Shall we leave the feet to travel their own way for a while, and see where the fairy has led the little hand?
QUERCUS ALBA’S NEW SIGHT OF THE UPPER-WORLD
It was a soft, helpless, little baby hand. Its folded fingers lay listlessly in the fairy’s gentle grasp. “Now we will go up,” she said. He had thought he was going down, and he had heard the chipping-birds say he would never come back again. But he had no will to resist the gentle motion, which seemed, after all, to be exactly what he wanted: so he presently found himself lifted out of the dark earth, feeling the sunshine again, and stirred by the breeze that rustled the dry leaves that lay all about him. Here again were all his old companions,—the chipping-birds, his cousins, old grandfather Rubra, and, best of all, his dear mother. But the odd thing about it all was, that nobody seemed to know him: even his mother, though she stretched her arms towards him, turned her head away, looking here and there for her lost baby, and never seeing how he stood gazing up into her face. Now he began to understand why the chipping-birds said, “They never came back! they never came back!” for they truly came in so new a form that none of their old friends recognized them.
Every thing that has hands wants to work; that is, hands are such excellent tools, that no one who is the happy possessor of a pair is quite happy until he uses them: so Alba began to have a longing desire to build a stem, and lift himself up among his neighbors. But what should he build with? Here the little feet answered promptly, “You want to build, do you? Well, here is carbon, the very best material; there is nothing like it for walls; it makes the most beautiful, firm wood. Wait a minute, and we will send up some that we have been storing for your use.”
And the busy hands go to work, and the child grows day by day. His body and limbs are brown now, but his hands of a fine shining green. And, having learned the use of carbon, these busy hands undertake to gather it for themselves out of the air about them, which is a great storehouse full of many materials that our eyes cannot see. And he has also learned that to grow and to build are indeed the same thing: for his body is taking the form of a strong young tree; his branches are spreading for a roof over the heads of a hundred delicate flowers, making a home for many a bushy-tailed squirrel and pleasant-voiced wood-bird. For, you see, whoever builds cannot build for himself alone: all his neighbors have the benefit of his work, and all enjoy it together.