When the great moon hung just above them, and shadows were few and far between, the Tree Mother came walking through the Forest, quieter and more beautiful than the moon. Wild Thyme ran to her and laid her bushy head against her breast. For Wild Thyme only of all the Forest People loved her without awe. The Tree Mother put her hand on Wild Thyme’s head and stood to watch the dancing. Her robe gleamed like frost, and her hair was a pool of light above her head.
Thrum, thrum, thrum, thrummmmmmmmm.
Wild Thyme jumped back into the dance and the Tree Mother stood alone. But although she stood as still as a moonbeam under the tree, she made Eric think of dancing more than all the others put together. It was her eyes. The thrum, thrum, thrum, thrummmmmmmmmm was in them, and the rest of that night Eric felt as though the music-instrument the Tree Girl was swinging was silent, and that all the music flowed from Tree Mother.
But Eric, after all, was only an Earth Child, and his legs got very tired in spite of the music and the moonlight. So at last he slipped out of the circle, and stumbling with weariness and sleepiness went to Tree Mother. She picked him up in her arms, and the minute his head touched her shoulder he was sound asleep, the music at last hushed in his head.
When he woke it was summer dawn. The birds were flitting above in the tree-boughs and making high singing. He was alone, lying beneath a silver birch, his head among the star flowers.
He knew that Helma and Ivra had not wanted to wake him, but had gone home when the moon set, and were waiting breakfast for him there now. So he jumped up and ran home through the dew.
THE DEEPEST PLACE IN THE WOOD
It was on the hottest day of all the hot days of summer that Eric found the deepest place in the Forest. He wandered into it while he was looking for Wild Thyme. Ivra had been no good to him that day. She was usually ready to play in any weather; but on this, the hottest day of the year, she stayed indoors, where it was a little cooler, and lying on the settle she drew paper dolls on birch bark, and afterwards cut them out. Yes, even fairy children love paper dolls and Ivra loved them more than most. Eric wanted her to go swimming in the stream, but he teased her to in vain, for she was entranced with the dolls and would hardly lift her eyes from them.
Helma was swinging in a vine swing she had made for herself high in a tree above the garden. One of the Little People was perched on a leaf just over her head, and they were chattering together like equals. Their eager voices floated down to Eric standing disconsolate near the door stone. But Helma usually knew when her children were in trouble, no matter how tiny the trouble, and so before Eric had stood there long or dug up more than a bushel of earth with his bare toes, she leaned over the nest and called to him.