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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.
Boy and the dancing fairy.
From Canadian Wonder Tales by Cyrus Macmillan.
Start of Story
Long ago two Indian boys lived in the Canadian forest
with their parents. One boy was much older and
larger and stronger than the other. He forced his
little brother to do all the hard work about the place. He
stole from him all the good things his parents gave him and
often he beat him until he cried with pain. If the little boy
told his parents of his brother s cruelty, his brother beat him
all the harder, and the little boy found that it was more
to his comfort not to complain. But at last he could stand
the cruelty no longer, and he decided to run away from home.
So one morning he took his bow and arrows and an extra
pair of moccasins, and set out alone to seek his fortune and to
find a kinder world.
Although the boy was small and young, he could run
very fast. He could run so fast that when he shot an arrow
from his bow, he could outstrip the arrow in its flight. So he
ran along very quickly, and when night came on he was very
far from home. He was lonely too, for he thought of the
bright warm camp fires in the twilight at home, and of his
father and mother, and he wished he was back again in his
own soft bed. He was frightened too by the strange noises,
and every sound startled him. At last when he was about to
cry in his loneliness, an old man came along.
The man was
very old but he had a kindly face, all wrinkled and weather-
beaten, and twinkling eyes that told of a merry heart.
" Hello," he said to the boy, "where are you from, and where
are you going?" "I have come a long way," said the boy,
" and I am very tired and lonesome and far from home, and I
don t know where I am going. I am looking for a pleasant
land." "You look like a good boy," said the old man ; "you
say you have come a long way, but I have come much farther
than you, and from a very pleasant place. When I began my
journey I was young like you. I have never stopped, and
now you see that I am very old and bent and wrinkled, while
there is not a line in your face. I have travelled a very long
road, the road of Long Life." Then the boy said, " I want to
go to the place you came from since it is pleasant." But the
old man answered, " You can never reach it ; it is the Land of
Youth ; the Childhood Land, men call it, and those who
leave it never go back. It is a land of wonderful sights and
sounds and dreams. It can be reached only from the road
on the other side ; you have passed that road and it is too
late for you now to go back to it."
Then they were silent for
a long time, and the boy looked at the old man and wondered.
He saw that the old man s shoes were worn out from his long
journey and that his feet were sore and weary. So he gave
him the extra pair of moccasins he carried. The old man was
very thankful. He gave the boy a little box he had in his
pocket and he said, " Take this box ; you will find it will help
you in times of need, and it will be useful to you in your
travels. I am near the end of my journey, and I shall need it
no more. You have a long journey before you." The boy
put the box in his pocket and lay down to sleep. Then the
old man went on his way, and the boy never saw him again.
The next morning, before the boy began his day s journey,
he wondered what was in the box the old man had given him.
He took it out and opened it. Inside was a little man no
bigger than his own thumb, dancing as hard as he could.
As soon as the cover was opened and light entered the box,
the little man stopped dancing and called to the boy, " What
do you want?" The boy knew then that the old man had
given him a little fairy to help him in his need. He closed
the box and answered, " I wish to be carried far away to
a beautiful land where I can get a lovely girl for a comrade,
for I am very lonely."
At once darkness came upon him and
he slept. When he awoke he found he had been asleep but a
few seconds, but he was now in a large village in a beautiful
land. It was a land of trees and flowers and wonderful
streams, where many birds were singing. He came to a house
on the border of the village and entered it. Inside was a very
old woman ; she was the only person in the house. When
she saw the boy, she began to cry. He asked her why she
was weeping. She answered, " I know why you have come
here. I knew from a dream that you were coming. You
have come to seek a very lovely girl as your wife and comrade.
She lives in the village. Her father is very rich. He is
a great Chief. He asks that each man who seeks to win his
daughter must do very hard and dangerous and impossible
tasks. If they fail they are put to death. The girl has had
many suitors, but all have failed to do her father s tasks and
all have been killed. You too will fail and you will surely
die." Then the old woman cried louder than before. But
the boy said, " I can do any task he sets for me. He cannot
kill me." For the boy knew that the dancing fairy would
Soon the boy went to the Chief s house to ask him for his
lovely daughter. The Chief told him the conditions on
which she could be won. He said that all her suitors had to
try to do hard tasks. If they failed they were put to death ;
the suitor who succeeded should win his daughter. The boy
agreed to do as he wished. The Chief said, " The mountain
before my house keeps me from seeing the sun in the morn
ings. You must take it away before you can win my daughter.
If you fail you shall be put to death." The boy said he would
take away the mountain that night, but the Chief did not
think he could do it.
That night when all the village was asleep the boy went
to the foot of the mountain. It was a high granite hill, with
great trees growing on its top. The boy took out his box
and opened it. The little fairy was dancing as hard as he
could, but when he saw the light he stopped and said, "What
do you want ?" And the boy said, " I want you to take away
this mountain before morning." " It shall be done," said the
little man. Then the boy closed the box and lay down and
went to sleep. He slept soundly all night. When he awoke
in the early morning the mountain was gone. All around
was only a level meadow. The sun was still low in the
eastern sky, but all the village could see it. When the Chief
awoke, he wondered greatly. He thought he had lost his
daughter at last. But he decided to set another hard task
for the boy to do.
Soon the boy went to the Chief to claim his bride. But
the Chief said, " You must do another task for me. Not far
away there is a village where my enemies live. They have
caused me great trouble. You must destroy the village and
drive all the people away before you can win my daughter.
If you fail to do it to-night, you shall be put to death to
morrow." The boy agreed to do as he wished. And the
Chief thought the boy would surely be killed in making the
That night the boy set out for the distant village. He
ran very fast and soon reached the border of it. Then he
took out his box and opened it. The fairy stopped dancing
and said, "What do you want?" "I want you to destroy
this village to-night and drive all the people away," said the
boy. " It shall be done," said the fairy. Then the boy closed
the box and went to sleep under a tree. He slept soundly all
night. In the morning when he awoke, there was no village
in sight. All around him was silence ; not a sound of life
came to him but the sounds of the forest ; the village had
been destroyed in the night and all its people were now far
away. Then the boy went back and told the Chief that he
had done the deed. The Chief sent a messenger to see if the
boy spoke the truth, and the messenger came back and said
that the task had been done.
Then the Chief knew that he
was beaten. He knew that the boy had very great power
which he could not understand, and he said, " You may take
my lovely daughter." So the boy took the girl as his wife
and comrade. The Chief gave them a great lodge to live
in and servants to wait on them, and they were very happy.
But their happiness was soon ended for a time. One day
the boy went away with many others to hunt far in the forest.
He put on a hunting suit, but he forgot to take his magic
box along with him. He left it behind in the pocket of his
coat. In the house was a wicked servant who wanted the
boy s possessions for himself. One day he had seen his
master opening the box and talking to it. He wondered
what his master meant and what was in the box. When his
master had gone hunting, the servant went to hang up his
clothes. He found the box in the coat pocket. He took it
out and opened it. Inside, the little man was dancing as
hard as he could. When he saw the light, he stopped and
said, "What do you want?" The servant knew that at last
he had found the secret of his master s power. "What do
you want me to do?" repeated the little man. The man
servant said, " I want you at once to remove this house and
all it contains to some place far away."
Then he closed the
box. At once there was darkness, and when light came again
in a few seconds, the house and all in it were far away in the
depths of the forest. The servant was very pleased.
Soon the hunters came back. They had taken much
game. When the boy came to where his home had been, he
found that his house was gone, and his wife and servants and
all his possessions were gone with it. He knew at once
what had happened. But he knew how to overcome his
wicked servant. He took a magic bow and arrow that his
mother had given him before he left his old home long before.
Then he went out and shot his arrow into the woods. He
ran as fast as he could, following the arrow. He ran so fast
that he could follow it in its flight. And he kept under the
arrow as it sped on and on. When the arrow dropped far in
the forest, the boy stopped. Not far in front of him he saw
his own house. He hid among the trees until night came.
Then he crept softly to the house. There was not a sound.
Everyone was asleep. He went in, and there, sure enough,
was his coat hanging on a peg. He slipped it on, and in the
pocket he found the magic box. He opened it, and there
was the little man dancing as hard as he could. When the
cover was lifted, the little man stopped and said, "What do
you want ? "
The boy said, " I want you at once to take this
house and all it contains back to the village where it was
before." The little man said, " It shall be done."
boy went to sleep. He awoke in the morning before the
others were up, and sure enough the house was back in the
village. Then the boy asked the little man in the box to
punish the wicked servant. And the servant was sent far
away to be a wanderer on the face of the earth ; and he
wanders about to this day, and he is always looking for some
thing that never comes, and he has always beautiful dreams
that never come true.
After that, the boy and his wife lived happily. The boy
never again left the box behind him ; he kept it always with
him. And when he wanted anything, the little fairy always
brought it to him. Soon the old Chief died, and the boy
became Chief in his place. He travelled the road of Long
Life over which the wrinkled old man had come. When he
grew old, he asked the fairy in the box to bring him back to
the Land of Youth, but that was the one thing the dancing
fairy could not do. So at the end of the long road the
old man disappeared over the hill and left his box behind him
with the great deeds it had done.