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Title: Stories to Tell Children - Fifty-Four Stories With Some Suggestions For Telling
Author: Bryant, Sara Cone, 1873-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories to Tell Children - Fifty-Four Stories With Some Suggestions For Telling" ***

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George Cruikshank]









This little book came into being at the instance of my teaching friends.
Their requests for more stories of the kind which were given in _How to
Tell Stories to Children_, and especially their urging that the stories
they liked, in my telling, should be set down in print, seemed to
justify the hope that the collection would be genuinely useful to them.
That it may be, is the earnest desire with which it is offered. I hope
it will be found to contain some stories which are new to the teachers
and friends of little children, and some which are familiar, but in an
easier form for telling than is usual. And I shall indeed be content if
its value to those who read it is proportionate to the pleasure and
mental stimulus which has come to me in the work among pupils and
teachers which accompanied its preparation.

Among the publishers and authors whose kindness enabled me to quote
material are Mr John Murray and Miss Mary Frere, to whom I am indebted
for the four stories of the Little Jackal; Messrs Little, Brown &
Company and the Alcott heirs, who allowed me the use of Louisa Alcott's
poem, _My Kingdom_; and Dr Douglas Hyde, whose letter of permission to
use his Irish material was in itself a literary treasure. To the
charming friend who gave me the outline of _Epaminondas_, as told her by
her own "Mammy," I owe a deeper debt, for _Epaminondas_ has carried joy
since then into more schools and homes than I dare to enumerate.

And to all the others,--friends in whom the child-heart lingers,--my
thanks for the laughs we have had, the discussions we have warmed to,
the helps you have given. May you never lack the right story at the
right time, or a child to love you for telling it!



    Additional Suggestions for Method--Two Valuable
    Types of Story--A Graded List of Stories to dramatise
    and retell                                                 11

    Importance of Oral Methods--Opportunity of the
    Primary Grades--Points to be observed in dramatising
    and retelling, in connection with English                  27


TWO LITTLE RIDDLES IN RHYME                                    43

THE LITTLE YELLOW TULIP                                        43

THE COCK-A-DOO-DLE-DOO                                         45

THE CLOUD                                                      46

THE LITTLE RED HEN                                             48

THE GINGERBREAD MAN                                            49

THE LITTLE JACKALS AND THE LION                                55

THE COUNTRY MOUSE AND THE CITY MOUSE                           58

LITTLE JACK ROLLAROUND                                         62


THE LITTLE HALF-CHICK                                          70

THE BLACKBERRY-BUSH                                            74

THE FAIRIES                                                    78


ANOTHER LITTLE RED HEN                                         83

THE STORY OF THE LITTLE RID HIN                                87


THE BOY WHO CRIED "WOLF!"                                      96

THE FROG KING                                                  97

THE SUN AND THE WIND                                           99

THE LITTLE JACKAL AND THE ALLIGATOR                           100

THE LARKS IN THE CORNFIELD                                    106

A TRUE STORY ABOUT A GIRL (Louisa Alcott)                     108

MY KINGDOM                                                    113

PICCOLA                                                       115

THE LITTLE FIR TREE                                           116

HOW MOSES WAS SAVED                                           122

THE TEN FAIRIES                                               126

THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER                                   130

WHO KILLED THE OTTER'S BABIES?                                133

EARLY                                                         136

THE BRAHMIN, THE TIGER, AND THE JACKAL                        137

THE LITTLE JACKAL AND THE CAMEL                               144

THE GULLS OF SALT LAKE                                        147

THE NIGHTINGALE                                               150

MARGERY'S GARDEN                                              159

THE LITTLE COTYLEDONS                                         171

THE TALKATIVE TORTOISE                                        176

ROBERT OF SICILY                                              178

THE JEALOUS COURTIERS                                         185

PRINCE CHERRY                                                 189

THE GOLD IN THE ORCHARD                                       199

MARGARET OF NEW ORLEANS                                       200

THE DAGDA'S HARP                                              204

THE TAILOR AND THE THREE BEASTS                               208

HOW THE SEA BECAME SALT                                       215

THE CASTLE OF FORTUNE                                         220

DAVID AND GOLIATH                                             227

THE SHEPHERD'S SONG                                           233

THE HIDDEN SERVANTS                                           236

LITTLE GOTTLIEB                                               243


THE DIAMOND AND THE DEWDROP                                   248


Concerning the fundamental points of method in telling a story, I have
little to add to the principles which I have already stated[1] as
necessary, in my opinion, in the book of which this is, in a way, the
continuation. But in the two years which have passed since that book was
written, I have had the happiness of working on stories and the telling
of them, among teachers and students in many parts, and in that
experience certain secondary points of method have come to seem more
important, or at least more in need of emphasis, than they did before.
As so often happens, I had assumed that "those things are taken for
granted"; whereas, to the beginner or the teacher not naturally a
story-teller, the secondary or implied technique is often of greater
difficulty than the mastery of underlying principles. The few
suggestions which follow are of this practical, obvious kind.

Take your story seriously. No matter how riotously absurd it is, or how
full of inane repetition, remember, if it is good enough to tell, it is
a real story, and must be treated with respect. If you cannot feel so
toward it, do not tell it. Have faith in the story, and in the attitude
of the children toward it and you. If you fail in this, the immediate
result will be a touch of shamefacedness, affecting your manner
unfavourably, and, probably, influencing your accuracy and imaginative

Perhaps I can make the point clearer by telling you about one of the
girls in a class which was studying stories last winter; I feel sure if
she or any of her fellow-students recognises the incident, she will not
resent being made to serve the good cause, even in the unattractive
guise of a warning example.

A few members of the class had prepared the story of _The Fisherman and
his Wife_. The first girl called on was evidently inclined to feel that
it was rather a foolish story. She tried to tell it well, but there were
parts of it which produced in her the touch of shamefacedness to which I
have referred.

When she came to the rhyme,--

     "O man of the sea, come, listen to me,
      For Alice, my wife, the plague of my life,
      Has sent me to beg a boon of thee,"

she said it rather rapidly. At the first repetition she said it still
more rapidly; the next time she came to the jingle she said it so fast
and so low that it was unintelligible; and the next recurrence was too
much for her. With a blush and a hesitating smile she said, "And he said
that same thing, you know!" Of course everybody laughed, and of course
the thread of interest and illusion was hopelessly broken for everybody.

Now, anyone who chanced to hear Miss Shedlock?[A] tell that same story
will remember that the absurd rhyme gave great opportunity for
expression, in its very repetition; each time that the fisherman came to
the water's edge his chagrin and unwillingness were greater, and his
summons to the magic fish mirrored his feeling. The jingle _is_ foolish;
that is a part of the charm. But if the person who tells it _feels_
foolish, there is no charm at all! It is the same principle which
applies to any assemblage: if the speaker has the air of finding what he
has to say absurd or unworthy of effort, the audience naturally tends to
follow his lead, and find it not worth listening to.

Let me urge, then, take your story seriously.

Next, "take your time." This suggestion needs explaining, perhaps. It
does not mean license[A] to dawdle. Nothing is much more annoying in a
speaker than too great deliberateness[A] or than hesitation of speech.
But it means a quiet[A] realisation of the fact that the floor is yours,
everybody wants to hear you, there is time[A] enough for every point and
shade of meaning, and no one will think the story too long. This mental
attitude must underlie proper control of speed. Never hurry. A
business-like leisure is the true attitude of the story-teller.

And the result is best attained by concentrating one's attention on the
episodes of the story. Pass lightly, and comparatively swiftly, over the
portions between actual episodes, but take all the time you need for the
elaboration of those. And above all, do not _feel_ hurried.

The next suggestion is eminently plain and practical, if not an all too
obvious one. It is this: if all your preparation and confidence fails
you at the crucial moment, and memory plays the part of traitor in some
particular,--if, in short, you blunder on a detail of the story, _never
admit it_. If it was an unimportant detail which you misstated, pass
right on, accepting whatever you said, and continuing with it; if you
have been so unfortunate as to omit a fact which was a necessary link in
the chain, put it in, later, as skilfully as you can, and with as
deceptive an appearance of its being in the intended order; but never
take the children behind the scenes, and let them hear the creaking of
your mental machinery. You must be infallible. You must be in the secret
of the mystery, and admit your audience on somewhat unequal terms; they
should have no creeping doubts as to your complete initiation into the
secrets of the happenings you relate.

Plainly, there can be lapses of memory so complete, so all-embracing,
that frank failure is the only outcome; but these are so few as not to
need consideration, when dealing with so simple material as that of
children's stories. There are times, too, before an adult audience, when
a speaker can afford to let his hearers be amused with him over a chance
mistake. But with children it is most unwise to break the spell of the
entertainment in that way. Consider, in the matter of a detail of action
or description, how absolutely unimportant the mere accuracy is,
compared with the effect of smoothness and the enjoyment of the hearers.
They will not remember the detail, for good or evil, half so long as
they will remember the fact that you did not know it. So, for their
sakes, as well as for the success of your story, cover your slips of
memory, and let them be as if they were not.

And now I come to two points in method which have to do especially with
humorous stories. The first is the power of initiating the appreciation
of the joke. Every natural humorist does this by instinct, and the value
of the power to a story-teller can hardly be overestimated. To initiate
appreciation does not mean that one necessarily gives way to mirth,
though even that is sometimes natural and effective; one merely feels
the approach of the humorous climax, and subtly suggests to the hearers
that it will soon be "time to laugh." The suggestion usually comes in
the form of facial expression, and in the tone. And children are so much
simpler, and so much more accustomed to following another's lead than
their elders, that the expression can be much more outright and
unguarded than would be permissible with a mature audience.

Children like to feel the joke coming, in this way; they love the
anticipation of a laugh, and they will begin to dimple, often, at your
first unconscious suggestion of humour. If it is lacking, they are
sometimes afraid to follow their own instincts. Especially when you are
facing an audience of grown people and children together, you will find
that the latter are very hesitant about initiating their own expression
of humour. It is more difficult to make them forget their surroundings
then, and more desirable to give them a happy lead. Often at the
funniest point you will see some small listener in an agony of endeavour
to cloak the mirth which he--poor mite--fears to be indecorous. Let him
see that it is "the thing" to laugh, and that everybody is going to.

Having so stimulated the appreciation of the humorous climax, it is
important to give your hearers time for the full savour of the jest to
permeate their consciousness. It is really robbing an audience of its
rights, to pass so quickly from one point to another that the mind must
lose a new one if it lingers to take in the old. Every vital point in a
tale must be given a certain amount of time: by an anticipatory pause,
by some form of vocal or repetitive emphasis, and by actual time. But
even more than other tales does the funny story demand this. It cannot
be funny without it.

Everyone who is familiar with the theatre must have noticed how careful
all comedians are to give this pause for appreciation and laughter.
Often the opportunity is crudely given, or too liberally offered; and
that offends. But in a reasonable degree the practice is undoubtedly
necessary to any form of humorous expression.

A remarkably good example of the type of humorous story to which these
principles of method apply, is the story of _Epaminondas_ on page 92. It
will be plain to any reader that all the several funny crises are of the
perfectly unmistakable sort children like, and that, moreover, these
funny spots are not only easy to see; they are easy to foresee. The
teller can hardly help sharing the joke in advance, and the tale is an
excellent one with which to practise for power in the points mentioned.

Epaminondas is a valuable little rascal from other points of view, and
I mean to return to him, to point a moral. But at the moment I want
space for a word or two about the matter of variety of subject and style
in school stories.

There are two wholly different kinds of story which are equally
necessary for children, I believe, and which ought to be given in about
the proportion of one to three, in favour of the second kind; I make the
ratio uneven because the first kind is more dominating in its effect.

The first kind is represented by such stories as _The Pig Brother_,[1]
which has now grown so familiar to teachers that it will serve for
illustration without repetition here. It is the type of story which
specifically teaches a certain ethical or conduct lesson, in the form of
a fable or an allegory,--it passes on to the child the conclusions as to
conduct and character, to which the race has, in general, attained
through centuries of experience and moralising. The story becomes an
inescapable part of the outfit of received ideas on manners and morals
which is a necessary possession of the heir of civilisation.

Children do not object to these stories in the least, if the stories are
good ones. They accept them with the relish which nature seems ever to
have for all truly nourishing material. And the little tales are one of
the media through which we elders may transmit some very slight share of
the benefit received by us, in turn, from actual or transmitted

The second kind has no preconceived moral to offer, makes no attempt to
affect judgment or to pass on a standard. It simply presents a picture
of life, usually in fable or poetic image, and says to the hearer,
"These things are." The hearer, then, consciously or otherwise, passes
judgment on the facts. His mind says, "These things are good"; or, "This
was good, and that, bad"; or, "This thing is desirable," or the

The story of _The Little Jackal and the Alligator_ (page 100) is a good
illustration of this type. It is a character-story. In the naïve form of
a folk tale, it doubtless embodies the observations of a seeing eye, in
a country and time when the little jackal and the great alligator were
even more vivid images of certain human characters than they now are.
Again and again, surely, the author or authors of the tales must have
seen the weak, small, clever being triumph over the bulky,
well-accoutred, stupid adversary. Again and again they had laughed at
the discomfiture of the latter, perhaps rejoicing in it the more because
it removed fear from their own houses. And probably never had they
concerned themselves particularly with the basic ethics of the struggle.
It was simply one of the things they saw. It was life. So they made a
picture of it.

The folk tale so made, and of such character, comes to the child
somewhat as an unprejudiced newspaper account of to-day's happenings
comes to us. It pleads no cause, except through its contents; it
exercises no intentioned influence on our moral judgment; it is there,
as life is there, to be seen and judged. And only through such seeing
and judging can the individual perception attain to anything of power or
originality. Just as a certain amount of received ideas is necessary to
sane development, so is a definite opportunity for first-hand judgments
essential to power.

In this epoch of well-trained minds we run some risk of an inundation of
accepted ethics. The mind which can make independent judgments, can look
at new facts with fresh vision, and reach conclusions with simplicity,
is the perennial power in the world. And this is the mind we are not
noticeably successful in developing, in our system of schooling. Let us
at least have its needs before our consciousness, in our attempts to
supplement the regular studies of school by such side-activities as
story-telling. Let us give the children a fair proportion of stories
which stimulate independent moral and practical decisions.

And now for a brief return to our little black friend. _Epaminondas_
belongs to a very large, very ancient type of funny story: the tale in
which the jest depends wholly on an abnormal degree of stupidity on the
part of the hero. Every race which produces stories seems to have found
this theme a natural outlet for its childlike laughter. The stupidity of
Lazy Jack, of Big Claus, of the Good Man, of Clever Alice, all have
their counterparts in the folly of the small Epaminondas.

Evidently, such stories have served a purpose in the education of the
race. While the exaggeration of familiar attributes easily awakens mirth
in a simple mind, it does more: it teaches practical lessons of wisdom
and discretion. And possibly the lesson was the original cause of the

Not long ago, I happened upon an instance of the teaching power of these
nonsense tales, so amusing and convincing that I cannot forbear to share
it. A primary teacher who heard me tell _Epaminondas_ one evening, told
it to her pupils the next morning, with great effect. A young teacher
who was observing in the room at the time told me what befell. She said
the children laughed very heartily over the story, and evidently liked
it much. About an hour later, one of them was sent to the board to do a
little problem. It happened that the child made an excessively foolish
mistake, and did not notice it. As he glanced at the teacher for the
familiar smile of encouragement, she simply raised her hands, and
ejaculated, "'For the law's sake!'"

It was sufficient. The child took the cue instantly. He looked hastily
at his work, broke into an irrepressible giggle, rubbed the figures out,
without a word, and began again. And the whole class entered into the
joke with the gusto of fellow-fools, for once wise.

It is safe to assume that the child in question will make fewer needless
mistakes for a long time because of the wholesome reminder of his
likeness with one who "ain't got the sense he was born with." And what
occurred so visibly in his case goes on quietly in the hidden recesses
of the mind in many cases. One _Epaminondas_ is worth three lectures.

I wish there were more of such funny little tales in the world's
literature, all ready, as this one is, for telling to the youngest of
our listeners. But masterpieces are few in any line, and stories for
telling are no exception; it took generations, probably, to make this
one. The demand for new sources of supply comes steadily from teachers
and mothers, and is the more insistent because so often met by the
disappointing recommendations of books which prove to be for reading
only, rather than for telling.

For the benefit of suggestion to teachers in schools where story-telling
is newly or not yet introduced in systematic form, I am glad to append
the following list of additional stories which will be found to be
equally tellable and likeable. The list is not mine, although it
embodies some of my suggestions. I offer it merely as a practical result
of the effort to equalise and extend the story-hour throughout the
schools. The list is roughly graded in four groups. Stories in the
present volume have been excluded.



     The Lion and the Mouse, Æsop
     The Fox and the Crow, Æsop
     The Hare and the Tortoise, Æsop
     The Wolf and the Kid, Æsop
     The Crow and the Pitcher, Æsop
     The Fox and the Grapes, Æsop
     The Dog and his Shadow, Æsop
     The Hare and the Hound, Æsop
     The Wolf and the Crane, Æsop
     The Elf and the Dormouse[1]
     The Three Little Pigs[1]
     Henny Penny
     The Three Bears[1]
     Why the Woodpecker's Head is Red[2]
     Little Red Riding-Hood
     The Cat and The Mouse, Grimm
     Snow White and Rose Red, Grimm


     The Boasting Traveller, Æsop
     The Wolf and the Fox, Æsop
     The Boy and the Filberts, Æsop
     Hercules and the Wagoner, Æsop
     The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf, Æsop
     The Star Dollars[1]
     The Pied Piper[1]
     King Midas[1]
     Peter Rabbit, B. Potter
     The Tar-Baby, Joel Chandler Harris
          (from _Uncle Remus_)
     The Tailor and the Elephant
     The Blind Men and the Elephant
          (_Harrap's Dramatic Readers_, Book II.)
     The Valiant Blackbird, Wm. Canton
          (from _The True Annals of Fairyland_)
     The Wolf and the Goslings, Grimm
     The Ugly Duckling, Andersen
     The Old Woman and Her Pig[1]
     The Cat and the Parrot[1]


     Little Black Sambo
     Why the Bear has a Short Tail[2]
     Why the Fox has a White Tip to his Tail[2]
     Why the Wren flies low[2]
     Jack and the Beanstalk
     The Golden Fleece[3]
     The Pig Brother[1]
     The Ugly Duckling, Andersen
     How the Mole became Blind[2]
     How Fire was brought to the Indians[2]
     Why the Morning Glory Climbs[1]
     The Bay of Winds[3]
     Pandora's Box[4]
     The Little Match Girl, Andersen
     The Story of Wylie[1]


     The Nürnberg Stove[3]
     Latona and the Frogs[4]
     Dick Whittington and his Cat
     The Bell of Atri[5]
     The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Edgar
          (from _Stories from the Earthly Paradise_)
     The Guardians of the Door, Wm. Canton
          (from _A Child's Book of Saints_)
     The Little Lame Prince, Mrs Craik
     The Little Hero of Haarlem[6]
     The Bar of Gold[5]
     The Golden Fish[5]
     Saint Christopher[5]
     The Four Seasons[7]

A further source for excellent stories put into a form which is
suggestive for purposes of retelling to children is the series of graded
reading books known as _Harrap's Dramatic Readers_.


[1] _How to Tell Stories to Children._

[2] In _How to Tell Stories to Children_, page 145.

[3] _How to Tell Stories to Children._

[4] _Nature Myths_, Florence Holbrook.

[5] _Favourite Greek Myths_, Lilian S. Hyde.

[6] _Legends of Greece and Rome_, G.H. Kupfer.

[7] _Folk Tales from Many Lands_, Lilian Gask.


I have to speak now of a phase of elementary education which lies very
close to my warmest interest, which, indeed, could easily become an
active hobby if other interests did not beneficently tug at my skirts
when I am minded to mount and ride too wildly. It is the hobby of many
of you who are teachers, also, and I know you want to hear it discussed.
I mean the growing effort to teach English and English literature to
children in the natural way: by speaking and hearing,--orally.

The structure of the language and the choice of words are dark matters
to most of our young people; this has long been acknowledged and
struggled against. But even darker, and quite equally destructive to
English expression, is their state of mind regarding pronunciation,
enunciation, and voice. It is the essential connection of these elements
with English speech that we have been so slow to realise. We have felt
that they were externals, desirable but not necessary adjuncts--pretty
tags of an exceptional gift or culture. Many an intelligent person will
say, "I don't care much about _how_ you say a thing; it is _what_ you
say that counts." He cannot see that voice and enunciation and
pronunciation are essentials. But they are. You can no more help
affecting the meaning of your words by the way you say them than you can
prevent the expressions of your face from carrying a message; the
message may be perverted by an uncouth habit, but it will no less surely
insist on recognition.

The fact is that speech is a method of carrying ideas from one human
soul to another, by way of the ear. And these ideas are very complex.
They are not unmixed emanations of pure intellect, transmitted to pure
intellect: they are compounded of emotions, thoughts, fancies, and are
enhanced or impeded in transmission by the use of word-symbols which
have acquired, by association, infinite complexities in themselves. The
mood of the moment, the especial weight of a turn of thought, the desire
of the speaker to share his exact soul-concept with you,--these seek far
more subtle means than the mere rendering of certain vocal signs; they
demand such variations and delicate adjustments of sound as will
inevitably affect the listening mind with the response desired.

There is no "what" without the "how" in speech. The same written
sentence becomes two diametrically opposite ideas, given opposing
inflection and accompanying voice-effect. "He stood in the front rank
of the battle" can be made praiseful affirmation, scornful scepticism,
or simple question, by a simple varying of voice and inflection. This is
the more unmistakable way in which the "how" affects the "what." Just as
true is the less obvious fact. The same written sentiment, spoken by a
Lord Rosebery and by a man from White chapel or an uneducated ploughman,
is not the same to the listener. In one case the sentiment comes to the
mind's ear with certain completing and enhancing qualities of sound
which give it accuracy and poignancy. The words themselves retain all
their possible suggestiveness in the speaker's just and clear
enunciation, and have a borrowed beauty, besides, from the associations
of fine habit betrayed in the voice and manner of speech. And, further,
the immense personal equation shows itself in the beauty and power of
the vocal expressiveness, which carries shades of meaning, unguessed
delicacies of emotion, intimations of beauty, to every ear. In the other
case, the thought is clouded by unavoidable suggestions of ignorance and
ugliness, brought by the pronunciation and voice, even to an
unanalytical ear; the meaning is obscured by inaccurate inflection and
uncertain or corrupt enunciation; but, worst of all, the personal
atmosphere, the aroma, of the idea has been lost in transmission
through a clumsy, ill-fitted medium.

The thing said may look the same on a printed page, but it is not the
same when spoken. And it is the spoken sentence which is the original
and the usual mode of communication.

The widespread poverty of expression in English, which is thus a matter
of "how," and to which we are awakening, must be corrected chiefly, at
least at first, by the elementary schools. The home is the ideal place
for it, but the average home in many districts is no longer a possible
place for it. The child of parents poorly educated and bred in limited
circumstances, the child of powerful provincial influences, must all
depend on the school for standards of English.

And it is the elementary school which must meet the need, if it is to be
met at all. For the conception of English expression which I am talking
of can find no mode of instruction adequate to its meaning, save in
constant appeal to the ear, at an age so early that unconscious habit is
formed. No rules, no analytical instruction in later development, can
accomplish what is needed. Hearing and speaking; imitating, unwittingly
and wittingly, a good model; it is to this method we must look for
redemption from present conditions.

I believe we are on the eve of a real revolution in English
teaching,--only it is a revolution which will not break the peace. It
will introduce a larger proportion of oral work than has hitherto been
contemplated in secondary school work. It will recognise the fact that
English is primarily something spoken with the mouth and heard with the
ear. And this recognition will have greatest weight in the systems of
elementary teaching.

It is as an aid in oral teaching of English that story-telling in school
finds its second value; ethics is the first ground of its usefulness,
English the second,--and after these, the others. It is, too, for the
oral uses that the secondary forms of story-telling are so available. By
secondary I mean those devices which I have tried to indicate, as used
by many teachers, in the chapter on "Specific Schoolroom Uses," in my
earlier book. They are retelling, dramatisation, and forms of seat-work.
All of these are a great power in the hands of a wise teacher. If
combined with much attention to voice and enunciation in the recital of
poetry, and with much good reading aloud _by the teacher_, they will go
far toward setting a standard and developing good habit.

But their provinces must not be confused or overestimated. I trust I may
be pardoned for offering a caution or two to the enthusiastic advocate
of these methods,--cautions the need of which has been forced upon me,
in experience with schools.

A teacher who uses the oral story as an English feature with little
children must never lose sight of the fact that it is an aid in
unconscious development; not a factor in studied, conscious improvement.
This truth cannot be too strongly realised. Other exercises, in
sufficiency, give the opportunity for regulated effort for definite
results, but the story is one of the play-forces. Its use in English
teaching is most valuable when the teacher has a keen appreciation of
the natural order of growth in the art of expression: that art requires,
as the old rhetorics used often to put it, "a natural facility,
succeeded by an acquired difficulty." In other words, the power of
expression depends, first, on something more fundamental than the
art-element; the basis of it is something to say, _accompanied by an
urgent desire to say it_, and _yielded to with freedom_; only after this
stage is reached can the art-phase be of any use. The "why" and "how,"
the analytical and constructive phases, have no natural place in this
first vital epoch.

Precisely here, however, does the dramatising of stories and the
paper-cutting, etc., become useful. A fine and thoughtful principal of a
great school asked me, recently, with real concern, about the growing
use of such devices. He said, "Paper-cutting is good, but what has it
to do with English?" And then he added, "The children use abominable
language when they play the stories; can that directly aid them to speak
good English?" His observation was close and correct, and his
conservatism more valuable than the enthusiasm of some of his colleagues
who have advocated sweeping use of the supplementary work. But his point
of view ignored the basis of expression, which is to my mind so
important. Paper-cutting is external to English, of course. Its only
connection is in its power to correlate different forms of expression,
and to react on speech-expression through sense-stimulus. But playing
the story is a closer relative to English than this. It helps,
amazingly, in giving the "something to say, the urgent desire to say
it," and the freedom in trying. Never mind the crudities,--at least, at
the time; work only for joyous freedom, inventiveness, and natural forms
of reproduction of the ideas given. Look for very gradual changes in
speech, through the permeating power of imitation, but do not forget
that this is the stage of expression which inevitably precedes art.

All this will mean that no corrections are made, except in flagrant
cases of slang or grammar, though all bad slips are mentally noted, for
introduction at a more favourable time. It will mean that the teacher
will respect the continuity of thought and interest as completely as she
would wish an audience to respect her occasional prosy periods if she
were reading a report. She will remember, of course, that she is not
training actors for amateur theatricals, however tempting her
show-material may be; she is simply letting the children play with
expression, just as a gymnasium teacher introduces muscular play,--for
power through relaxation.

When the time comes that the actors lose their unconsciousness it is the
end of the story-play. Drilled work, the beginning of the art, is then
the necessity.

I have indicated that the children may be left undisturbed in their
crudities and occasional absurdities. The teacher, on the other hand,
must avoid, with great judgment, certain absurdities which can easily be
initiated by her. The first direful possibility is in the choice of
material. It is very desirable that children should not be allowed to
dramatise stories of a kind so poetic, so delicate, or so potentially
valuable that the material is in danger of losing future beauty to the
pupils through its present crude handling. Mother Goose is a hardy old
lady, and will not suffer from the grasp of the seven-year-old; and the
familiar fables and tales of the "Goldilocks" variety have a firmness of
surface which does not let the glamour rub off; but stories in which
there is a hint of the beauty just beyond the palpable--or of a dignity
suggestive of developed literature--are sorely hurt in their
metamorphosis, and should be protected from it. They are for telling

Another point on which it is necessary to exercise reserve is in the
degree to which any story can be acted. In the justifiable desire to
bring a large number of children into the action one must not lose sight
of the sanity and propriety of the presentation. For example, one must
not make a ridiculous caricature, where a picture, however crude, is the
intention. Personally represent only such things as are definitely and
dramatically personified in the story. If a natural force, the wind, for
example, is represented as talking and acting like a human being in the
story, it can be imaged by a person in the play; but if it remains a
part of the picture in the story, performing only its natural motions,
it is a caricature to enact it as a rôle. The most powerful instance of
a mistake of this kind which I have ever seen will doubtless make my
meaning clear. In playing a pretty story about animals and children,
some children in an elementary school were made by the teacher to take
the part of the sea. In the story, the sea was said to "beat upon the
shore," as a sea would, without doubt. In the play the children were
allowed to thump the floor lustily, as a presentation of their watery
functions! It was unconscionably funny. Fancy presenting even the
crudest image of the mighty sea, surging up on the shore, by a row of
infants squatted on the floor and pounding with their fists! Such
pitfalls can be avoided by the simple rule of personifying only
characters that actually behave like human beings.

A caution which directly concerns the art of story-telling itself, must
be added here. There is a definite distinction between the arts of
narration and dramatisation which must never be overlooked. Do not,
yourself, half tell and half act the story; and do not let the children
do it. It is done in very good schools, sometimes, because an enthusiasm
for realistic and lively presentation momentarily obscures the faculty
of discrimination. A much loved and respected teacher whom I recently
listened to, and who will laugh if she recognises her blunder here,
offers a good "bad example" in this particular. She said to an attentive
audience of students that she had at last, with much difficulty, brought
herself to the point where she could forget herself in her story: where
she could, for instance, hop, like the fox, when she told the story of
the "sour grapes." She said, "It was hard at first, but now it is a
matter of course; _and the children do it too, when they tell the
story_." That was the pity! I saw the illustration myself a little
later. The child who played fox began with a story: he said, "Once there
was an old fox, and he saw some grapes"; then the child walked to the
other side of the room, and looked at an imaginary vine, and said, "He
wanted some; he thought they would taste good, so he jumped for them";
at this-point the child did jump, like his rôle; then he continued with
his story, "but he couldn't get them." And so he proceeded, with a
constant alternation of narrative and dramatisation which was enough to
make one dizzy.

The trouble in such work is, plainly, a lack of discriminating analysis.
Telling a story necessarily implies non-identification of the teller
with the event; he relates what occurs or occurred, outside of his
circle of consciousness. Acting a play necessarily implies
identification of the actor with the event; he presents to you a picture
of the thing, in himself. It is a difference wide and clear, and the
least failure to recognise it confuses the audience and injures both

In the preceding instances of secondary uses of story-telling I have
come some distance from the great point, the fundamental point, of the
power of imitation in breeding good habit. This power is less noticeably
active in the dramatising than in simple retelling; in the listening and
the retelling, it is dominant for good. The child imitates what he
hears you say and sees you do, and the way you say and do it, far more
closely in the story-hour than in any lesson-period. He is in a more
absorbent state, as it were, because there is no preoccupation of
effort. Here is the great opportunity of the cultured teacher; here is
the appalling opportunity of the careless or ignorant teacher. For the
implications of the oral theory of teaching English are evident,
concerning the immense importance of the teacher's habit. This is what
it all comes to ultimately: the teacher of young children must be a
person who can speak English as it should be spoken,--purely, clearly,
pleasantly, and with force.

It is a hard ideal to live up to, but it is a valuable ideal to try to
live up to. And one of the best chances to work toward attainment is in
telling stories, for there you have definite material, which you can
work into shape and practise on in private. That practice ought to
include conscious thought as to one's general manner in the schoolroom,
and intelligent effort to understand and improve one's own voice. I hope
I shall not seem to assume the dignity of an authority which no personal
taste can claim, if I beg a hearing for the following elements of manner
and voice, which appeal to me as essential. They will, probably, appear
self-evident to my readers, yet they are often found wanting in the
public school teacher; it is _so_ much easier to say "what were good to
do" than to do it!

Three elements of manner seem to me an essential adjunct to the
personality of a teacher of little children: courtesy, repose, vitality.
Repose and vitality explain themselves; by courtesy I specifically do
_not_ mean the habit of mind which contents itself with drilling the
children in "Good-mornings" and in hat-liftings. I mean the attitude of
mind which recognises in the youngest, commonest child the potential
dignity, majesty, and mystery of the developed human soul. Genuine
reverence for the humanity of the "other fellow" marks a definite degree
of courtesy in the intercourse of adults, does it not? And the same
quality of respect, tempered by the demands of a wise control, is
exactly what is needed among children. Again and again, in dealing with
young minds, the teacher who respects personality as sacred, no matter
how embryonic it be, wins the victories which count for true education.
Yet, all too often, we forget the claims of this reverence, in the
presence of the annoyances and the needed corrections.

As for voice: work in schoolrooms brings two opposing mistakes
constantly before me: one is the repressed voice, and the other, the
forced. The best way to avoid either extreme, is to keep in mind that
the ideal is development of one's own natural voice, along its own
natural lines. A "quiet, gentle voice" is conscientiously aimed at by
many young teachers, with so great zeal that the tone becomes painfully
repressed, "breathy," and timid. This is quite as unpleasant as a loud
voice, which is, in turn, a frequent result of early admonitions to
"speak up." Neither is natural. It is wise to determine the natural
volume and pitch of one's speaking voice by a number of tests, made when
one is thoroughly rested, at ease, and alone. Find out where your voice
lies when it is left to itself, under favourable conditions, by reading
something aloud or by listening to yourself as you talk to an intimate
friend. Then practise keeping it in that general range, unless it prove
to have a distinct fault, such as a nervous sharpness, or hoarseness. A
quiet voice is good; a hushed voice is abnormal. A clear tone is
restful, but a loud one is wearying.

Perhaps the common-sense way of setting a standard for one's own voice
is to remember that the purpose of a speaking voice is to communicate
with others; their ears and minds are the receivers of our tones. For
this purpose, evidently, a voice should be, first of all, easy to hear;
next, pleasant to hear; next, susceptible of sufficient variation to
express a wide range of meaning; and finally, indicative of personality.

Is it too quixotic to urge teachers who tell stories to little children
to bear these thoughts, and better ones of their own, in mind? Not, I
think, if it be fully accepted that the story hour, as a play hour, is a
time peculiarly open to influences affecting the imitative faculty; that
this faculty is especially valuable in forming fine habits of speech;
and that an increasingly high and general standard of English speech is
one of our greatest needs and our most instant opportunities in the
schools of to-day.

And now we come to the stories!



     There's a garden that I ken,
     Full of little gentlemen;
     Little caps of blue they wear,
     And green ribbons, very fair.

     From house to house he goes,
     A messenger small and slight,
     And whether it rains or snows,
     He sleeps outside in the night.
           (The path.)


Once there was a little yellow Tulip, and she lived down in a little
dark house under the ground. One day she was sitting there, all by
herself, and it was very still. Suddenly, she heard a little _tap, tap,
tap_, at the door.

"Who is that?" she said.

"It's the Rain, and I want to come in," said a soft, sad, little voice.

"No, you can't come in," the little Tulip said.

By and by she heard another little _tap, tap, tap_ on the window-pane.

"Who is there?" she said.

The same soft little voice answered, "It's the Rain, and I want to come

"No, you can't come in," said the little Tulip.

Then it was very still for a long time. At last, there came a little
rustling, whispering sound, all round the window: _rustle, whisper,

"Who is there?" said the little Tulip.

"It's the Sunshine," said a little, soft, cheery voice, "and I want to
come in!"

"N--no," said the little Tulip, "you can't come in." And she sat still

Pretty soon she heard the sweet little rustling noise at the keyhole.

"Who is there?" she said.

"It's the Sunshine," said the cheery little voice, "and I want to come
in, I want to come in!"

"No, no," said the little Tulip, "you cannot come in."

By and by, as she sat so still, she heard _tap, tap, tap_, and _rustle,
whisper, rustle_, up and down the window-pane, and on the door and at
the keyhole.

"_Who is there?_" she said.

"It's the Rain and the Sun, the Rain and the Sun," said two little
voices, together, "and we want to come in! We want to come in! We want
to come in!"

"Dear, dear!" said the little Tulip, "if there are two of you, I s'pose
I shall have to let you in."

So she opened the door a little wee crack, and in they came. And one
took one of her little hands, and the other took her other little hand,
and they ran, ran, ran with her right up to the top of the ground. Then
they said,--

"Poke your head through!"

So she poked her head through; and she was in the midst of a beautiful
garden. It was early springtime, and few other flowers were to be seen;
but she had the birds to sing to her and the sun to shine upon her
pretty yellow head. She was so pleased, too, when the children exclaimed
with pleasure that now they knew that the beautiful spring had come!


[8] These riddles were taken from the Gaelic, and are charming examples
of the naïve beauty of the old Irish, and of Dr Hyde's accurate and
sympathetic modern rendering. From _Beside the Fire_ (David Nutt).


A very little boy made this story up "out of his head," and told it to
his papa. I think you littlest ones will like it; I do.

Once upon a time there was a little boy, and he wanted to be a
cock-a-doo-dle-doo. So he was a cock-a-doo-dle-doo. And he wanted to fly
up into the sky. So he did fly up into the sky. And he wanted to get
wings and a tail So he did get some wings and a tail.


[9] From _The Ignominy of being Grown Up_, by Dr. Samuel M. Crothers, in
the _Atlantic Monthly_ for July 1906.


One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated
lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown,
dry, and desolate, from drought. The little Cloud could see the poor
people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she
herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a

"Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!" she thought. "If
I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the
thirsty a drink!"

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do
something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that
the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of
heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were
very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they
were praying, and saying, "Ah, if you could help us!"

"I will help you; I will!" said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly
down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had
been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother
Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth
they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and
swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,--thinking. But at last
she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, "Men of
earth, I will help you, come what may!"

The thought made her suddenly marvellously big and strong and powerful.
Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of
blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her
wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that
men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses
bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them

"Yes, I will help you," cried the Cloud once more. "Take me to
yourselves; I will give my life for you!"

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound
of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can
tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and
gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud's great deed; it was her death, too; but it was
also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a
lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven
made its colours; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it
sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals
who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.


[10] Adapted from the German of Robert Reinick's _Märchen-, Lieder-und
Geschichtenbuch_ (Velhagen und Klasing, Bielefeld and Leipsic).


The little Red Hen was in the farmyard with her chickens, when she found
a grain of wheat.

"Who will plant this wheat?" she said.

"Not I," said the Goose.

"Not I," said the Duck.

"I will, then," said the little Red Hen, and she planted the grain of

When the wheat was ripe she said, "Who will take this wheat to the

"Not I," said the Goose.

"Not I," said the Duck.

"I will, then," said the little Red Hen, and she took the wheat to the

When she brought the flour home she said, "Who will make some bread with
this flour?"

"Not I," said the Goose.

"Not I," said the Duck.

"I will, then," said the little Red Hen.

When the bread was baked, she said, "Who will eat this bread?"

"I will," said the Goose.

"I will," said the Duck.

"No, you won't," said the little Red Hen. "I shall eat it myself. Cluck!
cluck!" And she called her chickens to help her.


Once upon a time there was a little old woman and a little old man, and
they lived all alone in a little old house. They hadn't any little
girls or any little boys, at all. So one day, the little old woman made
a boy out of gingerbread; she made him a chocolate jacket, and put
raisins on it for buttons; his eyes were made of fine, fat currants; his
mouth was made of rose-coloured sugar; and he had a gay little cap of
orange sugar-candy. When the little old woman had rolled him out, and
dressed him up, and pinched his gingerbread shoes into shape, she put
him in a pan; then she put the pan in the oven and shut the door; and
she thought, "Now I shall have a little boy of my own."

When it was time for the Gingerbread Boy to be done she opened the oven
door and pulled out the pan. Out jumped the little Gingerbread Boy on to
the floor, and away he ran, out of the door and down the street! The
little old woman and the little old man ran after him as fast as they
could, but he just laughed, and shouted,--

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And they couldn't catch him.

The little Gingerbread Boy ran on and on, until he came to a cow, by the
roadside. "Stop, little Gingerbread Boy," said the cow; "I want to eat
you." The little Gingerbread Boy laughed and said,--

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"And a little old man,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And, as the cow chased him, he looked over his shoulder and cried,--

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the cow couldn't catch him.

The little Gingerbread Boy ran on, and on, and on, till he came to a
horse, in the pasture. "Please stop, little Gingerbread Boy," said the
horse, "you look very good to eat." But the little Gingerbread Boy
laughed out loud. "Oho! oho!" he said,--

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And, as the horse chased him, he looked over his shoulder and cried,--

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the horse couldn't catch him.

By and by the little Gingerbread Boy came to a barn full of threshers.
When the threshers smelt the Gingerbread Boy, they tried to pick him up,
and said, "Don't run so fast, little Gingerbread Boy; you look very good
to eat."

But the little Gingerbread Boy ran harder than ever, and as he ran he
cried out,--

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"A horse,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And when he found that he was ahead of the threshers, he turned and
shouted back to them,--

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the threshers couldn't catch him.

Then the little Gingerbread Boy ran faster than ever. He ran and ran
until he came to a field full of mowers. When the mowers saw how fine he
looked, they ran after him, calling out, "Wait a bit! wait a bit, little
Gingerbread Boy, we wish to eat you!" But the little Gingerbread Boy
laughed harder than ever, and ran like the wind. "Oho! oho!" he said,--

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"A horse,

"A barn full of threshers,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And when he found that he was ahead of the mowers, he turned and shouted
back to them,--

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the mowers couldn't catch him.

By this time the little Gingerbread Boy was so proud that he didn't
think anybody could catch him. Pretty soon he saw a fox coming across a
field. The fox looked at him and began to run. But the little
Gingerbread Boy shouted across to him, "You can't catch me!" The fox
began to run faster, and the little Gingerbread Boy ran faster, and as
he ran he chuckled,--

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"A horse,

"A barn full of threshers,

"A field full of mowers,

"And I can run away from you, I can!

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

"Why," said the fox, "I would not catch you if I could. I would not
think of disturbing you."

Just then, the little Gingerbread Boy came to a river. He could not swim
across, and he wanted to keep running away from the cow and the horse
and the people.

"Jump on my tail, and I will take you across," said the fox.

So the little Gingerbread Boy jumped on the fox's tail, and the fox
began to swim the river. When he was a little way from the bank he
turned his head, and said, "You are too heavy on my tail, little
Gingerbread Boy, I fear I shall let you get wet; jump on my back."

The little Gingerbread Boy jumped on his back.

A little farther out, the fox said, "I am afraid the water will cover
you, there; jump on my shoulder."

The little Gingerbread Boy jumped on his shoulder.

In the middle of the stream the fox said, "Oh, dear! little Gingerbread
Boy, my shoulder is sinking; jump on my nose, and I can hold you out of

So the little Gingerbread Boy jumped on his nose.

The minute the fox reached the bank he threw back his head, and gave a

"Dear me!" said the little Gingerbread Boy, "I am a quarter gone!" The
next minute he said, "Why, I am half gone!" The next minute he said, "My
goodness gracious, I am three quarters gone!"

And after that, the little Gingerbread Boy never said anything more at


[11] I have tried to give this story in the most familiar form; it
varies a good deal in the hands of different story-tellers, but this is
substantially the version I was "brought up on."


Once there was a great big jungle; and in the jungle there was a great
big Lion; and the Lion was king of the jungle. Whenever he wanted
anything to eat, all he had to do was to come up out of his cave in the
stones and earth and _roar_. When he had roared a few times all the
little people of the jungle were so frightened that they came out of
their holes and hiding-places and ran, this way and that, to get away.
Then, of course, the Lion could see where they were. And he pounced on
them, killed them, and gobbled them up.

He did this so often that at last there was not a single thing left
alive in the jungle besides the Lion, except two little Jackals,--a
little father Jackal and a little mother Jackal.

They had run away so many times that they were quite thin and very
tired, and they could not run so fast any more. And one day the Lion was
so near that the little mother Jackal grew frightened; she said,--

"Oh, Father Jackal, Father Jackal! I b'lieve our time has come! the Lion
will surely catch us this time!"

"Pooh! nonsense, mother!" said the little father Jackal. "Come, we'll
run on a bit!"

And they ran, ran, ran very fast, and the Lion did not catch them that

But at last a day came when the Lion was nearer still and the little
mother Jackal was frightened almost to death.

"Oh, Father Jackal, Father Jackal!" she cried; "I'm sure our time has
come! The Lion's going to eat us this time!"

"Now, mother, don't you fret," said the little father Jackal; "you do
just as I tell you, and it will be all right."

Then what did those cunning little Jackals do but take hold of hands and
run up towards the Lion, as if they had meant to come all the time. When
he saw them coming he stood up, and roared in a terrible voice,--

"You miserable little wretches, come here and be eaten, at once! Why
didn't you come before?"

The father Jackal bowed very low.

"Indeed, Father Lion," he said, "we meant to come before; we knew we
ought to come before; and we wanted to come before; but every time we
started to come, a dreadful great lion came out of the woods and roared
at us, and frightened us so that we ran away."

"What do you mean?" roared the Lion. "There's no other lion in this
jungle, and you know it!"

"Indeed, indeed, Father Lion," said the little Jackal, "I know that is
what everybody thinks; but indeed and indeed there is another lion! And
he is as much bigger than you as you are bigger than I! His face is much
more terrible, and his roar far, far more dreadful. Oh, he is far more
fearful than you!"

At that the Lion stood up and roared so that the jungle shook.

"Take me to this Lion," he said; "I'll eat him up and then I'll eat you

The little Jackals danced on ahead, and the Lion stalked behind. They
led him to a place where there was a round, deep well of clear water.
They went round on one side of it, and the Lion stalked up to the other.

"He lives down there, Father Lion!" said the little Jackal. "He lives
down there!"

The Lion came close and looked down into the water,--and a lion's face
looked back at him out of the water!

When he saw that, the Lion roared and shook his mane and showed his
teeth. And the lion in the water shook his mane and showed his teeth.
The Lion above shook his mane again and growled again, and made a
terrible face. But the lion in the water made just as terrible a one,
back. The Lion above couldn't stand that. He leaped down into the well
after the other lion.

But, of course, as you know very well, there wasn't any other lion! It
was only the reflection in the water!

So the poor old Lion floundered about and floundered about, and as he
couldn't get up the steep sides of the well, he was at last drowned. And
when he was drowned, the little Jackals took hold of hands and danced
round the well, and sang,--

"The Lion is dead! The Lion is dead!

"We have killed the great Lion who would have killed us!

"The Lion is dead! The Lion is dead!

"Ao! Ao! Ao!"


[12] The four stories of the little Jackal, in this book, are adapted
from stories in _Old Deccan Days_, by Mary Frere (John Murray), a
collection of orally transmitted Hindu folk tales, which every teacher
would gain by knowing. In the Hindu animal legends the Jackal seems to
play the rôle assigned in Germanic lore to Reynard the Fox, and to
"Bre'r Rabbit" in the negro stories of Southern America; he is the
clever and humorous trickster who usually comes out of an encounter with
a whole skin, and turns the laugh on his enemy, however mighty he may


Once a little mouse who lived in the country invited a little mouse
from the city to visit him. When the little City Mouse sat down to
dinner he was surprised to find that the Country Mouse had nothing to
eat except barley and grain.

"Really," he said, "you do not live well at all; you should see how I
live! I have all sorts of fine things to eat every day. You must come to
visit me and see how nice it is to live in the city."

The little Country Mouse was glad to do this, and after a while he went
to the city to visit his friend.

The very first place that the City Mouse took the Country Mouse to see
was the kitchen cupboard of the house where he lived. There, on the
lowest shelf, behind some stone jars, stood a big paper bag of brown
sugar. The little City Mouse gnawed a hole in the bag and invited his
friend to nibble for himself.

The two little mice nibbled and nibbled, and the Country Mouse thought
he had never tasted anything so delicious in his life. He was just
thinking how lucky the City Mouse was, when suddenly the door opened
with a bang, and in came the cook to get some flour.

"Run!" whispered the City Mouse. And they ran as fast as they could to
the little hole where they had come in. The little Country Mouse was
shaking all over when they got safely away, but the little City Mouse
said, "That is nothing; she will soon go away and then we can go back."

After the cook had gone away and shut the door they stole softly back,
and this time the City Mouse had something new to show: he took the
little Country Mouse into a corner on the top shelf, where a big jar of
dried prunes stood open. After much tugging and pulling they got a large
dried prune out of the jar on to the shelf and began to nibble at it.
This was even better than the brown sugar. The little Country Mouse
liked the taste so much that he could hardly nibble fast enough. But all
at once, in the midst of their eating, there came a scratching at the
door and a sharp, loud _miaouw_!

"What is that?" said the Country Mouse. The City Mouse just whispered,
"Sh!" and ran as fast as he could to the hole. The Country Mouse ran
after, you may be sure, as fast as _he_ could. As soon as they were out
of danger the City Mouse said, "That was the old Cat; she is the best
mouser in town,--if she once gets you, you are lost."

"This is very terrible," said the little Country Mouse; "let us not go
back to the cupboard again."

"No," said the City Mouse, "I will take you to the cellar; there is
something specially fine there."

So the City Mouse took his little friend down the cellar stairs and into
a big cupboard where there were many shelves. On the shelves were jars
of butter, and cheeses in bags and out of bags. Overhead hung bunches of
sausages, and there were spicy apples in barrels standing about. It
smelt so good that it went to the little Country Mouse's head. He ran
along the shelf and nibbled at a cheese here, and a bit of butter there,
until he saw an especially rich, very delicious-smelling piece of cheese
on a queer little stand in a corner. He was just on the point of putting
his teeth into the cheese when the City Mouse saw him.

"Stop! stop!" cried the City Mouse. "That is a trap!"

The little Country Mouse stopped and said, "What is a trap?"

"That thing is a trap," said the little City Mouse. "The minute you
touch the cheese with your teeth something comes down on your head
hard, and you're dead."

The little Country Mouse looked at the trap, and he looked at the
cheese, and he looked at the little City Mouse. "If you'll excuse me,"
he said, "I think I will go home. I'd rather have barley and grain to
eat and eat it in peace and comfort, than have brown sugar and dried
prunes and cheese,--and be frightened to death all the time!"

So the little Country Mouse went back to his home, and there he stayed
all the rest of his life.


[13] The following story of the two mice, with the similar fables of
_The Boy who cried Wolf_, _The Frog King_, and _The Sun_ _and the Wind_,
are given here with the hope that they may be of use to the many
teachers who find the over-familiar material of the fables difficult to
adapt, and who are yet aware of the great usefulness of the stories to
young minds. A certain degree of vividness and amplitude must be added
to the compact statement of the famous collections, and yet it is not
wise to change the style-effect of a fable, wholly. I venture to give
these versions, not as perfect models, of course, but as renderings
which have been acceptable to children, and which I believe retain the
original point simply and strongly.


Once upon a time there was a wee little boy who slept in a tiny
trundle-bed near his mother's great bed. The trundle-bed had castors on
it so that it could be rolled about, and there was nothing in the world
the little boy liked so much as to have it rolled. When his mother came
to bed he would cry, "Roll me around! roll me around!" And his mother
would put out her hand from the big bed and push the little bed back and
forth till she was tired. The little boy could never get enough; so for
this he was called "Little Jack Rollaround."

One night he had made his mother roll him about, till she fell asleep,
and even then he kept crying, "Roll me around! roll me around!" His
mother pushed him about in her sleep, until her slumber became too
sound; then she stopped. But Little Jack Rollaround kept on crying,
"Roll around! roll around!"

By and by the Moon peeped in at the window. He saw a funny sight: Little
Jack Rollaround was lying in his trundle-bed, and he had put up one
little fat leg for a mast, and fastened the corner of his wee shirt to
it for a sail; and he was blowing at it with all his might, and saying,
"Roll around! roll around!" Slowly, slowly, the little trundle-bed boat
began to move; it sailed along the floor and up the wall and across the
ceiling and down again!

"More! more!" cried Little Jack Rollaround; and the little boat sailed
faster up the wall, across the ceiling, down the wall, and over the
floor. The Moon laughed at the sight; but when Little Jack Rollaround
saw the Moon, he called out, "Open the door, old Moon! I want to roll
through the town, so that the people can see me!"

The Moon could not open the door, but he shone in through the keyhole,
in a broad band. And Little Jack Rollaround sailed his trundle-bed boat
up the beam, through the keyhole, and into the street.

"Make a light, old Moon," he said; "I want the people to see me!"

So the good Moon made a light and went along with him, and the little
trundle-bed boat went sailing down the streets into the main street of
the village. They rolled past the town hall and the schoolhouse and the
church; but nobody saw little Jack Rollaround, because everybody was in
bed, asleep.

"Why don't the people come to see me?" he shouted.

High up on the church steeple, the Weather-vane answered, "It is no time
for people to be in the streets; decent folk are in their beds."

"Then I'll go to the woods, so that the animals may see me," said Little
Jack. "Come along, old Moon, and make a light!"

The good Moon went along and made a light, and they came to the forest.
"Roll! roll!" cried the little boy; and the trundle-bed went trundling
among the trees in the great wood, scaring up the squirrels and
startling the little leaves on the trees. The poor old Moon began to
have a bad time of it, for the tree-trunks got in his way so that he
could not go so fast as the bed, and every time he got behind, the
little boy called, "Hurry up, old Moon, I want the beasts to see me!"

But all the animals were asleep, and nobody at all looked at Little Jack
Rollaround except an old White Owl; and all she said was, "Who are

The little boy did not like her, so he blew harder, and the trundle-bed
boat went sailing through the forest till it came to the end of the

"I must go home now; it is late," said the Moon.

"I will go with you; make a path!" said Little Jack Rollaround.

The kind Moon made a path up to the sky, and up sailed the little bed
into the midst of the sky. All the little bright Stars were there with
their nice little lamps. And when he saw them, that naughty Little Jack
Rollaround began to tease. "Out of the way, there! I am coming!" he
shouted, and sailed the trundle-bed boat straight at them. He bumped the
little Stars right and left, all over the sky, until every one of them
put his little lamp out and left it dark.

"Do not treat the little Stars so," said the good Moon.

But Jack Rollaround only behaved the worse: "Get out of the way, old
Moon!" he shouted, "I am coming!"

And he steered the little trundle-bed boat straight into the old Moon's
face, and bumped his nose!

This was too much for the good Moon; he put out his big light, all at
once, and left the sky pitch-black.

"Make a light, old Moon! Make a light!" shouted the little boy. But the
Moon answered never a word, and Jack Rollaround could not see where to
steer. He went rolling criss-cross, up and down, all over the sky,
knocking into the planets and stumbling into the clouds, till he did not
know where he was.

Suddenly he saw a big yellow light at the very edge of the sky. He
thought it was the Moon. "Look out, I am coming!" he cried, and steered
for the light.

But it was not the kind old Moon at all; it was the great mother Sun,
just coming up out of her home in the sea, to begin her day's work.

"Aha, youngster, what are you doing in my sky?" she said. And she picked
Little Jack Rollaround up and threw him, trundle-bed boat and all, into
the middle of the sea!

And I suppose he is there yet, unless somebody picked him out again.


[14] Based on Theodor Storm's story of _Der Kleine Häwelmann_ (George
Westermann, Braunschweig). Very freely adapted from the German story.


One day little Brother Rabbit was running along on the sand, lippety,
lippety, when he saw the Whale and the Elephant talking together.
Little Brother Rabbit crouched down and listened to what they were
saying. This was what they were saying:--

"You are the biggest thing on the land, Brother Elephant," said the
Whale, "and I am the biggest thing in the sea; if we join together we
can rule all the animals in the world, and have our way about

"Very good, very good," trumpeted the Elephant; "that suits me; we will
do it."

Little Brother Rabbit sniggered to himself. "They won't rule me," he
said. He ran away and got a very long, very strong rope, and he got his
big drum, and hid the drum a long way off in the bushes. Then he went
along the beach till he came to the Whale.

"Oh, please, dear, strong Mr Whale," he said, "will you have the great
kindness to do me a favour? My cow is stuck in the mud, a quarter of a
mile from here. And I can't pull her out. But you are so strong and so
obliging, that I venture to trust you will help me out."

The Whale was so pleased with the compliment that he said, "Yes," at

"Then," said the Rabbit, "I will tie this end of my long rope to you,
and I will run away and tie the other end round my cow, and when I am
ready I will beat my big drum. When you hear that, pull very, very
hard, for the cow is stuck very deep in the mud."

"Huh!" grunted the Whale, "I'll pull her out, if she is stuck to the

Little Brother Rabbit tied the rope-end to the Whale, and ran off,
lippety, lippety, till he came to the place where the Elephant was.

"Oh, please, mighty and kindly Elephant," he said, making a very low
bow, "will you do me a favour?"

"What is it?" asked the Elephant.

"My cow is stuck in the mud, about a quarter of a mile from here," said
little Brother Rabbit, "and I cannot pull her out. Of course you could.
If you will be so very obliging as to help me----"

"Certainly," said the Elephant grandly, "certainly."

"Then," said little Brother Rabbit, "I will tie one end of this long
rope to your trunk, and the other to my cow, and as soon as I have tied
her tightly I will beat my big drum. When you hear that, pull; pull as
hard as you can, for my cow is very heavy."

"Never fear," said the Elephant, "I could pull twenty cows."

"I am sure you could," said the Rabbit, politely, "only be sure to begin
gently, and pull harder and harder till you get her."

Then he tied the end of the rope tightly round the Elephant's trunk,
and ran away into the bushes. There he sat down and beat the big drum.

The Whale began to pull, and the Elephant began to pull, and in a jiffy
the rope tightened till it was stretched as hard as could be.

"This is a remarkably heavy cow," said the Elephant; "but I'll fetch
her!" And he braced his forefeet in the earth, and gave a tremendous

"Dear me!" said the Whale. "That cow must be stuck mighty tight"; and he
drove his tail deep in the water, and gave a marvellous pull.

He pulled harder; the Elephant pulled harder. Pretty soon the Whale
found himself sliding toward the land. The reason was, of course, that
the Elephant had something solid to brace against, and, beside, as fast
as he pulled the rope in a little, he took a turn with it round his

But when the Whale found himself sliding toward the land he was so
provoked with the cow that he dived head first, down to the bottom of
the sea. That was a pull! The Elephant was jerked off his feet, and came
slipping and sliding to the beach, and into the surf. He was terribly
angry. He braced himself with all his might, and pulled his best. At the
jerk, up came the Whale out of the water.

"Who is pulling me?" spouted the Whale.

"Who is pulling me?" trumpeted the Elephant.

And then each saw the rope in the other's hold.

"I'll teach you to play cow!" roared the Elephant.

"I'll show you how to fool me!" fumed the Whale. And they began to pull
again. But this time the rope broke, the Whale turned a somersault, and
the Elephant fell over backward.

At that, they were both so ashamed that neither would speak to the
other. So that broke up the bargain between them.

And little Brother Rabbit sat in the bushes and laughed, and laughed,
and laughed.


[15] Adapted from two tales included in the records of the American
Folk-Lore Society.


There was once upon a time a Spanish Hen, who hatched out some nice
little chickens. She was much pleased with their looks as they came from
the shell. One, two, three, came out plump and fluffy; but when the
fourth shell broke, out came a little half-chick! It had only one leg
and one wing and one eye! It was just half a chicken.

The Hen-mother did not know what in the world to do with the queer
little Half-Chick. She was afraid something would happen to it, and she
tried hard to protect it and keep it from harm. But as soon as it could
walk the little Half-Chick showed a most headstrong spirit, worse than
any of its brothers. It would not mind, and it would go wherever it
wanted to; it walked with a funny little hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, and
got along pretty fast.

One day the little Half-Chick said, "Mother, I am off to Madrid, to see
the King! Good-bye."

The poor Hen-mother did everything she could think of to keep him from
doing so foolish a thing, but the little Half-Chick laughed at her
naughtily. "I'm for seeing the King," he said; "this life is too quiet
for me." And away he went, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, over the fields.

When he had gone some distance the little Half-Chick came to a little
brook that was caught in the weeds and in much trouble.

"Little Half-Chick," whispered the Water, "I am so choked with these
weeds that I cannot move; I am almost lost, for want of room; please
push the sticks and weeds away with your bill and help me."

"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you;
I am off to Madrid, to see the King!" And in spite of the brook's
begging, he went away, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.

A bit farther on, the Half-Chick came to a Fire, which was smothered in
damp sticks and in great distress.

"Oh, little Half-Chick," said the Fire, "you are just in time to save
me. I am almost dead for want of air. Fan me a little with your wing, I

"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you;
I am off to Madrid, to see the King!" And he went laughing off,
hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.

When he had hoppity-kicked a good way, and was near Madrid, he came to a
clump of bushes, where the Wind was caught fast. The Wind was
whimpering, and begging to be set free.

"Little Half-Chick," said the Wind, "you are just in time to help me; if
you will brush aside these twigs and leaves, I can get my breath; help
me, quickly!"

"Ho! the idea!" said the little Half-Chick "I have no time to bother
with you. I am going to Madrid, to see the King." And he went off,
hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, leaving the Wind to smother.

After a while he came to Madrid and to the palace of the King.
Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, the little Half-Chick skipped past the
sentry at the gate, and hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, he crossed the
court. But as he was passing the windows of the kitchen the Cook looked
out and saw him.

"The very thing for the King's dinner!" she said. "I was needing a
chicken!" And she seized the little Half-Chick by his one wing and threw
him into a kettle of water on the fire.

The Water came over the little Half-Chick's feathers, over his head,
into his eyes. It was terribly uncomfortable. The little Half-Chick
cried out,--

"Water, don't drown me! Stay down, don't come so high!"

"But," the Water said, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was
in trouble you would not help me," and came higher than ever.

Now the Water grew warm, hot, hotter, frightfully hot; the little
Half-Chick cried out, "Do not burn so hot, Fire! You are burning me to
death! Stop!"

But the Fire said, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in
trouble you would not help me," and burned hotter than ever.

Just as the little Half-Chick thought he must suffocate, the Cook took
the cover off, to look at the dinner. "Dear me," she said, "this chicken
is no good; it is burned to a cinder." And she picked the little
Half-Chick up by one leg and threw him out of the window.

In the air he was caught by a breeze and taken up higher than the trees.
Round and round he was twirled till he was so dizzy he thought he must
perish. "Don't blow me so, Wind," he cried, "let me down!"

"Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick," said the Wind, "when I was in
trouble you would not help me!" And the Wind blew him straight up to the
top of the church steeple, and stuck him there, fast!

There he stands to this day, with his one eye, his one wing, and his one
leg. He cannot hoppity-kick any more, but he turns slowly round when the
wind blows, and keeps his head toward it, to hear what it says.


A little boy sat at his mother's knees, by the long western window,
looking out into the garden. It was autumn, and the wind was sad; and
the golden elm leaves lay scattered about among the grass, and on the
gravel path. The mother was knitting a little stocking; her fingers
moved the bright needles; but her eyes were fixed on the clear evening

As the darkness gathered, the wee boy laid his head on her lap and kept
so still that, at last, she leaned forward to look into his dear round
face. He was not asleep, but was watching very earnestly a
blackberry-bush, that waved its one tall, dark-red spray in the wind
outside the fence.

"What are you thinking about, my darling?" she said, smoothing his soft,
honey-coloured hair.

"The blackberry-bush, mamma; what does it say? It keeps nodding, nodding
to me behind the fence; what does it say, mamma?"

"It says," she answered, "'I see a happy little boy in the warm,
fire-lighted room. The wind blows cold, and here it is dark and lonely;
but that little boy is warm and happy and safe at his mother's knees. I
nod to him, and he looks at me. I wonder if he knows how happy he is!

"'See, all my leaves are dark crimson. Every day they dry and wither
more and more; by and by they will be so weak they can scarcely cling to
my branches, and the north wind will tear them all away, and nobody will
remember them any more. Then the snow will sink down and wrap me close.
Then the snow will melt again and icy rain will clothe me, and the
bitter wind will rattle my bare twigs up and down.

"'I nod my head to all who pass, and dreary nights and dreary days go
by; but in the happy house, so warm and bright, the little boy plays all
day with books and toys. His mother and his father cherish him; he
nestles on their knees in the red firelight at night, while they read to
him lovely stories, or sing sweet old songs to him,--the happy little
boy! And outside I peep over the snow and see a stream of ruddy light
from a crack in the window-shutter, and I nod out here alone in the
dark, thinking how beautiful it is.

"'And here I wait patiently. I take the snow and the rain and the cold,
and I am not sorry, but glad; for in my roots I feel warmth and life,
and I know that a store of greenness and beauty is shut up safe in my
small brown buds. Day and night go again and again; little by little the
snow melts all away; the ground grows soft; the sky is blue; the little
birds fly over, crying, "It is spring! it is spring!" Ah! then through
all my twigs I feel the slow sap stirring.

"'Warmer grow the sunbeams, and softer the air. The small blades of
grass creep thick about my feet; the sweet rain helps to swell my
shining buds. More and more I push forth my leaves, till out I burst in
a gay green dress, and nod in joy and pride. The little boy comes
running to look at me, and cries, "Oh, mamma! the little blackberry-bush
is alive and beautiful and green. Oh, come and see!" And I hear; and I
bow my head in the summer wind; and every day they watch me grow more
beautiful, till at last I shake out blossoms, fair and fragrant.

"'A few days more, and I drop the white petals down among the grass,
and, lo! there are the green tiny berries! Carefully I hold them up to
the sun; carefully I gather the dew in the summer nights; slowly they
ripen; they grow larger and redder and darker, and at last they are
black, shining, delicious. I hold them as high as I can for the little
boy, who comes dancing out. He shouts with joy, and gathers them in his
dear hand; and he runs to share them with his mother, saying, "Here is
what the patient blackberry-bush bore for us: see how nice, mamma!"

"'Ah! then indeed I am glad, and would say, if I could, "Yes, take them,
dear little boy; I kept them for you, held them long up to the sun and
rain to make them sweet and ripe for you"; and I nod and nod in full
content, for my work is done. From the window he watches me and thinks,
"There is the little blackberry-bush that was so kind to me. I see it
and I love it. I know it is safe out there nodding all alone, and next
summer it will hold ripe berries up for me to gather again."'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Then the wee boy smiled, and said he liked the little story. His mother
took him up in her arms, and they went out to supper and left the
blackberry-bush nodding up and down in the wind; and there it is
nodding yet.


[16] From Celia Thaxter's _Stories and Poems for Children_.


     Up the airy mountain,
       Down the rushy glen,
     We daren't go a-hunting
       For fear of little men.
     Wee folk, good folk,
       Trooping all together;
     Green jacket, red cap,
       And white owl's feather!

     Down along the rocky shore
       Some make their home--
     They live on crispy pancakes
       Of yellow tide-foam;
     Some in the reeds
       Of the black mountain-lake,
     With frogs for their watch-dogs,
       All night awake.

     High on the hilltop
       The old King sits;
     He is now so old and gray,
       He's nigh lost his wits.
     With a bridge of white mist
       Columbkill he crosses,
     On his stately journeys
       From Slieveleague to Rosses;
     Or going up with music
       On cold starry nights,
     To sup with the Queen
       Of the gay Northern Lights.

     They stole little Bridget
       For seven years long;
     When she came down again
       Her friends were all gone.
     They took her lightly back,
       Between the night and morrow;
     They thought that she was fast asleep,
       But she was dead with sorrow.
     They have kept her ever since
       Deep within the lake,
     On a bed of flag-leaves,
       Watching till she wake.

     By the craggy hillside,
       Through the mosses bare,
     They have planted thorn-trees,
       For pleasure here and there.
     Is any man so daring
       As dig them up in spite,
     He shall find their sharpest thorns
       In his bed at night.

     Up the airy mountain,
       Down the rushy glen,
     We daren't go a-hunting
       For fear of little men.
     Wee folk, good folk,
       Trooping all together;
     Green jacket, red cap,
       And white owl's feather!


[17] By William Allingham.


Once upon a time, there was a little brown Field Mouse; and one day he
was out in the fields to see what he could find. He was running along in
the grass, poking his nose into everything and looking with his two eyes
all about, when he saw a smooth, shiny acorn, lying in the grass. It was
such a fine shiny little acorn that he thought he would take it home
with him; so he put out his paw to touch it, but the little acorn rolled
away from him. He ran after it, but it kept rolling on, just ahead of
him, till it came to a place where a big oak-tree had its roots spread
all over the ground. Then it rolled under a big round root.

Little Mr Field Mouse ran to the root and poked his nose under after the
acorn, and there he saw a small round hole in the ground. He slipped
through and saw some stairs going down into the earth. The acorn was
rolling down, with a soft tapping sound, ahead of him, so down he went
too. Down, down, down, rolled the acorn, and down, down, down, went the
Field Mouse, until suddenly he saw a tiny door at the foot of the

The shiny acorn rolled to the door and struck against it with a tap.
Quickly the little door opened and the acorn rolled inside. The Field
Mouse hurried as fast as he could down the last stairs, and pushed
through just as the door was closing. It shut behind him, and he was in
a little room. And there, before him, stood a queer little Red Man! He
had a little red cap, and a little red jacket, and odd little red shoes
with points at the toes.

"You are my prisoner," he said to the Field Mouse.

"What for?" said the Field Mouse.

"Because you tried to steal my acorn," said the little Red Man.

"It is my acorn," said the Field Mouse; "I found it."

"No, it isn't," said the little Red Man, "I have it; you will never see
it again."

The little Field Mouse looked all about the room as fast as he could,
but he could not see any acorn. Then he thought he would go back up the
tiny stairs to his own home. But the little door was locked, and the
little Red Man had the key. And he said to the poor mouse,--

"You shall be my servant; you shall make my bed and sweep my room and
cook my broth."

So the little brown Mouse was the little Red Man's servant, and every
day he made the little Red Man's bed and swept the little Red Man's room
and cooked the little Red Man's broth. And every day the little Red Man
went away through the tiny door, and did not come back till afternoon.
But he always locked the door after him, and carried away the key.

At last, one day he was in such a hurry that he turned the key before
the door was quite latched, which, of course, didn't lock it at all. He
went away without noticing,--he was in such a hurry.

The little Field Mouse knew that his chance had come to run away home.
But he didn't want to go without the pretty, shiny acorn. Where it was
he didn't know, so he looked everywhere. He opened every little drawer
and looked in, but it wasn't in any of the drawers; he peeped on every
shelf, but it wasn't on a shelf; he hunted in every closet, but it
wasn't in there. Finally, he climbed up on a chair and opened a wee, wee
door in the chimney-piece,--and there it was!

He took it quickly in his forepaws, and then he took it in his mouth,
and then he ran away. He pushed open the little door; he climbed up, up,
up the little stairs; he came out through the hole under the root; he
ran and ran through the fields; and at last he came to his own house.

When he was in his own house he set the shiny acorn on the table. I
expect he set it down hard, for all at once, with a little snap, it
opened!--exactly like a little box.

And what do you think! There was a tiny necklace inside! It was a most
beautiful tiny necklace, all made of jewels, and it was just big enough
for a lady mouse. So the little Field Mouse gave the tiny necklace to
his little Mouse-sister. She thought it was perfectly lovely. And when
she wasn't wearing it she kept it in the shiny acorn box.

And the little Red Man never knew what had become of it, because he
didn't know where the little Field Mouse lived.


Once upon a time there was a little Red Hen, who lived on a farm all by
herself. An old Fox, crafty and sly, had a den in the rocks, on a hill
near her house. Many and many a night this old Fox used to lie awake
and think to himself how good that little Red Hen would taste if he
could once get her in his big kettle and boil her for dinner. But he
couldn't catch the little Red Hen, because she was too wise for him.
Every time she went out to market she locked the door of the house
behind her, and as soon as she came in again she locked the door behind
her and put the key in her apron pocket, where she kept her scissors and
some sugar candy.

At last the old Fox thought out a way to catch the little Red Hen. Early
in the morning he said to his old mother, "Have the kettle boiling when
I come home to-night, for I'll be bringing the little Red Hen for
supper." Then he took a big bag and slung it over his shoulder, and
walked till he came to the little Red Hen's house. The little Red Hen
was just coming out of her door to pick up a few sticks for firewood. So
the old Fox hid behind the wood-pile, and as soon as she bent down to
get a stick, into the house he slipped, and scurried behind the door.

In a minute the little Red Hen came quickly in, and shut the door and
locked it. "I'm glad I'm safely in," she said. Just as she said it, she
turned round, and there stood the ugly old Fox, with his big bag over
his shoulder. Whiff! how scared the little Red Hen was! She dropped her
apronful of sticks, and flew up to the big beam across the ceiling.
There she perched, and she said to the old Fox, down below, "You may as
well go home, for you can't get me."

"Can't I, though!" said the Fox. And what do you think he did? He stood
on the floor underneath the little Red Hen and twirled round in a circle
after his own tail. And as he spun, and spun, and spun, faster, and
faster, and faster, the poor little Red Hen got so dizzy watching him
that she couldn't hold on to the perch. She dropped off, and the old Fox
picked her up and put her in his bag, slung the bag over his shoulder,
and started for home, where the kettle was boiling.

He had a very long way to go, up hill, and the little Red Hen was still
so dizzy that she didn't know where she was. But when the dizziness
began to go off, she whisked her little scissors out of her apron
pocket, and snip! she cut a little hole in the bag; then she poked her
head out and saw where she was, and as soon as they came to a good spot
she cut the hole bigger and jumped out herself. There was a great big
stone lying there, and the little Red Hen picked it up and put it in the
bag as quick as a wink. Then she ran as fast as she could till she came
to her own little farmhouse, and she went in and locked the door with
the big key.

The old Fox went on carrying the stone and never knew the difference.
My, but it bumped him well! He was pretty tired when he got home. But he
was so pleased to think of the supper he was going to have that he did
not mind that at all. As soon as his mother opened the door he said, "Is
the kettle boiling?"

"Yes," said his mother; "have you got the little Red Hen?"

"I have," said the old Fox. "When I open the bag you hold the cover off
the kettle and I'll shake the bag so that the Hen will fall in, and then
you pop the cover on, before she can jump out."

"All right," said his mean old mother; and she stood close by the
boiling kettle, ready to put the cover on.

The Fox lifted the big, heavy bag up till it was over the open kettle,
and gave it a shake. Splash! thump! splash! In went the stone and out
came the boiling water, all over the old Fox and the old Fox's mother!

And they were scalded to death.

But the little Red Hen lived happily ever after, in her own little


[18] Adapted from the verse version, by Horace E. Scudder, which follows
this as an alternative.


     There was once't upon a time
       A little small Rid Hin,
     Off in the good ould country
       Where yees ha' nivir bin.

     Nice and quiet shure she was,
       And nivir did any harrum;
     She lived alane all be herself,
       And worked upon her farrum.

     There lived out o'er the hill,
       In a great din o' rocks,
     A crafty, shly, and wicked
       Ould folly iv a Fox.

     This rashkill iv a Fox,
       He tuk it in his head
     He'd have the little Rid Hin:
       So, whin he wint to bed,

     He laid awake and thaught
       What a foine thing 'twad be
     To fetch her home and bile her up
       For his ould marm and he.

     And so he thaught and thaught,
       Until he grew so thin
     That there was nothin' left of him
       But jist his bones and shkin.

     But the small Rid Hin was wise,
       She always locked her door,
     And in her pocket pit the key,
       To keep the Fox out shure.

     But at last there came a schame
       Intil his wicked head,
     And he tuk a great big bag
       And to his mither said,--

     "Now have the pot all bilin'
       Agin the time I come;
     We'll ate the small Rid Hin to-night,
       For shure I'll bring her home."

     And so away he wint
       Wid the bag upon his back,
     An' up the hill and through the woods
       Saftly he made his track.

     An' thin he came alang,
       Craping as shtill's a mouse,
     To where the little small Rid Hin
       Lived in her shnug ould house.

     An' out she comes hersel',
       Jist as he got in sight,
     To pick up shticks to make her fire:
       "Aha!" says Fox, "all right.

     "Begorra, now, I'll have yees
       Widout much throuble more";
     An' in he shlips quite unbeknownst,
       An' hides be'ind the door.

     An' thin, a minute afther,
       In comes the small Rid Hin,
     An' shuts the door, and locks it, too,
       An' thinks, "I'm safely in."

     An' thin she tarns around
       An' looks be'ind the door;
     There shtands the Fox wid his big tail
       Shpread out upon the floor.

     Dear me! she was so schared
       Wid such a wondrous sight,
     She dropped her apronful of shticks,
       An' flew up in a fright,

     An' lighted on the bame
       Across on top the room;
     "Aha!" says she, "ye don't have me;
       Ye may as well go home."

     "Aha!" says Fox, "we'll see;
       I'll bring yees down from that."
     So out he marched upon the floor
       Right under where she sat.

     An' thin he whiruled around,
       An' round an' round an' round,
     Fashter an' fashter an' fashter,
       Afther his tail on the ground.

     Until the small Rid Hin
       She got so dizzy, shure,
     Wid lookin' at the Fox's tail,
       She jist dropped on the floor.

     An' Fox he whipped her up,
       An' pit her in his bag,
     An' off he started all alone,
       Him and his little dag.

     All day he tracked the wood
       Up hill an' down again;
     An' wid him, shmotherin' in the bag,
       The little small Rid Hin.

     Sorra a know she knowed
       Awhere she was that day;
     Says she, "I'm biled an' ate up, shure
       An' what'll be to pay?"

     Thin she betho't hersel',
       An' tuk her schissors out,
     An' shnipped a big hole in the bag,
       So she could look about.

     An' 'fore ould Fox could think
       She lept right out--she did,
     An' thin picked up a great big shtone,
       An' popped it in instid.

     An' thin she rins off home,
       Her outside door she locks;
     Thinks she, "You see you don't have me,
       You crafty, shly ould Fox."

     An' Fox he tugged away
       Wid the great big hivy shtone,
     Thimpin' his shoulders very bad
       As he wint in alone.

     An' whin he came in sight
       O' his great din o' rocks,
     Jist watchin' for him at the door
       He shpied ould mither Fox.

     "Have ye the pot a-bilin'?"
       Says he to ould Fox thin;
     "Shure an' it is, me child," says she;
       "Have ye the small Rid Hin?"

     "Yes, jist here in me bag,
       As shure as I shtand here;
     Open the lid till I pit her in:
       Open it--nivir fear."

     So the rashkill cut the shtring,
       An' hild the big bag over;
     "Now when I shake it in," says he,
       "Do ye pit on the cover."

     "Yis, that I will"; an' thin
       The shtone wint in wid a dash,
     An' the pot o' bilin' wather
       Came over them ker-splash.

     An' schalted 'em both to death,
       So they couldn't brathe no more;
     An' the little small Rid Hin lived safe,
       Jist where she lived before.


Epaminondas used to go to see his Auntie 'most every day, and she nearly
always gave him something to take home to his Mammy.

One day she gave him a big piece of cake; nice, yellow, rich gold-cake.

Epaminondas took it in his fist and held it all crunched up tight, like
this, and came along home. By the time he got home there wasn't anything
left but a fistful of crumbs. His Mammy said,--

"What you got there, Epaminondas?"

"Cake, Mammy," said Epaminondas.

"Cake!" said his Mammy. "Epaminondas, you ain't got the sense you was
born with! That's no way to carry cake. The way to carry cake is to wrap
it all up nice in some leaves and put it in your hat, and put your hat
on your head, and come along home. You hear me, Epaminondas?"

"Yes, Mammy," said Epaminondas.

Next day Epaminondas went to see his Auntie, and she gave him a pound of
butter for his Mammy; fine, fresh, sweet butter.

Epaminondas wrapped it up in leaves and put it in his hat, and put his
hat on his head, and came along home. It was a very hot day. Pretty soon
the butter began to melt. It melted, and melted, and as it melted it ran
down Epaminondas' forehead; then it ran over his face, and in his ears,
and down his neck. When he got home, all the butter Epaminondas had was
_on him_. His Mammy looked at him, and then she said,--

"Law's sake! Epaminondas, what you got in your hat?"

"Butter, Mammy," said Epaminondas; "Auntie gave it to me."

"Butter!" said his Mammy. "Epaminondas, you ain't got the sense you was
born with! Don't you know that's no way to carry butter? The way to
carry butter is to wrap it up in some leaves and take it down to the
brook, and cool it in the water, and cool it in the water, and cool it
in the water, and then take it on your hands, careful, and bring it
along home."

"Yes, Mammy," said Epaminondas.

By and by, another day, Epaminondas went to see his Auntie again, and;
this time she gave him a little new puppy-dog to take home.

Epaminondas put it in some leaves and took it down to the brook; and
there he cooled it in the water, and cooled it in the water, and cooled
it in the water; then he took it in his hands and came along home. When
he got home, the puppy-dog was dead. His Mammy looked at it, and she

"Law's sake! Epaminondas, what you got there?"

"A puppy-dog, Mammy," said Epaminondas.

"A _puppy-dog_!" said his Mammy. "My gracious sakes alive, Epaminondas,
you ain't got the sense you was born with! That ain't the way to carry a
puppy-dog! The way to carry a puppy-dog is to take a long piece of
string and tie one end of it round the puppy-dog's neck and put the
puppy-dog on the ground, and take hold of the other end of the string
and come along home, like this."

"All right, Mammy," said Epaminondas.

Next day Epaminondas went to see his Auntie again, and when he came to
go home she gave him a loaf of bread to carry to his Mammy; a brown,
fresh, crusty loaf of bread.

So Epaminondas tied a string around the end of the loaf and took hold of
the end of the string and came along home, like this. (Imitate dragging
something along the ground.) When he got home his Mammy looked at the
thing on the end of the string, and she said,--

"My laws a-massy! Epaminondas, what you got on the end of that string?"

"Bread, Mammy," said Epaminondas; "Auntie gave it to me."

"Bread!!!" said his Mammy. "O Epaminondas, Epaminondas, you ain't got
the sense you was born with; you never did have the sense you was born
with; you never will have the sense you was born with! Now I ain't gwine
tell you any more ways to bring truck home. And don't you go see your
Auntie, neither. I'll go see her my own self. But I'll just tell you one
thing, Epaminondas! You see these here six mince pies I done make? You
see how I done set 'em on the doorstep to cool? Well, now, you hear me,
Epaminondas, _you be careful how you step on those pies_!"

"Yes, Mammy," said Epaminondas.

Then Epaminondas' Mammy put on her bonnet and her shawl and took a
basket in her hand and went away to see Auntie. The six mince pies sat
cooling in a row on the doorstep.

And then,--and then,--Epaminondas _was_ careful how he stepped on those

He stepped (imitate)--right--in--the--middle--of--every--one.

       *       *       *       *       *

And, do you know, children, nobody knows what happened next! The person
who told me the story didn't know; nobody knows. But you can guess.


[19] A Negro nonsense tale from the Southern States of America.


There was once a shepherd-boy who kept his flock at a little distance
from the village. Once he thought he would play a trick on the villagers
and have some fun at their expense. So he ran toward the village crying
out, with all his might,--

"Wolf! Wolf! Come and help! The wolves are at my lambs!"

The kind villagers left their work and ran to the field to help him. But
when they got there the boy laughed at them for their pains; there was
no wolf there.

Still another day the boy tried the same trick, and the villagers came
running to help and got laughed at again.

Then one day a wolf did break into the fold and began killing the lambs.
In great fright, the boy ran for help. "Wolf! Wolf!" he screamed. "There
is a wolf in the flock! Help!"

The villagers heard him, but they thought it was another mean trick; no
one paid the least attention, or went near him. And the shepherd-boy
lost all his sheep.

That is the kind of thing that happens to people who lie: even when they
tell the truth no one believes them.


Did you ever hear the old story about the foolish Frogs? The Frogs in a
certain swamp decided that they needed a king; they had always got along
perfectly well without one, but they suddenly made up their minds that a
king they must have. They sent a messenger to Jove and begged him to
send a king to rule over them.

Jove saw how stupid they were, and sent a king who could not harm them:
he tossed a big log into the middle of the pond.

At the splash the Frogs were terribly frightened, and dived into their
holes to hide from King Log. But after a while, when they saw that the
king never moved, they got over their fright and went and sat on him.
And as soon as they found he really could not hurt them they began to
despise him; and finally they sent another messenger to Jove to ask for
a new king.

Jove sent an eel.

The Frogs were much pleased and a good deal frightened when King Eel
came wriggling and swimming among them. But as the days went on, and the
eel was perfectly harmless, they stopped being afraid; and as soon as
they stopped fearing King Eel they stopped respecting him.

Soon they sent a third messenger to Jove, and begged that they might
have a better king,--a king who was worth while.

It was too much; Jove was angry at their stupidity at last. "I will give
you a king such as you deserve!" he said; and he sent them a Stork.

As soon as the Frogs came to the surface to greet the new king, King
Stork caught them in his long bill and gobbled them up. One after
another they came bobbing up, and one after another the stork ate them.
He was indeed a king worthy of them!


The Sun and the Wind once had a quarrel as to which was the stronger.
Each believed himself to be the more powerful. While they were arguing
they saw a traveller walking along the country highway, wearing a great

"Here is a chance to test our strength," said the Wind; "let us see
which of us is strong enough to make that traveller take off his cloak;
the one who can do that shall be acknowledged the more powerful."

"Agreed," said the Sun.

Instantly the Wind began to blow; he puffed and tugged at the man's
cloak, and raised a storm of hail and rain, to beat at it. But the
colder it grew and the more it stormed, the tighter the traveller held
his cloak around him. The Wind could not get it off.

Now it was the Sun's turn. He shone with all his beams on the man's
shoulders. As it grew hotter and hotter, the man unfastened his cloak;
then he threw it back; at last he took it off! The Sun had won.


The little Jackal was very fond of shell-fish. He used to go down by the
river and hunt along the edges for crabs and such things. And once, when
he was hunting for crabs, he was so hungry that he put his paw into the
water after a crab without looking first,--which you never should do!
The minute he put in his paw, _snap_!--the big Alligator who lives in
the mud down there had it in his jaws.

"Oh, dear!" thought the little Jackal; "the big Alligator has my paw in
his mouth! In another minute he will pull me down and gobble me up! What
shall I do? what shall I do?" Then he thought, suddenly, "I'll deceive

So he put on a very cheerful voice, as if nothing at all were the
matter, and he said,--

"Ho! ho! Clever Mr Alligator! Smart Mr Alligator, to take that old
bulrush root for my paw! I hope you'll find it very tender!"

The old Alligator was hidden away beneath the mud and bulrush leaves,
and he couldn't see anything. He thought, "Pshaw! I've made a mistake."
So he opened his mouth and let the little Jackal go.

The little Jackal ran away as fast as he could, and as he ran he called

"Thank you, Mr Alligator! Kind Mr Alligator! _So_ kind of you to let me

The old Alligator lashed with his tail and snapped with his jaws, but it
was too late; the little Jackal was out of reach.

After this the little Jackal kept away from the river, out of danger.
But after about a week he got such an appetite for crabs that nothing
else would do at all; he felt that he must have a crab. So he went down
by the river and looked all around, very carefully. He didn't see the
old Alligator, but he thought to himself, "I think I'll not take any
chances." So he stood still and began to talk out loud to himself. He

"When I don't see any little crabs on the land I generally see them
sticking out of the water, and then I put my paw in and catch them. I
wonder if there are any fat little crabs in the water to-day?"

The old Alligator was hidden down in the mud at the bottom of the river,
and when he heard what the little Jackal said, he thought, "Aha! I'll
pretend to be a little crab, and when he puts his paw in, I'll make my
dinner of him." So he stuck the black end of his snout above the water
and waited.

The little Jackal took one look, and then he said,--

"Thank you, Mr Alligator! Kind Mr Alligator! You are _exceedingly_ kind
to show me where you are! I will have dinner elsewhere." And he ran away
like the wind.

The old Alligator foamed at the mouth, he was so angry, but the little
Jackal was gone.

For two whole weeks the little Jackal kept away from the river. Then,
one day he got a feeling inside him that nothing but crabs could
satisfy: he felt that he must have at least one crab. Very cautiously,
he went down to the river and looked all around. He saw no sign of the
old Alligator. Still, he did not mean to take any chances. So he stood
quite still and began to talk to himself,--it was a little way he had.
He said,--

"When I don't see any little crabs on the shore, or sticking up out of
the water, I usually see them blowing bubbles from under the water; the
little bubbles go _puff, puff, puff_, and then they go _pop, pop, pop_,
and they show me where the little juicy crabs are, so I can put my paw
in and catch them. I wonder if I shall see any little bubbles to-day?"

The old Alligator, lying low in the mud and weeds, heard this, and he
thought, "Pooh! _That's_ easy enough; I'll just blow some little
crab-bubbles, and then he will put his paw in where I can get it."

So he blew, and he blew, a mighty blast, and the bubbles rose in a
perfect whirlpool, fizzing and swirling.

The little Jackal didn't have to be told who was underneath those
bubbles: he took one quick look, and off he ran. But as he went, he

"Thank you, Mr Alligator! Kind Mr Alligator! You are the kindest
Alligator in the world, to show me where you are, so nicely! I'll
breakfast at another part of the river."

The old Alligator was so furious that he crawled up on the bank and went
after the little Jackal; but, dear, dear, he couldn't catch the little
Jackal; he ran far too fast.

After this, the little Jackal did not like to risk going near the water,
so he ate no more crabs. But he found a garden of wild figs, which were
so good that he went there every day, and ate them instead of

Now the old Alligator found this out, and he made up his mind to have
the little Jackal for supper, or to die trying. So he crept, and
crawled, and dragged himself over the ground to the garden of wild figs.
There he made a huge pile of figs under the biggest of the wild fig
trees, and hid himself in the pile.

After a while the little Jackal came dancing into the garden, very happy
and free from care,--_but_ looking all around. He saw the huge pile of
figs under the big fig tree.

"H-m," he thought, "that looks singularly like my friend, the Alligator.
I'll investigate a bit."

He stood quite still and began to talk to himself,--it was a little way
he had. He said,--

"The little figs I like best are the fat, ripe, juicy ones that drop off
when the breeze blows; and then the wind blows them about on the ground,
this way and that; the great heap of figs over there is so still that I
think they must be all bad figs."

The old Alligator, underneath his fig pile, thought,--

"Bother the suspicious little Jackal! I shall have to make these figs
roll about, so that he will think the wind moves them." And straight-way
he humped himself up and moved, and sent the little figs flying,--and
his back showed through.

The little Jackal did not wait for a second look. He ran out of the
garden like the wind. But as he ran he called back,--

"Thank you, again, Mr Alligator; very sweet of you to show me where you
are; I can't stay to thank you as I should like: good-bye!"

At this the old Alligator was beside himself with rage. He vowed that he
would have the little Jackal for supper this time, come what might. So
he crept and crawled over the ground till he came to the little Jackal's
house. Then he crept and crawled inside, and hid himself there in the
house, to wait till the little Jackal should come home.

By and by the little Jackal came dancing home, happy and free from
care,--_but_ looking all around. Presently, as he came along, he saw
that the ground was all raked up as if something very heavy had been
dragged over it. The little Jackal stopped and looked.

"What's this? what's this?" he said.

Then he saw that the door of his house was crushed at the sides and
broken, as if something very big had gone through it.

"What's this? What's this?" the little Jackal said. "I think I'll
investigate a little!"

So he stood quite still and began to talk to himself (you remember, it
was a little way he had), but loudly. He said,--

"How strange that my little House doesn't speak to me! Why don't you
speak to me, little House? You always speak to me, if everything is all
right, when I come home. I wonder if anything is wrong with my little

The old Alligator thought to himself that he must certainly pretend to
be the little House, or the little Jackal would never come in. So he put
on as pleasant a voice as he could (which is not saying much) and

"Hullo, little Jackal!"

Oh! When the little Jackal heard that, he was frightened enough, for

"It's the old Alligator," he said, "and if I don't make an end of him
this time he will certainly make an end of me. What shall I do?"

He thought very fast. Then he spoke out pleasantly.

"Thank you, little House," he said, "it's good to hear your pretty
voice, dear little House, and I will be in with you in a minute; only
first I must gather some firewood for dinner."

Then he went and gathered firewood, and more firewood, and more
firewood; and he piled it all up solid against the door and round the
house; and then he set fire to it!

And it smoked and burned till it smoked that old Alligator to smoked


There was once a family of little Larks who lived with their mother in a
nest in a cornfield. When the corn was ripe the mother Lark watched very
carefully to see if there were any sign of the reapers' coming, for she
knew that when they came their sharp knives would cut down the nest and
hurt the baby Larks. So every day, when she went out for food, she told
the little Larks to look and listen very closely to everything that
went on, and to tell her all they saw and heard when she came home.

One day when she came home the little Larks were much frightened.

"Oh, Mother, dear Mother," they said, "you must move us away to-night!
The farmer was in the field to-day, and he said, 'The corn is ready to
cut; we must call in the neighbours to help.' And then he told his son
to go out to-night and ask all the neighbours to come and reap the corn

The mother Lark laughed. "Don't be frightened," she said; "if he waits
for his neighbours to reap the corn we shall have plenty of time to
move; tell me what he says to-morrow."

The next night the little Larks were quite trembling with fear; the
moment their mother got home they cried out, "Mother, you must surely
move us to-night! The farmer came to-day and said, 'The corn is getting
too ripe; we cannot wait for our neighbours; we must ask our relatives
to help us.' And then he called his son and told him to ask all the
uncles and cousins to come to-morrow and cut the corn. Shall we not move

"Don't worry," said the mother Lark; "the uncles and cousins have plenty
of reaping to do for themselves; we'll not move yet."

The third night, when the mother Lark came home, the baby Larks said,
"Mother, dear, the farmer came to the field to-day, and when he looked
at the corn he was quite angry; he said, 'This will never do! The corn
is getting too ripe; it's no use to wait for our relatives, we shall
have to cut this corn ourselves.' And then he called his son and said,
'Go out to-night and hire reapers, and to-morrow we will begin to cut.'"

"Well," said the mother, "that is another story; when a man begins to do
his own business, instead of asking somebody else to do it, things get
done. I will move you out to-night."


Once there were four little girls who lived in a big, bare house, in the
country. They were very poor, but they had the happiest times you ever
heard of, because they were very rich in everything except money. They
had a wonderful, wise father, who knew stories to tell, and who taught
them their lessons in such a beautiful way that it was better than play;
they had a lovely, merry, kind mother, who was never too tired to help
them work or watch them play; and they had all the great green country
to play in. There were dark, shadowy woods, and fields of flowers, and a
river. And there was a big barn.

One of the little girls was named Louisa. She was very pretty, and ever
so strong; she could run for miles through the woods and not get tired.
She had a splendid brain in her little head; it liked study, and it
thought interesting thoughts all day long.

Louisa liked to sit in a corner by herself, sometimes, and write
thoughts in her diary; all the little girls kept diaries. She liked to
make up stories out of her own head, and sometimes she made verses.

When the four little sisters had finished their lessons, and had helped
their mother wash up and sew, they used to go to the big barn to play;
and the best play of all was theatricals. Louisa liked theatricals
better than anything.

They made the barn into a theatre, and the grown-up people came to see
the plays they acted. They used to climb up on the hay-loft for a stage,
and the grown people sat in chairs on the floor. It was great fun. One
of the plays they acted was _Jack and the Beanstalk_. They had a ladder
from the floor to the loft, and on the ladder they tied a vine all the
way up to the loft, to look like the wonderful beanstalk. One of the
little girls was dressed up to look like Jack, and she acted that part.
When it came to the place in the story where the giant tried to follow
Jack, the little girl cut down the beanstalk, and down came the giant
tumbling from the loft. The giant was made out of pillows, with a great,
fierce head of paper, and funny clothes.

Another story that they acted was _Cinderella_. They made a wonderful
big pumpkin out of the wheelbarrow, trimmed with yellow paper, and
Cinderella rolled away in it, when the fairy godmother waved her wand.

One other beautiful story they used to play. It was the story of
_Pilgrim's Progress_; if you have never heard it, you must be sure to
read it as soon as you can read well enough to understand the
old-fashioned words. The little girls used to put shells in their hats
for a sign they were on a pilgrimage, as the old pilgrims used to do;
then they made journeys over the hill behind the house, and through the
woods, and down the lanes; and when the pilgrimage was over they had
apples and nuts to eat, in the happy land of home.

Louisa loved all these plays, and she made some of her own and wrote
them down so that the children could act them.

But better than fun or writing Louisa loved her mother, and by and by,
as the little girl began to grow into a big girl, she felt very sad to
see her dear mother work so hard. She helped all she could with the
housework, but nothing could really help the tired mother except money;
she needed money for food and clothes, and someone grown up, to help in
the house. But there never was enough money for these things, and
Louisa's mother grew more and more weary, and sometimes ill. I cannot
tell you how much Louisa suffered over this.

At last, as Louisa thought about it, she came to care more about helping
her mother and her father and her sisters than about anything else in
all the world. And she began to work very hard to earn money. She sewed
for people, and when she was a little older she taught some little girls
their lessons, and then she wrote stories for the papers. Every bit of
money she earned, except what she had to use, she gave to her dear
family. It helped very much, but it was so little that Louisa never felt
as if she were doing anything.

Every year she grew more unselfish, and every year she worked harder.
She liked writing stories best of all her work, but she did not get much
money for them, and some people told her she was wasting her time.

At last, one day, a publisher asked Louisa, who was now a woman, to
write a book for girls. Louisa was not very well, and she was very
tired, but she always said, "I'll try," when she had a chance to work;
so she said, "I'll try," to the publisher. When she thought about the
book she remembered the good times she used to have with her sisters in
the big, bare house in the country. And so she wrote a story and put all
that in it; she put her dear mother and her wise father in it, and all
the little sisters, and besides the jolly times and the plays, she put
the sad, hard times in,--the work and worry and going without things.

When the book was written, she called it _Little Women_, and sent it to
the publisher.

And, children, the little book made Louisa famous. It was so sweet and
funny and sad and real,--like our own lives,--that everybody wanted to
read it. Everybody bought it, and much money came from it. After so many
years, little Louisa's wish came true: she bought a nice house for her
family; she sent one of her sisters to Europe, to study; she gave her
father books; but best of all, she was able to see to it that the
beloved mother, so tired and so ill, could have rest and happiness.
Never again did the dear mother have to do any hard work, and she had
pretty things about her all the rest of her life.

Louisa Alcott, for that was Louisa's name, wrote many beautiful books
after this, and she became one of the most famous women of America. But
I think the most beautiful thing about her is what I have been telling
you: that she loved her mother so well that she gave her whole life to
make her happy.


The little Louisa I told you about, who wrote verses and stories in her
diary, used to like to play that she was a princess, and that her
kingdom was her own mind. When she had unkind or dissatisfied thoughts,
she tried to get rid of them by playing they were enemies of the
kingdom; and she drove them out with soldiers; the soldiers were
patience, duty, and love. It used to help Louisa to be good to play
this, and I think it may have helped make her the splendid woman she was
afterward. Maybe you would like to hear a poem she wrote about it, when
she was only fourteen years old.[20] It will help you, too, to think the
same thoughts.

     A little kingdom I possess,
       Where thoughts and feelings dwell,
     And very hard I find the task
       Of governing it well;
     For passion tempts and troubles me,
       A wayward will misleads,
     And selfishness its shadow casts
       On all my words and deeds.

     How can I learn to rule myself,
       To be the child I should,
     Honest and brave, nor ever tire
       Of trying to be good?
     How can I keep a sunny soul
       To shine along life's way?
     How can I tune my little heart
       To sweetly sing all day?

     Dear Father, help me with the love
       That casteth out my fear,
     Teach me to lean on Thee, and feel
       That Thou art very near,
     That no temptation is unseen,
       No childish grief too small,
     Since Thou, with patience infinite,
       Doth soothe and comfort all.

     I do not ask for any crown
       But that which all may win,
     Nor seek to conquer any world,
       Except the one within.
     Be Thou my Guide until I find,
       Led by a tender hand,
     Thy happy kingdom in _myself_,
       And dare to take command.


[20] From Louisa M. Alcott's _Life, Letters and Journals_.


     Poor, sweet Piccola! Did you hear
     What happened to Piccola, children dear?
     'Tis seldom Fortune such favour grants
     As fell to this little maid of France.

     'Twas Christmas-time, and her parents poor
     Could hardly drive the wolf from the door,
     Striving with poverty's patient pain
     Only to live till summer again.

     No gifts for Piccola! Sad were they
     When dawned the morning of Christmas-day;
     Their little darling no joy might stir,
     St Nicholas nothing would bring to her!

     But Piccola never doubted at all
     That something beautiful must befall
     Every child upon Christmas-day,
     And so she slept till the dawn was gray.

     And full of faith, when at last she woke,
     She stole to her shoe as the morning broke;
     Such sounds of gladness filled all the air,
     Twas plain St Nicholas had been there!

     In rushed Piccola sweet, half wild:
     Never was seen such a joyful child.
     "See what the good saint brought!" she cried,
     And mother and father must peep inside.

     Now such a story who ever heard?
     There was a little shivering bird!
     A sparrow, that in at the window flew,
     Had crept into Piccola's tiny shoe!

     "How good poor Piccola must have been!"
     She cried, as happy as any queen,
     While the starving sparrow she fed and warmed,
     And danced with rapture, she was so charmed.

     Children, this story I tell to you,
     Of Piccola sweet and her bird, is true.
     In the far-off land of France, they say,
     Still do they live to this very day.


[21] From Celia Thaxter's _Stories and Poems for Children_.


When I was a very little girl some one, probably my mother, read to me
Hans Christian Andersen's story of the Little Fir Tree. It happened that
I did not read it for myself or hear it again during my childhood. One
Christmas Day, when I was grown up, I found myself at a loss for the
"one more" story called for by some little children with whom I was
spending the holiday. In the mental search for buried treasure which
ensued, I came upon one or two word-impressions of the experiences of
the Little Fir Tree, and forthwith wove them into what I supposed to be
something of a reproduction of the original. The latter part of the
story had wholly faded from my memory, so that I "made up" to suit the
tastes of my audience. Afterward I told the story to a good many
children, at one time or another, and it gradually took the shape it has
here. It was not until several years later that, in rereading Andersen
for other purposes, I came upon the real story of the Little Fir Tree,
and read it for myself. Then indeed I was amused, and somewhat
distressed, to find how far I had wandered from the text.

I give this explanation that the reader may know I do not presume to
offer the little tale which follows as an "adaptation" of Andersen's
famous story. I offer it plainly as a story which children have liked,
and which grew out of my early memories of Andersen's _The Little Fir

Once there was a Little Fir Tree, slim and pointed, and shiny, which
stood in the great forest in the midst of some big fir trees, broad, and
tall, and shadowy green. The Little Fir Tree was very unhappy because he
was not big like the others. When the birds came flying into the woods
and lit on the branches of the big trees and built their nests there, he
used to call up to them,--

"Come down, come down, rest in my branches!" But they always said,--

"Oh, no, no; you are too little!"

When the splendid wind came blowing and singing through the forest, it
bent and rocked and swung the tops of the big trees, and murmured to
them. Then the Little Fir Tree looked up, and called,--

"Oh, please, dear wind, come down and play with me!" But he always

"Oh, no; you are too little, you are too little!"

In the winter the white snow fell softly, softly, and covered the great
trees all over with wonderful caps and coats of white. The Little Fir
Tree, close down in the cover of the others, would call up,--

"Oh, please, dear snow, give me a cap, too! I want to play, too!" But
the snow always said,--

"Oh no, no, no; you are too little, you are too little!"

The worst of all was when men came into the wood, with sledges and teams
of horses. They came to cut the big trees down and carry them away.
Whenever one had been cut down and carried away the others talked about
it, and nodded their heads, and the Little Fir Tree listened, and heard
them say that when you were carried away so, you might become the mast
of a mighty ship, and go far away over the ocean, and see many wonderful
things; or you might be part of a fine house in a great city, and see
much of life. The Little Fir Tree wanted greatly to see life, but he
was always too little; the men passed him by.

But by and by, one cold winter's morning, men came with a sledge and
horses, and after they had cut here and there they came to the circle of
trees round the Little Fir Tree, and looked all about.

"There are none little enough," they said.

Oh! how the Little Fir Tree pricked up his needles!

"Here is one," said one of the men, "it is just little enough." And he
touched the Little Fir Tree.

The Little Fir Tree was happy as a bird, because he knew they were about
to cut him down. And when he was being carried away on the sledge he lay
wondering, _so_ contentedly, whether he should be the mast of a ship or
part of a fine city house. But when they came to the town he was taken
out and set upright in a tub and placed on the edge of a path in a row
of other fir trees, all small, but none so little as he. And then the
Little Fir Tree began to see life.

People kept coming to look at the trees and to take them away. But
always when they saw the Little Fir Tree they shook their heads and

"It is too little, too little."

Until, finally, two children came along, hand in hand, looking
carefully at all the small trees. When they saw the Little Fir Tree they
cried out,--

"We'll take this one; it is just little enough!"

They took him out of his tub and carried him away, between them. And the
happy Little Fir Tree spent all his time wondering what it could be that
he was just little enough for; he knew it could hardly be a mast or a
house, since he was going away with children.

He kept wondering, while they took him in through some big doors, and
set him up in another tub, on the table, in a bare little room. Very
soon they went away, and came back again with a big basket, which they
carried between them. Then some pretty ladies, with white caps on their
heads and white aprons over their blue dresses, came bringing little
parcels. The children took things out of the basket and began to play
with the Little Fir Tree, just as he had often begged the wind and the
snow and the birds to do. He felt their soft little touches on his head
and his twigs and his branches. When he looked down at himself, as far
as he could look, he saw that he was all hung with gold and silver
chains! There were strings of white fluffy stuff drooping around him;
his twigs held little gold nuts and pink, rosy balls and silver stars;
he had pretty little pink and white candles in his arms; but last, and
most wonderful of all, the children hung a beautiful white, floating
doll-angel over his head! The Little Fir Tree could not breathe, for joy
and wonder. What was it that he was, now? Why was this glory for him?

After a time every one went away and left him. It grew dusk, and the
Little Fir Tree began to hear strange sounds through the closed doors.
Sometimes he heard a child crying. He was beginning to be lonely. It
grew more and more shadowy.

All at once, the doors opened and the two children came in. Two of the
pretty ladies were with them. They came up to the Little Fir Tree and
quickly lighted all the little pink and white candles. Then the two
pretty ladies took hold of the table with the Little Fir Tree on it and
pushed it, very smoothly and quickly, out of the doors, across a hall,
and in at another door.

The Little Fir Tree had a sudden sight of a long room with many little
white beds in it, of children propped up on pillows in the beds, and of
other children in great wheeled chairs, and others hobbling about or
sitting in little chairs. He wondered why all the little children looked
so white and tired; he did not know that he was in a hospital. But
before he could wonder any more his breath was quite taken away by the
shout those little white children gave.

"Oh! oh! m-m! m-m!" they cried.

"How pretty! How beautiful! Oh, isn't it lovely!"

He knew they must mean him, for all their shining eyes were looking
straight at him. He stood as straight as a mast, and quivered in every
needle, for joy. Presently one little weak child-voice called out,--

"It's the nicest Christmas tree I ever saw!"

And then, at last, the Little Fir Tree knew what he was; he was a
Christmas tree! And from his shiny head to his feet he was glad, through
and through, because he was just little enough to be the nicest kind of
tree in the world!


Thousands of years ago, many years before David lived, there was a very
wise and good man of his people who was a friend and adviser of the king
of Egypt. And for love of this friend, the king of Egypt had let numbers
of the Israelites settle in his land. But after the king and his
Israelitish friend were dead, there was a new king, who hated the
Israelites. When he saw how strong they were, and how many there were of
them, he began to be afraid that some day they might number more than
the Egyptians, and might take his land from him.

Then he and his rulers did a wicked thing. They made the Israelites
slaves. And they gave them terrible tasks to do, without proper rest, or
food, or clothes. For they hoped that the hardship would kill off the
Israelites. They thought the old men would die and the young men be so
ill and weary that they could not bring up families, and so the race
would dwindle away.

But in spite of the work and suffering, the Israelites remained strong,
and more and more boys grew up, to make the king afraid.

Then he did the most wicked thing of all. He ordered his soldiers to
kill every boy baby that should be born in an Israelitish family; he did
not care about the girls, because they could not grow up to fight.

Very soon after this wicked order, a boy baby was born in a certain
Israelitish family. When his mother first looked at him her heart was
nearly broken, for he was even more beautiful than most babies are,--so
strong and fair and sweet. But he was a boy! How could she save him from

Somehow, she contrived to keep him hidden for three whole months. But at
the end of that time, she saw that it would not be possible to keep him
safe any longer. She had been thinking all this time about what she
should do, and now she carried out her plan.

First, she took a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it all over with
pitch, so that it was water-tight, and then she laid the baby in it;
then she carried it to the edge of the river and laid it in the flags by
the river's brink. It did not show at all, unless one were quite near
it. Then she kissed her little son and left him there. But his sister
stood far off, not seeming to watch, but really watching carefully to
see what would happen to the baby.

Soon there was the sound of talk and laughter, and a train of beautiful
women came down to the water's edge. It was the king's daughter, come
down to bathe in the river, with her maidens. The maidens walked along
by the river side.

As the king's daughter came near to the water, she saw the strange
little basket lying in the flags, and she sent her maid to bring it to
her. And when she had opened it, she saw the child; the poor baby was
crying. When she saw him, so helpless and so beautiful, crying for his
mother, the king's daughter pitied him and loved him. She knew the cruel
order of her father, and she said at once, "This is one of the Hebrews'

At that moment the baby's sister came to the princess and said, "Shall I
go and find thee a nurse from the Hebrew women, so that she may nurse
the child for thee?" Not a word did she say about whose child it was,
but perhaps the princess guessed; I don't know. At all events, she told
the little girl to go.

So the maiden went, and brought her mother!

Then the king's daughter said to the baby's mother, "Take this child
away and nurse it for me, and I will give thee wages."

Was not that a strange thing? And can you think how happy the baby's
mother was? For now the baby would be known only as the princess's
adopted child, and would be safe.

And it was so. The mother kept him until he was old enough to be taken
to the princess's palace. Then he was brought and given to the king's
daughter, and he became her son. And she named him Moses.

But the strangest part of the whole story is, that when Moses grew to be
a man he became so strong and wise that it was he who at last saved his
people from the king and rescued them from the Egyptians. The one child
saved by the king's own daughter was the very one the king would most
have wanted to kill, if he had known.


Once upon a time there was a dear little girl, whose name was Elsa.
Elsa's father and mother worked very hard and became rich. But they
loved Elsa so much that they did not like her to do any work; very
foolishly, they let her play all the time. So when Elsa grew up, she did
not know how to do anything; she could not make bread, she could not
sweep a room, she could not sew a seam; she could only laugh and sing.
But she was so sweet and merry that everybody loved her. And by and by,
she married one of the people who loved her, and had a house of her own
to take care of.

Then, then, my dears, came hard times for Elsa! There were so many
things to be done in the house, and she did not know how to do any of
them! And because she had never worked at all it made her very tired
even to try; she was tired before the morning was over, every day. The
maid would come and say, "How shall I do this?" or "How shall I do
that?" and Elsa would have to say, "I don't know." Then the maid would
pretend that she did not know, either; and when she saw her mistress
sitting about doing nothing, she, too, sat about, idle.

Elsa's husband had a hard time of it; he had only poor food to eat, and
it was not ready at the right time, and the house looked all in a
muddle. It made him sad, and that made Elsa sad, for she wanted to do
everything just right.

At last, one day, Elsa's husband went away quite cross; he said to her,
as he went out of the door, "It is no wonder that the house looks so,
when you sit all day with your hands in your lap!"

Little Elsa cried bitterly when he was gone, for she did not want to
make her husband unhappy and cross, and she wanted the house to look
nice. "Oh, dear," she sobbed, "I wish I could do things right! I wish I
could work! I wish--I wish I had ten good fairies to work for me! Then I
could keep the house!"

As she said the words, a great grey man stood before her; he was wrapped
in a strange grey cloak that covered him from head to foot; and he
smiled at Elsa. "What is the matter, dear?" he said. "Why do you cry?"

"Oh, I am crying because I do not know how to keep the house," said
Elsa. "I cannot make bread, I cannot sweep, I cannot sew a seam; when I
was a little girl I never learned to work, and now I cannot do anything
right. I wish I had ten good fairies to help me!"

"You shall have them, dear," said the grey man, and he shook his strange
grey cloak. Pouf! Out hopped ten tiny fairies, no bigger than that!

"These shall be your servants, Elsa," said the grey man; "they are
faithful and clever, and they will do everything you want them to, just
right. But the neighbours might stare and ask questions if they saw
these little chaps running about your house, so I will hide them away
for you. Give me your little useless hands."

Wondering, Elsa stretched out her pretty, little, white hands.

"Now stretch out your little useless fingers, dear!"

Elsa stretched out her pretty pink fingers.

The grey man touched each one of the ten little fingers, and as he
touched them he said their names: "Little Thumb; Forefinger;
Thimble-finger; Ring-finger; Little Finger; Little Thumb; Forefinger;
Thimble-finger; Ring-finger; Little Finger!" And as he named the
fingers, one after another, the tiny fairies bowed their tiny heads;
there was a fairy for every name.

"Hop! hide yourselves away!" said the grey man.

Hop, hop! The fairies sprang to Elsa's knee, then to the palms of her
hands, and then--whisk! they were all hidden away in her little pink
fingers, a fairy in every finger! And the grey man was gone.

Elsa sat and looked with wonder at her little white hands and the ten
useless fingers. But suddenly the little fingers began to stir. The tiny
fairies who were hidden away there were not used to remaining still, and
they were getting restless. They stirred so that Elsa jumped up and ran
to the cooking table, and took hold of the bread board. No sooner had
she touched the bread board than the little fairies began to work: they
measured the flour, mixed the bread, kneaded the loaves, and set them to
rise, quicker than you could wink; and when the bread was done, it was
as nice as you could wish. Then the little fairy-fingers seized the
broom, and in a twinkling they were making the house clean. And so it
went, all day. Elsa flew about from one thing to another, and the ten
fairies did the work, just right.

When the maid saw her mistress working, she began to work, too; and when
she saw how beautifully everything was done, she was ashamed to do
anything badly herself. In a little while the housework was going
smoothly, and Elsa could laugh and sing again.

There was no more crossness in that house. Elsa's husband grew so proud
of her that he went about saying to everybody, "My grandmother was a
fine housekeeper, and my mother was a fine housekeeper, but neither of
them could hold a candle to my wife. She has only one maid, but, to see
the work done, you would think she had as many servants as she has
fingers on her hands!"

When Elsa heard that, she used to laugh, but she never, never told.


[22] Adapted from the facts given in the German of _Die Zehn Feen_ in
_Märchen und Erzählungen_, Zweiter Teil, by H.A. Guerber.


Once upon a time there was an honest shoemaker, who was very poor. He
worked as hard as he could, and still he could not earn enough to keep
himself and his wife. At last there came a day when he had nothing left
but one piece of leather, big enough to make one pair of shoes. He cut
out the shoes, ready to stitch, and left them on the bench; then he said
his prayers and went to bed, trusting that he could finish the shoes on
the next day and sell them.

Bright and early the next morning, he rose and went to his work bench.
There lay a pair of shoes, beautifully made, and the leather was gone!
There was no sign of anyone having been there. The shoemaker and his
wife did not know what to make of it. But the first customer who came
was so pleased with the beautiful shoes that he bought them, and paid so
much that the shoemaker was able to buy leather enough for two pairs.

Happily, he cut them out, and then, as it was late, he left the pieces
on the bench, ready to sew in the morning. But when morning came, two
pairs of shoes lay on the bench, most beautifully made, and no sign of
anyone who had been there. The shoemaker and his wife were quite at a

That day a customer came and bought both pairs, and paid so much for
them that the shoemaker bought leather for four pairs, with the money.

Once more he cut out the shoes and left them on the bench. And in the
morning all four pairs were made.

It went on like this until the shoemaker and his wife were prosperous
people. But they could not be satisfied to have so much done for them
and not know to whom they should be grateful. So one night, after the
shoemaker had left the pieces of leather on the bench, he and his wife
hid themselves behind a curtain, and left a light in the room.

Just as the clock struck twelve the door opened softly, and two tiny
elves came dancing into the room, hopped on to the bench, and began to
put the pieces together. They were quite naked, but they had wee little
scissors and hammers and thread. Tap! tap! went the little hammers;
stitch, stitch, went the thread, and the little elves were hard at work.
No one ever worked so fast as they. In almost no time all the shoes were
stitched and finished. Then the tiny elves took hold of each other's
hands and danced round the shoes on the bench, till the shoemaker and
his wife had hard work not to laugh aloud. But as the clock struck two,
the little creatures whisked away out of the window, and left the room
all as it was before.

The shoemaker and his wife looked at each other, and said, "How can we
thank the little elves who have made us happy and prosperous?"

"I should like to make them some pretty clothes," said the wife, "they
are quite naked."

"I will make the shoes if you will make the coats," said her husband.

That very day they commenced their task. The wife cut out two tiny, tiny
coats of green, two weeny, weeny waistcoats of yellow, two little pairs
of trousers, of white, two bits of caps, bright red (for every one knows
the elves love bright colours), and her husband made two little pairs of
shoes with long, pointed toes. They made the wee clothes as dainty as
could be, with nice little stitches and pretty buttons; and by Christmas
time, they were finished.

On Christmas eve, the shoemaker cleaned his bench, and on it, instead of
leather, he laid the two sets of gay little fairy-clothes. Then he and
his wife hid away as before, to watch.

Promptly at midnight, the little naked elves came in. They hopped upon
the bench; but when they saw the little clothes there, they laughed and
danced for joy. Each one caught up his little coat and things and began
to put them on. Then they looked at each other and made all kinds of
funny motions in their delight. At last they began to dance, and when
the clock struck two, they danced quite away, out of the window.

They never came back any more, but from that day they gave the shoemaker
and his wife good luck, so that they never needed any more help.


Once the Otter came to the Mouse-deer and said, "Friend Mouse-deer, will
you please take care of my babies while I go to the river, to catch

"Certainly," said the Mouse-deer, "go along."

But when the Otter came back from the river, with a string of fish, he
found his babies crushed flat.

"What does this mean, Friend Mouse-deer?" he said. "Who killed my
children while you were taking care of them?"

"I am very sorry," said the Mouse-deer, "but you know I am Chief Dancer
of the War-dance, and the Woodpecker came and sounded the war-gong, so I
danced. I forgot your children, and trod on them."

"I shall go to King Solomon," said the Otter, "and you shall be

Soon the Mouse-deer was called before King Solomon.

"Did you kill the Otter's babies?" said the king.

"Yes, your Majesty," said the Mouse-deer, "but I did not mean to."

"How did it happen?" said the king.

"Your Majesty knows," said the Mouse-deer, "that I am Chief Dancer of
the War-dance. The Woodpecker came and sounded the war-gong, and I had
to dance; and as I danced I trod on the Otter's children."

"Send for the Woodpecker," said King Solomon. When the Woodpecker came,
he said to him, "Was it you who sounded the war-gong?"

"Yes, your Majesty," said the Woodpecker, "but I had to."

"Why?" said the king.

"Your Majesty knows," said the Woodpecker, "that I am Chief Beater of
the War-gong, and I sounded the gong because I saw the Great Lizard
wearing his sword."

"Send for the Great Lizard," said King Solomon. When the Great Lizard
came, he asked him, "Was it you who were wearing your sword?"

"Yes, your Majesty," said the Great Lizard; "but I had to."

"Why?" said the king.

"Your Majesty knows," said the Great Lizard, "that I am Chief Protector
of the Sword. I wore my sword because the Tortoise came wearing his coat
of mail."

So the Tortoise was sent for.

"Why did you wear your coat of mail?" said the king.

"I put it on, your Majesty," said the Tortoise, "because I saw the
King-crab trailing his three-edged pike."

Then the King-crab was sent for.

"Why were you trailing your three-edged pike?" said King Solomon.

"Because, your Majesty," said the King-crab, "I saw that the Crayfish
had shouldered his lance."

Immediately the Crayfish was sent for.

"Why did you shoulder your lance?" said the king.

"Because, your Majesty," said the Crayfish, "I saw the Otter coming down
to the river to kill my children."

"Oh," said King Solomon, "if that is the case, the Otter killed the
Otter's children. And the Mouse-deer cannot be blamed, by the law of the


[23] Adapted from the story as told in _Fables and Folk Tales from an
Eastern Forest_, by Walter Skeat.


     I like to lie and wait to see
       My mother braid her hair.
     It is as long as it can be,
       And yet she doesn't care.
     I love my mother's hair.

     And then the way her fingers go;
       They look so quick and white,--
     In and out, and to and fro,
       And braiding in the light,
     And it is always right.

     So then she winds it, shiny brown,
     Around her head into a crown,
       Just like the day before.
     And then she looks and pats it down,
       And looks a minute more;
     While I stay here all still and cool.
     Oh, isn't morning beautiful?


[24] From _The Singing Leaves_, by Josephine Preston Peabody.


Do you know what a Brahmin is? A Brahmin is a very good and gentle kind
of man who lives in India, and who treats all the beasts as if they were
his brothers. There is a great deal more to know about Brahmins, but
that is enough for the story.

One day a Brahmin was walking along a country road when he came upon a
Tiger, shut up in a strong iron cage. The villagers had caught him and
shut him up there for his wickedness.

"Oh, Brother Brahmin, Brother Brahmin," said the Tiger, "please let me
out, to get a little drink! I am so thirsty, and there is no water

"But Brother Tiger," said the Brahmin, "you know if I should let you
out, you would spring on me and eat me up."

"Never, Brother Brahmin!" said the Tiger. "Never in the world would I do
such an ungrateful thing! Just let me out a little minute, to get a
little, little drink of water, Brother Brahmin!"

So the Brahmin unlocked the door and let the Tiger out. The moment he
was out he sprang on the Brahmin, and was about to eat him up.

"But, Brother Tiger," said the Brahmin, "you promised you would not. It
is not fair or just that you should eat me, when I set you free."

"It is perfectly right and just," said the Tiger, "and I shall eat you

However, the Brahmin argued so hard that at last the Tiger agreed to
wait and ask the first five whom they should meet, whether it was fair
for him to eat the Brahmin, and to abide by their decision.

The first thing they came to, to ask, was an old Banyan Tree, by the
wayside. (A banyan tree is a kind of fruit tree.)

"Brother Banyan," said the Brahmin, eagerly, "does it seem to you right
or just that this Tiger should eat me, when I set him free from his

The Banyan Tree looked down at them and spoke in a tired voice.

"In the summer," he said, "when the sun is hot, men come and sit in the
cool of my shade and refresh themselves with the fruit of my branches.
But when evening falls, and they are rested, they break my twigs and
scatter my leaves, and stone my boughs for more fruit. Men are an
ungrateful race. Let the Tiger eat the Brahmin."

The Tiger sprang to eat the Brahmin, but the Brahmin said,--

"Wait, wait; we have asked only one. We have still four to ask."

Presently they came to a place where an old Bullock was lying by the
road. The Brahmin went up to him and said,--

"Brother Bullock, oh, Brother Bullock, does it seem to you a fair thing
that this Tiger should eat me up, after I have just freed him from a

The Bullock looked up, and answered in a deep, grumbling voice,--

"When I was young and strong my master used me hard, and I served him
well. I carried heavy loads and carried them far. Now that I am old and
weak and cannot work, he leaves me without food or water, to die by the
wayside. Men are a thankless lot. Let the Tiger eat the Brahmin."

The Tiger sprang, but the Brahmin spoke very quickly,--

"Oh, but this is only the second, Brother Tiger; you promised to ask

The Tiger grumbled a good deal, but at last he went on again with the
Brahmin. And after a time they saw an Eagle, high overhead. The Brahmin
called up to him imploringly,--

"Oh, Brother Eagle, Brother Eagle! Tell us if it seems to you fair that
this Tiger should eat me up, when I have just saved him from a frightful

The Eagle soared slowly overhead a moment, then he came lower, and spoke
in a thin, clear voice.

"I live high in the air," he said, "and I do no man any harm. Yet as
often as they find my eyrie, men stone my young and rob my nest and
shoot at me with arrows. Men are a cruel breed. Let the Tiger eat the

The Tiger sprang upon the Brahmin, to eat him up; and this time the
Brahmin had very hard work to persuade him to wait. At last he did
persuade him, however, and they walked on together. And in a little
while they saw an old Alligator, lying half buried in mud and slime, at
the river's edge.

"Brother Alligator, oh, Brother Alligator!" said the Brahmin, "does it
seem at all right or fair to you that this Tiger should eat me up, when
I have just now let him out of a cage?"

The old Alligator turned in the mud, and grunted, and snorted; then he

"I lie here in the mud all day, as harmless as a pigeon; I hunt no man,
yet every time a man sees me, he throws stones at me, and pokes me with
sharp sticks, and jeers at me. Men are a worthless lot. Let the Tiger
eat the Brahmin!"

At this the Tiger was going to eat the Brahmin at once. The poor Brahmin
had to remind him, again and again, that they had asked only four.

"Wait till we've asked one more! Wait until we see a fifth!" he begged.

Finally, the Tiger walked on with him.

After a time, they met the little Jackal, coming gaily down the road
toward them.

"Oh, Brother Jackal, dear Brother Jackal," said the Brahmin, "give us
your opinion! Do you think it right or fair that this Tiger should eat
me, when I set him free from a terrible cage?"

"Beg pardon?" said the little Jackal.

"I said," said the Brahmin, raising his voice, "do you think it is fair
that the Tiger should eat me, when I set him free from his cage?"

"Cage?" said the little Jackal, vacantly.

"Yes, yes, his cage," said the Brahmin. "We want your opinion. Do you

"Oh," said the little Jackal, "you want my opinion? Then may I beg you
to speak a little more loudly, and make the matter quite clear? I am a
little slow of understanding. Now what was it?"

"Do you think," said the Brahmin, "it is right for this Tiger to eat me,
when I set him free from his cage?"

"What cage?" said the little Jackal.

"Why, the cage he was in," said the Brahmin. "You see----"

"But I don't altogether understand," said the little Jackal. "You 'set
him free,' you say?"

"Yes, yes, yes!" said the Brahmin. "It was this way: I was walking
along, and I saw the Tiger----"

"Oh, dear, dear!" interrupted the little Jackal; "I never can see
through it, if you go on like that, with a long story. If you really
want my opinion you must make the matter clear. What sort of cage was

"Why, a big, ordinary cage, an iron cage," said the Brahmin.

"That gives me no idea at all," said the little Jackal. "See here, my
friends, if we are to get on with this matter you'd best show me the
spot. Then I can understand in a jiffy. Show me the cage."

So the Brahmin, the Tiger, and the little Jackal walked back together to
the spot where the cage was.

"Now, let us understand the situation," said the little Jackal. "Friend
Brahmin, where were you?"

"I stood just here by the roadside," said the Brahmin.

"Tiger, and where were you?" said the little Jackal.

"Why, in the cage, of course," roared the Tiger.

"Oh, I beg your pardon, Father Tiger," said the little Jackal, "I
really am _so_ stupid; I cannot _quite_ understand what happened. If you
will have a little patience,--_how_ were you in the cage? What position
were you in?"

"I stood here," said the Tiger, leaping into the cage, "with my head
over my shoulder, so."

"Oh, thank you, thank you," said the little Jackal, "that makes it
_much_ clearer; but I still don't _quite_ understand--forgive my slow
mind--why did you not come out, by yourself?"

"Can't you see that the door shut me in?" said the Tiger.

"Oh, I do beg your pardon," said the little Jackal. "I know I am very
slow; I can never understand things well unless I see just how they
were; if you could show me now exactly how that door works I am sure I
could understand. How does it shut?"

"It shuts like this," said the Brahmin, pushing it to.

"Yes; but I don't see any lock," said the little Jackal, "does it lock
on the outside?"

"It locks like this," said the Brahmin. And he shut and bolted the door!

"Oh, does it, indeed?" said the little Jackal. "Does it, _indeed_! Well,
Brother Brahmin, now that it is locked, I should advise you to let it
stay locked! As for you, my friend," he said to the Tiger, "I think you
will wait a good while before you'll find anyone to let you out again!"
Then he made a very low bow to the Brahmin.

"Good-bye, Brother," he said. "Your way lies that way, and mine lies
this; good-bye!"


All these stories about the little Jackal that I have told you, show how
clever the little Jackal was. But you know--if you don't, you will when
you are grown up--that no matter how clever you are, sooner or later you
surely meet some one who is more clever. It is always so in life. And it
was so with the little Jackal. This is what happened.

The little Jackal was, as you know, exceedingly fond of shell-fish,
especially of river crabs. Now there came a time when he had eaten all
the crabs to be found on his own side of the river. He knew there must
be plenty on the other side, if he could only get to them, but he could
not swim.

One day he thought of a plan. He went to his friend the Camel, and

"Friend Camel, I know a spot where the sugar-cane grows thick; I'll show
you the way, if you will take me there."

"Indeed I will," said the Camel, who was very fond of sugar-cane. "Where
is it?"

"It is on the other side of the river," said the little Jackal; "but we
can manage it nicely, if you will take me on your back and swim over."

The Camel was perfectly willing, so the little Jackal jumped on his
back, and the Camel swam across the river, carrying him. When they were
safely over, the little Jackal jumped down and showed the Camel the
sugar-cane field; then he ran swiftly along the river bank, to hunt for
crabs; the Camel began to eat sugar-cane. He ate happily, and noticed
nothing around him.

Now, you know, a Camel is very big, and a Jackal is very little.
Consequently, the little Jackal had eaten his fill by the time the Camel
had barely taken a mouthful. The little Jackal had no mind to wait for
his slow friend; he wanted to be off home again, about his business. So
he ran round and round the sugar-cane field, and as he ran he sang and
shouted, and made a great hullabaloo.

Of course, the villagers heard him at once.

"There is a Jackal in the sugar-cane," they said; "he will dig holes and
destroy the roots; we must go down and drive him out." So they came
down, with sticks and stones. When they got there, there was no Jackal
to be seen; but they saw the great Camel, eating away at the juicy
sugar-cane. They ran at him and beat him, and stoned him, and drove him
away half dead.

When they had gone, leaving the poor Camel half killed, the little
Jackal came dancing back from somewhere or other.

"I think it's time to go home, now," he said; "don't you?"

"Well, you _are_ a pretty friend!" said the Camel. "The idea of your
making such a noise, with your shouting and singing! You brought this
upon me. What in the world made you do it? Why did you shout and sing?"

"Oh, I don't know _why_" said the little Jackal,--"I always sing after

"So?" said the Camel. "Ah, very well, let us go home now."

He took the little Jackal kindly on his back and started into the water.
When he began to swim he swam out to where the river was the very
deepest. There he stopped, and said,--

"Oh, Jackal!"

"Yes," said the little Jackal.

"I have the strangest feeling," said the Camel,--"I feel as if I must
roll over."

"'Roll over'!" cried the Jackal. "My goodness, don't do that! If you do
that, you'll drown me! What in the world makes you want to do such a
crazy thing? Why should you want to roll over?"

"Oh, I don't know _why_," said the Camel slowly, "but I always roll over
after dinner!"

So he rolled over.

And the little Jackal was drowned, for his sins, but the Camel came
safely home.


The story I am going to tell you is about something that really
happened, many years ago.

A brave little company of pioneers from the Atlantic coast crossed the
Mississippi River and journeyed across the plains of Central North
America in big covered wagons with many horses, and finally succeeded in
climbing to the top of the great Rockies and down again into a valley in
the very midst of the mountains. It was a valley of brown, bare, desert
soil, in a climate where almost no rain falls; but the snow on the
mountain-tops sent down little streams of pure water, the winds were
gentle, and lying like a blue jewel at the foot of the western hills was
a marvellous lake of salt water,--an inland sea. So the pioneers settled
there and built themselves huts and cabins for the first winter.

It had taken them many months to make the terrible journey; many had
died of weariness and illness on the way; many died of hardship during
the winter; and the provisions they had brought in their wagons were so
nearly gone that, by spring, they were living partly on roots, dug from
the ground. All their lives now depended on the crops of grain and
vegetables which they could raise in the valley. They made the barren
land fertile by spreading water from the little streams over it,--what
we call "irrigating"; and they planted enough corn and grain and
vegetables for all the people. Every one helped, and every one watched
for the sprouting, with hopes, and prayers, and careful eyes.

In good time the seeds sprouted, and the dry, brown earth was covered
with a carpet of tender, green, growing things. No farmer's garden could
have looked better than the great garden of the desert valley. And from
day to day the little shoots grew and flourished till they were all well
above the ground.

Then a terrible thing happened. One day, the men who were watering the
crops saw a great number of crickets swarming over the ground at the
edge of the gardens nearest the mountains. They were hopping from the
barren places into the young, green crops, and as they settled down they
ate the tiny shoots and leaves to the ground. More came, and more, and
ever more, and as they came they spread out till they covered a big
corner of the grain field. And still more and more, till it was like an
army of black, hopping, crawling crickets, streaming down the side of
the mountain to kill the crops.

The men tried to kill the crickets by beating them down, but the
numbers were so great that it was like beating at the sea. Then they ran
and told the terrible news, and all the village came to help. They
started fires; they dug trenches and filled them with water; they ran
wildly about in the fields, killing what they could. But while they
fought in one place new armies of crickets marched down the
mountain-sides and attacked the fields in other places. And at last the
people fell on their knees and wept and cried in despair, for they saw
starvation and death in the fields.

A few knelt to pray. Others gathered round and joined them, weeping.
More left their useless struggles and knelt beside their neighbours. At
last nearly all the people were kneeling on the desolate fields praying
for deliverance from the plague of crickets.

Suddenly, from far off in the air toward the great salt lake, there was
the sound of flapping wings. It grew louder. Some of the people looked
up, startled. They saw, like a white cloud rising from the lake, a flock
of sea gulls flying toward them. Snow-white in the sun, with great wings
beating and soaring, in hundreds and hundreds, they rose and circled and
came on.

"The gulls! the gulls!" was the cry. "What does it mean?"

The gulls flew overhead, with a shrill chorus of whimpering cries, and
then, in a marvellous white cloud of outspread wings and hovering
breasts, they settled down over the cultivated ground.

"Oh! woe! woe!" cried the people. "The gulls are eating what the
crickets have left! they will strip root and branch!"

But all at once, someone called out,--

"No, no! See! they are eating the crickets! They are eating only the

It was true. The gulls devoured the crickets in dozens, in hundreds, in
swarms. They ate until they were gorged, and then they flew heavily back
to the lake, only to come again with new appetite. And when at last they
finished, they had stripped the fields of the army of crickets; and the
people were saved.

To this day, in the beautiful city of Salt Lake, which grew out of that
pioneer village, the little children are taught to love the sea gulls.
And when they learn drawing and weaving in the schools, their first
design is often a picture of a cricket and a gull.


A long, long time ago, as long ago as when there were fairies, there
lived an emperor in China, who had a most beautiful palace, all made of
crystal. Outside the palace was the loveliest garden in the whole world,
and farther away was a forest where the trees were taller than any other
trees in the world, and farther away, still, was a deep wood. And in
this wood lived a little Nightingale. The Nightingale sang so
beautifully that everybody who heard her remembered her song better than
anything else that he heard or saw. People came from all over the world
to see the crystal palace and the wonderful garden and the great forest;
but when they went home and wrote books about these things they always
wrote, "But the Nightingale is the best of all."

At last it happened that the Emperor came upon a book which said this,
and he at once sent for his Chamberlain.

"Who is this Nightingale?" said the Emperor. "Why have I never heard him

The Chamberlain, who was a very important person, said, "There cannot be
any such person; I have never heard his name."

"The book says there is a Nightingale," said the Emperor. "I command
that the Nightingale be brought here to sing for me this evening."

The Chamberlain went out and asked all the great lords and ladies and
pages where the Nightingale could be found, but not one of them had ever
heard of him. So the Chamberlain went back to the Emperor and said,
"There is no such person."

"The book says there is a Nightingale," said the Emperor; "if the
Nightingale is not here to sing for me this evening I will have the
court trampled upon, immediately after supper."

The Chamberlain did not want to be trampled upon, so he ran out and
asked everybody in the palace about the Nightingale. At last, a little
girl who worked in the kitchen to help the cook, said, "Oh, yes, I know
the Nightingale very well. Every night, when I go to carry scraps from
the kitchen to my mother, who lives in the wood beyond the forest, I
hear the Nightingale sing."

The Chamberlain asked the maid to take him to the Nightingale's home,
and many of the lords and ladies followed after. When they had gone a
little way, they heard a cow moo.

"Ah!" said the lords and ladies, "that must be the Nightingale; what a
large voice for so small a creature!"

"Oh, no," said the little girl, "that is just a cow, mooing."

A little farther on they heard some bullfrogs, in a swamp. "Surely that
is the Nightingale," said the courtiers; "it really sounds like

"Oh, no," said the little girl, "those are bullfrogs, croaking."

At last they came to the wood where the Nightingale was. "Hush!" said
the little girl, "she is going to sing." And, sure enough, the little
Nightingale began to sing. She sang so beautifully that you have never
in all your life heard anything like it.

"Dear, dear," said the courtiers, "that is very pleasant; does that
little grey bird really make all that noise? She is so pale that I think
she has lost her colour for fear of us."

The Chamberlain asked the little Nightingale to come and sing for the
Emperor. The little Nightingale said she could sing better in her own
greenwood, but she was so sweet and kind that she came with them.

That evening the palace was all trimmed with the most beautiful flowers
you can imagine, and rows and rows of little silver bells, that tinkled
when the wind blew in, and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of wax
candles, that shone like tiny stars. In the great hall there was a gold
perch for the Nightingale, beside the Emperor's throne.

When all the people were there, the Emperor asked the Nightingale to
sing. Then the little grey Nightingale filled her throat full, and sang.
And, my dears, she sang so beautifully that the Emperor's eyes filled up
with tears! And, you know, emperors do not cry at all easily. So he
asked her to sing again, and this time she sang so marvellously that
the tears came out of his eyes and ran down his cheeks. That was a great
success. They asked the little Nightingale to sing, over and over again,
and when they had listened enough the Emperor said that she should be
made "Singer in Chief to the Court." She was to have a golden perch near
the Emperor's bed, and a little golden cage, and was to be allowed to go
out twice every day. But there were twelve servants appointed to wait on
her, and those twelve servants went with her every time she went out,
and each of the twelve had hold of the end of a silken string which was
tied to the little Nightingale's leg! It was not so very much fun to go
out that way!

For a long, long time the Nightingale sang every evening to the Emperor
and his court, and they liked her so much that the ladies all tried to
sing like her; they used to put water in their mouths and then make
little sounds like this: _glu-glu-glug_. And when the courtiers met each
other in the halls, one would say "Night," and the other would say
"ingale," and that was supposed to be conversation.

At last, one day, there came a little package to the Emperor, on the
outside of which was written, "The Nightingale." Inside was an
artificial bird, something like a Nightingale, only it was made of gold,
and silver, and rubies, and emeralds, and diamonds. When it was wound
up it played a waltz tune, and as it played it moved its little tail up
and down. Everybody in the court was filled with delight at the music of
the new nightingale. They made it sing that same tune thirty-three
times, and still they had not had enough. They would have made it sing
the tune thirty-four times, but the Emperor said, "I should like to hear
the real Nightingale sing, now."

But when they looked about for the real little Nightingale, they could
not find her anywhere! She had taken the chance, while everybody was
listening to the waltz tunes, to fly away through the window to her own

"What a very ungrateful bird!" said the lords and ladies. "But it does
not matter; the new nightingale is just as good."

So the artificial nightingale was given the real Nightingale's little
gold perch, and every night the Emperor wound her up, and she sang waltz
tunes to him. The people in the court liked her even better than the old
Nightingale, because they could all whistle her tunes,--which you can't
do with real nightingales.

About a year after the artificial nightingale came, the Emperor was
listening to her waltz tune, when there was a _snap_ and _whir-r-r_
inside the bird, and the music stopped. The Emperor ran to his doctor,
but he could not do anything. Then he ran to his clock-maker, but he
could not do much. Nobody could do much. The best they could do was to
patch the gold nightingale up so that it could sing once a year; even
that was almost too much, and the tune was very shaky. Still, the
Emperor kept the gold nightingale on the perch in his own room.

A long time went by, and then, at last, the Emperor grew very ill, and
was about to die. When it was sure that he could not live much longer,
the people chose a new emperor and waited for the old one to die. The
poor Emperor lay, quite cold and pale, in his great big bed, with velvet
curtains and tall candlesticks all about. He was quite alone, for all
the courtiers had gone to congratulate the new emperor, and all the
servants had gone to talk it over.

When the Emperor woke up, he felt a terrible weight on his chest. He
opened his eyes, and there was Death, sitting on his heart. Death had
put on the Emperor's gold crown, and he had the gold sceptre in one
hand, and the silken banner in the other; and he looked at the Emperor
with his great hollow eyes. The room was full of shadows, and the
shadows were full of faces. Everywhere the Emperor looked, there were
faces. Some were very, very ugly, and some were sweet and lovely; they
were all the things the Emperor had done in his life, good and bad. And
as he looked at them they began to whisper. They whispered, "_Do you
remember this?_" "_Do you remember that?_" The Emperor remembered so
much that he cried out loud, "Oh, bring the great drum! Make music, so
that I may not hear these dreadful whispers!" But there was nobody there
to bring the drum.

Then the Emperor cried, "You little gold nightingale, can you not sing
something for me? I have given you gifts of gold and jewels, and kept
you always by my side; will you not help me now?" But there was nobody
to wind the little gold nightingale up, and of course it could not sing.

The Emperor's heart grew colder and colder where Death crouched upon it,
and the dreadful whispers grew louder and louder, and the Emperor's life
was almost gone. Suddenly, through the open window, there came a most
lovely song. It was so sweet and so loud that the whispers died quite
away. Presently the Emperor felt his heart grow warm, then he felt the
blood flow through his limbs again; he listened to the song until the
tears ran down his cheeks; he knew that it was the little real
Nightingale who had flown away from him when the gold nightingale came.

Death was listening to the song, too; and when it was done and the
Emperor begged for more, Death, too, said, "Please sing again, little

"Will you give me the Emperor's gold crown for a song?" said the little

"Yes," said Death; and the little Nightingale bought the Emperor's crown
for a song.

"Oh, sing again, little Nightingale," begged Death.

"Will you give me the Emperor's sceptre for another song?" said the
little grey Nightingale.

"Yes," said Death; and the little Nightingale bought the Emperor's
sceptre for another song.

Once more Death begged for a song, and this time the little Nightingale
obtained the banner for her singing. Then she sang one more song, so
sweet and so sad that it made Death think of his garden in the
churchyard, where he always liked best to be. And he rose from the
Emperor's heart and floated away through the window.

When Death was gone, the Emperor said to the little Nightingale, "Oh,
dear little Nightingale, you have saved me from Death! Do not leave me
again. Stay with me on this little gold perch, and sing to me always!"

"No, dear Emperor," said the little Nightingale, "I sing best when I am
free; I cannot live in a palace. But every night when you are quite
alone, I will come and sit in the window and sing to you, and tell you
everything that goes on in your kingdom: I will tell you where the poor
people are who ought to be helped, and where the wicked people are who
ought to be punished. Only, dear Emperor, be sure that you never let
anybody know that you have a little bird who tells you everything."

After the little Nightingale had flown away, the Emperor felt so well
and strong that he dressed himself in his royal robes and took his gold
sceptre in his hand. And when the courtiers came in to see if he were
dead, there stood the Emperor with his sword in one hand and his sceptre
in the other, and said, "Good-morning!"


[25] Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen.


There was once a little girl named Margery, who had always lived in the
city. The flat where her mother and father lived was at the top of a big
building, and you couldn't see a great deal from the windows, except
chimney-pots on other people's roofs. Margery did not know much about
trees and flowers, but she loved them dearly; whenever it was a fine
Sunday she used to go with her mother and father to the park and look at
the lovely flower-beds. They seemed always to be finished, though, and
Margery was always wishing she could see them grow.

One spring, when Margery was nine, her father obtained a new situation
and they removed to a little house with a nice big piece of ground a
short distance outside the town where his new position was. Margery was
delighted. And the very first thing she said, when her father told her
about it, was, "Oh, may I have a garden? _May_ I have a garden?"

Margery's mother was almost as eager for a garden as she was, and
Margery's father said he expected to live on their vegetables all the
rest of his life! So it was soon agreed that the garden should be the
first thing attended to.

Behind the cottage were apple trees, a plum tree, and two or three pear
trees; then came a stretch of rough grass, and then a stone wall, with a
gate leading into the fields. It was on the grass plot that the garden
was to be. A big piece was to be used for wheat and peas and beans, and
a little piece at the end was to be given to Margery.

"What shall we have in it?" asked her mother.

"Flowers," said Margery, with shining eyes,--"blue, and white, and
yellow, and pink,--every kind of flower!"

"Surely, flowers," said her mother, "and shall we not have a little
salad garden in the middle?"

"What is a salad garden?" Margery asked.

"It is a garden where you have all the things that make nice salad,"
said her mother, laughing, for Margery was fond of salads; "you have
lettuce, and endive, and mustard and cress, and parsley, and radishes,
and beetroot, and young onions."

"Oh! how good it sounds!" said Margery. "I should love a salad garden."

That very evening, Margery's father took pencil and paper, and drew out
a plan for her garden; first, they talked it all over, then he drew what
they decided on; it looked like the diagram on the next page.

"The outside strip is for flowers," said Margery's father, "and next is
a footpath, all the way round the beds; that is to let you get at the
flowers to weed and to pick; there is a wider path through the middle,
and the rest is for rows of salad vegetables."

"Papa, it is glorious!" said Margery.

Papa laughed. "I hope you will still think it glorious when the weeding
time comes," he said, "for you know, you and mother have promised to
take care of this garden, while I take care of the big one."

"I wouldn't _not_ take care of it for anything!" said Margery. "I want
to feel that it is my very own."


Her father kissed her, and said it was certainly her "very own."

Two evenings after that, when Margery was called in from her first
ramble in the fields, she found the postman at the door.

"Something for you, Margery," said her mother, with the look she had
when something nice was happening.

It was a box, quite a big box, with a label on it that said:--

               21 NARCISSUS ROAD,

     From Seeds and Plants Company, Reading.

Margery could hardly wait to open it. It was filled with little
packages, all with printed labels; and in the packages, of course, were
seeds. It made Margery dance, just to read the names,--nasturtium, giant
helianthus, canariensis, calendula, Canterbury bells: more names than I
can tell you; and other packages, bigger, that said, "Sweet Peas,"
"French beans," "Carrots," "Wallflowers," and such things! Margery could
almost smell the posies, she was so excited. Only, she had seen so
little of flowers that she did not know what all the names meant. She
did not know that a helianthus was a sunflower until her mother told her
so, and she had never seen the dear, blue, bell-shaped flowers that
always grow in old-fashioned gardens, and are called Canterbury bells.
She thought the calendula must be a strange, grand flower, by its name;
but her mother told her it was the gay, sturdy, everydayish little
flower called a marigold. There was a great deal for a little city girl
to be surprised about, and it did seem as if morning was a long way off!

"Did you think you could plant them in the morning?" asked her mother.
"You know, dear, the ground has to be made ready first; it takes a
little time,--it may be several days before you can plant."

That was another surprise. Margery had thought she could begin to sow
the seed right off.

But this was what had happened. Early the next morning, a man came
driving up to the cottage with two strong white horses; in his wagon was
a plough. I suppose you have seen ploughs, but Margery never had, and
she watched with great interest, while the man and her father took the
plough from the cart and harnessed the horses to it. It was a great,
three-cornered piece of sharp steel, with long handles coming up from
it, so that a man could hold it in place. It looked like this:--


"I brought a two-horse plough because it's virgin soil," the man said.
Margery wondered what in the world he meant; it had not been
cultivated, of course, but what had that do with the kind of plough?
"What does he mean, father?" she whispered, when she got a chance. "He
means that this land has not been ploughed before; it will be hard to
turn the soil, and one horse could not pull the plough," said her

It took the man two hours to plough the little strip of land. He drove
the sharp end of the plough into the soil, and held it firmly so, while
the horses drew it along in a straight line. Margery found it
fascinating to watch the long line of dark earth and green grass come
rolling up and turn over, as the knife passed it. She could see that it
took real skill and strength to keep the line even, and to avoid the
stones. Sometimes the plough struck a hidden stone, and then the man was
jerked almost off his feet. But he only laughed, and said, "Tough piece
of land; it will be a lot better next year."

When he had ploughed, the man went back to his cart and unloaded another
farm implement. This one was like a three-cornered platform of wood,
with a long, curved, strong rake under it. It was called a harrow, and
it looked like the diagram on the next page.

The man harnessed the horses to it, and then he stood on the platform
and drove all over the strip of land. It was fun to watch, but perhaps
it was a little hard to do. The man's weight kept the harrow steady,
and let the teeth of the rake scratch and cut the ground up, so that it
did not stay in ridges.

"He scrambles the ground, father!" said Margery.

"It needs 'scrambling,'" laughed her father. "We are going to get more
weeds than we want on this fresh soil, and the more the ground is
broken, the fewer there will be."


After the ploughing and harrowing, the man drove off, and Margery's
father said that he himself would do the rest of the work in the late
afternoons, when he came home from business; they could not afford too
much help, he said, and he had learned to take care of a garden when he
was a boy. So Margery did not see any more done until the next day.

But the next day there was hard work for Margery's father! Every bit of
that ground had to be broken up still more with a spade, and then the
clods which were full of grass-roots had to be taken on a fork and
shaken, till the earth fell out; when the grass was thrown to one side.
That would not have had to be done if the land had been ploughed in the
autumn; the grass would have rotted in the ground, and would have made
food for the plants. Now, Margery's father put the fertiliser on the
top, and then raked it into the earth.

At last, it was time to make the place for the seeds. Margery and her
mother helped. Father tied one end of a cord to a little stake, and
drove the stake in the ground at one end of the garden. Then he took the
cord to the other end of the garden and pulled it tight, tied it to
another stake, and drove that down. That made a straight line. Then he
hoed a trench, a few inches deep, the whole length of the cord, and
scattered fertiliser in it. Pretty soon the whole garden was lined with
little trenches.

"Now for the seed," said father.

Margery ran and brought the seed box. "May I help?" she asked.

"If you watch me sow one row, I think you can do the next," said her

So Margery watched. Her father took a handful of peas, and, stooping,
walked slowly along the line, letting the seed trickle through his
fingers. It was pretty to watch; it made Margery think of a photograph
her teacher had, a photograph of a famous picture called "The Sower."
Perhaps you have seen it.

Putting in the seed was not so easy to do as to watch; sometimes Margery
dropped in too much, and sometimes not enough; but her father was
patient with her, and soon she did better.

They planted peas, beans, spinach, carrots, and parsnips. And Margery's
father made a row of holes, after that, for the tomato plants. He said
those had to be transplanted; they could not be sown from seed.

When the seeds were in the trenches they had to be covered up, and
Margery really helped at that. It is fun to do it. You stand beside the
little trench and walk backward, and as you walk you hoe the loose earth
back over the seeds; the same earth that was hoed up you pull back
again. Then you rake very gently over the surface, with the back of a
rake, to even it all off. Margery liked it, because now the garden began
to look _like_ a garden.

But best of all was the work next day, when her own little particular
garden was begun. Father Brown loved Margery and Margery's mother so
much that he wanted their garden to be perfect, and that meant a great
deal more work. He knew very well that the old grass would begin to come
through again on such soil, and that it would make terribly hard
weeding. He was not going to have any such thing for his two "little
girls," as he called them. So he gave that little garden particular
attention. This is what he did.

After he had thrown out all the turf, he shovelled clean earth on to the
garden,--as much as three solid inches of it; not a bit of grass was in
that. Then it was ready for raking and fertilising, and for the lines.
The little footpaths were marked out by Father Brown's feet; Margery and
her mother laughed well at his actions, for it looked like some kind of
dance. Mr Brown had seen gardeners do it when he was a little boy, and
he did it very nicely: he walked along the sides of the square, with one
foot turned a little out, and the other straight, taking such tiny steps
that his feet touched each other all the time. This tramped out a path
just wide enough for a person to walk.

The wider path was marked with lines and raked.

Margery thought, of course, all the flowers would be put in as the
vegetables were; but she found that it was not so. For some, her father
poked little holes with his finger; for some, he made very shallow
trenches; and some very small seeds were scattered lightly over the top
of the ground.

Margery and her mother had taken so much pains in thinking out the
arrangement of the flowers, that perhaps you will like to hear just how
they designed that garden. At the back were the sweet peas, which would
grow tall, like a screen; on the two sides, for a kind of hedge, were
yellow sunflowers; and along the front edge were the gay nasturtiums.
Margery planned that, so that she could look into the garden from the
front, but have it shut away from the vegetable patch by the tall
flowers on the sides. The two front corners had canariensis in them.
Canariensis is a pretty creeper with golden blossoms, very dainty and
bright. And then, in little square patches all round the garden, were
planted London pride, blue bachelor's buttons, yellow marigolds, tall
larkspur, many-coloured asters, hollyhocks and stocks. All these lovely
flowers used to grow in our grandmothers' gardens, and if you don't know
what they look like, I hope you can find out next summer.

Between the flowers and the middle path went the seeds for that
wonderful salad garden; all the things Mrs Brown had named to Margery
were there. Margery had never seen anything more wonderful than the
little round lettuce-seeds. They were so tiny that it did not seem
possible that green lettuce leaves could come from them. But they surely

Mother and father and Margery were late to supper that evening. But they
were all so happy that it did not matter. The last thing Margery
thought of, as she went to sleep at night, was the dear, smooth little
garden, with its funny footpath, and with the little sticks standing at
the ends of the rows, labelled "lettuce," "beets," "helianthus," and so

"I have a garden! I have a garden!" was Margery's last thought as she
went off to dreamland.


[26] I have always been inclined to avoid, in my work among children,
the "how to make" and "how to do" kind of story; it is too likely to
trespass on the ground belonging by right to its more artistic and less
intentional kinsfolk. Nevertheless, there is a legitimate place for the
instruction-story. Within its own limits, and especially in a school
use, it has a real purpose to serve, and a real desire to meet. Children
have a genuine taste for such morsels of practical information, if the
bites are not made too big and too solid. And to the elementary teacher,
from whom so much is demanded in the way of practical instruction, I
know that these stories are a boon. They must be chosen with care, and
used with discretion, but they need never be ignored.

I venture to give some little stories of this type, which I hope may be
of use in the schools where country life and country work is an unknown
experience to the children.


This is another story about Margery's garden.

The next morning after the garden was planted, Margery was up and out at
six o'clock. She could not wait to look at her garden. To be sure, she
knew that the seeds could not sprout in a single night, but she had a
feeling that _something_ might happen at any moment. The garden was just
as smooth and brown as the night before, and no little seedlings were in

But a very few mornings after that, when Margery went out, she saw a
funny little crack opening up through the earth, the whole length of the
patch. Quickly she knelt down on the footpath, to see. Yes! Tiny green
leaves, a whole row of them, were pushing their way through the crust!
Margery knew what she had put there: it was the radish-row; these must
be radish leaves. She examined them very closely, so that she might
know a radish next time. The little leaves, no bigger than half your
little-finger nail, grew in twos,--two on each tiny stem; they were
almost round.

Margery flew back to her mother, to say that the first seeds were up.
And her mother, nearly as excited as Margery, came to look at the little

Each day, after that, the row of radishes grew, till, in a week, it
stood as high as your finger, green and sturdy. But about the third day,
while Margery was stooping over the radishes, she saw something very,
very small and green, peeping above ground, where the lettuce was
planted. Could it be weeds? No, for on looking very closely she saw that
the wee leaves faintly marked a regular row. They did not make a crack,
like the radishes; they seemed too small and too far apart to push the
earth up like that. Margery leaned down and looked with all her eyes at
the baby plants. The tiny leaves grew two on a stem, and were almost
round. The more she looked at them the more it seemed to Margery that
they looked exactly as the radish looked when it first came up. "Do you
suppose," Margery said to herself, "that lettuce and radish look alike
while they are growing? They don't look alike when they are on the

Day by day the lettuce grew, and soon the little round leaves were
easier to examine; they certainly were very much like radish leaves.

Then, one morning, while she was searching for signs of other seeds,
Margery discovered the beets. In irregular patches on the row, hints of
green were coming. The next day and the next they grew, until the beet
leaves were big enough to see.

Margery looked. Then she looked again. Then she wrinkled her forehead.
"Can we have made a mistake?" she thought. "Do you suppose we can have
planted _all_ radishes?"

For those little beet leaves were almost round, and they grew two on a
stem, precisely like the lettuce and the radish; except for the size,
all three rows looked alike.

It was too much for Margery. She ran to the house and found her father.
Her little face was so anxious that he thought something unpleasant had
happened. "Papa," she said, all out of breath, "do you think we could
have made a mistake about my garden? Do you think we could have put
radishes in all the rows?"

Father laughed. "What makes you think such a thing?" he asked.

"Papa," said Margery, "the little leaves all look exactly alike! every
plant has just two tiny leaves on it, and shaped the same; they are
roundish, and grow out of the stem at the same place."

Papa's eyes began to twinkle. "Many of the dicotyledonous plants look
alike at the beginning," he said, with a little drawl on the big word.
That was to tease Margery, because she always wanted to know the big
words she heard.

"What's 'dicotyledonous'?" said Margery, carefully.

"Wait till I come home to-night, dear," said her father, "and I'll tell

That evening Margery was waiting eagerly for him. When her father
finished his supper they went together to the garden, and father
examined the seedlings carefully. Then he pulled up a little radish
plant and a tiny beet.

"These little leaves," he said, "are not the real leaves of the plant;
they are only little pockets to hold food for the plant to live on till
it gets strong enough to push up into the air. As soon as the real
leaves come out and begin to draw food from the air, these little
substitutes wither up and fall off. These two lie folded up in the
little seed from the beginning, and are full of plant food. They don't
have to be very special in shape, you see, because they don't stay on
the plant after it is grown up."

"Then every plant looks like this at first?" said Margery.

"No, dear, not every one; plants are divided into two kinds: those which
have two food leaves, like these plants, and those which have only one;
these are called dicotyledonous, and the ones which have but one food
leaf are monocotyledonous. Many of the dicotyledons look alike."

"I think that is interesting," said Margery.

"I always, supposed the plants were different from the minute they began
to grow."

"Indeed, no," said father. "Even some of the trees look like this when
they first come through; you would not think a birch tree could look
like a vegetable or a flower, would you? But it does, at first; it looks
so much like these things that in the great nurseries, where trees are
raised for forests and parks, the workmen have to be very carefully
trained, or else they would pull up the trees when they are weeding.
They have to be taught the difference between a birch tree and a weed."

"How funny!" said Margery, dimpling.

"Yes, it sounds funny," said father; "but, you see, the birch tree is
dicotyledonous, and so are many weeds, and the dicotyledons look so much
alike at first."

"I am glad to know that, father," said Margery, soberly. "I believe I
shall learn a good deal from living in the country; don't you think so?"

Margery's father took her in his arms. "I hope so, dear," he said; "the
country is a good place for little girls."

And that was all that happened, that day.


Once upon a time, a Tortoise lived in a pond with two Ducks, who were
her very good friends. She enjoyed the company of the Ducks, because she
could talk with them to her heart's content; the Tortoise liked to talk.
She always had something to say, and she liked to hear herself say it.

After many years of this pleasant living, the pond became very low, in a
dry season; and finally it dried up. The two Ducks saw that they could
no longer live there, so they decided to fly to another region, where
there was more water. They went to the Tortoise to bid her good-bye.

"Oh, don't leave me behind!" begged the Tortoise. "Take me with you; I
must die if I am left here."

"But you cannot fly!" said the Ducks. "How can we take you with us?"

"Take me with you! take me with you!" said the Tortoise.

The Ducks felt so sorry for her that at last they thought of a way to
take her. "We have thought of a way which will be possible," they said,
"if only you can manage to keep still long enough. We will each take
hold of one end of a stout stick, and do you take the middle in your
mouth; then we will fly up in the air with you and carry you with us.
But remember not to talk! If you open your mouth, you are lost."

The Tortoise said she would not say a word; she would not so much as
move her mouth; and she was very grateful. So the Ducks brought a strong
little stick and took hold of the ends, while the Tortoise bit firmly on
the middle. Then the two Ducks rose slowly in the air and flew away with
their burden.

When they were above the treetops, the Tortoise wanted to say, "How high
we are!" But she remembered, and kept still. When they passed the church
steeple she wanted to say, "What is that which shines?" But she
remembered, and held her peace. Then they came over the village square,
and the people looked up and saw them. "Look at the Ducks carrying a
Tortoise!" they shouted; and every one ran to look. The Tortoise wanted
to say, "What business is it of yours?" But she didn't. Then she heard
the people shout, "Isn't it strange! Look at it! Look!"

The Tortoise forgot everything except that she wanted to say, "Hush, you
foolish people!" She opened her mouth,--and fell to the ground. And that
was the end of the Tortoise.

It is a very good thing to be able to hold one's tongue!


[27] Very freely adapted from one of the _Fables of Bidpai_.


An old legend says that there was once a king named Robert of Sicily,
who was brother to the Great Pope of Rome and to the Emperor of
Allemaine. He was a very selfish king, and very proud; he cared more for
his pleasures than for the needs of his people, and his heart was so
filled with his own greatness that he had no thought for God.

One day, this proud king was sitting in his place at church, at vesper
service; his courtiers were about him, in their bright garments, and he
himself was dressed in his royal robes. The choir was chanting the Latin
service, and as the beautiful voices swelled louder, the king noticed
one particular verse which seemed to be repeated again and again. He
turned to a learned clerk at his side and asked what those words meant,
for he knew no Latin.

"They mean, 'He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and hath
exalted them of low degree,'" answered the clerk.

"It is well the words are in Latin, then," said the king angrily, "for
they are a lie. There is no power on earth or in heaven which can put me
down from my seat!" and he sneered at the beautiful singing, as he
leaned back in his place.

Presently the king fell asleep, while the service went on. He slept
deeply and long. When he awoke the church was dark and still, and he was
all alone. He, the king, had been left alone in the church, to awake in
the dark! He was furious with rage and surprise, and, stumbling through
the dim aisles, he reached the great doors and beat at them, madly,
shouting for his servants.

The old sexton heard some one shouting and pounding in the church, and
thought it was some drunken vagabond who had stolen in during the
service. He came to the door with his keys and called out, "Who is

"Open! open! It is I, the king!" came a hoarse, angry voice from within.

"It is a crazy man," thought the sexton; and he was frightened. He
opened the doors carefully and stood back, peering into the darkness.
Out past him rushed the figure of a man in tattered, scanty clothes,
with unkempt hair and white, wild face. The sexton did not know that he
had ever seen him before, but he looked long after him, wondering at his
wildness and his haste.

In his fluttering rags, without hat or cloak, not knowing what strange
thing had happened to him, King Robert rushed to his palace gates,
pushed aside the startled servants, and hurried, blind with rage, up the
wide stair and through the great corridors, toward the room where he
could hear the sound of his courtiers' voices. Men and women servants
tried to stop the ragged man, who had somehow got into the palace, but
Robert did not even see them as he fled along. Straight to the open
doors of the big banquet hall he made his way, and into the midst of the
grand feast there.

The great hall was filled with lights and flowers; the tables were set
with everything that is delicate and rich to eat; the courtiers, in
their gay clothes, were laughing and talking; and at the head of the
feast, on the king's own throne, sat a king. His face, his figure, his
voice were exactly like Robert of Sicily; no human being could have told
the difference; no one dreamed that he was not the king. He was dressed
in the king's royal robes, he wore the royal crown, and on his hand was
the king's own ring. Robert of Sicily, half naked, ragged, without a
sign of his kingship on him, stood before the throne and stared with
fury at this figure of himself.

The king on the throne looked at him. "Who art thou, and what dost thou
here?" he asked. And though his voice was just like Robert's own, it had
something in it sweet and deep, like the sound of bells.

"I am the king!" cried Robert of Sicily. "I am the king, and you are an

The courtiers started from their seats, and drew their swords. They
would have killed the crazy man who insulted their king; but he raised
his hand and stopped them, and with his eyes looking into Robert's eyes
he said, "Not the king; you shall be the king's jester! You shall wear
the cap and bells, and make laughter for my court. You shall be the
servant of the servants, and your companion shall, be the jester's ape."

With shouts of laughter, the courtiers drove Robert of Sicily from the
banquet hall; the waiting-men, with laughter, too, pushed him into the
soldiers' hall; and there the pages brought the jester's wretched ape,
and put a fool's cap and bells on Robert's head. It was like a terrible
dream; he could not believe it true, he could not understand what had
happened to him. And when he woke next morning, he believed it was a
dream, and that he was king again. But as he turned his head, he felt
the coarse straw under his cheek instead of the soft pillow, and he saw
that he was in the stable, with the shivering ape by his side. Robert of
Sicily was a jester, and no one knew him for the king.

Three long years passed. Sicily was happy and all things went well under
the king, who was not Robert. Robert was still the jester, and his heart
grew harder and more bitter with every year. Many times, during the
three years, the king, who had his face and voice, had called him to
himself, when none else could hear, and had asked him the one question,
"Who art thou?" And each time that he asked it his eyes looked into
Robert's eyes, to find his heart. But each time Robert threw back his
head and answered, proudly, "I am the king!" And the other king's eyes
grew sad and stern.

At the end of three years, the Pope called the Emperor of Allemaine and
the King of Sicily, his brothers, to a great meeting in his city of
Rome. The King of Sicily went, with all his soldiers and courtiers and
servants,--a great procession of horsemen and footmen. Never had there
been seen a finer sight than the grand train, men in bright armour,
riders in wonderful cloaks of velvet and silk, servants, carrying
marvellous presents to the Pope. And at the very end rode Robert, the
jester. His horse was poor and old, many-coloured, and the ape rode with
him. Every one in the villages through which they passed ran after the
jester, and pointed and laughed.

The Pope received his brothers and their trains in the square before
Saint Peter's. With music and flags and flowers he made the King of
Sicily welcome, and greeted him as his brother. In the midst of it, the
jester broke through the crowd and threw himself before the Pope. "Look
at me!" he cried; "I am your brother, Robert of Sicily! This man is an
impostor, who has stolen my throne. I am Robert, the king!"

The Pope looked at the poor jester with pity, but the Emperor of
Allemaine turned to the King of Sicily, and said, "Is it not rather
dangerous, brother, to keep a madman as jester?" And again Robert was
pushed back among the serving-men.

It was Holy Week, and the king and the emperor, with all their trains,
went every day to the great services in the cathedral. Something
wonderful and holy seemed to make these services more beautiful than
ever before. All the people of Rome felt it: it was as if the presence
of an angel were there. Men thought of God, and felt His blessing on
them. But no one knew who it was that brought the beautiful feeling. And
when Easter Day came, never had there been so lovely, so holy a day: in
the great churches, filled with flowers, and sweet with incense, the
kneeling people listened to the choirs singing, and it was like the
voices of angels; their prayers were more earnest than ever before,
their praise more glad; there was something heavenly in Rome.

Robert of Sicily went to the services with the rest, and sat in the
humblest place with the servants. Over and over again he heard the
sweet voices of the choirs chant the Latin words he had heard long ago:
_He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted them of
low degree_. And at last, as he listened, his heart was softened. He,
too, felt the strange blessed presence of a heavenly power. He thought
of God, and of his own wickedness; he remembered how selfish he had
been, and how little good he had done; he realised, that his power had
not been from himself, at all. On Easter night, as he crept to his bed
of straw, he wept, not because he was so wretched, but because he had
not been a better king when power was his.

At last all the festivities were over, and the King of Sicily went home
to his own land again, with his people. Robert the jester came home too.

On the day of their home-coming, there was a special service in the
royal church, and even after the service was over for the people, the
monks held prayers of thanksgiving and praise. The sound of their
singing came softly in at the palace windows. In the great banquet room,
the king sat, wearing his royal robes and his crown, while many subjects
came to greet him. At last, he sent them all away, saying he wanted to
be alone; but he commanded the jester to stay. And when they were alone
together the king looked into Robert's eyes, as he had done before, and
said, softly, "Who art thou?"

Robert of Sicily bowed his head. "Thou knowest best," he said, "I only
know that I have sinned."

As he spoke, he heard the voices of the monks singing, _He hath put down
the mighty from their seat_,--and his head sank lower. But suddenly the
music seemed to change; a wonderful light shone all about. As Robert
raised his eyes, he saw the face of the king smiling at him with a
radiance like nothing on earth, and as he sank to his knees before the
glory of that smile, a voice sounded with the music, like a melody
throbbing on a single string,--

"I am an angel, and thou art the king!"

Then Robert of Sicily was alone. His royal robes were upon him once
more; he wore his crown and his royal ring. He was king. And when the
courtiers came back they found their king kneeling by his throne,
absorbed in silent prayer.


[28] Adapted from Longfellow's poem.


I wonder if you have ever heard the anecdote about the artist of
Düsseldorf and the jealous courtiers. This is it. It seems there was
once a very famous artist who lived in the little town of Düsseldorf. He
did such fine work that the Elector, Prince Johann Wilhelm, ordered a
portrait statue of himself, on horseback, to be done in bronze. The
artist was overjoyed at the commission, and worked early and late at the

At last the work was done, and the artist had the great statue set up in
the public square of Düsseldorf, ready for the opening view. The Elector
came on the appointed day, and with him came his favourite courtiers
from the castle. Then the statue was unveiled. It was very
beautiful,--so beautiful that the prince exclaimed in surprise. He could
not look enough, and presently he turned to the artist and shook hands
with him, like an old friend. "Herr Grupello," he said, "you are a great
artist, and this statue will make your fame even greater than it is; the
portrait of me is perfect!"

When the courtiers heard this, and saw the friendly hand-shake, their
jealousy of the artist was beyond bounds. Their one thought was, how
could they safely do something to humiliate him. They dared not pick
flaws in the portrait statue, for the prince had declared it perfect.
But at last one of them said, with an air of great frankness, "Indeed,
Herr Grupello, the portrait of his Royal Highness is perfect; but permit
me to say that the statue of the horse is not quite so successful: the
head is too large; it is out of proportion."

"No," said another, "the horse is really not so successful; the turn of
the neck, there, is awkward."

"If you would change the right hind-foot, Herr Grupello," said a third,
"it would be an improvement."

Still another found fault with the horse's tail.

The artist listened, quietly. When they had all finished, he turned to
the prince and said, "Your courtiers, prince, find a good many flaws in
the statue of the horse; will you permit me to keep it a few days more,
to do what I can with it?"

The Elector assented, and the artist ordered a temporary screen to be
built around the statue, so that his assistants could work undisturbed.
For several days the sound of hammering came steadily from behind the
enclosure. The courtiers, who took care to pass that way, often, were
delighted. Each one said to himself, "I must have been right, really;
the artist himself sees that something was wrong; now I shall have
credit for saving the prince's portrait by my artistic taste!"

Once more the artist summoned the prince and his courtiers, and once
more the statue was unveiled. Again the Elector exclaimed at its beauty,
and then he turned to his courtiers, one after another, to see what they
had to say.

"Perfect!" said the first. "Now that the horse's head is in proportion,
there is not a flaw."

"The change in the neck was just what was needed," said the second; "it
is very graceful now."

"The rear right foot is as it should be, now," said a third, "and it
adds so much to the beauty of the whole!"

The fourth said that he considered the tail greatly improved.

"My courtiers are much pleased now," said the prince to Herr Grupello;
"they think the statue much improved by the changes you have made."

Herr Grupello smiled a little. "I am glad they are pleased," he said,
"but the fact is, I have changed nothing!"

"What do you mean?" said the prince in surprise. "Have we not heard the
sound of hammering every day? What were you hammering at then?"

"I was hammering at the reputation of your courtiers, who found fault
simply because they were jealous," said the artist. "And I rather think
that their reputation is pretty well hammered to pieces!"

It was, indeed. The Elector laughed heartily, but the courtiers slunk
away, one after another, without a word.


[29] Adapted from H.A. Guerber's _Märchen und Erzählungen_ (D.C. Heath &


There was once an old king, so wise and kind and true that the most
powerful good fairy of his land visited him and asked him to name the
dearest wish of his heart, that she might grant it.

"Surely you know it," said the good king; "it is for my only son, Prince
Cherry; do for him whatever you would have done for me."

"Gladly," said the great fairy; "choose what I shall give him. I can
make him the richest, the most beautiful, or the most powerful prince in
the world; choose."

"None of those things are what I want," said the king. "I want only that
he shall be good. Of what use will it be to him to be beautiful, rich,
or powerful, if he grows into a bad man? Make him the best prince in the
world, I beg you!"

"Alas, I cannot make him good," said the fairy; "he must do that for
himself. I can give him good advice, reprove him when he does wrong, and
punish him if he will not punish himself; I can and will be his best
friend, but I cannot make him good unless he wills it."

The king was sad to hear this, but he rejoiced in the friendship of the
fairy for his son. And when he died, soon after, he was happy to know
that he left Prince Cherry in her hands.

Prince Cherry grieved for his father, and often lay awake at night,
thinking of him. One night, when he was all alone in his room, a soft
and lovely light suddenly shone before him, and a beautiful vision stood
at his side. It was the good fairy. She was clad in robes of dazzling
white, and on her shining hair she wore a wreath of white roses.

"I am the Fairy Candide," she said to the prince. "I promised your
father that I would be your best friend, and as long as you live I shall
watch over your happiness. I have brought you a gift; it is not
wonderful to look at, but it has a wonderful power for your welfare;
wear it, and let it help you."

As she spoke, she placed a small gold ring on the prince's little
finger. "This ring," she said, "will help you to be good; when you do
evil, it will prick you, to remind you. If you do not heed its warnings
a worse thing will happen to you, for I shall become your enemy." Then
she vanished.

Prince Cherry wore his ring, and said nothing to anyone of the fairy's
gift. It did not prick him for a long time, because he was good and
merry and happy. But Prince Cherry had been rather spoiled by his nurse
when he was a child; she had always said to him that when he should
become king he could do exactly as he pleased. Now, after a while, he
began to find out that this was not true, and it made him angry.

The first time that he noticed that even a king could not always have
his own way was on a day when he went hunting. It happened that he got
no game. This put him in such a bad temper that he grumbled and scolded
all the way home. The little gold ring began to feel tight and
uncomfortable. When he reached the palace his pet dog ran to meet him.

"Go away!" said the prince, crossly.

But the little dog was so used to being petted that he only jumped up on
his master, and tried to kiss his hand. The prince turned and kicked the
little creature. At the instant, he felt a sharp prick in his little
finger, like a pin prick.

"What nonsense!" said the prince to himself. "Am I not king of the whole
land? May I not kick my own dog, if I choose? What evil is there in

A silver voice spoke in his ear: "The king of the land has a right to do
good, but not evil; you have been guilty of bad temper and of cruelty
to-day; see that you do better to-morrow."

The prince turned sharply, but no one was to be seen; yet he recognised
the voice as that of Fairy Candide.

He followed her advice for a little, but presently he forgot, and the
ring pricked him so sharply that his finger had a drop of blood on it.
This happened again and again, for the prince grew more self-willed and
headstrong every day; he had some bad friends, too, who urged him on, in
the hope that he would ruin himself and give them a chance to seize the
throne. He treated his people carelessly and his servants cruelly, and
everything he wanted he felt that he must have.

The ring annoyed him terribly; it was embarrassing for a king to have a
drop of blood on his finger all the time! At last he took the ring off
and put it out of sight. Then he thought he should be perfectly happy,
having his own way; but instead, he grew more unhappy as he grew less
good. Whenever he was crossed, or could not have his own way instantly,
he flew into a passion.

Finally, he wanted something that he really could not have. This time it
was a most beautiful young girl, named Zelia; the prince saw her, and
loved her so much that he wanted at once to make her his queen. To his
great astonishment, she refused.

"Am I not pleasing to you?" asked the prince in surprise.

"You are very handsome, very charming, prince," said Zelia; "but you are
not like the good king, your father; I fear you would make me very
miserable if I were your queen."

In a great rage, Prince Cherry ordered the young girl to be put in
prison; and the key of her dungeon he kept. He told one of his friends,
a wicked man who flattered him for his own purposes, about the thing,
and asked his advice.

"Are you not king?" said the bad friend. "May you not do as you will?
Keep the girl in a dungeon till she does as you command, and if she will
not, sell her as a slave."

"But would it not be a disgrace for me to harm an innocent creature?"
said the prince.

"It would be a disgrace to you to have it said that one of your subjects
dared disobey you!" said the courtier.

He had cleverly touched the prince's worst trait, his pride. Prince
Cherry went at once to Zelia's dungeon, prepared to do this cruel thing.

Zelia was gone. No one had the key save the prince himself; yet she was
gone. The only person who could have dared to help her, thought the
prince, was his old tutor, Suliman, the only man left who ever rebuked
him for anything. In fury, he ordered Suliman to be put in fetters and
brought before him.

As his servants left him, to carry out the wicked order, there was a
clash, as of thunder, in the room, and then a blinding light. Fairy
Candide stood before him. Her beautiful face was stern, and her silver
voice rang like a trumpet, as she said, "Wicked and selfish prince, you
have become baser than the beasts you hunt; you are furious as a lion,
revengeful as a serpent, greedy as a wolf, and brutal as a bull; take,
therefore, the shape of those beasts whom you resemble!"

With horror, the prince felt himself being transformed into a monster.
He tried to rush upon the fairy and kill her, but she had vanished with
her words. As he stood, her voice came from the air, saying, sadly,
"Learn to conquer your pride by being in submission to your own
subjects." At the same moment, Prince Cherry felt himself being
transported to a distant forest, where he was set down by a clear
stream. In the water he saw his own terrible image; he had the head of a
lion, with bull's horns, the feet of a wolf, and a tail like a serpent.
And as he gazed in horror, the fairy's voice whispered, "Your soul has
become more ugly than your shape is; you yourself have deformed it."

The poor beast rushed away from the sound of her words, but in a moment
he stumbled into a trap, set by bear-catchers. When the trappers found
him they were delighted to have caught a curiosity, and they immediately
dragged him to the palace courtyard. There he heard the whole court
buzzing with gossip. Prince Cherry had been struck by lightning and
killed, was the news, and the five favourite courtiers had struggled to
make themselves rulers, but the people had refused them, and offered the
crown to Suliman, the good old tutor.

Even as he heard this, the prince saw Suliman on the steps of the
palace, speaking to the people. "I will take the crown to keep in
trust," he said. "Perhaps the prince is not dead."

"He was a bad king; we do not want him back," said the people.

"I know his heart," said Suliman, "it is not all bad; it is tainted, but
not corrupt; perhaps he will repent and come back to us a good king."

When the beast heard this, it touched him so much that he stopped
tearing at his chains, and became gentle. He let his keepers lead him
away to the royal menagerie without hurting them.

Life was very terrible to the prince, now, but he began to see that he
had brought all his sorrow on himself, and he tried to bear it
patiently. The worst to bear was the cruelty of the keeper. At last, one
night, this keeper was in great danger; a tiger got loose, and attacked
him. "Good enough! Let him die!" thought Prince Cherry. But when he saw
how helpless the keeper was, he repented, and sprang to help. He killed
the tiger and saved the keeper's life.

As he crouched at the keeper's feet, a voice said, "Good actions never
go unrewarded!" And the terrible monster was changed into a pretty
little white dog.

The keeper carried the beautiful little dog to the court and told the
story, and from then on, Cherry was carefully treated, and had the best
of everything. But in order to keep the little dog from growing, the
queen ordered that he should be fed very little, and that was pretty
hard for the poor prince. He was often half starved, although so much

One day he had carried his crust of bread to a retired spot in the
palace woods, where he loved to be, when he saw a poor old woman hunting
for roots, and seeming almost starved.

"Poor thing," he thought, "she is even more hungry than I"; and he ran
up and dropped the crust at her feet.

The woman ate it, and seemed greatly refreshed.

Cherry was glad of that, and he was running happily back to his kennel
when he heard cries of distress, and suddenly he saw some rough men
dragging along a young girl, who was weeping and crying for help. What
was his horror to see that the young girl was Zelia! Oh, how he wished
he were the monster once more, so that he could kill the men and rescue
her! But he could do nothing except bark, and bite at the heels of the
wicked men. That did not stop them; they drove him off, with blows, and
carried Zelia into a palace in the wood.

Poor Cherry crouched by the steps, and watched. His heart was full of
pity and rage. But suddenly he thought, "I was as bad as these men; I
myself put Zelia in prison, and would have treated her worse still, if I
had not been prevented." The thought made him so sorry and ashamed that
he repented bitterly the evil he had done.

Presently a window opened, and Cherry saw Zelia lean out and throw down
a piece of meat. He seized it and was just going to devour it, when the
old woman to whom he had given his crust snatched it away and took him
in her arms. "No, you shall not eat it, you poor little thing," she
said, "for every bit of food in that house is poisoned."

At the same moment, a voice said, "Good actions never go unrewarded!"
And instantly Prince Cherry was transformed into a little white dove.

With great joy, he flew to the open palace window to seek out his Zelia,
to try to help her. But though he hunted in every room, no Zelia was to
be found. He had to fly away, without seeing her. He wanted more than
anything else to find her, and stay near her, so he flew out into the
world, to seek her.

He sought her in many lands, until one day, in a far eastern country, he
found her sitting in a tent, by the side of an old, white-haired hermit.
Cherry was wild with delight. He flew to her shoulder, caressed her hair
with his beak, and cooed in her ear.

"You dear, lovely little thing!" said Zelia. "Will you stay with me? If
you will, I will love you always."

"Ah, Zelia, see what you have done!" laughed the hermit. At that
instant, the white dove vanished, and Prince Cherry stood there, as
handsome and charming as ever, and with a look of kindness and modesty
in his eyes which had never been there before. At the same time, the
hermit stood up, his flowing hair changed to shining gold, and his face
became a lovely woman's face; it was the Fairy Candide. "Zelia has
broken your spell," she said to the prince, "as I meant she should, when
you were worthy of her love."

Zelia and Prince Cherry fell at the fairy's feet. But with a beautiful
smile she bade them come to their kingdom. In a trice, they were
transported to the prince's palace, where King Suliman greeted them with
tears of joy. He gave back the throne with all his heart, and King
Cherry ruled again, with Zelia for his queen.

He wore the little gold ring all the rest of his life, but never once
did it have to prick him hard enough to make his finger bleed.


[30] A shortened version of the familiar tale.


There was once a farmer who had a fine olive orchard. He was very
industrious, and the farm always prospered under his care. But he knew
that his three sons despised the farm work, and were eager to make
wealth fast, through adventure.

When the farmer was old, and felt that his time had come to die, he
called the three sons to him and said, "My sons, there is a pot of gold
hidden in the olive orchard. Dig for it, if you wish it."

The sons tried to get him to tell them in what part of the orchard the
gold was hidden; but he would tell them nothing more.

After the farmer was dead, the sons went to work to find the pot of
gold; since they did not know where the hiding-place was, they agreed to
begin in a line, at one end of the orchard, and to dig until one of them
should find the money.

They dug until they had turned up the soil from one end of the orchard
to the other, round the tree-roots and between them. But no pot of gold
was to be found. It seemed as if some one must have stolen it, or as if
the farmer had been wandering in his wits. The three sons were bitterly
disappointed to have all their work for nothing.

The next olive season, the olive trees in the orchard bore more fruit
than they had ever given before; the fine cultivating they had had from
the digging brought so much fruit, and of so fine a quality, that when
it was sold it gave the sons a whole pot of gold!

And when they saw how much money had come from the orchard, they
suddenly understood what the wise father had meant when he said, "There
is gold hidden in the orchard; dig for it."


[31] An Italian folk tale.


If you ever go to the beautiful city of New Orleans, somebody will be
sure to take you down into the old business part of the city, where
there are banks and shops and hotels, and show you a statue which stands
in a little square there. It is the statue of a woman, sitting in a low
chair, with her arms around a child, who leans against her. The woman is
not at all pretty: she wears thick, common shoes, a plain dress, with a
little shawl, and a sun-bonnet; she is stout and short, and her face is
a square-chinned Irish face; but her eyes look at you like your

Now there is something very surprising about this statue: it was the
first one that was ever made in America in honour of a woman. Even in
Europe there are not many monuments to women, and most of the few are to
great queens or princesses, very beautiful and very richly dressed. You
see, this statue in New Orleans is not quite like anything else.

It is the statue of a woman named Margaret. Her whole name was Margaret
Haughery, but no one in New Orleans remembers her by it, any more than
you think of your dearest sister by her full name; she is just Margaret.
This is her story, and it tells why people made a monument for her.

When Margaret was a tiny baby, her father and mother died, and she was
adopted by two young people as poor and as kind as her own parents. She
lived with them until she grew up. Then she married, and had a little
baby of her own. But very soon her husband died, and then the baby died,
too, and Margaret was all alone in the world. She was poor, but she was
strong, and knew how to work.

All day, from morning until evening, she ironed clothes in a laundry.
And every day, as she worked by the window, she saw the little
motherless children from the orphan asylum, near by, working and
playing about. After a while, there came a great sickness upon the city,
and so many mothers and fathers died that there were more orphans than
the asylum could possibly take care of. They needed a good friend, now.
You would hardly think, would you, that a poor woman who worked in a
laundry could be much of a friend to them? But Margaret was. She went
straight to the kind Sisters who had the asylum and told them she was
going to give them part of her wages and was going to work for them,
besides. Pretty soon she had worked so hard that she had some money
saved from her wages. With this, she bought two cows and a little
delivery cart. Then she carried her milk to her customers in the little
cart every morning; and as she went, she begged the pieces of food left
over from the hotels and rich houses, and brought it back in the cart to
the hungry children in the asylum. In the very hardest times that was
often all the food the poor children had.

A part of the money Margaret earned went every week to the asylum, and
after a few years that was made very much larger and better. Margaret
was so careful and so good at business that, in spite of her giving, she
bought more cows and earned more money. With this, she built a home for
orphan babies; she called it her baby house.

After a time, Margaret had a chance to get a bakery, and then she became
a bread-woman instead of a milk-woman. She carried the bread just as she
had carried the milk, in her cart. And still she kept giving money to
the asylum. Then the great war came, the Civil War. In all the trouble
and sickness and fear of that time, Margaret drove her cart of bread;
and somehow she had always enough to give the starving soldiers, and for
her babies, beside what she sold. And despite all this, she earned
enough so that when the war was over she built a big steam factory for
her bread. By this time everybody in the city knew her. The children all
over the city loved her; the business men were proud of her; the poor
people all came to her for advice. She used to sit at the open door of
her office, in a calico gown and a little shawl, and give a good word to
everybody, rich or poor.

Then, by and by, one day, Margaret died. And when it was time to read
her will, the people found that, with all her giving, she had still
saved a great deal of money, and that she had left every penny of it to
the different orphan asylums of the city,--each one of them was given
something. Whether they were for white children or black, for Jews,
Catholics, or Protestants, made no difference; for Margaret always said,
"They are all orphans alike." And just think, dears, that splendid,
wise will was signed with a cross instead of a name, for Margaret had
never learned to read or write!

When the people of New Orleans knew that Margaret was dead, they said,
"She was a mother to the motherless; she was a friend to those who had
no friends; she had wisdom greater than schools can teach; we will not
let her memory go from us." So they made a statue of her, just as she
used to look, sitting in her own office door, or driving in her own
little cart. And there it stands to-day, in memory of the great love and
the great power of plain Margaret Haughery, of New Orleans.


You know, dears, in the old countries there are many fine stories about
things which happened so very long ago that nobody knows exactly how
much of them is true. Ireland is like that. It is so old that even as
long ago as four thousand years it had people who dug in the mines, and
knew how to weave cloth and to make beautiful ornaments out of gold, and
who could fight and make laws; but we do not know just where they came
from, nor exactly how they lived. These people left us some splendid
stories about their kings, their fights, and their beautiful women; but
it all happened such a long time ago that the stories are mixtures of
things that really happened and what people said about them, and we
don't know just which is which. The stories are called _legends_. One of
the prettiest legends is the story I am going to tell you about the
Dagda's harp.

It is said that there were two quite different kinds of people in
Ireland: one set of people with long dark hair and dark eyes, called
Fomorians--they carried long slender spears made of golden bronze when
they fought--and another race of people who were golden-haired and
blue-eyed, and who carried short, blunt, heavy spears of dull metal.

The golden-haired people had a great chieftain who was also a kind of
high priest, who was called the Dagda. And this Dagda had a wonderful
magic harp. The harp was beautiful to look upon, mighty in size, made of
rare wood, and ornamented with gold and jewels; and it had wonderful
music in its strings, which only the Dagda could call out. When the men
were going out to battle, the Dagda would set up his magic harp and
sweep his hand across the strings, and a war song would ring out which
would make every warrior buckle on his armour, brace his knees, and
shout, "Forth to the fight!" Then, when the men came back from the
battle, weary and wounded, the Dagda would take his harp and strike a
few chords, and as the magic music stole out upon the air, every man
forgot his weariness and the smart of his wounds, and thought of the
honour he had won, and of the comrade who had died beside him, and of
the safety of his wife and children. Then the song would swell out
louder, and every warrior would remember only the glory he had helped
win for the king; and each man would rise at the great table, his cup in
his hand, and shout "Long live the King!"

There came a time when the Fomorians and the golden-haired men were at
war; and in the midst of a great battle, while the Dagda's hall was not
so well guarded as usual, some of the chieftains of the Fomorians stole
the great harp from the wall, where it hung, and fled away with it.
Their wives and children and some few of their soldiers went with them,
and they fled fast and far through the night, until they were a long way
from the battlefield. Then they thought they were safe, and they turned
aside into a vacant castle, by the road, and sat down to a banquet,
hanging the stolen harp on the wall.

The Dagda, with two or three of his warriors, had followed hard on their
track. And while they were in the midst of their banqueting, the door
was suddenly burst open, and the Dagda stood there, with his men. Some
of the Fomorians sprang to their feet, but before any of them could
grasp a weapon, the Dagda called out to his harp on the wall, "Come to
me, O my harp!"

The great harp recognised its master's voice, and leaped from the wall.
Whirling through the hall, sweeping aside and killing the men who got in
its way, it sprang to its master's hand. And the Dagda took his harp and
swept his hand across the strings in three great, solemn chords. The
harp answered with the magic Music of Tears. As the wailing harmony
smote upon the air, the women of the Fomorians bowed their heads and
wept bitterly, the strong men turned their faces aside, and the little
children sobbed.

Again the Dagda touched the strings, and this time the magic Music of
Mirth leaped from the harp. And when they heard that Music of Mirth, the
young warriors of the Fomorians began to laugh; they laughed till the
cups fell from their grasp, and the spears dropped from their hands,
while the wine flowed from the broken bowls; they laughed until their
limbs were helpless with excess of glee.

Once more the Dagda touched his harp, but very, very softly. And now a
music stole forth as soft as dreams, and as sweet as joy: it was the
magic Music of Sleep. When they heard that, gently, gently, the Fomorian
women bowed their heads in slumber; the little children crept to their
mothers' laps; the old men nodded; and the young warriors drooped in
their seats and closed their eyes: one after another all the Fomorians
sank into sleep.

When they were all deep in slumber, the Dagda took his magic harp, and
he and his golden-haired warriors stole softly away, and came in safety
to their own homes again.


There was once a tailor in Galway, and he started out on a journey to go
to the king's court at Dublin.

He had not gone far when he met a white horse, and he saluted him.

"God save you," said the tailor.

"God save you," said the horse. "Where are you going?"

"I am going to Dublin," said the tailor, "to build a court for the king
and to get a lady for a wife, if I am able to do it." For, it seems the
king had promised his daughter and a great lot of money to anyone who
should be able to build up his court. The trouble was, that three giants
lived in the wood near the court, and every night they came out of the
wood and threw down all that was built by day. So nobody could get the
court built.

"Would you make me a hole," said the old white garraun, "where I could
go in to hide whenever the people come to fetch me to the mill or the
kiln, so that they won't see me; for they tire me out doing work for

"I'll do that, indeed," said the tailor, "and welcome."

He brought his spade and shovel, and he made a hole, and he asked the
old white horse to go down into it so that he could see if it would fit
him. The white horse went down into the hole, but when he tried to come
up again, he was not able.

"Make a place for me now," said the white horse, "by which I can come up
out of the hole here, whenever I am hungry."

"I will not," said the tailor; "remain where you are until I come back,
and I'll lift you up."

The tailor went forward next day, and the fox met him.

"God save you," said the fox.

"God save you," said the tailor.

"Where are you going?" said the fox.

"I'm going to Dublin, to try to make a court for the king."

"Would you make a place for me where I can hide?" said the fox. "The
rest of the foxes are always beating me, and they will not allow me to
eat anything with them."

"I'll do that for you," said the tailor.

He took his axe and his saw, and he made a thing like a crate, and he
told the fox to get into it so that he could see whether it would fit
him. The fox went into it, and when the tailor had him down, he shut him
in. When the fox was satisfied at last that he had a nice place of it
within, he asked the tailor to let him out, and the tailor answered that
he would not.

"Wait there until I come back again," said he.

The tailor went forward the next day, and he had not walked very far
when he met a lion; and the lion greeted him.

"God save you," said the lion.

"God save you," said the tailor.

"Where are you going?" said the lion.

"I'm going to Dublin to make a court for the king if I am able to make
it," said the tailor.

"If you were to make a plough for me," said the lion, "I and the other
lions could be ploughing and harrowing until we'd have a bit to eat in
the harvest."

"I'll do that for you," said the tailor.

He brought his axe and his saw, and he made a plough. When the plough
was made he put a hole in the beam of it, and got the lion to go in
under the plough so that he might see if he was any good as a
ploughman. He placed the lion's tail in the hole he had made for it, and
then clapped in a peg, and the lion was not able to draw out his tail

"Loose me now," said the lion, "and we'll fix ourselves and go

The tailor said he would not loose him until he came back himself. He
left him there then, and he came to Dublin.

When he arrived, he engaged workmen and began to build the court. At the
end of the day he had the workmen put a great stone on top of the work.
When the great stone was raised up, the tailor put some sort of
contrivance under it, that he might be able to throw it down as soon as
the giants came near to it. The workpeople then went home, and the
tailor went in hiding behind the big stone.

When the darkness of the night was come, he saw the three giants
arriving, and they began throwing down the court until they arrived at
the place where the tailor was in hiding up above, and one of them
struck a blow with his sledge on the place where he was. The tailor
threw down the stone, and it fell on him and killed him. The other two
went home then and left all of the court that was remaining without
throwing it down, since their companion was dead.

The workmen came again the next day, and they were working until night,
and as they were going home the tailor told them to put up the big
stone on the top of the work, as it had been the night before. They did
that for him, went home, and the tailor went in hiding the same as he
did the evening before.

When the people had all gone to rest, the two giants came, and they were
throwing down all that was before them, but as soon as they began, the
tailor commenced manoeuvring until he was able to throw down the great
stone, so that it fell upon the skull of the giant that was under him,
and it killed him. After this there was only the one giant left, and he
never came again until the court was finished.

Then when the work was over, the tailor went to the king and told him to
give him his wife and his money, as he had the court finished; and the
king said he would not give him any wife until he had killed the other
giant, for he said that it was not by his strength he had killed the two
giants before, and that he would give him nothing now until he killed
the other one for him. Then the tailor said that he would kill the other
giant for him, and welcome; that there should be no delay at all about

The tailor went then till he came to the place where the other giant
was, and asked did he want a servant-boy. The giant said he did want
one, if he could get one who would do everything that he would do

"Anything that you will do, I will do," said the tailor.

They went to their dinner then, and when they had eaten it, the giant
asked the tailor "would he dare to swallow as much boiling broth as
himself." The tailor said, "I will certainly do that, but you must give
me an hour before we commence." The tailor went out then, and he got a
sheepskin, which he sewed up until he made a bag of it, and he slipped
it down under his coat. He came in then and told the giant first to
drink a gallon of the broth himself. The giant drank that up while it
was boiling. "I'll do that," said the tailor. He went on until it was
all poured into the skin, and the giant thought he had drunk it. The
giant drank another gallon then, and the tailor let another gallon down
into the skin, but the giant thought he was drinking it.

"I'll do a thing now that you will not dare to do," said the tailor.

"You will not," said the giant. "What is it you would do?"

"Make a hole and let out the broth again," said the tailor.

"Do it yourself first," said the giant.

The tailor gave a prod of the knife, and he let the broth out of the

"Now you do that," said he.

"I will," said the giant, giving such a prod of the knife into his own
stomach that he killed himself. That is the way the tailor killed the
third giant.

He went to the king then, and desired him to send him out his wife and
his money, saying that he would throw down the court again if he did not
do so immediately. They were afraid then that he would throw down the
court, and they sent the wife to him.

When the tailor was a day gone, himself and his wife, they repented and
followed him to take his wife away from him again. The people who went
after him followed him until they came to the place where the lion was,
and the lion said to them, "The tailor and his wife were here yesterday.
I saw them going by, and if you will loose me now, I am swifter than
you, and I will follow them until I overtake them." When they heard
that, they released the lion.

The lion and the people of Dublin went on, and pursued the tailor, until
they came to the place where the fox was, and the fox greeted them, and
said, "The tailor and his wife were here this morning, and if you will
loose me, I am swifter than you, and I will follow them, and overtake
them." They therefore set the fox free.

The lion and the fox and the army of Dublin went on then, trying to
catch the tailor, and they kept going until they came to the place
where the old white garraun was, and the old white garraun told them
that the tailor and his wife were there in the morning, and "Loose me,"
said he; "I am swifter than you, and I'll overtake them." They released
the old white garraun then, and the old white garraun, the fox, the
lion, and the army of Dublin pursued the tailor and his wife, and it was
not long before they came up with them.

When the tailor saw them coming, he got out of the coach with his wife,
and he sat down on the ground.

When the old white garraun saw the tailor sitting on the ground, he
said, "That's the position he was in when he made the hole for me, that
I couldn't get out of, when I went down into it. I'll go no nearer to

"No!" said the fox, "but that's the way he was when he was making the
thing for me, and I'll go no nearer to him."

"No!" says the lion, "but that's the very way he had, when he was making
the plough that I was caught in. I'll go no nearer to him."

They all left him then and returned. The tailor and his wife came home
to Galway.


[32] From _Beside the Fire_, Douglas Hyde (David Nutt).


This story was told long ago by our Northern forefathers who brought it
with them in their dragon ships when they crossed the North Sea to
settle in England. In those days men were apt to invent stories to
account for things about them which seemed peculiar, and loving the sea
as they did, it is not strange that they had remarked the peculiarity of
the ocean water and had found a reason why it is so different from the
water in the rivers and steams.

This is not the only story that has come down to tell us how people of
old accounted for the sea being salt. There are many such stories, each
different from the other, all showing that the same childlike spirit of
inquiry was at work in different places, striving to find an answer to
this riddle of nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

There sprang from the sons of Odin a race of men who became mighty kings
of the earth, and one of these, named Frode, ruled over the lands that
are called Denmark.

Now about this time were found in Denmark two great millstones, so large
that no one had the strength to turn them. So Frode sent for all the
wise men of the land and bade them examine the stones and tell him of
what use they were, since no one could grind with them.

And after the wise men had looked closely at them and read the magic
letters which were cut upon their edge, they said that the millstones
were precious indeed, since they would grind out of nothing anything
that the miller might wish.

So King Frode sent messengers over the world to find for him two
servants who would be strong enough to grind with the millstones, and
after a long, long time his messengers found him two maid-servants, who
were bigger and stronger than anyone in Denmark had ever seen. But no
one guessed that these were really Giant-Maidens who bore a grudge
against all of the race of Odin.

Directly the Giant-Maidens were brought before Frode, and before they
had rested after their long journey, or satisfied their hunger, he bade
them go to the mill, and grind for him gold and peace and happiness.

     "They sang and swung
      The swift mill stone,
      And with loud voice
      They made their moan.
      'We grind for Frode
      Wealth and gold
      Abundant riches
      He shall behold.'"

Presently Frode came into the mill to see that the new servants were
performing their task diligently. And as he watched them from the shadow
by the door, the maidens stayed their grinding for a while to rest.

The greedy man could not bear to see even an instant's pause, and he
came out of the shadow, and bade them, with harsh words, go on grinding,
and cease not except for so long as the cuckoo was silent, or while he
himself sang a song. Now it was early summer-time, and the cuckoo was
calling all the day and most of the night.

So the Giant-Maidens waxed very wroth with King Frode, and as they
resumed their labours they sang a song of the hardness of their lot in
the household of this pitiless King.

They had been grinding out wealth and happiness and peace, but now they
bade the magic stones to grind something very different.

Presently, as the great stones moved round and round, Frode, who still
stood by, heard one chant in a low, sing-song voice,--

"I see a fire east of the town--the curlews awake and sound a note of
warning. A host approaches in haste, to burn the dwelling of the king."

And the next took up her song,--

"No longer will Frode sit on his throne, and rule over rings of red gold
and mighty millstones. Now must we grind with all our might--and,
behold! red warriors come forth--and revenge, and bloodshed, and ruin."

Then Frode shook from head to foot in his terror, for he heard the tramp
of a mighty host of warriors advancing from the sea. And as he looked
for a way of escape, the braces of the millstones broke with the strong
grinding, and fell in two. And the whole world shook and trembled with
the mighty shock of that breaking.

But through the crash and din came the voices of the Giant-Maidens,
loudly chanting,--

     "We have turned the stone round;
      Though weary the maidens,
      See what they have ground!"

And that same night a mighty sea-king came up and slew Frode and
plundered his city.

When he had sacked the city, the sea-king took on board his ship the two
Giant-Maidens, and with them the broken millstones. And he bade them
begin at once to grind salt, for of this he had very scanty store.

So they ground and ground; and in the middle of the night, being weary,
they asked the sea-king if he had not got salt enough.

But the sea-king was hard of heart, like Frode, and he roughly bade them
go on grinding. And the maidens did so, and worked to such effect that
within a short time the millstones had ground out so much salt that the
weight of it began to sink the ship. Down, down it sank, ship and giants
and millstones, and in that spot, in the very middle of the ocean, arose
a whirlpool, from whence the salt is carried north and south, east and
west, throughout the waters of the earth.

And that is how the sea became salt.


One lovely summer morning, just as the sun rose, two travellers started
on a journey. They were both strong young men, but one was a lazy fellow
and the other was a worker.

As the first sunbeams came over the hills, they shone on a great castle
standing on the heights, as far away as the eye could see. It was a
wonderful and beautiful castle, all glistening towers that gleamed like
marble, and glancing windows that shone like crystal. The two young men
looked at it eagerly, and longed to go nearer.

Suddenly, out of the distance, something like a great butterfly, of
white and gold, swept toward them. And when it came nearer, they saw
that it was a most beautiful lady, robed in floating garments as fine as
cobwebs and wearing on her head a crown so bright that no one could tell
whether it was of diamonds or of dew. She stood, light as air, on a
great, shining, golden ball, which rolled along with her, swifter than
the wind. As she passed the travellers, she turned her face to them and

"Follow me!" she said.

The lazy man sat down in the grass with a discontented sigh. "She has
an easy time of it!" he said.

But the industrious man ran after the lovely lady and caught the hem of
her floating robe in his grasp. "Who are you, and whither are you
going?" he asked.

"I am the Fairy of Fortune," the beautiful lady said, "and that is my
castle. You may reach it to-day, if you will; there is time, if you
waste none. If you reach it before the last stroke of midnight, I will
receive you there, and will be your friend. But if you come one second
after midnight, it will be too late."

When she had said this, her robe slipped from the traveller's hand and
she was gone.

The industrious man hurried back to his friend, and told him what the
fairy had said.

"The idea!" said the lazy, man, and he laughed; "of course, if we had a
horse there would be some chance, but _walk_ all that way? No, thank

"Then good-bye," said his friend, "I am off." And he set out, down the
road toward the shining castle, with a good steady stride, his eyes
straight ahead.

The lazy man lay down in the soft grass, and looked rather wistfully at
the far-away towers. "If only I had a good horse!" he sighed.

Just at that moment he felt something warm nosing about at his shoulder,
and heard a little whinny. He turned round, and there stood a little
horse! It was a dainty creature, gentle-looking, and finely built, and
it was saddled and bridled.

"Hello!" said the lazy man. "Luck often comes when one isn't looking for
it!" And in an instant he had leaped on the horse, and headed him for
the castle of fortune. The little horse started at a fine pace, and in a
very few minutes they overtook the other traveller, plodding along on

"How do you like shank's pony?" laughed the lazy man, as he passed his

The industrious man only nodded, and kept on with his steady stride,
eyes straight ahead.

The horse kept his good pace, and by noon the towers of the castle stood
out against the sky, much nearer and more beautiful. Exactly at noon,
the horse turned aside from the road, into a shady grove on a hill, and

"Wise beast," said his rider: "'haste makes waste,' and all things are
better in moderation. I'll follow your example, and eat and rest a bit."
He dismounted and sat down in the cool moss, with his back against a
tree. He had a lunch in his traveller's pouch, and he ate it
comfortably. Then he felt drowsy from the heat and the early ride, so he
pulled his hat over his eyes, and settled himself for a nap. "It will go
all the better for a little rest," he said.

That _was_ a sleep! He slept like the seven sleepers, and he dreamed the
most beautiful things you could imagine. At last, he dreamed that he had
entered the castle of fortune and was being received with great
festivities. Everything he wanted was brought to him, and music played
while fireworks were set off in his honour. The music was so loud that
he awoke. He sat up, rubbing his eyes, and behold, the fireworks were
the very last rays of the setting sun, and the music was the voice of
the other traveller, passing the grove on foot!

"Time to be off," said the lazy man, and looked about him for the pretty
horse. No horse was to be found. The only living thing near was an old,
bony, grey donkey. The man called, and whistled, and looked, but no
little horse appeared. After a long while he gave it up, and, since
there was nothing better to do, he mounted the old grey donkey and set
out again.

The donkey was slow, and he was hard to ride, but he was better than
nothing; and gradually the lazy man saw the towers of the castle draw

Now it began to grow dark; in the castle windows the lights began to
show. Then came trouble! Slower, and slower, went the grey donkey;
slower, and slower, till, in the very middle of a pitch-black wood, he
stopped and stood still. Not a step would he budge for all the coaxing
and scolding and beating his rider could give. At last the rider kicked
him, as well as beat him, and at that the donkey felt that he had had
enough. Up went his hind heels, and down went his head, and over it went
the lazy man on to the stony ground.

There he lay groaning for many minutes, for it was not a soft place, I
can assure you. How he wished he were in a soft, warm bed, with his
aching bones comfortable in blankets! The very thought of it made him
remember the Castle of Fortune, for he knew there must be fine beds
there. To get to those beds he was even willing to bestir his poor
limbs, so he sat up and felt about him for the donkey.

No donkey was to be found.

The lazy man crept round and round the spot where he had fallen,
scratched his hands on the stumps, tore his face in the briers, and
bumped his knees on the stones. But no donkey was there. He would have
laid down to sleep again, but he could hear now the howls of hungry
wolves in the woods; that it did not sound pleasant. Finally, his hand
struck against something that felt like a saddle. He grasped it,
thankfully, and started to mount his donkey.

The beast he took hold of seemed very small, and, as he mounted, he felt
that its sides were moist and slimy. It gave him a shudder, and he
hesitated; but at that moment he heard a distant clock strike. It was
striking eleven! There was still time to reach the castle of fortune,
but no more than enough; so he mounted his new steed and rode on once
more. The animal was easier to sit on than the donkey, and the saddle
seemed remarkably high behind; it was good to lean against. But even the
donkey was not so slow as this; the new steed was slower than he. After
a while, however, he pushed his way out of the woods into the open, and
there stood the castle, only a little way ahead! All its windows were
ablaze with lights. A ray from them fell on the lazy man's beast, and he
saw what he was riding: it was a gigantic snail! a snail as large as a

A cold shudder ran over the lazy man's body, and he would have got off
his horrid animal then and there, but just then the clock struck once
more. It was the first of the long, slow strokes that mark midnight! The
man grew frantic when he heard it. He drove his heels into the snail's
sides, to make him hurry. Instantly, the snail drew in his head, curled
up in his shell, and left the lazy man sitting in a heap on the ground!

The clock struck twice. If the man had run for it, he could still have
reached the castle, but, instead, he sat still and shouted for a horse.

"A beast, a beast!" he wailed, "any kind of a beast that will take me to
the castle!"

The clock struck three times. And as it struck the third note, something
came rustling and rattling out of the darkness, something that sounded
like a horse with harness. The lazy man jumped on its back, a very
queer, low back. As he mounted, he saw the doors of the castle open, and
saw his friend standing on the threshold, waving his cap and beckoning
to him.

The clock struck four times, and the new steed began to stir; as it
struck five, he moved a pace forward; as it struck six, he stopped; as
it struck seven, he turned himself about; as it struck eight, he began
to move backward, away from the castle!

The lazy man shouted, and beat him, but the beast went slowly backward.
And the clock struck nine. The man tried to slide off, then, but from
all sides of his strange animal great arms came reaching up and held him
fast. And in the next ray of moonlight that broke the dark clouds, he
saw that he was mounted on a monster crab!

One by one, the lights went out, in the castle windows. The clock struck
ten. Backward went the crab. Eleven! Still the crab went backward. The
clock struck twelve! Then the great doors shut with a clang, and the
castle of fortune was closed for ever to the lazy man.

What became of him and his crab no one knows to this day, and no one
cares. But the industrious man was received by the Fairy of Fortune, and
made happy in the castle as long as he wanted to stay. And ever
afterward she was his friend, helping him not only to happiness for
himself, but also showing him how to help others, wherever he went.


[33] Adapted from the German of _Der Faule und der Fleissige_, by Robert


A long time ago, there was a boy named David, who lived in a country in
the Far East. He was good to look upon, for he had fair hair and a ruddy
skin; and he was very strong and brave and modest. He was shepherd-boy
for his father, and all day--often all night--he was out in the fields,
far from home, watching over the sheep. He had to guard them from wild
animals, and lead them to the right pastures, and care for them.

By and by, war broke out between the people of David's country and a
people that lived near at hand; these men were called Philistines, and
the people of David's country were named Israelites. All the strong men
of Israel went up to the battle, to fight for their king. David's three
older brothers went, but he was only a boy, so he was left behind to
care for the sheep.

After the brothers had been gone some time, David's father longed very
much to hear from them, and to know if they were safe; so he sent for
David, from the fields, and said to him, "Take now for thy brothers an
ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp,
where thy brothers are; and carry these ten cheeses to the captain of
their thousand, and see how thy brothers fare, and bring me word again."
(An ephah is about three pecks.)

David rose early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and
took the corn and the loaves and the cheeses, as his father had
commanded him, and went to the camp of the Israelites.

The camp stood on a mountain on the one side, and the Philistines stood
on a mountain on the other side; and there was a valley between. David
came to the place where the Israelites were, just as the host was going
forth to the fight, shouting for the battle. So he left his gifts in the
hands of the keeper of the baggage, and ran into the army, amongst the
soldiers, to find his brothers. When he found them, he saluted them and
began to talk with them.

But while he was asking them the questions his father had commanded,
there arose a great shouting and tumult among the Israelites, and men
came running back from the front line of battle; everything became
confusion. David looked to see what the trouble was, and he saw a
strange sight: down the slope of the opposite mountain came striding a
Philistine warrior, calling out something in a taunting voice; he was a
gigantic man, the largest David had ever seen, and he was covered with
armour, that shone in the sun: he had a helmet of brass upon his head,
and he was armed with a coat of mail, and he had greaves of brass upon
his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders; his spear was so
tremendous that the staff of it was like a weaver's beam, and his shield
so great that a man went before him, to carry it.

"Who is that?" asked David.

"It is Goliath, of Gath, champion of the Philistines," said the soldiers
about. "Every day, for forty days, he has come forth, so, and challenged
us to send a man against him, in single combat; and since no one dares
to go out against him alone, the armies cannot fight." (That was one of
the laws of warfare in those times.)

"What!" said David, "does none dare go out against him?"

As he spoke, the giant stood still, on the hillside opposite the host
of Israel, and shouted his challenge, scornfully. He said, "Why are ye
come out to set your battle in array? Am I not a Philistine, and ye
servants of Saul? Choose you a man, and let him come down to me. If he
be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants;
but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our
servants, and serve us. I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a
man, that we may fight together!"

When King Saul heard these words, he was dismayed, and all the men of
Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were sore afraid. David
heard them talking among themselves, whispering and murmuring. They were
saying, "Have ye seen this man that is come up? Surely if anyone killeth
him that man will the king make rich; perhaps he will give him his
daughter in marriage, and make his family free in Israel!"

David heard this, and he asked the men if it were so. It was surely so,
they said.

"But," said David, "who is this Philistine, that he should defy the
armies of the living God?" And he was stirred with anger.

Very soon, some of the officers told the king about the youth who was
asking so many questions, and who said that it was shame upon Israel
that a mere Philistine should defy the armies of the living God.
Immediately Saul sent for him. When David came before Saul, he said to
the king, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go
and fight with this Philistine."

But Saul looked at David, and said, "Thou art not able to go against
this Philistine, to fight with him, for thou art but a youth, and he has
been a man of war from his youth."

Then David said to Saul, "Once I was keeping my father's sheep, and
there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock; and I
went out after the lion, and struck him; and delivered the lamb out of
his mouth, and when he arose against me, I caught him by the beard, and
struck him, and slew him! Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear;
and this Philistine shall be as one of them, for he hath defied the
armies of the living God. The Lord, who delivered me out of the paw of
the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the
hand of this Philistine."

"Go," said Saul, "and the Lord be with thee!"

And he armed David with his own armour,--he put a helmet of brass upon
his head, and armed him with a coat of mail. But when David girded his
sword upon his armour, and tried to walk, he said to Saul, "I cannot go
with these, for I am not used to them." And he put them off.

Then he took his staff in his hand and went and chose five smooth stones
out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had; and his
sling was in his hand; and he went out and drew near to the Philistine.

And the Philistine came on and drew near to David; and the man that bore
his shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about and saw
David, he disdained him, for David was but a boy, and ruddy, and of a
fair countenance. And he said to David, "Am I a dog, that thou comest to
me with a cudgel?" And with curses he cried out again, "Come to me, and
I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of
the field."

But David looked at him, and answered, "Thou comest to me with a sword,
and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of
the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast
defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand, and I will
smite thee, and take thy head from thee, and I will give the carcasses
of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and
to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there
is a God in Israel! And all this assembly shall know that the Lord
saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and he
will give you into our hands."

And then, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet
David, David made haste and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
And when he was a little way from him, he put his hand in his bag, and
took from thence a stone, and put it in his sling, and slung it, and
smote the Philistine in the forehead, so that the stone sank into his
forehead; and he fell on his face to the earth.

And David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and
drew it out of its sheath, and slew him with it.

Then, when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
But the army of Israel pursued them, and victory was with the men of

And after the battle, David was taken to the king's tent, and made a
captain over many men; and he went no more to his father's house, to
herd the sheep, but became a man, in the king's service.


[34] From the text of the Revised Version of the Old Testament, with
introduction and slight interpolations, changes of order, and omissions.


David had many fierce battles to fight for King Saul against the enemies
of Israel, and he won them all. Then, later, he had to fight against the
king's own soldiers, to save himself, for King Saul grew wickedly
jealous of David's fame as a soldier, and tried to kill him. Twice, when
David had a chance to kill the king, he forbore to harm him; but even
then, Saul continued trying to take his life, and David was kept away
from his home as if he were an enemy.

But when King Saul died, the people chose David for their king, because
there was no one so brave, so wise, or so faithful to God. King David
lived a long time, and made his people famous for victory and happiness;
he had many troubles and many wars, but he always trusted that God would
help him, and he never deserted his own people in any hard place.

After a battle, or when it was a holiday, or when he was very thankful
for something, King David used to make songs, and sing them before the
people. Some of these songs were so beautiful that they have never been
forgotten. After all these hundreds and hundred of years, we sing them
still; we call them Psalms.

Often, after David had made a song, his chief musician would sing with
him, as the people gathered to worship God. Sometimes the singers were
divided into two great choruses, and went to the service in two
processions; then one chorus would sing a verse of David's song, and the
other procession would answer with the next, and then both would sing
together; it was very beautiful to hear. Even now, we sometimes do that
with the songs of David in our churches.

One of his Psalms that everybody loves is a song that David made when he
remembered the days before he came to Saul's camp. He remembered the
days and nights he used to spend in the fields with the sheep, when he
was just a shepherd-boy; and he thought to himself that God had taken
care of him just as carefully as he himself used to care for the little
lambs. It is a beautiful song; I wish we knew the music that David made
for it, but we only know his words. I will tell it to you now, and then
you may learn it, to say for yourselves.

     =The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

     He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me
     beside the still waters.

     He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of
     righteousness for his name's sake.

     Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
     death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod
     and thy staff they comfort me.

     Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
     enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth

     Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my
     life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.=


This is a legend about a hermit who lived long ago. He lived high up on
the mountainside in a tiny cave; his food was roots and acorns, a bit of
bread given by a peasant, or a cheese brought by a woman who wanted his
prayers; his work was praying, and thinking about God. For forty years
he lived so, preaching to the people, praying for them, comforting them
in trouble, and, most of all, worshipping in his heart. There was just
one thing he cared about: it was to make his soul so pure and perfect
that it could be one of the stones in God's great Temple of Heaven.

One day, after the forty years, he had a great longing to know how far
along he had got with his work,--how it looked to the Heavenly Father.
And he prayed that he might be shown a man--

     "Whose soul in the heavenly grace had grown
      To the selfsame measure as his own;
      Whose treasure on the celestial shore
      Could neither be less than his nor more."

As he looked up from his prayer, a white-robed angel stood in the path
before him. The hermit bowed before the messenger with great gladness,
for he knew that his wish was answered. "Go to the nearest town," the
angel said, "and there, in the public square, you will find a mountebank
(a clown) making the people laugh for money. He is the man you seek; his
soul has grown to the selfsame stature as your own; his treasure on the
celestial shore is neither less than yours nor more."

When the angel had faded from sight, the hermit bowed his head again,
but this time with great sorrow and fear. Had his forty years of prayer
been a terrible mistake, and was his soul indeed like a clown, fooling
in the market-place? He knew not what to think. Almost he hoped he
should not find the man, and could believe that he had dreamed the angel
vision. But when he came, after a long, tiring walk to the village, and
the square, alas! there was the clown, doing his silly tricks for the

The hermit stood and looked at him with terror and sadness, for he felt
that he was looking at his own soul. The face he saw was thin and tired,
and though it kept a smile or a grin for the people, it seemed very sad
to the hermit. Soon the man felt the hermit's eyes; he could not go on
with his tricks. And when he had stopped and the crowd had left, the
hermit went and drew the man aside to a place where they could rest; for
he wanted more than anything else on earth to know what the man's soul
was like, because what it was, his was.

So, after a little, he asked the clown, very gently, what his life was,
what it had been. And the clown answered, very sadly, that it was just
as it looked,--a life of foolish tricks, for that was the only way of
earning his bread that he knew.

"But have you never been anything different?" asked the hermit,

The clown's head sank in his hands. "Yes, holy father," he said, "I have
been something else. I was a thief! I once belonged to the most wicked
band of mountain robbers that ever tormented the land, and I was as
wicked as the worst."

Alas! The hermit felt that his heart was breaking. Was this how he
looked to the Heavenly Father--like a thief, a cruel mountain robber? He
could hardly speak, and the tears streamed from his old eyes, but he
gathered strength to ask one more question. "I beg you," he said, "if
you have ever done a single good deed in your life, remember it now, and
tell it to me"; for he thought that even one good deed would save him
from utter despair.

"Yes, one," the clown said, "but it was so small, it is not worth
telling; my life has been worthless."

"Tell me that one!" pleaded the hermit.

"Once," said the man, "our band broke into a convent garden and stole
away one of the nuns, to sell as a slave or to keep for a ransom. We
dragged her with us over the rough, long way to our mountain camp, and
set a guard over her for the night. The poor thing prayed to us so
piteously to let her go! And as she begged, she looked from one hard
face to another, with trusting, imploring eyes, as if she could not
believe men could be really bad. Father, when her eyes met mine
something pierced my heart! Pity and shame leaped up, for the first
time, within me. But I made my face as hard and cruel as the rest, and
she turned away, hopeless.

"When all was dark and still, I stole like a cat to where she lay bound.
I put my hand on her wrist and whispered, 'Trust me, and I will take you
safely home.' I cut her bonds with my knife, and she looked at me to
show that she trusted. Father, by terrible ways that I knew, hidden from
the others, I took her safe to the convent gate. She knocked; they
opened; and she slipped inside. And, as she left me, she turned and
said, 'God will remember.'

"That was all. I could not go back to the old bad life, and I had never
learned an honest way to earn my bread. So I became a clown, and must be
a clown until I die."

"No! no! my son," cried the hermit, and now his tears were tears of joy.
"God has remembered; your soul is in his sight even as mine, who have
prayed and preached for forty years. Your treasure waits for you on the
heavenly shore just as mine does."

"As _yours_? Father, you mock me!" said the clown.

But when the hermit told him the story of his prayer and the angel's
answer, the poor clown was transfigured with joy, for he knew that his
sins were forgiven. And when the hermit went home to his mountain, the
clown went with him. He, too, became a hermit, and spent his time in
praise and prayer.

Together they lived, and worked, and helped the poor. And when, after
two years, the man who had been a clown died, the hermit felt that he
had lost a brother more holy than himself.

For ten years more the hermit lived in his mountain hut, thinking always
of God, fasting and praying, and doing no least thing that was wrong.
Then, one day, the wish once more came, to know how his work was
growing, and once more he prayed that he might see a being--

     "Whose soul in the heavenly grace had grown
      To the selfsame measure as his own;
      Whose treasure on the celestial shore
      Could neither be less than his nor more."

Once more his prayer was answered. The angel came to him, and told him
to go to a certain village on the other side of the mountain, and to a
small farm in it, where two women lived. In them he should find two
souls like his own, in God's sight.

When the hermit came to the door of the little farm, the two women who
lived there were overjoyed to see him, for everyone loved and honoured
his name. They put a chair for him on the cool porch, and brought food
and drink. But the hermit was too eager to wait. He longed greatly to
know what the souls of the two women were like, and from their looks he
could see only that they were gentle and honest. One was old, and the
other of middle age.

Presently he asked them about their lives. They told him the little
there was to tell: they had worked hard always, in the fields with their
husbands, or in the house; they had many children; they had seen hard
times,--sickness, sorrow; but they had never despaired.

"But what of your good deeds," the hermit asked,--"what have you done
for God?"

"Very little," they said, sadly, for they were too poor to give much. To
be sure, twice every year, when they killed a sheep for food, they gave
half to their poorer neighbours.

"That is very good, very faithful," the hermit said. "And is there any
other good deed you have done?"

"Nothing," said the older woman, "unless, unless--it might be called a
good deed----" She looked at the younger woman, who smiled back at her.

"What?" said the hermit.

Still the woman hesitated; but at last she said, timidly, "It is not
much to tell, father, only this, that it is twenty years since my
sister-in-law and I came to live together in the house; we have brought
up our families here; and in all the twenty years there has never been a
cross word between us, or a look that was less than kind."

The hermit bent his head before the two women, and gave thanks in his
heart. "If my soul is as these," he said, "I am blessed indeed."

And suddenly a great light came into the hermit's mind, and he saw how
many ways there are of serving God. Some serve him in churches and in
hermits' cells, by praise and prayer; some poor souls who have been very
wicked turn from their wickedness with sorrow, and serve him with
repentance; some live faithfully and gently in humble homes, working,
bringing up children, keeping kind and cheerful; some bear pain
patiently, for His sake. Endless, endless ways there are, that only the
Heavenly Father sees.

And so, as the hermit climbed the mountain again, he thought,--

     "As he saw the star-like glow
      Of light, in the cottage windows far,
      How many God's hidden servants are!"


[35] Adapted, with quotations, from the poem in _The Hidden Servants_,
by Francesca Alexander.


Across the North Sea, in a country called Germany, lived a little boy
named Gottlieb. His father had died when he was but a baby, and although
from early morning till late at night his mother sat plying her needle,
she found it difficult indeed to provide food and clothing and shelter
for her little boy and herself.

Gottlieb was not old enough to work, but he would often sit on a small
stool at his mother's feet and dream about the wonderful things he would
do for his dear mother when he grew to be a man, and she was comforted
as she looked upon her boy, and the thought that she was working for him
often gave strength to her tired fingers.

But one night Gottlieb saw that his mother was more than usually
troubled. Every now and then she would sigh, and a tear would trickle
down her cheek. The little boy had grown quick to read these signs of
distress, and he thought, "Christmas will be here soon, and dear mother
is thinking of what a sad time it will be."

What would Gottlieb have given to be able to comfort his mother! He
could only sit and brood, while his young heart swelled and a lump rose
in his throat at the thought that he could do nothing.

Presently, however, a happy fancy came to him. Was not the Christ Child
born on Christmas Day, and did not He send good gifts to men on His
birthday? But then came the thought, "He will never find us. Our home is
so mean and small." It seemed foolish to hope, but a boy is not long
cast down, and as Gottlieb sat dreaming, a happy inspiration came to
him. Stealing softly from the room he took paper and pen, for he had
learnt to write, and spelt out, word after word, a letter which he
addressed to the Christ Child.

You may be sure that the postman was puzzled what to do with this letter
when he sorted it out of the heap in the letter-box. Perhaps the
Burgomaster would know the right thing to do? So the postman took the
letter to the great burly man who lived in the big house and wore a gold
chain round his neck. The Burgomaster opened the envelope, and as he
read the letter written in the trembling hand of a child, tears came
into his eyes. But he spoke gruffly enough to the postman, "This must
be a foolish boy; a small one, I have no doubt."

Soon Christmas morning dawned, and Gottlieb woke very early. But others
were up before him, for, to his surprise, he saw a strange gentleman
with his mother. His wondering eyes soon perceived other unusual
objects, for the hearth was piled with wood, and the table was loaded
with food and dainties such as he had never even imagined.

Gottlieb entered the room just as his mother threw herself at the
stranger's feet to bless him for his generous goodness to the widow and
orphan. "Nay, give me no thanks, worthy dame," said the visitor. "Rather
be grateful to your little son, and to the good Lord to whom he wrote
for aid."

Then he turned to Gottlieb with a smile, "You see that although you
wrote to the Christ Child, your prayer for aid came only to the
Burgomaster. The gifts you asked for are here, but they come from my
hand." But Gottlieb answered him humbly, "Nay, sir, the Christ Child
sent them, for He put the thought in your heart."


[36] Adapted from the poem by Phoebe Gary, in _A Treasury of Verse_,
Part I., M.G. Edgar.


When you stand round the Christmas tree and look longingly at the toys
hanging from the prickly branches, it does not occur to you to ask why
it is always this particular tree that is so honoured at Christmas. The
dark green Fir looks so majestic when laden with bright toys and lit up
by Christmas candles, that perhaps it is not easy to believe that it is
the most modest of trees. But so it is, and because of its humility it
was chosen to bear Christmas gifts to the children. This is the story:

When the Christ Child was born, all people, animals, trees, and other
plants felt that a great happiness had come into the world. And truly,
the Heavenly Father had sent with the Holy Babe His blessings of Peace
and Goodwill to all. Every day people came to see the sweet Babe,
bringing presents in their hands. By the stable wherein lay the Christ
Child stood three trees, and as the people came and went under their
spreading branches, they thought that they, too, would like to give
presents to the Child.

Said the Palm, "I will choose my biggest leaf and place it as a fan
beside the manger to waft soft air to the Child."

"And I," said the Olive, "I will sprinkle sweet-smelling oil over Him."

"What can I give to the Child?" asked the Fir.

"You?" said the others. "You have nothing to offer. Your needles would
prick the wee Babe, and your tears are sticky."

This made the poor Fir very unhappy indeed, and it said, sadly, "Yes,
you are right. I have nothing that would be good enough to offer to the
Christ Child."

Now, quite near to the trees had stood an Angel, who had heard all that
had passed. He was moved to pity the Fir, who was so lowly and without
envy of the other trees, and he resolved to help it.

High in the dark of the heavens the stars were beginning to twinkle, and
the Angel begged some of the little ones to come down and rest upon the
branches of the Fir. This they were glad to do, and their silvery light
shone among the branches just like Christmas candles. From where He lay
the Christ Child could see the great dark evening world and the darker
forms of the trees keeping watch, like faithful guardians, beside the
open door of the stable; and to its delight the Fir Tree saw the face of
the Babe illumined with a heavenly smile as He looked upon the twinkling

The Christ Child did not forget the lovely sight, and long afterward he
bade that to celebrate His birthday there should be placed in every
house a Fir Tree, which might be lit up with candles to shine for the
children as the stars shone for Him on His first birthday.

Was not the Fir Tree richly rewarded for its meekness? Surely there is
no other tree that shines on so many happy faces!


[37] From the German of Hedwig Levi.


A costly Diamond, that had once sparkled in a lady's ring, lay in a
field amid tall grasses and oxeye daisies.

Just above it, was a big Dewdrop that clung timidly to a nodding

Overhead, the blazing sun shone in all his noonday glory.

Ever since the first pink blush of dawn, the modest Dewdrop had gazed
fixedly down upon the rich gem, but feared to address a person of such
exalted consequence.

At last, a large Beetle, during his rambles, chanced to espy the
Diamond, and he also recognised him to be some one of great rank and

"Sire," he said, making a low bow, "permit your humble servant to offer
you greeting."

"Tha--nks," responded the Diamond in languid tones of affectation.

As the Beetle raised his head from his profound bow, his gaze happened
to alight upon the Dewdrop.

"A relative of yours, I presume, Sire?" he remarked affably, waving one
of his feelers in the direction of the Dewdrop.

The Diamond burst into a rude, contemptuous laugh.

"Quite _too_ absurd, I declare!" he exclaimed loftily. "But there, what
_can_ you expect from a low, grovelling beetle? Away, sir, pass on! Your
very presence is distasteful to me. The _idea_ of placing ME upon the
same level--in the same family, as a low-born, mean, insignificant,
utterly valueless----" Here the Diamond fairly choked for breath.

"But has he not beauty exactly like your own, Sire?" the Beetle ventured
to interpose, though with a very timid air.

"BEAU--TY!" flashed the Diamond, with fine disdain--"the impudent fellow
merely apes and imitates ME. However, it is some small consolation to
remember that 'Imitation is the sincerest flattery.' But, even
_allowing_ him to possess it, mere beauty without _rank_ is ridiculous
and worthless. A Boat without _water_--a Carriage, but no _horses_--a
Well, but never a _winch_: such is beauty without rank and wealth! There
is no _real worth_ apart from rank and wealth. Combine Beauty, Rank,
_and_ Wealth, and you have the whole world at your feet. Now you know
the secret of the world worshipping ME."

And the Diamond sparkled and gleamed with vivid, violet flashes, so that
the Beetle was glad to shade his eyes.

The poor Dewdrop had listened silently to all that had passed, and felt
so wounded, that at last he wished he never had been born. Slowly a
bright tear fell and splashed the dust.

Just then, a Skylark fluttered to the ground and eagerly darted his beak
at the Diamond.

"Alas!" he piped, with a great sob of disappointment. "What I thought to
be a precious dewdrop is only a worthless diamond. My throat is parched
for want of water. I must die of thirst!"

"Really? The world will never get over your loss," cruelly sneered the

But a sudden and noble resolve came to the Dewdrop. Deeply did he repent
his foolish wish. _He could now lay down his life that the life of
another might be saved!_

"May _I_ help you, please?" he gently asked.

The Lark raised his drooping head.

"Oh, my precious, precious friend, if you will, you can save my life!"

"Open your mouth then."

And the Dewdrop slid from the blade of grass, tumbled into the parched
beak, and was eagerly swallowed.

"Ah--well, well!" pondered the Beetle as he continued his homeward way.
"I've been taught a lesson that I shall not easily forget. Yes, yes!
Simple worth is far better than rank or wealth without modesty and
unselfishness--and there is no _true_ beauty where these virtues are


[38] By Rev. Albert E. Sims.

[Transcriber's notes: All words marked [A] in the original were presumed.
The text was not clear enough to make them out definitively.

Marchen changed to Märchen to fit rest of text.

Standarized punctuation.]

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