Aquarian Age Stories for Children
A Week In Fairyland
H. P. Nicholls
These episodes occurred during a week's
vacation in which Henry and his little friend, Eleanor, roamed daily in the
colorful semitropical veldt or hill country in sunny South Africa.
Henry was a constant visitor to the citrus ranch, Eleanor's
home, which formed part of a huge estate covering many thousands of acres of
grass land, foothills, and mountains. He loved all the creatures who lived
there, and roamed with them freely among the beloved streams and hills. He felt
that all these varied expressions of creation were a part of his own being. The
silence of the limitless veldt was life to his soul. He was keenly alive to the
throbbing, pulsating heartbeat of nature, to the wonder of the azure sky and of
the golden Sun. Roaming here with the beauty of the veldt before him, he was
happy and in harmony with all things.
With Eleanor he roamed the great out-of-doors. Often they spoke
of fairies, elves, gnomes, naiads, and satyrs. Sometimes they thought they saw
shadowy forms among the trees or near the shaded pools. And now a joyous
experience was about to be theirs - a week of intimate proximity to the elusive
Spirits of Nature, made visible through the wonder working power of their love
for all created things.
In the heart of South Africa lies Rhodesia, a pleasant upland
country, the home of the native Mashona and Matabele, and the home of many white
settlers as well. Favored with a genial climate, this fertile land attracts many
who love the sunshine, the ocean of open spaces, and a free life. Here on the
wide veldt, silence reigns at noontide, and the Sun floods the Earth with its
glorious light the year round.
In a wide and spacious valley, through which ran a river carved
deep in the fertile earth, lay the avenue of these happenings. The ranch was set
out on gentle sloping ground; rows and rows of citrus trees, protected by tall
eucalyptus or wattle, shone green and golden laden with luscious fruit. Broad
roads intersected the groves and the silvery irrigation furrows. Here and there
were dotted the red-roofed homes of those who cared for the trees and
superintended the work from blossom time to harvest.
Overlooking the scene, upon a knoll which was part of a rampart
of protecting hills, was the manager's spacious home. In the grounds was a
rondavel (round hut) which was set apart for the accommodation of visitors. Very
cool and comfortable was this cabin, set among the trees and flowers.
Henry, a poet and Nature lover, came over to the ranch from a
little town nestling under the friendly hills. Sometimes he rode his pony or
walked the twelve miles across the veldt. He knew the furry animals who range
the plains, those who live underground and in the trees, the monkeys and
baboons, the flashing snakes and lizards, the antelope and wild leopards. The
ways of the natives were familiar to him. En route to his friend's home he
greeted a naked herd boy who sat under a shady bush playing upon a flute,
whiling away the hours till sundown, when he must drive the cattle home.
Eleanor was a little girl, joyous and carefree, at home among
the hills and dales. She, too, loved Nature, talked to the bees and the gorgeous
butterflies, and knew the names of all the birds, flowers, and insects. She
loved to roam through the citrus groves and down to the river, up the ravines,
and upon the rocky hills where dwelt the rabbits and the little brown monkeys.
It was the first day of a holiday week. Overhead the sky shone
blue, and the Sun gleamed like a disk of molten gold. Away went Eleanor and
Henry, with Pat, the Irish terrier, along the cattle road, pushing open the big
gate which swung shut behind them. The track wound through bushes covered with
lovely crimson flowers, past mimosa trees fragrant with white and yellow
pompons, thorn trees resplendent in their new garments of soft green leaves, and
the violet trees festooned with purple blossoms. Here and there big umbrella
trees, flat topped and solid, stood like patient sentinels guarding the denizens
of the prairie. Soon the track grew fainter as it led over boulders and
Stooping, Eleanor and Henry went through an arched bush of white
jasmine with its thorns trying to catch them as they passed. Below them tumbled
a sparkling stream flashing in the sunlight. The air was resonant with the sound
of insect wings, and deep in a tiny sunless cavern sat a bullfrog that
monotonously intoned, "Kraak-kraak-kraak." Birds chattered gaily and a
hawk soared high in the cloudless sky. Here the two rested, quietly receptive,
attuned to the peace of this beautiful sylvan glade, for they knew the value of
perfect stillness in the veldt. To see the dwellers in the bushes one must be
able to keep as silent as the speckled kingfisher who sits aloft and watches the
pool, alert yet motionless. Pat, the dog, slept soundly.
Suddenly Eleanor whispered to her companion: "Look across
the stream! There are many little forms moving among the grass and up in the
bushes. What are they?"
Henry looked across the dancing stream into the forest of trees
and brush, rocks, and grasses intermingled. There before his very eyes he saw
that which he could hardly believe. Flitting from flower to flower and perching
upon the tips of leaves were tiny figures from two to six inches high.
"Fairies?" He whispered the word, hoping not to
frighten away those soft and shadowy creatures. Yes, they were real fairies, the
dearest little beings, joyful, gracious little folk drifting slowly on wings of
opalescent splendor. They sprang from leaf to leaf, from flower to flower,
climbed up the tall fern fronds, played hide and seek among the stalks of the
wild irises, and settled upon the broad leaves of the water lilies. Some were
opalescent, others delicate rose color, light blue, yellow, and every
conceivable hue, shining like the petals of flowing flowers. Dainty as the
thistledown, lithe as cloud wisps, these happy faced fairies wreathed in and out
among the bushes. A myriad of flowerlike creatures, they passed like a sun-lit
cloud toward the mystic shadow land among the trees.
Eleanor and Henry were filled with delight. Slowly they followed
their little visitors and found them friendly and unafraid. Some rode upon
dragon flies and bees, and the flowers nodded to them as they passed. Through
all that glen there was a hushed and quiet atmosphere of rejoicing. Gradually
the bevy of floating fairy forms moved into the dense forest bush and like a
swarm of bees scattered far and wide, finally disappearing from view.
Eleanor looked up at Henry, her eyes still wide with happy
wonder, "Oh, I knew I should see them sometime. Often I felt that they were
near, and I was right. Now I have seen them, and I am happy."
The next morning proved gloriously radiant. Indeed, spring was
there in all its tender unfoldment of beauty. During the night a gentle shower
had fallen, and the rising Sun gleamed in the globules of rain which hung like
luminous pearls from leaf and flower. The fresh, crisp air was odorous with the
resinous scent of the pines. The gentle zephyrs played among the treetops and
around the bushes, causing the flowers to dance a stately minuet to the swish of
the feathery bamboo. Serene and brilliant was this morning, the beginning of
Eleanor and Henry strolled upward toward the hills. Quietly they
made their way. Nothing escaped their notice and every sight and sound gave
pleasure. Their path skirted the hill, where huge monoliths stood gaunt and bare
on the hillside. Old and gnarled trees showed signs of conflict with the
elements. Silent and strong, they sheltered birds and bees and gave their shade
to all who sought it. Young saplings shot upward into the vernal air. Bushes and
creepers made a tangled mass of undergrowth, restfully green. Every step
revealed some fresh beauty, some new vistas through the trees, and many a scurry
told of a decamping dweller of the wild frightened by the soft measured tread of
Soon a touch from Eleanor drew the attention of Henry.
"Look!" she whispered, "Oh! Look!" At her right hand, poised
on the bushes near her face, were three of the loveliest fairies. Lightly one
glided upon her arm, another into her lap, another upon her shoulder. Gradually
these beautiful forms came flitting from every direction - tiny, colorful
creatures clad in garments which resembled the most delicate flower petals. All
were feminine in form, with tiny, dainty faces, some pale, others olive color,
some ruddy, some amber. All were slim and delicately proportioned, exquisite in
every way, of every known color and shade except dark purple, brown, and black.
Some were opalescent and multi-colored, others light blue, light yellow, white,
green, pink, silver, and gold. Still others shone like pearls, and their wings
of iridescent radiance flashed like sun-lit jewels among the grass. Their hair
was delicately curled, and upon their feet were tiny sandals kept in place by
crossed straps. Some had no footgear. Most of them wore hats made of bell-like
flowers. All had wings which folded closely behind them.
They appeared to glide, to float, to hover like humming birds,
and to move in any chosen direction. At first they seemed imbued with shyness,
but after advancing and receding, then approaching again, they finally became
very friendly. When Eleanor and Henry moved, or gently roamed about, the fairies
were not frightened, but at any loud noise they quickly turned to the bushes and
disappeared. Many soared high up into the trees. They appeared to touch every
flower and to delve among the grass and ferns. It was quite evident that they
were on no idle gambol for it was noticed that they busily and gently gave
attention to everything that grew. They searched the bushes thoroughly and
visited them much as bees visit the flowers, and it was apparent that they were
doing some specific work. Eleanor said those that lighted upon her were
delicately scented. They were not afraid of Pat who wagged his tail and moved
among them as though he, too, might have been aware of their presence.
Now the Sun began to glint through the tops of the trees,
casting long shadows aslant the glade. The approach of cattle from the higher
ground was heralded by the sound of cracking timbers. The herd boys were
collecting sticks for their fires. Gradually the fairy forms receded into the
thick bush until, of the myriads Eleanor and Henry had seen, not one remained.
They rejoiced in the delightful experience the day had brought them and with it
the conviction that fairy hosts were everywhere.
After breakfast on the following morning, Eleanor and Henry,
with Pat, and Wasp, a little sharp-nosed terrier, started for an excursion to
the adjoining ranch which was also a part of the estate.
The kindly Dutch manager and his wife welcomed the
holiday-makers. They enjoyed a lunch which was set out for them in the cool,
thatched dining room overlooking the placid mountains. The bright Sun, high up
in the heavens, beat upon the Earth, the breezes whispered in the tall wattle
trees in the stillness peculiar to all tropical countries at noontide, the herds
slept, and the ploughmen nodded under friendly trees. All Nature seemed to
Henry and Eleanor, with Pat and Wasp, went into the hills.
Climbing steadily upward among gnarled and knotted trees, they suddenly came
upon a semicircular space, a broad, miniature plain backed by a huge mass of
Henry saw the first fairy to appear. It seemed to come from
nowhere - a dainty, ruby-colored sprite, poised upon the tip of a blade of
grass. Gradually the whole place was alive with a fairy throng. They approached
Eleanor and seemed glad to be near her, thousands of them, flitting and soaring
in mid air, perching upon leaves and blossoms, emerging from the matted grasses
and mossy undergrowth. The air was filled with an exquisite fragrance and was
vibrant with joyous life. For the first time Eleanor and Henry realized that the
fairies worked in groups, each group consisting of a bevy of tiny creatures in
different colors. They all appeared intent upon a definite task, yet they worked
with no great hurry or bustle. It seemed as if they touched or ministered in
some way to all the leaves and flowers and were careful not to miss a single
one. They appeared to be very happy and played with each other. Several of them
alighted on Eleanor and flitted from her head to her shoulder and about her
person unafraid. If she moved perceptibly they disappeared, only to reappear
when the movement stopped. With great joy Eleanor and Henry watched this lovely
army march across the sunlit plain. Sparkling, iridescent, rainbow-hued, clad in
delicately textured diaphanous robes of cobweb weight, exquisite in form and
sweetly gracious in countenance, these wonderful and gentle fairy hosts ranged
the hills sweeping onward until lost to sight.
That evening under the Moon, another wonderful sight presented
itself to Eleanor and Henry. After dinner they slipped away into the garden.
After strolling for a while they came to the rondavel set so pleasantly among
the tall eucalypti. Beside the porch was a comfortable bench. It was a glorious
night. The Moon shone bright and clear. From the waxy, white petals of the moon
flower came an exotic fragrance. The stillness of the mystic African night
surrounded them, a stillness made more apparent by intermittent sounds, the
shrill voices of insects, and the monotonous beat of tom-toms in the native
village. Sometimes, wind borne, would come the sound of the cadence of a native
song. Yet, interpenetrating all was the intense silence.
Quietly discussing the events of the day, Eleanor and Henry were
about to retire when Eleanor said: "Look under the euphobia! There is
something moving. It is not an animal because it is upright. Oh! It is a
And there it was! Two more appeared, then many of them were seen
moving under the leaves in the violet bed; soon the whole garden seemed alive.
Before the delighted eyes of Eleanor and Henry a little brown fellow just like
the brownies of fiction strolled into the moonlit open space before the rondavel.
Then two more joined him. Apparently they were intent on examining the grass and
stirring around the leaves of the various plants. They were about five or six
inches high. One wore a cap, another was bareheaded. Their wings were large and
old looking; they had wizened faces, full bodies, very long arms and short legs.
Some wore little moccasin-like shoes, others wore none. The brownies were not
afraid of our two friends and came right up to the bench on which they were
sitting. All around, deep in the shadows, they could be seen, bent upon some
task among the leaves of the plants. These solemn little creatures stopped their
work at times and communicated with one another. Eleanor wanted to stay out and
watch them, but hours on the estate were early. The dew was heavy and so she
said good-night and hurried in. Henry continued to watch the little brown men as
they moved noiselessly among the leaves. A hare hopped out and sat silent for a
moment then went its way. An owl hooted from a nearby tree. All through the
shadowy foliage on the ground the little brownies moved. Henry tried to see
exactly what they were about but could not discern the nature of the work they
were doing. Tired by the day's exertion, he returned to the hut and was soon
Suddenly Henry awoke and looked at his watch. It was three
o'clock. Putting on a thick wrap he stepped out of the rondavel. Here a novel
sight met his eyes - drawn up in rows of three were many companies of brownies.
They seemed to be quite at home in the garden and Henry surmised that they
worked continuously in a given area. One fact he noticed; solid objects like
tree trunks, walls, and rocks offered no obstacle to these little brown men as
they walked right through them.
Suddenly they began to march away, three by three. Evidently
their work was over for the night. Their movements seemed orderly as they
silently slipped away and disappeared among the deep shadows.
Re-entering the rondavel, Henry was soon sound asleep, despite
the extraordinary happenings he had witnessed.
Thursday afternoon Eleanor and Henry betook themselves to a far
away corner of the estate. It was a favorite area of theirs because of a broad,
grassy stretch of plain, or prairie land, on which they always saw antelope
peacefully grazing. The grass was always green in this particular pasture
because of water filtering out from a kloof, or wooded gully in the hills. There
was no visible stream in this lovely, tree-clad fissure in the hills, but
evidences showing that water flowed underground, and splitting up at the base of
the hills, spread across the land that gently sloped toward the river.
Adjoining the valley was a dense forest, almost dark by reason
of myriads of trees festooned with creepers, lianas, mosses, orchids, and
various kinds of parasites. Entering the forest by a Kaffir path, narrow and
winding, they slowly proceeded toward the west. Here a peculiar silence reigned
except for the rustle of a bird in a tree, the crash of an animal running
through the brush, the tap, tap of a woodpecker, the hum of bees and winged
insects. It was indeed a maze, a primeval forest.