“Here come we a-maying,
All in the wood so green;
Oh, will ye not be staying?
Oh, can ye not be seen?
Before that ye be flitting,
When the dew is in the east,
We thank ye, as befitting,
For the May and for the feast.
Here come we a-maying,
All in the wood so green,
In fairy coverts straying
A-for to seek our queen.”
“One has to be courteous to them,” he added at the end, while Kirk sat rapt, very possibly seeing far more garden spirits than his friend had any idea of.
“I myself,” the Maestro said, “do not very often come to the garden. It is too full, for me, of children no longer here. But the garden folk have not forgotten.”
“When I’m here,” murmured Kirk, sipping elder wine, “Applegate Farm and everything in the world seem miles and years away. Is there really a magic line at the hedge?”
“If there is, you are the only one who has discovered it,” said the old gentleman, enigmatically. “Leave a sup of wine and a bit of bread for the Folk, and let us see if we cannot find some May-flowers.”
They left the little pine room,—Kirk putting in the root hollow a generous tithe for the garden folk,—and went through the garden till the grass grew higher beneath their feet, and they began to climb a rough, sun-warmed hillside, where dry leaves rustled and a sweet earthy smell arose.
“Search here among the leaves,” the Maestro said, “and see what you shall find.”
So Kirk, in a dream of wonder, dropped to his knees, and felt among the loose leaves, in the sunshine. And there were tufts of smooth foliage, all hidden away, and there came from them a smell rapturously sweet—arbutus on a sunlit hill. Kirk pulled a sprig and sat drinking in the deliciousness of it, till the old gentleman said:
“We must have enough for a wreath, you know—a wreath for the queen.”
“Who is our Queen of the May?” Kirk asked.
“The most beautiful person you know.”
“Felicia,” said Kirk, promptly.
“Felicia,” mused the Maestro. “That is a beautiful name. Do you know what it means?”
Kirk did not.
“It means happiness. Is it so?”
“Yes,” said Kirk; “Ken and I couldn’t be happy without her. She is happiness.”
“Kenneth is your brother?”
“Kenelm. Does that mean something?”
The old gentleman plucked May-flowers for a moment. “It means, if I remember rightly, ‘a defender of his kindred.’ It is a good Anglo-Saxon name.”
“What does my name mean?” Kirk asked.
The Maestro laughed. “Yours is not a given name,” he said. “It has no meaning. But—you mean much to me.”
He caught Kirk suddenly in a breathless embrace, from which he released him almost at once, with an apology.
“Let us make the wreath,” he said. “See, I’ll show you how.”
He bound the first strands, and then guided Kirk’s hands in the next steps, till the child was fashioning the wreath alone.