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Title: Mother Stories
Author: Lindsay, Maud
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 "Mother Stories" ***

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MOTHER STORIES

BY

MAUD LINDSAY

ILLUSTRATED _by_ SARAH NOBLE-IVES

    "_Mother, a story told at the right time
    Is a looking-glass for the mind_."
                                    FROEBEL.

TWENTY-EIGHTH EDITION

MILTON BRADLEY COMPANY
SPRINGFIELD MASS. 1928

=Bradley Quality Books=
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

DEDICATED _to_ MY MOTHER



PREFACE


I have endeavored to write, for mothers and dear little children, a few
simple stories, embodying some of the truths of Froebel's Mother Play.

The Mother Play is such a vast treasure house of Truth, that each one
who seeks among its stores may bring to light some gem; and though,
perhaps, I have missed its diamonds and rubies, I trust my string of
pearls may find acceptance with some mother who is trying to live with
her children.

I have written my own mottoes, with a few exceptions, that I might
emphasize the particular lesson which I endeavor to teach in the story;
for every motto in the Mother Play comprehends so much that it is
impossible to use the whole for a single subject. From "The Bridge" for
instance, which is replete with lessons, I have taken only one,--for the
story of the "Little Traveler."

Most of these stories have been told and retold to little children, and
are surrounded, in my eyes, by a halo of listening faces.

"Mrs. Tabby Gray" is founded on a true story of a favorite cat. "The
Journey" is a new version of the old Stage Coach game, much loved by our
grandmothers; and I am indebted to some old story, read in childhood,
for the suggestion of "Dust Under the Rug," which was a successful
experiment in a kindergarten to test the possibility of interesting
little children in a story after the order of Grimm, with the wicked
stepmother and her violent daughter eradicated.

Elizabeth Peabody says we are all free to look out of each other's
windows; and so I place mine at the service of all who care to see what
its tiny panes command.

MAUD LINDSAY.



LIST OF STORIES



The Wind's Work

Mrs. Tabby Gray

Fleet Wing and Sweet Voice

The Little Girl with the Light

The Little Gray Pony

How the Home Was Built

The Little Traveler

The Open Gate

Inside the Garden Gate

The Journey

Giant Energy and Fairy Skill

The Search for a Good Child

The Closing Door

The Minstrel's Song

Dust Under the Rug

The Story of Gretchen

The King's Birthday



_THE WIND'S WORK_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Power invisible that God reveals,
    The child within all nature feels,
    Like the great wind that unseen goes,
    Yet helps the world's work as it blows_.

One morning Jan waked up very early, and the first thing he saw when he
opened his eyes was his great kite in the corner. His big brother had
made it for him; and it had a smiling face, and a long tail that reached
from the bed to the fireplace. It did not smile at Jan that morning
though, but looked very sorrowful and seemed to say "Why was I made? Not
to stand in a corner, I hope!" for it had been finished for two whole
days and not a breeze had blown to carry it up like a bird in the air.

Jan jumped out of bed, dressed himself, and ran to the door to see if
the windmill on the hill was at work; for he hoped that the wind had
come in the night. But the mill was silent and its arms stood still. Not
even a leaf turned over in the yard.

The windmill stood on a high hill where all the people could see it, and
when its long arms went whirling around every one knew that there was
no danger of being hungry, for then the Miller was busy from morn to
night grinding the grain that the farmers brought him.

When Jan looked out, however, the Miller had nothing to do, and was
standing in his doorway, watching the clouds, and saying to himself
(though Jan could not hear him):--

    "_Oh! how I wish the wind would blow
    So that my windmill's sails might go,
    To turn my heavy millstones round!
    For corn and wheat must both be ground,
    And how to grind I do not know
    Unless the merry wind will blow_."

He sighed as he spoke, for he looked down in the village, and saw the
Baker in neat cap and apron, standing idle too.

The Baker's ovens were cold, and his trays were clean, and he, too, was
watching the sky, and saying:--

    "_Oh! how I wish the wind would blow,
    So that the Miller's mill might go,
    And grind me flour so fine, to make
    My good light bread and good sweet cake!
    But how to bake I do not know
    Without the flour as white as snow_."

Jan heard every word that the Baker said, for he lived next door to him;
and he felt so sorry for his good neighbor that he wanted to tell him
so. But before he had time to speak, somebody else called out from
across the street:--

    "_Well! I'm sure I wish the wind would blow,
    For this is washing day, you know.
    I've scrubbed and rubbed with all my might,
    In tubs of foam from morning light,
    And now I want the wind to blow
    To dry my clothes as white as snow_."

This was the Washerwoman who was hanging out her clothes. Jan could see
his own Sunday shirt, with ruffles, hanging limp on her line, and it was
as white as a snowflake, sure enough!

"Come over, little neighbor," cried the Washerwoman, when she saw Jan.
"Come over, little neighbor, and help me work to-day!" So, as soon as
Jan had eaten his breakfast, he ran over to carry her basket for her.
The basket was heavy, but he did not care; and as he worked he heard
some one singing a song, with a voice almost as loud and as strong as
the wind.

    [1]"_Oh! if the merry wind would blow,
    Yeo ho! lads, ho! yeo ho! yeo ho!
    My gallant ship would gaily go,
    Yeo ho! lads, ho! yeo ho!
    In fresh'ning gales we'd loose our sails,
        And o'er the sea,
    Where blue waves dance, and sunbeams glance,
        We'd sail in glee,
    But winds must blow, before we go,
        Across the sea,
    Yeo ho! my lads, yeo ho!"_

[Footnote 1: Air _Nancy Lee_.]

Jan and the Washerwoman and all the neighbors looked out to see who was
singing so cheerily, and it was the Sea-captain whose white ship Jan had
watched in the harbor. The ship was laden with linen and laces for fine
ladies, but it could not go till the wind blew. The Captain was
impatient to be off, and so he walked about town, singing his jolly song
to keep himself happy.

Jan thought it was a beautiful song, and when he went home he tried to
sing it himself. He did not know all the words, but he put his hands in
his pockets and swelled out his little chest and sang in as big a voice
as he could: "Yeo ho! my lads, yeo ho!"

While he sang, something kissed him on the cheek; and when he turned to
see what it was his hat spun off into the yard as if it were enchanted;
and when he ran to pick his hat up he heard a whispering all through the
town. He looked up, and he looked down, and on every side, but saw
nobody! At last the golden weather-vane on the church tower called
down:--

"Foolish child, it is the wind from out of the east."

The trees had been the first to know of its coming, and they were bowing
and bending to welcome it; while the leaves danced off the branches and
down the hill, in a whirl of delight.

The windmill's arms whirled round, oh! so fast, and the wheat was ground
into white flour for the Baker, who kindled his fires and beat his eggs
in the twinkling of an eye; and he was not quicker than the Sea-captain,
who loosed his sails in the fresh'ning gales, just as he had said he
would, and sailed away to foreign lands.

Jan watched him go, and then ran in great haste to get his kite; for the
petticoats on the Washerwoman's clothesline were puffed up like
balloons, and all the world was astir.

"Now I'm in my proper place," said the kite as it sailed over the roofs
of the houses, over the tree tops, over the golden weather vane, and
even over the windmill itself. Higher, higher, higher it flew, as if it
had wings; till it slipped away from the string, and Jan never saw it
again, and only the wind knew where it landed at last.

[Illustration: "Now I am in my proper place," said the Kite.]



_MRS. TABBY GRAY_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    "_All mother love attracts the child,
      Its world-wide tenderness he feels.
    And ev'ry beast that loves her young,
      His mother's love to him reveals_."



Mrs. Tabby Gray, with her three little kittens, lived out in the barn
where the hay was stored. One of the kittens was white, one was black,
and one gray, just like her mother, who was called Tabby Gray from the
color of her coat.

These three little kittens opened their eyes when they grew old enough,
and thought there was nothing so nice in all this wonderful world as
their own dear mother, although she told them of a great many nice
things, like milk and bread, which they should have when they could go
up to the big house where she had her breakfast, dinner, and supper.

Every time Mother Tabby came from the big house she had something
pleasant to tell. "Bones for dinner to-day, my dears," she would say, or
"I had a fine romp with a ball and the baby," until the kittens longed
for the time when they could go too.

One day, however, Mother Cat walked in with joyful news.

"I have found an elegant new home for you," she said, "in a very large
trunk where some old clothes are kept; and I think I had better move at
once."

Then she picked up the small black kitten, without any more words, and
walked right out of the barn with him.

The black kitten was astonished, but he blinked his eyes at the bright
sunshine, and tried to see everything.

Out in the barnyard there was a great noise, for the white hen had laid
an egg, and wanted everybody to know it; but Mother Cat hurried on,
without stopping to inquire about it, and soon dropped the kitten into
the large trunk. The clothes made such a soft, comfortable bed, and the
kitten was so tired after his exciting trip, that he fell asleep, and
Mrs. Tabby trotted off for another baby.

While she was away, the lady who owned the trunk came out in the hall;
and when she saw that the trunk was open, she shut it, locked it, and
put the key in her pocket, for she did not dream that there was
anything so precious as a kitten inside.

As soon as the lady had gone upstairs Mrs. Tabby Gray came back, with
the little white kitten; and when she found the trunk closed, she was
terribly frightened. She put the white kitten down and sprang on top of
the trunk and scratched with all her might, but scratching did no good.
Then she jumped down and reached up to the keyhole, but that was too
small for even a mouse to pass through, and the poor mother mewed
pitifully.

What was she to do? She picked up the white kitten, and ran to the barn
with it. Then she made haste to the house again, and went upstairs to
the lady's room. The lady was playing with her baby and when Mother Cat
saw this she rubbed against her skirts, and cried: "Mee-ow, mee-ow! You
have your baby, and I want mine! Mee-ow, mee-ow!"

By and by the lady said: "Poor Kitty! she must be hungry"; and she went
down to the kitchen and poured sweet milk in a saucer, but the cat did
not want milk. She wanted her baby kitten out of the big black trunk,
and she mewed as plainly as she could: "Give me my baby--give me my
baby, out of your big black trunk!"

The kind lady decided that she must be thirsty: "Poor Kitty, I will give
you water"; but when she set the bowl of water down Mrs. Tabby Gray
mewed more sorrowfully than before. She wanted no water,--she only
wanted her dear baby kitten; and she ran to and fro, crying, until, at
last, the lady followed her; and she led the way to the trunk.

"What can be the matter with this cat?" said the lady; and she took the
trunk key out of her pocket, put it in the lock, unlocked the trunk,
raised the top--and in jumped Mother Cat with such a bound that the
little black kitten waked up with a start.

[Illustration: The lady followed her; and she led the way to the trunk.]

"Purr, purr, my darling child," said Mrs. Tabby Gray, in great
excitement; "I have had a dreadful fright!" and before the black kitten
could ask one question she picked him up and started for the barn.

The sun was bright in the barnyard and the hens were still chattering
there; but the black kitten was glad to get back to the barn. His mother
was glad, too; for, as she nestled down in the hay with her three little
kittens, she told them that a barn was the best place after all to raise
children.

And she never afterwards changed her mind.



_FLEET WING AND SWEET VOICE_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Make the home-coming sweet!
    The gladness of going,
    The pleasure of knowing
    Will not be complete
    Unless, at the ending,
    The home-coming's sweet.

    Make the home-coming sweet!
    No fear of the straying,
    Or dread of the staying
    Of dear little feet,
    If always you're making
    The home-coming sweet_.

Mother and Father Pigeon lived with their two young pigeons in their
home, built high on a post in the king's barnyard. Every bright morning
they would fly away through the beautiful sunshine wherever they
pleased, but, when evening came, they were sure to come to the
pigeon-house again.

One evening, when they were talking together in their sweet, cooing way,
Mother Pigeon said:--

"We each have a story to tell, I know; so let each one take his turn,
and Father Pigeon begin."

Then Father Pigeon said:--

"To-day I have been down to the shining little stream that runs through
the wood. The green ferns grow on either side of it, and the water is
cool, cool, cool! for I dipped my feet into it, and wished that you all
were there."

"I know the stream," cooed Mother Pigeon. "It turns the wheels of the
mills as it hurries along, and is busy all day on its way to the river."

"To-day I have talked with the birds in the garden," said Sweet Voice,
one of the young pigeons, "the thrush, the blackbird, and bluebird, and
all. They sang to me and I cooed to them, and together we made the world
gay. The bluebird sang of the sunshine, and the blackbird of the
harvest; but the thrush sang the sweetest song. It was about her nest in
the tree."

"I heard you all," said Fleet Wing, the other young pigeon; "for I sat
and listened on the high church tower. I was so high up, there, that I
thought I was higher than anything else; but I saw the great sun shining
in the sky, and the little white clouds, like sky pigeons, sailing above
me. Then, looking down, I saw, far away, this white pigeon-house; and it
made me very glad, for nothing that I saw was so lovely as home."

"I never fly far away from home," said Mother Pigeon, "and to-day I
visited in the chicken yard. The hens were all talking, and they greeted
me with 'Good morning! Good morning!' and the turkey gobbled 'Good
morning!' and the rooster said 'How do you do?' While I chatted with
them a little girl came out with a basket of yellow corn, and threw some
for us all. When I was eating my share, I longed for my dear ones. And
now good night," cooed Mother Pigeon, "it is sleepy time for us all."

"Coo, coo! Good night!" answered the others; and all was still in the
pigeon-house.

Now over in the palace, where the king, and queen, and their one little
daughter lived, there was the sound of music and laughter; but the
king's little daughter was sad, for early the next morning her father,
the king, was to start on a journey, and she loved him so dearly that
she could not bear to have him leave her.

The king's little daughter could not go out in the sunshine like Sweet
Voice and Fleet Wing, but lay all day within the palace on her silken
cushions; for her fine little feet, in their satin slippers, were always
too tired to carry her about, and her thin, little face was as white as
a jasmine flower.

The king loved her as dearly as she loved him; and when he saw that she
was sad, he tried to think of something to make her glad after he had
gone away. At last he called a prince, and whispered something to him.
The prince told it to a count, and the count to a gentleman-in-waiting.

The gentleman-in-waiting told a footman, and the footman told somebody
else, and at last, the boy who waited on the cook heard it.

Early next morning he went to the pigeon-house, where Mother and Father
Pigeon and their two young pigeons lived; and putting his hand through a
door, he took Sweet Voice and Fleet Wing out, and dropped them into a
basket.

Poor Sweet Voice, and Fleet Wing! They were so frightened that they
could not coo! They sat very close to each other in the covered basket,
and wondered when they would see their mother and father and home
again.

All the time, as they sat close together in the basket and wondered,
they were being taken away from home; for the king had started on his
journey, and one of his gentlemen was carrying the basket, very
carefully, with him on his horse.

At last the horses stood still and the basket was taken to the king; and
when he opened it, the two little pigeons looked up and saw that the sun
was high in the sky, and that they were far from home.

When they saw that they were far from home, they were more frightened
than before; but the king spoke so kindly and smoothed their feathers so
gently, that they knew he would take care of them.

Then the king took two tiny letters tied with lovely blue ribbon out of
his pocket; and, while his gentlemen stood by to see, he fastened one
under a wing of each little pigeon.

"Fly away, little pigeons!" he cried; and he tossed them up toward the
sky. "Fly away, and carry my love to my little daughter!"

Fleet Wing, and Sweet Voice spread their wings joyfully, for they knew
that they were free! free! and they wanted to go home.

Everywhere they saw green woods, instead of the red roofs and shining
windows of the town, and Sweet Voice was afraid; but Fleet Wing said:--

"I saw these woods from the tall church steeple. Home is not so far away
as we thought."

Then they lost no time in talking, but turned their heads homeward; and
as they flew the little gray squirrels that ran about in the woods
called out to ask them to play, but the pigeons could not stay.

The wood dove heard them, and called from her tree: "Little cousins,
come in!" But the pigeons thanked her and hurried on.

"Home is not so far away," said Fleet Wing; but he began to fear that he
had missed the way, and Sweet Voice was so tired that she begged him to
fly on alone.

[Illustration: The little pigeons were taken in to see the king's
daughter.]

Fleet Wing would not listen to this; and, as they talked, they came to a
little stream of water with green ferns growing all about, and they knew
that it must be the very stream that Father Pigeon loved. Then they
cooled their tired feet in the fresh water, and cooed for joy; for they
knew that they were getting nearer, nearer, nearer home, all the time.

Sweet Voice was not afraid then; and as they flew from the shelter of
the woods, they saw the tall church steeple with its golden weather
vane.

The sun was in the west, and the windows were all shining in its light,
when Fleet Wing and Sweet Voice reached the town. The little children
saw them and called: "Stay with us, pretty pigeons." But Sweet Voice and
Fleet Wing did not rest until they reached the white pigeon house, where
Mother and Father Pigeon were waiting.

The cook's boy was waiting, too, and the little pigeons were taken in to
see the king's little daughter. When she found the letters which they
carried under their wings, she laughed with delight; and Fleet Wing and
Sweet Voice were very proud to think that they had brought glad news to
their princess.

They told it over and over again out in the pigeon-house, and Mother and
Father Pigeon were glad, too.

In the morning, the birds in the garden were told of the wonderful
things that had happened to Fleet Wing and Sweet Voice; and even the
hens and chickens had something to say when they heard the news.

The thrush said that it all made her think of her own sweet song; and
she sang it again to them:--

    "_Wherever I fly from my own dear nest,
    I always come back, for home is the best_."



_THE LITTLE GIRL WITH THE LIGHT_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _We can never dwell in shadows
    If our souls are full of light.
    Let the brightness of our being
    Make the whole wide world as bright_
    "_Jesus bids us shine for all around.
    Many kinds of darkness in this world are found.
    There's sin and want and sorrow, so we must shine,
    You in your small corner, I in mine."

    S.S. Hymn_.

There once lived a little maiden to whom God had given a wonderful
light, which made her whole life bright.

When she was a wee baby it shone on her face in a beautiful smile, and
her mother cried:--

"See! the angels have been kissing her!" And when she grew older it
lighted up her eyes like sunshine, and gleamed on her forehead like a
star.

All lovely things that loved light, loved her. The soft-cooing pigeons
came at her call. The roses climbed up to her windows to peep at her,
and the birds of the air, and the butterflies, that looked like
enchanted sunbeams, would circle about her head.

Her father was king of a country; and though she was not so tall as the
tall white lily in the garden, or the weeds that grew outside, she had
servants to wait on her, and grant her every wish, as if she were a
queen.

She was dearer to her father and mother than all else that they
possessed; and there was no happier king or queen or little maiden in
any kingdom of the world, till one sad day when the king's enemies came
upon them like a whirlwind, and changed their joy to sorrow.

Their palace was seized, the servants were scattered, and the king and
queen were carried away to a dark prison-house, where they sat and wept
for their little daughter, for they knew not where she was.

No one knew but the old nurse, who had nursed the king himself. She had
carried the child away, unnoticed amid the noise and strife, and set her
in safety outside the palace walls.

"Fly, precious one!" she cried, as she left her there. "Fly! for the
enemy is upon us!" And the little maiden started out in the world alone.

She knew not where to go; so she wandered away through the fields and
waste places, where nobody lived and only the grasshoppers seemed glad.
But she was not afraid,--no! not even when she came to a great forest,
at evening;--for she carried her light with her.

'T is true that once she thought she saw a threatening giant waiting by
the dusky path; but, when her light shone on it, it was only a pine
tree, stretching out its friendly arms; and she laughed so merrily that
all the woods laughed too.

"Who are you? Who are you?" asked an owl, blinking his eyes at the
brightness of her face; and a little rabbit, startled by the sound,
sprang from its hiding place in the bushes and fell trembling at her
feet.

"Alas!" it panted as she bent in pity to offer help, "Alas! the hunters
with their dogs and guns pursue me! But you flee, too! How can you help
me?" But the child took the tiny creature in her arms and held it close;
and when the dogs rushed through the tanglewood, they saw the light that
lighted up her eyes like sunshine and gleamed on her forehead like a
star, and came no further.

Then deeper into the great forest she went, bearing the rabbit still;
and the wild beasts heard her footsteps, and waited for her coming.

"Hush!" said the fox, "she is mine; for I will lead her from the path
into the tanglewood!"

"Nay, she is mine!" howled the wolf; "for I will follow on her
footsteps!"

"Mine! mine!" screamed the tiger; "for I will spring upon her in the
darkness, and she cannot escape me!"

[Illustration: The child took the tiny creature in her arms and held it
close.]

So they quarreled among themselves, for they were beasts and knew no
better; and as they snarled and growled and howled, the maiden walked in
among them; and when the light which made her lovely fell upon them,
they ran and hid themselves in the depths of the forest, and the
child passed on in safety.

The rabbit still slept peacefully on her breast. At last she, too, grew
weary, and lay down to sleep on the leaves and moss; and the birds of
the forest watched her and sang to her, and nothing harmed her all the
night.

In the morning a party of horsemen rode through the forest, looking
behind each bush and tree as if they sought something very precious.

The forest glowed with splendor then, for the sun had come in all its
glory to scatter darkness and wake up the world. The darkest dells and
caves and lonely paths lost their horror in the morning light, and there
were violets blooming in the shadows of the pines.

The leaves glistened, the flowers lifted their heads, and everything was
glad but the horsemen, whose faces were full of gloom because their
hearts were sad.

They did not speak or smile as they rode on their search; and their
leader was the saddest of them all, though he wore a golden crown that
sparkled with many jewels.

They followed each winding path through the forest, till at last they
reached the spot where the little maiden lay.

The rabbit waked up at the sound of their coming, but the child slept
till a loud cry of gladness awakened her and she found herself in her
father's arms.

In the night-time the king's brave soldiers had driven his enemies from
his land, and opened the doors of the prison-house in which he and the
queen lay, and the king had ridden with them in haste to find his
darling child, who was worth his crown and his kingdom.

The sight of her face was the sunshine to lighten their hearts, and they
sent the glad news far and near, with blast of trumpet and shouts of
joy.

But in all their great happiness the child did not forget the rabbit,
and she said to it, "Come with me and I will take care of you, for my
father the king is here." But the rabbit thanked her and wanted to go
home.

"My babies are waiting," it said, "and I have my work to do in the
world. I pray you let me go."

So the child kissed it and bade it go; and she, too, went to her own
dear home. There she grew lovelier every day, for the light grew with
her; and when, long years afterward, she was queen of the country, the
foxes and wolves and tigers dared not harm her people, for her good
knights drove evil from her land; but to loving gentle creatures she
gave love and protection, and she lived happily all the days of her
life.



_THE LITTLE GRAY PONY_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _The humblest workman has his place,
    Which no one else can fill_.

There was once a man who owned a little gray pony.

Every morning when the dewdrops were still hanging on the pink clover in
the meadows, and the birds were singing their morning song, the man
would jump on his pony and ride away, clippety, clippety, clap!

The pony's four small hoofs played the jolliest tune on the smooth pike
road, the pony's head was always high in the air, and the pony's two
little ears were always pricked up; for he was a merry gray pony, and
loved to go clippety, clippety, clap!

The man rode to town and to country, to church and to market, up hill
and down hill; and one day he heard something fall with a clang on a
stone in the road. Looking back, he saw a horseshoe lying there. And
when he saw it, he cried out:--

    "_What shall I do? What shall I do?
    If my little gray pony has lost a shoe_?"

Then down he jumped, in a great hurry, and looked at one of the pony's
fore-feet; but nothing was wrong. He lifted the other forefoot, but the
shoe was still there. He examined one of the hindfeet, and began to
think that he was mistaken; but when he looked at the last foot, he
cried again:--

    "_What shall I do? What shall I do?
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe_!"

Then he made haste to go to the blacksmith; and when he saw the smith,
he called out to him:--

    "_Blacksmith! Blacksmith! I've come to you;
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe_!"

But the blacksmith answered and said:--

    "_How can I shoe your pony's feet,
    Without some coal the iron to heat_?"

The man was downcast when he heard this; but he left his little gray
pony in the blacksmith's care, while he hurried here and there to buy
the coal.

First of all he went to the store; and when he got there, he said:--

    "_Storekeeper! Storekeeper! I've come to you;
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe!
    And I want some coal the iron to heat,
    That the blacksmith may shoe my pony's feet_."

But the storekeeper answered and said:--

    "_Now, I have apples and candy to sell,
    And more nice things than I can tell;
    But I've no coal the iron to heat,
    That the blacksmith may shoe your pony's feet_."

Then the man went away sighing, and saying:--

    "_What shall I do? What shall I do?
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe!"_

By and by he met a farmer coming to town with a wagon full of good
things; and he said:--

    "_Farmer! Farmer! I've come to you;
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe!
    And I want some coal the iron to heat,
    That the blacksmith may shoe my pony's feet_."

Then the farmer answered the man and said:--

    "_I've bushels of corn and hay and wheat
    Something for you and your pony to eat;
    But I've no coal the iron to heat,
    That the blacksmith may shoe your pony's feet_."

So the farmer drove away and left the man standing in the road, sighing
and saying:--

    "_What shall I do? What shall I do?
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe_!"

In the farmer's wagon, full of good things, he saw corn, which made him
think of the mill; so he hastened there, and called to the dusty
miller:--

    "_Miller! Miller! I've come to you;
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe,
    And I want some coal the iron to heat,
    That the blacksmith may shoe my pony's feet_."

The miller came to the door in surprise; and when he heard what was
needed, he said:--

    "_I have wheels that go round and round,
    And stones to turn till the grain is ground,
    But I've no coal the iron to heat,
    That the blacksmith may shoe your pony's feet_."

[Illustration: When she came near the man she stopped to ask him his
trouble.]

Then the man turned away sorrowfully and sat down on a rock near the
roadside, sighing and saying:--

    "_What shall I do? What shall I do?
    My little gray pony has lost a shoe_!"

After a while a very old woman came down the road, driving a flock of
geese to market; and when she came near the man, she stopped to ask him
his trouble. He told her all about it; and when she had heard it all,
she laughed till her geese joined in with a cackle; and she said:--

    "_If you would know where the coal is found,
    You must go to the miner, who works in the ground_."

Then the man sprang to his feet, and, thanking the old woman, he ran to
the miner. Now the miner had been working many a long day down in the
mine, under the ground, where it was so dark that he had to wear a lamp
on the front of his cap to light him at his work! He had plenty of black
coal ready and gave great lumps of it to the man, who took them in haste
to the blacksmith.

The blacksmith lighted his great red fire, and hammered out four fine
new shoes, with a cling! and a clang! and fastened them on with a rap!
and a tap! Then away rode the man on his little gray pony,--clippety,
clippety, clap!



_HOW THE HOME WAS BUILT_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _The priceless blessing of a happy home can be
    won only by struggle, endurance, and self-sacrifice_.

         FROEBEL.

    _Blow's Commentaries_.

Once there was a very dear family,--Father, Mother, big Brother Tom,
little Sister Polly, and the baby, who had a very long name, Gustavus
Adolphus; and every one of the family wanted a home more than anything
else in the world.

They lived in a house, of course, but that was rented; and they wanted a
home of their very own, with a sunny room for Mother and Father and
Baby, with a wee room close by for the little sister; a big, airy room
for Brother Tom; a cosy room for the cooking and eating; and, best of
all, a room that Grandmother might call her own when she came to see
them.

A box which Tom had made always stood on Mother's mantel, and they
called it the "Home Bank," because every penny that could be spared was
dropped in there for the building of the home.

This box had been full once, and was emptied to buy a little piece of
ground where the home could be built when the box was full again.

The box filled very slowly, though; and Gustavus Adolphus was nearly
three years old when one day the father came in with a beaming face and
called the family to him.

Mother left her baking, and Tom came in from his work; and after Polly
had brought the baby, the father asked them very solemnly: "Now, what do
we all want more than anything else in the world?"

"A home!" said Mother and Brother Tom.

"A home!" said little Sister Polly.

"Home!" said the baby, Gustavus Adolphus, because his mother had said
it.

"Well," said the father, "I think we shall have our home if each one of
us will help. I must go away to the great forest, where the trees grow
so tall and fine. All Winter long I must chop the trees down, and in the
Spring I shall be paid in lumber, which will help in the building of
the home. While I am away, Mother will have to fill my place and her own
too, for she will have to go to market, buy the coal, keep the pantry
full, and pay the bills, as well as cook and wash and sew, take care of
the children, and keep a brave heart till I come back again."

The mother was willing to do all this and more, too, for the dear home;
and Brother Tom asked eagerly: "What can I do?--what can I do?" for he
wanted to begin work right then, without waiting a moment.

"I have found you a place in the carpenter's shop where I work,"
answered the father. "And you will work for him, and all the while be
learning to saw and hammer and plane, so that you will be ready in the
Spring to help build the home."

Now, this pleased Tom so much that he threw his cap in the air and
hurrahed, which made the baby laugh; but little Polly did not laugh,
because she was afraid that she was too small to help. But after a
while the father said: "I shall be away in the great forest cutting down
the trees; Mother will be washing and sewing and baking; Tom will be at
work in the carpenter's shop; and who will take care of the baby?"

"I will, I will!" cried Polly, running to kiss the baby. "And the baby
can be good and sweet!"

So it was all arranged that they would have their dear little home,
which would belong to every one, because each one would help; and the
father made haste to prepare for the Winter. He stored away the firewood
and put up the stoves; and when the wood-choppers went to the great
forest, he was ready to go with them.

Out in the forest the trees were waiting. Nobody knew how many years
they had waited there, growing every year stronger and more beautiful
for the work they had to do. Every one of them had grown from a baby
tree to a giant; and when the choppers came, there stood the giant
trees, so bare and still in the wintry weather that the sound of the
axes rang from one end of the woods to the other. From sunrise to sunset
the men worked steadily; and although it was lonely in the woods when
the snow lay white on the ground and the cold wind blew, the father kept
his heart cheery. At night, when the men sat about the fire in their
great log-house, he would tell them about the mother and children who
were working with him for a home.

Nobody's ax was sharper than his or felled so many trees, and nobody was
gladder when Spring-time came and the logs were hauled down to the
river.

The river had been waiting too, through all the Winter, under its shield
of ice, but now that Spring had come, and the snows were melting, and
all the little mountain streams were tumbling down to help, the river
grew very broad and strong, and dashed along, snatching the logs when
the men pushed them in and carrying them on with a rush and a roar.

The men followed close along the bank of the river, to watch the logs
and keep them moving; but at last there came a time when the logs would
not move, but lay in a jam from shore to shore while the water foamed
about them.

"Who will go out to break the jam?" said the men. They knew that only a
brave man and a nimble man could go, for there was danger that the logs
might crush him and the river sweep him away.

They looked at each other. But the father was not afraid, and he was
surefooted and nimble; so he sprang out in a moment, with his ax, and
began to cut away at the logs.

"Some of these logs may help to build a home," he said; and he found the
very log that was holding the others tight, and as soon as that was
loosened, the logs began to move.

"Jump! Jump!" cried the men, as they ran for their lives; and, just as
the logs dashed on, with a rumble and a jumble and a jar that sent some
of the logs flying up in the air, the father reached the bank safely.

[Illustration: So the House was built; a cozy room for the cooking and
eating.]

The hard work was over now. After the logs had rested in the log "boom,"
they went on their way to the saw mills, where they were sawed into
lumber to build houses; and then the father hurried home.

When he came there, he found that the mother had baked and washed and
sewed and taken care of the children, as only such a precious mother
could have done. Brother Tom had worked so well in the carpenter's shop,
that he knew how to hammer and plane and saw, and had grown as tall and
as stout as a young pine tree. Sister Polly had taken such care of the
baby, that he looked as sweet and clean and happy as a rose in a garden;
and the baby had been so good, that he was a joy to the whole family.

"I must get this dear family into their home," said the father; and he
and Brother Tom went to work with a will. And the home was built, with a
sunny room for Father and Mother and Baby, a wee little room close by
for good Sister Polly, a big airy room for big Brother Tom, a cosy room
for the cooking and eating, and best of all, a room for the dear
grandmother, who came then to live with them all the time.



_THE LITTLE TRAVELER_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Love is a bridge that links us heart to heart
    Mother and child can never live apart_

Once upon a time there was a little boy who had a long journey to go. He
had a very dear mother, and she did not want her little son to leave
her; but she knew he must go, so she put her arms around him and said:
"Now, don't be afraid, for I shall be thinking of you, and God will take
care of you."

Then the little boy kissed her goodbye and ran away, singing a merry
song. As long as he could see her he would turn and wave his hand to
her; but by and by she was out of sight. Just then he came to a stream
of water that ran across his path.

"How can I get over?" thought the little boy; but a white swan swam up
to greet him, and said:--

"There is always a way to get over the stream. Follow me! follow me!"

So the little boy followed the swan till he came to a row of great
stepping stones, and he jumped from one to another, counting them as he
went.

When he reached the seventh he was safe across, and he turned to thank
the white swan. And when he had thanked her, he called:--

    "_White swan, white swan, swimming so gay!
    Carry a message for me to-day:
    My love to my mother, wherever she be;
    I know she is always thinking of me_."

Then the white swan swam back to carry the message, and the little boy
ran on his way.

Oh! there were so many beautiful things to hear,--the birds singing and
the bees humming; and so many beautiful things to see,--the flowers and
butterflies and green grass! And after a while he came to a wood, where
every tree wore a green dress; and through the wood, under the shade of
the trees, flowed a babbling creek.

"I wonder how I can get over?" said the little boy; and the wise wind
whispered:

"There is always a way to get over the stream. Follow me! follow me!"

[Illustration: "There is always a way to get over the stream, Follow me!
Follow me!"]

Then he followed the sound of the wise wind's voice, and the wind blew
against a tall pine tree, and the pine tree fell across the creek, and
lay there, a great round foot-log, where the little boy might step. He
made his way over, and thanked the wise wind; and he asked:--

    "_Wise wind, wise wind, blowing so gay!
    Carry a message for me to-day:
    My love to my mother, wherever she be;
    I know she is always thinking of me_."

The wind blew back to carry the message, and the little boy made haste
on his journey. His way lead through a meadow, where the clover grew and
the white sheep and baby lambs were feeding together in the sunshine.

On one side of this meadow flowed a silver shining river, and the child
wandered up and down the bank to find some way to cross, for he knew
that he must go on.

As he walked there, a man called a carpenter found him, and said to
him:--

"There is always a way to get over the stream. Follow me! follow me!"

Then the little boy followed the carpenter, and the carpenter and his
men built a bridge of iron and wood that reached across from bank to
bank. And when the bridge was finished, the child ran over in safety;
and after he had thanked the carpenter, he said:--

    "_Carpenter, carpenter, on your way!
    Carry a message for me to-day:
    My love to my mother, wherever she be,
    I know she is always thinking of me_."

The carpenter gladly consented; and after he had turned back to carry
the message, the little boy followed the path, which led up hill over
rocks and steep places, through brambles and briars, until his feet grew
weary; and when he came down into the valley again, he saw a river that
was very dark and very deep.

There was no white swan or wise wind to help him. No tree in the forest
could bridge it over, and the carpenter and his men were far away.

"I must get over. There is a way," said the little boy bravely; and, as
he sat down to rest, he heard a murmuring sound. Looking down, he spied
a tiny boat fastened to a willow tree.

    "_I am the boat with a helping oar,
    To carry you over from shore to shore_,"

repeated the boat; and when the little boy had unfastened it, he sprang
in, and began to row himself over the dark water.

As he rowed, he saw a tiny bird flying above him. The bird needed no
boat or bridge, for its wings were strong; and when the little boy saw
it, he cried:--

    "_Little bird, little bird, flying so gay!
    Carry a message for me to-day:
    My love to my mother, wherever she be;
    I know she is always thinking of me_."

The little bird flew swiftly back to carry the message, and the boy
rowed on till he reached the opposite shore. After he had thanked the
boat with its helping oar, he tied it to a tree as he had found it, and
then hastened away, singing his happy song again.

By and by he heard an answer to his song, and he knew that it was the
great sea, calling "Come! Come! Come!" And when he reached the shore
where the blue waves were dancing up to the yellow sands, he clapped his
hands with delight; for there, rocking on the billows, was a beautiful
ship with sails as white as a lady's hands.

"I knew there would be a way!" said the little boy, as he sprang on deck
and went sailing over the deep blue sea,--sailing, sailing, sailing, day
after day, night after night, over the beautiful sea.

At night the stars would look down, twinkling and blinking; and as the
little boy watched them, he would say:--

    "_Little stars, little stars, shining so bright!
    Carry a message for me to-night:
    My love to my mother, wherever she be;
    I know she is always thinking of me_."

The little boy went on sailing, sailing, day and night, until he came to
a land beyond the sea,--a land so full of delight that the little boy
felt that his journey was ended, until one day when a great storm came.

The wind blew, the thunder crashed, the lightning flashed, the rain came
pouring down, and the little boy wanted to go home.

"I will find a way!" he cried at last; and, just as he spoke, the sun
came bursting out, the storm clouds rolled away, and there in the sky
was a rainbow bridge that seemed to touch both sky and earth.

Then the little boy's heart leaped for joy, and he ran with feet as
light as feathers up the shining bow; and when he reached the highest
arch, he looked down on the other side and saw home and his mother at
the rainbow's end.

"Mother! Mother!" he called, as he ran down into her arms. "Mother, I've
always been thinking of you, and God has taken care of me."



_THE OPEN GATE_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Early teach your child, through play, to guard
    that which is dear to him from the danger of loss_.

         FROEBEL.

One bright summer afternoon, Fleet, the good old shepherd dog that
helped to take care of the farmyard, decided that he would step into the
barn to see his friend Mrs. Muffet and her two little kittens, for he
had not been able to chat with them for some time.

On his way, Fleet looked around to see that all was right. The weather
was warm and the hens were taking a dust bath under the apple tree, and
the brindle calf was asleep in the shadow of the barn. The ducks and
geese were at the pond, the horses were at work in a distant field, the
cows and sheep were in pasture, and only the brown colt kicked up his
heels in the farmyard; so Fleet barked with satisfaction, and walked
into the barn.

Inside he found Mrs. Muffet washing her face, while her two little
kittens slept in the hay; and she gave Fleet a warm welcome.

"Good evening, Mrs. Muffet," said he.

"Good evening, Friend Fleet," answered she.

"How are the children?" asked the good dog, "and do they grow?"

"Grow?" said Mrs. Muffet. "You never saw anything like them! and such
tricks as they play! Tittleback is the merrier, and will play with his
own tail when he can find nothing else; but Toddlekins can climb in a
way that is astonishing. Why, he even talks of going to the top of the
barn, and no doubt he will, some day."

"No doubt, no doubt," said Fleet. "Children are so remarkable now."

"But what is the news with you, Friend Fleet?" inquired Mrs. Muffet.

"Nothing at all," said Fleet. "The barnyard is as quiet"--but just as he
spoke there arose such a clatter outside the door that he sprang to his
feet to see what was the matter, and the two kittens waked up in alarm.
Outside, the yard was in a commotion. Everybody was talking at the same
time. The hens were cackling, the roosters crowing, the ducks quacking,
the calf crying, and the sound of flying hoofs could be heard far down
the road.

"Pray, what is the matter?" said Fleet to three geese, that were
hurrying along, with their necks stretched out.

"The gate is open, the brown colt's gone, the brindle calf's going and
we are thinking about it; quawk! quawk!" said the three geese, Mrs.
Waddle, Mrs. Gabble, and Mrs. Dabble.

"Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Muffet, putting her head out of the
barn door.

"Out into the world," said the three geese together.

"You'd better go back to your pond," barked Fleet, as he bounded off to
help the cook, who was waving her apron to keep back the brindle calf,
while the milkmaid shut the gate, and little Dick ran down the road
after the brown colt.

The brown colt kicked up his heels, and did not care how fast Dick ran.
He had all the world to roam in, and the green grass was growing
everywhere; so he tossed his head and galloped away toward the blue
hills.

After a while he looked to see whether Dick was still following him, but
nobody was in sight; so he lay down and rolled over among the daisies;
and this was such fun that he tried it again, and again, until he was
tired.

Then he nibbled the grass awhile, but soon decided to take another run;
and he raised such a dust, as he scampered along, that the birds peeped
down from the trees to see what it was, and a little rabbit that ran
across the road was so astonished that it did not take breath again till
it reached its greenwood home.

"Hurrah!" said the brown colt, not because he knew what it meant but
because he had heard Dick say it. "Hurrah! maybe I'll never go back!"

Just then there came an awful screech out of a neighboring field, and,
although it was only the whistle of a threshing machine, the brown colt
was terribly frightened, and jumped over a fence into a cotton field.

[Illustration: "The gate is open, the brown colt's gone, the brindle
calf's going, and we are thinking about it, quawk! quawk!"]

"Oh!" thought he, as he tore his glossy coat on the sharp barbs of the
wire fence and cut his feet as he leaped awkwardly over, "Oh! how I wish
I could see Dick now."

But Dick was at home. He had run after the brown colt as fast as his
feet could carry him, and had called "Whoa! Whoa!" but the brown colt
would not listen; so Dick had gone home with his head hanging down, _for
he was the very one who had forgotten to shut the farmyard gate_.

Mother was at home, and she felt very sorry when she heard about it, for
she knew how dear that colt was to her careless little boy; and when
father came in from the fields, too late to look for the runaway, he
said that big boys and little boys and everybody else must take care of
the things they wanted to keep; and Dick cried, but it did no good.

The cows came home when father did, and the brindle calf was glad that
she had not gone away from the farmyard when she saw her mother come in
from the clover lot. The chickens went to roost, and the horses were
fed; but no brown colt came in sight, although Dick and Fleet went down
the lane to look, a dozen times.

"He's sorry enough," said Friend Fleet to Mrs. Muffet, as they ate their
supper; and Mrs. Muffet told Tittleback and Toddlekins all about it,
when she went back to the barn.

Poor little Dick! and poor brown colt! They thought about each other
very often that night; and early in the morning the man who owned the
cotton field, drove the brown colt out.

"I'd like to know," said the man, as he hurried him along, "what
business you have in my cotton field!" But the brown colt hung his head,
as Dick had done, and limped away.

The long pike road stretched out, hard and white, before him, and the
birds, chattering in the bushes, seemed to say:--

"Is this the same brown colt that raised such a dust yesterday?"

Oh! how long and weary the way was, to his limping feet! But at last he
reached home, just at milking time; and when the milkmaid saw him
standing at the gate, she gave a scream that brought the household out.

Dick and the cook and Fleet tumbled over each other in their surprise,
and the barnyard was in such an excitement that one hen lost her
chickens and did not find them all for fifteen minutes.

"What did you see?" cried the brindle calf.

"What made you come back?" asked the geese; but Dick and Friend Fleet
asked no questions, because they understood.

That was a long time ago, and the brown colt is a strong horse now, and
Dick a tall boy; but neither of them will ever forget the day when Dick
was careless and did not shut the farmyard gate.



_INSIDE THE GARDEN GATE_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Wisdom comes with all we see,
    God writes His lessons in each flower,
    And ev'ry singing bird or bee
    Can teach us something of His power_.


PART I.

Grandmother's garden was a beautiful place,--more beautiful than all the
shop windows in the city; for there was a flower or grass for every
color in the rainbow, with great white lilies, standing up so straight
and tall, to remind you that a whole rainbow of light was needed to make
them so pure and white.

There were pinks and marigolds and princes' feathers, with bachelor's
buttons and Johnny-jump-ups to keep them company. There were gay poppies
and gaudy tulips, and large important peonies and fine Duchess roses in
pink satin dresses.

There were soft velvet pansies and tall blue flags, and broad
ribbon-grasses that the fairies might have used for sashes; and mint and
thyme and balm and rosemary everywhere, to make the garden sweet; so it
was no wonder that every year, the garden was full of visitors.

Nobody noticed these visitors but Grandmother and Lindsay.

Lindsay was a very small boy, and Grandmother was a very old lady; but
they loved the same things, and always watched for these little
visitors, who came in the early spring-time and stayed all summer with
Grandmother.

Early, early in the spring, when the garden was bursting into bloom in
the warm southern sunshine, Grandmother and Lindsay would sit in the
arbor, where the vines crept over and over in a tangle of bloom, and
listen to a serenade. Music, music everywhere! Over their heads, behind
their backs, the little brown bees would fly, singing their song:--

    "_Hum, hum, hum!
    Off and away!
    To get some
    Sweet honey to-day!"_

while they found the golden honey cups, and filled their pockets with
honey to store away in their waxen boxes at home.

One day, while Grandmother and Lindsay were watching, a little brown bee
flew away with his treasure, and lighting on a rose, met with a cousin,
a lovely yellow butterfly.

"I think they must be talking to each other," said Grandmother, softly.
"They are cousins, because they belong to the great insect family, just
as your papa and Uncle Bob and Aunt Emma and Cousin Rachel all belong to
one family,--the Greys; and I think they must be talking about the honey
that they both love so well."

"I wish I could talk to a butterfly," said Lindsay, longingly; and
Grandmother laughed.

"Play that I am a butterfly," she proposed. "What color shall I be?--a
great yellow butterfly, with brown spots on my wings?"

So Grandmother played that she was a great yellow butterfly with brown
spots on its wings, and she said to Lindsay:--

"Never in the world can you tell, little boy, what I used to be?"

"A baby butterfly," guessed Lindsay.

"Guess again," said the butterfly.

"A flower, perhaps; for you are so lovely," declared Lindsay, gallantly.

"No, indeed!" answered the butterfly; "I was a creeping, crawling
caterpillar."

"Now, Grandmother, you're joking!" cried Lindsay, forgetting that
Grandmother was a butterfly.

"Not I," said the butterfly. "I was a crawling, creeping caterpillar,
and I fed on leaves in your Grandmother's garden until I got ready to
spin my nest; and then I wrapped myself up so well that you would never
have known me for a caterpillar; and when I came out in the Spring I was
a lovely butterfly."

"How beautiful!" said Lindsay. "Grandmother, let us count the
butterflies in your garden." But they never could do that, though they
saw brown and blue and red and white and yellow ones, and followed them
everywhere.

[Illustration: So the Grandmother played that she was a great yellow
butterfly.]


PART II.

It might have been the very next day that Grandmother took her knitting
to the summer house. At all events it was very soon; and while she and
Lindsay were wondering when the red rose bush would be in full bloom,
Lindsay saw, close up to the roof, a queer little house, like a roll of
crumpled paper, with a great many front doors; and, of course, he wanted
to know who lived there.

"You must not knock at any of those front doors," advised Grandmother,
"because Mrs. Wasp lives there, and might not understand; although if
you let her alone she will not hurt you. Just let me tell you something
about her."

So Lindsay listened while Grandmother told the story:--

Once there was a little elf, who lived in the heart of a bright red
rose, just like the roses we have been talking about.

There were many other elves who lived in the garden. One, who lived in a
lily which made a lovely home; and a poppy elf, who was always sleepy;
but the rose elf liked her own sweet smelling room, with its crimson
curtains, best of all.

Now the rose elf had a very dear friend, a little girl named Polly. She
could not speak to her, for fairies can only talk to people like you and
me in dreams and fancies, but she loved Polly very much, and would lie
in her beautiful rose room, and listen to Polly's singing, till her
heart was glad.

One day as she listened she said to herself, "If I cannot speak to
Polly, I can write her a letter;" and this pleased her so much that she
called over to the lily elf to ask what she should write it on. "I
always write my letters on rose petals, and get the wind to take them,"
said the rose elf. "But I am afraid Polly would not understand that."

"I will tell you," answered the lily elf, "what I would do. I would go
right to Mrs. Wasp, and ask her to give me a piece of paper."

"But Mrs. Wasp is very cross, I've heard," said the rose elf timidly.

"Never believe the gossip that you hear. If Mrs. Wasp does seem to be a
little stingy, I'm sure she has a good heart," replied the lily elf. So
the rose elf took courage, and flew to Mrs. Wasp's house, where, by good
fortune, she found Mrs. Wasp at home.

"Good morning Mrs. Wasp," called the little elf, "I've come to see if
you will kindly let me have a sheet of paper to-day."

"Now," said the wasp, "I have just papered my house with the last bit of
paper I had, but if you can wait, I will make you a sheet."

Then the rose elf knew that Mrs. Wasp had a kind heart; and she waited
and watched with a great deal of interest while Mrs. Wasp set to work.
Now, close by her house was an old bit of dry wood, and Mrs. Wasp sawed
it into fine bits, like thread, with her two sharp saws that she carries
about her. Then she wet these bits well with some glue from her mouth,
and rolled them into a round ball.

"Oh, Mrs. Wasp!" cried the rose elf, "I'm afraid I am putting you to too
much trouble."

"Don't fret about me," said the wasp; "I'm used to work." So she spread
out the ball, working with all her might, into a thin sheet of gray
paper; and when it was dry, she gave it to the rose elf.

"Thank you, good Mrs. Wasp," said the elf; and she flew away to invite
the lily elf and the poppy elf to help her with the letter, for she
wanted it to be as sweet as all the flowers of spring.

When it was finished they read it aloud.

  "_Dear Polly:
     I'm a little elf
     I live within a flow'r;
    I live to hear your happy song,
     It cheers my ev'ry hour.
    That I love you, I'd like to say
     To you, before I close,
    And please sing sweetly ev'ry day
     To
        Your friend within a Rose_."

The letter was sent by a bluebird; and the elf was sure that Polly
understood, for that very day she came and stood among the flowers to
sing the very sweetest song she knew.


PART III.

Out in Grandmother's garden, just as the sun was up, a very cunning
spinner spun a lovely wheel of fine beautiful threads; and when
Grandmother and Lindsay came out, they spied it fastened up in a rose
bush.

The small, cunning spinner was climbing a silken rope near by with her
eight nimble legs, and looking out at the world with her eight tiny
eyes, when Grandmother saw her and pointed her out to Lindsay; and
Lindsay said:--

"Oh, Mrs. Spider! come spin me some lace!" which made Grandmother think
of a little story which she had told Lindsay's papa and all of her
little children, when they were lads and lassies, and this garden of
hers had just begun to bloom.

She sat down on the steps and told it to Lindsay.

Once, long, long ago, when the silver moon was shining up in the sky,
and the small golden stars were twinkling, twinkling, a little fairy
with a bundle of dreams went hurrying home to fairyland.

She looked up at the stars and moon to see what time it was, for the
fairy queen had bidden her come back before the day dawned.

All out in the world it was sleepy time; and the night wind was singing
an old sweet lullaby, and the mocking bird was singing too, by himself,
in the wood.

"I shall not be late," said the fairy, as she flew like thistle-down
through the air or tripped over the heads of the flowers; but in her
haste she flew into a spider's web, which held her so fast that,
although she struggled again and again, she could not get free.

Her bundle of dreams fell out of her arms, and lay on the ground under
the rose-bush; and the poor little fairy burst into tears, for she knew
that daylight always spoiled dreams, and these were very lovely ones.

Her shining wings were tangled in the web, her hands were chained, and
her feet were helpless; so she had to lie still and wait for the day
time which, after all, came too soon.

As soon as the sun was up, Mrs. Spider came out of her den; and when she
saw the fairy she was very glad, for she thought she had caught a new
kind of fly.

"If you please, Mrs. Spider," cried the fairy quickly, "I am only a
little fairy, and flew into your web last night on my way home to
fairyland."

"A fairy!" said Mrs. Spider crossly, for she was disappointed; "I
suppose you are the one who helps the flies to get away from me. You see
well enough then!"

"I help them because they are in trouble," answered the fairy gently.

"So are you, now," snapped the spider, "But the flies won't help you."

"But perhaps you will," pleaded the fairy.

"Perhaps I won't," said the spider, going back into her house and
leaving the little fairy, who felt very sorrowful.

Her tears fell like dew drops on the spider web, and the sun shone on
them, and made them as bright as the fairy queen's diamonds.

The fairy began to think of the queen and the court, and the bundle of
dreams; and she wondered who would do the work if she never got free.
The fairy queen had always trusted her, and had sent her on many
errands.

Once she had been sent to free a mocking-bird that had been shut in a
cage. She remembered how he sang in his cage, although he was longing
for his green tree tops.

She smiled through her tears when she thought of this, and said to
herself:--

"I can be singing, too! It is better than crying."

Then she began to sing one of her fairy songs:--

    "_Oh! listen well, and I will tell,
    Of the land where the fairies dwell;
    The lily bells ring clear and sweet,
    And grass grows green beneath your feet
    In the land where the fairies dwell,
    In the land where the fairies dwell_."

Now though the fairy did not know it, Mrs. Spider was very fond of
music; and when she heard the sweet song, she came out to listen. The
little fairy did not see her, so she sang on:--

    "_Grasshoppers gay, by night and day,
    Keep ugly goblins far away
    From the land where the fairies dwell,
    From the land where the fairies dwell_."

Mrs. Spider came a little farther out, while the fairy sang:--

    "_There's love, sweet love, for one and all--
    For love is best for great and small--
    In the land where the fairies dwell,
    In the land where the fairies dwell_."

Just as the fairy finished the song she looked up, and there was Mrs.
Spider, who had come out in a hurry.

"The flies are not going to help you," said she, "so I will;" and she
showed the fairy how to break the slender threads, until she was
untangled and could fly away through the sunshine.

"What can I do for you, dear Mrs. Spider?" the fairy asked, as she
picked up her bundle of dreams.

"Sing me a song sometimes," replied Mrs. Spider. But the fairy did more
than that; for soon after she reached fairyland, the fairy queen needed
some fine lace to wear on her dress at a grand ball.

"Fly into the world," she said, "and find me a spinner; and tell her
that when she has spun the lace, she may come to the ball and sit at the
queen's table."

As soon as the fairy heard this, she thought of the spider, and made
haste to find her and tell her the queen's message.

"Will there be music?" asked the spider.

"The sweetest ever heard" answered the fairy; and the spider began to
spin.

The lace was so lovely when it was finished, that the fairy queen made
the spider court spinner; and then the spider heard the fairies sing
every day, and she too had love in her heart.


PART IV.

A mocking bird sang in Grandmother's garden. He was king of the garden,
and the rose was queen. Every night when the garden was still, he
serenaded Grandmother; and she would lie awake and listen to him, for
she said he told her all the glad tidings of the day, and helped her
understand the flower folk and bird folk and insect folk that lived in
her garden.

Lindsay always thought the mocking bird told Grandmother the wonderful
stories she knew, and he wanted to hear them, too, late in the night
time; but he never could keep awake. So he had to be contented with the
mocking bird in the morning, when he was so saucy.

There were orioles and thrushes and bluebirds, big chattering jays,
sleek brown sparrows, and red-capped woodpeckers; but not a bird in the
garden was so gay and sweet and loving as the mocking bird, who could
sing everybody's song and his own song, too.

Night after night he sang his own song in Grandmother's garden. But
there came a night when he did not sing; and though Grandmother and
Lindsay listened all next day, and looked in every tree for him, he
could not be found.

"I'm afraid somebody has caught him and shut him up in a cage" said
Grandmother; and when Lindsay heard this he was very miserable; for he
knew that somewhere in the garden, there was a nest and a mother bird
waiting.

He and Grandmother talked until bed-time about it, and early next
morning Lindsay asked Grandmother to let him go to look for the bird.

"Please do, Grandmother," he begged. "If somebody has him in a cage I
shall be sure to find him; and I will take my own silver quarter to buy
him back."

So after breakfast Grandmother kissed him and let him go, and he ran
down the path and out of the garden gate, and asked at every house on
the street:--

"Is there a mocking bird in a cage here?"

This made people laugh, but Lindsay did not care. By and by, he came to
a little house with green blinds; and the little lady who came to the
door did not laugh at all when she answered his question:--

"No; there are no mocking birds here; but there are two sweet yellow
canaries. Won't you come in to see them?"

"I will sometime, thank you, if Grandmother will let me," said Lindsay;
"but not to-day; for if that mocking bird is in a cage, I know he's in a
hurry to get out."

Then he hurried on to the next house, and the next; but no mocking birds
were to be found. After he had walked a long way, he began to be afraid
that he should have to go home, when, right before him, in the window of
a little house, he saw a wooden box with slats across the side; and in
the box was a very miserable mocking bird!

"Hurrah! hurrah!" cried Lindsay, as he ran up the steps and knocked at
the door. A great big boy came to the window and put his head out to see
what was wanted.

"Please, please," said Lindsay, dancing up and down on the doorstep,
"I've come to buy the mocking-bird; and I've a whole silver quarter to
give for it, because I think maybe he is the very one that sang in
Grandmother's garden."

"I don't want to sell it," answered the boy, with a frown on his face.

Lindsay had never thought of anything like this, and his face grew
grave; but he went bravely on:---

"Oh! but you will sell it, maybe. Won't you, please? Because I just know
it wants to get out. You wouldn't like to be in a cage yourself, you
know, if you had been living in a garden,--'specially my Grandmother's."

"This bird ain't for sale," repeated the boy, crossly, frowning still
more over the bird-cage.

"But God didn't make mocking-birds for cages," cried Lindsay, choking a
little. "So it really isn't yours."

"I'd like to know why it isn't," said the boy. "You'd better get off my
doorstep and go home to your Granny, for I'm not going to sell my
mocking-bird,--not one bit of it;" and he drew his head back from the
window and left Lindsay out on the doorstep.

Poor little Lindsay! He was not certain that it was _the_ bird, but he
_was_ sure that mocking-birds were not meant for cages; and he put the
quarter back in his pocket and took out his handkerchief to wipe away
the tears that would fall.

All the way home he thought of it and sobbed to himself, and he walked
through the garden gate almost into Grandmother's arms before he saw
her, and burst into tears when she spoke to him.

"Poor little boy!" said Grandmother, when she had heard all about it;
"and poor big boy, who didn't know how to be kind! Perhaps the
mocking-bird will help him, and, after all, it will be for the best."

Grandmother was almost crying herself, when a click at the gate made
them both start and, then look at each other; for there, coming up the
walk, was a great big boy with a torn straw hat, and with a small
wooden box in his hand, which made Lindsay scream with delight, for in
that box was a very miserable-looking mocking-bird.

"Guess it _is_ yours," said the boy, holding the box in front of him,
"for I trapped it out in the road back of here. I never thought of
mocking-birds being so much account, and I hated to make him cry."

"There now," cried Lindsay, jumping up to get the silver quarter out of
his pocket. "He is just like Mrs. Wasp, isn't he, Grandmother?" But the
boy had gone down the walk and over the gate without waiting for
anything, although Lindsay ran after him and called.

Lindsay and Grandmother were so excited that they did not know what to
do. They looked out of the gate after the boy, then at each other, and
then at the bird.

Lindsay ran to get the hatchet, but he was so excited with joy that he
could not use it, so Grandmother had to pry up the slats, one by one;
and every time one was lifted, Lindsay would jump up and down and clap
his hands, and say, "Oh, Grandmother!"

At last, the very last slat was raised; and then, in a moment, the
mocking bird flew up, up, up into the maple tree, and Lindsay and
Grandmother kissed each other for joy.

Oh! everything was glad in the garden. The breezes played pranks, and
blew the syringa petals to the ground, and up in the tallest trees the
birds had a concert. Orioles, bluebirds, and thrushes, chattering jays,
sleek brown sparrows, and red-capped woodpeckers, were all of them
singing for Grandmother and Lindsay; but the sweetest singer was the
mocking bird who was singing everybody's sweet song, and then his own,
which was the sweetest of all.

"I know he is glad," Lindsay said to Grandmother; "for it is, oh, so
beautiful to live inside your garden gate!"



_THE JOURNEY_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _The whirling wheels, that help us on our way,
    A lesson to the children, too, will say:
    "Go on! there's work awaiting you to-day;
    The whole world moves apace, you must not stay_."

A little boy, named Joseph, went with his papa, once upon a time, to
visit his Grandma. Grandma was an old, old lady, with hair as white as
drifted snow; and she petted Joseph's papa almost as much as she did
Joseph, for Papa had been her baby long, long before.

It was a fine thing to go to see Grandma; and Joseph would have been
willing to stay a long time, if it had not been that Mamma and the baby
and big brother were at home.

He knew they needed him there, too, for Mamma wrote it in a letter.

"Dear Papa," she said, in the letter that the stage coach brought, "When
are you, and my precious Joseph coming home? The baby and Brother and I
are well but we want to see you. We need a little boy here who can hunt
hens' nests and feed chickens, and rock the baby's cradle. Please bring
one home with you."

This made Joseph laugh for, of course, Mamma meant him; and though he
forgot some of her letter, he always remembered that; and when Papa
said; "Look here, Joseph, we must go home," he was just as glad to go,
as he had been to come to see Grandma.

Now Joseph and his papa had to travel by stage coach, because there were
no trains in those days; and after they had told Grandma goodbye, on the
morning they left, they went down to the inn to wait for the stage.

The inn was the place where travelers who were away from home might stop
and rest, and the landlady tried to be always pleasant and make
everybody feel at home; so she hurried out on the porch, with two chairs
for Joseph and his papa, as soon as she saw them.

They were a little early for the stage, so Joseph sat and watched the
wagons and carriages, that passed the inn. All the carriages had ladies
and children inside, and Joseph thought they must be going to see their
grandmas.

Most of the wagons that passed the inn were loaded down. Some of them
were full of hay; and Joseph knew in a minute, where they were going,
for he had heard his Grandma say that she was going to store her hay
away in a barn, that very day.

Some of the wagons carried good things to sell; and the men who drove
them would ring their bells, and call out, now and then: "Apples to
sell! Apples to sell!" or "Potatoes and corn! Potatoes and corn!" which
made Joseph laugh.

Then there was the milkman. His tin cans were so bright that you could
see yourself in them, and Joseph knew that they carried good sweet milk.

This made him think of their own cows. He could shut his eyes and see
how each one looked. Clover was red, Teenie black, and Buttercup had
white spots on her back.

Just then he heard the sound of a horn; and his father jumped up in a
hurry and collected their bundles. "For," said he, "that is the guard
blowing his horn, and the stage coach is coming!"

Joseph was so pleased when he heard this that he jumped up and down; and
while he was jumping, the stage coach whirled around the corner.

There were four horses hitched to it, two white, and two black; and they
were trotting along at a fine pace. The driver was a jolly good fellow,
who sat on the top of the coach and cracked his whip; and the guard sat
behind with the horn.

The wheels were turning so fast that you could scarcely see them, but as
soon as the inn was reached, the horses stopped and the stage coach
stood still. The guard jumped down to open the door, and Joseph and his
papa made haste to get in. The guard blew his horn, the driver cracked
his whip, the horses dashed off, and away went Joseph and his papa.

The stage coach had windows, and Joseph looked out. At first, all he
could see was smooth, level ground; but after a while, the horses walked
slowly and you could have counted the spokes in the wheels, for they
were going up hill and the driver was careful of his horses.

[Illustration: As soon as the inn was reached the horses stopped.]

The hill was so much higher than the rest of the country that when
Joseph looked out at the houses in the valley he felt very great,
although it was only the hill that was high, after all.

Then they all came down on the other side, and the horses trotted
faster. It was early in the morning, and the sunshine was so bright and
the air so fresh that the horses tossed their heads, and their hoofs
rang out as they hurried over the hard road.

The road ran through the wood, and Joseph could see the maples with
their wide-spreading branches, and the poplar with its arms held up to
the sky, and the birches with their white dresses, all nodding in the
wind, as though they said, "How do you do?" Once, too, he saw a little
squirrel running about, and once a queer rabbit.

Then the stage-coach stopped with a jerk.

"What's the matter?" called Joseph's papa, as the driver and the guard
got down.

"The linch-pin has fallen out," answered the driver, "and we have just
missed losing a wheel."

"Can we go on?" Joseph asked. And when his papa said "No," he felt
sorry. But the guard said that he would go after a wheelwright who lived
not far beyond; and Joseph and his papa walked about until the
wheelwright came running, with his tools in his hand.

He set to work, and Joseph thought it was very funny that the great
wheel could not stay on without the linch-pin; but the wheelwright said
that the smallest screws counted. He put the wheel quickly in order, and
off the stage-coach went.

The wheels whirled around all the more merrily because of the
wheelwright's work; and when the hoofs of the horses clattered on the
road, Joseph's papa said that the horse-shoes were saying:--

"It is the little shoes, the little shoes, that help the horse to go!"

Then Joseph looked down at his own small shoes and thought of his
mother's letter, and the little boy that she needed to hunt eggs and
feed chickens and rock the baby's cradle; and he was anxious to get
home.

Clip, clap! clip, clap! The horses stepped on a bridge, and Joseph
looked out to see the water. The bridge was strong and good, with great
wooden piers set out in the water and a stout wooden railing to make it
safe.

The sun was high and shining very brightly on the water, and little
Joseph began to nod. He rested his head on papa's arm, and his eyelids
dropped down over his two sleepy eyes, and he went so fast asleep that
his papa was obliged to give him a little shake when he wanted to wake
him up.

"Wake up, Joseph! wake up!" he cried, "and look out of the window!"

Joseph rubbed his eyes and looked out of the window; and he saw a red
cow, a black cow, and a cow with spots on her back; and a little further
on, a big boy and a baby; and, what do you think?--yes, a mamma! Then
the stage-coach could not hold him or his papa another minute, because
they were at home!



_The GIANT ENERGY & The FAIRY SKILL_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Greatness is not always largeness.
    Help your child to understand,
    Strength and skill are happy comrades;
    'Tis the mind must guide the hand_.

Long, long ago, when there were giants to be seen, as they might be seen
now if we only looked in the right place, there lived a young giant who
was very strong and very willing, but who found it hard to get work to
do.

The name of the giant was Energy, and he was so great and clumsy that
people were afraid to trust their work to him.

If he were asked to put a bell in the church steeple, he would knock the
steeple down, before he finished the work. If he were sent to reach a
broken weather vane, he would tear off part of the roof in his zeal. So,
at last, people would not employ him and he went away to the mountains
to sleep; but he could not rest, even though other giants were sleeping
as still as great rocks under the shade of the trees.

Young Giant Energy could not sleep, for he was too anxious to help in
the world's work; and he went down into the valley, and begged so
piteously for something to do that a good woman gave him a basket of
china to carry home for her.

"This is child's play for me," said the giant as he set the basket down
at the woman's house, but he set it down so hard that every bit of the
china was broken.

"I wish a child had brought it for me," answered the woman, and the
young giant went away sorrowful. He climbed the mountain and lay down to
rest; but he could not stay there and do nothing, so he went back to the
valley to look for work.

There he met the good woman. She had forgiven him for breaking her
china, and had made up her mind to trust him again; so she gave him a
pitcher of milk to carry home.

"Be quick in bringing it," she said, "lest it sour on the way."

The giant took the pitcher and made haste to run to the house; and he
ran so fast that the milk was spilled and not a drop was left when he
reached the good woman's house.

The good woman was sorry to see this, although she did not scold; and
the giant went back to his mountain with a heavy heart.

Soon, however, he was back again, asking at every house:--

"Isn't there something for me to do?" and again he met the good woman,
who was here, there and everywhere, carrying soup to the sick and food
to the hungry.

When she met the young Giant Energy, her heart was full of love for him;
and she told him to make haste to her house and fill her tubs with
water, for the next day was wash day.

Then the giant made haste with mighty strides towards the good woman's
house, where he found her great tubs; and, lifting them with ease, he
carried them to the cistern and began to pump.

He pumped with such force and with so much delight, that the tubs were
soon filled so full that they ran over, and when the good woman came
home she found her yard as well as her tubs full of water.

The young giant had such a downcast look, that the good woman could not
be angry with him; she only felt sorry for him.

"Go to the Fairy Skill, and learn," said the good woman, as she sat on
the doorstep. "She will teach you, and you will be a help in the world
after all."

"Oh! how can I go?" cried the giant, giving a jump that sent him up over
the tree tops, where he could see the little birds in their nests.

"Don't go so fast," said the good woman. "Stand still and listen! Go
through the meadow, and count a hundred daffodils; then turn to your
right, and walk until you find a mullein stalk that is bent. Notice the
way it bends, and walk in that direction till you see a willow tree.
Behind this willow runs a little stream. Cross the water by the way of
the shining pebbles, and when you hear a strange bird singing you can
see the fairy palace and the workroom where the Fairy Skill teaches her
school. Go to her with my love and she will receive you."

The young giant thanked the good woman, stepped over the meadow fence,
and counted the daffodils, "One, two, three," until he had counted a
hundred. Then he turned to the right, and walked through the long grass
to the bent mullein stalk, which pointed to the right; and after he had
found the brook and crossed by way of the shining pebbles, he heard a
strange bird singing, and saw among the trees the fairy palace.

He never could tell how it looked; but he thought it was made of
sunshine, with the glimmer of green leaves reflected on it, and that it
had the blue sky for a roof.

That was the palace; and at one side of it was the workshop, built of
strong pines and oaks; and the giant heard the hum of wheels, and the
noise of the fairy looms, where the fairies wove carpets of rainbow
threads.

When the giant came to the door, the doorway stretched itself for him to
pass through. He found Fairy Skill standing in the midst of the
workers; and when he had given her the good woman's love, she received
him kindly. Then she set him to work, bidding him sort a heap of tangled
threads that lay in a corner like a great bunch of bright-colored
flowers.

This was hard work for the giant's clumsy fingers, but he was very
patient about it. The threads would break, and he got some of them into
knots; but when Fairy Skill saw his work, she said:--

"Very good for to-day;" and touching the threads with her wand, she
changed them into a tangled heap again. The next day the giant tried
again, and after that again, until every thread lay unbroken and
untangled.

Then Fairy Skill said "Well done," and led him to a loom and showed him
how to weave.

This was harder work than the other had been; but Giant Energy was
patient, although many times before his strip of carpet was woven the
fairy touched it with her wand, and he had to begin over.

[Illustration: Then she set him to work, bidding him sort a heap of
tangled threads.]

At last it was finished, and the giant thought it was the most beautiful
carpet in the world.

Fairy Skill took him next to the potter's wheel, where cups and saucers
were made out of clay; and the giant learned to be steady, to shape the
cup as the wheel whirled round, and to take heed of his thumb, lest it
slip.

The cups and saucers that were broken before he could make beautiful
ones would have been enough to set the queen's tea table!

Fairy Skill then took him to the gold-smith, and there he was taught to
make chains and bracelets and necklaces; and after he had learned all
these things, the fairy told him that she had three trials for him.
Three pieces of work he must do; and if he did them well, he could go
again into the world, for he would then be ready to be a helper there.

"The first task is to make a carpet," said Fairy Skill, "a carpet fit
for a palace floor."

Giant Energy sprang to his loom, and made his silver shuttle glance
under and over, under and over, weaving a most beautiful pattern.

As he wove, he thought of the way by which he had come; and his carpet
became as green as the meadow grass, and lovely daffodils grew on it.
When it was finished, it was almost as beautiful as a meadow full of
flowers!

Then the fairy said that he must turn a cup fine enough for a king to
use. And the giant made a cup in the shape of a flower; and when it was
finished, he painted birds upon it with wings of gold. When she saw it,
the fairy cried out with delight.

"One more trial before you go," she said. "Make me a chain that a queen
might be glad to wear."

So Giant Energy worked by day and by night and made a chain of golden
links; and in every link was a pearl as white as the shining pebbles in
the brook. A queen might well have been proud to wear this chain.

After he had finished, Fairy Skill kissed him and blessed him, and sent
him away to be a helper in the world, and she made him take with him
the beautiful things which he had made, so that he might give them to
the one he loved best.

The young giant crossed the brook, passed the willow, found the mullein
stalk, and counted the daffodils.

When he had counted a hundred, he stepped over the meadow fence and came
to the good woman's house.

The good woman was at home, so he went in at the door and spread the
carpet on the floor, and the floor looked like the floor of a palace.

He set the cup on the table, and the table looked like the table of a
king; and he hung the chain around the good woman's neck, and she was
more beautiful than a queen.

And this is the way that young Giant Energy learned to be a helper in
the world.



_THE SEARCH FOR A GOOD CHILD_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Teach your child that every one
     Loves him when he's good and true,
    But that though so dear to others,
     He is doubly dear to you_.

  --_Miss Blow's Mottoes and Commentaries_.

Long, long ago there lived, in a kingdom far away, five knights who were
so good and so wise that each one was known by a name that meant
something beautiful.

The first knight was called Sir Brian the Brave. He had killed the great
lion that came out of the forest to frighten the women and children, had
slain a dragon, and had saved a princess from a burning castle; for he
was afraid of nothing under the sun.

The second knight was Gerald the Glad, who was so happy himself that he
made everybody around him happy too; for his sweet smile and cheery
words were so comforting that none could be sad or cross or angry when
he was near.

Sir Kenneth the Kind was the third knight, and he won his name by his
tender heart. Even the creatures of the wood knew and loved him, for he
never hurt anything that God had made.

The fourth knight had a face as beautiful as his name, and he was called
Percival the Pure. He thought beautiful thoughts, said beautiful words,
and did beautiful deeds, for he kept his whole life as lovely as a
garden full of flowers without a single weed.

Tristram the True was the last knight, and he was leader of them all.

The king of the country trusted these five knights; and one morning in
the early spring-time he called them to him and said:--

"My trusty knights, I am growing old, and I long to see in my kingdom
many knights like you to take care of my people; and so I will send you
through all my kingdom to choose for me a little boy who may live at my
court and learn from you those things which a knight must know. Only a
good child can be chosen. A good child is worth more than a kingdom. And
when you have found him, bring him, if he will come willingly, to me,
and I shall be happy in my old age."

Now the knights were well pleased with the words of the king, and at the
first peep of day they were ready for their journey, and rode down the
king's highway with waving plumes and shining shields.

No sooner had they started on their journey than the news spread abroad
over the country, and many fathers and mothers who were anxious for the
favor of the king sent messengers to invite the knights to visit them.

The parents' messages were so full of praises of their children that the
knights scarcely knew where to go. Some of the parents said that their
sons were beautiful; some said theirs were smart; but as the knights
cared nothing for a child who was not good, they did not hurry to see
these children.

On the second day, however, as they rode along, they met a company of
men in very fine clothes, who bowed down before them; and while the
knights drew rein in astonishment, a little man stepped in front of the
others to speak to them.

He was a fat little man, with a fat little voice; and he told the
knights that he had come to invite them to the castle of the Baron
Borribald, whose son Florimond was the most wonderful child in the
world.

"Oh! there is nothing he cannot do," cried the fat little man whose name
was Puff. "You must hear him talk! You must see him walk!"

So the knights followed him; and when they had reached the castle,
Florimond ran to meet them. He was a merry little fellow, with long fair
curls and rosy cheeks; and when he saw the fine horses he clapped his
hands with delight. The baron and baroness, too, were well pleased with
their visitors, and made a feast in their honor; but early the next
morning, the knights were startled by a most awful sound which seemed to
come from the hall below.

"Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" It sounded something like the howling of a dog; but
as they listened, it grew louder and louder, until it sounded like the
roaring of a lion.

The knights seized their swords and rushed down to see what was the
matter; and there, in the middle of the hall, stood Florimond, his
cheeks puffed up and his eyes swollen,--and right out of his open mouth
came that terrible noise: "Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo!"

His mamma and papa were begging him to be quiet. The cook had run up
with a pie, and the nurse with a toy, but Florimond only opened his
mouth and screamed the louder, because the rain was coming down, when he
wanted to play out of doors!

Then the knights saw that they were not wanted, and they hurried
upstairs to prepare for their journey. The baron and baroness and fat
little Puff all begged them to stay, and Florimond cried again when they
left him; but the knights did not care to stay with a child who was not
good.

The knights began to think that their mission was a difficult one; but
they rode on, asking at every house: "Is there a good boy here?" only to
be disappointed many times.

North, south, east, and west, they searched; and at last, one afternoon,
they halted under an oak tree, to talk, and they decided to part
company.

"Let each take his own way," said Tristram the True, "and to-morrow we
will meet, under this same tree, and tell what we have seen; for the
time draws near when we must return to the king."

Then they bade each other farewell, and each rode away, except Sir
Tristram, who lingered long under the oak tree; for he was the leader,
and had many things to think about.

Just as the sun was red in the west, he saw a little boy coming towards
him, with a bundle of sticks on his back.

"Greeting to you, little boy," said he.

"Greeting to you, fair sir," said the boy, looking up with eager eyes at
the knight on his splendid horse, that stood so still when the knight
bade it.

"What is your name?" asked the knight.

"My name is little Gauvain," replied the child.

"And can you prove a trusty guide, little Gauvain, and lead me to a
pleasant place where I may rest to-night?" asked the knight.

"Ay, that I can," Gauvain answered gladly, his whole face lighting up
with pleasure; but he added quickly, "I can, if you will wait until I
carry my sticks to Granny Slowsteps, and bring her water from the
spring; for I promised to be there before the setting of the sun."

Now little Gauvain wanted to help the good knight so much that he was
sorry to say this; but Sir Tristram told him to run, and promised to
wait patiently until his return; and before many moments Gauvain was
back, bounding like a fawn through the wood, to lead the way to his own
home.

When they came there the little dog ran out to meet them, and the cat
rubbed up against Gauvain, and the mother called from the kitchen:--

"Is that my sunbeam coming home to roost?" which made Gauvain and the
knight both laugh.

Then the mother came out in haste to welcome the stranger; and she
treated him with honor, giving him the best place at the table and the
hottest cakes.

She and little Gauvain lived all alone, for the father had gone to the
wars when Gauvain was a baby, and had died fighting for the king.

She had cows, horses, and pigs, hens, chickens, and a dog and a cat, and
one treasure greater than a kingdom, for she had a good child in her
house.

Sir Tristram found this out very soon, for little Gauvain ran when he
was called, remembered the cat and dog when he had eaten his own supper,
and went to bed when he was told, without fretting, although the knight
was telling of lions and bears and battles, and everything that little
boys like to hear about.

Sir Tristram was so glad of this that he could scarcely wait for the
time to come when he should meet his comrades under the oak tree.

[Illustration: And the mother called from the kitchen--'Is that my
sunbeam coming home to roost?']

"I have found a child whom you must see," he said, as soon as they
came together.

"And so have I," cried Gerald the Glad.

"And I," exclaimed Kenneth the Kind.

"And I," said Brian the Brave.

"And I," said Percival the Pure; and they looked at each other in
astonishment.

"I do not know the child's name," continued Gerald the Glad; "but as I
was riding in the forest I heard some one singing the merriest song! And
when I looked through the trees I saw a little boy bending under a heavy
burden. I hastened to help him, but when I reached the spot he was gone.
I should like to hear him sing again."

"I rode by the highway," said Sir Brian the Brave, "and I came suddenly
upon a crowd of great, rough fellows who were trying to torment a small
black dog; and just as I saw them, a little boy ran up, as brave as a
knight, and took the dog in his arms, and covered it with his coat. The
rest ran away when I rode up; but the child stayed, and told me his
name--Gauvain."

"Why!" exclaimed Kenneth the Kind, "he is the boy who brings wood and
water for Granny Slowsteps. I tarried all night at her cottage, and she
told me of his kindness."

"I saw a lad at the spring near by," said Percival the Pure. "He hurried
to fill his bucket, and some rude clown muddied the water as the child
reached down; but he spoke no angry words, and waited patiently till the
water was clear again. I should like to find his home and see him
there."

Now Sir Tristram had waited to hear them all; but when Sir Percival had
finished, he arose and cried:--

"Come, and I will carry you to the child!" And when the knights followed
him, he led them to the home where little Gauvain was working with his
mother, as happy as a lark and as gentle as a dove.

It was noonday, and the sun was shining brightly on the shields of the
knights, and their plumes were waving in the breeze; and when they
reached the gate, Sir Tristram blew a loud blast on a silver trumpet.

Then all the hens began to cackle, and the dog began to bark, and the
horse began to neigh, and the pigs began to grunt; for they knew that it
was a great day. And little Gauvain and his mother ran out to see what
the matter was.

When the knights saw Gauvain they looked at each other, and every one
cried out: "He is the child!" And Tristram the True said to the
mother:--

"Greeting to you! The king, our wise ruler, has sent us here to see your
good child; for a good child is more precious than a kingdom. And the
king offers him his love and favor if you will let him ride with us to
live at the king's court and learn to be a knight."

Little Gauvain and his mother were greatly astonished. They could
scarcely believe that such a thing had happened; for it seemed very
wonderful and beautiful that the king should send messengers to little
Gauvain. After the knights had repeated it, though, they understood; and
little Gauvain ran to his mother and put his arms around her; for he
knew that if he went with the knights he must leave her, and the mother
knew that if she let him go she must live without him.

The rooster up on the fence crowed a very loud "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" to
let everybody know he belonged to Gauvain; and a little chick that had
lost its mother cried, "Peep! peep!" And when the mother heard this, she
answered the knights and said:--

"I cannot spare my good child from my home. The king's love is precious;
but I love my child more than the whole world, and he is dearer to me
than a thousand kingdoms."

Little Gauvain was so glad when he heard her answer that he looked again
at the knights with a smiling face, and waved his hand to them as they
rode away. All day and all night they rode, and it was the peep of day
when they came to the king's highway. Then they rode slowly, for they
were sad because of their news; but the king rejoiced when he heard it,
for he said: "Such a child, with such a mother, will grow into a knight
at home."

The king's words were true; for when the king was an old, old man,
Gauvain rode to his court and was knighted.

Gauvain had a beautiful name of his own then, for he was called "Gauvain
the Good"; and he was brave, happy, kind, pure, and true. And he was
beloved by all the people in the world, but most of all by his mother.



_THE CLOSING DOOR_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Keep thou an open door between thy child's life
    and thine own_.

There was once a little girl (her best and sweetest name was Little
Daughter), who had a dear little room, all her own, which was full of
treasures, and was as lovely as love could make it.

You never could imagine, no matter how you tried, a room more beautiful
than hers; for it was white and shining from the snowy floor to the
ceiling, which looked as if it might have been made of a fleecy cloud.
The curtains at the windows were like the petals of a lily, and the
little bed was like swan's down.

There were white pansies, too, that bloomed in the windows, and a dove
whose voice was sweet as music; and among her treasures she had a string
of pearls which she was to wear about her neck when the king of the
country sent for her, as he had promised to do some day.

This string of pearls grew longer and more beautiful as the little girl
grew older, for a new pearl was given her as soon as she waked up each
morning; and every one was a gift from this king, who bade her keep them
fair.

Her mother helped her to take care of them and of all the other
beautiful things in her room. Every morning, after the new pearl was
slipped on the string, they would set the room in order; and every
evening they would look over the treasures and enjoy them together,
while they carefully wiped away any specks of dust that had gotten in
during the day and made the room less lovely.

There were several doors and windows, which the little girl could open
and shut just as she pleased, in this room; but there was one door which
was always open, and that was the one which led into her mother's room.

No matter what Little Daughter was doing she was happier if her mother
was near; and although she sometimes ran away into her own room and
played by herself, she always bounded out at her mother's first call,
and sprang into her mother's arms, gladder than ever to be with her
because she had been away.

Now one day when the little girl was playing alone, she had a visitor
who came in without knocking and who seemed, at first, very much out of
place in the shining white room, for he was a goblin and as black as a
lump of coal. He had not been there more than a very few minutes,
however, before nearly everything in the room began to look more like
him and less like driven snow: and although the little girl thought that
he was very strange and ugly when she first saw him, she soon grew used
to him, and found him an entertaining playfellow.

She wanted to call her mother to see him; but he said: "Oh! no; we are
having such a nice time together, and she's busy, you know." So the
little girl did not call; and the mother, who was making a dress of fine
lace for her darling, did not dream that a goblin was in the little
white room.

The goblin did not make any noise, you know, for he tip-toed all the
time, as if he were afraid; and if he heard a sound he would jump. But
he was a merry goblin, and he amused the little girl so much that she
did not notice the change in her dear room.

The curtains grew dingy, the floor dusty, and the ceiling looked as if
it might have been made of a rain cloud; but the child played on, and
got out all her treasures to show to her visitor.

The pansies drooped and faded, the white dove hid its head beneath its
wing and moaned; and the last pearl on the precious string grew dark
when the goblin touched it with his smutty fingers.

"Oh, dear me," said the little girl when she saw this, "I must call my
mother; for these are the pearls that I must wear to the king's court,
when he sends for me."

"Never mind," said the goblin, "we can wash it, and if it isn't just as
white as before, what difference does it make about one pearl?"

[Illustration: One day * * * she had a visitor who came in without
knocking.]

"But mother says that they all must be as fair as the morning," insisted
the little girl, eady to cry. "And what will she say when she sees
this one?"

"You shut the door, then," said the goblin, pointing to the door that
had never been closed, "and I'll wash the pearl." So the little girl ran
to close the door, and the goblin began to rub the pearl; but it only
seemed to grow darker. Now the door had been open so long that it was
hard to move, and it creaked on its hinges as the little girl tried to
close it. When the mother heard this she looked up to see what was the
matter. She had been thinking about the dress which she was making; but
when she saw the closing door, her heart stood still with fear; for she
knew that if it once closed tight she might never be able to open it
again.

She dropped her fine laces and ran towards the door, calling, "Little
Daughter! Little Daughter! Where are you?" and she reached out her hands
to stop the door. But as soon as the little girl heard that loving voice
she answered:--

"Mother, oh! Mother! I need you so! my pearl is turning black and
everything is wrong!" and, flinging the door wide open, she ran into
her mother's arms.

When the two went together into the little room, the goblin had gone.
The pansies now bloomed again, and the white dove cooed in peace; but
there was much work for the mother and daughter, and they rubbed and
scrubbed and washed and swept and dusted, till the room was so beautiful
that you would not have known that a goblin had been there--except for
the one pearl which was a little blue always, even when the king was
ready for Little Daughter to come to his court, although that was not
until she was a very old woman.

As for the door, it was never closed again; for Little Daughter and her
mother put two golden hearts against it and nothing in this world could
have shut it then.



_THE MINSTREL'S SONG_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _The child must listen well if he would hear_.

     --_Blow's Commentaries_.

Once, long, long ago, there lived in a country over the sea a king
called René, who married a lovely princess whose name was Imogen.

Imogen came across the seas to the king's beautiful country, and all his
people welcomed her with great joy because the king loved her.

"What can I do to please thee to-day?" the king asked her every morning;
and one day the queen answered that she would like to hear all the
minstrels in the king's country, for they were said to be the finest in
the world.

As soon as the king heard this, he called his heralds and sent them
everywhere through his land to sound their trumpets and call aloud:--

"Hear, ye minstrels! King René, our gracious king, bids ye come to play
at his court on May-day, for love of the Queen Imogen."

The minstrels were men who sang beautiful songs and played on harps; and
long ago they went about from place to place, from castle to castle,
from palace to cot, and were always sure of a welcome wherever they
roamed.

They could sing of the brave deeds that the knights had done, and of
wars and battles, and could tell of the mighty hunters who hunted in the
great forests, and of fairies and goblins, better than a story book; and
because there were no story books in those days, everybody, from little
children to the king, was glad to see them come.

So when the minstrels heard the king's message, they made haste to the
palace on May-day; and it so happened that some of them met on the way
and decided to travel together.

One of these minstrels was a young man named Harmonius; and while the
others talked of the songs that they would sing, he gathered the wild
flowers that grew by the roadside.

"I can sing of the drums and battles," said the oldest minstrel, whose
hair was white and whose step was slow.

"I can sing of ladies and their fair faces," said the youngest minstrel;
but Harmonius whispered: "Listen! listen!"

"Oh! we hear nothing but the wind in the tree-tops," said the others.
"We have no time to stop and listen."

Then they hurried on and left Harmonius; and he stood under the trees
and listened, for he heard something very sweet. At last he knew that it
was the wind singing of its travels through the wide world; telling how
it raced over the blue sea, tossing the waves and rocking the white
ships, and hurried on to the hills, where the trees made harps of their
branches, and then how it blew down into the valleys, where all the
flowers danced gayly in time to the tune.

Harmonius could understand every word:--

    "_Nobody follows me where I go,
    Over the mountains or valleys below;
    Nobody sees where the wild winds blow,
    Only the Father in Heaven can know_."

That was the chorus of the wind's song. Harmonius listened until he knew
the whole song from beginning to end; and then he ran on and soon
reached his friends, who were still talking of the grand sights that
they were to see.

"We shall see the king and speak to him," said the oldest minstrel.

"And his golden crown and the queen's jewels," added the youngest; and
Harmonius had no chance to tell of the wind's song, although he thought
about it time and again.

Now their path led them through the wood; and as they talked, Harmonius
said:--

"Hush! listen!" But the others answered:--

"Oh! that is only the sound of the brook trickling over the stones. Let
us make haste to the king's court."

But Harmonius stayed to hear the song that the brook was singing, of
journeying through mosses and ferns and shady ways, and of tumbling over
the rocks in shining waterfalls on its way to the sea.

    "_Rippling and bubbling through shade and sun,
    On to the beautiful sea I run;
    Singing forever, though none be near,
    For God in Heaven can always hear,"_

sang the little brook. Harmonius listened until he knew every word of
the song, and then he hurried on.

When he reached the others, he found them still talking of the king and
queen, so he could not tell them of the brook. As they talked, he heard
something again that was wonderfully sweet, and he cried: "Listen!
listen!"

"Oh! that is only a bird!" the others replied. "Let us make haste to the
king's court!"

But Harmonius would not go, for the bird sang so joyfully that Harmonius
laughed aloud when he heard the song.

It was singing a song of green trees, and in every tree a nest, and in
every nest eggs! Oh! the bird was so gay as it sang:--

    "_Merrily, merrily, listen to me,
    Flitting and flying from tree to tree.
    Nothing fear I, by land or sea,
    For God in Heaven is watching me"_

"Thank you, little bird," said Harmonius; "you have taught me a song."
And he made haste to join his comrades, for by this time they were near
the palace.

When they had gone in, they received a hearty welcome, and were feasted
in the great hall before they came before the king.

The king and queen sat on their throne together. The king thought of the
queen and the minstrels; but the queen thought of her old home, and of
the butterflies she had chased when she was a little child.

One by one the minstrels played before them.

The oldest minstrel sang of battles and drums, just as he had said he
would; and the youngest minstrel sang of ladies and their fair faces,
which pleased the court ladies very much.

[Illustration: Harmonius * * * touched his harp and sang.]

Then came Harmonius. And when he touched his harp and sang, the song
sounded like the wind blowing, the sea roaring, and the trees
creaking; then it grew very soft, and sounded like a trickling brook
dripping on stones and running over little pebbles; and while the king
and queen and all the court listened in surprise, Harmonius' song grew
sweeter, sweeter, sweeter. It was as if you heard all the birds in
Spring. And then the song was ended.

The queen clapped her hands, and the ladies waved their handkerchiefs,
and the king came down from his throne to ask Harmonius if he came from
fairyland with such a wonderful song. But Harmonius answered:--

"_Three singers sang along our way, And I learned the song from them
to-day_."

Now, all the other minstrels looked up in surprise when Harmonius said
this; and the oldest minstrel said to the king: "Harmonius is dreaming!
We heard no music on our way to-day."

And the youngest minstrel said: "Harmonius is surely mad! We met nobody
on our way to-day."

But the queen said: "That is an old, old song. I heard it when I was a
little child; and I can name the singers three." And so she did. Can
you?



_DUST UNDER THE RUG_

    Motto for the Mother

    _Well for the child, well for the man, to whom
    throughout life the voice of conscience is the prophecy
    and pledge of an abiding union with God_!

          FROEBEL.

There was once a mother, who had two little daughters; and, as her
husband was dead and she was very poor, she worked diligently all the
time that they might be well fed and clothed. She was a skilled worker,
and found work to do away from home, but her two little girls were so
good and so helpful that they kept her house as neat and as bright as a
new pin.

One of the little girls was lame, and could not run about the house; so
she sat still in her chair and sewed, while Minnie, the sister, washed
the dishes, swept the floor, and made the home beautiful.

Their home was on the edge of a great forest; and after their tasks were
finished the little girls would sit at the window and watch the tall
trees as they bent in the wind, until it would seem as though the trees
were real persons, nodding and bending and bowing to each other.

In the Spring there were the birds, in the Summer the wild flowers, in
Autumn the bright leaves, and in Winter the great drifts of white snow;
so that the whole year was a round of delight to the two happy children.
But one day the dear mother came home sick; and then they were very sad.
It was Winter, and there were many things to buy. Minnie and her little
sister sat by the fire and talked it over, and at last Minnie said:--

"Dear sister, I must go out to find work, before the food gives out." So
she kissed her mother, and, wrapping herself up, started from home.
There was a narrow path leading through the forest, and she determined
to follow it until she reached some place where she might find the work
she wanted.

As she hurried on, the shadows grew deeper. The night was coming fast
when she saw before her a very small house, which was a welcome sight.
She made haste to reach it, and to knock at the door.

Nobody came in answer to her knock. When she had tried again and again,
she thought that nobody lived there; and she opened the door and walked
in, thinking that she would stay all night.

As soon as she stepped into the house, she started back in surprise; for
there before her she saw twelve little beds with the bed-clothes all
tumbled, twelve little dirty plates on a very dusty table, and the floor
of the room so dusty that I am sure you could have drawn a picture on
it.

"Dear me!" said the little girl, "this will never do!" And as soon as
she had warmed her hands, she set to work to make the room tidy.

She washed the plates, she made up the beds, she swept the floor, she
straightened the great rug in front of the fireplace, and set the twelve
little chairs in a half circle around the fire; and, just as she
finished, the door opened and in walked twelve of the queerest little
people she had ever seen. They were just about as tall as a carpenter's
rule, and all wore yellow clothes; and when Minnie saw this, she knew
that they must be the dwarfs who kept the gold in the heart of the
mountain.

"Well!" said the dwarfs all together, for they always spoke together and
in rhyme,

    "_Now isn't this a sweet surprise?
    We really can't believe our eyes_!"

Then they spied Minnie, and cried in great astonishment:--

    "_Who can this be, so fair and mild?
    Our helper is a stranger child_."

Now when Minnie saw the dwarfs, she came to meet them. "If you please,"
she said, "I'm little Minnie Grey; and I'm looking for work because my
dear mother is sick. I came in here when the night drew near, and--"
here all the dwarfs laughed, and called out merrily:--

    "_You found our room a sorry sight,
    But you have made it clean and bright_."

They were such dear funny little dwarfs! After they had thanked Minnie
for her trouble, they took white bread and honey from the closet and
asked her to sup with them.

While they sat at supper, they told her that their fairy housekeeper had
taken a holiday, and their house was not well kept, because she was
away.

They sighed when they said this; and after supper, when Minnie washed
the dishes and set them carefully away, they looked at her often and
talked among themselves. When the last plate was in its place they
called Minnie to them and said:--

    "_Dear mortal maiden will you stay
    All through our fairy's holiday?
    And if you faithful prove, and good,
    We will reward you as we should_."

Now Minnie was much pleased, for she liked the kind dwarfs, and wanted
to help them, so she thanked them, and went to bed to dream happy
dreams.

Next morning she was awake with the chickens, and cooked a nice
breakfast; and after the dwarfs left, she cleaned up the room and mended
the dwarfs' clothes. In the evening when the dwarfs came home, they
found a bright fire and a warm supper waiting for them; and every day
Minnie worked faithfully until the last day of the fairy housekeeper's
holiday.

That morning, as Minnie looked out of the window to watch the dwarfs go
to their work, she saw on one of the window panes the most beautiful
picture she had ever seen.

A picture of fairy palaces with towers of silver and frosted pinnacles,
so wonderful and beautiful that as she looked at it she forgot that
there was work to be done, until the cuckoo clock on the mantel struck
twelve.

Then she ran in haste to make up the beds, and wash the dishes; but
because she was in a hurry she could not work quickly, and when she took
the broom to sweep the floor it was almost time for the dwarfs to come
home.

"I believe," said Minnie aloud, "that I will not sweep under the rug
to-day. After all, it is nothing for dust to be where it can't be seen!"
So she hurried to her supper and left the rug unturned.

Before long the dwarfs came home. As the rooms looked just as usual,
nothing was said; and Minnie thought no more of the dust until she went
to bed and the stars peeped through the window.

[Illustration: All the little dwarfs came running out to see what was
the matter.]

Then she thought of it, for it seemed to her that she could hear the
stars saying:--

"There is the little girl who is so faithful and good"; and Minnie
turned her face to the wall, for a little voice, right in her own heart,
said:--

"Dust under the rug! dust under the rug!"

"There is the little girl," cried the stars, "who keeps home as bright
as star-shine."

"Dust under the rug! dust under the rug!" said the little voice in
Minnie's heart.

"We see her! we see her!" called all the stars joyfully.

"Dust under the rug! dust under the rug!" said the little voice in
Minnie's heart, and she could bear it no longer. So she sprang out of
bed, and, taking her broom in her hand, she swept the dust away; and lo!
under the dust lay twelve shining gold pieces, as round and as bright as
the moon.

"Oh! oh! oh!" cried Minnie, in great surprise; and all the little dwarfs
came running to see what was the matter.

Minnie told them all about it; and when she had ended her story, the
dwarfs gathered lovingly around her and said:--

    "_Dear child, the gold is all for you,
      For faithful you have proved and true;
      But had you left the rug unturned,
      A groat was all you would have earned.
      Our love goes with the gold we give,
      And oh! forget not while you live,
      That in the smallest duty done
      Lies wealth of joy for every one_."

Minnie thanked the dwarfs for their kindness to her; and early next
morning she hastened home with her golden treasure, which bought many
good things for the dear mother and little sister.

She never saw the dwarfs again; but she never forgot their lesson, to do
her work faithfully; and she always swept under the rug.



_THE STORY OF GRETCHEN_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Oh! like a wreath, let Christmas mirth
    To-day encircle all the earth,
    And bind the nations with the love
    That Jesus brought from heaven above_.

It was almost Christmas time when one of the white ships that sail
across the sea brought a little German girl named Gretchen, with her
father and mother, to find a new home in our dear land.

Gretchen knew all about Christmas. She had heard the story of the loving
Christ Child over and over, and in her home in Germany she had kept His
birthday and enjoyed it ever since she could remember.

Every year, a little before Christmas, her shoes had been placed in the
garden for Rupert, who is one of Santa Claus's German helpers, to fill,
and every year she had found a Christmas tree lighted for her on
Christmas Day. She wondered a little, as she came across the ocean, how
she would keep Christmas in the new country; and she wondered still
more, when they reached a great city, and had their "boxes" carried up
so many stairs to a little room in a boarding-house.

Gretchen's mother did not like boarding-houses--no, indeed!--and their
first thought was to find a place where they might feel at home; but the
very next morning after their long journey the dear father was too ill
to lift his head from the pillow, and Gretchen and her mother were very
sad for many days. Up so high in a boarding-house is not pleasant (even
if you do seem nearer the stars) when somebody you love is sick; and
then, too, Gretchen began to think that Santa Claus and Rupert had
forgotten her; for when she set her two little wooden shoes outside the
door, they were never filled with goodies, and people stumbled over them
and scolded.

The tears would roll down Gretchen's fat, rosy cheeks, and fall into the
empty shoes, and she decided that the people in America did not keep
Christmas, and wished she was in her own Germany again. One day,
however, a good woman in the house felt sorry for the lonely little
German girl, who could speak no English, and she asked Gretchen's
mother if Gretchen might go with her to see the beautiful stores. She
was only a poor woman, and had no presents to give away; but she knew
how to be kind to Gretchen, and she took her hand and smiled at her very
often as they hurried along the crowded street.

It was the day before Christmas, and throngs of people were moving here
and there, and Gretchen was soon bewildered, and she was jostled and
pushed until she was tired; but at last they stepped into a store which
made her blue eyes open wide, for it was a toy store, and the most
beautiful place she had ever seen. There were toys in that store that
had come across the sea like Gretchen; there were lovely dolls from
France, who were spending their first Christmas away from home; there
were woolly sheep, fine painted soldiers, and dainty furniture, and a
whole host of wonderful toys marked very carefully, "Made in Germany";
and even the Japanese, from their island in the great ocean, had sent
their funny slant-eyed dolls to help us keep Christmas.

Oh! it was splendid to be in the toyshop the day before Christmas! All
the tin soldiers stood up so straight and tall, looking as if they were
just ready to march when the big drums and the little drums, which hung
over their heads, should call them.

The rocking horses, which are always saddled, were waiting to gallop
away. The tops were anxious to spin, and the balls really rolled about
sometimes, because it was so hard for them to keep still.

The fine lady dolls were dressed in their best. One of them was a
princess, and wore a white satin dress, and had a crown on her head. She
sat on a throne in one of the windows, with all the other dolls around
her; and it was in this very window that Gretchen saw a baby doll, which
made her forget all the rest. It was a real baby doll, not nearly so
fine as most of the others, but with a look on its face as if it wanted
to be loved; and Gretchen's warm German heart went out to it, for
little mothers are the same all the world over.

Such a dear baby doll! She must have been made for a Christmas gift,
Gretchen thought; and if the good giver came to this queer American
land, he surely would find her. How could she let him know where she
was? She thought about it all the way home, and all day long, till the
gas was lighted down in the great city and the stars were lighted up
above, and the time of his coming drew very near.

The father was better; but the mother had said with tears in her eyes,
that there could be no Christmas tree for them that year. So Gretchen
did not worry them, but she wrapped herself up in a blanket and shawl,
and, taking her shoes in her hand, she crept down the stairs, through
the door, out to the wooden stoop. There had been a light fall of snow
that day, but it was a mild Christmas, and Gretchen set her shoes evenly
together, and then sat down beside them; for she had made up her mind to
watch them until Santa Claus came by.

All over the city the bells were ringing,--calling "Merry Christmas" to
each other and to the world; and they sang so sweetly to little Gretchen
that they sang her to sleep that Christmas Eve.

It was hundreds and hundreds of years since the Christ Child slept in
the manger; but this same night in the great city a little American girl
named Margaret had her heart so full of His love and joy that she wanted
to make everybody happy for the dear Christ's sake.

She had waked up early the day before Christmas, and all day long she
had been doing loving deeds; and when evening came, and the bells began
to ring, she started with a basket of toys to a mission church, where
she was to help Santa Claus by giving gifts to the children of the poor.

[Illustration: The dearest Christmas Gift that ever came to a homesick
little girl.]

Her papa was with her, and they were so glad that they sang gay
Christmas carols, and kept time to them with their feet as they hurried
down the street, right by the wooden stoop, just as Gretchen fell asleep
by her empty shoes. The moon had seen those empty shoes, and was
filling them with moonbeams. The stars had seen them, and peeped into
them with pity; and when Margaret and her father saw them they cried out
to each other, for they had been in Germany, and they knew that the
little owner was waiting for the good Saint Nicholas.

"What can we give her?" whispered Margaret's papa, as he looked down at
his bundles; but Margaret knew, for she took from her basket a baby
doll--one that looked as if it wanted to be loved--and laid it tenderly
across the wooden shoes. Then Margaret lifted a corner of the blanket
from Gretchen's rosy face and shouted "Merry Christmas!" with so much
heartiness that the little girl woke with a start to find, not Margaret
and her papa, for they had run away, but, oh! wonder of wonders! the
dearest Christmas gift that ever came to a homesick little girl, and
made her feel at home.

Oh! all the bells were singing and ringing, and Margaret and her papa
answered them with their merry Christmas carol, as they sped on their
way.

    "_Carol, brothers, carol!
        Carol merrily!
       Carol the glad tidings,
        Carol cheerily!
       And pray a gladsome Christmas
        To all our fellowmen,
       Carol, brothers, carol!
        Christmas Day again_."



_THE KING'S BIRTHDAY_

    MOTTO FOR THE MOTHER

    _Let the child feel Christ is near him;
      By your faith will grow his own;
    Death nor danger will affright him
      If he never feels alone_.

Little Carl and his mother came from their home in the country one sweet
summer day, because it was the king's birthday, and all the city was to
be glad and gay, and the king would ride on his fine gray horse for the
people to see.

Little Carl had gathered a very fine bunch of flowers to throw before
the king. He had marigolds and pinks and pansies, and they had all grown
in his mother's garden.

This was a great day for little boy Carl, and before he started from
home he told everything goodbye,--the brindle calf and the mooley cow
and the sheep and little white lambs.

"Good-bye!" he said; "I am going to see the king."

The way was long, but Carl did not complain. He trudged bravely on by
his mother's side, holding the flowers tightly in his little hand, and
looking out of his great blue eyes for the king, in case the king should
ride out to meet them.

Every now and then Carl wished for his father, who was obliged to work
in the fields all day, and who had been up and away before Carl was
awake. Carl thought of the fine sights his father was missing,
especially when they came to the city, where the flags were flying from
every steeple and housetop and window.

There were as many people in the city as there were birds in the
country; and when the drums beat, the crowd rushed forward and everybody
called at once: "The king! the king! Long live the king!"

Carl's mother lifted him up in her arms that he might see, The king rode
slowly along on his great gray horse, with all his fine ladies and
gentlemen behind him; and little Carl threw his flowers with the rest
and waved his cap in his hand.

He felt sorry for his flowers after he had thrown them, because they
were trampled under the horses' feet and the king didn't care; and
after that he felt very tired, and his little hot hand slipped from his
mother's and he was carried away in the crowd.

He thought that his mother would surely come. But there were only
strange faces about him, and he was such a little lad that nobody
noticed him; and at last he was left behind, all alone.

He was very miserable, and the tears rolled down his cheeks; but he
remembered that it was the king's birthday, and that everybody must be
glad, so he wiped the tears away as he trudged along.

There were wonderful houses along the street, with great gardens in
front; and Carl thought that they must belong to the king, but he did
not want to go in. They were all too fine for him. But at last he
reached one which stood off by itself and had a tall, tall steeple and
great doors, through which hundreds of people were coming.

"Perhaps my mamma is there," thought little Carl. After he had watched
all the people come out, and had not seen her, he went up the white
marble steps and through the doors, and found himself all alone in a
very beautiful place.

The roof of the house was held up by great strong pillars, and the floor
had as many patterns on it as his mother's patchwork; and on every side
he saw windows,--beautiful windows like picture books,--and when he had
seen one, he wanted to see another, as you do when you are looking at
picture books.

Some of the windows had jewels and crowns upon them; some had sheaves of
lilies; and others had lovely faces and men with harps; and at last he
came to one great window which was different from the rest and lovelier
than any of them.

The other windows were like picture books, but this one was like home;
for there were sheep in it and flowers, and a dear, gentle Man, with a
loving face, and He had a lamb in His arms.

When little Carl looked at this window, he crept very close under it,
and, laying his head on his arm, sobbed himself to sleep.

[Illustration: "Mother, mother, here am I!"]

While he slept, the sunbeams came through the window and made bright
circles round his head; and the white doves that lived in the church
tower flew through an open window to look at him.

"It is good to live in the church tower," cooed the white doves to each
other, "for the bells are up there; and then we can fly down here and
see the dear Christ's face. See! here is one of his little ones!"

"Coo, coo," said the white doves softly; "we cannot speak so loudly as
the bells, nor make ourselves heard so far; but we can fly where we
please, and they must stay always up there."

All this cooing did not wake little boy Carl, for he was dreaming a
beautiful dream about a king who had a face like the Good Man in the
window, and who was carrying Carl in His arms instead of a lamb, and was
taking him to his mother; and just as he dreamed that they had reached
her, Carl woke up, for he heard somebody talking in the church.

He lay still and listened, for this seemed part of the dream. Somebody
was talking about him, and the words were very plain to Carl:--

"Dear Father in Heaven, I have lost my little boy. I am like Mary
seeking for the Christ Child. For His sake, give me my little child!"

Carl knew that voice, and in an instant he ran out crying:--

"Mother! mother! here am I!"

And in all the joy of the king's birth day, there was no joy so great as
theirs.





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