A blue summer sky, with white fleecy clouds floating beneath it, hung over a hill green to the very top, and alive with streams darting down its sides toward the valley below. On the face of the hill strayed a flock of sheep feeding, attended by a shepherd and two dogs. A little way apart, a girl stood with bare feet in a brook, building across it a bridge of rough stones. The wind was blowing her hair back from her rosy face. A lamb was feeding close beside her; and a sheepdog was trying to reach her hand to lick it.
“Oh, how I wish I were that little girl!” said the princess aloud. “I wonder how it is that some people are made to be so much happier than others! If I were that little girl, no one would ever call me naughty.”
She gazed and gazed at the picture. At length she said to herself,
“I do not believe it is a picture. It is the real country, with a real hill, and a real little girl upon it. I shall soon see whether this isn’t another of the old witch’s cheats!”
She went close up to the picture, lifted her foot, and stepped over the frame.
“I am free, I am free!” she exclaimed; and she felt the wind upon her cheek.
The sound of a closing door struck on her ear. She turned—and there was a blank wall, without door or window, behind her. The hill with the sheep was before her, and she set out at once to reach it.
Now, if I am asked how this could be, I can only answer, that it was a result of the interaction of things outside and things inside, of the wise woman’s skill, and the silly child’s folly. If this does not satisfy my questioner, I can only add, that the wise woman was able to do far more wonderful things than this.
Meantime the wise woman was busy as she always was; and her business now was with the child of the shepherd and shepherdess, away in the north. Her name was Agnes.
Her father and mother were poor, and could not give her many things. Rosamond would have utterly despised the rude, simple playthings she had. Yet in one respect they were of more value far than hers: the king bought Rosamond’s with his money; Agnes’s father made hers with his hands.
And while Agnes had but few things—not seeing many things about her, and not even knowing that there were many things anywhere, she did not wish for many things, and was therefore neither covetous nor avaricious.
She played with the toys her father made her, and thought them the most wonderful things in the world—windmills, and little crooks, and water-wheels, and sometimes lambs made all of wool, and dolls made out of the leg-bones of sheep, which her mother dressed for her; and of such playthings she was never tired. Sometimes, however, she preferred playing with stones, which were plentiful, and flowers, which were few, or the brooks that ran down the hill, of which, although