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´╗┐Title: Christmas Every Day and Other Stories
Author: Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Christmas Every Day and Other Stories" ***

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file was produced from scans of public domain material



                                                       [Page 130.]





Copyright, 1892, by W. D. HOWELLS.

_All rights reserved._


CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY                                                    3

TURKEYS TURNING THE TABLES                                            25

THE PONY ENGINE AND THE PACIFIC EXPRESS                               51

THE PUMPKIN-GLORY                                                     71




_"Having Bonfires in the Back Yard of the Palace"_          Frontispiece

_"The Old Gobbler 'First Premium' said They were Going to
Turn the Tables Now"_                                                 35

_Two Little Pumpkin Seeds_                                            75

_Took the First Premium at the County Fair_                           83

_"'Here's that little fool pumpkin,' said the farmer"_                85

_"Caught His Trousers on a Shingle-nail, and Stuck"_                  93

_"'My sakes! it's comin' to life!'"_                                 103

_Tail-piece_                                                         107

_"'Fix dusters! Make ready! Aim! Dust!'"_                            121

_"The General-in-Chief used to go behind the Church and
Cry"_                                                                125

_"The Young Khan and Khant entered the Kingdom with a
Magnificent Retinue"_                                                131

_"She was Going to Take the Case into Her own Hands"_                135

_"The Imam put His Head to the Floor"_                               139

_"They began to scream, 'Oh, the cow! the cow!'"_                    143


The little girl came into her papa's study, as she always did Saturday
morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off
that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he

"Well, once there was a little pig--"

She put her hand over his mouth and stopped him at the word. She said
she had heard little pig-stories till she was perfectly sick of them.

"Well, what kind of story _shall_ I tell, then?"

"About Christmas. It's getting to be the season. It's past Thanksgiving

"It seems to me," her papa argued, "that I've told as often about
Christmas as I have about little pigs."

"No difference! Christmas is more interesting."

"Well!" Her papa roused himself from his writing by a great effort.
"Well, then, I'll tell you about the little girl that wanted it
Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?"

"First-rate!" said the little girl; and she nestled into comfortable
shape in his lap, ready for listening.

"Very well, then, this little pig--Oh, what are you pounding me for?"

"Because you said little pig instead of little girl."

"I should like to know what's the difference between a little pig and a
little girl that wanted it Christmas every day!"

"Papa," said the little girl, warningly, "if you don't go on, I'll
_give_ it to you!" And at this her papa darted off like lightning, and
began to tell the story as fast as he could.

  Well, once there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that
  she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year; and as soon as
  Thanksgiving was over she began to send postal-cards to the old
  Christmas Fairy to ask if she mightn't have it. But the old fairy
  never answered any of the postals; and after a while the little girl
  found out that the Fairy was pretty particular, and wouldn't notice
  anything but letters--not even correspondence cards in envelopes; but
  real letters on sheets of paper, and sealed outside with a
  monogram--or your initial, anyway. So, then, she began to send her
  letters; and in about three weeks--or just the day before Christmas,
  it was--she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it
  Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having
  it longer.

  The little girl was a good deal excited already, preparing for the
  old-fashioned, once-a-year Christmas that was coming the next day, and
  perhaps the Fairy's promise didn't make such an impression on her as
  it would have made at some other time. She just resolved to keep it to
  herself, and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true; and
  then it slipped out of her mind altogether.

  She had a splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let
  Santa Claus have a chance at the stockings, and in the morning she was
  up the first of anybody and went and felt them, and found hers all
  lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and grapes, and pocket-books
  and rubber balls, and all kinds of small presents, and her big
  brother's with nothing but the tongs in them, and her young lady
  sister's with a new silk umbrella, and her papa's and mamma's with
  potatoes and pieces of coal wrapped up in tissue-paper, just as they
  always had every Christmas. Then she waited around till the rest of
  the family were up, and she was the first to burst into the library,
  when the doors were opened, and look at the large presents laid out on
  the library-table--books, and portfolios, and boxes of stationery, and
  breastpins, and dolls, and little stoves, and dozens of handkerchiefs,
  and ink-stands, and skates, and snow-shovels, and photograph-frames,
  and little easels, and boxes of water-colors, and Turkish paste, and
  nougat, and candied cherries, and dolls' houses, and waterproofs--and
  the big Christmas-tree, lighted and standing in a waste-basket in the

  She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she
  did not want any breakfast; and the whole forenoon the presents kept
  pouring in that the expressman had not had time to deliver the night
  before; and she went round giving the presents she had got for other
  people, and came home and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and
  plum-pudding and nuts and raisins and oranges and more candy, and then
  went out and coasted, and came in with a stomach-ache, crying; and her
  papa said he would see if his house was turned into that sort of
  fool's paradise another year; and they had a light supper, and pretty
  early everybody went to bed cross.

Here the little girl pounded her papa in the back, again.

"Well, what now? Did I say pigs?"

"You made them _act_ like pigs."

"Well, didn't they?"

"No matter; you oughtn't to put it into a story."

"Very well, then, I'll take it all out."

Her father went on:

  The little girl slept very heavily, and she slept very late, but she
  was wakened at last by the other children dancing round her bed with
  their stockings full of presents in their hands.

  "What is it?" said the little girl, and she rubbed her eyes and tried
  to rise up in bed.

  "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" they all shouted, and waved their

  "Nonsense! It was Christmas yesterday."

  Her brothers and sisters just laughed. "We don't know about that. It's
  Christmas to-day, anyway. You come into the library and see."

  Then all at once it flashed on the little girl that the Fairy was
  keeping her promise, and her year of Christmases was beginning. She
  was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang up like a lark--a lark that had
  overeaten itself and gone to bed cross--and darted into the library.
  There it was again! Books, and portfolios, and boxes of stationery,
  and breastpins--

"You needn't go over it all, papa; I guess I can remember just what was
there," said the little girl.

  Well, and there was the Christmas-tree blazing away, and the family
  picking out their presents, but looking pretty sleepy, and her father
  perfectly puzzled, and her mother ready to cry. "I'm sure I don't see
  how I'm to dispose of all these things," said her mother, and her
  father said it seemed to him they had had something just like it the
  day before, but he supposed he must have dreamed it. This struck the
  little girl as the best kind of a joke; and so she ate so much candy
  she didn't want any breakfast, and went round carrying presents, and
  had turkey and cranberry for dinner, and then went out and coasted,
  and came in with a--


"Well, what now?"

"What did you promise, you forgetful thing?"

"Oh! oh yes!"

  Well, the next day, it was just the same thing over again, but
  everybody getting crosser; and at the end of a week's time so many
  people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers
  anywhere; they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to
  recover their tempers they usually got somebody else's, and it made
  the most dreadful mix.

  The little girl began to get frightened, keeping the secret all to
  herself; she wanted to tell her mother, but she didn't dare to; and
  she was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed
  ungrateful and ill-bred, and she thought she would try to stand it,
  but she hardly knew how she could, for a whole year. So it went on and
  on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine's Day and Washington's
  Birthday, just the same as any day, and it didn't skip even the First
  of April, though everything was counterfeit that day, and that was
  some _little_ relief.

  After a while coal and potatoes began to be awfully scarce, so many
  had been wrapped up in tissue-paper to fool papas and mammas with.
  Turkeys got to be about a thousand dollars apiece--


"Well, what?"

"You're beginning to fib."

"Well, _two_ thousand, then."

  And they got to passing off almost anything for turkeys--half-grown
  humming-birds, and even rocs out of the _Arabian Nights_--the real
  turkeys were so scarce. And cranberries--well, they asked a diamond
  apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for
  Christmas-trees, and where the woods and orchards used to be it
  looked just like a stubble-field, with the stumps. After a while they
  had to make Christmas-trees out of rags, and stuff them with bran,
  like old-fashioned dolls; but there were plenty of rags, because
  people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they
  couldn't get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to
  tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poor-house,
  except the confectioners, and the fancy-store keepers, and the
  picture-book sellers, and the expressmen; and _they_ all got so rich
  and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to
  buy. It was perfectly shameful!

  Well, after it had gone on about three or four months, the little
  girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those
  great ugly, lumpy stockings dangling at the fire-place, and the
  disgusting presents around everywhere, used to just sit down and
  burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted; she
  couldn't even cry any more; she just lay on the lounge and rolled her
  eyes and panted. About the beginning of October she took to sitting
  down on dolls wherever she found them--French dolls, or any kind--she
  hated the sight of them so; and by Thanksgiving she was crazy, and
  just slammed her presents across the room.

  By that time people didn't carry presents around nicely any more. They
  flung them over the fence, or through the window, or anything; and,
  instead of running their tongues out and taking great pains to write
  "For dear Papa," or "Mamma," or "Brother," or "Sister," or "Susie," or
  "Sammie," or "Billie," or "Bobbie," or "Jimmie," or "Jennie," or
  whoever it was, and troubling to get the spelling right, and then
  signing their names, and "Xmas, 18--," they used to write in the
  gift-books, "Take it, you horrid old thing!" and then go and bang it
  against the front door. Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their
  presents, but pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to
  let them lie out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used
  to come and tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk, or
  they would arrest them.

"I thought you said everybody had gone to the poor-house," interrupted
the little girl.

"They did go, at first," said her papa; "but after a while the
poor-houses got so full that they had to send the people back to their
own houses. They tried to cry, when they got back, but they couldn't
make the least sound."

"Why couldn't they?"

"Because they had lost their voices, saying 'Merry Christmas' so much.
Did I tell you how it was on the Fourth of July?"

"No; how was it?" And the little girl nestled closer, in expectation of
something uncommon.

  Well, the night before, the boys stayed up to celebrate, as they
  always do, and fell asleep before twelve o'clock, as usual, expecting
  to be wakened by the bells and cannon. But it was nearly eight o'clock
  before the first boy in the United States woke up, and then he found
  out what the trouble was. As soon as he could get his clothes on he
  ran out of the house and smashed a big cannon-torpedo down on the
  pavement; but it didn't make any more noise than a damp wad of paper;
  and after he tried about twenty or thirty more, he began to pick them
  up and look at them. Every single torpedo was a big raisin! Then he
  just streaked it up-stairs, and examined his fire-crackers and
  toy-pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks, and found that they
  were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks!
  Before ten o'clock every boy in the United States found out that his
  Fourth of July things had turned into Christmas things; and then they
  just sat down and cried--they were so mad. There are about twenty
  million boys in the United States, and so you can imagine what a noise
  they made. Some men got together before night, with a little powder
  that hadn't turned into purple sugar yet, and they said they would
  fire off _one_ cannon, anyway. But the cannon burst into a thousand
  pieces, for it was nothing but rock-candy, and some of the men nearly
  got killed. The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas
  carols, and when anybody tried to read the Declaration, instead of
  saying, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary," he
  was sure to sing, "God rest you, merry gentlemen." It was perfectly

The little girl drew a deep sigh of satisfaction.

"And how was it at Thanksgiving?"

Her papa hesitated. "Well, I'm almost afraid to tell you. I'm afraid
you'll think it's wicked."

"Well, tell, anyway," said the little girl.

  Well, before it came Thanksgiving it had leaked out who had caused all
  these Christmases. The little girl had suffered so much that she had
  talked about it in her sleep; and after that hardly anybody would play
  with her. People just perfectly despised her, because if it had not
  been for her greediness it wouldn't have happened; and now, when it
  came Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have
  squash-pie and turkey, and show their gratitude, they said that all
  the turkeys had been eaten up for her old Christmas dinners, and if
  she would stop the Christmases, they would see about the gratitude.
  Wasn't it dreadful? And the very next day the little girl began to
  send letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then telegrams, to stop it.
  But it didn't do any good; and then she got to calling at the Fairy's
  house, but the girl that came to the door always said, "Not at home,"
  or "Engaged," or "At dinner," or something like that; and so it went
  on till it came to the old once-a-year Christmas Eve. The little girl
  fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning--

"She found it was all nothing but a dream," suggested the little girl.

"No, indeed!" said her papa. "It was all every bit true!"

"Well, what _did_ she find out, then?"

"Why, that it wasn't Christmas at last, and wasn't ever going to be, any
more. Now it's time for breakfast."

The little girl held her papa fast around the neck.

"You sha'n't go if you're going to leave it _so_!"

"How do you want it left?"

"Christmas once a year."

"All right," said her papa; and he went on again.

  Well, there was the greatest rejoicing all over the country, and it
  extended clear up into Canada. The people met together everywhere, and
  kissed and cried for joy. The city carts went around and gathered up
  all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into the river;
  and it made the fish perfectly sick; and the whole United States, as
  far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the children were
  burning up their gift-books and presents of all kinds. They had the
  greatest _time_!

  The little girl went to thank the old Fairy because she had stopped
  its being Christmas, and she said she hoped she would keep her promise
  and see that Christmas never, never came again. Then the Fairy
  frowned, and asked her if she was sure she knew what she meant; and
  the little girl asked her, Why not? and the old Fairy said that now
  she was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she'd better look out.
  This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she
  said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a
  thousand years; and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten,
  and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good
  old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she
  was agreed. Then the little girl said, "What're your shoes made of?"
  And the Fairy said, "Leather." And the little girl said, "Bargain's
  done forever," and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home,
  she was so glad.

"How will that do?" asked the papa.

"First-rate!" said the little girl; but she hated to have the story
stop, and was rather sober. However, her mamma put her head in at the
door, and asked her papa:

"Are you never coming to breakfast? What have you been telling that

"Oh, just a moral tale."

The little girl caught him around the neck again.

"_We_ know! Don't you tell _what_, papa! Don't you tell _what_!"


"Well, you see," the papa began, on Christmas morning, when the little
girl had snuggled in his lap into just the right shape for listening,
"it was the night after Thanksgiving, and you know how everybody feels
the night after Thanksgiving."

"Yes; but you needn't begin that way, papa," said the little girl; "I'm
not going to have any moral to it this time."

"No, indeed! But it can be a true story, can't it?"

"I don't know," said the little girl; "I like made-up ones."

"Well, this is going to be a true one, anyway, and it's no use

  All the relations in the neighborhood had come to dinner, and then
  gone back to their own houses, but some of the relations had come from
  a distance, and these had to stay all night at the grandfather's. But
  whether they went or whether they stayed, they all told the
  grandmother that they did believe it was the best Thanksgiving dinner
  they had ever eaten in their born days. They had had cranberry sauce,
  and they'd had mashed potato, and they'd had mince-pie and pandowdy,
  and they'd had celery, and they'd had Hubbard squash, and they'd had
  tea and coffee both, and they'd had apple-dumpling with hard sauce,
  and they'd had hot biscuit and sweet pickle, and mangoes, and frosted
  cake, and nuts, and cauliflower--

"Don't mix them all up so!" pleaded the little girl. "It's perfectly
confusing. I can't hardly tell _what_ they had now."

"Well, _they_ mixed them up just in the same way, and I suppose that's
one of the reasons why it happened."

  Whenever a child wanted to go back from dumpling and frosted cake to
  mashed potato and Hubbard squash--they were old-fashioned kind of
  people, and they had everything on the table at once, because the
  grandmother and the aunties cooked it, and they couldn't keep jumping
  up all the time to change the plates--and its mother said it
  shouldn't, its grandmother said, Indeed it should, then, and helped it
  herself; and the child's father would say, Well, he guessed _he_ would
  go back, too, for a change; and the child's mother would say, She
  should think he would be ashamed; and then they would get to going
  back, till everything was perfectly higgledy-piggledy.

"Oh, _shouldn't_ you like to have been there, papa?" sighed the little

"You mustn't interrupt. Where was I?"


"Oh yes!"

  Well, but the greatest thing of all was the turkey that they had. It
  was a gobbler, I tell you, that was nearly as big as a giraffe.


  It took the premium at the county fair, and when it was dressed it
  weighed fifteen pounds--well, maybe twenty--and it was so heavy that
  the grandmothers and the aunties couldn't put it on the table, and
  they had to get one of the papas to do it. You ought to have heard the
  hurrahing when the children saw him coming in from the kitchen with
  it. It seemed as if they couldn't hardly talk of anything but that
  turkey the whole dinner-time.

  The grandfather hated to carve, and so one of the papas did it; and
  whenever he gave anybody a piece, the grandfather would tell some new
  story about the turkey, till pretty soon the aunties got to saying,
  "Now, father, stop!" and one of them said it made it seem as if the
  gobbler was walking about on the table, to hear so much about him, and
  it took her appetite all away; and that made the papas begin to ask
  the grandfather more and more about the turkey.

"Yes," said the little girl, thoughtfully; "I know what _papas_ are."

"Yes, they're pretty much all alike."

  And the mammas began to say they acted like a lot of silly boys; and
  what would the children think? But nothing could stop it; and all
  through the afternoon and evening, whenever the papas saw any of the
  aunties or mammas round, they would begin to ask the grandfather more
  particulars about the turkey. The grandfather was pretty forgetful,
  and he told the same things right over. Well, and so it went on till
  it came bedtime, and then the mammas and aunties began to laugh and
  whisper together, and to say they did believe they should dream about
  that turkey; and when the papas kissed the grandmother good-night,
  they said, Well, they must have his mate for Christmas; and then they
  put their arms round the mammas and went out haw-hawing.

"I don't think they behaved very dignified," said the little girl.

"Well, you see, they were just funning, and had got going, and it was
Thanksgiving, anyway."

  Well, in about half an hour everybody was fast asleep and dreaming--

"Is it going to be a dream?" asked the little girl, with some

"Didn't I say it was going to be a _true_ story?"


"How can it be a dream, then?"

"You said everybody was fast asleep and dreaming."

"Well, but I hadn't got through. Everybody _except_ one little girl."

"Now, papa!"


"Don't you go and say her name was the same as mine, and her eyes the
same color."

"What an idea!"

  _This_ was a very _good_ little girl, and very respectful to her papa,
  and didn't suspect him of tricks, but just believed everything he
  said. And she was a very pretty little girl, and had red eyes, and
  blue cheeks, and straight hair, and a curly nose--

"Now, papa, if you get to cutting up--"

"Well, I won't, then!"

  Well, she was rather a delicate little girl, and whenever she
  over-ate, or anything,

"Have bad dreams! Aha! I _told_ you it was going to be a dream."

"You wait till I get through."

  She was apt to lie awake thinking, and some of her thinks were pretty
  dismal. Well, that night, instead of thinking and tossing and turning,
  and counting a thousand, it seemed to this other little girl that she
  began to see things as soon as she had got warm in bed, and before,
  even. And the first thing she saw was a large,  bronze-colored--

"Turkey gobbler!"

"No, ma'am. Turkey gobbler's _ghost_."

"Foo!" said the little girl, rather uneasily; "whoever heard of a
turkey's ghost, I should like to know?"

"Never mind, that," said the papa. "If it hadn't been a ghost, could the
moonlight have shone through it? No, indeed! The stuffing wouldn't have
let it. So you see it must have been a ghost."

  It had a red pasteboard placard round its neck, with FIRST PREMIUM
  printed on it, and so she knew that it was the ghost of the very
  turkey they had had for dinner. It was perfectly awful when it put up
  its tail, and dropped its wings, and strutted just the way the
  grandfather said it used to do. It seemed to be in a wide pasture,
  like that back of the house, and the children had to cross it to get
  home, and they were all afraid of the turkey that kept gobbling at
  them and threatening them, because they had eaten him up. At last one
  of the boys--it was the other little girl's brother--said he would
  run across and get his papa to come out and help them, and the first
  thing she knew the turkey was after him, gaining, gaining, gaining,
  and all the grass was full of hen-turkeys and turkey chicks, running
  after him, and gaining, gaining, gaining, and just as he was getting
  to the wall he tripped and fell over a turkey-pen, and all at once she
  was in one of the aunties' room, and the aunty was in bed, and the
  turkeys were walking up and down over her, and stretching out their
  wings, and blaming her. Two of them carried a platter of chicken pie,
  and there was a large pumpkin jack-o'-lantern hanging to the bedpost
  to light the room, and it looked just like the other little girl's
  brother in the face, only perfectly ridiculous.


  Then the old gobbler, First Premium, clapped his wings, and said,
  "Come on, chick-chickledren!" and then they all seemed to be in her
  room, and she was standing in the middle of it in her night-gown,
  and tied round and round with ribbons, so she couldn't move hand or
  foot. The old gobbler, First Premium, said they were going to turn the
  tables now, and she knew what he meant, for they had had that in the
  reader at school just before vacation, and the teacher had explained
  it. He made a long speech, with his hat on, and kept pointing at her
  with one of his wings, while he told the other turkeys that it was her
  grandfather who had done it, and now it was their turn. He said that
  human beings had been eating turkeys ever since the discovery of
  America, and it was time for the turkeys to begin paying them back, if
  they were ever going to. He said she was pretty young, but she was as
  big as he was, and he had no doubt they would enjoy her.

  The other little girl tried to tell him that she was not to blame, and
  that she only took a very, very little piece.

  "But it was right off the breast," said the gobbler, and he shed
  tears, so that the other little girl cried, too. She didn't have much
  hopes, they all seemed so spiteful, especially the little turkey
  chicks; but she told them that she was very tender-hearted, and never
  hurt a single thing, and she tried to make them understand that there
  was a great difference between eating people and just eating turkeys.

  "What difference, I should like to know?" says the old hen-turkey,
  pretty snappishly.

  "People have got souls, and turkeys haven't," says the other little

  "I don't see how _that_ makes it any better," says the old hen-turkey.
  "It don't make it any better for the _turkeys_. If we haven't got any
  souls, we can't live after we've been eaten up, and you _can_."

  The other little girl was awfully frightened to have the hen-turkey
  take that tack.

"I should think she would 'a' been," said the little girl; and she
cuddled snugger into her papa's arms. "What _could_ she say? Ugh! Go

  Well, she didn't know what to say, that's a fact. You see, she never
  thought of it in that light before. All she could say was, "Well,
  people have got reason, anyway, and turkeys have only got instinct; so

  "You'd better look out," says the old hen-turkey; and all the little
  turkey chicks got so mad they just hopped, and the oldest little
  he-turkey, that was just beginning to be a gobbler, he dropped his
  wings and spread his tail just like his father, and walked round the
  other little girl till it was perfectly frightful.

"I should think they would 'a' been ashamed."

  Well, perhaps old First Premium _was_ a little; because he stopped
  them. "My dear," he says to the old hen-turkey, and chick-chickledren,
  "you forget yourselves; you should have a little consideration.
  Perhaps you wouldn't behave much better yourselves if you were just
  going to be eaten."

  And they all began to scream and to cry, "We've _been_ eaten, and
  we're nothing but turkey ghosts."

"_There_, now, papa," says the little girl, sitting up straight, so as
to argue better, "I _knew_ it wasn't true, all along. How could turkeys
have ghosts if they don't have souls, I should like to know?"

"Oh, easily," said the papa.

"Tell how," said the little girl.

"Now look here," said the papa, "are you telling this story, or am I?"

"You are," said the little girl, and she cuddled down again. "Go on."

"Well, then, don't you interrupt. Where was I? Oh yes."

  Well, he couldn't do anything with them, old First Premium couldn't.
  They acted perfectly ridiculous, and one little brat of a spiteful
  little chick piped out, "I speak for a drumstick, ma!" and then they
  all began: "I want a wing, ma!" and "I'm going to have the wish-bone!"
  and "I shall have just as much stuffing as ever I please, shan't I,
  ma?" till the other little girl was perfectly disgusted with them; she
  thought they oughtn't to say it before her, anyway; but she had hardly
  thought this before they all screamed out, "They used to say it before
  _us_," and then she didn't know what to say, because she knew how
  people talked before animals.

"I don't believe I ever did," said the little girl. "Go on."

  Well, old First Premium tried to quiet them again, and when he
  couldn't he apologized to the other little girl so nicely that she
  began to like him. He said they didn't mean any harm by it; they were
  just excited, and chickledren would be chickledren.

  "Yes," said the other little girl, "but I think you might take some
  older person to begin with. It's a perfect shame to begin with a
  little girl."

  "Begin!" says old First Premium. "Do you think we're just _beginning_?
  Why, when do you think it is?"

  "The night after Thanksgiving."

  "What year?"


  They all gave a perfect screech. "Why, it's Christmas Eve, 1900, and
  every one of your friends has been eaten up long ago," says old First
  Premium, and he began to cry over her, and the old hen-turkey and the
  little turkey chicks began to wipe their eyes on the backs of their

"I don't think they were very neat," said the little girl.

Well, they were kind-hearted, anyway, and they felt sorry for the other
little girl. And she began to think she had made some little impression
on them, when she noticed the old hen-turkey beginning to untie her
bonnet strings, and the turkey chicks began to spread round her in a
circle, with the points of their wings touching, so that she couldn't
get out, and they commenced dancing and singing, and after a while that
little he-turkey says, "Who's _it_?" and the other little girl, she
didn't know why, says, "_I'm_ it," and old First Premium says, "Do you
promise?" and the other little girl says, "Yes, I promise," and she knew
she was promising, if they would let her go, that people should never
eat turkeys any more. And the moon began to shine brighter and brighter
through the turkeys, and pretty soon it was the sun, and then it was not
the turkeys, but the window-curtains--it was one of those old
farm-houses where they don't have blinds--and the other little girl--

"Woke up!" shouted the little girl. "There now, papa, what did I tell
you? I _knew_ it was a dream all along."

"No, she didn't," said the papa; "and it wasn't a dream."

"What was it, then?"

"It was a--trance."

The little girl turned round, and knelt in her papa's lap, so as to take
him by the shoulders and give him a good shaking. That made him promise
to be good, pretty quick, and, "Very well, then," says the little girl;
"if it wasn't a dream, you've got to prove it."

"But how can I prove it?" says the papa.

"By going on with the story," says the little girl, and she cuddled down

"Oh, well, that's easy enough."

  As soon as it was light in the room, the other little girl could see
  that the place was full of people, crammed and jammed, and they were
  all awfully excited, and kept yelling, "Down with the traitress!"
  "Away with the renegade!" "Shame on the little sneak!" till it was
  worse than the turkeys, ten times.

  She knew that they meant her, and she tried to explain that she just
  _had_ to promise, and that if they had been in her place they would
  have promised too; and of course they could do as they pleased about
  keeping her word, but she was going to keep it, anyway, and never,
  never, never eat another piece of turkey either at Thanksgiving or at

  "Very well, then," says an old lady, who looked like her grandmother,
  and then began to have a crown on, and to turn into Queen Victoria,
  "what _can_ we have?"

  "Well," says the other little girl, "you can have oyster soup."

  "What else?"

  "And you can have cranberry sauce."

  "What else?"

  "You can have mashed potatoes, and Hubbard squash, and celery, and
  turnip, and cauliflower."

  "What else?"

  "You can have mince-pie, and pandowdy, and plum-pudding."

  "And not a thing on the list," says the Queen, "that doesn't go with
  turkey! Now you see."

The papa stopped.

"Go on," said the little girl.

"There isn't any more."

The little girl turned round, got up on her knees, took him by the
shoulders, and shook him fearfully. "Now, then," she said, while the
papa let his head wag, after the shaking, like a Chinese mandarin's, and
it was a good thing he did not let his tongue stick out. "Now, will you
go on? What _did_ the people eat in place of turkey?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know, you awful papa! Well, then, what did the little girl

"She?" The papa freed himself, and made his preparation to escape. "Why
she--oh, _she_ ate goose. Goose is tenderer than turkey, anyway, and
more digestible; and there isn't so much of it, and you can't overeat
yourself, and have bad--"

"Dreams!" cried the little girl.

"Trances," said the papa, and she began to chase him all round the


Christmas Eve, after the children had hung up their stockings and got
all ready for St. Nic, they climbed up on the papa's lap to kiss him
good-night, and when they both got their arms round his neck, they said
they were not going to bed till he told them a Christmas story. Then he
saw that he would have to mind, for they were awfully severe with him,
and always made him do exactly what they told him; it was the way they
had brought him up. He tried his best to get out of it for a while; but
after they had shaken him first this side, and then that side, and
pulled him backward and forward till he did not know where he was, he
began to think perhaps he had better begin. The first thing he said,
after he opened his eyes, and made believe he had been asleep, or
something, was, "Well, what did I leave off at?" and that made them just
perfectly boiling, for they understood his tricks, and they knew he was
trying to pretend that he had told part of the story already; and they
said he had not left off anywhere because he had not commenced, and he
saw it was no use. So he commenced.

"Once there was a little Pony Engine that used to play round the
Fitchburg Depot on the side tracks, and sleep in among the big
locomotives in the car-house--"

The little girl lifted her head from the papa's shoulder, where she had
dropped it. "Is it a sad story, papa?"

"How is it going to end?" asked the boy.

"Well, it's got a moral," said the papa.

"Oh, all right, if it's got a moral," said the children; they had a good
deal of fun with the morals the papa put to his stories. The boy added,
"Go on," and the little girl prompted, "Car-house."

The papa said, "Now every time you stop me I shall have to begin all
over again." But he saw that this was not going to spite them any, so he
went on: "One of the locomotives was its mother, and she had got hurt
once in a big smash-up, so that she couldn't run long trips any more.
She was so weak in the chest you could hear her wheeze as far as you
could see her. But she could work round the depot, and pull empty cars
in and out, and shunt them off on the side tracks; and she was so
anxious to be useful that all the other engines respected her, and they
were very kind to the little Pony Engine on her account, though it was
always getting in the way, and under their wheels, and everything. They
all knew it was an orphan, for before its mother got hurt its father
went through a bridge one dark night into an arm of the sea, and was
never heard of again; he was supposed to have been drowned. The old
mother locomotive used to say that it would never have happened if she
had been there; but poor dear No. 236 was always so venturesome, and she
had warned him against that very bridge time and again. Then she would
whistle so dolefully, and sigh with her air-brakes enough to make
anybody cry. You see they used to be a very happy family when they were
all together, before the papa locomotive got drowned. He was very fond
of the little Pony Engine, and told it stories at night after they got
into the car-house, at the end of some of his long runs. It would get up
on his cow-catcher, and lean its chimney up against his, and listen till
it fell asleep. Then he would put it softly down, and be off again in
the morning before it was awake. I tell you, those were happy days for
poor No. 236. The little Pony Engine could just remember him; it was
awfully proud of its papa."

The boy lifted his head and looked at the little girl, who suddenly hid
her face in the papa's other shoulder. "Well, I declare, papa, she was
putting up her lip."

"I wasn't, any such thing!" said the little girl. "And I don't care!
So!" and then she sobbed.

"Now, never you mind," said the papa to the boy. "You'll be putting up
_your_ lip before I'm through. Well, and then she used to caution the
little Pony Engine against getting in the way of the big locomotives,
and told it to keep close round after her, and try to do all it could to
learn about shifting empty cars. You see, she knew how ambitious the
little Pony Engine was, and how it wasn't contented a bit just to grow
up in the pony-engine business, and be tied down to the depot all its
days. Once she happened to tell it that if it was good and always did
what it was bid, perhaps a cow-catcher would grow on it some day, and
then it could be a passenger locomotive. Mammas have to promise all
sorts of things, and she was almost distracted when she said that."

"I don't think she ought to have deceived it, papa," said the boy. "But
it ought to have known that if it was a Pony Engine to begin with, it
never could have a cow-catcher."

"Couldn't it?" asked the little girl, gently.

"No; they're kind of mooley."

The little girl asked the papa, "What makes Pony Engines mooley?" for
she did not choose to be told by her brother; he was only two years
older than she was, anyway.

"Well; it's pretty hard to say. You see, when a locomotive is first

"Oh, are they hatched, papa?" asked the boy.

"Well, we'll _call_ it hatched," said the papa; but they knew he was
just funning. "They're about the size of tea-kettles at first; and it's
a chance whether they will have cow-catchers or not. If they keep their
spouts, they will; and if their spouts drop off, they won't."

"What makes the spout ever drop off?"

"Oh, sometimes the pip, or the gapes--"

The children both began to shake the papa, and he was glad enough to go
on sensibly. "Well, anyway, the mother locomotive certainly oughtn't to
have deceived it. Still she had to say _something_, and perhaps the
little Pony Engine was better employed watching its buffers with its
head-light, to see whether its cow-catcher had begun to grow, than it
would have been in listening to the stories of the old locomotives, and
sometimes their swearing."

"Do they swear, papa?" asked the little girl, somewhat shocked, and yet

"Well, I never heard them, _near by_. But it sounds a good deal like
swearing when you hear them on the up-grade on our hill in the night.
Where was I?"

"Swearing," said the boy. "And please don't go back, now, papa."

"Well, I won't. It'll be as much as I can do to get through this story,
without going over any of it again. Well, the thing that the little Pony
Engine wanted to be, the most in this world, was the locomotive of the
Pacific Express, that starts out every afternoon at three, you know. It
intended to apply for the place as soon as its cow-catcher was grown,
and it was always trying to attract the locomotive's attention, backing
and filling on the track alongside of the train; and once it raced it a
little piece, and beat it, before the Express locomotive was under way,
and almost got in front of it on a switch. My, but its mother was
scared! She just yelled to it with her whistle; and that night she sent
it to sleep without a particle of coal or water in its tender.

"But the little Pony Engine didn't care. It had beaten the Pacific
Express in a hundred yards, and what was to hinder it from beating it as
long as it chose? The little Pony Engine could not get it out of its
head. It was just like a boy who thinks he can whip a man."

The boy lifted his head. "Well, a boy _can_, papa, if he goes to do it
the right way. Just stoop down before the man knows it, and catch him by
the legs and tip him right over."

"Ho! I guess you see yourself!" said the little girl, scornfully.

"Well, I _could_!" said the boy; "and some day I'll just show you."

"Now, little cock-sparrow, now!" said the papa; and he laughed. "Well,
the little Pony Engine thought he could beat the Pacific Express,
anyway; and so one dark, snowy, blowy afternoon, when his mother was off
pushing some empty coal cars up past the Know-Nothing crossing beyond
Charlestown, he got on the track in front of the Express, and when he
heard the conductor say 'All aboard,' and the starting gong struck, and
the brakemen leaned out and waved to the engineer, he darted off like
lightning. He had his steam up, and he just scuttled.

"Well, he was so excited for a while that he couldn't tell whether the
Express was gaining on him or not; but after twenty or thirty miles, he
thought he heard it pretty near. Of course the Express locomotive was
drawing a heavy train of cars, and it had to make a stop or two--at
Charlestown, and at Concord Junction, and at Ayer--so the Pony Engine
did really gain on it a little; and when it began to be scared it gained
a good deal. But the first place where it began to feel sorry, and to
want its mother, was in Hoosac Tunnel. It never was in a tunnel before,
and it seemed as if it would never get out. It kept thinking, What if
the Pacific Express was to run over it there in the dark, and its mother
off there at the Fitchburg Depot, in Boston, looking for it among the
side-tracks? It gave a perfect shriek; and just then it shot out of the
tunnel. There were a lot of locomotives loafing around there at North
Adams, and one of them shouted out to it as it flew by, 'What's your
hurry, little one?' and it just screamed back, 'Pacific Express!' and
never stopped to explain. They talked in locomotive language--"

"Oh, what did it sound like?" the boy asked.

"Well, pretty queer; I'll tell you some day. It knew it had no time to
fool away, and all through the long, dark night, whenever, a locomotive
hailed it, it just screamed, 'Pacific Express!' and kept on. And the
Express kept gaining on it. Some of the locomotives wanted to stop it,
but they decided they had better not get in its way, and so it whizzed
along across New York State and Ohio and Indiana, till it got to
Chicago. And the Express kept gaining on it. By that time it was so
hoarse it could hardly whisper, but it kept saying, 'Pacific Express!
Pacific Express!' and it kept right on till it reached the Mississippi
River. There it found a long train of freight cars before it on the
bridge. It couldn't wait, and so it slipped down from the track to the
edge of the river and jumped across, and then scrambled up the
embankment to the track again."

"Papa!" said the little girl, warningly.

"Truly it did," said the papa.

"Ho! that's nothing," said the boy. "A whole train of cars did it in
that Jules Verne book."

"Well," the papa went on, "after that it had a little rest, for the
Express had to wait for the freight train to get off the bridge, and the
Pony Engine stopped at the first station for a drink of water and a
mouthful of coal, and then it flew ahead. There was a kind old
locomotive at Omaha that tried to find out where it belonged, and what
its mother's name was, but the Pony Engine was so bewildered it couldn't
tell. And the Express kept gaining on it. On the plains it was chased by
a pack of prairie wolves, but it left them far behind; and the antelopes
were scared half to death. But the worst of it was when the nightmare
got after it."

"The nightmare? Goodness!" said the boy.

"I've had the nightmare," said the little girl.

"Oh yes, a mere human nightmare," said the papa. "But a locomotive
nightmare is a very different thing."

"Why, what's it like?" asked the boy. The little girl was almost afraid
to ask.

"Well, it has only one leg, to begin with."


"Wheel, I mean. And it has four cow-catchers, and four head-lights, and
two boilers, and eight whistles, and it just goes whirling and
screeching along. Of course it wobbles awfully; and as it's only got one
wheel, it has to keep skipping from one track to the other."

"I should think it would run on the cross-ties," said the boy.

"Oh, very well, then!" said the papa. "If you know so much more about it
than I do! Who's telling this story, anyway? Now I shall have to go back
to the beginning. Once there was a little Pony En--"

They both put their hands over his mouth, and just fairly begged him to
go on, and at last he did. "Well, it got away from the nightmare about
morning, but not till the nightmare had bitten a large piece out of its
tender, and then it braced up for the home-stretch. It thought that if
it could once beat the Express to the Sierras, it could keep the start
the rest of the way, for it could get over the mountains quicker than
the Express could, and it might be in San Francisco before the Express
got to Sacramento. The Express kept gaining on it. But it just zipped
along the upper edge of Kansas and the lower edge of Nebraska, and on
through Colorado and Utah and Nevada, and when it got to the Sierras it
just stooped a little, and went over them like a goat; it did, truly;
just doubled up its fore wheels under it, and jumped. And the Express
kept gaining on it. By this time it couldn't say 'Pacific Express' any
more, and it didn't try. It just said 'Express! Express!' and then
''Press! 'Press!' and then ''Ess! 'Ess!' and pretty soon only ''Ss!
'Ss!' And the Express kept gaining on it. Before they reached San
Francisco, the Express locomotive's cow-catcher was almost touching the
Pony Engine's tender; it gave one howl of anguish as it felt the Express
locomotive's hot breath on the place where the nightmare had bitten the
piece out, and tore through the end of the San Francisco depot, and
plunged into the Pacific Ocean, and was never seen again. There, now,"
said the papa, trying to make the children get down, "that's all. Go to
bed." The little girl was crying, and so he tried to comfort her by
keeping her in his lap.

The boy cleared his throat. "What is the moral, papa?" he asked,

"Children, obey your parents," said the papa.

"And what became of the mother locomotive?" pursued the boy.

"She had a brain-fever, and never quite recovered the use of her mind

The boy thought awhile. "Well, I don't see what it had to do with
Christmas, anyway."

"Why, it was Christmas Eve when the Pony Engine started from Boston, and
Christmas afternoon when it reached San Francisco."

"Ho!" said the boy. "No locomotive could get across the continent in a
day and a night, let alone a little Pony Engine."

"But this Pony Engine _had_ to. Did you never hear of the beaver that
clomb the tree?"

"No! Tell--"

"Yes, some other time."

"But how _could_ it get across so quick? Just one day!"

"Well, perhaps it was a year. Maybe it was the _next_ Christmas after
that when it got to San Francisco."

The papa set the little girl down, and started to run out of the room,
and both of the children ran after him, to pound him.

When they were in bed the boy called down-stairs to the papa, "Well,
anyway, I didn't put up my lip."



The papa had told the story so often that the children knew just exactly
what to expect the moment he began. They all knew it as well as he knew
it himself, and they could keep him from making mistakes, or forgetting.
Sometimes he would go wrong on purpose, or would pretend to forget, and
then they had a perfect right to pound him till he quit it. He usually
quit pretty soon.

The children liked it because it was very exciting, and at the same time
it had no moral, so that when it was all over, they could feel that they
had not been excited just for the moral. The first time the little girl
heard it she began to cry, when it came to the worst part; but the boy
had heard it so much by that time that he did not mind it in the least,
and just laughed.

The story was in season any time between Thanksgiving and New Years; but
the papa usually began to tell it in the early part of October, when the
farmers were getting in their pumpkins, and the children were asking
when they were going to have any squash pies, and the boy had made his
first jack-o'-lantern.

"Well," the papa said, "once there were two little pumpkin seeds, and
one was a good little pumpkin seed, and the other was bad--very proud,
and vain, and ambitious."

The papa had told them what ambitious was, and so the children did not
stop him when he came to that word; but sometimes he would stop of his
own accord, and then if they could not tell what it meant, he would
pretend that he was not going on; but he always did go on.

"Well, the farmer took both the seeds out to plant them in the
home-patch, because they were a very extra kind of seeds, and he was not
going to risk them in the cornfield, among the corn. So before he put
them in the ground, he asked each one of them what he wanted to be when
he came up, and the good little pumpkin seed said he wanted to come up a
pumpkin, and be made into a pie, and be eaten at Thanksgiving dinner;
and the bad little pumpkin seed said he wanted to come up a

"'Morning-glory!' says the farmer. 'I guess you'll come up a
pumpkin-glory, first thing _you_ know,' and then he haw-hawed, and told
his son, who was helping him to plant the garden, to keep watch of that
particular hill of pumpkins, and see whether that little seed came up a
morning-glory or not; and the boy stuck a stick into the hill so he
could tell it. But one night the cow got in, and the farmer was so mad,
having to get up about one o'clock in the morning to drive the cow out,
that he pulled up the stick, without noticing, to whack her over the
back with it, and so they lost the place.

"But the two little pumpkin seeds, they knew where they were well
enough, and they lay low, and let the rain and the sun soak in and swell
them up; and then they both began to push, and by-and-by they got their
heads out of the ground, with their shells down over their eyes like
caps, and as soon as they could shake them off and look round, the bad
little pumpkin vine said to his brother:

"'Well, what are you going to do now?'

"The good little pumpkin vine said, 'Oh, I'm just going to stay here,
and grow and grow, and put out all the blossoms I can, and let them all
drop off but one, and then grow that into the biggest and fattest and
sweetest pumpkin that ever was for Thanksgiving pies.'


"'Well, that's what I am going to do, too,' said the bad little pumpkin
vine, 'all but the pies; but I'm not going to stay here to do it. I'm
going to that fence over there, where the morning-glories were last
summer, and I'm going to show them what a pumpkin-glory is like. I'm
just going to cover myself with blossoms; and blossoms that won't shut
up, either, when the sun comes out, but 'll stay open, as if they hadn't
anything to be ashamed of, and that won't drop off the first day,
either. I noticed those morning-glories all last summer, when I was
nothing but one of the blossoms myself, and I just made up my mind that
as soon as ever I got to be a vine, I would show them a thing or two.
Maybe I _can't_ be a morning-glory, but I can be a pumpkin-glory, and I
guess that's glory enough.'

"It made the cold chills run over the good little vine to hear its
brother talk like that, and it begged him not to do it; and it began to

"What's that?" The papa stopped short, and the boy stopped whispering in
his sister's ear, and she answered:

"He said he bet it was a girl!" The tears stood in her eyes, and the boy

"Well, anyway, it was _like_ a girl."

"Very well, sir!" said the papa. "And supposing it was? Which is better:
to stay quietly at home, and do your duty, and grow up, and be eaten in
a pie at Thanksgiving, or go gadding all over the garden, and climbing
fences, and everything? The good little pumpkin vine was perfectly
right, and the bad little pumpkin would have been saved a good deal if
it had minded its little sister.

"The farmer was pretty busy that summer, and after the first two or
three hoeings he had to leave the two pumpkin vines to the boy that had
helped him to plant the seed, and the boy had to go fishing so much, and
then in swimming, that he perfectly neglected them, and let them run
wild, if they wanted to; and if the good little pumpkin vine had not
been the best little pumpkin vine that ever was, it _would_ have run
wild. But it just stayed where it was, and thickened up, and covered
itself with blossoms, till it was like one mass of gold. It was very
fond of all its blossoms, and it couldn't bear hardly to think of losing
any of them; but it knew they couldn't every one grow up to be a very
large pumpkin, and so it let them gradually drop off till it only had
one left, and then it just gave all its attention to that one, and did
everything it could to make it grow into the kind of pumpkin it said it

"All this time the bad little pumpkin vine was carrying out its plan of
being a pumpkin-glory. In the first place it found out that if it
expected to get through by fall it couldn't fool much putting out a lot
of blossoms and waiting for them to drop off, before it began to devote
itself to business. The fence was a good piece off, and it had to reach
the fence in the first place, for there wouldn't be any fun in being a
pumpkin-glory down where nobody could see you, or anything. So the bad
little pumpkin vine began to pull and stretch towards the fence, and
sometimes it thought it would surely snap in two, it pulled and
stretched so hard. But besides the pulling and stretching, it had to
hide, and go round, because if it had been seen it wouldn't have been
allowed to go to the fence. It was a good thing there were so many
weeds, that the boy was too lazy to pull up, and the bad little pumpkin
vine could hide among. But then they were a good deal of a hinderance,
too, because they were so thick it could hardly get through them. It had
to pass some rows of pease that were perfectly awful; they tied
themselves to it and tried to keep it back; and there was one hill of
cucumbers that acted ridiculously; they said it was a cucumber vine
running away from home, and they would have kept it from going any
farther, if it hadn't tugged with all its might and main, and got away
one night when the cucumbers were sleeping; it was pretty strong,
anyway. When it got to the fence at last, it thought it was going to
die. It was all pulled out so thin that it wasn't any thicker than a
piece of twine in some places, and its leaves just hung in tatters. It
hadn't had time to put out more than one blossom, and that was such a
poor little sickly thing that it could hardly hang on. The question was,
How can a pumpkin vine climb a fence, anyway?

"Its knees and elbows were all worn to strings getting there, or that's
what the pumpkin thought, till it wound one of those tendrils round a
splinter of the fence, without thinking, and happened to pull, and then
it was perfectly surprised to find that it seemed to lift itself off the
ground a little. It said to itself, 'Let's try a few more,' and it
twisted some more of the tendrils round some more splinters, and this
time it fairly lifted itself off the ground. It said, 'Ah, I see!' as if
it had somehow expected to do something of the kind all along; but it
had to be pretty careful getting up the fence not to knock its blossom
off, for that would have been the end of it; and when it did get up
among the morning-glories it almost killed the poor thing, keeping it
open night and day, and showing it off in the hottest sun, and not
giving it a bit of shade, but just holding it out where it could be seen
the whole time. It wasn't very much of a blossom compared with the
blossoms on the good little pumpkin vine, but it was bigger than any of
the morning-glories, and that was some satisfaction, and the bad little
pumpkin vine was as proud as if it was the largest blossom in the world.

"When the blossom's leaves dropped off, and a little pumpkin began to
grow on in its place, the vine did everything it could for it; just gave
itself up to it, and put all its strength into it. After all, it was a
pretty queer-looking pumpkin, though. It had to grow hanging down, and
not resting on anything, and after it started with a round head, like
other pumpkins, its neck began to pull out, and pull out, till it looked
like a gourd or a big pear. That's the way it looked in the fall,
hanging from the vine on the fence, when the first light frost came and
killed the vine. It was the day when the farmer was gathering his
pumpkins in the cornfield, and he just happened to remember the seeds he
had planted in the home-patch, and he got out of his wagon to see what
had become of them. He was perfectly astonished to see the size of the
good little pumpkin; you could hardly get it into a bushel basket, and
he gathered it, and sent it to the county fair, and took the first
premium with it."

"How much was the premium?" asked the boy. He yawned; he had heard all
these facts so often before.


"It was fifty cents; but you see the farmer had to pay two dollars to
get a chance to try for the premium at the fair; and so it was _some_
satisfaction. Anyway, he took the premium, and he tried to sell the
pumpkin, and when he couldn't, he brought it home and told his wife they
must have it for Thanksgiving. The boy had gathered the bad little
pumpkin, and kept it from being fed to the cow, it was so funny-looking;
and the day before Thanksgiving the farmer found it in the barn, and he

"'Hollo! Here's that little fool pumpkin. Wonder if it thinks it's a
morning-glory yet?'

"And the boy said, 'Oh, father, mayn't I have it?'

"And the father said, 'Guess so. What are you going to do with it?'

"But the boy didn't tell, because he was going to keep it for a
surprise; but as soon as his father went out of the barn, he picked up
the bad little pumpkin by its long neck, and he kind of balanced it
before him, and he said, 'Well, now, I'm going to make a pumpkin-glory
out of _you_!'


"And when the bad little pumpkin heard that, all its seeds fairly
rattled in it for joy. The boy took out his knife, and the first thing
the pumpkin knew he was cutting a kind of lid off the top of it; it was
like getting scalped, but the pumpkin didn't mind it, because it was
just the same as war. And when the boy got the top off he poured the
seeds out, and began to scrape the inside as thin as he could without
breaking through. It hurt awfully, and nothing but the hope of being a
pumpkin-glory could have kept the little pumpkin quiet; but it didn't
say a word, even after the boy had made a mouth for it, with two rows of
splendid teeth, and it didn't cry with either of the eyes he made for
it; just winked at him with one of them, and twisted its mouth to one
side, so as to let him know it was in the joke; and the first thing it
did when it got one was to turn up its nose at the good little pumpkin,
which the boy's mother came into the barn to get."

"Show how it looked," said the boy.

And the papa twisted his mouth, and winked with one eye, and wrinkled
his nose till the little girl begged him to stop. Then he went on:

"The boy hid the bad pumpkin behind him till his mother was gone,
because he didn't want her in the secret; and then he slipped into the
house, and put it under his bed. It was pretty lonesome up there in the
boy's room--he slept in the garret, and there was nothing but broken
furniture besides his bed; but all day long it could smell the good
little pumpkin, boiling and boiling for pies; and late at night, after
the boy had gone to sleep, it could smell the hot pies when they came
out of the oven. They smelt splendid, but the bad little pumpkin didn't
envy them a bit; it just said, 'Pooh! What's twenty pumpkin pies to one

"It ought to have said 'what _are_,' oughtn't it, papa?" asked the
little girl.

"It certainly ought," said the papa. "But if nothing but it's grammar
had been bad, there wouldn't have been much to complain of about it."

"I don't suppose it had ever heard much good grammar from the farmer's
family," suggested the boy. "Farmers always say cowcumbers instead of

"Oh, _do_ tell us about the Cowcumber, and the Bullcumber, and the
little Calfcumbers, papa!" the little girl entreated, and she clasped
her hands, to show how anxious she was.

"What! And leave off at the most exciting part of the pumpkin-glory?"

The little girl saw what a mistake she had made; the boy just gave her
_one look_, and she cowered down into the papa's lap, and the papa went

"Well, they had an extra big Thanksgiving at the farmer's that day. Lots
of the relations came from out West; the grandmother, who was living
with the farmer, was getting pretty old, and every year or two she
thought she wasn't going to live very much longer, and she wrote to the
relations in Wisconsin, and everywhere, that if they expected to see her
alive again, they had better come this time, and bring all their
families. She kept doing it till she was about ninety, and then she just
concluded to live along and not mind how old she was. But this was just
before her eighty-ninth birthday, and she had drummed up so many sons
and sons-in-law, and daughters and daughters-in-law, and grandsons and
great-grandsons, and granddaughters and great-granddaughters, that the
house was perfectly packed with them. They had to sleep on the floor, a
good many of them, and you could hardly step for them; the boys slept in
the barn, and they laughed and cut up so the whole night that the
roosters thought it was morning, and kept crowing till they made their
throats sore, and had to wear wet compresses round them every night for
a week afterwards."

When the papa said anything like this the children had a right to pound
him, but they were so anxious not to have him stop, that this time they
did not do it. They said, "Go on, go on!" and the little girl said, "And
then the tables!"

"Tables? Well, I should think so! They got all the tables there were in
the house, up stairs and down, for dinner Thanksgiving Day, and they
took the grandmother's work-stand and put it at the head, and she sat
down there; only she was so used to knitting by that table that she kept
looking for her knitting-needles all through dinner, and couldn't seem
to remember what it was she was missing. The other end of the table was
the carpenter's bench that they brought in out of the barn, and they put
the youngest and funniest papa at that. The tables stretched from the
kitchen into the dining-room, and clear through that out into the hall,
and across into the parlor. They hadn't table-cloths enough to go the
whole length, and the end of the carpenter's bench, where the funniest
papa sat, was bare, and all through dinner-time he kept making fun. The
vise was right at the corner, and when he got his help of turkey, he
pretended that it was so tough he had to fasten the bone in the vise,
and cut the meat off with his knife like a draw-shave."

"It was the drumstick, I suppose, papa?" said the boy. "A turkey's
drumstick is all full of little wooden splinters, anyway."

"And what did the mamma say?" asked the little girl.


"Oh, she kept saying, 'Now you behave!' and, 'Well, I should think you'd
be ashamed!' but the funniest papa didn't mind her a bit; and everybody
laughed till they could hardly stand it. All this time the boys were out
in the barn, waiting for the second table, and playing round. The
farmer's boy went up to his room over the wood-shed, and got in at the
garret window, and brought out the pumpkin-glory. Only he began to
slip when he was coming down the roof, and he'd have slipped clear off
if he hadn't caught his trousers on a shingle-nail, and stuck. It made a
pretty bad tear, but the other boys pinned it up so that it wouldn't
show, and the pumpkin-glory wasn't hurt a bit. They all said that it was
about the best jack-o'-lantern they almost ever saw, on account of the
long neck there was to it; and they made a plan to stick the end of the
neck into the top of the pump, and have fun hearing what the folks would
say when they came out after dark and saw it all lit up; and then they
noticed the pigpen at the corner of the barn, and began to plague the
pig, and so many of them got up on the pen that they broke the middle
board off; and they didn't like to nail it on again because it was
Thanksgiving Day, and you mustn't hammer or anything; so they just stuck
it up in its place with a piece of wood against it, and the boy said he
would fix it in the morning.

"The grown folks stayed so long at the table that it was nearly dark
when the boys got to it, and they would have been almost starved if the
farm-boy hadn't brought out apples and doughnuts every little while. As
it was, they were pretty hungry, and they began on the pumpkin pie at
once, so as to keep eating till the mother and the other mothers that
were helping could get some of the things out of the oven that they had
been keeping hot for the boys. The pie was so nice that they kept eating
at it all along, and the mother told them about the good little pumpkin
that it was made of, and how the good little pumpkin had never had any
wish from the time it was nothing but a seed, except to grow up and be
made into pies and eaten at Thanksgiving; and they must all try to be
good, too, and grow up and do likewise. The boys didn't say anything,
because their mouths were so full, but they looked at each other and
winked their left eyes. There were about forty or fifty of them, and
when they all winked their left eyes it made it so dark you could hardly
see; and the mother got the lamp; but the other mothers saw what the
boys were doing, and they just shook them till they opened their eyes
and stopped their mischief."

"Show how they looked!" said the boy.

"I can't show how fifty boys looked," said the papa. "But they looked a
good deal like the pumpkin-glory that was waiting quietly in the barn
for them to get through, and come out and have some fun with it. When
they had all eaten so much that they could hardly stand up, they got
down from the table, and grabbed their hats, and started for the door.
But they had to go out the back way, because the table took up the
front entry, and that gave the farmer's boy a chance to find a piece of
candle out in the kitchen and some matches; and then they rushed to the
barn. It was so dark there already that they thought they had better
light up the pumpkin-glory and try it. They lit it up, and it worked
splendidly; but they forgot to put out the match, and it caught some
straw on the barn floor, and a little more and it would have burnt the
barn down. The boys stamped the fire out in about half a second; and
after that they waited till it was dark outside before they lit up the
pumpkin-glory again. Then they all bent down over it to keep the wind
from blowing the match anywhere, and pretty soon it was lit up, and the
farmer's boy took the pumpkin-glory by its long neck, and stuck the
point in the hole in the top of the pump; and just then the funniest
papa came round the corner of the wood-house, and said:

"'What have you got there, boys? Jack-o'-lantern? Well, well. That's a
good one!'

"He came up and looked at the pumpkin-glory, and he bent back and he
bent forward, and he doubled down and he straightened up, and laughed
till the boys thought he was going to kill himself.

"They had all intended to burst into an Indian yell, and dance round the
pumpkin-glory; but the funniest papa said, 'Now all you fellows keep
still half a minute,' and the next thing they knew he ran into the
house, and came out, walking his wife before him with both his hands
over her eyes. Then the boys saw he was going to have some fun with her,
and they kept as still as mice, and waited till he walked her up to the
pumpkin-glory; and she was saying all the time, 'Now, John, if this is
some of your fooling, I'll _give_ it to you.' When he got her close up
he took away his hands, and she gave a kind of a whoop, and then she
began to laugh, the pumpkin-glory _was_ so funny, and to chase the
funniest papa all round the yard to box his ears, and as soon as she had
boxed them she said, 'Now let's go in and send the rest out,' and in
about a quarter of a second all the other papas came out, holding their
hands over the other mothers' eyes till they got them up to the
pumpkin-glory; and then there was such a yelling and laughing and
chasing and ear-boxing that you never heard anything like it; and all at
once the funniest papa hallooed out: 'Where's gramma? Gramma's got to
see it! Grandma'll enjoy it. It's just gramma's kind of joke,' and then
the mothers all got round him and said he shouldn't fool the
grandmother, anyway; and he said he wasn't going to: he was just going
to bring her out and let her see it; and his wife went along with him to
watch that he didn't begin acting up.

"The grandmother had been sitting all alone in her room ever since
dinner; because she was always afraid somehow that if you enjoyed
yourself it was a sign you were going to suffer for it, and she had
enjoyed herself a good deal that day, and she was feeling awfully about
it. When the funniest papa and his wife came in she said, 'What is it?
What is it? Is the world a-burnin' up? Well, you got to wrap up warm,
then, or you'll ketch your death o' cold runnin' and then stoppin' to
rest with your pores all open!'

"The funniest papa's wife she went up and kissed her, and said, 'No,
grandmother, the world's all right,' and then she told her just how it
was, and how they wanted her to come out and see the jack-o'-lantern,
just to please the children; and she must come, anyway; because it was
the funniest jack-o'-lantern there ever was, and then she told how the
funniest papa had fooled her, and then how they had got the other papas
to fool the other mothers, and they had all had the greatest fun then
you ever saw. All the time she kept putting on her things for her, and
the grandmother seemed to get quite in the notion, and she laughed a
little, and they thought she was going to enjoy it as much as anybody;
they really did, because they were all very tender of her, and they
wouldn't have scared her for anything, and everybody kept cheering her
up and telling her how much they knew she would like it, till they got
her to the pump. The little pumpkin-glory was feeling awfully proud and
self-satisfied; for it had never seen any flower or any vegetable
treated with half so much honor by human beings. It wasn't sure at first
that it was very nice to be laughed at so much, but after a while it
began to conclude that the papas and the mammas were just laughing at
the joke of the whole thing. When the old grandmother got up close,
it thought it would do something extra to please her; or else the heat
of the candle had dried it up so that it cracked without intending to.
Anyway, it tried to give a very broad grin, and all of a sudden it split
its mouth from ear to ear."

[Illustration: "'MY SAKES! IT'S COMIN' TO LIFE!'"]

"You didn't say it had any ears before," said the boy.

"No; it had them behind," said the papa; and the boy felt like giving
him just one pound; but he thought it might stop the story, and so he
let the papa go on.

"As soon as the grandmother saw it open its mouth that way she just gave
one scream, 'My sakes! It's comin' to life!' And she threw up her arms,
and she threw up her feet, and if the funniest papa hadn't been there to
catch her, and if there hadn't been forty or fifty other sons and
daughters, and grandsons and daughters, and great-grandsons and
great-granddaughters, very likely she might have fallen. As it was,
they piled round her, and kept her up; but there were so many of them
they jostled the pump, and the first thing the pumpkin-glory knew, it
fell down and burst open; and the pig that the boys had plagued, and
that had kept squealing all the time because it thought that the people
had come out to feed it, knocked the loose board off its pen, and flew
out and gobbled the pumpkin-glory up, candle and all, and that was the
end of the proud little pumpkin-glory."

"And when the pig ate the candle it looked like the magician when he
puts burning tow in his mouth," said the boy.

"Exactly," said the papa.

The children were both silent for a moment. Then the boy said, "This
story never had any moral, I believe, papa?"

"Not a bit," said the papa. "Unless," he added, "the moral was that you
had better not be ambitious, unless you want to come to the sad end of
this proud little pumpkin-glory."

"Why, but the good little pumpkin was eaten up, too," said the boy.

"That's true," the papa acknowledged.

"Well," said the little girl, "there's a great deal of difference
between being eaten by persons and eaten by pigs."

"All the difference in the world," said the papa; and he laughed, and
ran out of the library before the boy could get at him.


Butterflyflutterby and Flutterbybutterfly


One morning when the papa was on a visit to the grandfather, the nephew
and the niece came rushing into his room and got into bed with him. He
pretended to be asleep, and even when they grabbed hold of him and shook
him, he just let his teeth clatter, and made no sign of waking up. But
they knew he was fooling, and they kept shaking him till he opened his
eyes and looked round, and said, "Oh, oh! where am I?" as if he were all

"You're in bed with _us_!" they shouted; and they acted as if they were
afraid he would try to get away from them by the way they held on to
his arms.

But he lay quite still, and he only said, "I should say _you_ were in
bed with _me_. It seems to be my bed."

"It's the same thing!" said the nephew.

"How do you make that out?" asked the papa. "It's the same thing if it's
enchantment. But if it isn't, it isn't."

The niece said, "What enchantment?" for she thought that would be a
pretty good chance to get what they had come for.

She was perfectly delighted, and gave a joyful thrill all over when the
papa said, "Oh, that's a long story."

"Well, the longer the better, _I_ should say; shouldn't you, brother?"
she returned.

The nephew hemmed twice in his throat, and asked, drowsily, "Is it a
little-pig story, or a fairy-prince story?" for he had heard from his
cousins that their papa would tell you a little-pig story if he got the
chance; and you had to look out and ask him which it was going to be

"Well, I can't tell," said the papa. "It's a fairy-prince story to begin
with, but it may turn out a little-pig story before it gets to the end.
It depends upon how the Prince behaves. But _I'm_ not anxious to tell
it," and the papa put his face into the pillow and pretended to fall
instantly asleep again.

"Now, brother, you see!" said the niece. "Being so particular!"

"Well, sister," said the nephew, "it wasn't my fault. I _had_ to ask
him. You know what they said."

"Well, I suppose we've got to wake him up all over again," said the
niece, with a little sigh; and they began to pull at the papa this way
and that, but they could not budge him. As soon as they stopped, he
opened his eyes.

"Now don't say, 'Where am I?'" said the niece.

The papa could not help laughing, because that was just the very thing
he was going to say. "Well, all right! What about that story? Do you
want to hear it, and take your chances of its being a Prince to the

"I suppose we'll have to; won't we, sister?"

"Yes, we'll leave it all to you, uncle," said the niece; and she thought
she would coax him up a little, and so she went on: "I know you won't be
mean about it. Will he, brother?"

"No," said the nephew. "I'll bet the Prince will keep a Prince all the
way through. What'll _you_ bet, sister?"

"I won't bet anything," said the niece, and she put her arm round the
papa's neck, and pressed her cheek up against his. "I'll just leave it
to uncle, and if it _does_ turn into a little-pig story, it'll be for
the moral."

The nephew was not quite sure what a moral was; but at the bottom of his
heart he would just as soon have it a little-pig story as not. He had
got to thinking how funny a little pig would look in a Prince's clothes,
and he said, "Yes, it'll be for the moral."

The papa was very contrary that morning. "Well," said he, "I don't know
about that. I'm not sure there's going to be any moral."

"Oh, goody!" said the niece, and she clapped her hands in great delight.
"Then it's going to be a Prince story all through!"

"If you interrupt me in that way, it's not going to be any story at

"I didn't know you had begun it, uncle," pleaded the niece.

"Well, I hadn't. But I was just going to." The papa lay quiet a while.
The fact is, he had not thought up any story at all; and he was so tired
of all the stories he used to tell his own children that he could not
bear to tell one of them, though he knew very well that the niece and
nephew would be just as glad of it as if it were new, and maybe gladder;
for they had heard a great deal about these stories, how perfectly
splendid they were--like the Pumpkin-Glory, and the Little Pig that took
the Poison Pills, and the Proud Little Horse-car that fell in Love with
the Pullman Sleeper, and Jap Doll Hopsing's Adventures in Crossing the
Continent, and the Enchantment of the Greedy Travellers, and the Little
Boy whose Legs turned into Bicycle Wheels. At last the papa said, "This
is a very peculiar kind of a story. It's about a Prince and a Princess."

"Oh!" went both of the children; and then they stopped themselves, and
stuffed the covering into their mouths.

The papa lifted himself on his elbow and stared severely at them, first
at one, and then at the other. "Have you finished?" he asked, as if
they had interrupted him; but he really wanted to gain time, so as to
think up a story of some kind. The children were afraid to say anything,
and the papa went on with freezing politeness: "Because if you have, I
might like to say something myself. This story is about a Prince and a
Princess, but the thing of it is that they had names almost exactly
alike. They were twins; the Prince was a boy and the Princess was a
girl; that was a point that their fairy godmother carried against the
wicked enchantress who tried to have it just the other way; but it made
the wicked enchantress so mad that the fairy godmother had to give in to
her a little, and let them be named almost exactly alike."

Here the papa stopped, and after waiting for him to go on, the nephew
ventured to ask, very respectfully indeed, "Would you mind telling us
what their names were, uncle?"

The papa rubbed his forehead. "I have such a bad memory for names. Hold
on! Wait a minute! I remember now! Their names were Butterflyflutterby
and Flutterbybutterfly." Of course he had just thought up the names.

"And which was which, uncle dear?" asked the niece, not only very
respectfully, but very affectionately, too; she was so afraid he would
get mad again, and stop altogether.

"Why, I should think you would know a girl's name when you heard it.
Butterflyflutterby was the Prince and Flutterbybutterfly was the

"I don't see how we're ever going to keep them apart," sighed the niece.

"You've _got_ to keep them apart," said the papa. "Because it's the
great thing about the story that if you can't remember which is the
Prince and which is the Princess whenever I ask you, the story has to
stop. It can't help it, and _I_ can't help it."

They knew he was just setting a trap for them, and the same thought
struck them both at once. They rose up and leaned over the papa, with
their arms across and their fluffy heads together in the form of a
capital letter A, and whispered in each other's ears, "You say it's one,
and I'll say it's the other, and then we'll have it right between us."

They dropped back and pulled the covering up to their chins, and
shouted, "Don't you tell! don't you tell!" and just perfectly wriggled
with triumph.

The papa had heard every word; they were laughing so that they whispered
almost as loud as talking; but he pretended that he had not understood,
and he made up his mind that he would have them yet. "A little and a
more," he said, "and I should never have gone on again."

"Go on! Go on!" they called out, and then they wriggled and giggled
till anybody would have thought they were both crazy.

"Well, where was I?" This was another of the papa's tricks to gain time.
Whenever he could not think of anything more, he always asked, "Well,
where was I?" He now added: "Oh yes! I remember! Well, once there were a
Prince and a Princess, and their names were Butterflyflutterby and
Flutterbybutterfly; and they were both twins, and both orphans; but they
made their home with their fairy godmother as long as they were little,
and they used to help her about the house for part board, and she helped
them about their kingdom, and kept it in good order for them, and left
them plenty of time to play and enjoy themselves. She was the greatest
person for order there ever was; and if she found a speck of dust or
dirt on the kingdom anywhere, she would have out the whole army and make
them wash it up, and then sand-paper the place, and polish it with a
coarse towel till it perfectly glistened. The father of the Prince and
Princess had taken the precaution, before he died, to subdue all his
enemies; and the consequence was that the longest kind of peace had set
in, and the army had nothing to do but keep the kingdom clean. That was
the reason why the fairy godmother had made the General-in-Chief take
their guns away, and arm them with long feather-dusters. They marched
with the poles on their shoulders, and carried the dusters in their
belts, like bayonets; and whenever they came to a place that the fairy
godmother said needed dusting--she always went along with them in a
diamond chariot--she made the General halloo out: 'Fix dusters! Make
ready! Aim! Dust!' And then the place would be cleaned up. But the
General-in-Chief used to go out behind the church and cry, it mortified
him so to have to give such orders, and it reminded him so painfully of
the good old times when he would order his men to charge the enemy, and
cover the field with gore and blood, instead of having it so awfully
spick-and-span as it was now. Still he did what the fairy godmother told
him, because he said it was his duty; and he kept his troops supplied
with sudsine and dustene, to clean up with, and brushes and towels. The
fairy godmother--"

[Illustration: "'FIX DUSTERS! MAKE READY! AIM! DUST!'"]

"Excuse me, uncle," said the nephew, with extreme deference, "but I
should just like to ask you one question. Will you let me?"

"What is it?" said the papa, in the grimmest kind of manner he could put

"Ah, brother!" murmured the niece; for she knew that he was rather
sarcastic, and she was afraid that something ironical was coming.


"Well, I just wanted to ask whether this story was about the fairy
godmother, or about the Prince and Princess."

"Very well, now," said the papa. "You've asked your question. I didn't
promise to answer it, and I'm happy to say it stops the story. I'll
guess _I'll_ go to sleep again. I don't like being waked up this way in
the middle of the night, anyhow."

"Now, brother, I hope you're satisfied!" said the niece.

The nephew evaded the point. He said: "Well, sister, if the story really
isn't going on, I should like to ask uncle another question. How big was
the fairy godmother's diamond chariot?"

"It was the usual sized chariot," answered the papa.

"Whew! It must have been a pretty big diamond, then!"

"It was a _very_ big diamond," said the papa; and he seemed to forget
all about being mad, or else he had thought up some more of the story
to tell, for he went on just as if nothing had happened. "The fairy
godmother was so severe with the dirt she found because it was a royal
prerogative--that is, nobody but the King, or the King's family, had a
right to make a mess, and if other people did it, they were infringing
on the royal prerogative.

"You know," the papa explained, "that in old times and countries the
royal family have been allowed to do things that no other family would
have been associated with if they had done them. That is about the only
use there is in having a royal family. But the fairy godmother of

"Butterflyflutterby," said the niece.

"And Princess--"

"Flutterbybutterfly," said the nephew.

"Correct," said the papa.

The children rose up into a capital A again, and whispered, "He didn't
catch us _that_ time," and fell back, laughing, and the papa had to go

"The fairy godmother thought she would try to bring up the Prince and
Princess rather better than most Princes and Princesses were brought up,
and so she said that the only thing they should be allowed to do
different from other people was to make a mess. If any other persons
were caught making a mess they were banished; and there was another law
that was perfectly awful."

"What-was-it-go-ahead?" said the nephew, running all his words together,
he was so anxious to know.

"Why, if any person was found clearing up anywhere, and it turned out to
be a mess that the royal twins had made, the person was thrown from a

"Did it kill them?" the niece inquired, rather faintly.

"Well, no, it didn't _kill_ them exactly, but it bounced them up pretty
high. You see, they fell on a bed of India-rubber about twenty feet
deep. It gave them a good scare; and that's the great thing in throwing
persons from a high tower."

The nephew hastened to improve the opportunity which seemed to be given
for asking questions.

"What do you mean exactly by making a mess, uncle?"

"Oh, scattering scraps of paper about, or scuffing the landscape, or
getting jam or molasses on the face of nature, or having bonfires in the
back yard of the palace, or leaving dolls around on the throne. But what
did I say about asking questions? Now there's another thing about this
story: when it comes to the exciting part, if you move the least bit, or
even breathe loud, the story stops, just as if you didn't know which was
the Prince and which was the Princess. _Now_ do you understand?"

The children both said "Yes" in a very small whisper, and cowered down
almost under the clothing, and held on tight, so as to keep from


The papa went on: "Well, about the time they had got these two laws in
full force, and forty or fifty thousand boys and girls had been banished
for making a mess, and pretty nearly all the neat old ladies in the
kingdom had been thrown from a high tower for cleaning up after the
Prince and Princess Butterflyflutterby and Flutterbybutterfly, the
young Khan and Khant of Tartary entered the kingdom with a magnificent
retinue of followers, to select a bride and groom from the children of
the royal family. As there were no children in the royal family except
the twins, the choice of the Khan and Khant naturally fell upon the


"And the Princess--"


"Correct. It also happened that the Khan and the Khant were brother and
sister; but if you can't tell which was the brother and which was the
sister, the story stops at this point."

"Why, but, uncle," said the little girl, reproachfully, "you haven't
ever told us which is which yourself yet!"

"I know it. Because I'm waiting to find out. You see, with these Asiatic
names it's impossible sometimes to tell which is which. You have to wait
and see how they will act. If there had been a battle anywhere, and one
of them had screamed, and run away, then I suppose I should have been
pretty sure it was the sister; but even then I shouldn't know which was
the Khan and which was the Khant."

"Well, what are we going to do about it, then?" asked the nephew.

"I don't know," said the papa. "We shall just have to keep on and see.
Perhaps when they meet the Prince and Princess we shall find out. I
don't suppose a boy would fall in love with a boy."

"No," said the niece; "but he might want to go off with him and have
fun, or something."

"That's true," said the papa. "We've got to all watch out. Of course the
Khan and the Khant scuffed the landscape awfully, as they came along
through the kingdom, and got the face of nature all daubed up with
marmalade--they were the greatest persons for marmalade--and when they
reached the palace of the Prince and Princess they had to camp out in
the back yard, and they had to have bonfires to cook by, and they made a
frightful mess.

"Well, there was the greatest excitement about it that there ever was.
The General-in-Chief kept his men under arms night and day, and the
fairy godmother was so worked up she almost had a brain-fever; and if
she had not taken six of aconite every night when she went to bed she
_would_ have had. You see, the question was what to do about the mess
that the Khan and Khant made. They were visitors, and it wouldn't have
been polite to banish them; and they belonged to a royal family, and so
nobody dared to clean up after them. The whole kingdom was in the most
disgusting state, and whenever the fairy godmother looked into the back
yard of the palace she felt as if she would go through the floor.


"Well, it kept on going from bad to worse. The only person that enjoyed
herself was the wicked enchantress; _she_ never had such a good time in
her life; and when the fairy godmother got hold of the Grand Vizier and
the Cadi, and told them to make a new law so as to allow the army to
clean up after royal visitors, without being thrown from a high tower,
the wicked enchantress enchanted the whole mess, so that the army could
not tell which the Prince and Princess had made, and which the Khan and
Khant had made; they were all four always playing together, anyway.

"It seemed as if the poor old fairy godmother would go perfectly wild,
and she almost made the General crazy giving orders in one breath, and
taking them back in the next. She said that now something had got to be
done; she had stood it long enough; and she was going to take the case
into her own hands. She saw that she should have no peace of her life
till the Prince and Princess and the Khan and Khant were married. She
sent for the head Imam, and told him to bring those children right in
and marry them, and she would be responsible.

"The Imam put his head to the floor--and it was pretty hard on him, for
he was short and stout, and he had to do it kind of sideways--and said
to hear was to obey; but he could not marry them unless he knew which
was which.

"The fairy godmother screamed out: 'I don't _care_ which is which! Marry
them all, just as they are!'

"But when she came to think it over, she saw that this would not do, and
so she tried to invent some way out of the trouble. One morning she woke
up with a splendid idea, and she could hardly wait to have breakfast
before she sent for the General-in-Chief. Her nerves were all gone, and
as soon as she saw him, she yelled at him: 'A sham battle--to-day--now--this
very instant! Right away, right away, right away!'


"The General got her to explain herself, and then he understood that she
wanted him to have a grand review and sham battle of all the troops, in
honor of the Khan and Khant; and the whole court had to be present, and
especially the timidest of the ladies, that would almost scare a person
to death by the way they screamed when they were frightened. The General
was just going to say that the guns and cannon had all got rusty, and
the powder was spoiled from not having been used for so long, with the
everlasting cleaning up that had been going on; but the fairy godmother
stamped her foot and sent him flying. So the only thing he could do was
to set all the gnomes at work making guns and cannon and powder, and
about twelve o'clock they had them ready, and just after lunch the sham
battle began.

"The troops marched and counter-marched, and fired away the whole
afternoon, and sprang mines and blew up magazines, and threw cannon
crackers and cannon torpedoes. There was such an awful din and racket
that you couldn't hear yourself think, and some of the court ladies were
made perfectly sick by it. They all asked to be excused, but the fairy
godmother wouldn't excuse one of them. She just kept them there on the
seats round the battle-field, and let them shriek themselves hoarse. So
many of them fainted that they had to have the garden hose brought, and
they kept it sprinkling away on their faces all the afternoon.


"But it was a failure as far as the Khan and the Khant were concerned.
The fairy godmother expected that as soon as the loudest firing began,
the girl, whichever it was, would scream, and so they would know
which was which. But the Khan and Khant's father had been a famous
warrior, and he had been in the habit of taking his children to battle
with him from their earliest years, partly because his wife was dead and
he didn't dare trust them with the careless nurse at home, and partly
because he wanted to harden their nerves. So now they just clapped their
hands, and enjoyed the sham battle down to the ground.

"About sunset the fairy godmother gave it up. She had to, anyway. The
troops had shot away all their powder, and the gnomes couldn't make any
more till the next day. So she set out to return to the city, with all
the court following her diamond chariot, and I can tell you she felt
pretty gloomy. She told the Grand Vizier that now she didn't see any end
to the trouble, and she was just going into hysterics when a barefooted
boy came along driving his cow home from the pasture. The fairy
godmother didn't mind it much, for she was in her chariot; but the court
ladies were on foot, and they began to scream, 'Oh, the cow! the cow!'
and to take hold of the knights, and to get on to the fence, till it was
perfectly packed with them; and who do you think the fairy godmother
found had scrambled up on top of her chariot?"

The nephew and niece were afraid to risk a guess, and the papa had to

"The Khant! The fairy godmother pulled her inside and hugged her and
kissed her, she was so glad to find out that she was the one; and she
stopped the procession on the spot, and she called up the Imam, and he
married the Khant to Prince--"

The papa stopped, and as the niece and nephew hesitated, he said, very
sternly, "Well?"

The fact is, they had got so mixed up about the Khan and the Khant of
Tartary that they had forgotten which was Butterflyflutterby and which
was Flutterbybutterfly. They tried, shouting out one the one and the
other the other, but the papa said:

"Oh no! That won't work. I've had that sort of thing tried on me before,
and it _never_ works. _I_ heard you whispering what you would do, and
you have simply added the crime of double-dealing to the crime of
inattention. The story has stopped, and stopped forever."

The nephew stretched himself and then sat up in bed. "Well, it had got
to the end, anyway."

"Oh, _had_ it? What became of the wicked enchantress?" The nephew lay
down again, in considerable dismay.

"Uncle," said the niece, very coaxingly, "_I_ didn't say it had come to
the end."

"But it has," said the papa. "And I'm mighty glad you forgot the
Prince's name, for the rule of this story is that it has to go on as
long as any one listening remembers, and it might have gone on

"I suppose," the nephew said, "a person may guess?"

"He may, if he guesses right. If he guesses wrong, he has to be thrown
from a high tower--the same one the wicked enchantress was thrown from."

"There!" shouted the nephew; "you said you wouldn't tell. How high was
the tower, anyway, uncle? As high as the Eiffel Tower in Paris?"

"Not quite. It was three feet and five inches high."

"Ho! Then the enchantress was a dwarf!"

"Who said she was a dwarf?"

"There wouldn't be any use throwing her from the tower if she wasn't."

"I didn't say it was any use. They just did it for ornament."

This made the nephew so mad that he began to dig the papa with his fist,
and the papa began to laugh. He said, as well as he could for laughing:
"You see, the trouble was to keep her from bouncing up higher than the
top of the tower. She was light weight, anyway, because she was a witch;
and after the first bounce they had to have two executioners to keep
throwing her down--a day executioner and a night executioner; and she
went so fast up and down that she was just like a solid column of
enchantress. She enjoyed it first-rate, but it kept her out of

"Now, uncle," said the niece, "you're just letting yourself go. What did
the fairy godmother do after they all got married?"

"Well, the story don't say exactly. But there's a report that when she
became a fairy grandgodmother, she was not half so severe about cleaning
up, and let the poor old General-in-Chief have some peace of his
life--or some war. There was a rebellion among the genii not long
afterwards, and the General was about ten or fifteen years putting them

The nephew had been lying quiet a moment. Now he began to laugh.

"What are you laughing at?" demanded his uncle.

"The way that Khant scrambled up on top of the chariot when the cow came
along. Just like a girl. They're all afraid of cows."

The tears came into the niece's eyes; she had a great many feelings, and
they were easily hurt, especially her feelings about girls.

"Well, she wasn't afraid of the cannon, anyway."

"That is a very just remark," said the uncle. "And now what do you say
to breakfast?"

The children sprang out of bed, and tried which could beat to the door.
They forgot to thank the uncle, but he did not seem to have expected any

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