I really don't see why it shouldn't be tried, and I'm almost sure that, if you could only catch a Fairy, and
put it in the corner, and give it nothing but bread and water for a day or two, you'd find it quite an improved
character----it would take down its conceit a little, at all events.
The next question is, what is the best time for seeing Fairies? I believe I can tell you all about that.
The first rule is, that it must be a very hot day----that we may consider as settled: and you must be just
a little sleepy----but not too sleepy to keep your eyes open, mind. Well, and you ought to feel a little----
what one may call "fairyish "----the Scotch call it "eerie," and perhaps that's a prettier word; if you don't
know what it means, I'm afraid I can hardly explain it; you must wait till you meet a Fairy, and then you'll
And the last rule is, that the crickets should not be chirping. I can't stop to explain that: you must take it
on trust for the present.
So, if all these things happen together, you have a good chance of seeing a Fairy----or at least a much
better chance than if they didn't.
The first thing I noticed, as I went lazily along through an open place in the wood, was a large Beetle
lying struggling on its back, and I went down upon one knee to help the poor thing to its feet again. In
some things, you know, you ca'n't be quite sure what an insect would like: for instance, I never could
quite settle, supposing I were a moth, whether I would rather be kept out of the candle, or be allowed
to fly straight in and get burnt----or again, supposing I were a spider, I'm not sure if I should be quite
pleased to have my web torn down, and the fly let loose----but I feel quite certain that, if I were a beetle
and had rolled over on my back, I should always be glad to be helped up again.
So, as I was saying, I had gone down upon one knee, and was just reaching out a little stick to turn the
Beetle over, when I saw a sight that made me draw back hastily and hold my breath, for fear of making
any noise and frightening the little creature a way.
Not that she looked as if she would be easily frightened: she seemed so good and gentle that I'm sure
she would never expect that any one could wish to hurt her. She was only a few inches high, and was
dressed in green, so that you really would hardly have noticed her among the long grass; and she was
so delicate and graceful that she quite seemed to belong to the place, almost as if she were one of the
flowers. I may tell you, besides, that she had no wings (I don't believe in Fairies with wings), and that
she had quantities of long brown hair and large earnest brown eyes, and then I shall have done all I can
to give you an idea of her.
Sylvie (I found out her name afterwards) had knelt down, just as I was doing, to help the Beetle; but it
needed more than a little stick for her to get it on its legs again; it was as much as she could do, with
both arms, to roll the heavy thing over; and all the while she was talking to it, half scolding and half comforting,
as a nurse might do with a child that had fallen down.
"There, there! You needn't cry so much about it. You're not killed yet----though if you were, you couldn't
cry, you know, and so it's a general rule against crying, my dear! And how did you come to tumble over?
But I can see well enough how it was----I needn't ask you that----walking over sand-pits with your chin in
the air, as usual. Of course if you go among sand-pits like that, you must expect to tumble. You should
The Beetle murmured something that sounded like "I did look," and Sylvie went on again.
"But I know you didn't! You never do! You always walk with your chin up----you're so dreadfully conceited.
Well, let's see how many legs are broken this time. Why, none of them, I declare! And what's the good
of having six legs, my dear, if you can only kick them all about in the air when you tumble? Legs are
meant to walk with, you know. Now don't begin putting out your wings yet; I've more to say. Go to the