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The Adventures of a Piskey in Search of his Laugh
‘... A soft

Cradle of old tales.’

W. B. Yeats.
 
The moon was shining softly down on the grey ruins of King Arthur’s Castle by the Tintagel sea, and on hundreds of little Piskeys dancing in a great Piskey-ring on the mainland, known as Castle Gardens.

In the centre of the ring stood a Little Fiddler, fiddling away with all his might, keeping time with his head and one tiny foot.

The faster he played and flung out the merry tune on the quiet moonlit night, the faster the Piskeys danced. As they danced they almost burst their sides with laughter, and their laughter and the music of the Little Fiddler was distinctly heard by an old man and his wife, who then lived in the cottage near the castle. 

One little Piskey, somewhat taller than a clothes-peg, was the best dancer there, and his laugh was the merriest. He was dancing with a Piskey about his own size, who could hardly keep step with his twinkling feet.

As the Piskeys careered round and round the Piskey-ring, the tiny chap who was the best dancer, and had the merriest laugh, suddenly stopped laughing, and his little dancing feet gave under him, and down he went with a crash, dragging his little companion with him. Before they could pick themselves up, the Piskeys who were coming on behind, not seeing the two sprawling on the ring, fell on them, and in another moment Little Fiddler Piskey saw a moving heap of green-coated little bodies and a brown tangle of tiny hands and feet.

So amazed was he at such an unusual sight that he stopped fiddling, and let his fiddle slip out of his hand unnoticed on the grass.

When the Little Men had picked themselves up, except the one who had caused the mishap, they began to pitch into him for tumbling and causing them to tumble, when something in his tiny face made them stop.

‘What made you go down on your stumjacket like that when you were dancing so beautifully?’ asked a Piskey not unkindly.

‘I don’t know,’ he answered, looking up at his little brother Piskey with a strange expression in his face, which was pinched and drawn, and pale as one [5]of their own Piskey-stools; and instead of a laugh in his dark little eyes there was misery and woe.

The strange expression in his eyes quite frightened the Piskeys, and one said: ‘What is the matter with you? You are looking worse than a cat in a fit.’

‘Am I?’ said the poor little Piskey. ‘I am feeling very queer. It was a queerness that made me fall on my little stumjacket. Am I ill like those great men and women creatures we sometimes entice into the bogs with Piskey-lights?’

‘We have never heard of a Piskey getting ill or sick,’ said a little brown Piskey, ‘have we?’ turning to speak to the Little Fiddler, who had come over to his companions, bringing his fiddle with him.

‘I most certainly haven’t,’ answered the Little Fiddler.

‘Then what is the matter with me, if I’m not sick?’ asked the little Piskey who was looking so queer.

‘Perhaps Granfer Piskey will be able to tell you, for I can’t,’ said the Tiny Fiddler.

‘Where is Granfer Piskey?’ asked the poor little sufferer. ‘I am afraid I am getting worse, for all the dance has left my legs.’

‘Granfer Piskey is over on the Island,’ cried a little Piskey.

‘So he is,’ said all the other Piskeys, sending their glance in that direction, where, on the edge of a [6]beetling cliff facing Castle Gardens, stood a tiny old man, with a white beard flowing down to his bare little feet. He was dressed, as were all the other Piskeys, in a bright green coat and a red stocking cap.

He disappeared into a Piskey-hole the Piskeys had dug in the cliff, which led down into an underground passage between the Island and the mainland, and very soon he reappeared from another hole in Castle Gardens, a few feet from where the little Piskeys were anxiously awaiting him.

‘Why are you not fiddling, dancing and laughing?’ asked the little Whitebeard, winking his eyes on the silent little Piskey crowd, standing near their little brother Piskey who was looking so queer. ‘You are wasting precious time standing here doing nothing. Before a great while the moon will have set over Trevose, and the time for merry-making and high-jinks will be over,’ he added, as not a Piskey spoke.

‘We are not fiddling, dancing and laughing because of something that has befallen our little brother,’ said the Tiny Fiddler at last, pointing to the poor little Piskey who had raised himself to a sitting position and was seated on the Piskey-ring.

‘He is a rum-looking little customer, sure ’nough,’ said the old Whitebeard, glancing in the direction of the place where the Little Fiddler pointed. ‘What is the matter with him?’

‘That is what we want to know,’ answered the [7]Little Fiddler. ‘Come and have a closer look at him, Granfer Piskey;’ and Granfer Piskey came.

‘What is the matter with him?’ asked one of the Piskeys when the Whitebeard had stared down a minute or more on the little atom of misery sitting humped up on the edge of the great green ring like a toad on a hot shovel. ‘You are so old and wise, you will be able to tell us what ails him, if anybody can. He thinks he is sick like the big people we lead a fine dance round the fields and commons sometimes,’ as Granfer Piskey stood stock-still before the little afflicted Piskey, winking and blinking and solemnly shaking his head.

‘He is not sick like those people of whom you spoke,’ said the Whitebeard at last. ‘He has——’

‘The make-outs,’ shrilled a little voice with a laugh somewhere in the background.

‘No, he hasn’t the make-outs, you impudent little rascal!’ said Granfer Piskey, without lifting his gaze from the poor little fellow on the edge of the ring. ‘That’s a complaint from which you apparently suffer.’

‘What has he?’ asked the Tiny Fiddler, impatiently scraping his fiddle-stick over his fiddle, as if to emphasize his words.

‘It isn’t what he has, but what he hasn’t,’ said the old Whitebeard, in the same slow, solemn voice. ‘I was going to say that our poor little brother has lost his laugh.’

‘Lost his laugh!’ cried little Fiddler Piskey and all [8]the other little Piskeys; and their tiny faces of consternation showed what a terrible thing had befallen their poor little brother.

‘Yes, he has had the sad misfortune to lose his laugh,’ said the little old Whitebeard, winking and blinking harder than ever as he stood before the unhappy little Piskey who had lost his laugh; ‘and, worse still, he is quite done for till he finds it again.’

‘Where has my laugh gone to, Granfer Piskey?’ asked the miserable little Piskey who had met with that dreadful misfortune.

‘I don’t know more than the Little Man in the moon,’ answered the tiny old Whitebeard; ‘but if I were you I would go and look for it.’

‘Where must I go and look for my laugh?’ asked the poor little Piskey.

‘I have not the smallest idea; but I should go and search for it till I found it.’

‘Will you come with me and search for my laugh?’ asked the little Piskey, with a look of anxiety in his wee dark eyes, as Granfer Piskey was moving away.

‘I am afraid I can’t. It is my duty to stop with your brothers to see that they don’t grow silly and lose their laugh. Besides, it is not quite the thing for an old Whitebeard like me to go travelling about the country with a youngster like you, in search of a laugh.’

‘Will you go with me to look for my laugh?’ asked the little Piskey, fixing his gaze on the Tiny Fiddler.

‘I would go with you gladly, if I were not Fiddler [9]Piskey,’ he answered, touching his fiddle lightly with his bow. ‘But if I were to go gallivanting up and down the country in search of your laugh, there would be nobody to play the dancing tune when our brothers dance in the moonshine.’
King Arthur’s Castle, looking North.

King Arthur’s Castle, looking North.

‘Won’t one of you go with me and help me to find my laugh?’ begged the miserable little fellow, glancing from one Piskey to another as they crowded round him.

‘We would if we hadn’t so much dancing to do,’ they said. ‘We have to dance in every Piskey-ring [10]from Tintagel Head to Crackington Hawn up St. Gennys, before the moon grows as small as a wren’s claw.’

‘Must I go by myself to search for my laugh?’ said the poor little Piskey in a heart-breaking voice.

‘Yes, you must go by yourself to look for your laugh,’ answered all the little Piskeys. ‘You should not have been so foolish as to lose it;’ and the selfish little Brown Men—Granfer Piskey, Fiddler Piskey, and all the other Piskeys—turned their backs on their unfortunate little brother, and ran away across the gardens and over the cliffs towards Bossiney, half-way between which was another big Piskey-ring; and by-and-by the poor little Piskey who had lost his laugh heard in the distance, as he sat all alone in the great grassy place, their merry laughter and the music of Fiddler Piskey’s tiny fiddle.

He was a very sad little Piskey as he listened to the merriment of his little brother Piskeys, and the moon, sailing along the dark velvety blue of the midnight sky above the ruins of King Arthur’s Castle and Gardens, never looked down on such a woebegone little Piskey before. He had always been happy and gay till now, and having no laugh was such a strange experience that it was no wonder he felt as miserable and wisht1 as he did.

As he sat there all alone on the ring his own little dancing feet had helped to make, two tiny hands were suddenly thrust up out of a small earth-heap [11]half a foot from where he was sitting. So dainty were the hands, that he thought they belonged to one of the little Good People, a distant relation of his; and thinking that somehow one had got buried under the earth, he got up from the ring to help her out, and, without waiting to say ‘Allow me,’ or anything so polite, he caught hold of the wee hands, and pulling with all his strength, he dragged something very dark and soft out of the earth-heap, and saw to his surprise and disgust that it was the round plump body of a mole!

‘Whatever did you drag me out of the want-hill for, you horrid creature! whoever you are?’ cried the mole, who was not as soft as she looked. ‘It took me hours to throw up that beautiful hill, and now it has fallen down into my tunnel, and my work will all have to be done over again, thanks to you.’

‘I am so sorry,’ said the Piskey. ‘I saw two dinky little hands sticking up, and thought a relation of mine had got buried; and when I did my best to get her out I found it was only a want, as the country people call you moles.’

‘A want indeed!’ exclaimed the mole. ‘Who are you, pray, to speak so disdainfully? If I am only a want, I was not always the poor thing I am now. Once upon a time I was a very great lady, and because I was foolish and proud and very vain of my beauty I was turned into a mole. My little hands are the only things left of me to show who I once was.’

‘I am very sorry for you,’ said the Piskey, with [12]strong note of sympathy in his voice, so entirely new to him that he scarcely knew it was himself speaking; for Piskeys, although they are merry and gay, are often selfish in the extreme. ‘I am more sorry for you than I can say,’ he went on. ‘It cannot be nice to be only a want, when once you were a beautiful lady. I am a Piskey,’ as the little dark mole was silent.

‘A Piskey, are you?’ she cried, speaking at last. ‘I remember you little Piskey people quite well, and have cause to remember. Once, when I was a grand lady and wore fine clothes, you Piskeys led me into a bog and spoilt my silken gown. I did not bless you then, and I do not bless you now. You are still up to your tricks, I find to my cost, for you have done your best to pull down my house about my ears.’

‘I did not mean to do anything so unkind,’ said the little Piskey. ‘I am not merry enough now to play games on anyone.’

‘How is that?’ asked the mole.

‘I have lost my laugh, and my heart is as heavy as lead,’ he answered sorrowfully.

‘Lost your laugh!’ cried the mole. ‘That is very strange.’

‘Yes, it is; and I am quite done for, so Granfer Piskey told my little brothers, till I find it again.’

‘Why don’t you go and look for your laugh instead of throwing down want-hills?’ said the mole severely. ‘It would be more to your credit if you did.’ [13]

‘I suppose it would,’ replied the Piskey; ‘but, unfortunately, I don’t know where to go and look for my laugh. Have you seen it?’

‘No, I haven’t,’ snapped the mole; ‘I can’t see without eyes. I have lost my eyesight through working underground for so many long centuries.’

‘Do you know anybody who has seen my laugh?’ asked the little Piskey, ‘and who would kindly tell me where to go and find it?’

‘I am afraid I don’t,’ answered the mole, ‘except the Little Man in the Lantern. He is the most likely person I know to have seen your laugh. He is always flipping about the country in the night-time in his little Lantern, and sees most things that wander by night. He is a kind-hearted little fellow, and if he has seen your laugh, he’ll be sure to help you to find it. You know, of course, where the little Lantern Man is to be found?’

‘I have seen his Lantern in the marshes sometimes.’ answered the Piskey. ‘I saw it rush by a few weeks ago, when I and my brothers were lying snug and warm in a great Piskey-bed at Rough Tor Marsh. But as I do not happen to know the Lantern Man, will you please come with me to Rough Tor Marsh and ask him if he has seen my laugh?’

‘What next will you ask me to do?’ cried the mole. ‘No, I cannot go with you. I am far too busy to go tramping round the country with a little Brown Piskey like you, in search of a laugh. I have a tunnel to make across Castle Gardens for my dear [14]little baby wants to run about in, and I must do it before the sun shines over the Tors. If you really want to find your laugh, you must go and ask the Lantern Man yourself. The sooner you go the better, or you may lose the chance of asking him if he has seen it.’

‘I dare say you are right,’ said the little Piskey, with a heavy sigh. ‘But I don’t like the idea of travelling all the way from here to Rough Tor Marsh. My feet are heavy like my heart, now I have lost my laugh; yet I suppose I must go, for I am a wisht poor thing without it, and you would say so, too, Mrs. Mole, if your eyesight wasn’t so bad.’

‘Mrs. Mole, indeed!’ snapped the velvet-coated little creature, raising her tiny hands in anger at such an insult. ‘I beg to tell you that I am not Mrs. Mole, but the Lady Want, and that, although I have fallen from my high estate, I am still a lady of high degree, as my tiny hands bear witness;’ and she held them out for him to see.

‘I’m not up in fine distinctions,’ said the little Piskey in a humble voice, ‘and I beg your ladyship’s pardon.’

The Piskey’s sad little voice so appeased ‘the Lady Want’ that she fully forgave his ignorance, and told him he was quite nice-mannered for a Piskey, and hoped the little Lantern Man had seen his laugh, and would be able to tell him where to find it; and then her little ladyship disappeared into the mole-hill, her tiny lady hands and all! [15]
Tintagel Castle.

Tintagel Castle.

When she had gone, the little Piskey turned his face towards the east, where the Tors rose up dark and shadowy against the moonlit sky. Then he looked back at the great keep, and turned his glance on the Castle Gardens, where, in the long ago, courtly knights and great ladies walked among the flowers that blossomed there under the shadow of the loopholed walls, and listened, as they walked, to the music of the Tintagel sea and the great waves that sometimes broke against the dark cliffs of the headland on which the grim old castle stood, where Good King Arthur was born.

The little Piskey was saying good-bye to that [16]delightful spot, with its soft turf and the beautiful Piskey-ring on which he had danced times without number; for the poor, lonely little fellow did not know if he should ever come back again. Then he broke off a bit of a knapweed stem for a staff to help him on his journey to Rough Tor Marsh,2 and before the moon had laid down a lane of silver fire on the rippling waters between Tintagel Head and Trevose, the little Piskey had set out on his travels in search of his laugh.

Piskeys always travel by night, and after many nights of wandering, the little Piskey who had lost his laugh came to the bog country, where he had last seen the little Lantern.

Very tired and footsore was that poor little Piskey after his long journey, for, having lost his laugh, he had no dance in his feet to help him along, and he felt so done up as he sat by the great bog, or Piskey-bed, as he called it, that he did not much care whether he found his laugh or not. But when he had rested awhile he felt better, and looked over the great marshy place with eager eyes, to see if the little Lantern Man was anywhere about. To his delight he was; for far away in the distance he saw the white gleam of his Lantern.

He kept his eyes upon the light, and by-and-by, when the Lantern came rocking over the bog in his direction, he stood up on the edge of the water ready to call. It disappeared ever so many times among [17]the bog-myrtles and willows, but every time it reappeared it was closer. When it came near enough for him to see the little Lantern Man inside, he shouted:

‘Little Man in the Lantern, please stop: I want to ask you something.’ But whether the Lantern Man heard or not, he did not stop, and he and his Lantern flipped by the disappointed little Piskey as quickly as a widdy-mouse3 on the wing, and was lost to sight in the reeds and rushes on the other side of the great marsh.

After a while the little Lantern Man came back to the place where the Piskey was still standing, and the light from the Lantern was brighter and softer than a hedge full of glow-worm lights shining all at once.

As the Lantern was passing the little Piskey, he called out louder than before, ‘Little Man in the Lantern, please stop; I want to ask you something.’ But the little Lantern Man did not stop, and he and his Lantern rushed by as quickly as before, and the poor little Piskey followed the rocking Lantern with his eyes over the great marsh.

Just as he was in despair of the wonderful little Lantern coming his way again, it came, and so fast did it come, and so afraid was he of its passing him without making himself heard, that he shouted with all his might, ‘Please, little Lantern Man, stop; I want to ask you something.’ And to his joy the little [18]Lantern Man stopped. The door of the little Lantern opened wide, and a tiny, shining face looked out.

‘Did anybody call?’ asked the little Lantern Man in a voice so kind that the Piskey’s little heart leaped for joy.

‘Yes, I called,’ said the little Piskey. ‘I called twice before, but you did not stop.’

‘I never heard you call till now,’ said the little Lantern Man. ‘Who are you, and what do you want?’

‘I am an unfortunate little Piskey who has lost his laugh,’ answered the Piskey, ‘and I have tramped all the way from Tintagel Head to Rough Tor Marsh to ask if you have seen it.’

‘Lost your laugh, you poor little chap!’ ejaculated the little Lantern Man in the same kind voice. ‘How came you to lose it?’

The little Piskey told him how he had lost his laugh, and what Granfer Piskey had said, and how the mole who called herself the Lady Want had told him to come to him.

‘I would gladly help you to find your laugh if I knew where it was,’ said the Lantern Man when the Piskey had told him all; ‘but, unfortunately, I have never seen it.’

‘Haven’t you?’ cried the poor little Piskey. ‘I am disappointed. As you are always travelling about the country in your little Lantern, I felt sure you had seen my laugh.’ [19]

‘I only travel in marshy ground,’ said the little Lantern Man, still standing in the doorway of his tiny Lantern; ‘and your laugh may not have passed along my way.’

‘Do you happen to know anybody else who has seen my laugh?’ asked the little Piskey anxiously.

‘Nobody except Giant Tregeagle, of whom I dare say you have heard—that unhappy fellow who for some terrible wrong-doing has to dip Dozmare4 Pool dry with a limpet-shell.’

‘Yes, I have heard about that great Giant from Granfer Piskey,’ answered the little Piskey. ‘He was a wicked seigneur who once had a fine house at Dozmare Pool and a great park on Bodmin Moors, and he is often flying about the country with the Wicked One at his heels.’

‘The very same,’ cried the little Lantern Man. ‘He travels from east to west, and from west to south, and back again. He will be sure to have seen your laugh.’

‘I am afraid my laugh is too small for a great big giant to have noticed, even if it passed him,’ said the little Piskey.

‘He isn’t so big but what he can see a laugh,’ said the little Lantern Man. ‘You had better go and ask him.’

‘I don’t know where he is,’ said the little Piskey, who was in a most dejected frame of mind. [20]

‘He is at Dozmare Pool—or was not long since, doing his best to dip the big pool dry.’

‘I am rather tired after tramping here from Tintagel,’ said the little fellow, ‘and I don’t feel like going all the way to Dozmare Pool. I have no spring in my legs since my laugh left me,’ he added, as the little Lantern Man smiled rather sadly. ‘I never knew what it was to be tired and wisht before I lost my laugh.’

‘I don’t suppose you did, you poor little chap!’ cried the little Lantern Man, ‘and you must do all you can to find your laugh. I am going to Dozmare Pool, or the Magic Lake, as it was called in the long ago; and if you don’t mind travelling in my Lantern, I’ll give you a lift as far as that.’

‘Will you?’ exclaimed the little Piskey, his tiny brown face brightening as the Lantern Man smiled. ‘You are very kind, and I will go with you gladly.’

‘That’s right!’ cried the little Lantern Man; and he held out his hand, which shone like his face, and helped the little brown Piskey into his Lantern.

When the Piskey was safe inside the Lantern, he thought it was the very brightest place he was ever in—’even brighter than a fairy’s palace,’ he said.

‘There is no seat in my Lantern except the floor,’ said the little Lantern Man, as the Piskey looked about him. ‘The floor is not uncomfortable, if you care to sit down. I always sleep on it when my night work of giving light to the poor things that live in the marshes is done.’ [21]

‘I would rather stand, thank you.’ returned the Piskey. ‘I can look out of your windows better.’

‘Do as you like, only it is my duty to tell you that you would be safer on the floor. My Lantern and I travel so fast that the creatures that fly by night often knock up against us and turn us upside down.’
By Rough Tor’s granite-piled height the bright little Lantern went.

By Rough Tor’s granite-piled height the bright little Lantern went.

The little Lantern Man shut the door of his Lantern as he was speaking, and in another minute they were rushing over Rough Tor Marsh at a [22]fearful speed, and the little Piskey had to hold on to the frame of one of the tiny windows to keep himself on his feet. By Rough Tor’s granite-piled heights the bright little Lantern went. On by Bronwilli (Brown Willy) it sped, and by many a solitary hill, almost as wild and untamed as old Rough Tor itself. Over lonely moors, bogs, rivers, and streams, it flew, and rocked and whirled as it went. As it sped on it bumped against all manner of strange creatures, and once a night-hawk5 turned the little Lantern upside down, and the Piskey found himself standing on his head with his tiny lean legs sticking up in the air; and he looked so funny that the little Lantern Man laughed till the tears ran down his shining face, and if the Piskey had had his laugh he would have laughed too!

On and on the Lantern rushed, zigzagging up and down, down and up, and as it went strange moths and queer things that go about only by night fluttered their wings against its bright windows and door. Once a widdy-mouse, with a face like a cat, looked in, and then vanished into the darkness; and once a short-eared owl gripped the Lantern in his talons, but it sped on all the same.

About an hour after midnight the Lantern reached Dozmare Pool, which lies on the top of a great lonely moor surrounded by desolate hills. The moon was only a few days old, and had set long before the sun had gone down; but it was by no means dark by the big pool, for there was starshine from [23]innumerable stars, and also the light that fell from the wonderful little Lantern.

The little Lantern Man stopped his Lantern on a boulder by the pool, where was stretched a huge dark form, almost as big as a headland. It was Giant Tregeagle, lying face down on the margin of the pool, dipping water with a limpet-shell which had a hole in it.

The little Lantern Man opened the door of his Lantern, and telling the little Piskey that now was his chance to ask the Giant about his laugh, he helped him out.

‘Shout into his ear till he hears you,’ he whispered, hanging out of his door, ‘and don’t despair if he does not hear you just at first.’

The Piskey stepped up quite close to the great Giant, and he looked so tiny beside him that the little Lantern Man laughed, and said he was like a God’s little cow6 by the side of a plough-horse. ‘Why,’ he said, ‘his ear alone would make a dozen little chaps like you and me. Now I must be off and give light to the poor things that want light. Good luck to you, my friend, in finding your laugh;’ and the little Lantern Man closed the door of his Lantern, which sped away over the big pool, shedding light as it went.

The Piskey watched the Lantern till it was hidden among the reeds and rushes, and then he turned his face to the Giant’s ear, and when he had climbed up into it, he shouted: [24]

‘Giant Tregeagle, Giant Tregeagle, I am a poor little Piskey who has lost his laugh. Please stop dipping water for a minute, and tell me if you have seen it.’

But the Giant took no notice of the little Piskey, and went on dipping out water with a limpet-shell that had a hole in it.

Again and again the tiny brown Piskey shouted into the Giant’s ear, but the big Giant took no more notice of his little piping voice than if a fly had buzzed close to his ear, and went on dipping.

Once more the Piskey shouted with all the voice he had, thrusting his red-capped head into the hollow of the Giant’s ear as he shouted:

‘Giant Tregeagle, Giant Tregeagle, I am a poor little Piskey who has lost his laugh. Please stop dipping water for a minute, and tell me if you have seen it.’

This time the Giant heard, and without pausing for a moment his hopeless task of emptying the pool dry, he said:

‘What tiny squeak did I hear?’

The Piskey was too frightened to answer, for Giant Tregeagle’s voice was almost as loud as the roar of breakers breaking in the cavern under King Arthur’s Castle, and the tiny fellow crouched down in the curl of the Giant’s ear.

‘What tiny squeak did I hear?’ again asked the Giant; and the little Piskey, taking his courage in both his hands, answered back as loud as he could: [25]

‘It was a little Piskey who spoke to you—a little Piskey who has had the great misfortune to lose his laugh.’

‘A little Piskey has lost his laugh, has he?’ roared Giant Tregeagle. ‘Why, that’s nothing compared to a Giant who has lost his soul!’

‘Have you lost your soul?’ cried the little Piskey, who, having got the Giant’s ear, could now make his tiny voice distinctly heard.

‘Yes, I have lost my soul,’ moaned the great fellow, and his moan shivered over the surface of Dozmare Pool, and made all the sallows that grew beside it shiver and shake as if a blasting wind had passed over them; and the reeds and rushes growing in the water sighed so sadly that the little Piskey felt ever so wisht, and sighed too.

‘How did you come to lose your soul, Mister Giant?’ asked the little Piskey after a while.

‘That’s a question,’ answered the Giant, beginning again his hopeless task of emptying the pool.

‘Have you never looked for your soul?’ queried the tiny fellow who, having lost his laugh, felt very sorry for the unhappy Giant who had lost so precious a thing as his soul.

‘It was no good to look for my soul when I gave it away in exchange for wealth,’ cried the Giant; ‘I can never get it back again unless I empty this big pool of every drop of water that is in it.’

‘And can’t you do that, and you a giant?’ asked the little Piskey in surprise. [26]

‘I am afraid I can’t with a limpet-shell that has a hole in it; and I am not allowed to use any other.’

‘Will you let me help you to empty the pool?’ asked the tiny Piskey. ‘I am only a little bit of a chap compared with you, I know—a God’s little cow by the side of a plough-horse, the Man in the Lantern said,’ as the Giant laughed sardonically; ‘and my dinky hand is nothing for size, but it hasn’t a hole in it.’

‘You can help me if you like,’ said the Giant with another sardonic laugh. ‘It will be perhaps another case of a mouse freeing the lion!’

‘Who knows?’ cried the Piskey, who took the Giant’s remark quite seriously; and climbing out of the huge ear, he slid down over the boulder to the pool, and making a dipper of his tiny hand, began to dip out water as fast as he could, and never stopped dipping once till a movement behind him made him pause, and, looking up, he saw the great big Giant on his feet towering above him like a tor, with an awful look of rage on his face.

‘I can never, never, empty Dozmare Pool with a limpet-shell that has a hole in it,’ howled the Giant—’no, not if I dip till the Day of Doom;’ and he flung the shell into the big pool. As he flung it a great blast of rage broke from him and lashed the dark water of the big pool in fury. He howled and howled, and his howls were heard in every part of the lonely waste surrounding the pool, and went roaring round and round the far-stretching moors, and were [27]echoed by the desolate hills. By-and-by the Giant turned his back on the pool and strode away in the direction of the sea, howling and roaring as he went.

The little Piskey was so terrified by the Giant’s roaring that he crept into a water-rat’s hole, and never ventured out for a night and a day.

The second night after the Giant had gone he came out of the hole to see if he had returned, but he had not. He was disappointed in spite of the fright he had received, for the Giant had never told him whether he had seen his laugh, and he did not know where to go in search of it, or whom to ask if it had been seen.

As he thought about this, he became very miserable—almost as miserable as the unhappy Giant who had sold his soul, and he wished with all his heart that the kind little Man in the Lantern would come his way again. As he was wishing this he looked over the big pool, which was very dark and unlit by single star, when something very soft and bright smote the black water on the opposite side of the pool.

Thinking it was the dear little Man in his Lantern come in answer to his wish, he fixed his gaze upon the brightness, and in a minute or two a little Barge shot out from the reeds and came swiftly towards him, and he saw (for the Piskeys can see in the dark like a cat) that the Barge was being rowed across the big pool by a little old man. The soft light that smote the water came from the prow of the little craft and lit up the face of the Bargeman, which [28]was half turned towards the Piskey, and was very seared and brown.

When the Barge came near the spot where the Piskey was standing, the Tiny Bargeman said:

‘Who are you, looking as if you had the world on your back? and what are you doing here this time of night, when all good folk ought to be in bed?’

‘I am a poor unfortunate Piskey who has lost his laugh,’ answered the tiny little Piskey, and his voice was very sad.

‘It is a dreadful thing to lose your laugh,’ said the little old Bargeman.

‘It is,’ responded the little Piskey. ‘The little Man in the Lantern thought so too, and he brought me all the way from Rough Tor Marsh to Dozmare Pool in his Lantern to ask Giant Tregeagle if he had seen it.’

‘And didn’t you ask Giant Tregeagle that important question after the little Lantern Man had brought you so far?’ asked the little Bargeman.

‘I did, but he was so troubled about something he had lost—his soul it was—that he forgot to say whether he had seen my laugh.’

‘That is a pity, for the Giant is now on St. Minver sand-hills making trusses of sand and sand-ropes to bind them with, and when the sand-ropes break in his hand—which they are sure to do when he tries to lift them—he will fly away to Loe Bar7 to work at another impossible task.’ [29]

‘How do you know that?’ asked the little Piskey.

The Tiny Bargeman looked at the green-coated, red-capped little Piskey with a strange expression in his dark eyes for a second or two, and then he said:

‘I have lived so long in the world that I know most things. People who knew me in a far-away time called me Merlin the Magician, and said I had all the secrets of the world in the back of my head.’

‘Then you will be able to tell me where my laugh has gone to?’ struck in the little Piskey eagerly.

‘I was speaking more of the past than of the present,’ said the Tiny Bargeman. ‘Since the time of which I spoke, I have lived here by this lake, now called Dozmare Pool. I lived sealed up in a stone, into which the Lady of the Lake shut me till a hundred years or so ago.’

‘How very unkind of the Lady to put you into a stone!’ said the little Piskey indignantly. ‘Whatever did she do it for?’

‘Thereby hangs a tale which is not good for a small Piskey like you to hear,’ returned the Tiny Bargeman, with another strange look in his dark, mysterious little eyes. ‘When Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, shut me up in the stone—like a toad in a hole she said—she thought she had done for me, and that I should soon die. But Merlin, the man who worked magic, was not so easily got rid of.’

‘And didn’t you die?’ asked the Piskey innocently.

‘You must have lost your wits, as well as your [30]laugh, to ask such a stupid question,’ said the Tiny Bargeman. ‘I did not die, or I should not be sitting in this Barge now. But I grew down to the tiny old fellow you now see me through working my way out of that dreadful stone. My magical powers have also dwindled, I fear; for they are as nothing to what they once were. Therefore I am no longer Merlin the Magician, but only Merlin the Bargeman of Dozmare Pool.’

‘And can’t you tell me where my laugh is?’ asked the little Piskey wistfully. ‘I am a miserable, poor thing without my laugh.’

‘I’m sure you are,’ said the Tiny Bargeman, ‘and I’ll do what I can to help you to find it. I wasn’t shut up in a stone all those centuries for nothing, as, perhaps, you have not lost your laugh for nothing. I’ll tell you at once that your laugh has never been near this desolate spot, but it is possible that Giant Tregeagle may have seen it on his wild flight down to St. Minver sand-hills, or maybe he has seen it on the golden dunes. I advise you to go there and ask him.’

‘How can I get to the sand-hills?’ asked the poor little Piskey. ‘It would take me such a long time to get there with no dance in my feet; and there is no little Lantern Man here to give me a lift in his Lantern.’

‘You need not trouble your head how you are to get to the sand-hills. I’ll take you near there in my Barge.’ [31]

‘In your Barge?’ echoed the little Piskey, looking over his shoulder to the long stretch of country between him and the sea, and then at the great pool set like a cup on the top of the moors, with no visible outlet.

‘You are wondering how I can take you to the great outer sea,’ said the Tiny Bargeman. ‘For your satisfaction I will tell you that there is an underground waterway that leads down to Trebetherick Bay, close to St. Minver sand-hills. I will take you there in my Barge.’

‘Why are you so kind?’ asked the little Piskey, looking gratefully at the little old Bargeman. ‘My brothers were not nearly so kind.’

‘I saw you helping the wicked Giant to dip this great mere dry, and I thought so kind a deed deserved another,’ answered the Little Bargeman lightly; ‘and I told myself as I watched you that I would do you a kindness, if you needed a kindness. Will you let me take you to Trebetherick Bay?’

‘Gladly,’ answered the little Piskey.

‘Get into my Barge, then,’ cried the little old Bargeman; and the Piskey scrambled in and sat in the stern of the Barge facing the Bargeman.

‘I like rowing about this pool,’ remarked the Tiny Bargeman, as he put his little craft about and began to row from the shore. ‘It has so many memories. It was here by this mere that the Lady of the Lake (not the one who shut me up in a stone) forged the wonderful Excalibur, the two-handled sword with [32]the jewelled hilt, which she gave to Arthur the King, who, you know, afterwards ruled all the land. It was here that Sir Bedivere—one of the Knights of the far-famed Round Table—flung the sword by order of the wounded King, and was caught by the Lake Lady’s uplifted arm. It was here—— But you are not listening,’ he cried, breaking off his sentence as he noticed that the little Piskey was not paying any attention to what he was saying.

‘I’m afraid I wasn’t,’ he said, very much ashamed. ‘I am very dull and stupid since I lost my laugh.’

‘You can’t be more stupid than I was when I was shut up in the stone,’ said the tiny old Bargeman; ‘and I can well excuse your stupidity.’

He said nothing more, for just then the Barge reached the shore from which it had put off, and, without getting out, he reached over and touched a big stone with an oar. He had no sooner touched the stone than it sprang back, and revealed a dark, deep tunnel, into which the little Barge shot like a thing alive.

‘This underground waterway was known to the fair ladies who lived by the pool, and who took away the wounded King in their little ship to the Vale of Avilion,’ remarked the Bargeman when the stone shut up itself behind them.

‘Did they?’ asked the little Piskey, trying to look interested.

‘Yes,’ he answered; ‘and they also knew of another waterway, which will never be revealed to [33]anybody except by the Good King,’ he added half to himself, looking straight before him into the darkness of the narrow passage as he steered.

The tiny Barge, which was a very ancient-looking little craft, with a gilded dragon forming its prow, sped on. But for its size, it might well have been the same little ship to which Merlin, the little old Bargeman, had just referred. The waterway was very long and deep, and the water ran so swiftly that the Barge did not now require to be rowed. It was also very dark, and the only light that shone was the light from the little boat.

The little old Bargeman did not speak again till a roaring fell on their ears.

‘It is the noise of water breaking on Padstow Doombar,’ he said, as the little Piskey looked frightened.

‘I thought it was Giant Tregeagle howling,’ gasped the little Piskey.

‘He hasn’t tried to lift his sand-ropes yet, and he won’t begin his howl of rage till he finds how brittle they are,’ said the Little Bargeman.’ And a very good thing for you,’ he added; ‘for he will be far too angry to tell you whether he has seen your laugh when the ropes of sand break in his great hand. There! we are close now to the great outer sea,’ he cried, as the thunder of waves broke more loudly on their ears, and they saw the light of many stars through a narrow opening; and the next minute the little Barge came out into Trebetherick Bay. [34]

‘You only have to go up across the hillocks,’ said the little old Bargeman, helping the little Piskey out of the barge, ‘and if you follow your nose you will soon get to where the Giant is busy making sand-ropes.’

‘Thank you for bringing me,’ said the little Piskey; but he never knew whether he was heard or not, for the Tiny Bargeman and his ancient Barge vanished as he spoke.

The Piskey made haste to follow his nose, and he scrambled up a sand-bank, and hastened as fast as his feet could take him over the sandy common, till he came to the place where Giant Tregeagle was sitting making sand-ropes to bind his trusses of sand which lay all around him. He was sitting by a hillock, his great head showing just above it, when the Piskey came near.

The little Piskey climbed nearly to the top of the hillock, and when he got close to the Giant’s ear he shouted:

‘I am the little Piskey who told you he had lost his laugh. Please stop making sand-ropes for a minute and tell me if you have seen it.’

But the big Giant took no notice of the tiny voice, and went on making his ropes of sand.

The little Piskey then got into his ear and poked his red-capped head into the hollow of it, and again shouted:

‘I am the little Piskey who told you he had lost his laugh, and——’ [35]

‘Ah! the dinky little fellow who tried to help me to find my soul,’ interrupted the great Giant, in a voice almost as loud as the waves breaking on the Padstow Doombar.

‘Yes,’ answered the Piskey, ‘and a dinky Little Bargeman brought me from Dozmare Pool to Trebetherick that you might answer my question.’

‘I know who you mean—Merlin, the little old Master of Magic,’ cried the Giant in evident astonishment, pausing in his work of making a rope of sand to stare at the little Piskey. ‘Fancy his bringing a tiny brown fellow like you from Dozmare Pool to Trebetherick Bay in his Magic Barge! Pigs will fly and sing after this!’

‘He saw me helping you to dip the pool dry, and said that one kind deed deserved another,’ said the Piskey as meek as a harvest-mouse. ‘So he brought me all the way down to St. Minver to know if you had seen my laugh. Have you seen it, Mister Giant?’

‘No, I have not seen it,’ answered the Giant. ‘Nothing so cheerful as a Piskey’s laugh would come near such a mountain of misery as I am; and if by an evil chance it did come, it would flee far from my dark shadow.’

‘Do you know anyone else who has seen my laugh?’ asked the little Piskey piteously.

‘Not one; unless your cousins, the Night-riders, have,’ answered the Giant, looking at the sand-ropes he had just finished, lying at his feet. ‘I must now begin to bind my trusses of sand.’ [36]

He stooped to lift them as he spoke, and as he tried to take them up they fell to pieces in his hand. As they crumbled away his face was awful to see, and he began to howl and roar, and his cries of rage rang out over the sand-hills and over Trebetherick Bay, and were heard above the noise of waves breaking on the Padstow Doombar.

Those roars of rage and anger so frightened the people living in the villages in the neighbourhood of the common that they shook in their beds, and as for the little Piskey, he was so terrified by what he had heard and seen that he tumbled over the hillock up which he had climbed to get into the Giant’s ear.

When he had picked himself up, Giant Tregeagle was flying away like an evil bird towards the south.

The dawn broke soon after the Giant had gone, and as Piskeys always hide by day, he hid himself under a clump of tamarisk, and stayed there till the dark and the stars came again. When he came out he remembered what the Giant had said—that perhaps his cousins, the Night-riders, had seen his laugh. The moon being several days older than when the kind little Lantern Man had taken him to Dozmare Pool, it was now shining brightly over the common, and he knew if the Night-riders were in the neighbourhood of the sand-hills they would soon be riding over the common.
‘Night-riders, Night-riders, please stop!’

‘Night-riders, Night-riders, please stop!’

As he was gazing about with wistful eyes a young colt came galloping along with scores of little Night-riders [39]astride his back, and as many more hanging on to his mane and tail.

The Night-riders, who were little people no bigger than Piskeys, and quite as mischievous, had taken the colt from a farmer’s stable close to the common, and were enjoying their stolen ride as only Night-riders could.

As they and the colt drew near, the little Piskey stood out in the moonshine and shouted:

‘Night-riders, Night-riders, please stop! I want to ask you something.’

But the little Night-riders were enjoying their gallop too much to listen or stop, and they flew by like the wind.

The colt was fresh, and galloped like mad, and soon went round the common and back again; and as he was galloping by, the Piskey once more shouted to the little Night-riders to stop, but they took no heed, and once more flew by like the wind.

Ever so many times the colt galloped round the sandy common, leaping over the hillocks in his mad gallop, and each time he passed, the little Piskey stood out in the moonshine and called out, but the Night-riders took not the slightest notice, nor pulled up the colt to see what he wanted.

At last, when the Piskey had given up all hope of the Night-riders stopping, the colt, who was quite worn out with galloping so hard round and round the broken common, put his foot into a rabbit-hole [40]and came down with a crash, with his many little riders on top of him.

One little Night-rider, who happened to be astride the colt’s left ear, was pitched off at the Piskey’s feet.

He looked as bright as a robin in his little red riding-coat, brown leggings, and his bright green cap with a wren’s feather stuck in its front.

When he had picked himself up, he thrust his tiny brown hands into his breeches pocket, stared hard at the little Piskey, and cried:

‘What wisht little beggar are you?’

‘I am a poor little chap who has lost his laugh,’ answered the Piskey. ‘I shouted every time you galloped the colt past here to ask if you had seen it, but you never stopped.’

‘Of course we did not stop galloping because a Piskey called,’ said the little Night-rider. ‘How came you to be such a gawk as to lose your laugh?’

‘I have no idea,’ the Piskey returned. ‘I only know it went away all of a sudden, and I have been searching for it ever since. Have you seen my little lost laugh?’

‘No; but Granfer Night-rider may have,’ answered the little Night-rider. ‘He has wonderful eyes for seeing things that are lost.’

‘Is Granfer Night-rider here?’ asked the Piskey, sending his glance in the direction of the colt, which was almost smothered with Night-riders, some standing on his side as he lay, others still in the stirrups they had made in his tail and mane. [41]

‘He was on top of the colt’s tail a minute ago,’ answered the little Night-rider, following the Piskey’s glance. ‘There he is,’ pointing to a tiny old fellow with a bushy grey beard coming towards them, carrying a tamarisk switch in his hand, with which he lashed the air as he came. He wore a red riding-coat, green breeches, red cap and feather like the other little Night-riders.

‘What woebegone little rascal are you?’ asked the old Greybeard, staring hard at the Piskey.

‘A Piskey who has lost his laugh,’ answered the little Night-rider for him, ‘and he had the impertinence to want us to stop galloping to tell him if we had seen it.’

‘You were very foolish to lose your laugh,’ said Granfer Night-rider, standing in front of the unhappy little Piskey. ‘How did you manage to lose it?’

And the poor little fellow, without lifting his eyes from the sandy ground, told him.

‘You are in Queer Lane, my son,’ said Granfer Night-rider, when he had told him how he had lost his laugh, ‘and I would not give a grain of corn for you.’

‘Wouldn’t you?’ wailed the poor little Piskey.

‘No, I wouldn’t, nor half a grain either.’

Quite a crowd of scarlet-coated little Night-riders had gathered near the Piskey by this time, and had listened to all that was said, and one little Night-rider asked if a Piskey had ever had the misfortune to lose his laugh before. [42]

‘Yes, once in the long ago,’ answered the old Greybeard, fixing his eye on the little Piskey, who trembled beneath his gaze, ‘and what was worse still, he never found it again. And so very unhappy was that little fellow without his laugh, and so miserable did he make everybody with his bewailings, that at last the Piskey tribe to which he belonged sent out a command that whoever found him wandering about the country was to take him in charge as a Piskey vagrant, put him into a Piskey-bag, and hang him upside down like a widdy-mouse in the first cavern they came to. He was found, put into a Piskey-bag, and hung up in a cavern. There he is still, and there he will hang till there are no more Small People!’

‘Has the order yet been given for this little Piskey vagrant to be taken up and treated in like manner?’ asked another little Night-rider.

The poor little Piskey did not wait to hear the answer, but took to his heels and ran as fast as he could to the north, and the little Night-riders who were still standing on the colt watched him till he was out of sight, and Granfer Night-rider and all the other little Night-riders yelled after him to stop, but he did not stop.

The Piskey ran and ran, and he never stopped running till he came to Castle Gardens, whence he had started.

When he got there he was as exhausted as a colt ridden all night by naughty Night-riders, and he sank [43]down all of a heap by the side of a mole-hill, where two tiny hands were again sticking up.

‘Is your ladyship under the hill?’ asked the little Piskey when he could speak.

‘Yes,’ answered the mole. ‘Who are you?’

‘The little Piskey who lost his laugh.’

‘What! haven’t you found it yet?’

‘No,’ he answered sadly, ‘and I am dreadfully afraid I never shall. If I don’t find it soon I shall be taken up for a Piskey vagrant, put in a bag, and hung upside down like a widdy-mouse in some cavern.’

‘That will be a very tragic ending to a bright little Piskey,’ said the mole. ‘Tell me how you know that that will be your fate if you don’t find your laugh.’

And the Piskey told her. In fact, the Lady Want was so interested about what Granfer Night-rider had said that she begged him to tell her all his adventures from the time he set out to Rough Tor Marsh in search of his laugh till his return to Castle Gardens, which he was quite glad to do.

‘You ought to find your laugh after all your travels and what you have gone through,’ said the Lady Want when he had related everything, ‘and I hope you will.’

‘Does your ladyship happen to know anybody else who may have seen my laugh?’ asked the little Piskey wistfully.

‘Only one.’ [44]

‘And who may that one be?’ queried the little Piskey. ‘Will your ladyship be kind enough to tell me?’

‘The Good King Arthur,’ the mole answered in a low voice.

‘Good King Arthur!’ ejaculated the Piskey. ‘Why, he is dead, and a dead King is no more good than a Piskey without his laugh.’

‘King Arthur is not dead,’ said the mole.

‘Not dead!’ echoed the little Piskey in great surprise.

‘No; he was seen perched only last evening on his own seat, which is still called King Arthur’s Seat, and which, as I dare say you know, overhangs the sea.’

‘Arthur the King not dead!’ whispered the little Piskey, as if he could not get over his amazement.

‘A precious good thing for you he isn’t,’ snapped the mole.

‘But how isn’t he dead?’ asked the little Piskey.

‘Because he was changed by magic into a bird,’ answered the mole; ‘he haunts the Dundagel8 cliffs and the ruins of his old castle in the form of a chough. He was wounded almost unto death in his last great battle, it is true,’ she added, for the small man looked as if he wanted this strange happening fully explained, ‘and the marks of the battle he fought and the hurts he received are yet upon him, as the legs and beak of the great black bird plainly show—as plainly as my own [45]tiny hands that I was once a great lady. But he is still alive. If you should see a bird with a red beak and legs flying over King Arthur’s Castle as day is beginning to break, you may be quite certain that he is King Arthur. If he has seen your laugh he will be sure to tell you. He is very kind and good, as all the world knows.’
‘Which is still called King Arthur’s Seat.’

‘Which is still called King Arthur’s Seat.’

‘I am glad the Good King is not dead,’ said the little Piskey. ‘I’ll try and keep awake till the dawn so that I can ask him about my laugh; but I am so tired.’

The little fellow did his best to keep awake, but he was too worn out with his run from St. Minver sand-hills to Tintagel Castle to sit and watch for the [46]coming of the red-legged bird; and long before the sun wheeled up behind the Tors and shone upon the sea he was sound asleep under a great mallow growing by one of the grey old walls. When he awoke a day and a night had come and gone, and the birth of a new day was at hand.

When he crawled out from under the mallow, the first thing he saw on the Island facing him was the dark form of a great black chough. He was perched on the wall above the old arched doorway, gazing gravely in front of him.

The Piskey lost not a moment in getting across to the Island, which he did by the Piskey passage known only to the Piskeys; and when he had caught the bird’s attention he said:

‘I am a poor little Piskey who has lost his laugh, and I am come to ask the Good King Arthur if he has seen it.’

But the bird was too high up for him to make himself heard, and he had to wait patiently till it flew down. After waiting a short time it did, and perched on a stick stuck in the ground.

The Piskey ran over, and, clasping his hands, he repeated what he had just said.

‘How came you to know I was King Arthur?’ asked the chough, ignoring the little fellow’s question.

‘The mole who says she is the Lady Want told me,’ he answered.

‘Ah, I know her—the grand lady who considered [47]the ground on which she walked was not good enough for her dainty feet, and has now, as a punishment, to walk under the ground—a lesson to all children of pride.’

‘But please, Good King Arthur, answer my question about my laugh,’ pleaded the little Piskey, in an agony of impatience. ‘If I don’t find it soon something dreadful will happen to me.’

‘Have patience,’ said the chough kindly. ‘Nothing is ever won by impatience. I have seen something very funny lately running about over the grass. It is like nothing I have ever seen before except in a Piskey’s face when he laughs. It is like a laugh gone mad, and it is enough to kill a man with laughing only to watch its antics. It made me laugh till I ached when I first noticed it. It does not make a sound, but its grimaces are worth flying a hundred miles only to see.’

‘It must have been my laugh you saw,’ cried the Piskey—’my dear little lost laugh that I have travelled so far to find. Where is it now, Good King Arthur?’

‘It was here not long since,’ answered the bird, who did not deny that he was Arthur the King. ‘Why, there it is quite close to you,’ pointing with his long-pointed beak to the most comical-looking thing you ever saw, on the grass a foot from where the Piskey was standing. ‘It was a laugh gone mad,’ as the chough said.

The Piskey looked behind him, and when he saw [48]the little bit of laughing, grinning absurdity on the grass, he jumped for joy and shrieked: ‘It is my own little laugh that I lost!’

Holding out both his arms, he cried, ‘Oh, dear little laugh, come back to me! Oh, dear little laugh, come back to me!’ And the droll little thing, which was a grin with a laugh and a laugh with a grin, came over to the Piskey, and began to climb up his legs, grinning and doubling itself up with laughter as it climbed, till it reached his chin, when it narrowed itself into a tiny grin and vanished into the Piskey.

The next moment the Piskey was shouting at the top of his voice, ‘I have got my laugh! I have got my laugh!’ and he ran off laughing and dancing to the edge of the cliff and disappeared into the Piskey-hole, and in a few minutes more he was on Castle Gardens in the great Piskey-ring, laughing and dancing and dancing and laughing.

His laugh was so loud and so free that his brother Piskeys heard him from afar, and came running over the cliffs from Bossiney to see what ever had happened.

Little Fiddler Piskey was the first to reach the Gardens, and the first glance at the little whirling figure told him that his little brother had found his laugh; and putting his fiddle in position, he began fiddling away as hard as he could.

As he fiddled, the other Piskeys, including Granfer Piskey, reached the ring, and the next minute they [49]were all dancing and laughing as they had never laughed and danced before; but the one who laughed the heartiest was the little Piskey who had lost and found his laugh.

They danced for a good hour, the little fiddler in their midst fiddling his fiddle, all the while keeping time with his head and foot, heedless that the daylight was driving the darkness away to the country to which it belongs; and King Arthur the Bird flew up on the wall and watched, and the mole who called herself the Lady Want let her dainty hands be seen on the mole-hill, till the fiddling, dancing, and laughing were finished, and the Piskeys went off to the Piskey-beds to sleep.


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