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hill princess.

From The suns babies by Edith Howes.
Age Rating 2 to 4.

Start of Story

Now all this time Charlie had been thinking: "What a grand place for rabbiting!" So he looked up with rather a red face at the Princess's words. She knew what he was thinking, for she said: "See if you can touch Little Hoppy." She pointed, as she spoke, to a wise-looking rabbit who sat close to her feet, looking up at her with loving eyes. Roy and Charlie both bent down to catch Little Hoppy, but they found to their astonishment that, although he sat quite still, they could not touch him. Again and again they tried, but every time something seemed to push away their hands. It was not the rabbit--he never moved. Neither was it the Princess. She stood smiling beside them. "It's magic," said the Princess. "Come and play marbles," said Little Hoppy. The boys jumped. So the rabbits could talk in this strange place, could they? And play marbles, too? Why, yes, there were several marble rings in the playground, with bunnies and birds all playing together and chattering as fast as any crowd of boys. And hares were playing leap-frog. And groups of bush-robins were nursing tiny dolls. "Well, this is a comical place," said Roy. "May we go and have a game?" he asked the Princess.



The Princess shook her head. "It is too late to-day," she said. "You must leave us now, or it will be dark before you reach your homes. But keep your promise to me, and I will give you a stone that will guide you to the Palace another time. Then you may come earlier and so have time for a game." The boys were overjoyed. "That will be first-rate," they said. "When may we come again?" "The moon was full last night," answered the Princess. "Come always on the day after the full moon. See--these will guide you." She picked two small stones off the ground and gave them one each. As she touched them they gleamed and shone like opals; but when the boys took them they lost their light. "Do not lose these," she said. "If you keep your promise these stones will guide you to the Palace and open the door for you." She took them back through the Palace and out on to the hillside again. The boys thanked her and said good-bye, and she went in, shutting the door behind her with a word. When it was shut, you could not tell it was there, for the grass and tussocks grew over it.



Roy and Charlie went straight home, talking all the way about the wonderful things they had seen and heard. "We must watch carefully for the next full moon," said Roy at his gate, as they stood for a moment to say good-night. "Yes, indeed," said Charlie, "what a time we shall have!" Then he hurried home. "Have you had a good time, Charlie?" asked his mother at tea-time. "Rather!" said Charlie. "I don't believe anybody ever saw so many wonderful things as we saw to-day." And then he grew so excited at the thought of it all that he forgot about his promise, and told his mother and father about the Princess and the Palace. He knew before he had finished that he had done wrong, but that did not stop him. And the worst of it was that neither his father nor his mother believed him. His mother at first looked very grave, and asked him if he had been in the sun without his hat, but his father said: "Nonsense! the sun was not hot to-day. See that he doesn't read too much, Mary. We don't want him to learn to spin yarns like this." Then he was sent to bed.



Roy did not break his promise. He told his father and mother about his rabbiting, and about things he saw on the hills and in the gullies, but he said nothing at all about the Princess and the Palace. It was hard to keep silent when it was such a wonderful secret, but he remembered his promise. And that is how Roy found the Palace again and Charlie did not. When the day after the full moon came, they both started out, but Roy's stone led him straight to the Palace, while Charlie's led him all the afternoon away from it. They were magic stones, and had power to punish and reward. So Roy was led to the Princess, and had all sorts of wonderful games with Little Hoppy, while Charlie, because he had not kept his word, was led astray and not allowed to follow Roy or find the Palace for himself. And he has never found it yet.

       



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