Little Brother Primrose and Sister Lavender (Croatian Folk Tale)

Folk Tales, Croatian Folk Tales1490

The stronghold of a wise and noble princess was attacked by her enemies. The princess could not gather together her large and faithful army quickly enough to defend her castle, but had to fly by night with her little prince in her arms.

So she fled all through the night, and at daybreak they reached the foot of grisly Mount Kitesh, which was on the border of the principality.

At that time there were no more dragons anywhere in the world, nor fairies, nor witches, nor any monsters. The Holy Cross and human reason had driven them forth. But in the fastnesses of Mount Kitesh the last of the Fiery Dragons had found a refuge, and seven Votaress Fairies attended upon him. That is why Mount Kitesh was so grisly. But at the foot of the mountain lay a quiet valley. There dwelt the shepherdess Miloika in her little willow cabin, and tended her flock.

To that very valley came the princess at dawn with her baby, and when she saw Miloika sitting outside her cabin she went up to her and begged: “Hide me and the little prince in your cabin through the day. At nightfall I will continue my flight with the prince.” Miloika made the fugitives welcome, gave them ewes” milk to drink, and hid them in her cabin.

As evening approached, the kind and noble princess said: “I must go on now with the prince. But will you take my Golden Girdle and the prince”s little Gold Cross on a red ribbon? If our enemies should chance to find us they would know us by the Girdle and the Cross. Put these two things by and take good care of them in your little cabin. When my faithful captains have gathered together an army and driven out the enemy, I shall return to my castle and there you shall be my dear friend and companion.”

“Your companion I cannot be, noble princess,” said Miloika, “for I am not your equal either by birth or understanding. But I will take care of your Girdle and your Cross, because in time of real sorrow and trouble even the heart of a beggar can be companion to the heart of a king.”

As she said this, Miloika received the Girdle and the Cross from the princess for safe keeping, and the princess took up the little prince and went out and away with him into the night, which was so dark that you could not tell grass from stone, nor field from sea.

II.

Many years passed, but the princess did not return to her lands nor to her castle.

Her great army and her illustrious captains were so disloyal that they all immediately went over to her enemies. And so the enemy conquered the lands of the good and noble princess, and settled down in her castle.

No one knew or could discover what had become of the princess and the little prince. Most probably her escape on that dark night had ended by her falling into the sea, or over a precipice, or perishing in some other way with her baby.

But Miloika the shepherdess faithfully kept the Golden Girdle of the princess and the prince”s little Gold Cross.

The smartest and wealthiest swains of the village came to ask Miloika to marry them, because the Golden Girdle and the little Gold Cross on the red ribbon were worth as much as ten villages. But Miloika would have none of them for her husband, saying: “You come because of the Golden Girdle and the little Cross; but they are not mine, and I must take better care of them than of my sheep or my cabin.”

So said Miloika, and chose a penniless and gentle youth to be her husband, who cared nothing about the Girdle and Cross of Gold.

They lived in great poverty, and at times there was neither bread nor meal in the house, but they never thought of selling either Girdle or Cross.

Within a few years Miloika”s husband fell ill and died; and not long afterwards a sore sickness came upon Miloika, and she knew that she too must die. So she called her two children, her little daughter Lavender and her still smaller son Primrose, and gave them each a keepsake. Round Lavender”s waist she bound the Golden Girdle, and round Primrose”s neck she hung the Gold Cross on the red ribbon. And Miloika said:

“Farewell, my children! You will be left alone in this world, and I have taught you but little craft or skill; but with God”s help, what I have taught you will just suffice for your childish needs. Cleave to one another, and guard as a sacred trust what your mother gave into your keeping, and then I shall always remain with you.” Thus spoke the mother, and died.

Lavender and Primrose were so little that they did not know how their mother had come by the Girdle and Cross, and still less did they understand the meaning of their mother”s words. But they just sat side by side by their dead mother like two poor little orphans and waited to see what would become of them.

Presently the good folk of the village came along and said that Miloika would have to be buried next day.

III.

But that was not the only thing that happened next day. For when the people came back from the funeral, they all went into the house to gossip, and only Lavender and Primrose remained outside, because they still fancied that their mother would yet somehow come back to them.

Suddenly a huge Eagle pounced down upon them from the sky, knocked Lavender down, caught her by the Girdle with his talons, and carried her off into the clouds.

The Eagle flew away with Lavender to his eyrie, high up on Mount Kitesh.

It did not hurt Lavender at all to fly along like that, hanging by her Gold Girdle. She was only sorry at being parted from her only brother, and kept on thinking: “Why didn”t the Eagle take Primrose too!”

So they flew over Mount Kitesh, and there, all of a sudden, Lavender saw what neither she nor anyone else of the inhabitants of the valley had ever seen; for everyone avoided the grisly mountains, and of those who had happened to stray into them not one had ever returned. What Lavender saw was this: all the seven Votaress Fairies who waited upon the Fiery Dragon assembled together upon a rock. They called themselves Votaresses because they had vowed, as the last of the fairy kin, to take vengeance upon the human race.

The Fairies looked up, and there was the eagle carrying a little girl. Now the Fairies and the Eagles had made a bargain between them that each should bring his prey to that rock, and there hold a prizecourt upon the rock to settle what was to be done with the prey and who was to have it. And for that reason the rock was called Share-spoil.

So the Fairies called out to the Eagle:

“Ho, brother Klickoon! come and alight on Share-spoil!”

But luckily the bargain was no sounder than the parties to it.

The Eagle Klickoon had taken a fancy to Lavender, so he did not keep to the bargain, nor would he alight on Share-spoil, but carried Lavender on to his eyrie for his eaglets to play with.

But he had to fly right across the summit of the Mountain, because his eyrie was on the far side.

Now, on the top of the Mountain there was a lake, and in the lake there was an island, and on the island there was a little old chapel. Around the lake was a tiny meadow, and all round the meadow ran a furrow ploughed in days of old. Across this furrow neither the Dragon, nor the Fairies, nor any monster of the Mountain could pass. About the lake bloomed flowers, and spread their perfume; there doves took refuge, and nightingales, and all gentle creatures from the mountains.

Neither clouds nor mist hung over the holy furrow-surrounded Lake; but evermore the sun and moon in turn shed their light upon it.

As Klickoon flew over the Lake with Lavender, she caught sight of the chapel. And as she caught sight of the chapel, she remembered her mother; and as she remembered her mother, she pressed her hand to her heart; and as she pressed her hand to her heart, her mother”s trust, the Golden Girdle, came undone upon Lavender.

The Girdle came undone; Lavender dropped from the Eagle”s talons straight into the Lake, and the Girdle after her. Lavender caught hold of the Golden Girdle and stepped over the reeds, and the water-lilies, and the water-weeds, and the rushes to the island. There she sat down on a stone outside the chapel. But Klickoon flew on like a whirlwind in a rage, because he could not come near the Holy Lake.

Lavender was safe enough now, for nothing evil could reach her across the furrow. But what was the good of that, when the poor little child was all alone on the top of the grisly Mount Kitesh, and none could come to her, and she could not get away?

IV.

Meantime the people who had buried Miloika noticed that the Eagle had carried off Lavender. At first they all burst out lamenting, but then one of them said:

“Good people, it is really as well that the Eagle carried off Lavender. It would have been hard to find someone in the village who could take charge of the two children. But for Primrose alone we shall easily find someone who will look after him.”

“Yes, yes,” the others all immediately agreed, “it is better so. We can easily look after Primrose.”

They stood yet awhile outside the cabin gazing in the direction towards which the Eagle had disappeared with Lavender into the skies, and then they went back indoors to drink and to talk, repeating all the time:

“There”s not one of us but will be glad to take Primrose.”

So they said. But not one of them troubled so much about Primrose as to offer him a drink of water, although it was very hot. Now Primrose was thirsty and went in to ask for water. But he was so tiny that not one of those people could understand what he said. Primrose wanted someone to get him his little wooden mug; but not one of those people knew that Primrose”s little wooden mug was behind the beam.

When Primrose saw all this, he looked round the room for a moment, and then the child thought: “This is no good to me. I am left all alone in the world.” So he leaned over the pitcher that stood on the floor, drank as much water as he could, and then set out to see if he could find his little sister Lavender.

He went out of the house and set off towards the sun–the direction in which he had seen the Eagle fly away with Lavender.

V.

The sun was setting beyond Mount Kitesh, and so Primrose, always looking at the sun, presently came to Mount Kitesh, too. There was no one beside Primrose to say to him: “Don”t go up the Mountain, child! The Mountain is full of terrors.” And so he went on, poor, foolish baby, and began to climb up the Mountain.

But Primrose did not know what fear was. His mother had kept him safe like a flower before the altar, so that no harm, not even the smallest, had ever befallen him; he had never been pricked by a thorn, nor scared by a harsh word.

And so no fear could enter Primrose”s heart, no matter what his eyes beheld or his ears heard.

Meantime, Primrose had got well up into the Mountain and already reached the first rocks and crags.

And there, below Share-spoil, the Votaress Fairies were all assembled and still discussing how Klickoon had cheated them. Suddenly they saw a child coming towards them, climbing up the Mountain. The Votaresses were delighted; it would be easy to deal with such a little child!

As Primrose came nearer, the Votaresses went down to meet him. In less than no time they had surrounded him. Primrose only wondered when he suddenly saw so many ladies coming towards him, each with a great pair of wings! One of the Votaresses went close up to the child to take him by the hand.

Now Primrose was wearing the little Cross round his neck. When the Fairy saw the Cross, she screamed and started away from Primrose, for she could not touch him because of the Cross.

But the Fairies had no intention of letting the child off so easily. They hovered about him in a wide circle and conferred softly about what was to be done with him.

Little Primrose”s heart was untroubled within him. The Fairies conferred, and their thoughts were so black that they came out in a cloud of black forest wasps buzzing round their heads. But Primrose just looked at them, and as he could see no harm in them, how was he to be frightened? On the contrary, the wings of one of the Votaresses took his fancy, flapping like that, and so he toddled up to her to see what she was really like.

“That will do nicely,” thought the Votaress. “I cannot touch him, but I will entice him into the Wolf”s Pit.”

For near by there was a pit all covered over with boughs, so that you could not see it; and the bottom of the pit was full of horrible stakes and spikes. Whoever stepped on the boughs was bound to fall through and kill himself on the spikes.

So the Votaress Fairy enticed Primrose to the Wolf”s Pit, always slipping away from him, and he always following to see what her wings really were. And so they came to the Pit. The Fairy flew over the Pit; but poor little misguided Primrose stepped on the boughs and fell down the hole.

The Votaresses shrieked for joy, and hurried up to see the child perish on the spikes.

But what do Fairies know about a baby!

Primrose was light as a chicken. Some of the boughs and branches fell down with him, the branches covered the spikes, and Primrose was so small and light that he came to rest upon the leaves as if they had been a bed.

When Primrose found himself lying down upon something soft, he thought: “I suppose I had better go to sleep!” So he tucked his little hand under his head and went sound asleep, never thinking that he was caught in a deep hole and could not get out.

Round him there were still many bare spikes, and the wicked Fairies were bending over the Pit. But Primrose slept peacefully and quietly, as though he were bedded on sweet basil. Primrose never moved. His mother had taught him: “When you are in your bed, darling, shut your little eyes and lie quite still, so as not to frighten your guardian angel.”

So the Fairies stood round the Pit, and saw the baby falling asleep like a little duke in his golden crib. “That child is not so easy to deal with, after all,” said the Votaresses. So they flew off to Share-spoil, and took counsel as to how they might kill him, since they could not touch him because of the little Cross.

They argued and argued, and at last one of the Votaresses had an idea. “We will raise a storm,” said she; “we will cause a terrific rain. A torrent will pour down the Mountain, and the child will be drowned in the Pit.”

“Whoo-ee, whoo-ee!” howled the Votaresses. They flapped their wings for joy, and at once rose up into the air and above the Mountain to roll up the clouds and raise a storm.

VI.

Little Lavender was sitting on the top of the Mountain on her island in the Holy Lake. Round her fluttered lovely butterflies, even settling on her shoulders; and the grey dove guided her young to her lap to let her feed them with seeds. A wild raspberry-cane bent over Lavender, and Lavender ate the crimson fruit, and wanted for nothing.

But she was all alone, poor child! and sad at heart, because she believed she was parted for ever from Primrose, her only brother; and, moreover, she thought: “Did anyone, I wonder, remember to give him a drink or to put him to bed?”

In the midst of these sad thoughts Lavender looked up at the sky and saw a mist, black as night, rolling up round the Mountain. Over Lavender and over the holy furrow-surrounded Lake the sun shone brightly; but all around the mist was gathering and rising, inky clouds drifted and whirled, rose and fell like a pall of smoke, and every now and again fiery flashes darted from the gloom.

It was the Votaresses, flapping their great wings, who had piled up those black clouds upon the Mountain, and it was from their eyes that the fiery flashes shot across the darkness. And then suddenly it began to thunder most terribly within the clouds; heavy rain beat down all around upon the Mountain, and the Votaresses howled and darted to an fro through the thunder and the rain.

When Lavender saw that, she considered: “Over my head there is sunshine, and no harm can come to me. But perhaps there is someone abroad on the Mountain in need of help in this storm.”

And although Lavender thought there was never a Christian soul on the Mountain, yet she did as her mother had taught her to do in a storm: she crossed herself and prayed. And as there was still a bell in the ruined chapel, Lavender took hold of the rope and began to toll the bell against the storm. Lavender did not know for whom she was praying or for whom she was tolling, but she tolled for a help to anyone who might be in distress.

When the bell on the island began to ring so unexpectedly, after having been silent for a hundred years, the Votaresses took fright up there in the clouds; they got worried and confused; they left off making a storm; they fled in terror in all directions, and hid under the rocks, under the crags, in hollow trees, or in the fern.

In a little while the Mountain was clear, and the sun shone on the Mountain, where there had been no sunshine for a hundred years.

The sun shone; the rain stopped suddenly. But for poor little Primrose the danger was not yet over.

That first great downpour had formed a big torrent in the Mountain, and the wild water was rushing fast towards the very Pit where Primrose was sleeping.

Primrose had heard neither the storm nor the thunder, and now he did not hear the torrent either as it came rushing and roaring with frightful swiftness towards him to drown him.

The water poured into the Pit, poured in, and in a moment it had overwhelmed the child.

It covered him, overwhelmed him in a moment. There was not a thing to be seen, neither Pit, nor spikes, nor Primrose, nothing but the wild water foaming down the Mountain.

But as the flood rushed into the pit, it eddied at the bottom, surged round and up and back upon itself, and then suddenly the water lifted up the boughs and branches, and little Primrose, too, upon the boughs. It lifted him up, clean out of the Pit, and carried him downhill on a bough.

The torrent was so strong that it carried away great stones and ancient oaks, rolling them along, and nothing could stop them, because they were heavy and stout, and the torrent very fierce.

But tiny Primrose on his bough floated lightly down the flood, as lightly as a white rose-bud, so that any bush could stop him.

And indeed, there was a bush in the way, and the bough with Primrose caught in its branches. Primrose woke up with a start, caught hold of the branch with his little hands, climbed up into the bush, and there he sat on the top of the bush, just like a little bird.

Above Primrose the sun shone clear and sweet; below Primrose foamed the dreadful water; and he sat in the bush in his little white shirt, and rubbed his eyes in wonder, because he could not make out what had happened and what had waked him up so suddenly.

By the time he had finished rubbing his eyes the water had all run away downhill; the torrent was gone. Primrose watched the mud squelching and writhing round the bush, and then Primrose climbed down, because he thought:

“I suppose I ought to go on now, since they have waked me up.”

And so he went on up the hill. And he had slept so sweetly that he felt quite happy, and thought: “Now I shall find Lavender.”

VII.

No sooner had the bell stopped ringing than the Votaresses recovered their strength. They took courage and crept out of their hidie-holes. When they got out, lo! the sun was shining on the Mountain, and there is nothing in the world the wicked Fairies fear more than the sunlight. And as they could not wrap the whole Mountain in mist all in a hurry, each one quickly rolled herself up in a bit of fog, and off they flew to the Pit to make sure that Primrose was drowned.

But when they got there and looked into the Pit, the Pit was empty; Primrose was gone!

The Fairies cried aloud with vexation, and looked all over the Mountain to see whether the water had not dashed him against a stone. But as the Votaresses looked, why, this is what they saw: Primrose going blithely on his way; the sun was drying his little shirt for him on his back, and he was crooning away to himself as little children will.

“That child will escape us at this rate,” sobbed one of the Votaresses. “The child is stronger than we are. Hadn”t we better ask the Fiery Dragon to help us?”

“Don”t disgrace yourselves, my sisters,” said another Votaress. “Surely we can get the better of a feeble infant by ourselves.”

So said the Fairy, but she did not know that Primrose in his simplicity was stronger than all the evil and all the cunning in Mount Kitesh.

“We will send the She-bear to kill the child for us,” suggested a Votaress. “Dumb animals do not fear the Cross.” And she flew off at once to the bears” den.

There lay the She-bear, a-playing with her cub.

“Run along, Bruineen, down that path. There is a child coming up the path. Wait for him and kill him, Bruineen dear,” said the Votaress.

“I can”t leave my cub,” answered Bruineen.

“I'll amuse him for you,” said the Votaress, and straightway began to play with the little bear.

Bruineen went away down the path, and there was Primrose already in sight.

The great She-bear rose up on her hind-legs, stretched out her front paws, and so went forwards towards Primrose to kill him.

The She-bear was terrible to see, but Primrose saw nothing terrible in her, and could only think:

“Here”s somebody coming and offering me his hand, so I must give him mine.”

So Primrose raised both his little hands and held them out to the She-bear, and went straight up to her, as though his mother had called him to her arms.

Well, another moment, and the dreadful She-bear would seize him. She had come up to him, and would have caught and killed him at once had he offered to run. But she saw that she had time to consider how she had best take hold of him. So she drew herself right up, looked at Primrose from the right and from the left, and now she was going to pounce.

But at that very moment the little bear cub in the den began to squeal. One of the black wasps that always buzzed round the Votaress”s head had stung him. The cub howled lustily, because, although the Bruins are a spiteful folk themselves, they won”t stand spite from anybody else. So the cub squealed at the top of his voice, and when Bruineen heard her baby crying she forgot about Primrose and the Mountain! Bruineen dropped on all-fours and trundled away like fury to her den.

The angry She-bear caught the Votaress by the hair with her great paw. They fought, they rolled, they tore at each other, and left Primrose in peace.

Primrose followed the She-bear and looked on for a bit while they fought and scuffled; he looked, and then he laughed aloud, silly baby! and went on up the Mountain, and never knew what a narrow escape he had had!

VIII.

Once more the Votaresses assembled on Share-spoil to discuss what was to be done about Primrose. They saw that they were weaker than he.

Moreover, they were getting tired of flying to Share-spoil and back and conferring about Primrose, and so they were very angry.

“Well, we will poison the child. Neither spells nor cunning shall help him now,” they resolved. And straightaway one of them took a wooden platter and hurried off to a certain meadow in the Mountain to gather poison berries.

But Primrose, never dreaming that anybody should be talking about him or worrying their brains about him, walked gaily over the Mountain, cooing softly to himself like a little dove.

Presently he came to the poison meadow. The path led through the middle of it. On one side of the path the meadow was covered with red berries and on the other side with black. Both were poisonous, and whoever ate of either the one or the other was sure to die.

But how was Primrose to know that there was such a thing as poison in the world, when he had never known any food but what his mother gave him?

Primrose was hungry, and he liked the look of the red berries in the meadow. But he saw someone over there in front of him on the red side picking berries and seemingly in a great hurry, for she never raised her head. It was the Votaress, and she was gathering red berries to poison Primrose.

“That is her side,” thought Primrose, and went over to the black berries, because he had never been taught to take what belonged to another. So he sat down among the black berries and began to eat; and the Fairy wandered far away among the red berries and never noticed that Primrose had already come up and was eating black ones.

When Primrose had eaten enough he got up to go on. But, oh dear! a mist rose before his eyes; his head began to ache most dreadfully, and the earth seemed to rock beneath his feet.

That was because of the black poison.

Poor little Primrose! indeed you know neither spells nor cunning, and how are you going to save yourself from this new danger?

But Primrose struggled on all the same, because he thought it was nothing that a mist should rise before his eyes and the ground rock beneath his feet!

And so he came up with the Fairy where she was picking berries. The Votaress caught sight of Primrose, and at once she ran on to the path in front of him with her plateful of red berries. She laid down the platter before him and invited him by signs to eat.

The Votaress did not know that Primrose had already eaten of the black berries; and if she had known, she would never have offered him red ones, but would have let him die of the black poison.

Primrose did not care for any more berries, because his head ached cruelly; but his mother used to say to him: “Eat, darling, when I offer you something, and don”t grieve your mother.”

Now this was neither spell nor cunning what Primrose had been taught by his mother. But it was in a good hour that Primrose did as his mother had taught him.

He took the plate and ate of the red berries; and as he ate, the mist cleared before his eyes, his head and his heart stopped aching, and the ground no longer rocked beneath his feet.

The red poison killed the black in Primrose”s veins. He merrily clapped his hands and went on his way as sound as a bell and as happy as a grig.

And now he could see the top of the Mountain ahead of him, and Primrose thought:

“This is the end of the world. There is nothing beyond the top. There I shall find Lavender.”

IX.

The Votaress would not believe her eyes; she stared after Primrose, and there was he toddling along and the dreadful poison doing him no harm!

She looked and she looked–and then she shrieked with rage. She could not imagine by what miracle Primrose had escaped. All she could see was that the child would slip through her hands and reach the Lake, for he was getting near the top.

The Votaress had no time to fly to Share-spoil and confer with her sisters. In time of real trouble people don”t hold conferences. But she flew straight to her brother, the thunder-voiced bird Belleroo.

Belleroo”s nest was in a little bog on the Mountain, close to the furrow which ran round the Holy Lake. As he was an ill-tempered bird, he too could not cross the furrow, but the evil Things of the Mountain had appointed his place here on the boundary, so that he might trouble the peace of the Lake with his booming.

“Kinsman, brother, Belleroo,” the Votaress cried out to Belleroo, “there is a child coming up the path. Delay him here at the furrow with your booming, so that he may not escape me across the farrow to the Lake. I am going for the Fiery Dragon.”

No sooner had the Votaress said this than she flew like an arrow down the Mountain to fetch the Fiery Dragon, who was lying asleep in a deep gully.

As for Belleroo, he was always all impatience to be told to boom, because he was horribly proud of his loud voice.

Dusk was beginning to fall. It was evening. Nearer and nearer to the furrow came Primrose. Beyond the furrow he could see the Lake, and the chapel looming white on the Lake.

“Here I am at the end of the world; I have only to cross that furrow,” thought Primrose.

Suddenly the Mountain rang with the most awful noise, so that the branches swayed and the leaves trembled on the trees, and the rocks and cliffs re-echoed down to the deepest cavern. It was Belleroo roaring.

His boom was terrible. It would have scared the great Skanderbeg himself, for it would have reminded Skanderbeg of the boom of the Turkish guns.

But it did not in the least frighten the little innocent Primrose, who had never yet been shouted at in grief or anger.

Primrose heard something making such a noise that the very Mountain shook, and so he went up to see what great thing it might be. When he got there, lo! it was a bird no bigger than a hen!

The bird dipped its beak in a pool, then threw up its head and puffed out its throat like a pair of bellows, and boomed–heavens, it boomed so that Primrose”s sleeves fluttered on him! This new wonder took Primrose”s fancy so much that he sat down so as to see from near by how Belleroo boomed.

Primrose sat down just below the holy furrow beside Belleroo, and peered under his throat–because by now it was dark–the better to see how Belleroo puffed out his throat.

Had Primrose been wiser he would not have lingered there on the Mountain just below the furrow, where every evil Thing could hurt him, but he would have taken that one step across the furrow so as to be safe where the evil Things could not come.

But Primrose was just a little simpleton, and might easily have come to grief just there, within sight of safety.

Primrose was much amused by Belleroo.

He was amused; he was beguiled.

And while he was amusing himself in this fashion, the Fairy went and roused the Fiery Dragon where he slept in a deep gully.

She roused him and led him up the Mountain. On came the fearsome Fiery Dragon, spouting flame out of both nostrils and crushing firs and pine-trees as he went. There wasn”t room enough for him, you see, in the forest and the Mountain.

Why don”t you run, little Primrose? One jump across the furrow, and you will be safe and happy!

But Primrose did not think of running away. He went on sitting quite calmly below the furrow, and when he saw the flames from the Dragon flaring up in the darkness, he thought to himself: “What is making that pretty light on the Mountain?”

It was a cruel fire coming along to devour Primrose, and he, foolish baby! sat looking at it, all pleased and wondering: “What is making that pretty light on the Mountain?”

The Votaress caught sight of Primrose, and said to the Fiery Dragon:

“There is the child. Fiery Dragon! Get your best fire ready!”

But the Dragon was panting with the stiff climb.

“Wait a moment, sister, while I get my breath,” answered the Dragon.

So the Dragon took a deep breath, once, twice, three times!

But that is just where the Dragon made a mistake.

Because his mighty breath caused an equally great wind on the Mountain. The wind blew, and bowled Primrose over the furrow and right up to the Holy Lake!

The Votaress gave one shriek, threw herself down on the ground, rolled herself up in her black wings, and sobbed and cried like mad.

The angry Dragon snorted and puffed; he belched fire as from ten red-hot furnaces. But the flames could not cross the furrow; when they reached the furrow they just rose straight upwards as if they had come up against a marble wall.

Sparks and flame crackled and spurted and returned upon Mount Kitesh. Half the Mountain did the Dragon set on fire, but he lost little Primrose!

When the wind bowled Primrose over like that, Primrose only laughed at being carried away so fast. He laughed once; he laughed twice….

X.

On the island in the Lake, beside the little chapel, sat Lavender.

It was evening, but Lavender could not go to sleep becau

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