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"And thou canst fetch the water
From the lady-well hard by ;
And thou canst gather from the wood
The fagots brown and dry;
"Canst go down to the lonesome glen,
To milk the mother-ewe;
This is the work, my Mabel,
That thou wilt have to do.
“But listen now, my Mabel,
This is midsummer day,
When all the fairy people
From elf-land come away.
"And when thou 'rt in the lonesome glen,
Keep by the running burn,
And do not pluck the strawberry-flower,
Nor break the lady-fern.
'But think not of the fairy folk, Lest mischief should befall; Think only of poor Amy,
And how thou lov'st us all.
"Yet keep good heart, my Mabel,
If thou the fairies see,
And give them kindly answer
If they should speak to thee.
"And when into the fir-wood
Thou goest for fagots brown,
Do not, like idle children,
Go wandering up and down.
"But fill thy little apron,
My child, with earnest speed; And that thou break no living bough Within the wood, take heed.
"For they are spiteful brownies
Who in the wood abide,
So be thou careful of this thing,
Lest evil should betide.
"But think not, little Mabel,
Whilst thou art in the wood,
Of dwarfish, wilful brownies,
But of the Father good.
"And when thou goest to the spring
To fetch the water thence,
Do not disturb the little stream,
Lest this should give offence.
"For the queen of all the fairies,
She loves that water bright;
I've seen her drinking there myself
On many a summer night.
"But she's a gracious lady,
And her thou need'st not fear; Only disturb thou not the stream, Nor spill the water clear."
"Now all this I will heed, mother,
Will no word disobey,
And wait upon the grandmother
This livelong summer day."
AWAY tripped little Mabel,
With the wheaten cake so fine,
With the new-made pat of butter,
And the little flask of wine.
And long before the sun was hot,
And summer mist had cleared,
Beside the good old grandmother
The willing child appeared.
And all her mother's message
She told with right good-will,
How that the father was away,
And the little child was ill.
And then she swept the hearth up clean,
And then the table spread;
And next she fed the dog and bird;
And then she made the bed.
"And go now," said the grandmother,
"Ten paces down the dell,
And bring in water for the day,
Thou know'st the lady-well."
The first time that good Mabel went,
Nothing at all saw she,
Except a bird, a sky-blue bird,
That sat upon a tree.
The next time that good Mabel went,
There sat a lady bright
Beside the well, a lady small,
All clothed in green and white.
A courtesy low made Mabel,
And then she stooped to fill
Her pitcher at the sparkling spring,
But no drop did she spill.
"Thou art a handy maiden,"
The fairy lady said;
“Thou hast not spilt a drop, nor yet
The fairy spring troubled!
"And for this thing which thou hast dɔne, Yet mayst not understand,
I give to thee a better gift
Than houses or than land.
"Thou shalt do well whate'er thou dost,
As thou hast done this day;
Shalt have the will and power to please,
And shalt be loved alway."
Thus having said, she passed from sight,
And nought could Mabel see,
But the little bird, the sky-blue bird,
Upon the leafy tree.
"And now go,” said the grandmother,
"And fetch in fagots dry;
All in the neighboring fir-wood
Beneath the trees they lie."
Away went kind, good Mabel,
Into the fir-wood near,
Where all the ground was dry and brown, And the grass grew thin and sere.
She did not wander up and down,
Nor yet a live branch pull,
But steadily of the fallen boughs
She picked her apron full.
And when the wild-wood brownies
Came sliding to her mind,
She drove them thence, as she was told,
With home-thoughts sweet and kind.
But all that while the brownies
Within the fir-wood still,
They watched her how she picked the wood,
And strove to do no ill.
And, O, but she is small and neat,”
Said one; “'t were shame to spite
A creature so demure and meek,
A creature harmless quite!"
"Look only," said another,
"At her little gown of blue;
At her kerchief pinned about her head,
And at her little shoe!"
O, but she is a comely child,"
Said a third; "and we will lay
A good-luck penny in her path,
A boon for her this day,
Seeing she broke no living wood;
No live thing did affray !"
With that the smallest penny,
Of the finest silver ore,
Upon the dry and slippery path,
Lay Mabel's feet before.