lonely and frightened in her life as she now felt inside the white vase. At first she was desperately tired; the fairies had woken her from her deep sleep. Her legs were weary and she sat down on the bottom of the vase. She realised that she couldn't stay there, the vase was hard and uncomfortable. She began to shiver in her thin nightie. She had to get out somehow and get back to her warm bed; but how could she get out? The sides of the vase were steep and perfectly smooth. She couldn't possible climb out.

          She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and shook her head to try to shake herself awake. She must get out. She climbed to her feet, wide awake now. Susan was in the next room. She was a kind girl and would forgive her for taking the ring. If only she could wake her up. She decided to shout for help.

          "Susan! Susan! Help! I'm trapped in the vase, please get me out. Help me, please!"

          Sylvia yelled at the top of her voice. The noise was tremendous. Sylvia was sure that it must have woken everybody in the house. She waited, listened for Susan's footsteps to come along the landing and into her bedroom. There was no sound. The house was as quiet as a grave.

          Sylvia yelled again and again, but no one came. Her voice echoed round and round the vase, mocking her. "Help Susan! Please Susan! I'm sorry about the ring! I'm sorry about the baby fairy. I'll not do it again, honestly I won't. Please help me. Help! Help!"

          Syvia's voice vibrated like claps of thunder inside the shiny white vase. Her ears began to buzz with the noise. She shouted until her voice was hoarse, but no one came. She realised that although her shouting sounded so loud inside the vase it probably didn't sound at all loud outside. She sat down on the bottom of the vase and wept.

          She must try to escape somehow. She got up and walked round the vase. Could she climb out? She tried to climb up the sides on her hands and knees, but each time she came sliding down to the bottom again.

          She walked round and round the vase trying to think of some plan to escape. How ugly and boring the vase was. Nothing to look at except the white walls. She looked at her reflections in the its shiny surface. Her face was swollen with crying. She began to beat angrily on the vase with her fists and kicked at it with her feet. She felt the whole vase rocking.

          Suddenly she had an idea. If she could rock the vase violently she might be able to rock it over on its side and the she could climb out of it quite easily. But what if it rolled off the dressing table? It would probably smash on the floor and she would be killed.

          She ran across the bottom of the vase and tried to run up the walls, but she came crashing down again. She felt a sharp pain in her ankle and when she tried to get up she found that her ankle was badly swollen. She lay back on the floor of the vase exhausted. She could hear a sound in the distance, a buzzing sound. It must be a fly buzzing round her bedroom. What would happen happen if it came into the vase? She tried to imagine what a fly would like to her, now only the size of a baby fairy. It would be like a huge black eagle. Horrible! How would she be able to fight it off? With this terrible thought in mind Sylvia dropped off to sleep.

          When she woke up Sylvia looked up at the top of the vase. It looked much bigger and nearer. She must have grown while she was asleep. She got up to her feet and found that her head was above the level of the top of the vase. She took hold of the rim of the vase and, pulled herself up, climbed out of the vase easily. She climbed down from the dressing table and onto her bed; she got into bed and went to sleep.

          Sylvia woke up the next morning feeling worn out. What a terrible nightmare she had had! Trapped inside that awful white vase. She looked at the vase resting on her dressing table. It looked completely harmless, rather pretty in fact. She shuddered when she thought of that terrible dream. Fairies! Bah! How Stupid!

          She must get dressed and go down to her breakfast. She threw back the bedclothes and got out of bed. As she got up she felt a sharp pain in her ankle. She looked down and saw that her ankle was swollen and bruised. She touched it tenderly and thought again about the dream she had had. Could it actually have happened after all?

           

 


 

THE TOADSTOOL RINGS

 

          "Would you like another glass of milk Susan?" asked Mrs. Wilmott.

          Susan was having tea with her mother and father at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott. Mr. Wilmott was a botanist and a great friend of her fathers.

          Mrs. Wilmott poured the milk into Susan's glass. It came out in blobs and splashes.

          "Oh dear it's sour again! I'm terribly sorry dear. I'll go and fetch some fresh."

          "You know it’s very odd," explained Mrs. Wilmott as Susan was drinking her fresh glass of milk, "but that milk - the milk that was sour - was only yesterdays milk. It's been in the fridge since it was delivered. I just can't understand it. The most peculiar things have been happening for the past fortnight. The milks been going sour, the cream has curdled, the butter has turned rancid and the cheese has gone moldy; and all fresh food too."

          "It certainly should not happen at this time of the year," agreed Susan's mother.

          "Perhaps you've got a Hobgoblin in the house," said Susan's father and they all laughed, except Susan, who did not approve of jokes about fairies or goblins.

          When they had finished their tea and the ladies were washing up, Mr. Wilmott took Susan's father into his laboratory. Susan was very interested in all sorts of plants and she asked if she could go with them.

          Mr. Wilmott was making a study of fungi. The woods nearby were full of toadstools in the autumn and Mr. Wilmott had collected dozens of different varieties, which were littered, all over his laboratory. There were toadstools of every shape, size and colour, planted in small pots. There were many shades of brown, from the most delicate yellowish tint, to pinky fawns and deep grey-chestnut colours. There were all shapes and sizes, from large flat ones like pancakes, to small dome shaped ones no larger than marbles. They entranced Susan; she had never realized the toadstools could look so beautiful. When she saw them in the woods they looked so drab, camouflaged among the dead leaves.

          "Do you know the thing that intrigues me most about fungi?" asked Mr. Wilmott. "It's those fairy rings. Why on earth should toadstools grow in circles? I just can't understand it. I've been doing experiments to try to find out. I've dug some up. They're over here look." He showed them some large metal trays in which the most delicate white toadstools were growing in perfect circles as though they had been planted by a gardener.

          "Have you any idea why they grow like that Susan?" asked Mr. Wilmott.

          Susan looked up, startled. She had been gazing in rapture at the toadstools. She had often read about the fairy rings in her storybooks, but this was the first time she had ever seen any. Mr. Wilmott must have searched long and patiently to find them.

          "What er-er...Oh no Mr. Wilmott," replied Susan.

          "You don't think the fairies could have planted them do you?" Susan blushed. She knew that Mr. Wilmott was making fun of her.

          "I...I don't know," she stammered. She thought that she did know, but she was afraid of saying so in case the both laughed at her. She knew that the fairies had planted them and that these beautiful harmless looking toadstools had something to do with what was happening to Mrs. Wilmott's milk, cream, butter and cheese. She made up her mind that when she got home she would find out.

          That night, as she was getting into bed, Susan slipped the magic ring onto her finger and lay down impatiently to go to sleep. Spike arrived as usual and Susan woke to the tinkling of his bell. He was disappointed when he found out that she didn't want to go to fairyland with him in order to dance and play as she usually did, but merely wanted to know about strange things that were happening to someone's milk, cream, butter and cheese.

          Spike told Susan that she was quite right in thinking that it was connected with the fairy rings that Mr. Wilmott had taken from the woods.

          "Yes it's Octavius," he said. You have not met him. He's the ugliest goblin in fairyland and the most bad-tempered. Do you know, he can pull a face that's so ugly, that he can turn anything bad. Once he looked at a star in the sky that he thought was winking at him and gave it his ugly look and do you know, it turned into a horrible lump of rock and fell out of the sky. It dropped on the earth and made a great big hole right in the middle of a lovely field of buttercups. Oh he's a sour old devil is Octavius if you get on the wrong side of him."

          "But couldn't you stop him Spike?" pleaded Susan. "Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott are such nice people."

          "Oh I couldn't do that I'm afraid," replied Spike. "You see Octavius is the fairy gardener. He is very cross about Mr. Wilmott digging up his toadstool rings. We use them for dancing round you know and if they are not there in the autumn the fairies all blame Octavius. They say that he never planted them, and he gets angry. He sulks for weeks; won't speak to anyone. If I said anything to him he might give me one of his ugly looks and turn me into a gnome. They live under the ground, you know with the worms and moles I don't think I would like that."

          Susan thanked Spike for all that he told her. He asked her to go back to fairyland to join in the fun and games, but she refused, saying that she had to think of some way of helping Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott.

          For several days Susan pondered the problem of Mrs. Wilmotts bad food without thinking of an answer. She decided to go and speak to Mr. Wilmott. It was a Saturday morning when she went - she didn't have school that day.

          Mr. Wilmott was surprised to see her. He had been making some notes about his fungi experiments and he took Susan into his laboratory.

          "Have you found out anything about the fairy rings?" asked Susan.

          "I thought you were interested in those," he smiled. "Why no I haven't. They will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of nature I'm afraid," he said.

          "Have you finished with that?" asked Susan shyly.

          "Yes I have," he said. "Would you like them?" He knew of Susan's great interest in fairies. "I'll put them in boxes for you and you can take them home. I'll run you home in my van. If you can solve the mystery of them for me I will be very grateful."

          "Well, I don't want them, Mr. Wilmott. Its just that...er...I wonder do you remember where you had them from?"

          "Yes I do as a matter of fact," he smiled, mystified. "I marked the places with tags and I've numbered each of the rings."

          "If you would show me where you had them from," Susan said, "I would like to put them back."

          "well, I am very busy at the moment," he said doubtfully. "I tell you what, can you get up early in the morning? I'll call for you at seven o'clock. We'll put them back together."

          It was dark when Mr. Wilmott and Susan set off the following morning. In the back of his van. Mr. Wilmott had put the metal trays containing the fairy rings, and also two gardening trowels.

          It was very wet in the wood and Susan was glad that she was wearing her Wellingtons. The sun soon came up and the morning was clear and fresh. There was a white frost on the bracken and the dead leaves under foot. Susan's fingers were tingling. The cold of the metal trays went straight through her thick woolen gloves, but she was happy.

          There was a faint, autumn mist. The vivid orange, yellow, brown and flame of the leaves contrasted with the blue of the distant hills. The sun would soon melt away the mist and it would be a fine, crisp day.

          Mr. Wilmott must have known the wood extremely well for he found the places from which he had taken the fairy rings without any difficulty. He and Susan carefully removed the toadstools from the metal trays and replanted them in the earth, pressing them down gently with their fingers.

          It was a few weeks later that Susan and her mother and father were having tea at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott.

          "Would you like another glass of milk Susan?" asked Mrs. Wilmott. Susan said that she would and Mrs. Wilmott filled her glass with fresh milk.

          "Have you had any trouble with the milk going sour and food going off lately?" asked Susan's mother.

          "No, none at all, touch wood, not for the past few weeks. It's most extraordinary. We haven't solved the mystery of what caused it. It might have been due to the very mild autumn possibly, or there might have something wrong with the fridge."

          "I don't see how it could have been either of those things dear, not if the food was as fresh as you said it was. I think that you may have had it rather longer than you thought you had," said Mr. Wilmott.

          "No I can assure you, the food was all perfectly fresh, I'm not in the habit of keeping that kind of food for any length of time."

          Fearing an argument, Susan's father decided to change the subject. "Did you come to any conclusions in your fungi experiments?" he asked.

          "Why yes," answered Mr. Wilmott, always ready to talk about his work. "At least I have some interesting theories. I will take you in the lab after tea."

          "How about the fairy rings, have you found the answer to those yet?"

          "Why no, I don't think the answer to those will ever be found. I rather think that Susan feels that the fairies plant them. Isn't that right Susan?" and he smiled. Susan knew that he was teasing her again.

          "No Mr. Wilmott," said Susan, "They were planted by a hobgoblin. The same one that turned Mrs. Wilmott's food bad."

          They all smiled at her in amusement and she knew that they didn't believe her.

          Why is it she thought, that grown-ups have to try and prove everything and believe nothing? She drank the rest of her milk and wondered whether Octavius, the goblin with the sour, ugly face, might be smiling to himself. She saw a picture of this in her imagination and it made her very happy.

 


 

SUSAN AND THE NYMPH

 

          Susan was on holiday at the seaside. When she was on holiday she didn't play as much as other children did at paddling or games, she loved to wonder quietly by herself on lonely, deserted beaches. She would dream all sorts of things, picking up shells and pebbles worn by the sea, as she walked along; stopping occasionally to gaze into pools left by the sea to watch crabs, starfish and other tiny creatures in the clear water.

          Susan's mother was sitting in a deck chair writing postcards to friends at home. She looked out to sea at a little sailing boat leaning over in the wind. It occurred to her that the tide had turned and was beginning to come in She wondered what had happened to Susan.

          Susan was strolling in a small cove, which she had, completely to herself. She noticed a strange shell hidden amongst the pebbles. It was large and delicate coloured. She picked it up and found that it was perfectly formed. She wondered why it had not been smashed on the rocks. She turned it round in her hand, delighted in the colours as they changed in the light from green to mauve, from yellow to pink, and back to the most beautiful shades of pearly grey.

          Suddenly, she felt the shell move in her hand. She dropped it quickly, thinking that a hermit crab must have made its home inside the shell. She watched the shell carefully to see if the crab would crawl out, being very careful to stay a little way away in case the crab should bite her.

          Slowly, a tiny head appeared from the entrance of the shell. It was not a crab, but a human-like head, small and beautiful. It looked round timidly and when it saw Susan it shot back into the shell again. Susan was startled for a moment and then she realized that this beautiful creature must be a sea nymph. Very gently, she lifted up the shell and put he mouth to the opening. She whispered softly into it, "Don't be frightened little nymph, I wont hurt you. Please come out and talk to me."

          Very shyly, the sea nymph climbed out of the shell and onto Susan's hand. Susan introduced herself to the little nymph, "My name is Susan," she said "What is yours?"

          The nymph said her name was Lilah. When she had got over her shyness, Lilah proved to be a very talkative nymph and she and Susan had a very long chat. They talked about fairyland and the various friends they had there. It turned out that Lilah knew Spike, that his adventures were quite famous in fairyland. Susan told her how she had met Spike and how he had given her fairy ring and how she had been to fairyland. Lilah didn't seem surprised at Susan's story; she seemed to know all about it.

          Susan and Lilah chatted for hours. Lilah began to tell Susan about the gay life which the nymphs led under the sea. Suddenly, Susan noticed that the waves were lapping at her feet. She looked round and saw that the tide had come in and that she was trapped in the cove. She ran to one end of the cove and then the other, but the sea was much too deep for her to paddle round and escape from the cove. She looked up at the cliff, but saw that it was too deep for her to climb. She realized that when the tide came right up she would be drowned. She began to cry and tears poured down her face.

          "What's the matter Susan?" asked the sea nymph. "Don't cry, please don't cry."

          Between her sobs Susan explained to Lilah that she couldn't get back to her mother and that the sea would come in and drown her. The sea nymph comforted her, wiping her tears as best she could with a tiny handkerchief as soft as gossamer.

          "Wait a moment," said Lilah, excitedly, "have you still got the ring that Spike gave you?"

          Susan put her hand to her throat and felt the ring, which was hanging on a piece of ribbon round her neck.

          "Yes, here it is," she said, showing Lilah the ring.

          "Then you have nothing to worry about," laughed Lilah, "Come with me."

          She skipped over to the bottom of the cliff and Susan followed her puzzled. Lilah vanished into a small hole in the base of the cliff. She reappeared and shouted, "Well put your ring on, come on before you get wet."

          Susan realized what Lilah had in mind and she quickly fumbled for the ring round her neck. The sea was now splashing round her feet. She put the ring on her finger and in a twinkling she was no bigger than Lilah herself. She ran into the hole after Lilah just as the waves began to lap at the base of the cliff.

          Susan found herself inside a large cave lit by small holes high up in the roof. She gazed about her as she followed Lilah, stumbling in the dim light.

          "Come on!" snapped Lilah, taking hold of Susan's hand, "the sea will be coming in at any moment."

          They ran across the cave and into the mouth of a tunnel, which sloped steeply upwards. Susan began to pant heavily with the effort of climbing and her legs began to ache. She had to ask Lilah to slow down. They twisted and turned through tunnels and passages, some like huge caverns and some no higher than their heads. Some were completely dark and Susan held tightly Lilah's hand in these; some were quite light with shafts of daylight streaming through.

          Some of the passages were very beautiful. Susan noticed stalactites hanging from the roof and stalagmites growing from the cave floor glowing magically in the dark. Here and there were patches of moss with tiny blue and white flowers such as Susan had never seen before. Once she was frightened by something looming out of the dark wall, glowing in orange and livid flame colour. She thought it was some dreadful monster reaching out for her, but she was relieved to find that it was only a particular colourful type of fungus.

          The caves and tunnels were now hot and damp and Susan could feel her clothes clinging to her. She was relieved when they came to a passage where the air was blowing cool and fresh. "Be careful here," said Lilah, and Susan was astonished to see steps cut out of the rock floor and winding steeply up, like some she had once seen in a lighthouse.

          They seemed to be climbing up the steps for ages and Susan's legs felt as if they were turning to water when she saw, up above her, a patch of light.” We’ll soon be out now," said Lilah, and within a few minutes they emerged into the open air.

          They had come out on top of a cliff. Susan knew threw herself down on the grass, exhausted and gasping for breath. She began to look around her.

          "We've come out near our hotel," Susan said, surprised. There was no reply from Lilah. She searched anxiously in the grass, but she couldn't find the sea nymph. She realized that she had gone. She felt sad and wondered whether she would ever see Lilah again.

          Susan knew that she had to find her mother. She took off the ring and was immediately back to her normal size. She got up and began to run along the path that led to the beach where she had earlier left her mother. She had not gone far when she met her mother walking up the path.

          "Oh hello darling," her mother said, "I was just coming to look for you."

          "Oh mummy I've had the most marvelous adventure," Susan said excitedly, taking her mother's hand.

          "Yes I'm sure you have dear," said her mother. "You must tell me about it after tea."

          The next day Susan insisted on taking her reluctant mother down to the small cove to show her the cave opening where she had been with Lilah, but to her disappointment she couldn't find it.

          "But it was here mummy," Susan protested when her mother said that perhaps she had dreamed the whole thing.

          "Yes dear, I'm sure it was, if you say so," agreed her mother.

          Suddenly Susan noticed the shell in which she had found the sea nymph and she showed it to her mother triumphantly. She looked inside, but Lilah wasn't there. Disappointed, Susan said "But it must be magic mummy, otherwise the tide would have carried it away."

          "Yes dear," said her mother wearily. "Of course it would."

          Susan knew that her mother didn't believe a word of her story. She carefully put the shell down where she had found it, knowing that Lilah would probably want it again, and followed her mother along the beach.

 

 

The Girl Who

Believed in Fairies

By: Linda Corby

 

DEDICATION

These Fairy Stories are published in living memory of my beloved daughter Natasha Daphne May Corby, who requested such of me before passing on, on the 27.7.90 at the age of twelve. Natasha described them as lovely children’s fairy stories with a proper and moral twist, suitable for children between the ages of five to twelve. I enjoyed telling these and other stories of mine to Natasha and her older sister Clarissa when they were this age, as I will to their little sister April who is now two.

 


 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Natasha requested that I gave a percentage of my royalties from these fairy stories to the Children’s Hospice “Oakwell”, which is being done.

 

With thanks to the below listed on behalf of my family and myself.

 

(Paediatrician) Dr. Clifford Spratt and his team.

Sister Sheila Moran and her staff on Robin Ward, Jersey General Hospital

Doctors and Nurses from Ward 4/2 U.C.L.H. and Great Ormand Street Hospital

Our G.P. Dr. Watts

Mrs. Shirley Harwood and all the staff on the Jersey Maternity Ward, Jersey General Hospital

Mrs. Margaret McGovern, Jersey Hospice Care

Mrs. Anne Lingley Head of Home Oakwell Respite Centre and her Staff

Mr. John Lingley

Mrs. Eileen Smith

Miss. Yvonne Howie

Mrs. Mary Gueno

Mrs. Wendy Michelle

Mrs. Dorothy Sauvage

Mrs. Karen Mundy

Mrs. Louise Meyer

Mrs. Joanne Capern

Mrs. Elizabeth Sullivan

Natasha’s Teachers at Les Quennevais School

Her home Tutor, Mrs. Marysia Philpot

Health Visitors Karen Huchet and Hazel Fairbanks

Marni Baudains Special Needs Social Worker

The Malcolm Sargent Fund Mrs. Diane Ibbotson

Channel Television Telethon Group for arranging Natasha’s holiday in Florida

and also The Paul Newman Hole in the Wall Gang Group

 

Copyright 1993 L.G. Corby

Second Edition published by L.G. Corby

 

 


 

 

THE GIRL WHO BELIEVED IN FAIRIES

 

          Susan’s Mother put the telephone down on the hall table and called out “Susan dear, run and tell Daddy that he is wanted on the telephone”.

          Susan skipped gaily out to the garden where she found her Father gazing curiously at a strange plant with shiny leaves. He was a botanist and grew all sorts of peculiar flowers and plants. She gave him the message and he ambled off into the house puffing thoughtfully on his pipe.

          Susan bent down to look at the plant. It was different from any plant she had ever seen before. The leaves were large and had orange spots all over them. As Susan looked closer she found that the plant had tiny flowers like silver bells. She was fascinated by the flowers and put her hand out to touch them. As her fingers touched the tiny bells they gave out a strange tinkling sound.

          “I said what do you want?” said a cross little voice.

          Susan stepped back from the plant, frightened. She saw a little man poke his head round on of the orange spotted leaves.

          “I said what do you want?” said the little man.

          As he came out from behind the plant, Susan saw that he was dressed from head to toe in a green suit with orange spots, exactly like the leaves of the strange plant.

          “Oh!” said Susan in a startled voice “Wh….who are you?”

          “I’m an elf, who d’you think I am?” said the little man, crosser than ever.

          “Oh,” said Susan, “I’m a little girl, my name is Susan.”

          “I’m pleased to meet you,” said the little man, holding out a hand as small and delicate as a cake crumb, “I’m Spike.”

          Susan shook his hand very gently between her thumb and forefinger.

          “Sit down,” said the little man, “But be very careful of the plants.”

          Susan sat down on a nearby patch of lawn. The elf came and sat down beside her and started to talk. She found that he was a gay, chatty elf. It turned out that when she had rung the tiny bell it had woken him from his sleep and that was why he had been so cross.

          Susan and the little man had quite a long chat together and she found that she was growing more and more enchanted by him. She told him about her life at home with her parents and her toys. He told her how he lived in the plant with his brothers and sisters and of all the exciting parties that they had with their fairy friends. Susan was thrilled by the elf’s stories and wished that she could meet his friends and join in their parties.

          She felt sad when it was time for her to go into the house and had to leave Spike, but before she went she arranged with him that they should meet the following evening.

          When Susan was getting ready for bed she told her Mummy about the little elf and all the wonderful things he had said, but her mother told her she was too old to believe in fairies. “Drink up your hot milk dear,” she said, “Its time you were in bed.”

          Susan tried to tell her father about the little man, but he did not listen. He said “Yes dear” and carried on reading his paper and puffing at his pipe. She went to bed feeling lonely and unhappy.

          The following day Susan met Spike again. Again they had a long chat and again they arranged to meet again the following evening. After this they met every evening. Susan would play solitary games with her toys all day long, waiting for the evening to come when she would be able to see Spike. Each beautiful summer evening they would sit together on the lawn and Spike would tell her wonderful stories of the games that he and his friends played all night long when she was in bed. Susan longed to go with him to his fairyland home in the plants. He promised her one day that she would. Whenever she tried to fix up a definite time with him, however, Spike started to talk about something else and Susan thought that he did not really want to take her.

          The summer gradually passed. The flowers withered and the leaves turned to gold. The evenings were chilled and Susan could no longer sit with Spike on the damp lawn. They now met for their evening talk in the summerhouse at the bottom of the garden. Susan found that the little man was no longer his cheerful, chatty self. He had gradually changed and become sad. Susan asked him why this was, but he would not tell her.

          As the autumn wore on and the evenings got darker, Susan found that it was more difficult to see Spike. He seemed to get lost in the shadows of the summerhouse. Also, his voice seemed to fade and she thought that the chilly weather had given him a cold and that he was losing his voice.

          One evening, when the last of the leaves had fallen from the trees and there was a frost upon the grass, Susan found that Spike was unbearably sad. He told Susan that she probably would be unable to see him anymore. Susan cried “Why not?” but all the little man said was “You’re getting too big, you’re getting too big.” Susan could not understand what he meant.

          The following evening Susan waited in the summerhouse, but Spike did not arrive. The tears poured down her cheeks and fell onto the wooden floor. She thought she heard his soft voice trying to comfort her, but when she looked he was not there and she thought it must have been her imagination.

          She waited for Spike again the following evening, but again he did not come.  She wandered sadly round the garden until she came to the strange plant with shiny leaves and orange spots on and recalled the many happy times with Spike. The silver bells had now died and the leaves had started to turn brown at the edges. She gently lifted of the plant and looked underneath, hoping vainly to find her friend Spike asleep. She lifted each leaf in turn, but he was not there. She put the leaves back into place and was about to give up her search and go into the house when she saw something shining against the stem of the plant. She picked it up and found it was a beautiful silver ring that looked as though it were made from gossamers and dew drops.

          Susan was about to try the ring on her finger when she heard the voice of her mother calling from the house. “Susan, Susan! time for bed dear.” She slipped the ring into the pocket of her coat and ran into the house.

          Susan was just about to get into bed when she remembered the ring. She waited until her mother had kissed her goodnight and turned off the light and then she slipped out of bed and crept down the stairs. She took the ring from the pocket of her coat which was hanging in the hall and scurried back upstairs with it. She got into bed and tried on the ring. It fitted her finger perfectly. She turned off the light, lay her head on the pillow and went straight off to sleep.

          Susan was wakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a tinkling bell. She rubbed her eyes and found that Spike was beside her. He was laughing happily and ringing a silver bell in her ear. “Wake up! Wake up!” he said.

          She put her hand out to touch him to find out if her were really there and she found that her hand was no larger than his.

          “Ha ha,” laughed Spike, “Welcome to fairyland.”

          Susan looked down at herself and found that she was now the same size as Spike. At first she was frightened at her change in size and was about to cry.

          “Come on! Come on!” said Spike, “They’re all waiting for us.”

          “Who are?” sniffed Susan

          “Everybody; the fairies; elves; everybody. They’re all waiting. We’ve got a party ready for you. Marvellous things to eat and drink; jellies and lemonade made from morning dew’ cakes and biscuits made from honey; and the most gorgeous fruit-salad you’ve ever seen made from all the flower seeds in the garden. Come on! Come on!”

          With this Spike jumped off the bed and skipped out of the door and Susan, without stopping to think, happily followed him.

          The fairyland party was everything that Spike said it would be. The food was the most delicious that Susan had ever tasted and the fairies and elves were the gayest, happiest company of creatures that she had ever met.

          They played hide-and-seek until they were tired out from laughing for sheer happiness, hiding under the yellow, golden russet autumn leaves; and dodging round and round the white toadstools. They played leap-frog, jumping over one another again and again. Some of the more daring elves even leaped over a wrinkled old frog who had ambled onto the scene of their revels. They played ring o’ ring o’ roses, falling with shrieks of laughter on the thick carpet of crunchy leaves. Susan had never had so much fun in all her life. She laughed so much that she had no breath left to laugh anymore.

          The moonlight faded and the morning sun was beginning to appear behind the trees. The fairies and the elves were worn out and were dropping off to sleep. Susan sat down for a rest on the dry leaves beside Spike. She began to wonder what her mother would think when she went into her bedroom and found that she was not there. She tried to tell Spike about it, but he was nodding off to sleep and mumbled “I’m tired….go to sleep.” He began to snore and Susan shook him to try and wake him up, but it had no effect. She looked round at the others, but they were all gently snoring. She got up and tiptoed carefully between the sleeping fairies and back to the house and her own room. She climbed into her warm cosy bed and went fast asleep.

          “Susan! Susan! Wake up dear.” Susan’s mother gently shook her awake. Susan rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed.

          “Oh mummy I’ve had the most marvellous night. I’ve been to a party with the fairies and elves. We played the most exciting games. It really was fun.”

          You’ve been dreaming dear,” said her mother.

          “No mummy I haven’t. Honestly.”

          You’re the most imaginative child,” said her mother, pulling back the bedclothes. She looked very curiously at Susan’s finger. “that’s a very pretty ring dear,” she said. “Wherever did you get it?”

          Susan looked down at her beautiful ring and said, “From fairyland.”

 


 

THE GIRL WHO CAME TO STAY

 

          Susan didn’t like playing with other children. She found their games rough and boisterous. Therefore she wasn’t very pleased when her mother told her that her Aunt Jane was coming to stay for a few days.

          On her first night there Sylvia came into Susan’s room when Susan was in bed reading.

          “What are you reading?” she demanded.

          When Susan told her that it was a book of fairy stories she burst out laughing.

          “You don’t believe in fairies do you?” she said.

          When Susan said she did Sylvia went into a fit of mocking laughter. Susan was very angry and said that, not only did she believe in fairies, but she had seen them and played with them. When Sylvia jeered at this Susan blurted out the story of how she had met Spike and how she had found the fairy ring. She even showed Sylvia the ring on a ribbon round her neck, but immediately regretted it for Sylvia snatched the ribbon and the ring and ran off with it, laughing.

          Susan didn’t like quarrels or scenes and so she didn’t run after Sylvia in order to get the ring back. She guessed Sylvia would be ashamed of her silly prank and would give the ring back to her the following day.

          Back in her bedroom, Sylvia was examining the ring with great curiosity. She didn’t believe Susan’s silly story, but she had to admit that it was a very strange ring. She slipped it onto her finger and got into bed.

          In the middle of the night, Sylvia was wakened by the sound of a tinkling bell and, when she opened her eyes, she saw an elf on her pillow. He was shouting “Wake up! wake up!” When she got up in bed she found that she had shrunk to the size of a fairy.

          Spike was surprised to see that it wasn’t Susan sitting up in bed, but suppose that Susan has lent this strange girl the magic ring as a special treat so that she could see fairyland. He jumped off the bed and slipped out of the door. “Come on!” he shouted to Sylvia and she followed him.

          In fairyland, Sylvia enjoyed all the feasting, dancing and games that Susan had enjoyed. She wasn’t as gentle as Susan; and in some games she was rough and when she became excited she was inclined to pinch. However, she was a jolly girl and joined in everything with great spirit.

          Sylvia was still wide awake and full of energy when all the fairies had fallen asleep. She was annoyed because they wouldn’t wake up and play with her. She realised that it was time for her to go back to bed, but she didn’t want to go. It was such a wonderful party and she didn’t want it to end. A wicked thought came into her mind. She would steal something and take it away with her to remind her of the wonderful time she had had in fairyland. She looked round, but couldn’t see anything. The fairies didn’t seem to have any possessions. What could she take? She saw a tiny baby fairy sleeping next to his mother. Yes, she would take him. She picked him up in her arms and tiptoed back to her room.

Back in her room Sylvia became her normal size. Before getting into bed she looked for somewhere to put the baby fairy. She saw a small white vase on her dressing table and placed him inside. He stirred uneasily at the bottom of the hard uncomfortable vase as Sylvia went to sleep in her soft bed.

          The next day when Sylvia got up she was not at all sorry for what she had done. She called Susan into her room and told her all about it. She showed her the baby fairy in the bottom of the vase.

          “Look at him!” she jeered. “Urgh! he looks like a horrid pink grub. If you put your finger you’d squash him.”

          Sylvia pretended to put her finger inside the vase.

          Susan was furious. “You wicked girl,” she said. “How could you? He’ll die without his mother. You wicked, wicked girl!”

          She snatched the vase from Sylvia’s hand and ran out of the room.

          Sylvia was astonished. She had never seen Susan angry before. She wanted to run after and get the baby fairy, but she was afraid.

          Susan didn’t know what to do with the baby fairy. She knew that would be terrified when he woke up and found that he was not by his mother’s side. She couldn’t possibly return him to fairyland until night came. She decided to make him more comfortable. She made him a tiny cot out of a matchbox and some cotton wool. Very gently, so as not to wake him, she took him out of the vase and placed him inside the cot.

          When night came Susan didn’t go to sleep. She knew that she had to get back the ring if she was to return the baby fairy to his mother in fairyland. She sat in a chair by the side of her bed until she knew that Sylvia would be asleep, then she crept into Sylvia’s room. She found that Sylvia still had the ring on her finger. Wicked girl! Did she intend to go back to fairyland in order to steal another baby fairy?

          Very gently, Susan slipped the ring off Sylvia’s finger. She tiptoed back to her room, put on the ring, and got back into bed.

Susan was awakened in the middle of the night, not by the tinkling of the fairy bell, but by the mutter of angry voices. She sat up in bed and saw a circle of fairies and elves round the matchbox cot of the baby fairy. The baby was crying. His mother lifted him out and, holding him in her arms, comforted him by making soft soothing noises.

          When they saw that Susan was awake, the fairies and elves gathered in an angry circle around her.

          Susan realised that they were holding her responsible for the theft of the baby fairy. She explained to the how Sylvia had stolen the ring and how she put the baby fairy into a white vase on her dressing table. She showed them the vase and how told them how angry she had been with Sylvia and how she had taken the baby fairy from her and made it comfortable as best she could in the match-box cot.

          When Susan had finished telling her story, the fairies were more angry than ever. They muttered to one another as they examined the white vase. They decided that Sylvia was a wicked girl and must be taught a lesson. Spike said that there was only one punishment fit for Sylvia. She must receive the same treatment that she had given the baby. She must be shrunk down to the size of a baby fairy. Susan tried to persuade them against this cruel punishment, but they had made up their minds. They all marched purposefully to Sylvia's room. A group of elves carried the vase on their shoulders.

          The fairies put a magic potion on to Sylvia's head to shrink her down to the size of a baby fairy. They lifted her out of bed and placed her in the bottom of the vase.

          Sylvia woke up when she found herself lying on the hard bottom of the vase. She looked up at the rim of the vase and saw a circle of grim-faced fairies looking down at her. She realised what had happened and cried out for the fairies to have pity on her. They left the bedroom without heeding her cries.

          Sylvia had never felt so lonely and frightened in her life as she now felt inside the white vase. At first she was desperately tired; the fairies had woken her from her deep sleep. Her legs were weary and she sat down on the bottom of the vase. She realised that she couldn't stay there, the vase was hard and uncomfortable. She began to shiver in her thin nightie. She had to get out somehow and get back to her warm bed; but how could she get out? The sides of the vase were steep and perfectly smooth. She couldn't possible climb out.

          She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and shook her head to try to shake herself awake. She must get out. She climbed to her feet, wide awake now. Susan was in the next room. She was a kind girl and would forgive her for taking the ring. If only she could wake her up. She decided to shout for help.

          "Susan! Susan! Help! I'm trapped in the vase, please get me out. Help me, please!"

          Sylvia yelled at the top of her voice. The noise was tremendous. Sylvia was sure that it must have woken everybody in the house. She waited, listened for Susan's footsteps to come along the landing and into her bedroom. There was no sound. The house was as quiet as a grave.

          Sylvia yelled again and again, but no one came. Her voice echoed round and round the vase, mocking her. "Help Susan! Please Susan! I'm sorry about the ring! I'm sorry about the baby fairy. I'll not do it again, honestly I won't. Please help me. Help! Help!"

          Syvia's voice vibrated like claps of thunder inside the shiny white vase. Her ears began to buzz with the noise. She shouted until her voice was hoarse, but no one came. She realised that although her shouting sounded so loud inside the vase it probably didn't sound at all loud outside. She sat down on the bottom of the vase and wept.

          She must try to escape somehow. She got up and walked round the vase. Could she climb out? She tried to climb up the sides on her hands and knees, but each time she came sliding down to the bottom again.

          She walked round and round the vase trying to think of some plan to escape. How ugly and boring the vase was. Nothing to look at except the white walls. She looked at her reflections in the its shiny surface. Her face was swollen with crying. She began to beat angrily on the vase with her fists and kicked at it with her feet. She felt the whole vase rocking.

          Suddenly she had an idea. If she could rock the vase violently she might be able to rock it over on its side and the she could climb out of it quite easily. But what if it rolled off the dressing table? It would probably smash on the floor and she would be killed.

          She ran across the bottom of the vase and tried to run up the walls, but she came crashing down again. She felt a sharp pain in her ankle and when she tried to get up she found that her ankle was badly swollen. She lay back on the floor of the vase exhausted. She could hear a sound in the distance, a buzzing sound. It must be a fly buzzing round her bedroom. What would happen happen if it came into the vase? She tried to imagine what a fly would like to her, now only the size of a baby fairy. It would be like a huge black eagle. Horrible! How would she be able to fight it off? With this terrible thought in mind Sylvia dropped off to sleep.

          When she woke up Sylvia looked up at the top of the vase. It looked much bigger and nearer. She must have grown while she was asleep. She got up to her feet and found that her head was above the level of the top of the vase. She took hold of the rim of the vase and, pulled herself up, climbed out of the vase easily. She climbed down from the dressing table and onto her bed; she got into bed and went to sleep.

          Sylvia woke up the next morning feeling worn out. What a terrible nightmare she had had! Trapped inside that awful white vase. She looked at the vase resting on her dressing table. It looked completely harmless, rather pretty in fact. She shuddered when she thought of that terrible dream. Fairies! Bah! How Stupid!

          She must get dressed and go down to her breakfast. She threw back the bedclothes and got out of bed. As she got up she felt a sharp pain in her ankle. She looked down and saw that her ankle was swollen and bruised. She touched it tenderly and thought again about the dream she had had. Could it actually have happened after all?

           

 


 

THE TOADSTOOL RINGS

 

          "Would you like another glass of milk Susan?" asked Mrs. Wilmott.

          Susan was having tea with her mother and father at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott. Mr. Wilmott was a botanist and a great friend of her fathers.

          Mrs. Wilmott poured the milk into Susan's glass. It came out in blobs and splashes.

          "Oh dear it's sour again! I'm terribly sorry dear. I'll go and fetch some fresh."

          "You know it’s very odd," explained Mrs. Wilmott as Susan was drinking her fresh glass of milk, "but that milk - the milk that was sour - was only yesterdays milk. It's been in the fridge since it was delivered. I just can't understand it. The most peculiar things have been happening for the past fortnight. The milks been going sour, the cream has curdled, the butter has turned rancid and the cheese has gone moldy; and all fresh food too."

          "It certainly should not happen at this time of the year," agreed Susan's mother.

          "Perhaps you've got a Hobgoblin in the house," said Susan's father and they all laughed, except Susan, who did not approve of jokes about fairies or goblins.

          When they had finished their tea and the ladies were washing up, Mr. Wilmott took Susan's father into his laboratory. Susan was very interested in all sorts of plants and she asked if she could go with them.

          Mr. Wilmott was making a study of fungi. The woods nearby were full of toadstools in the autumn and Mr. Wilmott had collected dozens of different varieties, which were littered, all over his laboratory. There were toadstools of every shape, size and colour, planted in small pots. There were many shades of brown, from the most delicate yellowish tint, to pinky fawns and deep grey-chestnut colours. There were all shapes and sizes, from large flat ones like pancakes, to small dome shaped ones no larger than marbles. They entranced Susan; she had never realized the toadstools could look so beautiful. When she saw them in the woods they looked so drab, camouflaged among the dead leaves.

          "Do you know the thing that intrigues me most about fungi?" asked Mr. Wilmott. "It's those fairy rings. Why on earth should toadstools grow in circles? I just can't understand it. I've been doing experiments to try to find out. I've dug some up. They're over here look." He showed them some large metal trays in which the most delicate white toadstools were growing in perfect circles as though they had been planted by a gardener.

          "Have you any idea why they grow like that Susan?" asked Mr. Wilmott.

          Susan looked up, startled. She had been gazing in rapture at the toadstools. She had often read about the fairy rings in her storybooks, but this was the first time she had ever seen any. Mr. Wilmott must have searched long and patiently to find them.

          "What er-er...Oh no Mr. Wilmott," replied Susan.

          "You don't think the fairies could have planted them do you?" Susan blushed. She knew that Mr. Wilmott was making fun of her.

          "I...I don't know," she stammered. She thought that she did know, but she was afraid of saying so in case the both laughed at her. She knew that the fairies had planted them and that these beautiful harmless looking toadstools had something to do with what was happening to Mrs. Wilmott's milk, cream, butter and cheese. She made up her mind that when she got home she would find out.

          That night, as she was getting into bed, Susan slipped the magic ring onto her finger and lay down impatiently to go to sleep. Spike arrived as usual and Susan woke to the tinkling of his bell. He was disappointed when he found out that she didn't want to go to fairyland with him in order to dance and play as she usually did, but merely wanted to know about strange things that were happening to someone's milk, cream, butter and cheese.

          Spike told Susan that she was quite right in thinking that it was connected with the fairy rings that Mr. Wilmott had taken from the woods.

          "Yes it's Octavius," he said. You have not met him. He's the ugliest goblin in fairyland and the most bad-tempered. Do you know, he can pull a face that's so ugly, that he can turn anything bad. Once he looked at a star in the sky that he thought was winking at him and gave it his ugly look and do you know, it turned into a horrible lump of rock and fell out of the sky. It dropped on the earth and made a great big hole right in the middle of a lovely field of buttercups. Oh he's a sour old devil is Octavius if you get on the wrong side of him."

          "But couldn't you stop him Spike?" pleaded Susan. "Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott are such nice people."

          "Oh I couldn't do that I'm afraid," replied Spike. "You see Octavius is the fairy gardener. He is very cross about Mr. Wilmott digging up his toadstool rings. We use them for dancing round you know and if they are not there in the autumn the fairies all blame Octavius. They say that he never planted them, and he gets angry. He sulks for weeks; won't speak to anyone. If I said anything to him he might give me one of his ugly looks and turn me into a gnome. They live under the ground, you know with the worms and moles I don't think I would like that."

          Susan thanked Spike for all that he told her. He asked her to go back to fairyland to join in the fun and games, but she refused, saying that she had to think of some way of helping Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott.

          For several days Susan pondered the problem of Mrs. Wilmotts bad food without thinking of an answer. She decided to go and speak to Mr. Wilmott. It was a Saturday morning when she went - she didn't have school that day.

          Mr. Wilmott was surprised to see her. He had been making some notes about his fungi experiments and he took Susan into his laboratory.

          "Have you found out anything about the fairy rings?" asked Susan.

          "I thought you were interested in those," he smiled. "Why no I haven't. They will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of nature I'm afraid," he said.

          "Have you finished with that?" asked Susan shyly.

          "Yes I have," he said. "Would you like them?" He knew of Susan's great interest in fairies. "I'll put them in boxes for you and you can take them home. I'll run you home in my van. If you can solve the mystery of them for me I will be very grateful."

          "Well, I don't want them, Mr. Wilmott. Its just that...er...I wonder do you remember where you had them from?"

          "Yes I do as a matter of fact," he smiled, mystified. "I marked the places with tags and I've numbered each of the rings."

          "If you would show me where you had them from," Susan said, "I would like to put them back."

          "well, I am very busy at the moment," he said doubtfully. "I tell you what, can you get up early in the morning? I'll call for you at seven o'clock. We'll put them back together."

          It was dark when Mr. Wilmott and Susan set off the following morning. In the back of his van. Mr. Wilmott had put the metal trays containing the fairy rings, and also two gardening trowels.

          It was very wet in the wood and Susan was glad that she was wearing her Wellingtons. The sun soon came up and the morning was clear and fresh. There was a white frost on the bracken and the dead leaves under foot. Susan's fingers were tingling. The cold of the metal trays went straight through her thick woolen gloves, but she was happy.

          There was a faint, autumn mist. The vivid orange, yellow, brown and flame of the leaves contrasted with the blue of the distant hills. The sun would soon melt away the mist and it would be a fine, crisp day.

          Mr. Wilmott must have known the wood extremely well for he found the places from which he had taken the fairy rings without any difficulty. He and Susan carefully removed the toadstools from the metal trays and replanted them in the earth, pressing them down gently with their fingers.

          It was a few weeks later that Susan and her mother and father were having tea at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott.

          "Would you like another glass of milk Susan?" asked Mrs. Wilmott. Susan said that she would and Mrs. Wilmott filled her glass with fresh milk.

          "Have you had any trouble with the milk going sour and food going off lately?" asked Susan's mother.

          "No, none at all, touch wood, not for the past few weeks. It's most extraordinary. We haven't solved the mystery of what caused it. It might have been due to the very mild autumn possibly, or there might have something wrong with the fridge."

          "I don't see how it could have been either of those things dear, not if the food was as fresh as you said it was. I think that you may have had it rather longer than you thought you had," said Mr. Wilmott.

          "No I can assure you, the food was all perfectly fresh, I'm not in the habit of keeping that kind of food for any length of time."

          Fearing an argument, Susan's father decided to change the subject. "Did you come to any conclusions in your fungi experiments?" he asked.

          "Why yes," answered Mr. Wilmott, always ready to talk about his work. "At least I have some interesting theories. I will take you in the lab after tea."

          "How about the fairy rings, have you found the answer to those yet?"

          "Why no, I don't think the answer to those will ever be found. I rather think that Susan feels that the fairies plant them. Isn't that right Susan?" and he smiled. Susan knew that he was teasing her again.

          "No Mr. Wilmott," said Susan, "They were planted by a hobgoblin. The same one that turned Mrs. Wilmott's food bad."

          They all smiled at her in amusement and she knew that they didn't believe her.

          Why is it she thought, that grown-ups have to try and prove everything and believe nothing? She drank the rest of her milk and wondered whether Octavius, the goblin with the sour, ugly face, might be smiling to himself. She saw a picture of this in her imagination and it made her very happy.

 


 

SUSAN AND THE NYMPH

 

          Susan was on holiday at the seaside. When she was on holiday she didn't play as much as other children did at paddling or games, she loved to wonder quietly by herself on lonely, deserted beaches. She would dream all sorts of things, picking up shells and pebbles worn by the sea, as she walked along; stopping occasionally to gaze into pools left by the sea to watch crabs, starfish and other tiny creatures in the clear water.

          Susan's mother was sitting in a deck chair writing postcards to friends at home. She looked out to sea at a little sailing boat leaning over in the wind. It occurred to her that the tide had turned and was beginning to come in She wondered what had happened to Susan.

          Susan was strolling in a small cove, which she had, completely to herself. She noticed a strange shell hidden amongst the pebbles. It was large and delicate coloured. She picked it up and found that it was perfectly formed. She wondered why it had not been smashed on the rocks. She turned it round in her hand, delighted in the colours as they changed in the light from green to mauve, from yellow to pink, and back to the most beautiful shades of pearly grey.

          Suddenly, she felt the shell move in her hand. She dropped it quickly, thinking that a hermit crab must have made its home inside the shell. She watched the shell carefully to see if the crab would crawl out, being very careful to stay a little way away in case the crab should bite her.

          Slowly, a tiny head appeared from the entrance of the shell. It was not a crab, but a human-like head, small and beautiful. It looked round timidly and when it saw Susan it shot back into the shell again. Susan was startled for a moment and then she realized that this beautiful creature must be a sea nymph. Very gently, she lifted up the shell and put he mouth to the opening. She whispered softly into it, "Don't be frightened little nymph, I wont hurt you. Please come out and talk to me."

          Very shyly, the sea nymph climbed out of the shell and onto Susan's hand. Susan introduced herself to the little nymph, "My name is Susan," she said "What is yours?"

          The nymph said her name was Lilah. When she had got over her shyness, Lilah proved to be a very talkative nymph and she and Susan had a very long chat. They talked about fairyland and the various friends they had there. It turned out that Lilah knew Spike, that his adventures were quite famous in fairyland. Susan told her how she had met Spike and how he had given her fairy ring and how she had been to fairyland. Lilah didn't seem surprised at Susan's story; she seemed to know all about it.

          Susan and Lilah chatted for hours. Lilah began to tell Susan about the gay life which the nymphs led under the sea. Suddenly, Susan noticed that the waves were lapping at her feet. She looked round and saw that the tide had come in and that she was trapped in the cove. She ran to one end of the cove and then the other, but the sea was much too deep for her to paddle round and escape from the cove. She looked up at the cliff, but saw that it was too deep for her to climb. She realized that when the tide came right up she would be drowned. She began to cry and tears poured down her face.

          "What's the matter Susan?" asked the sea nymph. "Don't cry, please don't cry."

          Between her sobs Susan explained to Lilah that she couldn't get back to her mother and that the sea would come in and drown her. The sea nymph comforted her, wiping her tears as best she could with a tiny handkerchief as soft as gossamer.

          "Wait a moment," said Lilah, excitedly, "have you still got the ring that Spike gave you?"

          Susan put her hand to her throat and felt the ring, which was hanging on a piece of ribbon round her neck.

          "Yes, here it is," she said, showing Lilah the ring.

          "Then you have nothing to worry about," laughed Lilah, "Come with me."

          She skipped over to the bottom of the cliff and Susan followed her puzzled. Lilah vanished into a small hole in the base of the cliff. She reappeared and shouted, "Well put your ring on, come on before you get wet."

          Susan realized what Lilah had in mind and she quickly fumbled for the ring round her neck. The sea was now splashing round her feet. She put the ring on her finger and in a twinkling she was no bigger than Lilah herself. She ran into the hole after Lilah just as the waves began to lap at the base of the cliff.

          Susan found herself inside a large cave lit by small holes high up in the roof. She gazed about her as she followed Lilah, stumbling in the dim light.

          "Come on!" snapped Lilah, taking hold of Susan's hand, "the sea will be coming in at any moment."

          They ran across the cave and into the mouth of a tunnel, which sloped steeply upwards. Susan began to pant heavily with the effort of climbing and her legs began to ache. She had to ask Lilah to slow down. They twisted and turned through tunnels and passages, some like huge caverns and some no higher than their heads. Some were completely dark and Susan held tightly Lilah's hand in these; some were quite light with shafts of daylight streaming through.

          Some of the passages were very beautiful. Susan noticed stalactites hanging from the roof and stalagmites growing from the cave floor glowing magically in the dark. Here and there were patches of moss with tiny blue and white flowers such as Susan had never seen before. Once she was frightened by something looming out of the dark wall, glowing in orange and livid flame colour. She thought it was some dreadful monster reaching out for her, but she was relieved to find that it was only a particular colourful type of fungus.

          The caves and tunnels were now hot and damp and Susan could feel her clothes clinging to her. She was relieved when they came to a passage where the air was blowing cool and fresh. "Be careful here," said Lilah, and Susan was astonished to see steps cut out of the rock floor and winding steeply up, like some she had once seen in a lighthouse.

          They seemed to be climbing up the steps for ages and Susan's legs felt as if they were turning to water when she saw, up above her, a patch of light.” We’ll soon be out now," said Lilah, and within a few minutes they emerged into the open air.

          They had come out on top of a cliff. Susan knew threw herself down on the grass, exhausted and gasping for breath. She began to look around her.

          "We've come out near our hotel," Susan said, surprised. There was no reply from Lilah. She searched anxiously in the grass, but she couldn't find the sea nymph. She realized that she had gone. She felt sad and wondered whether she would ever see Lilah again.

          Susan knew that she had to find her mother. She took off the ring and was immediately back to her normal size. She got up and began to run along the path that led to the beach where she had earlier left her mother. She had not gone far when she met her mother walking up the path.

          "Oh hello darling," her mother said, "I was just coming to look for you."

          "Oh mummy I've had the most marvelous adventure," Susan said excitedly, taking her mother's hand.

          "Yes I'm sure you have dear," said her mother. "You must tell me about it after tea."

          The next day Susan insisted on taking her reluctant mother down to the small cove to show her the cave opening where she had been with Lilah, but to her disappointment she couldn't find it.

          "But it was here mummy," Susan protested when her mother said that perhaps she had dreamed the whole thing.

          "Yes dear, I'm sure it was, if you say so," agreed her mother.

          Suddenly Susan noticed the shell in which she had found the sea nymph and she showed it to her mother triumphantly. She looked inside, but Lilah wasn't there. Disappointed, Susan said "But it must be magic mummy, otherwise the tide would have carried it away."

          "Yes dear," said her mother wearily. "Of course it would."

          Susan knew that her mother didn't believe a word of her story. She carefully put the shell down where she had found it, knowing that Lilah would probably want it again, and followed her mother along the beach.

 

 

Believed in Fairies

By: Linda Corby

 

DEDICATION

These Fairy Stories are published in living memory of my beloved daughter Natasha Daphne May Corby, who requested such of me before passing on, on the 27.7.90 at the age of twelve. Natasha described them as lovely children’s fairy stories with a proper and moral twist, suitable for children between the ages of five to twelve. I enjoyed telling these and other stories of mine to Natasha and her older sister Clarissa when they were this age, as I will to their little sister April who is now two.

 


 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Natasha requested that I gave a percentage of my royalties from these fairy stories to the Children’s Hospice “Oakwell”, which is being done.

 

With thanks to the below listed on behalf of my family and myself.

 

(Paediatrician) Dr. Clifford Spratt and his team.

Sister Sheila Moran and her staff on Robin Ward, Jersey General Hospital

Doctors and Nurses from Ward 4/2 U.C.L.H. and Great Ormand Street Hospital

Our G.P. Dr. Watts

Mrs. Shirley Harwood and all the staff on the Jersey Maternity Ward, Jersey General Hospital

Mrs. Margaret McGovern, Jersey Hospice Care

Mrs. Anne Lingley Head of Home Oakwell Respite Centre and her Staff

Mr. John Lingley

Mrs. Eileen Smith

Miss. Yvonne Howie

Mrs. Mary Gueno

Mrs. Wendy Michelle

Mrs. Dorothy Sauvage

Mrs. Karen Mundy

Mrs. Louise Meyer

Mrs. Joanne Capern

Mrs. Elizabeth Sullivan

Natasha’s Teachers at Les Quennevais School

Her home Tutor, Mrs. Marysia Philpot

Health Visitors Karen Huchet and Hazel Fairbanks

Marni Baudains Special Needs Social Worker

The Malcolm Sargent Fund Mrs. Diane Ibbotson

Channel Television Telethon Group for arranging Natasha’s holiday in Florida

and also The Paul Newman Hole in the Wall Gang Group

 

Copyright 1993 L.G. Corby

Second Edition published by L.G. Corby

 

 


 

 

THE GIRL WHO BELIEVED IN FAIRIES

 

          Susan’s Mother put the telephone down on the hall table and called out “Susan dear, run and tell Daddy that he is wanted on the telephone”.

          Susan skipped gaily out to the garden where she found her Father gazing curiously at a strange plant with shiny leaves. He was a botanist and grew all sorts of peculiar flowers and plants. She gave him the message and he ambled off into the house puffing thoughtfully on his pipe.

          Susan bent down to look at the plant. It was different from any plant she had ever seen before. The leaves were large and had orange spots all over them. As Susan looked closer she found that the plant had tiny flowers like silver bells. She was fascinated by the flowers and put her hand out to touch them. As her fingers touched the tiny bells they gave out a strange tinkling sound.

          “I said what do you want?” said a cross little voice.

          Susan stepped back from the plant, frightened. She saw a little man poke his head round on of the orange spotted leaves.

          “I said what do you want?” said the little man.

          As he came out from behind the plant, Susan saw that he was dressed from head to toe in a green suit with orange spots, exactly like the leaves of the strange plant.

          “Oh!” said Susan in a startled voice “Wh….who are you?”

          “I’m an elf, who d’you think I am?” said the little man, crosser than ever.

          “Oh,” said Susan, “I’m a little girl, my name is Susan.”

          “I’m pleased to meet you,” said the little man, holding out a hand as small and delicate as a cake crumb, “I’m Spike.”

          Susan shook his hand very gently between her thumb and forefinger.

          “Sit down,” said the little man, “But be very careful of the plants.”

          Susan sat down on a nearby patch of lawn. The elf came and sat down beside her and started to talk. She found that he was a gay, chatty elf. It turned out that when she had rung the tiny bell it had woken him from his sleep and that was why he had been so cross.

          Susan and the little man had quite a long chat together and she found that she was growing more and more enchanted by him. She told him about her life at home with her parents and her toys. He told her how he lived in the plant with his brothers and sisters and of all the exciting parties that they had with their fairy friends. Susan was thrilled by the elf’s stories and wished that she could meet his friends and join in their parties.

          She felt sad when it was time for her to go into the house and had to leave Spike, but before she went she arranged with him that they should meet the following evening.

          When Susan was getting ready for bed she told her Mummy about the little elf and all the wonderful things he had said, but her mother told her she was too old to believe in fairies. “Drink up your hot milk dear,” she said, “Its time you were in bed.”

          Susan tried to tell her father about the little man, but he did not listen. He said “Yes dear” and carried on reading his paper and puffing at his pipe. She went to bed feeling lonely and unhappy.

          The following day Susan met Spike again. Again they had a long chat and again they arranged to meet again the following evening. After this they met every evening. Susan would play solitary games with her toys all day long, waiting for the evening to come when she would be able to see Spike. Each beautiful summer evening they would sit together on the lawn and Spike would tell her wonderful stories of the games that he and his friends played all night long when she was in bed. Susan longed to go with him to his fairyland home in the plants. He promised her one day that she would. Whenever she tried to fix up a definite time with him, however, Spike started to talk about something else and Susan thought that he did not really want to take her.

          The summer gradually passed. The flowers withered and the leaves turned to gold. The evenings were chilled and Susan could no longer sit with Spike on the damp lawn. They now met for their evening talk in the summerhouse at the bottom of the garden. Susan found that the little man was no longer his cheerful, chatty self. He had gradually changed and become sad. Susan asked him why this was, but he would not tell her.

          As the autumn wore on and the evenings got darker, Susan found that it was more difficult to see Spike. He seemed to get lost in the shadows of the summerhouse. Also, his voice seemed to fade and she thought that the chilly weather had given him a cold and that he was losing his voice.

          One evening, when the last of the leaves had fallen from the trees and there was a frost upon the grass, Susan found that Spike was unbearably sad. He told Susan that she probably would be unable to see him anymore. Susan cried “Why not?” but all the little man said was “You’re getting too big, you’re getting too big.” Susan could not understand what he meant.

          The following evening Susan waited in the summerhouse, but Spike did not arrive. The tears poured down her cheeks and fell onto the wooden floor. She thought she heard his soft voice trying to comfort her, but when she looked he was not there and she thought it must have been her imagination.

          She waited for Spike again the following evening, but again he did not come.  She wandered sadly round the garden until she came to the strange plant with shiny leaves and orange spots on and recalled the many happy times with Spike. The silver bells had now died and the leaves had started to turn brown at the edges. She gently lifted of the plant and looked underneath, hoping vainly to find her friend Spike asleep. She lifted each leaf in turn, but he was not there. She put the leaves back into place and was about to give up her search and go into the house when she saw something shining against the stem of the plant. She picked it up and found it was a beautiful silver ring that looked as though it were made from gossamers and dew drops.

          Susan was about to try the ring on her finger when she heard the voice of her mother calling from the house. “Susan, Susan! time for bed dear.” She slipped the ring into the pocket of her coat and ran into the house.

          Susan was just about to get into bed when she remembered the ring. She waited until her mother had kissed her goodnight and turned off the light and then she slipped out of bed and crept down the stairs. She took the ring from the pocket of her coat which was hanging in the hall and scurried back upstairs with it. She got into bed and tried on the ring. It fitted her finger perfectly. She turned off the light, lay her head on the pillow and went straight off to sleep.

          Susan was wakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a tinkling bell. She rubbed her eyes and found that Spike was beside her. He was laughing happily and ringing a silver bell in her ear. “Wake up! Wake up!” he said.

          She put her hand out to touch him to find out if her were really there and she found that her hand was no larger than his.

          “Ha ha,” laughed Spike, “Welcome to fairyland.”

          Susan looked down at herself and found that she was now the same size as Spike. At first she was frightened at her change in size and was about to cry.

          “Come on! Come on!” said Spike, “They’re all waiting for us.”

          “Who are?” sniffed Susan

          “Everybody; the fairies; elves; everybody. They’re all waiting. We’ve got a party ready for you. Marvellous things to eat and drink; jellies and lemonade made from morning dew’ cakes and biscuits made from honey; and the most gorgeous fruit-salad you’ve ever seen made from all the flower seeds in the garden. Come on! Come on!”

          With this Spike jumped off the bed and skipped out of the door and Susan, without stopping to think, happily followed him.

          The fairyland party was everything that Spike said it would be. The food was the most delicious that Susan had ever tasted and the fairies and elves were the gayest, happiest company of creatures that she had ever met.

          They played hide-and-seek until they were tired out from laughing for sheer happiness, hiding under the yellow, golden russet autumn leaves; and dodging round and round the white toadstools. They played leap-frog, jumping over one another again and again. Some of the more daring elves even leaped over a wrinkled old frog who had ambled onto the scene of their revels. They played ring o’ ring o’ roses, falling with shrieks of laughter on the thick carpet of crunchy leaves. Susan had never had so much fun in all her life. She laughed so much that she had no breath left to laugh anymore.

          The moonlight faded and the morning sun was beginning to appear behind the trees. The fairies and the elves were worn out and were dropping off to sleep. Susan sat down for a rest on the dry leaves beside Spike. She began to wonder what her mother would think when she went into her bedroom and found that she was not there. She tried to tell Spike about it, but he was nodding off to sleep and mumbled “I’m tired….go to sleep.” He began to snore and Susan shook him to try and wake him up, but it had no effect. She looked round at the others, but they were all gently snoring. She got up and tiptoed carefully between the sleeping fairies and back to the house and her own room. She climbed into her warm cosy bed and went fast asleep.

          “Susan! Susan! Wake up dear.” Susan’s mother gently shook her awake. Susan rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed.

          “Oh mummy I’ve had the most marvellous night. I’ve been to a party with the fairies and elves. We played the most exciting games. It really was fun.”

          You’ve been dreaming dear,” said her mother.

          “No mummy I haven’t. Honestly.”

          You’re the most imaginative child,” said her mother, pulling back the bedclothes. She looked very curiously at Susan’s finger. “that’s a very pretty ring dear,” she said. “Wherever did you get it?”

          Susan looked down at her beautiful ring and said, “From fairyland.”

 


 

THE GIRL WHO CAME TO STAY

 

          Susan didn’t like playing with other children. She found their games rough and boisterous. Therefore she wasn’t very pleased when her mother told her that her Aunt Jane was coming to stay for a few days.

          On her first night there Sylvia came into Susan’s room when Susan was in bed reading.

          “What are you reading?” she demanded.

          When Susan told her that it was a book of fairy stories she burst out laughing.

          “You don’t believe in fairies do you?” she said.

          When Susan said she did Sylvia went into a fit of mocking laughter. Susan was very angry and said that, not only did she believe in fairies, but she had seen them and played with them. When Sylvia jeered at this Susan blurted out the story of how she had met Spike and how she had found the fairy ring. She even showed Sylvia the ring on a ribbon round her neck, but immediately regretted it for Sylvia snatched the ribbon and the ring and ran off with it, laughing.

          Susan didn’t like quarrels or scenes and so she didn’t run after Sylvia in order to get the ring back. She guessed Sylvia would be ashamed of her silly prank and would give the ring back to her the following day.

          Back in her bedroom, Sylvia was examining the ring with great curiosity. She didn’t believe Susan’s silly story, but she had to admit that it was a very strange ring. She slipped it onto her finger and got into bed.

          In the middle of the night, Sylvia was wakened by the sound of a tinkling bell and, when she opened her eyes, she saw an elf on her pillow. He was shouting “Wake up! wake up!” When she got up in bed she found that she had shrunk to the size of a fairy.

          Spike was surprised to see that it wasn’t Susan sitting up in bed, but suppose that Susan has lent this strange girl the magic ring as a special treat so that she could see fairyland. He jumped off the bed and slipped out of the door. “Come on!” he shouted to Sylvia and she followed him.

          In fairyland, Sylvia enjoyed all the feasting, dancing and games that Susan had enjoyed. She wasn’t as gentle as Susan; and in some games she was rough and when she became excited she was inclined to pinch. However, she was a jolly girl and joined in everything with great spirit.

          Sylvia was still wide awake and full of energy when all the fairies had fallen asleep. She was annoyed because they wouldn’t wake up and play with her. She realised that it was time for her to go back to bed, but she didn’t want to go. It was such a wonderful party and she didn’t want it to end. A wicked thought came into her mind. She would steal something and take it away with her to remind her of the wonderful time she had had in fairyland. She looked round, but couldn’t see anything. The fairies didn’t seem to have any possessions. What could she take? She saw a tiny baby fairy sleeping next to his mother. Yes, she would take him. She picked him up in her arms and tiptoed back to her room.

Back in her room Sylvia became her normal size. Before getting into bed she looked for somewhere to put the baby fairy. She saw a small white vase on her dressing table and placed him inside. He stirred uneasily at the bottom of the hard uncomfortable vase as Sylvia went to sleep in her soft bed.

          The next day when Sylvia got up she was not at all sorry for what she had done. She called Susan into her room and told her all about it. She showed her the baby fairy in the bottom of the vase.

          “Look at him!” she jeered. “Urgh! he looks like a horrid pink grub. If you put your finger you’d squash him.”

          Sylvia pretended to put her finger inside the vase.

          Susan was furious. “You wicked girl,” she said. “How could you? He’ll die without his mother. You wicked, wicked girl!”

          She snatched the vase from Sylvia’s hand and ran out of the room.

          Sylvia was astonished. She had never seen Susan angry before. She wanted to run after and get the baby fairy, but she was afraid.

          Susan didn’t know what to do with the baby fairy. She knew that would be terrified when he woke up and found that he was not by his mother’s side. She couldn’t possibly return him to fairyland until night came. She decided to make him more comfortable. She made him a tiny cot out of a matchbox and some cotton wool. Very gently, so as not to wake him, she took him out of the vase and placed him inside the cot.

          When night came Susan didn’t go to sleep. She knew that she had to get back the ring if she was to return the baby fairy to his mother in fairyland. She sat in a chair by the side of her bed until she knew that Sylvia would be asleep, then she crept into Sylvia’s room. She found that Sylvia still had the ring on her finger. Wicked girl! Did she intend to go back to fairyland in order to steal another baby fairy?

          Very gently, Susan slipped the ring off Sylvia’s finger. She tiptoed back to her room, put on the ring, and got back into bed.

Susan was awakened in the middle of the night, not by the tinkling of the fairy bell, but by the mutter of angry voices. She sat up in bed and saw a circle of fairies and elves round the matchbox cot of the baby fairy. The baby was crying. His mother lifted him out and, holding him in her arms, comforted him by making soft soothing noises.

          When they saw that Susan was awake, the fairies and elves gathered in an angry circle around her.

          Susan realised that they were holding her responsible for the theft of the baby fairy. She explained to the how Sylvia had stolen the ring and how she put the baby fairy into a white vase on her dressing table. She showed them the vase and how told them how angry she had been with Sylvia and how she had taken the baby fairy from her and made it comfortable as best she could in the match-box cot.

          When Susan had finished telling her story, the fairies were more angry than ever. They muttered to one another as they examined the white vase. They decided that Sylvia was a wicked girl and must be taught a lesson. Spike said that there was only one punishment fit for Sylvia. She must receive the same treatment that she had given the baby. She must be shrunk down to the size of a baby fairy. Susan tried to persuade them against this cruel punishment, but they had made up their minds. They all marched purposefully to Sylvia's room. A group of elves carried the vase on their shoulders.

          The fairies put a magic potion on to Sylvia's head to shrink her down to the size of a baby fairy. They lifted her out of bed and placed her in the bottom of the vase.

          Sylvia woke up when she found herself lying on the hard bottom of the vase. She looked up at the rim of the vase and saw a circle of grim-faced fairies looking down at her. She realised what had happened and cried out for the fairies to have pity on her. They left the bedroom without heeding her cries.

          Sylvia had never felt so lonely and frightened in her life as she now felt inside the white vase. At first she was desperately tired; the fairies had woken her from her deep sleep. Her legs were weary and she sat down on the bottom of the vase. She realised that she couldn't stay there, the vase was hard and uncomfortable. She began to shiver in her thin nightie. She had to get out somehow and get back to her warm bed; but how could she get out? The sides of the vase were steep and perfectly smooth. She couldn't possible climb out.

          She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and shook her head to try to shake herself awake. She must get out. She climbed to her feet, wide awake now. Susan was in the next room. She was a kind girl and would forgive her for taking the ring. If only she could wake her up. She decided to shout for help.

          "Susan! Susan! Help! I'm trapped in the vase, please get me out. Help me, please!"

          Sylvia yelled at the top of her voice. The noise was tremendous. Sylvia was sure that it must have woken everybody in the house. She waited, listened for Susan's footsteps to come along the landing and into her bedroom. There was no sound. The house was as quiet as a grave.

          Sylvia yelled again and again, but no one came. Her voice echoed round and round the vase, mocking her. "Help Susan! Please Susan! I'm sorry about the ring! I'm sorry about the baby fairy. I'll not do it again, honestly I won't. Please help me. Help! Help!"

          Syvia's voice vibrated like claps of thunder inside the shiny white vase. Her ears began to buzz with the noise. She shouted until her voice was hoarse, but no one came. She realised that although her shouting sounded so loud inside the vase it probably didn't sound at all loud outside. She sat down on the bottom of the vase and wept.

          She must try to escape somehow. She got up and walked round the vase. Could she climb out? She tried to climb up the sides on her hands and knees, but each time she came sliding down to the bottom again.

          She walked round and round the vase trying to think of some plan to escape. How ugly and boring the vase was. Nothing to look at except the white walls. She looked at her reflections in the its shiny surface. Her face was swollen with crying. She began to beat angrily on the vase with her fists and kicked at it with her feet. She felt the whole vase rocking.

          Suddenly she had an idea. If she could rock the vase violently she might be able to rock it over on its side and the she could climb out of it quite easily. But what if it rolled off the dressing table? It would probably smash on the floor and she would be killed.

          She ran across the bottom of the vase and tried to run up the walls, but she came crashing down again. She felt a sharp pain in her ankle and when she tried to get up she found that her ankle was badly swollen. She lay back on the floor of the vase exhausted. She could hear a sound in the distance, a buzzing sound. It must be a fly buzzing round her bedroom. What would happen happen if it came into the vase? She tried to imagine what a fly would like to her, now only the size of a baby fairy. It would be like a huge black eagle. Horrible! How would she be able to fight it off? With this terrible thought in mind Sylvia dropped off to sleep.

          When she woke up Sylvia looked up at the top of the vase. It looked much bigger and nearer. She must have grown while she was asleep. She got up to her feet and found that her head was above the level of the top of the vase. She took hold of the rim of the vase and, pulled herself up, climbed out of the vase easily. She climbed down from the dressing table and onto her bed; she got into bed and went to sleep.

          Sylvia woke up the next morning feeling worn out. What a terrible nightmare she had had! Trapped inside that awful white vase. She looked at the vase resting on her dressing table. It looked completely harmless, rather pretty in fact. She shuddered when she thought of that terrible dream. Fairies! Bah! How Stupid!

          She must get dressed and go down to her breakfast. She threw back the bedclothes and got out of bed. As she got up she felt a sharp pain in her ankle. She looked down and saw that her ankle was swollen and bruised. She touched it tenderly and thought again about the dream she had had. Could it actually have happened after all?

           

 


 

THE TOADSTOOL RINGS

 

          "Would you like another glass of milk Susan?" asked Mrs. Wilmott.

          Susan was having tea with her mother and father at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott. Mr. Wilmott was a botanist and a great friend of her fathers.

          Mrs. Wilmott poured the milk into Susan's glass. It came out in blobs and splashes.

          "Oh dear it's sour again! I'm terribly sorry dear. I'll go and fetch some fresh."

          "You know it’s very odd," explained Mrs. Wilmott as Susan was drinking her fresh glass of milk, "but that milk - the milk that was sour - was only yesterdays milk. It's been in the fridge since it was delivered. I just can't understand it. The most peculiar things have been happening for the past fortnight. The milks been going sour, the cream has curdled, the butter has turned rancid and the cheese has gone moldy; and all fresh food too."

          "It certainly should not happen at this time of the year," agreed Susan's mother.

          "Perhaps you've got a Hobgoblin in the house," said Susan's father and they all laughed, except Susan, who did not approve of jokes about fairies or goblins.

          When they had finished their tea and the ladies were washing up, Mr. Wilmott took Susan's father into his laboratory. Susan was very interested in all sorts of plants and she asked if she could go with them.

          Mr. Wilmott was making a study of fungi. The woods nearby were full of toadstools in the autumn and Mr. Wilmott had collected dozens of different varieties, which were littered, all over his laboratory. There were toadstools of every shape, size and colour, planted in small pots. There were many shades of brown, from the most delicate yellowish tint, to pinky fawns and deep grey-chestnut colours. There were all shapes and sizes, from large flat ones like pancakes, to small dome shaped ones no larger than marbles. They entranced Susan; she had never realized the toadstools could look so beautiful. When she saw them in the woods they looked so drab, camouflaged among the dead leaves.

          "Do you know the thing that intrigues me most about fungi?" asked Mr. Wilmott. "It's those fairy rings. Why on earth should toadstools grow in circles? I just can't understand it. I've been doing experiments to try to find out. I've dug some up. They're over here look." He showed them some large metal trays in which the most delicate white toadstools were growing in perfect circles as though they had been planted by a gardener.

          "Have you any idea why they grow like that Susan?" asked Mr. Wilmott.

          Susan looked up, startled. She had been gazing in rapture at the toadstools. She had often read about the fairy rings in her storybooks, but this was the first time she had ever seen any. Mr. Wilmott must have searched long and patiently to find them.

          "What er-er...Oh no Mr. Wilmott," replied Susan.

          "You don't think the fairies could have planted them do you?" Susan blushed. She knew that Mr. Wilmott was making fun of her.

          "I...I don't know," she stammered. She thought that she did know, but she was afraid of saying so in case the both laughed at her. She knew that the fairies had planted them and that these beautiful harmless looking toadstools had something to do with what was happening to Mrs. Wilmott's milk, cream, butter and cheese. She made up her mind that when she got home she would find out.

          That night, as she was getting into bed, Susan slipped the magic ring onto her finger and lay down impatiently to go to sleep. Spike arrived as usual and Susan woke to the tinkling of his bell. He was disappointed when he found out that she didn't want to go to fairyland with him in order to dance and play as she usually did, but merely wanted to know about strange things that were happening to someone's milk, cream, butter and cheese.

          Spike told Susan that she was quite right in thinking that it was connected with the fairy rings that Mr. Wilmott had taken from the woods.

          "Yes it's Octavius," he said. You have not met him. He's the ugliest goblin in fairyland and the most bad-tempered. Do you know, he can pull a face that's so ugly, that he can turn anything bad. Once he looked at a star in the sky that he thought was winking at him and gave it his ugly look and do you know, it turned into a horrible lump of rock and fell out of the sky. It dropped on the earth and made a great big hole right in the middle of a lovely field of buttercups. Oh he's a sour old devil is Octavius if you get on the wrong side of him."

          "But couldn't you stop him Spike?" pleaded Susan. "Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott are such nice people."

          "Oh I couldn't do that I'm afraid," replied Spike. "You see Octavius is the fairy gardener. He is very cross about Mr. Wilmott digging up his toadstool rings. We use them for dancing round you know and if they are not there in the autumn the fairies all blame Octavius. They say that he never planted them, and he gets angry. He sulks for weeks; won't speak to anyone. If I said anything to him he might give me one of his ugly looks and turn me into a gnome. They live under the ground, you know with the worms and moles I don't think I would like that."

          Susan thanked Spike for all that he told her. He asked her to go back to fairyland to join in the fun and games, but she refused, saying that she had to think of some way of helping Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott.

          For several days Susan pondered the problem of Mrs. Wilmotts bad food without thinking of an answer. She decided to go and speak to Mr. Wilmott. It was a Saturday morning when she went - she didn't have school that day.

          Mr. Wilmott was surprised to see her. He had been making some notes about his fungi experiments and he took Susan into his laboratory.

          "Have you found out anything about the fairy rings?" asked Susan.

          "I thought you were interested in those," he smiled. "Why no I haven't. They will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of nature I'm afraid," he said.

          "Have you finished with that?" asked Susan shyly.

          "Yes I have," he said. "Would you like them?" He knew of Susan's great interest in fairies. "I'll put them in boxes for you and you can take them home. I'll run you home in my van. If you can solve the mystery of them for me I will be very grateful."

          "Well, I don't want them, Mr. Wilmott. Its just that...er...I wonder do you remember where you had them from?"

          "Yes I do as a matter of fact," he smiled, mystified. "I marked the places with tags and I've numbered each of the rings."

          "If you would show me where you had them from," Susan said, "I would like to put them back."

          "well, I am very busy at the moment," he said doubtfully. "I tell you what, can you get up early in the morning? I'll call for you at seven o'clock. We'll put them back together."

          It was dark when Mr. Wilmott and Susan set off the following morning. In the back of his van. Mr. Wilmott had put the metal trays containing the fairy rings, and also two gardening trowels.

          It was very wet in the wood and Susan was glad that she was wearing her Wellingtons. The sun soon came up and the morning was clear and fresh. There was a white frost on the bracken and the dead leaves under foot. Susan's fingers were tingling. The cold of the metal trays went straight through her thick woolen gloves, but she was happy.

          There was a faint, autumn mist. The vivid orange, yellow, brown and flame of the leaves contrasted with the blue of the distant hills. The sun would soon melt away the mist and it would be a fine, crisp day.

          Mr. Wilmott must have known the wood extremely well for he found the places from which he had taken the fairy rings without any difficulty. He and Susan carefully removed the toadstools from the metal trays and replanted them in the earth, pressing them down gently with their fingers.

          It was a few weeks later that Susan and her mother and father were having tea at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmott.

          "Would you like another glass of milk Susan?" asked Mrs. Wilmott. Susan said that she would and Mrs. Wilmott filled her glass with fresh milk.

          "Have you had any trouble with the milk going sour and food going off lately?" asked Susan's mother.

          "No, none at all, touch wood, not for the past few weeks. It's most extraordinary. We haven't solved the mystery of what caused it. It might have been due to the very mild autumn possibly, or there might have something wrong with the fridge."

          "I don't see how it could have been either of those things dear, not if the food was as fresh as you said it was. I think that you may have had it rather longer than you thought you had," said Mr. Wilmott.

          "No I can assure you, the food was all perfectly fresh, I'm not in the habit of keeping that kind of food for any length of time."

          Fearing an argument, Susan's father decided to change the subject. "Did you come to any conclusions in your fungi experiments?" he asked.

          "Why yes," answered Mr. Wilmott, always ready to talk about his work. "At least I have some interesting theories. I will take you in the lab after tea."

          "How about the fairy rings, have you found the answer to those yet?"

          "Why no, I don't think the answer to those will ever be found. I rather think that Susan feels that the fairies plant them. Isn't that right Susan?" and he smiled. Susan knew that he was teasing her again.

          "No Mr. Wilmott," said Susan, "They were planted by a hobgoblin. The same one that turned Mrs. Wilmott's food bad."

          They all smiled at her in amusement and she knew that they didn't believe her.

          Why is it she thought, that grown-ups have to try and prove everything and believe nothing? She drank the rest of her milk and wondered whether Octavius, the goblin with the sour, ugly face, might be smiling to himself. She saw a picture of this in her imagination and it made her very happy.

 


 

SUSAN AND THE NYMPH

 

          Susan was on holiday at the seaside. When she was on holiday she didn't play as much as other children did at paddling or games, she loved to wonder quietly by herself on lonely, deserted beaches. She would dream all sorts of things, picking up shells and pebbles worn by the sea, as she walked along; stopping occasionally to gaze into pools left by the sea to watch crabs, starfish and other tiny creatures in the clear water.

          Susan's mother was sitting in a deck chair writing postcards to friends at home. She looked out to sea at a little sailing boat leaning over in the wind. It occurred to her that the tide had turned and was beginning to come in She wondered what had happened to Susan.

          Susan was strolling in a small cove, which she had, completely to herself. She noticed a strange shell hidden amongst the pebbles. It was large and delicate coloured. She picked it up and found that it was perfectly formed. She wondered why it had not been smashed on the rocks. She turned it round in her hand, delighted in the colours as they changed in the light from green to mauve, from yellow to pink, and back to the most beautiful shades of pearly grey.

          Suddenly, she felt the shell move in her hand. She dropped it quickly, thinking that a hermit crab must have made its home inside the shell. She watched the shell carefully to see if the crab would crawl out, being very careful to stay a little way away in case the crab should bite her.

          Slowly, a tiny head appeared from the entrance of the shell. It was not a crab, but a human-like head, small and beautiful. It looked round timidly and when it saw Susan it shot back into the shell again. Susan was startled for a moment and then she realized that this beautiful creature must be a sea nymph. Very gently, she lifted up the shell and put he mouth to the opening. She whispered softly into it, "Don't be frightened little nymph, I wont hurt you. Please come out and talk to me."

          Very shyly, the sea nymph climbed out of the shell and onto Susan's hand. Susan introduced herself to the little nymph, "My name is Susan," she said "What is yours?"

          The nymph said her name was Lilah. When she had got over her shyness, Lilah proved to be a very talkative nymph and she and Susan had a very long chat. They talked about fairyland and the various friends they had there. It turned out that Lilah knew Spike, that his adventures were quite famous in fairyland. Susan told her how she had met Spike and how he had given her fairy ring and how she had been to fairyland. Lilah didn't seem surprised at Susan's story; she seemed to know all about it.

          Susan and Lilah chatted for hours. Lilah began to tell Susan about the gay life which the nymphs led under the sea. Suddenly, Susan noticed that the waves were lapping at her feet. She looked round and saw that the tide had come in and that she was trapped in the cove. She ran to one end of the cove and then the other, but the sea was much too deep for her to paddle round and escape from the cove. She looked up at the cliff, but saw that it was too deep for her to climb. She realized that when the tide came right up she would be drowned. She began to cry and tears poured down her face.

          "What's the matter Susan?" asked the sea nymph. "Don't cry, please don't cry."

          Between her sobs Susan explained to Lilah that she couldn't get back to her mother and that the sea would come in and drown her. The sea nymph comforted her, wiping her tears as best she could with a tiny handkerchief as soft as gossamer.

          "Wait a moment," said Lilah, excitedly, "have you still got the ring that Spike gave you?"

          Susan put her hand to her throat and felt the ring, which was hanging on a piece of ribbon round her neck.

          "Yes, here it is," she said, showing Lilah the ring.

          "Then you have nothing to worry about," laughed Lilah, "Come with me."

          She skipped over to the bottom of the cliff and Susan followed her puzzled. Lilah vanished into a small hole in the base of the cliff. She reappeared and shouted, "Well put your ring on, come on before you get wet."

          Susan realized what Lilah had in mind and she quickly fumbled for the ring round her neck. The sea was now splashing round her feet. She put the ring on her finger and in a twinkling she was no bigger than Lilah herself. She ran into the hole after Lilah just as the waves began to lap at the base of the cliff.

          Susan found herself inside a large cave lit by small holes high up in the roof. She gazed about her as she followed Lilah, stumbling in the dim light.

          "Come on!" snapped Lilah, taking hold of Susan's hand, "the sea will be coming in at any moment."

          They ran across the cave and into the mouth of a tunnel, which sloped steeply upwards. Susan began to pant heavily with the effort of climbing and her legs began to ache. She had to ask Lilah to slow down. They twisted and turned through tunnels and passages, some like huge caverns and some no higher than their heads. Some were completely dark and Susan held tightly Lilah's hand in these; some were quite light with shafts of daylight streaming through.

          Some of the passages were very beautiful. Susan noticed stalactites hanging from the roof and stalagmites growing from the cave floor glowing magically in the dark. Here and there were patches of moss with tiny blue and white flowers such as Susan had never seen before. Once she was frightened by something looming out of the dark wall, glowing in orange and livid flame colour. She thought it was some dreadful monster reaching out for her, but she was relieved to find that it was only a particular colourful type of fungus.

          The caves and tunnels were now hot and damp and Susan could feel her clothes clinging to her. She was relieved when they came to a passage where the air was blowing cool and fresh. "Be careful here," said Lilah, and Susan was astonished to see steps cut out of the rock floor and winding steeply up, like some she had once seen in a lighthouse.

          They seemed to be climbing up the steps for ages and Susan's legs felt as if they were turning to water when she saw, up above her, a patch of light.” We’ll soon be out now," said Lilah, and within a few minutes they emerged into the open air.

          They had come out on top of a cliff. Susan knew threw herself down on the grass, exhausted and gasping for breath. She began to look around her.

          "We've come out near our hotel," Susan said, surprised. There was no reply from Lilah. She searched anxiously in the grass, but she couldn't find the sea nymph. She realized that she had gone. She felt sad and wondered whether she would ever see Lilah again.

          Susan knew that she had to find her mother. She took off the ring and was immediately back to her normal size. She got up and began to run along the path that led to the beach where she had earlier left her mother. She had not gone far when she met her mother walking up the path.

          "Oh hello darling," her mother said, "I was just coming to look for you."

          "Oh mummy I've had the most marvelous adventure," Susan said excitedly, taking her mother's hand.

          "Yes I'm sure you have dear," said her mother. "You must tell me about it after tea."

          The next day Susan insisted on taking her reluctant mother down to the small cove to show her the cave opening where she had been with Lilah, but to her disappointment she couldn't find it.

          "But it was here mummy," Susan protested when her mother said that perhaps she had dreamed the whole thing.

          "Yes dear, I'm sure it was, if you say so," agreed her mother.

          Suddenly Susan noticed the shell in which she had found the sea nymph and she showed it to her mother triumphantly. She looked inside, but Lilah wasn't there. Disappointed, Susan said "But it must be magic mummy, otherwise the tide would have carried it away."

          "Yes dear," said her mother wearily. "Of course it would."

          Susan knew that her mother didn't believe a word of her story. She carefully put the shell down where she had found it, knowing that Lilah would probably want it again, and followed her mother along the beach.