The Brown Fairy Book HTML version

The Story of the Yara
Down in the south, where the sun shines so hotly that everything and everybody sleeps all
day, and even the great forests seem silent, except early in the morning and late in the
evening--down in this country there once lived a young man and a maiden. The girl had
been born in the town, and had scarcely ever left it; but the young man was a native of
another country, and had only come to the city near the great river because he could find
no work to do where he was.
A few months after his arrival, when the days were cooler, and the people did not sleep
so much as usual, a great feast was held a little way out of the town, and to this feast
everyone flocked from thirty miles and more. Some walked and some rode, some came in
beautiful golden coaches; but all had on splendid dresses of red or blue, while wreaths of
flowers rested on their hair.
It was the first time that the youth had been present on such an occasion, and he stood
silently aside watching the graceful dances and the pretty games played by the young
people. And as he watched, he noticed one girl, dressed in white with scarlet
pomegranates in her hair, who seemed to him lovelier than all the rest.
When the feast was over, and the young man returned home, his manner was so strange
that it drew the attention of all his friends.
Through his work next day the youth continued to see the girl's face, throwing the ball to
her companions, or threading her way between them as she danced. At night sleep fled
from him, and after tossing for hours on his bed, he would get up and plunge into a deep
pool that lay a little way in the forest.
This state of things went on for some weeks, then at last chance favoured him. One
evening, as he was passing near the house where she lived, he saw her standing with her
back to the wall, trying to beat off with her fan the attacks of a savage dog that was
leaping at her throat. Alonzo, for such was his name, sprang forward, and with one blow
of his fist stretched the creature dead upon the road. He then helped the frightened and
half- fainting girl into the large cool verandah where her parents were sitting, and from
that hour he was a welcome guest in the house, and it was not long before he was the
promised husband of Julia.
Every day, when his work was done, he used to go up to the house, half hidden among
flowering plants and brilliant creepers, where humming-birds darted from bush to bush,
and parrots of all colours, red and green and grey, shrieked in chorus. There he would
find the maiden waiting for him, and they would spend an hour or two under the stars,
which looked so large and bright that you felt as if you could almost touch them.
'What did you do last night after you went home?' suddenly asked the girl one evening.