I am afraid, if I had gone on with my observations, I should have lost my faith in many a man and woman whom I had previously trusted and admired, for they were probably not all as good and amiable as they appeared. However, I could not help asking myself, as Mabel had done, what good such a knowledge would, in the end, do me. Was it not better to believe everybody good, until convinced to the contrary, than to distrust everybody and by my suspicion do injustice to those who were really better than they seemed? After all, I thought, these spectacles are making me morbid and suspicious; they are a dangerous and useless thing to possess. I will return them to their real owner.
This, then, was my determination. A little before sunset I started for the gorge, and on my way I met a little girl playing with pebbles at the roadside. My curiosity once more possessed me. I put on the gnome’s spectacles and gazed intently at the child. Strange to say no transformation occurred. I took off the glasses, rubbed them with my handkerchief, and put them on once more. The child still remained what it seemed—a child; not a feature was changed. Here, then, was really a creature that was neither more nor less than it seemed. For some inconceivable reason the tears started to my eyes; I took the little girl up in my arms and kissed her. My thoughts then naturally turned to Mabel; I knew in the depth of my heart that she, too, would have remained unchanged. What could she be that was better than her own sweet self—the pure, the beautiful, the blessed Mabel?
When the sun was well set, I sat down under the same hemlock-tree where I had first met the gnome. After half an hour’s waiting I again saw the lights advancing over the ground, struck at random at one of them and the small man was once more visible. I did not seize his cap, however, but addressed him in this manner:
“Do you know, you curious Old World sprite, what scrapes your detestable spectacles brought me into? Here they are. Take them back. I don’t want to see them again as long as I live.”
In the next moment I saw the precious glasses in the gnome’s hand, a broad, malicious grin distorted his features, and before I could say another word, he had snatched up his cap and vanished.
A few days later, Mabel, with her sweet-brier dress on, was again walking at my side along the stream in the gorge, and somehow our footsteps led us to the old willow-tree where we had had out talk about the German gnomes and fairies.
“Suppose, Jamie,” said Mabel, as we seated ourselves on the grass, “that a good fairy should come to you and tell you that your highest wish should be fulfilled. What would you then ask?”
“I would ask,” cried I, seizing Mabel’s hand “that she would give me a good little wife, with blue eyes and golden hair, whose name should be Mabel.”
Mabel blushed crimson and turned her face away from me to hide her confusion.