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Silver Bells

It was in a lovely pine-wood that little Mirabella wandered lonely and hungry. The sand under her feet was very cool, and the tufted pine-trees sheltered her from the fierce rays of the sun.

Through an avenue of tall but bare pine-trees she could see the big sea, which she looked upon for the first time. Faint and hungry as she was, she could not help wishing to be nearer the waves; but she recollected what her father had once told her, that little children should be careful not to go too near the sea when they are alone.

Her father, however, was dead. He was King of the Silver Isles, and for his goodness had been loved by all his subjects. Mirabella was his only child; and her mother having married again, she wanted to get rid of Mirabella, so that her little boy Gliglu might inherit the crown. So she ordered one of her servants to lead Mirabella into the pine-wood far away and leave her there, hoping the wolves would find her and eat her.

When Mirabella was born, her aunt, who was a fairy, gave her a silver bell, which she tied around the child’s neck with a fairy chain that could not be broken. In vain did her mother try to take it from her; no scissors could cut through it, and her strength could not break it, so that wherever Mirabella went the silver bell tinkled merrily.

Now, it so happened that on the second night on which she was out the silver bell tinkled so loudly, that a wolf who happened to be near, hearing it, approached her and said—

“Silver bell, silver bell, do not fear;

To obey you, Mirabella, I am here.”

At first the little girl was very much afraid, because she had heard of the cruelty of wolves; but when he repeated the words, she said—

“Dear Mr. Wolf, if you would be so kind as to bring me my mamma, I would be so obliged.”

Off ran the wolf without saying another word, and Mirabella commenced jumping for joy, causing her silver bell to tinkle more than ever. A fox, hearing it, came up to her and said—

“Silver bell, silver bell, do not fear;

To obey you, Mirabella, I am here.

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