NURSING A FAIRY.
A THRIFTY housewife lived on one of the hills between Zennor Church-town and St Ives. One night a gentleman came to her cottage, and told her he had marked her cleanliness and her care that he had a child whom he desired to have brought up with much tenderness, and he had fixed on her. She should be very handsomely rewarded for her trouble, and he showed her a considerable quantity of golden coin. Well, she agreed, and away she went with the gentleman to fetch this child. When they came to the side of Zennor hill, the gentleman told the woman he must bindfold her, and she, good, easy soul, having heard of such things, fancied this was some rich man's child, and that the residence of its mother was not to be known, so she gave herself great credit for cunning in quietly submitting. They walked on some considerable distance. When they stopped the handkerchief was taken from her eyes, and she found herself in a magnificent room, with a table spread with the most expensive luxuries, in the way of game, fruits, and wines. She was told to eat, and she did so with some awkwardness, and not a little trembling. She was surprised that so large a feast should have been spread for so small a party,--only herself and the master. At last, having enjoyed luxuries such as she never tasted before or since, a silver bell was rung, and a troop of servants came in, bearing a cot covered with satin, in which was sleeping the most beautiful babe that human eyes ever gazed on. She was told this child was to be committed to her charge; she should not want for anything; but she was to obey certain laws. She was not to teach the child the Lord's Prayer; she was not to wash it after sundown she was to bathe it every morning in water, which she would find in a white ewer placed in the child's room this was not to be touched by any one but herself, and she was to be careful not to wash her own face in this water. - In all other respects she was to treat the child as one of her own children. The woman was blinded again, and the child having been placed in her arms, away she trudged, guided by the mysterious father. When out on the road, the bandage was removed from her eyes, and she found she had a small baby in- her arms, not remarkably good.. -looking, with very sharp, piercing eyes, and but ordinarily dressed. However, a bargain is a bargain; so she resolved to make the best of it, and she presented the babe to her husband, telling him so much of the story as she thought it prudent to trust him with. For years the child was with this couple. They never wanted for anything; meat, and even wines, were provided,--as most people thought,--by wishing for them; clothes, ready-made, were on the child's bed when required; and the charmed water was always in the magic ewer. The little boy grew active and strong. He was remarkably wild, yet very tractable, and he appeared to have a real regard for his "big mammy," as he called the woman. Sometimes - she thought the child was mad. He would run, and leap, and scream, as though he were playing with scores of boys, when no soul was near him. The woman had never seen the father since the child had been with them; but ever and anon, money was conveyed to them in some mysterious manner. One morning, when washing the boy, this good woman, who had often observed how bright the water made the face of the child, was tempted to try if it would improve her own beauty. So directing the boy's attention to some birds singing on a tree outside the window, she splashed some of the water up into her face. Most of it went into her eye. She closed it instinctively, and upon opening it, she saw a number of little people gathered round her and playing with the boy. She said not a word, though her fear was great; and she continued to see the world of small - people surrounding the world of ordinary men and women, being with them, but not of them. She now knew who the boy's playmates were, and she often wished to speak to the beautiful creatures of the invisible world who were his real companions; but she was discreet, and kept silence.
Curious robberies had been from time to time committed in St Ives Market, and although the most careful watch had been kept, the things disappeared, and no thief detected. One day our good housewife was at the market, and to her surprise she saw the father of her nursling. Without ceremony she ran, up to him,--at a moment when he was putting some choice fruit by stealth into his pocket,--and spoke to him. "So, thou seest me, dost thou?" "To be sure I do, and know 'ee too," replied the woman. "Shut this eye," putting his finger on her left eye. "Canst see me now?" "Yes, I tell 'ee, and know 'ee too," again said the woman.
" Water for elf; not water for self;
Yon've lost your eye, your child, and yourself,"
said the gentleman. From that hour she was blind in the right eye. When she got home the boy was gone. She grieved sadly, but she never saw him more, and this once happy couple became poor and wretched.