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with his wand, again the cock crowed, and
all the things, with one exception, returned
to their granite home, the table bringing up
the rear. The exception was the thirteenth
dish, which was always left untasted, and
which was chased by a black cat to the
summit of the rock, where the pursuer and
pursued both remained quietly by the side
of Chanticleer, until all three were fetched
by the old gentleman, who, taking the dish
in his hand, the cat under his arm, and the
cock on his shoulder, vanished with his
strange burden into the granite. Indeed,
this same block of granite was at once the
store-room, the lumber-room, the larder,
the cellar, and the wardrobe, of the
establishment: the practically-crowing cock
calling forth not only eatables and
drinkables, with instruments for their consumption,
but every kind of wearing apparel, and
jewellery of every sort.

After a few years, Elsie had become
mistress of the strange language talked by
the lady and her party: a language not to
be taught in six lessons, like French and
German in the nineteenth century. One
thing, however, she did not learn, and that
was the meaning of the thirteenth dish
which regularly appeared on the table every
day, was regularly left untasted, and was
regularly chased by the black cat. She
ventured to put a question on this subject
to her friend Kysika, but that generally
amiable young lady suddenly became rather
glum, and said that she could give no
information, with an air which showed that
the difficulty lay less in the ability than in
the will. Shortly afterwards, Elsie was
summoned before the lady of the house,
who, looking somewhat less pleasant than
usual, treated Elsie to a little wholesome

"Elsie, dear," she said, "bad habits
should be nipped in the bud, since otherwise
they are not only confirmed, but grow
worse. I understand that you have been
asking questions about the thirteenth dish.
Don't do so again. Such inquiries indicate,
not merely idle curiosity, but something
like greediness. Were our repast
scanty they would be but natural. By my
prophetic gift I can foresee that, centuries
hence, a boy named Oliver, being scantily
fed, will ask for more; but Oliver's case
is not yours. Twelve dishes are surely
sufficient for any reasonable dinner.
However, thus much I will tell you. The
covered dish does not contain the delicious
article, which, centuries hence, will be
called a Nesselrode pudding, and if we
used a French menu, we should set it down
as 'Bienfait caché.' Let me add that if
once the cover were removed from the dish,
all our happiness would be destroyed for

Thoroughly convinced that a banquet
consisting of twelve eatable dishes was
not to be surpassed, Elsie (who, through
circumstances of time and place had never
dined at Greenwich) asked no more
questions, and the little lecture was the only
ripple that disturbed her peaceful happiness
during her residence in the Tontla Wood.
As time went on, she became an excellent
scholar: the teacher who gave daily lessons
to Kysika instructing her also. And,
strange to say, her progress was far greater
than that of her little friend. While Elsie's
mind expanded, Kysika seemed always to
remain a child, and was never better pleased
than when she could put aside her books
and work, and play at "going to sea."
There was a growing discrepancy between
the playmates, and Kysika, looking at
Elsie with tearful eyes, would often say:

"How sorry I am you are grown so tall!
You'll soon be too big to play with me."

When nine years had passed in uninterrupted
felicity, poor Elsie received a heavy
blow. One evening, to her great surprise,
she was told that the lady wished to see
her in her bedchamber; never before had
she been summoned at that hour, and her
beating heart seemed to tell her that some
misfortune was at hand. She had no sooner
crossed the threshold than she perceived
that the lady's cheeks were very red, and
that her eyes had been bathed with tears,
which she was wiping away, as if to
conceal them from Elsie.

"My dear child," she began, after a pause,
"the time has come when we must part."

"Part!" cried Elsie. "No, no, dear
lady, we will never part until we are
separated by death. You have always been so
kind, so very kind, to me. Do not thrust
me from you now."

"Be calm, child, be calm," said the lady,
with an effort. "You do not know what
happiness is in store for you."

"I want no happiness apart from you,"
replied the girl. "All the happiness I
have ever found, has been your gift. Oh,
do not, do not, thrust me from you. Let
me be your servant, your slave, but do not
thrust me forth into the wide, dreary world.
Better to have left me in wretchedness
with my wicked stepmother, than to have
raised me to a heaven of joy, and then to
plunge me back in misery!"