I am going to tell a story, one of those tales of astonishing adventures tha_appened years and years and years ago. Perhaps you wonder why it is that s_any stories are told of "once on a time", and so few of these days in whic_e live; but that is easily explained.
In the old days, when the world was young, there were no automobiles no_lying-machines to make one wonder; nor were there railway trains, no_elephones, nor mechanical inventions of any sort to keep people keyed up to _igh pitch of excitement. Men and women lived simply and quietly. They wer_ature's children, and breathed fresh air into their lungs instead of smok_nd coal gas; and tramped through green meadows and deep forests instead o_iding in street cars; and went to bed when it grew dark and rose with th_un—which is vastly different from the present custom. Having no books to rea_hey told their adventures to one another and to their little ones; and th_tories were handed down from generation to generation and reverentl_elieved.
Those who peopled the world in the old days, having nothing but their hands t_epend on, were to a certain extent helpless, and so the fairies were sorr_or them and ministered to their wants patiently and frankly, often showin_hemselves to those they befriended.
So people knew fairies in those days, my dear, and loved them, together wit_ll the ryls and knooks and pixies and nymphs and other beings that belong t_he hordes of immortals. And a fairy tale was a thing to be wondered at an_poken of in awed whispers; for no one thought of doubting its truth.
To-day the fairies are shy; for so many curious inventions of men have com_nto use that the wonders of Fairyland are somewhat tame beside them, and eve_he boys and girls can not be so easily interested or surprised as in the ol_ays. So the sweet and gentle little immortals perform their tasks unseen an_nknown, and live mostly in their own beautiful realms, where they are almos_nthought of by our busy, bustling world.
Yet when we come to story-telling the marvels of our own age shrink int_nsignificance beside the brave deeds and absorbing experiences of the day_hen fairies were better known; and so we go back to "once on a time" for th_ales that we most love—and that children have ever loved since mankind kne_hat fairies exist.