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_"Come with me for a visit
To Fairyland, dear Ned.
I'll show you many won'drous things,"
The tiny Gnomeman said._


_"I've lost a magic golden ring,"
The pretty Bluebird sighed.
"Don't worry," laughed the kind old fish,
"I have it safe inside."_


_"I'll hurry, Mother," Jimmy cried,
As down the road he ran,
When in a jiffy up there jumped
A little Rabbitman._


_"Come, Mr. Elephant," cried Shem,
"Don't fear the dreadful Shark.
The Circus Folk are calling us
To leave the big Noah's Ark."_






The Cruise of the Noah's Ark
The Magic Soap-Bubble
The Iceberg Express
The Wind Wagon
The Magic Umbrella

Author of
Little Jack Rabbit Series
(Trademark Registered)


_The Magic Soap Bubble_ _Frontispiece_]


(Trademark Registered)

* * * * *











* * * * *

Made in the United States of America















The King of the Gnomes prepares the Magic Pipe for making the Magic Soap



NED had been reading a very interesting book about fairies and goblins,
and how these real queer little folk inhabit dense forests and lofty
mountain caves and lead a wonderful life apart from the homes and cities
of men.

The book was very large and heavy, and the afternoon was very warm, and
the big armchair in which he was curled up was so comfortable that by
and by he let the book slip to one side.

He had just closed his eyes for a moment to rest them, when he was
startled by a little squeaky voice at his elbow.

He opened his eyes with a start and saw a Gnome standing on the
window-sill just in front of him. Yes, there was no mistake about it, it
was a Gnome. For had not Ned a moment before seen his picture in the big
book he had been reading? Indeed, it almost seemed as if the picture
itself had stepped out of the page from between the covers, so exactly a
duplicate did the little man appear.

"Hello, Ned!" said the little squeaky voice again. "I say, hello! You
ought to know me well enough by this time to answer, since you've been
reading about me for the last hour."

"Hello, yourself!" replied Ned, laughing in spite of himself, and
rubbing his eyes again to make sure that it was not a picture from the


"Can't you see a fellow is sleepy after reading so long a time? I
didn't think you were coming out of the book to speak to me, you know."

"Neither did I," retorted the Gnome, with a funny wink. "I came from the
forest to invite you to take a little journey with me through Gnomeland.
I am the King of the Gnomes, and my subjects have told me how interested
you are in reading about us, so I have come to take you for a trip
through our kingdom. I know you will love to see all the wonderful
things you have been reading about. Will you come?"

"Indeed, I will," said Ned.

"Then follow me," replied the Gnome.

Ned jumped through the window after the little fellow, who ran swiftly
down the walk and across the fields to the forest beyond.

As they neared the brook that ran through the meadow, the Gnome paused.
Taking from his pocket a clay pipe, he stooped over and filled it with

"Did you ever blow soap bubbles?" he asked, taking a piece of soap from
another pocket and rubbing it carefully around the inside of the

"Yes," replied Ned, "lots of times."

"Well, you wait and see what sort of a bubble I'll blow," replied the

It was a bubble! But the strangest part of it all was that Ned found
himself inside of it with his companion.

"How did we get inside, or how did the bubble get around us?" asked Ned,
but before his question was answered away went the bubble up in the air,
across the meadow, above the little brook, yes, over the roof of his own
house, higher and higher, until finally it reached the big high mountain
that he had so often dimly seen from the window of his bedroom at home.

After circling about the highest peak the bubble at length safely
landed on a rocky ledge.

Before Ned could ask how they were ever going to get out the Gnome
opened a little door through which he led him to the outer air.

There was a great change in the temperature, or else the inside of the
bubble was very warm, for Ned began to shiver and shake. "Who-o-!" he
cried; "it's co-old!"

"Of course it is. Look," answered the Gnome, and Ned's eyes, following
the pointing finger of his little friend, fell upon a strange and
terrifying figure.

Behind a bank of icicles stood a giant, with an immense helmet upon his
head, from which hung long sharp pieces of ice. The top part was covered
with snow which slipped off at intervals like a small avalanche to the
ground below. His beard and mustache were festooned with thin slivers
of ice, and his shoulders bore epaulets of frosted snow. The cuffs of
his greatcoat were fringed with snowflakes, and altogether he was a
startling and frigid looking individual. In his hands he held a
monstrous bellows, from which he forced out a blast of icy air which,
scattering the snow in whirling clouds, went howling down the rocky

"He's the Wind Man of the Mountain," explained the Gnome, turning to
shivering Ned, whose toes and fingers by this time were quite numb with
the cold.

"Well, I'd like to meet a Hot Air Man," said Ned, blowing on his hands
to keep them from freezing. "I'd like to feel warm again."

"Well, then follow me!" cried the Gnome, and turning to a big rock he
tapped upon it twice with the toe of his little red boot. In a moment a
door opened, showing a pair of rocky steps leading down into the

"Be careful," admonished the Gnome, as he and Ned descended the rough
flight. "Don't slip, for you might fall a long way."

Ned assured him he had no desire to fall, but that his feet were so numb
he wasn't at all sure but what he might slip, no matter how hard he
tried to be careful.

Although it was not exactly dark, at the same time the light was not
sufficient for Ned to make out anything distinctly, and as the stairway
was narrow and the walls dim he kept his eyes closely upon the ground.

Soon they came to a level corridor and he perceived a dim light in the
distance. "Where are we going?" he asked. But at this point an iron door
arrested their progress, and without pausing to answer, the Gnome took
from his pocket a key. Inserting it in the lock, the door slowly swung
open, and Ned heard the faint beating of a drum.

"Sit down," said the Gnome, drawing forward a wooden stool, much too
small for Ned, but probably just the right size for a Gnome; "sit down
and wait a moment while I go in search of the Gnomeland Band. I want you
to hear them play, and I hear them practising now."

Ned glanced curiously around the strange place. It suddenly occurred to
him that he was a long, long way from home. Here he was, deep down in
the mountain, in a rocky cavern, sitting on a little Gnome stool,
waiting for his friend to return. But what if he did not come back?

Ned's hair suddenly stood on end at the thought. Going over to the big
iron door, he tried to turn the great knob, but his fingers either were
not strong enough or he did not know the secret of the lock. Returning
to his seat, he made up his mind to wait a while before allowing his
fears to get the better of him. This is what every brave boy would do
under the circumstances, he said to himself, resolving not to be a

Presently he was relieved to hear music, as the Gnome, at the head of
the Gnomeland Band, came into view; and the funniest band that Ned had
ever seen. Why, each instrument was playing itself and dancing the
Mountain Tango at the same time!

The big drum went "Bum, bum, bum, diddle dum," and pranced around on a
pair of short, fat legs in red stockings. Two fat little arms beat the
drumsticks on the top of his head, or what appeared to be the top of his
head, which was in reality a funny face, which winked and blinked as
the drumsticks traveled over the queer little features.

"Toot! toot!" went the big yellow horn, as his fat little fingers
pressed in the brass stops that made the notes high or low, or soft or
shrill. Over the floor he skipped, after the round, fat drum.

The 'cello and the violin came next. The latter ran his bow across his
stringed waistcoat in perfect time, while the former twanged the strings
that covered his happy face in a jolly fashion. The rest of the band
played on themselves beautifully, and the Gnome, with his baton, proved
a most capable leader. In fact, the music was so delightful that Ned
finally could restrain himself no longer, and, jumping up, began dancing
around to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow!"

"Heigh-ho! hey diddle-do!
Down in the mountain deep,
Fiddle and drum, tiddle-dy-um,
Are doing the Leopard Leap!"

Just then the music stopped, or, rather, the Musical Instruments paused
to take breath, and Ned sat down again, wondering what next would
happen. In a few minutes the round, fat drum commenced to beat "Left,
right! left, right!" and the Gnomeland Band fell into line and marched
slowly down the long cavern until it was out of sight.


Ned and the Gnome landed safely on a big soft bunker of moss.



AS the last drum beat died away in the distance, the Gnome turned to Ned
and said: "Come, let us hasten, for I am rather hungry, and you no doubt
are in need of nourishment also."

Ned obeyed willingly, for he had tasted nothing since breakfast and was
now as hungry as a healthy youngster should be.

At the farther end of the cavern was an inclined plane, very much like
the chutes at Coney Island.

Carefully seating Ned at his side the Gnome said: "Now hold tight, and
hold your breath and hold your tongue - in fact, hold everything you've
got - for we are going to take a swift shoot to the bottom of the
mountain and you'll find out what the word swift means if you never have

At this they began to move, and in another moment they were traveling as
fast as a bullet from a gun.

The wind, whistling by, cut Ned's cheeks like little sharp needles; his
hair stood out behind like feathers on a speeding arrow.

They were going so fast it was almost impossible to breathe.

Presently a tiny light appeared in the distance, and he saw that they
were now on a level, although still going at a tremendous rate of speed.

In another moment they shot through the little round hole of light,
which turned out to be the opening at the other end, and he and the
Gnome landed safely on a big soft bunker of moss in the midst of a
beautiful forest.

Birds were singing in the treetops and little rabbits were skipping on
the soft carpet of the woodland.

Pretty flowers sent forth a delicious perfume and a brook close at hand
rippled over the pebbly bottom of its bed.

"Wait," cried the Gnome, as Ned leaned over to drink the cool water.
"Wait; I have for you the most delicious drink if you will restrain your
impatience a moment longer."

Ned obeyed and followed the Gnome along a narrow path until they came to
a small clearing, where the blue sky smiled down upon them.

In the center of the spot was a monstrous watermelon, standing up on
end, the thick vine supporting it like a strong round barrel stave.

A large wooden spigot protruded from one side and over it leaned a
Gnome, who had climbed upon the vine in order to reach the handle.

Ned's little companion lifted a goblin cup to catch the drops of
delicious looking pink juice which began to drip slowly from the spigot
when the Gnome carefully turned the handle.

"Careful, now," commanded the Gnome, as he handed the brimming goblet to
Ned. "See that you spill not a drop of the precious nectar.

"Good, is it?" he inquired, seeing the sparkle in Ned's eyes and hearing
the smack on his lips as the last drop disappeared. "Pretty good, eh?"

"Better'n soda water," replied Ned; "lots better."

The little Gnome at the spigot smiled. "I grew the melon," he said with
pride. "It's the largest so far in Gnomeland. But next year I'm going to
grow even a bigger one!"

"How do you make them grow so large?" inquired Ned, hoping he would be
invited to have another glass of the juice.

"Not another drop!" said Ned's little friend. "A second goblet and you
would be so hungry you could eat stones."

"Come with me," said the small Gnome guide. "We must eat."

Ned eagerly followed him, and they pressed forward at a rapid walk until
they came to a queer little hut, from which issued a most delicious odor
of sponge cake.

Around the door, or, more properly, what appeared to be one, but which
was in fact but a small opening, stood several goblins, evidently
awaiting orders from someone.

As Ned drew near he perceived that instead of a hut it was in reality a
huge oven, in which something very delicious was being baked.

"Minions!" called out Ned's friend, "is not the goblin cake ready?"

"Yes, sire!" responded several voices, and in another moment the oven
was taken apart and removed from the most delicious looking sponge cake
that Ned had ever seen. A soft, warm brown color made it most tempting
to the eyes, and the delicious smell made Ned so anxious to commence
eating that he could with difficulty restrain himself.

"Help yourself," cried his little friend, and without a moment's
hesitation Ned pulled off a piece of cake and eagerly commenced.

"Begone!" commanded the Gnome to the small bakers, who still stood
around curiously watching their cake disappearing down the mouth of a
mortal as rapidly as its owner could cram it in; "begone and leave us to
enjoy the cake alone!"

At this they turned away and descended the steep hill which lay to the
right and disappeared below.

"Be careful," admonished the Gnome, as Ned showed no signs of finishing,
"you may eat too much. Gnome cake, while most delicious, is more filling
than that of mortal make!"

But Ned paid no heed. Already he had eaten a great hole in the cake and,
finding the inside warm and flaky, he squeezed himself in.

It was much easier to eat the inside, as it was softer, and the crust
had already grown quite hard.

He was so busy eating and, I'm sorry to say, so greedy, that he did not
notice that as he ate away the interior of the sponge cake the outside
gradually grew tighter, and the opening which he had made at the
beginning of his feast, and through which he had crowded, became smaller
and smaller, until finally it closed altogether.

When Ned perceived this, and it was some time after, I assure you, he
was indeed frightened. He pounded on the walls of his sponge cake prison
and called loudly to the Gnome, but for some time he heard nothing.

Finally, after frantically running around and around inside the huge
cake ball, he thought he heard the voice of his small friend. He pressed
his ear close to the wall and listened.

Sure enough, he could just hear the words, "Hold on tight to one side,
and brace your feet," and the next moment he perceived that the cake was
in motion.

Slowly at first, but in a few minutes the great cake ball began to
revolve faster and faster.

Ned was terrified at first, as it was with great difficulty that he kept
his body from playing battledore and shuttlecock. The greater the speed
of the huge mass, however, the less inclination there was to bounce
about, and he soon found himself literally glued, as it were, to one

While thus traveling in this novel way, he began to entertain some fear
as to what would happen should an obstacle be encountered, and by some
strange coincidence no sooner had, the idea come than it was followed by
a terrific crash!

The crust of the cake ball broke into a thousand pieces, and Ned landed
safely some distance from the spot, still clinging to a huge piece of
sponge cake, which acted like a cushion between him and the ground.

Looking anxiously around, after wiping some stray crumbs from his eyes,
he saw his little friend, the Gnome, running frantically down the steep
incline, which, luckily for Ned, had been the cause of his liberation.

Finding him unhurt, the Gnome sat down on the piece of cake to rest
himself and regain his breath before speaking.

When he did, however, what he said caused Ned to run quickly over to the
brook to look at himself in the water.

To his dismay, what the Gnome had said was, indeed, too true. Ned was
nearly as broad as he was high.

The cake he had eaten had evidently occupied the same space inside of
him as it had inside the brown crust.

"What am I ever going to do?" said Ned.

"'Twas a lucky think I kept you from drinking another gobletful of the
watermelon juice," answered the Gnome. "Otherwise you might have eaten
the whole cake, and then you might have been twice as large as you are

"I don't think there is anything to laugh at," said Ned, as his small
friend burst into a hearty peal of laughter.

"Of course you don't," replied the Gnome, "you can't see yourself. If
you could, though - oh, my!" and he again burst into peals of laughter.

Ned waited a few moments and then asked: "Well, what are we going to

"Don't worry, Ned, dear," replied his little friend, touched by his good
nature and feeling sorry for him, "don't worry. The watermelon juice
made the sponge cake swell. All that is necessary now is to take the
antidote, and I know where it can be found without any trouble."


The Fairies brought a lily filled with the Magic Nectar.



NED and the Gnome continued their journey down the valley, following the
crystal stream, in whose waters he had just a short time before seen his
distorted figure, until they came to a beautiful waterfall, down whose
silvery sheen slid numerous water sprites and water fairies.

"Over yonder," exclaimed the Gnome, "lives the Fairy of the Lake. She
brews a magic liquid from checkerberries, which, I am told, if you but
drink a thimbleful, will enable you to regain your natural shape. There
she goes now, over the bridge, on some such errand I dare say."

Ned watched the fairy stepping across the silver network which hung
above a miniature Niagara that he could easily have spanned with a
single step. Catching up a handful of berries he followed her, not
heeding the Gnome's remark "that she would probably prefer to pick them
herself," and, almost treading on some of the fairies who were blowing
about in the long grass like the flowers they represented, threw the
berries in a heap at the door of her castle.

It was, indeed, a most beautiful little palace. Made of brilliant
crystals, it sparkled in the sun like a rainbow. Inside, it was even
more exquisite, for all her little subjects, the flower fairies and the
woodland fays, had adorned it with many lovely things.

Ned stooped over and peeped in at the doorway. There was a bright light
inside which came from a little star suspended from the ceiling, the
crystal walls on all sides reflecting the light with great brilliancy.
Here and there were draped beautiful laces, no doubt spun by the spiders
kept by the fairies for that purpose.

"Come," said the Gnome somewhat impatiently, as Ned's curiosity still
held him at the little castle's doorway. "Come away, or else the Queen
will not return. How is she to enter if you block up her entrance?"

Following his advice, Ned withdrew some little distance and stood
watching the gay scene around him.

Hundreds of insects were flying about and large, gay-winged butterflies
fluttered over the flowers. On some he noticed tiny figures and others
with blades of grass tied around the necks of robins, bluebirds and
golden orioles were also flying about in mid-air, while some sailed on
the silver backs of fishes or floated in shells upon the water near his

"Look!" cried the Gnome suddenly, "here she comes."

A half horsechestnut, with damask roseleaf cushions, mounted on four
ivy-berry wheels and with four shining beetles for horses came driving
up from the waterfall.

Leaning back in her carriage sat the Queen Fairy, fanning her face with
a fly's wing.

The beetles came to a stand in front of the palace, and the Queen,
gathering up her white satin dress, stepped out.

Instantly numerous ladies in waiting, jumped from off their butterfly
steeds and escorted her through the palace door.

Ned cautiously peeped in again. The room was filled with fairies about
as large as your thumb, dancing here and there and singing a low, sweet

On perceiving that a mortal was gazing at them they began to dance more
slowly, and presently ceased altogether. Whereupon the Queen, looking
about to ascertain the reason and catching sight of Ned's admiring face,

"No wonder you feel so faint, my little fays, and that you stop your
merry dancing. The hot air is pouring in upon us from a fiery furnace
outside. Look here, my giant friend," she added, coming up to Ned, "if
you want to see how we live you mustn't hold your mouth open with
astonishment. Your breath is very hot to us little people!"

With that the mischievous Queen jumped quite unexpectedly on Ned's nose
and gave it a sharp pinch.

"Don't cry," said the fairy in a cheery voice, the laughs falling from
her like waterdrops from the cascade just outside; "I only wanted to
let you know what I could do; but I am ready to be as polite as you

"May it please your highness," interposed the Gnome, who at this point
squeezed himself through Ned's legs and entered the door, "to give my
mortal friend a drop of your crystal nectar, in order that he may regain
his boyish shape again?"

The Queen Fairy looked politely inquisitive.

"You see, your highness," the Gnome went on to explain, "he has eaten
too heartily of gnome cake, and that together with a gobletful of gnome
watermelon juice, has caused him much inconvenience, as well as an
entire change of form."

No sooner had he finished speaking than the Queen called the Waterfall
Fairy, the Brook Fairy and yet another, somewhat smaller, called Violet

"Hasten," she said to them when they had assembled before her, "hasten
to make a draft of crystal nectar, that this mortal may drink and assume
once more his natural shape."

"Move off!" cried a shrill voice in Ned's ear, and, looking up, he saw a
Snapdragon, who seemed to be a sort of policeman for the fairies.

"How can you expect these Ladies-in-Waiting to fulfill their Queen's
commands if you stand there blocking the royal exit?"

"Tell your friend to sit him down and wait patiently, for it will take
some time to brew the magic draft," said the Queen to the Gnome, who
repeated her words to Ned.

He was very glad indeed to rest, for, not being accustomed to carry so
much weight on his young legs, he felt very weary and somewhat

However, relief was in sight, and, following the suggestion of the good
fairy, he threw himself down on a mossy bank and waited.

Before long the three fairies returned, bearing between them a lily
filled with a white liquid.

As they approached the Queen herself came forth from her crystal palace,

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Online LibraryDavid CoryThe Magic Soap Bubble → online text (page 1 of 4)