The Lady Intelletta by Lydia Maria Child

Little children in the wide world, I have no one here to whom I can speak; so I must write to you, for it will be some consolation to think that you may read my letters, and feel sorry to think that a little child, like yourselves, can be living as I am.

I am writing with an opal pen, at a mother-of-pearl table; and you may see what pretty violet paper I have, with a silver edge. The room is of ivory, delicately carved, and chased with silver, and all around are arches, in which stand fair statues. But there is no window, except one in the ceiling, formed of a single pearl, through which the softened sunlight falls. This room opens, by a silver door, into another, in which sits a fair and stately lady, with hair like heavy folds of gold, and eyes like the blue sky. Her features are carved like those of a statue, and she is almost as pale and still. Her blue silken robe falls richly around her, and a white flower lies, like marble, upon her hair. She sits and gazes into the fire.

Now, this fire is one of the things I wish to tell you about. It is the very brightest fire I ever saw; but there is no motion in it—no flame, no smoke, no glowing coals, that take every moment new forms. It is always still, still, and seems to be made of shining metal. I wonder how the lady can sit and gaze into it as she does. And then there is no warmth in it. No, it is not in the least like our dear wood fire at home. O, how I long for that! For you must know this house is not my home, and that I am now a poor little prisoner here. And yet, how I once wished to come hither! I will tell you about it.

My own home is a brown cottage by the shore of a great lake, over which the sun brightly shines. Our garden stretches down to the very waves of the lake, so that my violets are often sprinkled by their light foam. In this garden I played and worked with my sister Mary. We planted our seeds in the spring, and in summer watered and weeded among the sunny flowers, while mother sat at the door and held the baby, who laughed, and stretched out her little hands for the blossoms we threw her. How I wish I could see that darling baby rolling down the steps into the grass! But I am afraid she will be grown up before I shall see her again. Why could I not have been contented with all that happy life? But I had heard there was a great castle beyond the lake, in which dwelt a beautiful lady, and I dreamed of that lady day and night. When I went in the morning to bathe in the lake, and the waves, all golden in the sunrise, broke softly over my feet, I fancied they had brought me a message from her; and at evening I would lie down among the tall grasses, and gaze over the sunset waters, longing to follow the light to her castle door, whence I thought it shone.

The lake was so wide I could not see the other shore; but I knew that the road which passed our house ran all around it, and I often walked a long way upon it, hoping to reach the castle.

One day, when I had strayed far from home, a coach, all glittering in its swiftness, came sweeping by. "O, take me in, take me in!" I exclaimed; and in a moment I was sitting beside a lady richly arrayed, and we were speeding on. The lady did not speak to me, but gazed out of the window, so that I could only see the veil, that fell around her like shimmering mist. Thus we drove on and on, and every thing passed us so swiftly that I could see nothing distinctly. Indeed, I did not look out much, but turned towards the lady, hoping to catch a glimpse of her beautiful face.

At length we stopped before a strange, dark building, that seemed to rise up into the very sky. "Can this be the castle I have so longed for?" I thought in surprise. High steps led to the entrance, and on each side stood a lion with a woman's head, carved in stone. The door opened silently, and we entered into a marble hall, and went up broad marble stairs.

The lady guided me into a room lighted from the ceiling, where I found a small white bed and a marble bath. Nothing else. "Is this to be my room?" I wondered. "I should think there might at least be a looking glass: how shall I know whether my hair is smooth?" But I did not dare to say this to the still lady. She then walked before me into another room, and we seated ourselves at a marble table. "Every thing is marble," I said to myself, "even the lady." Then an old man entered with a white beard, that looked like icicles frozen upon a rock. "Marble too," I thought; but his eyes were very gentle. Not a word was spoken; but white porcelain dishes stood before us, filled with the most delicate food, and we ate in silence. Then the lady arose, and I followed her into a lofty room. She seated herself, and gazed into the fire, while I stood beside her, waiting for her to speak; but she did not notice me. At length I asked, "Shall I not go home now?" She did not glance at me, she did not speak. I looked around the room. Mirrors, mirrors, every where; and in every mirror I saw the lady, but started when I observed, that I nowhere saw myself beside her. I went nearer to them. There were the lady and the fire, reflected and re-reflected a thousand times; but poor little I was nowhere to be seen. "Am I not, then, any where?" I exclaimed. "The lady does not hear me! The mirrors do not hold me!" I clasped my hands together to feel if there was any real life in them, but almost thought there was not, they were so cold. I went into the marble hall. Silent all; ah, how silent! I opened door after door. Silver and blue were all the rooms; no crimson, no gold. Statues and columns were all around; no paintings, no flowers. Was I not in a great cave full of stalactites? Longing to tread once more the green earth, I ran down the broad flight of stairs; but the entrance door was closed, and I could not remember the word by which the lady had opened it. I went up the stairs and sought the old man, but every room was empty. At length I found a little wooden staircase, that led higher and higher, to a narrow door. I knocked; no answer. I lifted the wooden latch; it did not open. I sat on the threshold, for I liked that wooden staircase. It was like the one that leads to my own little chamber at home, where Mary and I slept so sweetly together. I fancied what Mary was doing at that moment. It must be night, and they must be wondering where I was. I would try to find a window, and perhaps I could climb out. I looked into every room. They were all lighted by windows, high, high in the ceiling, and I could not hope to reach them. I returned to the lady's mirrored room. There she sat in her hundred mirrors, but she saw me not. I went into my little room, and weeping, fell asleep, to dream that my mother wept for me at home.

In the morning, on first awakening, I wondered where Mary was, for I forgot where I was myself; but the faint light, that fell like early dawn through the high window, brought all to my remembrance. A fresh, white dress lay upon my bed; I put it on, and glided down stairs. The lady still sat by the fire. "Had she not slept?" I wondered. "Had she not dreamed of flowers and falling dews, of rosy faces, and of mother's love, as I had?" She arose silently, and I followed her to the room where we had taken our supper the evening before. The old man entered. The lady bowed her head low. I bowed mine. The dishes appeared upon the table, I knew not from whence, and we again ate in silence. The fruits were fair to see, but seemed to have no flavor, no juice. The only drink was water, in crystal vases. How I did want a cup of good old Brindle's milk, foaming and warm, as we have it at home.

All that long day I wandered up and down. Once I saw the old man, at the end of a long corridor. I thought of his gentle eyes, and sprang towards him; but he vanished, I could not tell how. I began to think he was a phantom; that it was all a strange dream. If there had only been a bird to sing, or a frog to hop about, or any thing living! But the lady was so still she scarcely seemed to breathe, and the old man came and went like a shadow. There was not even a breath of wind. Finest lace curtains hung in the rooms, but they never stirred. How much pleasanter was my little muslin curtain at home, that fluttered so lightly in the summer breeze! And then my morning glories, that peeped into my window; they were all in full bloom, pink, purple, and white, and I was not there to see them.

At length I found my way into this ivory room. The statues here are not as stern as in the rest of the house. Some are very lovely, and there is even one of a mother holding a child, which makes me think of my mother and our little baby. O, how many hours I have passed at the feet of this statue, weeping as I never wept before!

I know not how many days I have been here, but it seems a very long while. Did you ever wake in the night, when it was all still, and you could see the faint starlight through the window? and did it not seem as if you were awake a very, very long time, and as if a great many thoughts came, which you never had before? and yet, perhaps, it is only a little while. So it is with me. It may be only a few days since I left home; but it seems to me as if the summer must have passed, as if all the flowers were faded, and the leaves fallen from the trees; and yet father may still be mowing his grass, and Mary playing in the hay. Happy, happy Mary!

I would write to her and my mother, and tell them where I am, and entreat them to come for me, but I know not how to send a letter. There is certainly no post office here. I have no way to send my letter to you; but I cannot speak to any one in this silent castle, and it is a pleasure to write. If I direct it to all the children in the world, perhaps one of them may some day come here and find it. I shall not seal my letter, because there is no sealing wax here, and no seal. I think the lady never writes letters to any one; but sometimes she writes and throws her paper into the fire. There it shrivels up in a moment, and the fire burns, or rather glitters, just as before. O, that fire! It seems more like a keen frost than a fire, and I never dare to approach it. I never look at it except in the mirrors.

In an old, dark cabinet, curiously carved, standing near the fire, are a few books, some large and some very small. They are bound in black leather, and clasped with jewels. I take them down, but cannot unclasp them. Sometimes the old man comes in and reads aloud to the lady. Then she turns her face from the fire, a little towards him. Ah, that is pleasant. His voice is like the summer wind, and I sit beside him to drink it in, but cannot understand his words. Yet they have a strange power over me, and I often weep as I do by the mother's statue. He sometimes looks mildly down upon me, and has even spoken to me; but I did not understand what he wished to say.

One day, when he left the room, I followed him, very timidly, with softest steps. He passed slowly through the great halls, and down a dark staircase, which I had never before seen. Yet it was not altogether dark; but the light was different from the clear, silvery light that shines through the upper halls. I heard a heavy door open and close, and all was hushed. I could not find the door, and after groping a long while for it, I went back to the ivory room, and cried myself to sleep, at the foot of my dear ivory statue.

But you must not think I am always unhappy here. How can I be, where every thing is so beautiful? And another wondrous thing is, that the rooms are always changing; not much, but a little, from day to day. I have never seen any thing move except the silken lady and the silver-haired old man; and these, with a motion that is not like life; yet I can perceive that there is a change—just as, while you are looking at the clouds, you can see that they have taken new forms and tints, and yet cannot tell how it is. I sometimes think there must be invisible spirits in the castle, there are such strange lights in the rooms. Perhaps the statues are enchanted queens and princes, for there seems to be a presence in each one. I wander from one to another, and gaze, and gaze. O, how lovely they are! If they were only alive, it would be almost too great a pleasure to live with such beautiful people. I sometimes lay my hand upon them, to see if they are not warm, but quickly draw it back again, they are so very cold. No lips smile for me, no eye looks into mine, no hand is stretched out towards me.

How I wish some of you, little children, were here! Any child! The poorest beggar, in her rags, if she could but speak and move. If the color would come into her cheeks, and the tears into her eyes, I would throw my arms around her, and kiss her a hundred times. O, she would not be made of marble. But good night now. It is very late, and only a little light comes in through the pearl window. I have written a very long letter for to-day. To-morrow I will write again, only I shall have nothing to tell, for the days are all alike here. Good night.

Dear Children: I have something new to tell you. One morning, when the lady arose from the breakfast table, she went down the broad staircase, and I joyfully followed her. She spoke the magic word at the door. It opened! We passed down the steps, between the two winged lions, and stepped into the glittering carriage. Away it sped. I could not see the driver, but only that there were four white horses. On we flew, faster and faster. I gazed out of the window at the green meadows, the woods, the streams; but we passed them so rapidly that they were all mingled. I could just see that there was something moving about near the houses, and at work in the fields—men and women, I suppose; but they were as transparent as air, and I could see every thing through them. Mere ghosts they seemed to be. Now I could understand why the lady took so little notice of me. I, and all these people, were like wreaths of mist to her. I turned towards her. She was looking out with the same calm eyes. It was all unreal to her, but she was very real to me, very beautiful. I wished she were not. I wished she were not in the carriage; that it would stop; that I could get out, and run, dancing and shouting, through the fields. I broke the silence. I implored the lady to stop the carriage; to let me go and find my home; to let me gather one buttercup, one blade of grass. She drew her glimmering veil more closely around her; I believe she thought the wind blew a little. On, on, we went! At length we stopped, and I thought it was my mother's house. I looked out for the little brown walls, the grass plot, the baby. I saw only the great castle, frowning down upon me, and the lions with women's faces looking at me with large, tranquil eyes. When we alighted from the carriage I tried to escape, but the lady's power was upon me, and I had to follow her up those stone steps. The door opened and closed. I threw myself down by it; I pressed myself against it. I wept as if my heart would break. I know not how long I lay there. All night, perhaps. It may have been yesterday when I flew so fast through the green fields. I know nothing about time here. I have come to write to you again. It is night again. My paper is all wet with my tears. O, if my mother were only here to kiss me to sleep!

Dear Children: To-day something pleasant has happened. I have found a little room I never saw before, away off in the corner of a long entry; and will you believe it? there are the remains of a wood fire in it—real ashes, which I could blow about with my breath, only I do not like to disturb them, and a piece of burnt brand. Some one must have lived in this room, and perhaps not so very long ago. It is hung with flowered chintz curtains, like those around my bed at home. It made me so happy to see them, I kissed the flowers and the buds on them; and yet it made me sad, too, I longed so for my own little room. I lifted the curtains all around the walls, hoping to find a window, and found a little one in a corner, but the shutters were closed. I thought that it might overlook the lake and the hills, and that perhaps some little girl had once sat there with the soft breeze blowing upon her, and she had seen the dancing waves of the lake, and far across it our little brown house, which I would rather see now than the glancing waters I once loved so well. I pushed and pulled; I looked for a spring, and ran over all kinds of strange words in hopes to find one that would open it; but all in vain. There was no bar across the shutter, and yet it was firmly closed. Then I looked around the room. There was a small statue carved in wood of a boy, with an extinguished torch in one hand, stretching out the other as if he were groping in the darkness. There was another carving in wood of a child lying asleep, and an angel bending over it binding a wreath of roses on its head. I looked at this angel, with her softly-folded wings and loving face, for a long while, and at the little sleeping child, and thought, perhaps an angel is binding my head with roses while I sleep in this marble house, for my life here all seems like a sleep and a dream.

There was nothing else in the room except a wooden footstool and a spinning wheel, the broken thread hanging upon it. On the walls was a picture of a child with a halo around its head. It might not be a very good painting, but the face was lovely, and seemed to say, "Come with me." There was a little straw mat beneath this picture, as if some one had knelt before it; at least I did. Then I drew the footstool up, and sat near the ashes, on the hearth. I tried to imagine I was sitting by the fire at home, close to my mother's side, on my little footstool, while Mary, and the baby, and father were frolicking together, as they always do at night; but O, there was only the dead brand. And yet I would rather sit and look into those ashes, and think what a pleasant fire was once there, or might be, if rekindled, than gaze, as the lady does, into that hard, glittering fire, which is always the same.

While I sat there, feeling very homesick and sad, I spied a little cupboard by the side of the fireplace. I opened it rather hesitatingly, for I did not know what might be there, and found—what do you think?—a book! You cannot tell what a joy that was to me, you who have whole shelves of books. But if you had been shut up for a long while in a great castle where there was no person who would speak to you, no book which you could read, not so much as a kitten or a fly to play with, and nothing to do, day after day, but wander about and admire curtains and statues, and a lady like a statue,—would you not be glad to find a book you could read, even Mother Goose? At first I hardly dared to open it, for I was afraid it might be in some unknown language, and that would have been too great a disappointment; but at length I peeped in, and there was a little hymn I used to sing with my mother, and another and another. It was the very same hymn book I had at home—one just like it I mean, only very worn and old, as if it had been read a great many times. And I shall read it many, many times; for although I once knew all the hymns in it by heart, I have forgotten them now. But they will soon return to my memory. I sat on the little stool singing them over to myself in a low voice, until it seemed as if my mother were really singing them with me; and now I shall go to bed and sing myself to sleep with one of them.

Dear Children: I have not written to you for several days, because I have not needed to write, I have been so happy with my hymn book. And besides, I have found in the cupboard some small, sharp tools, with which the images in the little room must have been carved, and I am carving a figure on the wooden stool. It is very pretty, I think. It is our little baby feeding a robin. Perhaps you would not think it a good likeness of baby, but I do, it is such a chubby little thing. Only I cannot carve very well, I have had so little practice. But I draw a great deal from the statues in the ivory room, and am learning very fast. I sing to myself while I am at work; and when I wander, singing, in the great halls, to rest myself, there comes a strange echo through the lofty rooms. One day, when I was dancing along, humming a little song I used to sing with Mary, I met the old man, and he laid his hand upon my head. It seemed for a moment as if it must be my own father, and I almost threw my arms around him, but was afraid of the long, silvery beard; and yet it does not look like icicles now, but is soft and flowing. It made me think of a picture father has of a wise old man named Eli, and I shall always call him Eli now, for I like that people should have names. I think the lady's name must be Intelletta, because I saw it written in a book that was unclasped, one day. It is a pretty name—do you not think so? But I do not like it half so well as Mary.

One day I saw a strange sight. I was sitting on the lower step of the wooden staircase that leads to the narrow turret door, when the lady passed me by, without noticing me, however. She carried a dazzling sword erect in her hand, so that the point gleamed above her head. It was very splendid, to see her thus mounting the stairs. She stood before the door, but it would not open, although the sword flashed as if it would flash its way through. She waited very long, and then came slowly down, with her lips pressed together. I thought she gave one little glance at me. I arose and followed her, for whenever I see her move I always follow her. She seated herself by the fire, but did not look into it. The sword fell from her hand, and she leaned her head against one of the jewel-clasped books. The old man soon entered, unclasped the book, and read to her. She rose from her chair, and sat on a cushion at his feet—a little cushion near mine; and yet she did not see me.

I will draw you a picture of the lady ascending the stairs with the shining sword, and yet I can hardly venture to do so. It will not look like her, for I cannot draw the glittering light in her face, and that marble flower in her hair; that is too handsome for me to draw. But there is no fragrance in it, and I would rather have the smallest violet that blooms in my own dear garden. Good night.

Dear Children: I have not written to you for a long time, and you will be glad to know the reason why I have not. I was drawing one day with my pretty opal pen, when I heard a fluttering sound above my head, and there was a rosy bird flying about and singing. O, I knew that song so well! I often heard it at home when I was lying half asleep and half awake in the morning, and when I was quite awake I had often looked through all the garden, in every vine and tree, but had never found the bird; and now it had come to sing to me again. It alighted on the table. I did not touch it, but sat with my hands folded, looking and listening; and I listened even after it had flown away, and all was silent again. It flew away through the pearl window in the ceiling, which was open, and has remained so ever since; and now I can look up into the blue sky and see clouds drifting by, and the sun shining in. It shines directly upon me and makes me so happy.

After the rosy bird had gone, I missed my drawing of the lady with the sword, and I think he must have carried it away. Perhaps he will fly with it to mother, and she will wonder what it is. She will not know that I drew it, for I never drew before. If she should know it was my drawing, she would send me a little note by the rosy bird.

Evening. Yes, the bird came again to-day, and brought me a blue forget-me-not. I know it very well; it came from Mary's garden. You would have thought some great misfortune had befallen me, if you had seen how I wept over that little flower; but it was only because it made me too happy. I did so long to fly away with the bird. All I could do was to write a little note, and tie it under his wing, hoping mother would find it. So I wrote,—

"Dearest Mother: I am your own little Anna. I am in the castle of the Lady Intelletta. I wish you could see how beautiful it is here. I will come home as soon as I can possibly get out. Cannot you come for me, mother?"

Dear Children: The next day the bird brought me a note. It was written on a bit of paper torn out of a book; but I did not care for that. It said,—

"Anna dear: Why have you gone away from us? Mother is so ill weeping for you, that she cannot come for you. You must come to us. Your own sister, Mary."

Then there was one word added, in a trembling hand—"Mother." I knew who had written that.

I took the note and went to the lady. I threw myself sobbing at her feet. I entreated her, if she had any pity, to let me go home. I clasped my arms around her silken robe. She did not draw it away; she did not know I was there. The rosy bird flew into the room and sang. She heard him. She rose and followed him. He flew out of my open window. The lady gazed up as if she had never seen the drifting clouds before. I fell once more at her feet. She looked at me a moment, passed her hand over my forehead, as if striving to recollect something, but resumed her seat in silence. It was a long while before I could control myself; but at last I sat down and wrote a note to mother, begging her to be well, and to come for me, and promising never to leave her again. I sent it by the bird, and he brought me an answer, to tell me that mother was better, and they were all coming for me the next day.

I searched all over the castle for the gentle Eli, for I thought he would let me out. I went up the wooden stairs, and down the dark stairs, and through every corridor, but he was nowhere to be found. I thought they were all standing outside the great door, but tried in vain to open it. O, how wearied and bruised I was, with throwing myself against it! At night the bird came with a note which told me they had all come for me, and had gone away; that they could not believe I was in the dark castle, for I had said I was in a beautiful place, and they should wait now until I came for them. And I also must wait, and be as patient as I can. I am happier than I was before, because the rosy bird comes every day, and brings me either a note from home, or a flower, or a leaf. The soft air comes in through my window, and the sunshine, and I know they all love me at home, and have not forgotten me. So I go on drawing, that I may have copies of all these statues to hang on our walls, and I have almost finished carving the footstool. How pleased baby will be when she sees it! Ah, when will that be! darling little baby!

Dear Children: Happiest of the happy am I! Now let me tell you. I was just finishing off my footstool, and thinking whether the baby's hair was quite curly enough, when the door gently opened and the old man entered. How he had found my little room I could not imagine. He looked at the footstool, then taking it in one hand and leading me by the other, went through the long corridors to the lady's room. He opened one of the great books, and there was a picture of a baby playing with a robin-red-breast, just like my carving. The lady looked from the carving to the picture, from the picture to the carving, and at last seated herself upon my little wooden footstool, with her rich dress sweeping the floor on either side, and held out her hand to me. I put mine into it,—it was not so very cold,—and she sat looking into my face for some long minutes. I looked into her eyes, and they made me think of the evenings when I used to lie on the frozen snow, and gaze up at the bright winter stars, shining through the bare branches of the elm tree. At length she said to me, "How did you come to this castle?" I could not but smile at the question, and answered, "I came in a carriage with you, but you did not see me, perhaps; I was hidden by your glimmering veil."

"Ah, that veil! I will never wear it again," she said; and then I had to tell her about my mother and the baby, the flowers and the bees, and all we did at home. And now that she would hear me, I told her how I longed to be there once again, and entreated her to let me go. "Yes, we will go," she said, and led me to the door, which flew open.

For a moment I so feared to see that splendid, never-stopping carriage, ready to receive us, that I did not venture to look out; but when I took a peep, and saw it was not there, I sprang upon the sphinx, ran along its back, and gave a great jump from its head, quite across the gravel walk, into the grass beyond, and rolled down to the bottom of the bank. I scrambled up again, my white dress stained with the grass, and saw the stately lady smiling at me. I ran off to gather handfuls of dandelions and buttercups, and then away I went to the lake, to let the little waves break over my feet. O, how delightful that was! I heard the lady singing a low cadence like that of the waves, and saw how beautiful she was in the sunlight, so much more lovely than when she sat by that spell-bound fire. How glad mother will be to have me bring this queenly lady home! I thought, and walked along with my hand in hers. But when we came to our garden wall, over I sprang, and fell down into my violet bed. O, how sweet my violets were! I felt as if I could lie there forever among them, but remembered the lady, and gathering two violets, gave her one, and put the other into my bosom. "But you will crush it, child," she said.

"O, yes, I love it so!" I answered, and was bounding through the garden, when I suddenly thought it would not be very polite to let the lady find her way alone; so I gave her my hand, and led her to the house. There sat my mother, with the baby asleep in the cradle beside her. What happened then I do not know; but I found myself sitting in my mother's lap, with my head on her shoulder, and could hear, as if in a dream, a murmuring sound of the wind in the locust tree, the bees, the brook, the lady's clear tones, and sweetest of all, my mother's low voice answering her. Father and Mary also were sitting on the step, and baby lay sleeping in the cradle, with her dear little face looking just as it did when I went away. Soon we all went in to tea. How the urn smoked, and how good the baked apples tasted! I could not help smiling to see the lady eat bunns, for I thought of her handsome frosted cakes that never had any raisins in them. After tea I undressed the baby; she really seemed to remember me, and we had a grand frolic together. Then I was so happy at night, when Mary and I fell asleep with the moon shining in through the vine leaves twining around our little window! I believe the rosy bird sang in the jessamine all the night long; at least I dreamed that he did.

This morning I have been all over the farm, calling upon the cows, the sheep, and the chickens. Old Nabby, my brown hen, has ten little chickens, and I have come home just in time to take care of them. I left her sitting on her nest. Will you believe it? father has not quite got through his haying yet. They say I have not been gone such a very long time, but it seems a year and a day to me, and mother says it seems even longer to her; for until the bird brought the note, she did not know what had become of me, and was afraid I was drowned in the lake.

The lady has invited us all to go to the castle to-morrow, and father says he will row us across the lake. Will not that be delightful? I have always so longed to sail on the lake! I cannot say that I care much to see the castle again, but I shall like to show mother and Mary all the beautiful statues, and to bring home my drawings and baby's footstool. Good by now; there is mother calling me to dinner. While she went out to call father I just stole a little time to write to you, here in my room, at my little rosewood desk. It is not so pretty as the mother-of-pearl table, but I like it better. It was my last birthday present.

Dear Children: I believe there was never before such a sunny day as yesterday. Early in the morning we sailed off in the boat, with the water splashing and dancing around us, baby and all so happy. We were three hours sailing across the lake. I did not know that it was so wide. We landed on the slope before the castle; the great doors were thrown open, and in the dark archway stood the old man, looking like a picture, with his long, white beard, and flowing hair. He welcomed mother to the castle; then the lady bowed her stately head, and we all entered.

The old man took my mother by the hand, and led her down the mysterious stairs. I think they must have entered the heavily-closing door, which I could not find when I had once groped about there; for when she returned she wore upon her breast a jewel that glowed like living fire. Then he led her up the wooden stairs, bearing her baby in her arms. She lifted the little latch, and entered the turret door, while the lady and I waited below. When she came out of the door it seemed as if the sun were descending upon us, such a radiant light was in her face. She gave her hand to the lady Intelletta, then stooped and kissed me upon the forehead with a kiss that was like a burning star.

As my mother and the lady left the stairs, a statue of a young girl started into life. Her marble flowers became fragrant and blooming, as she knelt to offer her upraised basket. My mother took a rose, and presented it to the lady, who placed a fair white lily in her hand. Then side by side they moved along. And now a lovely statue of a winged boy flew forth from its niche, and struck upon its lyre. The whole castle awoke into life. The statues of grave men, with a scroll in one hand and their heavy robes draped in the other, descended from their pedestals. Young princes clustered around us, with graceful garments and waving hair, their swords bound to their sides, and their eyes full of light. A golden-haired princess looked upon me with the loveliest smile, and told me I must always be her sister. In one room, a queen, who had long been pale marble, arose from her throne in gorgeous robes, and joined in our procession. A lady with a wide brow and jewelled hair, rode towards us in a car drawn by lions. I remembered what a funny picture I had one day made of those lions, when they had not the power of motion, and was almost afraid they would eat me up, by way of revenge. But they were very forgiving. A young warrior, whom I had always greatly admired, because he appeared to have so much life in him, even when he was but a statue, now rode gently towards us, bowing low before my mother. But I knew by the fire in his eyes, and the restrained prance of his spirited horse, that he would some time perform brave deeds. When we entered my silver room, the beautiful ivory mother bent and kissed her child, who leaped with joy into life. A little girl, on a gazelle, bounded from a corner. A boy, on an eagle, soared high into the sunshine through the open window, then came circling down, and led the eagle near us. Lovely girls scattered flowers, their light dresses fluttering around them as they tripped along. They smiled upon me as if they knew me; and well they might, for when they were nothing but carved ivory I had sat before them day after day, with my opal pen and lilac paper, trying to draw them. Then, too, they had seen my tears when I so longed for home. How different it was from that silent time, to have my own dear mother beside me, and all the beautiful, cold statues awakened into life!

We all dined at the same marble table, served by the same invisible hands; but the fruits were juicy as well as fair to see, and the water had become fragrant wine, and there was no silence now, but conversation like the most enchanting fairy tales. After dinner we went to the lady's mirrored room. The fire was not still, and coldly brilliant, but burned with a motion like that of a fountain—self-contained. And yet I like better our wood fire at home. It is so pleasant to put on fresh sticks, and rake open the coals! But it was splendid to see it burning in a hundred mirrors, where all the gay and stately figures were reflected like sparkling light, as they danced around the room in swift circles. Yes, and the lady also danced. My rosy bird sat on the old cabinet and sang his sweetest song, and above all, in the height of the lofty room floated the angel who was crowning the child with roses, and by her side was the happy child.

It was early dawn when we sailed home across the lake. I lay in the bottom of the boat, with my head upon my mother's lap—not asleep, I believe—but listening to the water rippling against the boat, and faintly recalling the beautiful figures I had been seeing all day, I knew them all so well. But how different from the marble statues were the eyes beaming with life, the lips that spoke, and the glowing motions of living forms. O, yes, we shall often accept the lady Intelletta's invitation to visit her lordly castle.

I brought away my drawings, and have been pinning them on the walls this morning. Mother says they are very ornamental to the rooms, but I shall soon draw better ones. The baby creeps along the floor to her little footstool, and points to the robin-red-breast, then looks at me and laughs.

Mary and I are so tired to-night that we are going to have some bowls of bread and milk on the door step, and go to bed when baby does—at seven o'clock. Will not that be pleasant?

To-morrow I shall go to the village post office to put in this letter. I shall not write you any more now that I have mother and Mary to talk with; and I should not have written to you at all after I left the silent castle,—now no longer silent,—only I thought you might be interested to hear about my return home. I shall enclose all I have written in one large envelope, sealed with a winged head; and I think it will reach some of you, for I shall direct it "To all the Children in the wide World,"—care of the South Wind.