The fairy king and queen, who were invisible spectators of this reconciliation, and now saw the happy ending of the lovers’ history, brought about through the good offices of Oberon, received so much pleasure, that these kind spirits resolved to celebrate the approaching nuptials with sports and revels throughout their fairy kingdom.
And now, if any are offended with this story of fairies and their pranks, as judging it incredible and strange, they have only to think that they have been asleep and dreaming, and that all these adventures were visions which they saw in their sleep; and I hope none of my readers will be so unreasonable as to be offended with a pretty harmless Midsummer Night’s Dream.
By Maria Edgeworth
ADAPTED BY LOUEY CHISHOLM
QUEEN OF THE MAY
Simple Susan lived one hundred years ago. Mr. Price was Susan’s father. He rented a small farm and was always hard at work. No more honest man could be found far or near, and he loved his little daughter from the bottom of his big heart.
Mrs. Price was Susan’s mother. She was a good woman who was always busy cooking, or cleaning, or sewing. The bread and cakes made by her were better than those made by any one else in the village. When she was not doing household work, she earned money by taking in plain needlework. All who knew Mrs. Price liked her and were sorry she was so far from strong. That no girl had a better mother than Susan, every one agreed.
John and William were Susan’s little brothers. They were quite sure that no other boys in all the world had such a good sister as theirs.
Our story begins on the evening before the first of May. Now one hundred years ago, Mayday was looked forward to with glee by all English children living in the country. Early that morning the lads and lasses of the village, gaily decked with flowers, would go merrily singing from house to house. In their midst would walk the Queen of the May, or sometimes, seated in a chair twined round with blossom, she would be carried from door to door by her little companions. With a wreath of their gayest flowers they would crown her their Queen, and for her would be woven the fairest garlands. After the May carols were sung, cake, coppers, or small coins would be given to the boys and girls.
To choose their Queen and to arrange their flowers the children would meet on the last day of April. This they did in the village where Susan lived, and their meeting-place was in a corner of a field close by a large pink hawthorn. A shady lane ran past one side of the bush. On another side a sweetbrier hedge separated it from the garden belonging to an attorney.