The Magic Locket
"Where are we, father?" Sylvie whispered, with her arms twined closely around the old man's neck, and with her rosy cheek lovingly pressed to his.
"In Elfland, darling. It's one of the provinces of Fairyland."
"But I thought Elfland was ever so far from Outland: and we've come such a tiny little way!"
"You came by the Royal Road, sweet one. Only those of royal blood can travel along it: but you've been royal ever since I was made King of Elfland; that's nearly a month ago. They sent two ambassadors, to make sure that their invitation to me, to be their new King, should reach me. One was a Prince; so he was able to come by the Royal Road, and to come invisibly to all but me: the other was a Baron; so he had to come by the common road, and I dare say he hasn't even arrived yet."
"Then how far have we come?" Sylvie enquired.
"Just a thousand miles, sweet one, since the Gardener unlocked that door for you."
"A thousand miles!" Bruno repeated. "And may I eat one?"
"Eat a mile, little rogue?"
"No," said Bruno. "I mean may I eat one of that fruits?"
"Yes, child," said his father: "and then you'll find out what Pleasure is like----the Pleasure we all seek so madly, and enjoy so mournfully!"
Bruno ran eagerly to the wall, and picked a fruit that was shaped something like a banana, but had the colour of a strawberry.
He ate it with beaming looks, that became gradually more gloomy, and were very blank indeed by the time he had finished.
"It was a Phlizz," Sylvie gravely replied. "Are they all like that, father?"
"They're all like that to you, darling, because you don't belong to Elfland----yet. But to me they are real."
Bruno looked puzzled. "I'll try anuvver kind of fruits!" he said, and jumped down off the King's knee. "There's some lovely striped ones, just like a rainbow!" And off he ran.
Meanwhile the Fairy-King and Sylvie were talking together, but in such low tones that I could not catch the words: so I followed Bruno, who was picking and eating other kinds of fruit, in the vain hope of finding some that had a taste. I tried to pick some myself----but it was like grasping air, and I soon gave up the attempt and returned to Sylvie.
"Look well at it, my darling," the old man was saying, "and tell me how you like it."
"'It's just lovely," cried Sylvie, delightedly. "Bruno, come and look!" And she held up, so that he might see the light through it, a heart-shaped Locket, apparently cut out of a single jewel, of a rich blue colour, with a slender gold chain attached to it.
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