Just then she heard her husband's good-tempered voice whistling as he went down the ladder.
"Kitty, Kitty," said he, "come, get up, my little woman; it's later than usual, and our good visitor will want his breakfast."
"Oh, Will, Will, do come here," answered the wife; and presently her husband came up again, dressed in his fustian jacket, and looking quite healthy and good-tempered--not at all like the pale man in the blue coat, who sat watching the meat while it roasted.
"Oh, Will, I have had such a frightful dream," said Kitty, and she began to cry; "we are not going to quarrel and hate each other, are we?"
"Why, what a silly little thing thou art to cry about a dream," said the woodman, smiling. "No, we are not going to quarrel as I know of.
Come, Kitty, remember the Ouphe."
"Oh, yes, yes, I remember," said Kitty, and she made haste to dress herself and come down.
"Good morning, mistress; how have you slept?" said the Ouphe, in a gentle voice, to her.
"Not so well as I could have wished, sir," said Kitty.
The Ouphe smiled. "_I_ slept very well," he said. "The supper was good, and kindly given, without any thought of reward."
"And that is the certain truth," interrupted Kitty: "I never had the least thought what you were till my husband told me."
The woodman had gone out to cut some fresh cresses for his guest's breakfast.
"I am sorry, mistress," said the Ouphe, "that you slept uneasily--my race are said sometimes by their presence to affect the dreams of you mortals, Where is my knapsack? Shall I leave it behind me in payment of bed and board?"
"Oh, no, no, I pray you don't," said the little wife, blushing and stepping back; "you are kindly welcome to all you have had, I'm sure: don't repay us so, sir."
"What, mistress, and why not?" asked the Ouphe, smiling. "It is as full of gold pieces as it can hold, and I shall never miss them."
"No, I entreat you, do not," said Kitty, "and do not offer it to my husband, for maybe he has not been warned as I have."
Just then the woodman came in.
"I have been thanking your wife for my good entertainment," said the Ouphe, "and if there is anything in reason that I can give either of you--"
"Will, we do very well as we are," said his wife, going up to him and looking anxiously in his face.
"I don't deny," said the woodman, thoughtfully, "that there are one or two things I should like my wife to have, but somehow I've not been able to get them for her yet."
"What are they?" asked the Ouphe.
"One is a spinning-wheel," answered the woodman; "she used to spin a good deal when she was at home with her mother."
"She shall have a spinning-wheel," replied the Ouphe; "and is there nothing else, my good host?"
"Well," said the woodman, frankly, "since you are so obliging, we should like a hive of bees."
"The bees you shall have also; and now, good morning both, and a thousand thanks to you."
So saying, he took his leave, and no pressing could make him stay to breakfast.
"Well," thought Kitty, when she had had a little time for reflection, "a spinning-wheel is just what I wanted; but if people had told me this time yesterday morning that I should be offered a knapsack full of money, and should refuse it, I could not possibly have believed them!"
THE PRINCE'S DREAM
By Jean Ingelow
If we may credit the fable, there is a tower in the midst of a great Asiatic plain, wherein is confined a prince who was placed there in his earliest infancy, with many slaves and attendants, and all the luxuries that are compatible with imprisonment.
Whether he was brought there from some motive of state, whether to conceal him from enemies, or to deprive him of rights, has not transpired; but it is certain that up to the date of this little history he had never set his foot outside the walls of that high tower, and that of the vast world without he knew only the green plains which surrounded it; the flocks and the birds of that region were all his experience of living creatures, and all the men he saw outside were shepherds.
And yet he was not utterly deprived of change, for sometimes one of his attendants would be ordered away, and his place would be supplied by a new one. The prince would never weary of questioning this fresh companion, and of letting him talk of cities, of ships, of forests, of merchandise, of kings; but though in turns they all tried to satisfy his curiosity, they could not succeed in conveying very distinct notions to his mind; partly because there was nothing in the tower to which they could compare the external world, partly because, having chiefly lived lives of seclusion and indolence in Eastern palaces, they knew it only by hearsay themselves.
At length, one day, a venerable man of a noble presence was brought to the tower, with soldiers to guard him and slaves to attend him. The prince was glad of his presence, though at first he seldom opened his lips, and it was manifest that confinement made him miserable. With restless feet he would wander from window to window of the stone tower, and mount from story to story; but mount as high as he would there was still nothing to be seen but the vast, unvarying plain, clothed with scanty grass, and flooded with the glaring sunshine; flocks and herds and shepherds moved across it sometimes, but nothing else, not even a shadow, for there was no cloud in the sky to cast one. The old man, however, always treated the prince with respect, and answered his questions with a great deal of patience, till at length he found a pleasure in satisfying his curiosity, which so much pleased the poor young prisoner, that, as a great condescension, he invited him to come out on the roof of the tower and drink sherbet with him in the cool of the evening, and tell him of the country beyond the desert, and what seas are like, and mountains, and towns.
"I have learnt much from my attendants, and know this world pretty well by hearsay," said the prince, as they reclined on the rich carpet which was spread on the roof.
The old man smiled, but did not answer; perhaps because he did not care to undeceive his young companion, perhaps because so many slaves were present, some of whom were serving them with fruit, and others burning rich odors on a little chafing-dish that stood between them.
"But there are some words to which I never could attach any particular meaning," proceeded the prince, as the slaves began to retire, "and three in particular that my attendants cannot satisfy me upon, or are reluctant to do so."
"What words are those, my prince?" asked the old man. The prince turned on his elbow to be sure that the last slave had descended the tower stairs, then replied:
"O man of much knowledge, the words are these--Labor, and Liberty, and Gold."
"Prince," said the old man, "I do not wonder that it has been hard to make thee understand the first, the nature of it, and the cause why most men are born to it; as for the second, it would be treason for thee and me to do more than whisper it here, and sigh for it when none are listening; but the third need hardly puzzle thee; thy hookah [Footnote: _Hookah_: a kind of pipe for smoking tobacco, used in Eastern Europe and Asia.] is bright with it; all thy jewels are set in it; gold is inlaid in the ivory of thy bath; thy cup and thy dish are of gold, and golden threads are wrought into thy raiment."
"That is true," replied the prince, "and if I had not seen and handled this gold, perhaps I might not find its merits so hard to understand; but I possess it in abundance, and it does not feed me, nor make music for me, nor fan me when the sun is hot, nor cause me to sleep when I am weary; therefore when my slaves have told me how merchants go out and brave the perilous wind and sea, and live in the unstable ships, and run risks from shipwreck and pirates, and when, having asked them why they have done this, they have answered, 'For gold,' I have found it hard to believe them; and when they have told me how men have lied, and robbed, and deceived; how they have murdered one another, and leagued together to depose kings, to oppress provinces, and all for gold; then I have said to myself, either my slaves have combined to make me believe that which is not, or this gold must be very different from the yellow stuff that this coin is made of, this coin which is of no use but to have a hole pierced through it and hang to my girdle, that it may tinkle when I walk."
"Notwithstanding this," said the old man, "nothing can be done without gold; for it is better than bread, and fruit, and music, for it can buy them all, since all men love it, and have agreed to exchange it for whatever they may need."
"How so?" asked the prince.
"If a man has many loaves he cannot eat them all," answered the old man; "therefore he goes to his neighbor and says, 'I have bread and thou hast a coin of gold--let us exchange;' so he receives the gold and goes to another man, saying, 'Thou hast two houses and I have none; lend me one of thy houses to live in, and I will give thee my gold;' thus again they exchange."
"It is well," said the prince; "but in time of drought, if there is no bread in a city, can they make it of gold?"
"Not so," answered the old man, "but they must send their gold to a city where there is food, and bring that back instead of it."
"But if there was a famine all over the world," asked the prince, "what would they do then?"
"Why, then, and only then," said the old man, "they must starve, and the gold would be nought, for it can only be changed for that which _is_; it cannot make that which _is not_."
"And where do they get gold?" asked the prince. "Is it the precious fruit of some rare tree, or have they whereby they can draw it down from the sky at sunset?"
"Some of it," said the old man, "they dig out of the ground."