By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Tales of the Toys, Told by Themselves
Author: Broderip, Frances Freeling
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 "Tales of the Toys, Told by Themselves" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

  _Page 1._]






  With Illustrations by Tom Hood.


  (_Successors to Newbery and Harris._)




  WHO MADE IT                                                19

  THE HOOP'S ROUND OF ADVENTURES                             33

  THE FATE OF THE LEADEN TEA-THINGS                          47


  THE DOLL AND ALL HER MISTRESSES                            79

  THE TOY KITCHEN; AND ITS MAKER                             98

  THE FATE OF THE SHUTTLECOCK                               113


  THE MARBLES AND THEIR PROCEEDINGS                         142

  WHY THE ROCKING HORSE RAN AWAY                            159

  THE MISHAP OF THE SKIPPING-ROPE                           176

  THE HUMMING TOP'S HISTORY                                 194

  THE INTERRUPTION AND CONCLUSION                           210






"Hurrah! We are going to have such a jolly holiday!" shouted Frank,
suddenly bursting out of his imprisonment in the slate closet, to the
great disturbance of his sisters, who were peaceably occupied with their

"Frank," said Miss Watson, "I must really at last report you to your
Papa. I do not like to trouble him if I can help it, but I am afraid you
will oblige me to do so. I desired you not to leave the book closet
until you had made up your mind to sit straight on your chair, and go
through the multiplication table properly."

"We're to go to Sandbay for a month!" shouted Frank, capering about and
clapping his hands.

"To Sandbay, Frank! oh, how charming!" cried Celia and Florry, with one

"We shall be able to collect so many shells, and perhaps to get some
anemones!" said Celia.

"I shall make such gardens and ovens in the sand!" cried Florry, opening
her blue eyes as wide as possible. "I wonder what has become of my

"I'll leave Pa no peace till he takes me out for a sail," said Frank,
whose antics had not yet subsided.

"I think you have all gone suddenly mad!" said Miss Watson. "Celia, I am
surprised at _you_! I have ceased to hope for quiet manners from Frank,
and Florry is so little, she scarcely knows better; but your giddiness
is not usual."

"I beg your pardon, Miss Watson," replied Celia, demurely; "only it was
so nice to think of going to the Sea."

"But I don't understand the matter now," said poor Miss Watson, looking
very mystified; "you knew nothing about this at breakfast, Frank, and
how your companionship with the books and slates in the cupboard has
enlightened you now, I don't know, nor can I give even a remote guess!"

"Why, the store cupboard in the dining room is next to the book closet,"
replied Frank, eagerly, "and just now, when I had got my hand on the
lock of the door to come out and tell you I had had enough of solitary
imprisoning, I heard Mamma come into the store cupboard (for some jam, I
daresay!) and she said out loud to somebody, 'I mean to take the
children for a month to Sandbay this summer!' That's what made me rush
out to tell the girls the good news!"

"Well, Frank, I never believed you guilty of the meanness of listening
before," said Miss Watson, rather severely.

"I didn't listen," said Frank, rather sulkily.

"You can hear very plainly in the book closet, Miss Watson," said Celia.
"When I have put away the books sometimes, I have heard Ellen laying the
luncheon in the dining room from the store cupboard door being left
open. I am sure we should not listen on purpose, and I don't think Frank
could help hearing it, if Mamma spoke distinctly."

"It's very nice of you, Celia, to be always so ready to excuse your
brother," said Miss Watson, "and I _do_ believe Frank above such mean,
dishonest habits as that; and so I suppose I must overlook his
boisterous conduct this once, as the news he heard by accident seems so
exciting to you all."

"Oh, Miss Watson, don't you like the sea too?" enquired little Florry;
"it's so nice to stand on a heap of sand and let the waves come round

"Well, Florry," replied Miss Watson, smiling, "there are many more
pleasant things at the seaside than getting your feet wet through; but I
suppose _you_ like letting the waves chase you!"

"Then there is the bathing," said Celia, delightedly; "I do so love a
dip in the cool, green salt water, and the dancing about in it, and
waiting for a great wave to come over one!"

"Girls ought to learn to swim!" said Frank, very sententiously. "Suppose
a big wave carried you out of your depth, and no one was near to fetch
you out again but the old Molly of a bathing woman!"

"I have not the least doubt in the world," said Miss Watson, "that you
will all enjoy your trip to Sandbay very much. But I think people should
_earn_ their holiday before they have it, or even waste much time
beforehand in planning how to spend it. We shall get no lessons at all
this morning if we are to be hindered like this, and the consequence
will be, Frank, that as so often is the case, you will spend your
playtime in going over them again."

"Suppose we all settle down steadily," suggested sensible Celia, "and
put the thoughts of the sea out of our minds till we have done. Look,
Miss Watson, it only wants a quarter to one, and we have finished all
but our copies!"

"There's the 'vexation' to be got through first, by me at any rate,"
said Frank, with a rueful air. "I wish the man who invented it had all
the 'three times' from one to twelve printed on him with a cat-o'-nine
tails, every time a fellow is forced to go through it!"

"When you are a rich old merchant in the City, Frank," replied Miss
Watson, smiling, "you will find the 'vexation' a pleasure, as you add up
your pounds and shillings, or calculate the value of your cargoes!"

"I wonder if Sir Walter Raleigh bothered his head with all this
rubbish," growled Frank. "I daresay he counted up his ingots on his
fingers. Such a leader as he was never wasted his time and trouble on
the bothering old multiplication tables, _I_ know."

"Raleigh was a scholar and a poet too, Frank," replied Miss Watson; "you
could hardly have chosen a worse example of your theory. He was an Oriel
College man, and wrote a history of the world during his captivity in
the Tower. He employed his imprisonment better than you have done, you

"I have finished my copy, Miss Watson," said Celia, "may I go now,
please? I have nothing more to do until the afternoon."

"Yes, Celia; but, Florry, how carelessly you have written yours! I am
afraid the thoughts of going to the sea have bewildered your little head
so, that your fingers have travelled along without any guidance, like
runaway horses with the coachman fast asleep!"

Florry blushed and hung her head over the ill-written book, and was
silent, for she knew that she had been thinking more of the pleasure
before her, and musing where her wooden spade could be, than of her
lessons; I am afraid that morning set a mark of "Careless!" in both
Frank's and her score. However, school time ended at last, and off with
a shout went Frank to hear all about the plans from Celia, for he had no
doubt she had been talking the matter over with Mamma. Miss Watson was
putting on her bonnet and mantle in order to return home for the usual
weekly half holiday, when Mrs. Spenser entered the room.

"I find, Miss Watson," said she, smiling, "that Frank's long ears have
managed to catch what Mr. Spenser and I have been arranging for the
summer holidays. The house is so very dirty and worn now, after our long
residence in it, that we find it will be best to set about a thorough
course of paint, paper, and whitewash, so that I have resolved to give
the children a month at Sandbay during these holidays, which will do
them all a great deal of good, I think."

"I hope it will, indeed," replied Miss Watson; "and I am sure you will
find it more agreeable to leave the house in possession of the workmen;
all painting and papering is so unpleasant to endure."

"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Spenser, "I have a great horror of the whole
operation; and, besides, Mr. Spenser thinks it will be more thoroughly
done, if everything is packed away, and we are all out of the house. It
will be very pleasant to be away from the heat of town, and with plenty
of sea breezes to freshen up the children. Celia, I think, is looking
rather delicate."

"A little sea wind, and a few rambles on the shore, will soon bring back
her rosy cheeks," replied Miss Watson, shaking hands with Mrs. Spenser,
as she took her leave. "I hope you will all be very much the better for
the change."

For the rest of the next week--the last but one before the holidays
began--Binswood Villa was a scene of endless bustle and confusion. The
children enjoyed it all immensely, and rejoiced secretly at the little
interruptions to the usual routine of their daily lessons, which were
now taken in "pic-nic fashion," as Celia declared. For after the
dining-room was cleared of its furniture, the schoolroom was obliged to
be used for luncheon and dinner. And at last, joy of joys, the
schoolroom itself had to be partially given up, and the weather being
very warm and dry, the last few days' school was held in the arbour in
the garden. The children enjoyed the remove greatly; but Frank declared
that it was a sore trial to Miss Watson, for she had earwigs up her
sleeve and snails on her gown!

"I am too fond of a garden, Frank, to mind even these mishaps," said
Miss Watson, laughing; "and as they have not yet fallen to my share, I
won't fear them beforehand. I think all the garden inhabitants recognise
_you_ for their lawful prey, for I can see a little money-spinner spider
making a tour of your collar now!"

Then there was all the packing to be done. Mamma very wisely got over
her share of the business during the quiet hours when the young folks
were at school, and, therefore, managed to get everything stowed away in
tolerable order. And she found out the wisdom of her plan soon enough,
for the confusion and trouble that reigned during the three days'
holiday before they left, nearly drove poor Nurse out of her senses. But
at last even all these worries were happily got over, and Celia's
treasures safely put away, Frank's bat and ball and cricket-shoes hunted
up, and Florry's missing wooden spade found behind the clock-case.

Mrs. Spenser and the Nurse had the worst part of the business even now,
in arranging and packing all the frocks and pinafores, socks and jackets
in small compass for their long visit. Young folks are very apt not to
think of all these things, and seem to imagine that hats and caps,
gloves and shoes grow on the bushes, and are produced by rain and
sunshine, like the garments of the flowers! Most mothers and nurses
could tell a very different tale; and could, if they pleased, prove,
that if little girls were as idly managed as the doll family are, life
would not be so easy or quite so pleasant, to the juveniles at least.

At last the happy day of the journey arrived, and the Spensers, with all
their luggage, were safely crammed into a couple of cabs, and borne off
to the railway station on their way to Sandbay. Little Florry persisted
in carrying her precious wooden spade, for fear it should be left
behind, a proceeding that resulted in its being left in the
refreshment-room at Hembery station, and only regained at the risk of
Frank's being left behind; and it was finally forgotten in the carriage
when they changed at Dawlish junction, its little tired owner being
carried fast asleep in Nurse's arms. And so before Papa left them all
comfortably settled in their airy lodgings at Sandbay, he was obliged to
take his tearful little girl to the one toy-shop and buy her a new one.

"Which you gained by, Florry," remarked Frank; "for Pa gave you a bucket
into the bargain; so now you can make ovens enough to bake all the rolls
in Sandbay!"

And then, like a good-natured brother as he was, he printed Florry's
name in great capital letters on her spade, with the name of the house
they lived in, so that when she left it behind on the sands, there was a
chance of its being brought back again. And Celia and her mother rambled
about by the edge of the sea, and collected shells and sea-weed, or took
long walks through the pretty country round Sandbay, till the rosy
cheeks Miss Watson prophesied became quite Celia's usual look.

Meanwhile, Mr. Spenser having seen the little colony comfortably
established, returned back to town, for he was going to stay with a
sister who lived near his own house, in order to keep an occasional
watch over the workmen. And so the town villa, which a few hours before
had been the scene of such confusion and bustle,--such noisy voices and
pattering feet,--was left empty to the echoes and the dust which now had
time to settle peaceably over the bare boards and dingy windows. An old
charwoman had the charge of it, and was to sleep in the kitchen; but as
the workmen were not to come till the day after, she contented herself
with merely sweeping down the house in the afternoon, ready for the
whitewashers next day; and then, locking all up safe, with old Growler,
the dog, inside, she set off, after an early cup of tea, to get in her
provisions for the next day.

It was, indeed, a change! The bed-rooms had lost their nice white little
beds and curtains; the drawing-room was a dusty desert, with no piano
and no work-tables; while the kitchen yawned like a gloomy cavern,
stripped of its bright tins and cheerful dishes. And the dusky shades of
evening fell and wrapped it in still darker shadows, while the distant
roar and din of the streets seemed to sound quite far off. So then the
crickets, who felt sure something unusual must be the matter, chirped,
and made enquiries of each other, in the most noisy manner; while the
mice, quite enraptured with the quiet and vacancy, came out and had
regular pic-nic parties all over the house.

The furniture and packages had all been stowed away in one large room at
the top of the house, which had then been securely locked and fastened.
But one nook had been neglected in the midst of all the bustle. Busy as
she had been with preparing the summer clothes, putting away all the
winter ones, and setting aside all in her own particular domain, Nurse
had utterly overlooked the old toy cupboard! It is true it was now
seldom used; for even Florry cared little for the broken and discarded
toys it contained, and so it was not to be wondered at that the old
store of rubbish had not been remembered. Some officious person had
unlatched the door and left it ajar, and a good blast of wind in the
afternoon, when old Mrs. Davis set the window open first, had pushed it
quite back, though she had not observed the fact when she closed the
nursery windows before she left. On the floor lay a heap of old leaden
tea-things, mixed up with some of the inhabitants of a battered Noah's
Ark which lay empty on its side on the top shelf. Several old marbles
were nestled cosily up in an old toy kitchen which had been turned
upside down to receive them. A humming-top, whose key had departed, lay
side by side with a shuttlecock that had been shorn of half its
feathers. The skipping-rope had become hopelessly entangled with the
tail of the kite; the hoop had hung itself round the neck of a very
ancient rocking-horse, whose mane and tail had long disappeared; to add
to its misfortunes the poor animal now lacked the whole of one leg, and
part of another, and being past mending, it had not seen daylight for a
long while. A doll, with one arm, and whose bland, faded face had lost
all expression with her missing eyes, presided in a solemn manner over
the whole. The shelf above was empty, with one exception, for on it lay
a very large ball, made of leather in many pieces, carefully joined
together. Why it had been placed in the old toy cupboard was a mystery,
for it seemed nearly new from the brightness of its colours and the full
roundness of its form. That it was gifted with more strength and
vitality than its companions was evident enough, for it gave a violent
roll on the shelf, and then bounded suddenly down into the midst of its

"And so _we've_ got a holiday at last," said the Ball, with a lively
frisk as he spoke.

"Oh! don't be so rough," faintly shrieked the Doll; "you have almost
taken away all the little breath I had left!"

"I'll fan you with the greatest pleasure!" said the Kite, eagerly, "or
at least, I'll try to do so, for I have stood here so long, that I am
quite stiff, but I'll do my best!"

And so he vigorously flapped backwards and forwards, till all the dust
was set in motion that had rested quiet so long. So that at last, the
Rocking-horse even was roused from his long slumber, and hobbled out of
the corner on his lame legs.

"How very pleasant!" exclaimed the Ball, hopping about with the greatest
agility; "I declare it is quite worth while living in retirement for a
while, if only to enjoy life once more when we come back to it again.
How's the Doll now?" enquired he, politely, bounding towards her.

"Better I hope," puffed the Kite; "but you know this cupboard has been
stifling for a long while, and so now the first breeze of fresh air is
almost too much for us all."

"Speak for yourself," snapped the Shuttlecock, very peevishly; "you have
fanned out my last feather, and what I'm to do now I can't think; I'm
nothing but cork and leather!"

"We are none of us much to be boasted of," remarked the old leaden
Teapot; "I'm sure I have been battered and dinted till I've no shape
left. But one gets used in time to being trodden on."

"Yes, indeed, and to get one's horns and legs snapped off," chimed in an
eager lilac wooden Cow, who certainly had lost most of her members,
"over and above parting with your relations. My twin brother was
destroyed ages ago, and so was the scarlet cat's, and there's not even
one elephant left in the ark, nor a camel, nor a canary, nor a ladybird,
nor a bear."

"Oh! never mind your elephants and ladybirds," interrupted the Ball,
irreverently; "we shall waste all our time in this arguing and

"It's easy for you to talk, young man," remarked the Shuttlecock,
sarcastically; "_you_ have never been into the battle of life, or lost
all your feathers."

"This is very stupid work," said the Skipping-rope, coiling about and
trying to disentangle herself from the Kite, a proceeding that resulted
in one of her handles coming off, and the Kite being shorn of the tassel
at the end of his tail.

"Well, what _are_ we to do with ourselves," asked the Rocking-Horse, "we
are not all of us quite so lively as you, my friend Ball. To us a
holiday conveys the idea of _rest_, not restlessness."

"Then I should think holidays were superfluous things to you!" muttered
the Ball, as he took an extra roll out into the room; "but what are we
to do, then?"

"Tell stories," suggested the Doll, and the Rocking-Horse and Kite
seconded the motion. The Ball bounded about very impatiently, and
proposed a game of play, but he was outvoted, and the first motion was
carried. But the noise of the argument had awakened the Humming-top, and
he began to buzz and hum in such a drony, drowsy fashion, that in sheer
terror and dread, the Ball threw himself gallantly into the gap, and
promised to tell the first story himself, on condition that he should be
allowed to roll softly about the room for the rest of the evening. This
was very willingly agreed to, and all the party being comfortably
arranged, the Doll having taken care to ensure the services of the Kite,
the Ball begun his proffered story in the following manner.





"If I were not of a very lively character," remarked the Ball, "I should
feel rather shy at making my first appearance as a story teller. But you
know all people of my giddy habits are not much given to serious
consideration. We make a bold spring and bound down into the middle of a
matter, while all the graver folks are nervously trembling on the very
brink. And so, instead of beginning at the very first chapter of my
story, and telling you that I first grew on an animal's back as skin,
and was then turned into leather, I will skip the dry part of my
history, and begin with some of my later impressions."

"Now," said the Humming-top, gravely, "I think I must rather protest
against this summary way of disposing of some of the most interesting
facts respecting your origin. I should like to know a little more about
you, my dear friend. Pray indulge us with all the particulars of your
early years: your first recollections."

"I had thought," said the Ball, modestly, "that all these minute facts
could hardly be very interesting, and I have a great fear of tiring out
your attention, and of being called _prosy_," added he, slily.

"That is impossible," answered the Humming-top, in a pompous manner;
"let me beg of you to relieve our curiosity. I am sure I may speak for
all the rest of our friends," said he, with a very solemn bow to each
member of the party. The Toys, only too ready to enjoy the least
variation of their long retired life, eagerly agreed, and the Ball
resumed his story:--

"I am afraid I am not very clever at giving accurate descriptions of
things in which I don't take much interest, and as you may suppose my
real life only begun when all my several portions were collected
together. I am composed, as you see, of several sections, each of the
same size and shape, but all varying in colour and material. This
quarter of me is composed of two portions of a pale, tawny leather; and
this grew on the back of a fine robust young lamb, who frisked away his
brief life on a sunny pasture in Denmark. He formed one of the members
of a huge flock of sheep, belonging to a well-to-do farmer, whose riches
in herds of cattle and flocks of sheep were accumulating for the dowry
of his only child Mari. She was the best dowered maiden for fifty miles
round, and though young in her teens, made the yellowest butter and
firmest cheese for three villages round. Her father was a thrifty,
enterprising man, who was especially successful in rearing fine lambs;
thereby giving his old bachelor brother the tanner, plenty of employment
in dressing the hides and fleeces, thus keeping "two mills going at
once," as he said. The old tanner had a trade secret of his own for
curing the skins in some peculiar way with the bark of the willows that
grew so plentifully on the borders of the stream that ran through his
tan yards. No one's hides sold so readily as old Johann Nilson's, or
fetched so good a price in the market. They were entirely reserved for
making gloves, and exported to England for that purpose.

"The next two sections of my figure are, as you see, of a bright scarlet
colour; and, like those two on the opposite side, which are of a rich
dark blue, are made of morocco leather. This is made from the skin of
Spanish goats, carefully tanned with oak bark, and then dyed on the
grain side. The crimson portion owes its hue to being steeped in a bath
with the little cochineal insect; and the blue to indigo. It is then
curried and glazed till it becomes as shining and smooth as you see it.

"Half of my fourth and last section is made of kid that was once pure
white; and of the same kind as that used for ladies' gloves and boots.
But time and rough usage have turned it now to a somewhat dingy hue.
This was made from the skin of a calf, which was carefully steeped in
baths of lime and bran, and then dressed with flour paste, and well
stretched; being finally polished and smoothed with hot irons. This came
from France, and after all this toil and care bestowed upon it, was
beautifully soft and white, as supple as you could desire, and ready to
be made into gloves. The other half of my last portion is formed of what
is called chamois leather, being made from the skin of a lively little
chamois that in vain once fled along Alpine peaks to escape his fleet
hunter. The only part that now remains to account for is the small round
portion at each end, which, from its dark, peculiar, tawny hue and
pleasant scent, you have no doubt recognised as Russia leather. This,
which is so highly prized because insects will not destroy it, or damp
penetrate through it, owes much of its virtue to its being tanned with
the bark of the graceful birch tree.

"I have now, I think, satisfied even my friend the Humming-top, and may
proceed to tell you that these several portions of my frame, coming as
they did from various countries, and owing their colour and texture to
different ways of preparing them, were all stored together in a very
large wholesale warehouse, in a narrow, gloomy lane in the heart of
London. These were all sold out again to travel once more, some to the
glove-making counties; others to great shoe factories; some to makers of
dressing cases and purses; others to grocers in town or country for
polishing plate and glass. With all this general separation, there were
a good many stray pieces, some torn off by accident, others used for
pattern samples, which were always carefully collected, down to the
smallest bits, and put into an old box by the boy who swept the
warehouse. His master allowed him to collect them each week and carry
them home to his mother, a poor, industrious widow, who earned a scanty
living for her children and herself by making toys for a shop in the

"The eldest son, Sam, was shop-boy at this great leather warehouse; and
feeling the importance of his position as the man of the family, and the
only one receiving regular wages, and being in a place, he was not a
little proud. He drew himself up on tip-toe, for he was, unluckily,
rather short for his age, and spoke in the deepest tones he could make
his naturally squeaky voice take, which sounded like the chirp of the
cuckoo, when "in leafy June, he is out of tune!" But Sam was a good boy,
and loved his mother and little sisters dearly, and would have bristled,
like an angry cock robin, in the smallest but fiercest displeasure, if
any one had tried to invade the parent nest.

"It was Saturday night, and Sam was very tired, for he was at everyone's
call, being the youngest and smallest there; and though he was pert and
perky, he was good-natured and willing, so his poor thin legs had been
well trotted about. But tired as he was, he gave a careful look round
for any stray bits, and then tucked his little old box under his arm,
and walked home. He stopped at the door of a very dingy house, up a
dark, dirty court, and opening it, mounted the close, steep staircase.
After climbing up two stories, he sat down to rest awhile, to get breath
to mount the last one. At last he wearily picked up the box, and, step
by step, painfully went up to the door of the back room. And this was
his _home_, his only idea of comfort and rest after his long day's toil.
But his mother was a good and tender woman, and though she had only this
one small room to dwell in, where her three children and herself lived
and slept, she tried her very best to keep it as wholesome and cheerful
as she could, with the poor means she had.

"A pleasant place it seemed to poor little Sam as he went in, with the
kettle singing merrily on the hob, and the summer sunset shining in over
the tall chimney-pots, through a clean window, between two cracked pots
of blooming mignonette. Many little children were, no doubt, going to
bed then in country cottages, tired out with their long rambles in
country lanes--dirty with dust and forbidden mud-pies--and hungry for
the crust of very dry bread--but healthy from their day's long breathing
of pure air. But Sam only exchanged the close city warehouse, with its
disagreeable smell of leather, for that of a room in which his mother
and sisters breathed most of the day the smoky air among the chimney
tops. In he came, only too glad to rest, and thankful for the warm tea
his mother had ready for him. And then he showed his treasure of pieces
of leather, such a big bundle this time, that little Susan clapped her
hands quite gaily; and his mother said that there was enough for a half
score dozen of balls at least!

"The poor widow made leather balls to sell to a toy shop; her eldest
girl, Jemima, always called Jemmie, made little toy bedsteads, for she
had been lame from her birth. Little Susan, the youngest, helped as well
as she could by making the little bolsters and mattresses for the dolls'
bedsteads, which were to form the toys of luckier and younger children.
She was a grave little morsel, with long thin, _thin_ limbs, and hollow
cheeks--but she would have been pretty, with her large soft blue eyes
and long yellow hair, if she had been well fed and healthy.

"Their mother took the box of leather scraps from Sam, and having made
him comfortable at his meagre tea, she began at once to arrange her
work; for the last week she had quite used up all her scraps, and had
been obliged to use her spare time in helping Jemmie with the bedsteads.
So she picked out the colours, and laid her card patterns on them, and
cut them with as little waste as possible, and as I was the first ball
she finished that evening, I saw and heard all that ensued.

"'Are you very tired Sam,' she asked, 'you're late home to-night.
However, to-morrow is blessed Sunday, and you can take your rest with
all the other poor creatures God has made His holiday for.'

"'Oh yes, mother,' said Jemmie, her sallow face quite lighted up, 'and
we can have another walk in the Park, you know. Only I wish I could walk
better, it is such slow work hopping along.'

"'So it is, Jemmie,' replied her mother, sighing, 'but thank God, child,
you don't keep your bed; that would break my heart. I hope it'll please
Him to spare me _that_ sorrow, and then I'll be contented if you can
only crawl like a snail.'

"'I wish it was treat time,' said little Susan; 'oh, how we did enjoy
it, mother! if only you had been there! Oh, they were such grand trees
in the forest, mother, they seemed to reach up to the clouds; I'm sure
the birds couldn't build their nests up there! Why they were three times
higher nor these chimbley stacks!'

"'I liked the ride best,' said Jemmie; 'wasn't it nice to be carried
along like that, and resting all the time; and teacher was so kind. She
lent me her thick shawl to sit on; and how nice it was. What a lot of
flowers we brought you, mother. And how nice and dry our acorns have

"'When I'm only a little bit older,' said Sam, 'and earn more money,
we'll have such jaunts into the country; won't it be fun to climb a
tree, and lie on the grass!'

"The mother sighed wearily; but she encouraged the children to gossip on
cheerfully, for the work went twice as quick, while the memories were
living over again the few, few days of fresh air and sunshine they had
known. And the work _must_ be done, for the sake of food and shelter,
such as it was. As for clothes, they were not thought of; for they were
darned, patched, and "tidied up," till they were _all_ darn, and only
replaced, when some kind friend gave a cast off garment. Jemmie made
pretty little dolls' bedsteads, the frames of which, made of white wire,
she bent into shape, and strengthened with slender strips of tin. Sam
soldered them neatly together for her in his precious spare time, the
wire and tin being sold to her cheap, cut ready into lengths, by a
friendly tinman. Then Jemmie trimmed them up with white muslin worked
round with gay coloured yarn. They were such pretty little toys that she
found a tolerably ready sale for them.

"'What a sight of work you've got for me, Jemmie!' said Sam, as his
mother cleared away the tea, and his sister got out the wires. 'A chap
ought to have a lot of strength for such a nigger drivin' missus as

"'Never mind, Sam,' said Jemmie, cheerfully; 'don't do no more nor you
feels inclined for. But Mr. Dobbs had such a lot of bits for _me_ this
week, and as mother was slack of work, she turned to and made up all the
curtains and valances, and I had only to do the wool work. So we've got
a sight of 'em done, and then, if mother has time this week, she thought
she'd take a few round and sell 'em.'

"'So she shall!' said Sam, setting vigorously to work, '_I_ don't mind,
there's lots of work yet in this here feller, all along of your cup of
tea, mother, and the holiday to-morrow.'

"'I think it wouldn't do no harm, Jemmie,' said the widow, as she
finished me, and laid me aside, 'if you was to send one of your
bedsteads to Mr. Nethersole's little Miss. He's kind to Sam, and it
seems only a dutiful way of thanking for all these nice bits. You've got
enough and to spare.'

"'Take one and welcome, Sam,' said Jemmie, limping off to the cupboard
and bringing one out; 'you shall have this here for little Miss. It's
the king of the lot, and is worked in the last bit of magenter wool I've

"Sam quite approved of this offering to his ruling powers, and on Monday
morning he set off early to his work, refreshed and brightened by his
brief holiday, and very proud of the bedstead, which he carried
carefully in a paper bag.

"It was duly presented, and not only admired, but brought Sam a message
which made him tear home at headlong speed after his day's work, and
face the stairs with the desperate energy that helps a soldier to storm
a wall, and that carried Sam, hot and breathless, into the room to tell
the good news in gasps that frightened Susan out of her wits, and nearly
drove his mother frantic. At last, by patting his back, and making him
sit in her low chair by the open window, the calmer Jemmie found out
that Mrs. Nethersole had sent to say she liked the doll's bedstead so
much that she should be glad to have three dozen like them, for which
she would give five-and-twenty shillings a dozen, as she was going to
have a stall at a very large bazaar, and had not much time to work for
it herself.

"'And you can make a lot of balls, mother, and she'll try and sell 'em
for you, and will guarantee two dozen at sixpence each. She's a jolly
brick, mother, that she is! But the best of it is to come, for they had
me into the parlour and asked me all about us; and master has riz my
wages a shilling a week. I'm the happiest chap in London, and I'll never
call him "old skinny" no more, that I won't! Hurray, Jemmie! Up ye goes

"I am sorry, my friends," said the Ball, "I can tell you no more of
them; for you see I was packed up with the rest and sent off to the
Crystal Palace, where Mrs. Spenser bought me on the bazaar day, and I
have lived among you ever since. But I should like to know how Sam, and
Jemmie, and little Sue are getting on."





When the Ball had concluded his story, and had modestly taken a leap
backwards out of the way, he was eagerly accorded the warm thanks of the
party, and desired in his turn to call upon some one else.

"I am sure I feel deeply honoured that you should be amused with my poor
story, and hope sincerely that my successors will have something more
interesting to relate. I will now call upon our merry friend the Hoop,
to give us his experiences in life."

"O dear me," cried the Hoop, rolling slowly out of his corner, but
contriving in his course to scatter the Marbles to all the corners of
the room, and to knock down the Doll also. "My dear Doll, how sorry I
am, alas! alas! I am so very unlucky in always doing awkward things."

"Oh," sighed the Doll, "I can't bear much more! I am almost gone now!"

"Come and sit on my roof," said the Noah's Ark, very compassionately,
"it is not at all rickety, I can assure you, for _your_ light weight;
and I will keep you out of all harm." And so he carefully consoled and
took care of the poor old Doll.

"I don't think awkwardness goes by luck," snapped the Shuttlecock;
"people need not be clumsy unless they choose. It is carelessness, and
giddiness, that cause all these mishaps!"

"I daresay you are right," said the Hoop, candidly, "I always was a
giddy young thing. But where are all the Marbles gone! poor little
fellows; I must go and help them back!"

"You had much better stay where you are!" whispered the Ball, "you'll
only get into fresh scrapes; there's the Kite just in your way, and if
you poke a hole in his head, you won't hear the last of it in a hurry,
I'll promise you!"

So the Hoop edged himself into a corner, where he stood safely propped
against the door, for although he was a careless, awkward fellow, he was
really very good-natured, and would not vex any one on purpose.

"I have really no story to tell you," said he; "for, as you see, I am
simply a large iron ring, and could not have been very difficult to
make. And as to any relation of my round of adventures, they are, I am
sorry to say, only one long list of accidents and mishaps. But as our
good friend the Ball has set us all a noble example by so readily
obliging the company, I will also do my best. My first step in life was
to be hung with several of my companions at the door of a toy shop at
Sydenham. Here, however, I did not stay long, for I was selected by a
little boy, called Edward Moore, who had saved up his pocket money for
many weeks in order to purchase me. My first unfortunate beginning
occurred almost at the shop door, for Master Teddy, in all the rapture
of first calling me "his very own," gave me such an energetic tap with
the new stick, that I went over the smooth pavement as if I had been
oiled; ran sharply over an old gentleman's gouty foot, and only checked
myself in my mad career by slipping through some railings, and tumbling
down a strange area.

"I could see nothing at first, but heard the old gentleman bawling
angrily for the police; but, very luckily, as usual, none happened to be
about, and after a little while the hubbub subsided, and the old
gentleman, after abusing and threatening my poor Teddy well, limped off,
and my disconsolate owner had time to peep down the areas, and try to
recover his lost property. I had no idea of remaining buried in that
dismal den, so I managed to roll off the flower pot I had fallen on, and
by the jangle attracted his attention. He rang the bell, and coaxed the
maid-servant to let him go down and fetch me.

"'Get along with you, yer impedent monkey, a-ringing at people's bells,
and a-calling one up in the middle of cooking! I shan't let you in! _I_
don't care for your hoop, nor you neither!'

"'Oh, do Mary! there's a kind girl,' coaxed Teddy; 'I know you're
good-natured, because you've got such a laughish mouth! _Do_ give me my
hoop, it's just new, and I've saved up for it ever so long, you can't

"'Bless the boy's imperence,' said she, half laughing, 'who told you my
name was Mary, which it isn't, for it's Jane! You're very saucy, and
have no call to make rude remarks about my mouth. Go along with with ye,
there's your precious hoop!'

"And so saying, she gave me a toss which sent me spinning up into
daylight again, and nearly knocked off a grand young lady's smart hat,
who walked grumbling off, looking daggers at Teddy, and muttering
something about "pests of children!"

"Teddy, however, was too rejoiced to regain me to care for anything
else, and shouting his thanks to Jane, he set off home at a good pace,
taking me on his arm till he got out of the paved street into the green
lanes. And here for many a day we ran races, and one of us at least was
mightily tired. At last, one unlucky day Teddy's mother sent him on an
errand to a shop in the middle of the most frequented street, and he had
now become so used to his indispensable companion, that he took me with
him, of course. We went, on very merrily, till we came to the corner of
a crossing, when, thinking he could send me over before a great coal
waggon came too near, Teddy gave me such a tap that I bounded over the
street in no time. But the curb stone tripped me up first, and in
hopping over that I took an unfortunate slide, and rolled into the open
door of a china shop. Before I could stop myself I had knocked down two
jugs, run over a pile of plates, and fallen into the middle of an array
of wineglasses, just newly unpacked from a great crate close by.

"I am used to misfortunes now, and am of a very buoyant disposition, but
never shall I forget the crash and smash of that early calamity. Teddy
stood aghast for one brief instant, and then turned to run away, even
forgetting _me_ in the catastrophe. But that short moment had been
enough to satisfy the horrified china merchant as to the author of the
damage, and making a rapid spring across the road, he seized Teddy by
the collar, and sternly hauled him into the shop. The poor boy was
bewildered by the sudden accident, and half deafened by the shrill
scolding of Mrs. Delf, who, having heard the crash, had rushed into the
fray, and was now picking up the pieces.

"'Two of the best Parian jugs!--I thought the police seized all the
hoops as was seen,--nine willow cheeseplates,--and oh my! what a sight
of glasses! You've done it now, and no mistake, you little vagabond!'

"Her husband, however, seeing that Teddy was evidently a gentleman's
son, after a few threats of fetching the police, decided upon
accompanying him home, with a bill of the damages. Teddy begged and
implored to be let off with many tears, but the man was determined, and
taking me in one hand, he laid the other on Teddy's shoulder, and
marched off in the direction of Willow Lodge, with the bill in his
pocket. I must really draw a veil over the dreadful picture of the scene
there, as my feelings will not allow me to do justice to the anger of
Teddy's father, and the horror of his mother, at the money they had to
pay for _that_ accident. Let it suffice that poor Teddy had a whipping
that cured his roving propensities for some time, and I was confiscated,
and placed in ignominious imprisonment in the stable.

"Some months must have elapsed in the meanwhile, for when I was first
shut up it was the end of the late summer, and when I saw daylight again
it was spring-time, for the lilacs and laburnums were in full flower.
How glad I was to rub off a little of the rust I had acquired from lying
so long in that damp place, and how delighted was Teddy once more to get
hold of me.

"'I tell you what it is, old fellow,' said Teddy, rubbing me
industriously with his pocket handkerchief; 'you must not let me into
any more scrapes, for I could only get you again by promising Ma to be
very careful, and only take you in the lanes. So we must mind what we
are about!'

"And so we did; and were as sober and steady as possible; perhaps, now
that I was a little rusty from want of exercise, I was not as nimble as
I used to be, but we got on very well, very comfortably indeed, and I
began to think our troubles were over, and that we were getting older
and more sedate. We had a few minor mishaps, but these were not of a
serious order; for instance, when I just happened to run against little
Polly Stubbs, a small toddling body of two years old; and upset her.
But, then, after all, she was a very waddley sort of duck on her feet,
and was very good tempered, so after the first shriek, she scrambled up
with her little fat roley-poley body, and began to laugh. And Teddy was
so delighted with her good temper, that he patted her dirty cheeks, and
gave her such a big lump of gingerbread out of his pocket (where it had
been rubbed all crumbling with his marbles), that her cheeks stuck out
on each side as if she had a swelled face, she had stuffed her mouth so

"Then another day we found a charming shady lane with no house in sight,
and not a sound of a carriage to be heard, and so off we went
helter-skelter,--I gliding swiftly on in advance, like a slender snake,
and Teddy tearing along behind with his short, stumpy legs, and his face
as red as a full blown peony,--puffing like a pair of bellows. He had
reached me after a long chase, and gave me a good bowl on, when we
turned round a slight winding, and came right into the middle of a brood
of young ducklings, with their fat majestic mother waddling after them.
Oh there was a scatter, as I rushed into the middle of them like a
steam-engine coming, express into a flock of sheep! Some tumbled
headlong into the pond hard by, others scrambled off out of the way as
they best could, while old mother duck quacked and waddled like one
possessed. But one poor little lame duckling, the last of the troop, was
just in my way. I could not stop myself, so the only thing I could do to
prevent myself from killing or hurting her, was to fall, which I did,
flat round her in the dusty road, to her infinite fright. But she was
not hurt, and, after crouching down for a moment, she recovered, and
scrambling weakly over my prostrate circle, she limped off to the pond,
and then sailed off into deep water with a delighted quackle that amply
repaid me.

"Our next misfortune was worse; but it did not cause any serious
consequences to us, although for a long time, warned by his previous
experience, poor Teddy walked about with a grave face, and trembled at
every ring of the bell. We were out as usual, and _had_, perhaps, put
more steam on than was quite necessary, for it was one of those lovely
fresh mornings in early June, that are as bracing as a glass of cold
water, or a breath of pure air. Teddy was capering and dancing along,
and had dealt me one of what he called his "left handers" which were
awkward, uncertain strokes, that _I_ privately christened "wobblers!"
Well, he had just given me a wobbler, when a horrid pebble came in my
way; and what business pebbles have in the way in the middle of a foot
path _I_ never could discover. They are quite out of their own track,
and very much in the way of elderly ladies and gentlemen who have pet
"callosities." Why, every toddling child tumbles over them, and as for
_my_ family, we abhor them! Let them be kept to their beaches, and
brooks, and not interfere with our few suburban enjoyments! Well, as I
was saying, when indignation got the better of me, I was turned _out_ of
my course by one of those hateful round, slippery pebbles, and _into_ a
strange garden, and a very smart one too! I slipped over the smooth,
dewy grass like lightning, and right through a clump of hyacinths,
ending my career by falling in a scrambling, all-four sort of fashion
all over a bed of choice tulips. How many I beheaded I do not know, for
Teddy, after peeping with a horrified face over the hedge, and seeing no
one about, made a rush in to rescue me, and carrying me off, never
stopped running till we were safe at home in the old stable.

"As I said before, we were not found out in that instance, and, after a
little seclusion, we came again into active life, when the crowning
misery happened that parted me from my poor little master. We were going
out quietly enough, and in a solitary lane too, turning as steadily as a
rusty old windmill, so that I felt half asleep; when suddenly I was
twirled about, whisked here and there, and then dropped in the dust,
amidst such a confusion of shouting and screaming as beggars
description. And this time it was owing to a donkey! This perverse
animal, after having never been known from his youth to do more than
walk or jog-trot under any treatment whatever, had at this unlucky time
taken it into his long-eared head to run away full gallop with his
owner, a deaf old woman, hanging on to the front of the little cart,
with all her market produce jumbled together as it had never been
before. Down he came thundering upon us, and before poor Teddy could
catch me up, while he had but scant time to get into the hedge himself,
I got entangled in the wretched little brute's rough legs, and down we
all came, old woman, donkey, cart, and all, with a perfect set of
fireworks of onions, cabbages and potatoes, flying in the air all round
us. The first thing I noticed after the general crash was Teddy, who sat
in the hedge shrieking with laughter, and a funny appearance I daresay
we all presented. The cart, with one wheel off, was dragged and knocked
about by the wretched little donkey's struggles to regain his legs. But
the old woman had been shot down on the top of him, and as she was very
fat and heavy she lay there like a sack of beans, only uttering fearful
moans and shouts, with her face covered with bruised strawberries, and a
shower of green peas all over her.

"Teddy scrambled out of the hedge and very kindly helped up the old
woman and her donkey, and collected all her stray vegetables as well as
he could, for he was a very good-hearted boy, in spite of his
carelessness. But the crabbed old woman laid all the blame on him, and
following him slily home, beset the house, and made such a fuss, that
Teddy got in the wars again worse than ever. His mother believed his
account of the mischief, because, with all his faults, he was very
truthful; but his father was very angry, and though he only paid the old
woman half her outrageous demand, he punished Teddy severely, and wound
up by depriving him of me altogether.

"'Well Ma!' said poor Teddy, almost tearfully, 'if I must not have my
hoop myself, I know no one I'd sooner give it to than Frank Spenser, my
old schoolfellow. Pa's so angry with me about it, I don't like to ask
him; but if _you_ would, I daresay he'd let Frank have it.'

"His mother, who was really sorry for him, did so very readily, and
Teddy had the only satisfaction left him, in giving me to his friend.
Frank was almost too old to care for a hoop, but he did not like to hurt
the poor boy by refusing, so he took me with a very good grace, and
promised to take great care of me; which he certainly has done by
shutting me up here like this; and so now my friends I think I have
related my whole round of adventures to you, as far as I can myself





The rest of the Toys having thanked the Hoop for his story, he once more
rolled himself lazily into a comfortable position, and took his rights
by calling upon the leaden Teapot, to entertain them next. But such an
uproar arose among all the leaden Tea-things; the cups and saucers,
clattering and clanking like mad, and the milk jug even mounting on the
sugar basin to be heard the better, that for a few moments no one could
be heard. But the little Teapot set to work vigorously, and soon reduced
her unruly family to order. She rolled one teacup here, and bowled over
another there, piled up the plates before they knew where they were, and
toppled down the milk jug into its proper place, before it recovered
enough to defend itself. Then she sat down and volubly began her story,
while her tribe were temporarily pacified.

"I am afraid," said she, "you will not like my story at all, for it's
not half so lively and entertaining as the Hoop's, in fact there's
nothing merry about it, but quite the reverse. I can tell you nothing of
my birthplace or of my original history, for you see I've had a large
family to keep together, and look after, and I've been so battered and
knocked about in my course through life, that my memory is sadly
impaired. So I can only tell you that we all came from Germany, where we
were made, and were carefully packed in a little pasteboard box, in
which we travelled to the English house to which we were sent, with
numbers of others. We remained for some time in seclusion on the shelf
of the toy warehouse, and were then drafted off to a little toy-shop at
the West end of London. Our present owner was a notable little woman,
the wife of a head workman at a large cabinet manufactory, and as she
had two or three small children, she was glad to make ends meet by
fitting out her front parlour as a little toy-shop. It was a very quiet,
nice street, not far from a large hotel, and as the rents were rather
high, the houses were only let to fairly respectable people. The little
woman let her first floor, neatly, but plainly, furnished, to an elderly
lady; and by all these small helps, added to her husband's wages, they
lived very comfortably, and brought up their little ones nicely. A
younger sister of the wife's lived with them, and was a great help in
waiting on the old lady and in serving the customers.

"Rose was such a good-tempered girl, she was a great favourite with all
the young purchasers; she never cared what trouble she took to suit
them, and turned over the whole stock of toys that she might find what
they wanted. All the little poor children in the neighbourhood used to
watch to see when she came into the shop to make their small bargains.
She never grumbled while they picked out the prettiest faces that suited
their fancy among the halfpenny wooden dolls, and she kept a choice
corner of very cheap toys on purpose for all these little ones, who so
rarely knew what the pleasure of buying a toy was. But I think she had
her reward when she saw the little eyes nearly sparkle, and the pale,
thin faces get a little colour, as they trotted happily off with their
few and scanty treasures cuddled up in their old ragged pinafores. We
lay for a long time on the counter with our lid off, to tempt the young
folks who came to the shop, so I had some opportunity to see all the
different customers.

"I suppose my own busy, careful life, with all my tribe of young ones,
has made me understand all these things better, for I remember so much
of this time, while I have forgotten a great deal else. How often I have
seen the richer class of children come in with their governesses or
servants, and just glancing over the toys carelessly, they have selected
what they wanted, and have gone off, with no more than a passing
pleasure with their possessions. And very likely in a fortnight the same
party have returned again, and carried off something else, feeling more
careless than before at the sight of the playthings they had almost

"Different to them, as station and dress could make them, were Rose's
little friends. The golden hair, or dark braids of the little ladies,
and their flower-like faces, set off with their trim hats, and tasteful,
cool, well-made dresses, did not contrast more strongly with the sallow
faces, ragged, short locks, tangled with wind and weather, and the
patched or ragged garments of the poorer children, than did their
manners and wants. These latter little ones were the small evening
audience who flattened their noses against the bright, gas-lighted
window of the gay toy-shop, and who knew all its contents by heart, as
well as its owner. But they never hoped, poor little souls! except in
dreams, for all these beautiful toys. Dirty little Polly, who stood
pointing with her smutty finger, and elbowing her sister to look at the
grand doll dressed in muslin and ribbon, only gazed at it in a sort of
ecstatic rapture, and had no more idea, indeed far less, of having it
for her very own, than little Lady Edith had of owning the Crystal
Palace. Pence, scanty, hard-earned pence, were too much wanted for bread
and food, to be easily got to lay out even in two half-penny dolls in a
year! But when a happy piece of good fortune did come about, and these
poor little creatures really had a whole penny they could call _their
own_, oh, how difficult it was to spend it! How much they wanted for it!
and what a business it was to decide what it should be laid out in! And
the one-jointed doll or penny cart was like a pot of gold to its happy
little owner for months afterwards!

"Rose had other friends as well, however, as these poor little ragged
customers, for her pleasant face and gentle voice made her popular with
all, and she had a tasteful way of arranging the one window of the
toy-shop that made it quite attractive to older eyes than the children.
One day in late autumn, a lady, with a nurse and a little girl, paused
before it for a moment, and after a brief inspection they came into the

"'I think a box of tea-things will be almost the best thing for her,
Lee,' said the lady to her nurse.

"'I sould ike a bots of tea-sings wey mush!' said the little thing, as
the servant sat down, and placed her on her lap.

"'So you shall have some, my pet, and then you will be able to make tea
for all the dollies,' replied the nurse.

"'Have you any boxes of wooden tea-things?' asked the lady.

"Rose placed before them a tolerably large assortment; some made of
china, very brightly ornamented with pink and blue flowers; some made of
glass, white with tiny gold sprays and stars, but these were voted
dangerous for baby, because they would break easily, and might cut her
little fat hands. Then the wooden sets were examined, but they were
painted freely, and mamma and nurse thought they might go to the rosy
mouth more closely and often than would be quite wholesome, and baby
would not look at the plain, white Swiss carved tea-sets, pretty as they

"'Fower ike those, wey pitty,' cried she, eagerly, as Rose brought out
our box of large polished leaden tea-things.

"'Then she shall have them!' decided Mamma at once, 'and a very good
choice too, Lee, don't you think so? They will be quite safe, and
neither break nor spoil so easily as the rest. How much are they? I will
take these please!'

"And so Rose packed us carefully up in paper and gave us to the nurse,
who, taking up the little girl, carefully tied on her warm fur cape and
carried her after the lady. They walked for a short distance, and then
stopped at the door of a house in a handsome square. The lady's
beautiful dress and elegant air had somewhat prepared me for our new
home, which was one of luxury. The lady, after tenderly kissing the
little one, stopped at the door of her dressing room, while the nurse
and my new owner mounted another flight, and reached the spacious and
airy day nursery. The little rosy girl was rolled out of all her velvet
wraps, and a very pretty snowy embroidered pinafore was put on her,
after her glossy bright flaxen curls had been carefully arranged by the
nurse. The little thing had borne all this very impatiently, and had
fretted and fidgeted to get away to her new toys; but her nurse would
not let her go till she was "made tidy," as she called it.

"'You shall have your little table, Miss Lily,' said she, 'and make tea
till bedtime afterwards, if you like, but you must stand still first,
like a lady, and be made to look neat. Don't you know mamma never goes
down to breakfast or dinner till Lance has dressed her and done her

"But when these operations were all over, Nurse set out the little
table, and covered it with a clean towel for a table cloth, and placed
Lily's pretty wicker chair beside it. And when the real nursery teatime
came, she gave Lily a lump of sugar, broken into little bits with the
scissors, and two nice, dry biscuits to play with. So fat little Lily
was mightily contented, and spread out her toys, and played at making
tea for her dolls, while she herself ate up the biscuits and sugar with
great delight. And by-and-bye Mamma came up to see how all was going on,
before she went down to dinner, and she found her pet, trotting round
the little table and humming like a big humble bee.

"And so the time went merrily by, and if we had a few misfortunes, still
we got on pretty well. To be sure, I gained this great dint in my side
owing to my little mistress setting the leg of her chair suddenly on me.
And some of the saucers and plates were swept up with the dust, and
thrown away by a new, careless nursery maid. But on the whole we were
rather well off, for Nurse was a patient, orderly woman, and went round
the day nursery every evening herself, picking up the pet's playthings
and putting them away.

"And as for dear little merry Lily, she grew and throve, like a
sweet-tempered child as she was, as fair as her namesake blossoms. She
had called herself "Fower" in her childish talk, because Lily was not
easily managed by her little tongue, and she had quite understood that
she was called after the pretty-looking, innocent, white flowers that
blossomed in the same month as her birthday fell in, the merry month of

"One unfortunate day when we had been there some time, to the amazement
of Nurse, she got up in such a fretful, cross humour nothing would
pacify her. This was unusual, and so was her turning away from her nice
bread and milk, and crying peevishly when she was spoken to. The poor
child was evidently ailing, and Nurse lost no time in sending down word
of it to her mistress. The fond mother hurried upstairs, but little Lily
would only cling to her and sob, and bury her flushed face on her
shoulder. So the doctor was sent for in haste, and he came quickly, and
pronounced that the little one was sickening for some illness; measles,
_he hoped_, but he could not positively say. So poor Mamma sat there,
and gave Lily the medicine, and tried to amuse her with setting us in
order before her. But Lily pushed us all away so hastily that we rolled
to all corners of the room, and Nurse was too busy and sad to pick us up
in a hurry that day, or for many days after.

"For poor little Lily grew worse, and the doctor pronounced it to be
fever, and of a very severe kind. Days and days the little feverish head
tossed wearily on the pillow, and then all the golden curls were cut
off, matted as they were, and laid aside carefully in a drawer by poor
Nurse, who cried over them as if her heart would break. The fever
subsided, but the little exhausted body had not strength to recover from
it, and she grew daily weaker, quite too weak to be removed to a fresh
air. Poor Nurse picked us up one night, half unconsciously, and put us
back in the old toy drawer, where we remained, till one afternoon she
came hastily to fetch us out again. She carried us downstairs into the
beautiful bed-room where Mrs. Arden slept. But both Papa and Mamma were
too anxious about their only darling to be very particular about their
own comfort, and so her father slept in his dressing-room close by,
while the mother kept a ceaseless watch by the sick bed.

"When the lid was taken off, and nurse turned us out on the white
counterpane, I could hardly recognise my little mistress. Did these
sunken cheeks and hollow eyes, these little wasted hands belong to the
"Fower," as she had called herself? She was indeed a faded flower, a
drooping lily, and her bright, golden curls were all gone, like her
rosy, childish bloom. But sickness had not been able to subdue the
innocent, loving nature and bright spirit; and though the smile on her
pale little mouth made her mother turn away in tears, it was the same
happy tone in the weak thread of a voice that whispered:--

"'Fower make tea now! Fower been _so_ sick, but see like some tea!
mother make it now!' and the little head, shorn so sadly of its golden
glories, fell back weakly on the pillow, and the sudden gleam of light
died out of the blue eyes.

"'Yes, dear one, mother _will_ make tea for "Flower," so many cups; and
when Lily gets better and grows a strong girl again, mother and she will
have feasts every day, and all day long.'

"'Fower like that, but _so_ tired;' breathed the little one, feebly, and
so Nurse hastened to catch us all up from the bed, and hurriedly
cramming us into the box, she put us on the dressing table.

"Next day "Fower" seemed to brighten up a little, and when we were laid
out on the bed, she took us up languidly, and pretended to drink. But
she was soon weary, and even our slight weight was too heavy for the
frail hand. And so day after day passed by with no great change, finding
us each morning laid out on the bed, near the little weary hands, tired
of doing nothing; and afternoon saw us gathered away, while the curtains
were drawn across the window to keep out the bright glare of the spring
sunshine. And day by day the tender mother hoped on, while the more
experienced Nurse shook her head, and the skilful doctor was silent,
though so _very_ gentle with the anxious mother and the little drooping

"At last a day came, one of the early ones in May, when even Lee thought
Lily looked clearer and brighter. Papa brought in a bunch of the finest
lilies of the valley from Covent Garden Market, and his poor, wan little
"Fower" was delighted with them.

"'It will be her birthday in a week,' said her mother, cheerfully; 'Papa
must bring her some more then. I hope Lily will be better, and able to
sit up then!'

"'Fower have a gand tea party, and pum take, so fine! where's my

"Nurse brought out the pet playthings, and arranged them on the bed
before little "Fower," and Papa went off in quite gay spirits to his
business. And Mamma took out a little white frock she had been
embroidering for "Fower's" birthday wear, and which had been laid away
for a long while out of sight. Nurse seemed to have no very settled
purpose in the work way, and stole quietly about, arranging everything
in a still dreamy kind of fashion. Meanwhile little "Fower" lay back in
the soft bed, supported on downy pillows, and with pale pink lined
muslin curtains floating round her. Her blue eyes rested upon us with a
bright, far-away look that did not last long, as the fingers of one hand
played with us, the other holding the bunch of lilies.

"Presently Nurse came rapidly over. 'The dear child is fainting!' she
said, as she held up the little shorn head.

"'Fower thirsty!' murmured the little voice, like a faint sigh, as the
blue eyes seemed to lose all their light, and the lilies dropped out of
the open fingers.

"'Lily, _my_ Lily!' cried the poor mother, eagerly, 'look up, my
darling, you are better dear; let mother give her a little water out of
her tiny teacup.'

"The kind-hearted nurse laid down the heavy head, and spent all her
heartfelt care now on her poor mistress. Her little "Fower" had gone in
an angel's hand, to be planted a living blossom in her heavenly Father's
garden, where her deep thirst would be satisfied quite, and the shining
robe of the white lilies of heaven was waiting for her.

"The little worn-out, earthly form was laid to rest with the bunch of
lilies in the cold hands, and a wreath of fresh-gathered flowers on her
head. And poor Nurse, thoughtfully gathered up all the toys that the
little one had played with, and put them carefully out of the desolate
mother's sight. And in after years I heard that other little blossoms
came to fill up that grand nursery, but Nurse never loved them as she
did little "Fower," and the mother gave her all the toys, very

"'I don't like to hoard them up,' she said, 'for after all I need no
memorials to remind me of my Lily, and I like to think of her growing
now a sweet, fair flower in her heavenly Father's garden, and yet I
could not bear to see all these things played with and thrown about in
the nursery. So take them, Nurse, and let them give pleasure to other
little ones.'

"And thus Nurse Lee took charge of us, and one evening coming to drink
tea in Mrs. Spenser's nursery, she brought us all in our box for Miss
Celia, who was then a little girl. But since she grew older, we were
stuffed away by chance in this old cupboard. I told you all fairly that
mine was a melancholy story," added the Teapot, in an injured sort of
voice, "and you see I am right, and now I've done!"

The rest of the Toys did not make much remark, for they were all rather
saddened by the story of little "Fower," but the Ball, who could not be
very grave for long together, bounced up briskly, and told the Teapot,
she was entitled to call on any of the rest of the company for a story
in turn.

"I would rather not," replied the Teapot, eagerly; "I am but a foolish
body at all such formal doings. Pray let the next in turn favour us."

Then the Ball, rather afraid of a discussion, turned it off with a joke
and said:--

"Well, then, in your name I will call upon the Kite for a story, for, as
he flies so high, he can't be very nervous, and no doubt he has seen a
good deal in high latitudes, that we shall be glad to hear!"

The Kite waved a graceful bow all round, and professed his entire
readiness to be at the service of the company.





"I will begin," said he, "by describing my first appearance in my
present form. Never did a large ship launch or the building of a great
mansion require more care and pains, or entirely engross more workmen
than I did in _my_ construction. My architect-in-chief, I must tell you,
was George Vernon, Esquire, commonly called "Uncle Gee," and the workmen
he employed under his orders were as follows. Foreman, or rather
forewoman, Mrs. Tufnell, otherwise called indifferently, mother, mamma,
or mummy; and as workpeople, Bob, aged eleven; Tom, aged ten; Mary,
alias Polly, aged nine; Jeanie, usually termed "Jean," aged eight;
Theodore, popularly christened "Dora," because he was a little given to
tearfulness and whines, aged seven; and lastly little Lucy, who still
bore the name of "baby," and who numbered five summers.

"Now Uncle Gee had come home for his holidays, for though he was nearly
grown up, and seemed a giant in cleverness to all his little nephews and
nieces, he was still at Oxford, and working hard at his studies. But he
was very fond of all the little folks at Summerfield Rectory, and the
days to the long vacation were nearly as eagerly counted by Uncle Gee,
even amidst his more serious business, as by the flock of eager little
adorers at the quiet home in the west. Everything that was nice and
pleasant was deferred until his arrival, and a queer variety of
treasures were hoarded up for his inspection long before he came.

"And Uncle Gee amply rewarded his faithful adherents, for when he came,
he brought universal sunshine with him, and was as ready to enter into
all their pursuits and share all their games as the veriest child
amongst them. He was the best teacher of trapbat and rounders Bob and
Tom knew for miles round; and yet he was as skilful and neathanded at
repairing the damages in Mary's doll house, and the fractures of baby's
doll, so that he might have been a carpenter by trade.

"So when at teatime, one summer evening, Mamma said to the children, who
were all round the large long table, 'To-morrow Uncle Gee is coming!'
they all burst out in one regular shout of delight, for this time he had
gone on a visit to a friend first, and his young relations' calculations
had been all put out, and they had been waiting day after day in the
vain hope of seeing him. The noise and chatter round the tea table that
evening were really deafening, and would have been quite annoying to
anyone but Mamma, who smiled, and said it was a little taste of
preparation for the uproar that always lasted all through Uncle Gee's

"And next day he came, to the great delight of all the young folks, and
if he had been nearly as patient as Mamma, and quite as brave as Papa,
(who did not even fear mad bulls, said baby!) why he would have been
driven deaf, dumb, and blind, by all the voices talking in their loudest
keys at once, or else would have expected to be torn in pieces by all
the eager hands that clung to him and pulled him about. I think Papa and
Mamma, and Uncle Gee too, in spite of all their kindness and affection
for the uproarious little mob, were thankful enough when the children's
bedtime came, and they were all taken off, loudly declaring that it was
_not_ time yet.

"Next morning they were all up like larks, and had finished dressing
sooner than usual, but, to their great horror, they looked out and saw
the sky covered with leaden clouds, and heard the steady, heavy drops of
rain falling on the sky-light over the staircase.

"'What a nuisance,' growled Bob and Tom, 'when we wanted to try the new
field, and Uncle Gee promised to have a game of cricket with us!'

"'O dear,' said Mary, in dismay, 'and I wanted to show him the new
hammock swing Papa has given us!'

"'We've lost our swing for certain,' said Jeanie, who was a regular
romp; 'what a bother!'

"'Rain, rain, go to Spain,' chanted Baby, in her squeaky voice--while
Dora joined in chorus.

"'Who's singing that contraband rhyme?' said Papa, coming in; 'I'm too
thankful for the rain for the sake of my peas and potatoes!'

"'And the strawberries too,' chimed in Mamma; 'just think, children, how
they were shrivelling for want of rain.'

"'But we can't get out,' bawled all the children, 'and now Uncle Gee's
come we had such lots of things to show him!'

"'What's the matter now?' said Uncle Gee, coming in. 'All this racket
about a little rain! Why, I was just thinking, while I was dressing,
what a jolly day it would be to make a Kite!'

"'Make a Kite!' shouted Bob; 'O how stunning; O Uncle Gee, can you show
us how to do it?'

"'I think I can, Bob,' replied his Uncle, 'but at any rate we'll try,
and with Mamma's help perhaps we can manage it. I dare say she will let
us have the school-room to make all our litters in, and I shall want
every man jack of you to help!'

"'Am I man jack too, Uncle Gee?' asked Baby, very anxiously.

"'I should think so,' said Uncle Gee, kissing her, 'a very useful one
too; you shall help with the fine fringy tail!'

"And when breakfast was over, to work they all went. Papa found some
capital slips of light thin wood, and lent his best knife into the
bargain. Mamma contributed some beautiful white glazed lining to cover
the frame with, and lent her nice glue pot as well. Uncle Gee soon had
the long table in the school-room covered with all sorts of things, and
had set everybody to work as well. Bob and Tom busily hammered, fixed,
planed, and cut, till they hindered Uncle Gee terribly; and when he saw
Mary take up the scissors, and begin to measure the calico, he stopped
short, and called a truce.

"'Now,' said he, 'if all are going to be at work, and no one master, we
shall soon get into a fix, and knock over the whole concern. If we are
to get the Kite made to-day, you must all obey orders. Mary, you and
Jeanie can find me some strips of coloured paper, can't you, for the
tail; and Dora, ask Nelson if she can let us have a long ball of

"And so the work went on merrily. Bob and Tom doing the looking on, and
Mary and Jean smoothing and snipping the bits for the tail, and making
the tassel for the end. Dora fetched out a box of colours of his own,
and suggested painting a face on it.

"'Capital!' cried Uncle Gee; 'and I'll tell you how you can make
yourself useful, Dora, and that's by rubbing up a lot of colour on the
back of a clean plate, I'll show you how;' and so to work Dora went with
a will, and soon had a rare quantity all ready for the skilful hand of
the artist.

"Meanwhile, under Uncle Gee's superintendence, and with Mamma's help,
Polly and Jean had supplied the long piece of string, provided for the
tail with its cross pieces of paper to serve as light weights, and they
were now busily snipping some very fine red paper Mamma had routed out
from amongst her hoards for them, in order to make a grand tassel to
finish the tail with.

"'Does not this remind you of our own old days?' said Mamma to Uncle
Gee, as she came in for awhile to help in the interval of her busy
morning occupations.

"'Don't you remember what trouble we used to take with our toys and
playthings; and how seldom we were able to buy any real toys. I _do_
think children have many more than are good for them,' continued she.

"'Well, they don't value them now, as we did our patched up
contrivances, do they?' replied George; 'but look, sister, won't this be
a capital Kite? I think I never made a better, e'en in my boyish days! I
am sure it ought to fly well!'

"And so saying, he raised up the large, carefully planned framework of
slips of wood, with the calico neatly glued on it.

"'I am going to leave it to dry now,' said Uncle Gee; 'I can't paint it
while it is wet; and so now, young people, as I have worked in your
service all the morning, it is high time you did for mine. I am going to
write a letter, and have no more time to spare until after lunch. So you
must promise me to leave this table untouched, and go and amuse
yourselves until by-and-bye.'

"The children agreed to this very fair bargain, and very sensibly
dispersed, and amused themselves until lunch time, which was really
their dinner time.

"When they all came down with carefully brushed hair, and shining, clean
faces, and took their places round the great table, they were about as
merry a party as you would find anywhere, in spite of the drenching
rain, which had poured steadily on the whole day.

"'The Kite is getting beautifully dry and tight,' said Uncle George, as
he took the place left for him; 'I peeped into the school-room as I came
down, and I see it is drying fast and nicely. And what shall we make it?
A flying dragon, like the Chinese flags and lanterns?'

"'O yes! Uncle Gee,' cried Dora, with his eyes as round as cricket
balls; 'do make it a dragon--a green dragon, with a fiery tail!'

"'Or a likeness--warranted genuine--of old Bogey himself,' laughed Bob.

"'A fairy with wings,' suggested Mary, 'with a star on her forehead, and
a girdle round her waist.'

"'Or a ship,' said Jeanie, her dark face glowing; 'a ship with masts and
sails painted for her, because you know she _does_ sail through the air,
Uncle Gee!'

"'Paint it like a daisy,' said Baby, 'or make buttercups all over it!'

"'Well, we'll see,' said Uncle Gee; 'when dinner is over we'll have a
solemn council on the matter, and the most votes shall carry the day.'

"'Can anyone tell me anything particular about a Kite?' enquired Papa;
'I think there ought to be a story somewhere; does anyone know it?'

"'I do,' cried Tom, eagerly; 'Dr. Franklin found out about lightning
with a Kite, didn't he?'

"'Yes,' replied Papa, 'you are right Tom; but what did he find out by
it, and how? Do you know?'

"'No,' said Tom, frankly; 'I only remember he made a Kite to find out
something he wanted to know about lightning, and there was something
about a key, but I don't remember, Papa.'

"'I am glad you recollected a little about it,' said Papa, 'and I will
tell you what the story was. Franklin, as you know, had long studied the
effect of storms, and what is called Electricity. He was busied with
setting some plans to work, which would enable him to try some
experiments on the subject. But one day, while he was thinking over the
matter, it flashed across his mind that a kite, such as he had seen his
boys playing with, might help him to solve the puzzle. So he made one,
not like yours, but out of a silk handkerchief, and fixed an iron point
to the end of his stick, and where his string ended he hung a key.
During the next thunderstorm that happened he went out and flew his
kite; and by these simple means found out what he had wanted to know.
You would hardly understand what the question was, or how it was
explained to him in this way, until you are rather older, and are able
to understand a little more of all the curious phenomena of electricity.
You are all very much frightened and roused when we have a heavy
thunderstorm, because it is such a terrible thing, that you see the
danger, but some day you will know that the electric telegraph we send
messages by is the same power in a smaller, far smaller degree, turned
to man's use. It is only God who can send the severe thunderstorm, which
while it clears and purifies the air, and thus does a great deal of
good, may also do a great deal of harm; and to save some of this was,
shortly, the object of Franklin's enquiries. He saw that if his idea was
correct, rods of iron might be planted near houses, or suspended from
vessels, by which means the lightning would pass harmlessly down into
the water or the earth.'

"'And now,' said Uncle Gee, 'we must thank Papa for his lesson,
children, and a very good one it is, and go to our work. I think if you
were all to ask Papa very nicely, he might perhaps give you a simple
explanation about thunder and lightning; and I daresay his school
children would not be sorry to hear it too.'

"Papa promised to "think about it," and then off went the happy party
into the school-room, where they found the great Kite stretched out like
a large white bird or a windmill sail. Very dry, and nice and flat it
was, and delighted enough they all were with it.

"'Now,' said Uncle Gee, 'once for all what is it to be? A ship, a
dragon, a Chinaman, or what? It is to be put to the vote--what do you
say, Bob, you are the eldest?'

"'What you like, Uncle Gee! A dragon would be a jolly thing, but let it
be as you like!'

"'I should like a ship,' said Tom; 'a big ship, with sails and an

"'We would rather leave it to Uncle Gee,' said the girls and Dora; 'he
is sure to make a capital thing of it, and he has an idea of something
or other, we think!'

"'I shall make it into a flying fish, if you leave it to me,' said Uncle
Gee, laughing, 'so you had better arrange it among yourselves.'

"And so there was a great deal of talking and chattering among them all,
and at last they agreed to ask Uncle Gee to make it a bird.

"'We can't settle what kind of bird it is to be,' said Bob; 'I wanted an
eagle, but Tom liked an owl better, and Mary said she liked a ringdove,
while Jeanie said it must be a peacock. Dora wanted a swan, and Baby
bawled out for a robin! So we're not agreed in anything but that it is
to be a bird. So you must decide out of all the number, Uncle Gee.'

"'All right,' was Uncle Gee's reply, and to work he went and painted
away vigorously to the young ones' great delight, while they all looked
on and made remarks as he sketched in the outline. But they begun to
press round him so, and make such queer suggestions, that he declared he
would not do another stroke till they left him alone. So off they went
to the other end of the table, and got the tail in order. It was a tail
indeed! made of stripes of all coloured paper tied up, and ending with a
tassel of various colours, whose fringes were feathery and full enough
for a mandarin's pigtail.

"By the time that the tail was finished to the satisfaction of all,
Uncle Gee had completed the Kite, and turning it round to the children,
exhibited a bird of such a kind as had never been seen before! It had
the head of an owl, with its great staring eyes, the broad wings of an
eagle, the neck of the ringdove, the ruddy breast of the robin, the
many-eyed tail of the peacock, and the yellow webbed feet of the swan!

"The children gazed at it for a moment in utter surprise, and then burst
into shouts of approval.

"'There,' said Uncle Gee, 'I hope I have satisfied you all, and every
one in particular. I am sure such a bird as this would make his fortune
at the Zoological Gardens!'

"'Oh! what a jolly fellow!' shouted Bob and Tom, clapping their hands,
while the girls danced round quite delighted.

"'Now,' said Uncle Gee, 'I think to-morrow will be a fine day after the
rain, and we shall be able to make this fine fellow fly.'

"So they tied on my tail, and made me thoroughly ready for the next
morning's cruise, and then all went to bed the happiest set of little
ones within fifty miles round.

"Many a flight I had with them over field and fallow, meadow and moor;
many a dance I led them, and many a tree have I got entangled with, so
that at last Bob became quite expert at climbing trees, and all owing to
the practice he had in getting me out of scrapes. But time passed on,
and when Bob and Tom went to school, Uncle Gee thought it was not safe
to trust me to Dora and the girls, so he promised to make them another
some day, and he gave me to the Spensers! So here you have an end of my
history, which contains, as you see now, no flying adventures at all. If
I had time, I could tell you of many curious things I saw in my airy
flights, and some about the clouds I went so near. But I must defer that
until another day, and meanwhile, in my turn, I ask our charming friend
the Doll to oblige us with the account of her experiences in life."




"Oh," said the Doll, "can you not excuse me? My poor little story is so
very dull and flat after all we have heard, and, indeed, I am afraid I
have not strength or vivacity enough to carry it through to the end!"

"No, indeed," replied the Ball, "we are not going to let you off. We are
all of us taking our turns, and you must bear your share like the rest."

"I am sure," said the Kite, in a pacifying manner, "our fair friend will
be only too happy to do her part in this pleasant task; she merely feels
an amiable modesty, and undervalues her own charming powers."

"You flatter me too much," replied the Doll, "in all respects but one.
But you are right in believing I am anxious to oblige every one, for
that is the case really. And so now I will do my best, only prefacing my
humble story by saying that I really know nothing of my origin, or where
I was made. My first conscious remembrance was that of lying on a
beautiful carved table in the midst of a quantity of silk and lace. Two
or three gay girls were sitting round the table and gossiping merrily,
while their busy fingers flew at their pretty work. They were dressing
myself and one or two of my sisters for their Christmas tree.

"'That is a piece of the first silk dress I ever had,' said
bright-haired Madeline, the eldest of them; 'I remember how proud I was
of it, and how I enjoyed its rustle. It was short, you know, Laura, for
I was a little girl then.'

"'You don't care so much about silk dresses now, Maddy,' replied Laura;
'I think a new riding habit is your present ambition, isn't it?'

"'This piece will make the doll a very grand bodice,' said Edith; 'the
pale blue suits her complexion, don't you think so, Maddy? That is a
piece of my last year's sash.'

"And so they chatted and worked, till I was attired in a very tasteful
and fashionable manner. For though, alas! there are now no remains of my
former charms, I was reckoned a great beauty in my day, and was indeed
quite one of the belles of the season. I had real hair, very soft and
flaxen, and what is more, real eyelashes and eyebrows! You can see no
trace of them now, for reasons I will relate presently. But without
vanity, I may say I was charmingly pretty in those days, for I was the
real model of a sweet fat baby child of about two years old. My face,
neck, arms and feet had all the pretty wrinkles and dimples that adorn
that age; and the soft pink wax, delicately coloured, gave a very fair
notion of the tender pinky skin. So with very good taste my lady
milliners dressed me in a short full white India muslin frock over a
pale blue silk slip, trimmed the bodice and sleeves lavishly with
sashes, bows, and loops of the same, and tied a pretty blue ribbon
carelessly through my very natural curls. My attire was completed by
white open work socks, and blue kid shoes; but Maddy crowned all her
work by her last addition. Running hastily upstairs, she brought down a
little box of small pearl beads, and after being seated at a remote
table by herself for half an hour, while her friends were busily
employed in giving the finishing touches to another of our company, who
was attired as Red Riding Hood, she came suddenly forward, saying

"'I think I have added a last grace to _my_ doll that ought to be
irresistible, and make her the admired of all beholders.'

"And she showed on the tip of her finger a dainty little straw hat,
coquettishly trimmed with a band of blue velvet, with a drooping fringe
of blonde round the rim, having pearl drops to each point of the lace.

"I was duly admired, and on the eventful evening was considered the
prettiest doll on the tree, and many a little childish face cast longing
eyes upon me, vainly hoping I might fall to her lot. But mine was a
different destiny--a far higher one, as I imagined then! A dainty,
lace-bordered ticket on my skirt showed that I was intended for Lady
Alicia Wentworth, the little god-daughter of the lady of the house.
After the festive evening was over, with all its glare of bright lights,
and sounds of young voices and gay music, I was taken down from my proud
position, which had not been free from peril, owing to the dangerous
neighbourhood of the lighted tapers to my flimsy skirts. Little Lady
Alicia lived too far off, and was too fully engrossed with the gaieties
of her own immediate surroundings, to come to the party; and therefore I
was most carefully packed in silver paper and wool, and sent to her.

"My first little mistress was not by any means a very engaging child.
She was very sickly, which perhaps rendered her more fretful than she
would otherwise have been; but she would not have been so peevish,
except for the fact that, as an only child, she had been spoiled and
indulged to such an extent, that she could neither be happy nor
contented herself, nor allow any one near her to be so either. When the
lid of the box was opened, she, with a little momentary eagerness for
the new toy, pulled off the silver paper and wool, and brought me out of
my travelling box.

"'It's a horrid Baby Doll,' she exclaimed, in a loud tone of angry
disappointment, 'a stupid, old-fashioned, ugly Baby Doll! and I hate
them, horrid, stupid things; what did they send me that for?' and she
burst into a roar of passionate ill-temper. In vain did governess and
maid try to pacify her; she screamed and pouted till her foolish, doting
mother was obliged to sacrifice some visits she was going to make in
order to drive in with her spoiled child to the nearest toy-shop, to
purchase an expensive and more gaily-attired doll.

"'I can't think what Mrs. Levesque could have been thinking of,' she
murmured, pettishly, as she got into the carriage again, 'to send Alicia
such a foolish thing, after making such a fuss about it too! It has
vexed the poor little thing so, and upset her too much, which Dr. Blueby
says is _so_ bad for her!'

"So when they returned home, Alicia went off with her new purchase, for
a few hours of good humour and peace, while her ladyship desired the
governess to pack me up in the box, and send me down with her
compliments to the Rectory, to Dr. Stewart's little daughter, Flora. I
found my new home much more to my taste; for, although also an only
child, this little maiden was of a very different mind to the other. She
was more delicate in health than the young lady at the Castle, for from
a serious weakness of the spine she was obliged to lie down for many
hours in the day, and was not able to run about and enjoy herself in the
garden, as she often wished to do. But she was a naturally even-tempered
child, and although she had long been motherless, her wise father had
been a tender and judicious guardian, and her old nurse, who had watched
over her from babyhood, loved her as a child of her own.

"I was amply repaid for the slights and affronts I had experienced from
Lady Alicia, when I was carried in my box to the reclining board where
Flora was then lying, for her father, delighted enough to bring his
patient little girl a new pleasure, carried me in himself, saying,--

"'Flora, here is a New Year's gift for you from the Castle. It is very
kind of Lady Ennismore to remember my little girl. I am almost inclined
to think it is a doll, my dear,' he added, as Flora sat up and took the
box, her thin hands trembling with eager joy, and her sallow face
flushing at the sight. When I was revealed to her, she gave one
rapturous exclamation, and hugged me affectionately to her.

"'O Papa, a doll, a real Baby Doll, and dressed in such lovely clothes!
Did you ever see anything so beautiful! Oh, how kind of Lady Ennismore.
I suppose she had some down for Lady Alicia to choose from.'

"'It was very thoughtful and kind of her to remember you, Flora, and I
must go and thank her for the great pleasure she has given you.'

"Then nurse was summoned, and expected to go over all the beauties of
the new doll half a dozen times at least; my hair, my eyelashes, and my
dimpled neck and arms received their full share of admiration. Nothing
could have more enraptured Flora, for she was the greatest baby
worshipper in the parish, and many a poor little nursling owed most of
its occasional treats to the petitions of Flora. And so now my happy
life began. I was carefully nestled up every night on a soft pillow,
covered with a fine pocket-handkerchief, and only handled and nursed in
the most careful way in the world. I lived with little Flora Stewart for
six years, and was in nearly as good condition at the end of the time as
at first. It is true, my complexion was somewhat tarnished by the air
and dust, and my hair had become a little thinner, but no careless
scratch defaced my countenance, or awkward fracture had injured my frail
limbs. My fine muslin frock, indeed, had been frequently washed, and my
hat cleaned and re-trimmed, while a pretty silk mantle added to my
wardrobe, hid a good deal of the faded hue of my azure decorations. But
for the last two years I had been laid away carefully in a drawer, for
Flora had long ceased playing with me, and valued me more as a treasure
of her childish days than anything else. She was now a tall, slender
girl of nearly eighteen, having by the aid of all the watchful care
spent on her earlier years quite outgrown the tendency to disease that
had so threatened her childhood. She had grown up with the same sweet,
unselfish nature though, and old affection for little children that had
been so remarkable even in her early years; only that now she was able
to be out among them all, and she might frequently be seen, the centre
of a group of eager school children, all striving for her notice, while
the babes in the cottages, who could not speak yet, would greet her with
a crow and a spring as they were taken in her gentle arms. I have never
seen my dear second mistress since our parting; but I have heard that
she has little ones of her own now to love and care for, although they
do not engross all her thoughts, for the little dark-skinned Hindoos
will run to meet her as eagerly as her old school-class used to do; for
she married a clergyman, who went out to India, and she has never
returned home since. Dr. Stewart died long before her departure, and the
old Rectory home was broken up; and when that happened, Flora gave me to
a little child friend of hers, called Christie Johnson.

"My third mistress was the greatest trial I had; for though she loved me
dearly in a hasty sort of way, she was such a Tomboy, and so
thoughtless, that under her charge I fell into numberless sad scrapes
and accidents. Once I was dropped in the bath by Harold, her little
brother, thereby losing what colour remained to me; and another time I
was run over by a waggon, having been dropped out of the baby's
perambulator, where I had been hastily placed, while Christie ran off to
look for a bird's nest in a thorn bush. Under the awful crushing
progress of that broad wheeled waggon both my wax arms and one of my
legs were hopelessly smashed flat in the dusty road, my head and chest
escaping by a miracle. Christie was terribly vexed at the catastrophe,
but that did not mend my legs and arms, and I have therefore ever since
led a miserable maimed existence. And the worst of it was that Alan and
Willie had lost all respect for me, and never thought it necessary to be
even commonly civil to me, now that my wax arms and legs were gone. I
say _legs_ purposely, for my sole remaining limb came to pieces by a
fall down stairs. From that time my degradation commenced, and my daily
existence was a miserable series of petty tortures, such as the
ingenuity of a boy could alone devise. I was now the helpless and
defenceless prey of those foes of our race; for Christie, although she
occasionally rescued me from utter destruction, was too much of a romp
herself, and too careless to look after my welfare thoroughly!

"And so I found myself now continually reduced to becoming a frequent
and convenient missile to the boys during their incessant wars and
struggles. The stumps of my legs and arms were so very convenient to lay
hold of, as they swung me round their heads, before sending me whirling
through the air, or as they more forcibly than eloquently expressed

"'Christie's torso of a doll is such a jolly thing to chuck at a fellow,
when you can't hit him!'

"Even little Harold, the two-year-old baby, who could not achieve such
feats as these, could drag me about, as he did, by my poor stumps of
legs, and cry, 'Who buy ducks? I dot ducks a sell!'

"The life I led in that riotous nursery was indeed an ordeal, and during
its course not only my few remaining charms were obliterated, like my
eyes, which were perseveringly rattled into the back of my head by
Ethel, but my wardrobe also vanished piecemeal. First my shoes went one
by one, and the socks followed, no one knew how or where, but they were
most probably dropped out of doors somewhere, like my hat, which took
flight in a rough wind at the seaside! For Christie's mode of carrying
me when she took me out for a walk was original certainly, but not a
model to be recommended to mothers of live dolls. She would tuck me
roughly under one arm, without taking any trouble to see whether my head
or my feet were uppermost, and would then set off at the round trot for
which she was famous, and that had earned from her brothers her
nickname, "the postman."

"The fictitious illnesses I have gone through would have furnished
patients for the largest hospital in the world, but my last
indisposition was of a character that made a more permanent alteration
even in me. Now measles of a very malignant kind were at that time
raging in the neighbourhood, and Christie's mother was very particular
in keeping her children as much as possible out of the infection. Ethel,
Christie's youngest sister, a child of about six years of age, had heard
this talked over in parlour and nursery, and had imbibed a secret terror
of this mysterious sickness which seemed so much dreaded by mother and
nurse. And if mothers and nurses only suspected how _very_ long the ears
of little pitchers really are, and how much more they are inclined to
take in all that _should_ not concern them, I think they would be as
careful as the House of Commons in sending out all intruders when
serious questions were debated in committee. I am only a doll, and have
therefore no vote in the matter, or else if I _had_ a voice in the
counsels of Home Government, I would suggest that the little ears which
take in lessons and let them out again on the other side, and which have
yet the power of catching and retaining all matters _not_ necessary to
their instruction, should be excluded from all graver deliberations.

"But this is a digression, and as it is one that belongs to a world
beyond our little kingdom, it is perhaps not quite my business to enter
on it at all. Where was I in my story? I am quite ashamed of trespassing
so on your patience; but time and hard usage have so enfeebled my poor
broken memory, that I almost forget all I am doing or saying!"

"You were mentioning a serious illness that occurred to you," suggested
the Humming Top, very gravely; "pray relieve our minds as to its
symptoms and duration!"

"Oh yes," resumed the Doll, languidly; "I was telling you how I really
had the measles when they were so prevalent in our neighbourhood. Ethel,
as I said before, was terribly alarmed at the vague disease; and not at
all pleased with Baby Harold, who trotted soberly about the nursery,
singing in his fashion,

"'I dowing a have a measoos a morrer!' till Ethel got hold of him, and
drew such an awful picture of what she imagined they must be, including
a plentiful allowance of powders, currant jam, and castor oil, that he
roared in terror.

"'What's the row here?' asked Alan, lounging in at the time, and
throwing himself full length on the hearth rug.

"'I dowing a have a measoos, and Efel says I sail be sick--so bad--and
Smif dive me powders!' sobbed Harold, dolefully.

"'What rubbish!' growled Alan; 'you're _not_ going to have them, Harold;
you can't till Ethel has had them first herself; you daren't, you know;
don't you recollect what Nurse says when you want to be helped to
pudding before her,--"Age before honesty, Master Harold;" and so Ethel
shall have the measles first too!'

"'I won't, Alan,' whined Ethel; 'if you say such horrid things, I'll
tell Mamma. I shan't have the measles, shall I Nurse?'

"'I hope not, from my heart,' answered Nurse, very fervently; 'I've
handful enough with you as it is, but goodness forbid you should be all
laid up just now.'

"Next morning, when Ethel was washed and dressed, and went into the day
nursery to breakfast, Alan beckoned her out with a very grave face, and
told her to follow him down to the school-room. She did so, full of
curiosity at the unusual event; but when he opened the door and led her
in, she was still further puzzled. The tablecloth was laid for breakfast
for the elder ones, but the blinds were all down, and on the table lay
something stretched out under a towel.

[Illustration: DOLLY'S ATTACK OF THE MEASLES. _Page 94._]

"'Take it off and look, Ethel,' said Alan; and when she did so, she
started back in horror, for there I lay, with my face and throat all
covered with bright red round spots. 'She has got the measles, Ethel,'
said Alan, going off into roars of mischievous laughter.

"Poor Ethel shrieked and rushed away, sobbing as if her heart would
break, till there was such a commotion that Papa came in to see what was
the matter. He was very angry indeed with Alan, and told him how cruel
it was to frighten a younger child, and a girl too, in this manner; and
Alan's explanation that it was only to punish Ethel for teasing little
Harold did not make matters better.

"'You have no authority to punish any of your brothers and sisters,'
said Mr. Johnson; 'and you have only reduced yourself to the level of
Ethel's childish naughtiness by playing a trick very unworthy of you,
and that might have led to worse results. Frightening any one is the
most cruel sport that exists, and one of the most dangerous. When you
fell out of the boat at Barmouth three months ago, Alan, you would have
thought it very cruel of me to keep you holding on to the side of the
boat, just to laugh at your fright at being so nearly drowned!'

"'But Ethel's fright was so silly and unreasonable,' muttered Alan.

"'So are most alarms, Alan, but they cause the same suffering, and are
sometimes as hurtful in their consequences. Don't let me ever hear of
any thing of the kind again. You are, I know, very fond of all your
brothers and sisters, and would not give them any pain willingly. Now
remember, my boy, in future, that a pain of the mind, such as this
fright, is infinitely worse than a severe blow, and it is not manly to
hurt the weaker ones in any way.'

"Alan was really sorry for the end of his freak, and he kissed Ethel,
and remembered the lesson I have no doubt. But the silly little girl
never liked me again, although Nurse washed me white, in her careful
way, scrubbing off all the red paint with which Alan had so profusely
embellished me. And after a while I had so completely fallen into
oblivion, that I was undisturbed, till one evening, some years after,
when Ethel was fifteen, and had forgotten all about my early
disfigurement, I was fetched out to amuse little Florry Spenser, who
drank tea there, and she cuddled me up so tight, and was so loath to
part with me, that she was allowed to carry me home, and played with me
for some days. My reign, however, did not last very long, for when her
aunt gave her a very grand new wax baby, I was cast aside, and have
lived here ever since in the deepest seclusion, as you are all aware.
And now, my friends, I have done my poor best in your service, and have

And the Doll sank back with a weary sigh.

The Ball, who, by virtue of having been the first story teller, seemed
to have taken on himself the office of spokesman, made the Doll an
elaborate compliment on her story, and then, as her representative,
requested the Toy Kitchen to take up the next story.





"Which mine, said the Kitchen, will take you, I am afraid, ladies and
gentlemen, into a lower class of society than you are used to. I am not
much of a hand at telling stories, and can't find words to say what I
would, but I'll do my best. My first start in life is very easily
described, for I am the handiwork of an old man who lived in a dark
underground kitchen in one of the back streets of Westminster. Old Joe's
neighbours were not, I am afraid, at all of a respectable kind, setting
apart their poverty; but the old man held himself aloof and earned his
scanty living, troubling no one, and interfering with none. From all I
have heard him mutter to himself in his odd way while he was busy, and
from what I heard his only visitor say, I think he must have been a
paper-hanger or carpenter. But he had been disabled from active work by
a fall from a window which he was cleaning, and after that, had been
sorely put to it, in order to earn a living. I am sure he must have had
two little children at some time or other, and no doubt lost them from
some of the countless illnesses which lie ready in waiting, like great
flocks of wolves, for the _poor_ children in great cities. Perhaps the
wolf in their case was called "Fever," or perhaps "Cholera"; or, more
likely still, "Hunger," or "Want of fresh air"; but all I can tell is
that they were both dead since their mother, who must have died and left
them all early, and poor old Joe then cared no more to exert himself in
seeking the work that was so hard to get, and so difficult to keep.

"The business the old man now took up, his trade, as he called it, was
the making of little toy kitchens, which he hawked about once a week,
and sold for the modest sum of twopence each. They were most ingeniously
made out of pieces of very thin board, something of the same kind they
make hat boxes of. These pieces he bought in large quantities cheap, and
cut to suit his purpose. The floors were made of more solid wood, and
the walls were papered with odd scraps of wall paper, sample patterns
and such like, which some of his old employers gave him. The old man,
with a few bits of wood, and the help of a little rough paint,
constructed the rude likeness of a kitchen range, and a dresser, and
very tidy little affairs we were for the price.

"'I should like to put a kitchen table,' said old Joe, surveying me with
a critical eye, half screwed up; 'it would make it more comferble like,
and make both ends match. But I can't do it for the money no how. I'm
bound to make a penny at least on each one to pay for my time, so the
table must wait till better days.'

"I was a larger and better specimen of Joe's work, for I had been made
at a time when the stock had been rather large, and prices low, and so I
was generally kept as a sort of show article of what Joe _could_ do when
he liked. I had more room than Joe generally measured out to his usual
kitchens, and having been originally papered with an especially neat and
"becoming" hanging, as Joe said, I had become quite a ruling favourite
with the old man. I was now promoted to the place of honour on his tray,
not for selling purposes, but for exhibition.

"'That there chap will cost fourpence,' replied Joe to all his little
customers when they picked me out; 'leastways one like him. This here,
you see, is my adver-_tise_-ment. I couldn't afford to sell one like it
for less than fourpence. The walls are so well papered, you see, and the
bars of the range is shown, with the flames a rushin through 'em!'

"'I should like a nice ittle kishin,' said a fat, roley-poley little
butcher's daughter to her burly father, as he was leisurely wandering
outside his shop, admiring and looking over his nice joints of prime

"'Like a what, my duck?' said the jolly butcher, lifting up the rosy
little petitioner, and giving her an airy ride on his shoulder; 'what is
it my pussy cat wants to-day of her dad?'

"'A kishin,' said the child, 'a kishin--old man got such lots of

"The butcher gazed about him with a calm, placid, satisfied air, like
one of his own slain bullocks, when grazing peacefully in their meadows,
and then catching sight of Joe in the distance, ran heavily after him
with the delighted child. They soon reached the old man, and turned over
his wares.

"'There's a booful one, dad,' said the fat child, 'a booful one with a
fire lighted! Oh, I like that _so_ much!'

"'I'll bring ye one next week, Miss,' replied old Joe, seeing they were
good customers; 'this here ain't for sale, but I'll bring the fellow to
ye next week.'

"'I want it now,' pouted the child, peevishly.

"'What's the price of him, master?' asked the butcher. 'Don't be cross,
Phoebe, you shall have it.'

"'I can't sell he,' replied the old man, 'but I'll bring you another
just like it to-night, and it will be fourpence; I can't sell 'em no
lower because of the time and trouble they takes.'

"'I want it now, I want a kishin now,' whined Phoebe, hiding her red,
cross face on her father's shoulder.

"'I'll give ye sixpence for that one, old chap,' said her father,
positively, 'and if you won't sell it, you may go to Coventry, if you

"'I wouldn't sell that one for a shilling for a reason I have,' said
Joe; 'but as little Miss have a set her heart on it so, I'll go back and
fetch t'other one now. Will that do, little Missee? And if you are a
good girl, and don't cry, and wait with patience till I come back, old
Joe will bring you a kitchen table with it into the bargain!'

"Like a sensible child, as she was, Phoebe said she would, and nodding a
half reluctant and doubting farewell to the old man, she saw him set off
at his best pace on his way home to fetch her the fellow kitchen to
myself. And not for any sum of money would old Joe have broken any
promise he had made to a child. When he got back to his dark, cold room,
he found his one friendly visitor waiting for him, but only begged her
to sit down and wait for him a little while so that he could run back to
the child with the toy. He was more than rewarded, even in very
profitable ways, for not only did the little girl, who had been eagerly
watching for him on the steps, rush out clapping her hands for the
promised Kitchen, but the good-natured butcher, seeing how the old man
must have hurried to keep his word to the little one, gave him a nice
bit of steak at the same time with the price of the toy, telling him he
was afraid he would miss his dinner, and so, perhaps, that would make

"'Thank ye, kindly,' replied the old man, 'but you see I ain't no dinner
to lose to speak of, cos I always has a crust of bread and cheese,
leastways, unless any kind soul gives me a old bone or some broken

"'Well, you can have a cosy broil to-day,' laughed the butcher; ''tis
prime meat, and that I'll answer for!'

"Poor old Joe trotted off in high glee with his prize, buying a
"happorth" of onions and a "pennorth of all sorts" to flavour his stew
with. For old Joe, being a handy and sensible sort of fellow, had in
course of time become quite a cook, with the poor scraps his scanty
means furnished. Nor was he the only one to benefit by it, for many a
tea-cupful of what was proudly called "broth" did Joe spare to one or
two starving mothers hard by, for their ailing little ones. But old Joe
had a visitor to-day, his long lost wife's blind sister, and so he was
proud indeed to make a feast in her honour; and while his little scrap
of meat was slowly simmering, with the odds and ends of garden-stuff he
had bought, Joe made his visitor as comfortable as he could, and gave
her his kitchens to "feel," as she could not see.

"'I'm getting quite a hand at making 'em, Liza,' said the old man,
cheerily; 'I've got quite a sight of little customers, and I think I
shall get on by degrees, you know, werry slow, to make some better-most
kinds, and sell the bigger ones at fourpence a-piece! And then I can
throw in a kitchen table into the bargain, you know, which will make 'em
more completer.'

"Poor blind Liza admired to his heart's content, and felt us all over
with her wonderfully sensitive fingers, which almost seemed to find out
what sort of paper we were covered with, and she was not without her bit
of proud satisfaction, too, for she had brought Joe a pretty little
square basket, with a lid to it, which had been the work of her own
poor, unguided fingers. She had been placed by a very charitable lady in
a blind school, where she had learned basket-work, and she now was able
to help her old mother by her work, which was disposed of for her at a
shop established for that especial purpose in the Euston Road.

"Joe was mightily delighted with his basket, and said it was what he had
been wanting all along to keep his coppers in on his tray of toys. And
so, after a merry evening, Joe limped off to see the poor blind woman
safe to her home, about three miles distant. This was old Joe's solitary
holiday for many a month, for he had no friends and few acquaintances,
except the poor women who came thankfully to him now and then for one of
his savoury messes for their sick little ones, and they had no time to
spare, for they were most of them poor hard-working drudges, who were
very grateful for his help, and indeed often brought him their own poor
scraps of food to cook for their little invalids, while they earned a
few pence by washing, or hawking flowers, or fire papers. And the
kind-hearted old man would stir and simmer the scanty scraps in his
solitary saucepan, and take a world of care and pains with the "broth"
to make it relishing for the poor sickly little babes. He would often
put it into the cracked mug or pie-dish, and carry it himself to the
forlorn sufferer, and stay and have a bit of merry chat. There was not a
child in the neighbourhood who did not know and love Joe, and few indeed
who had not received some small kindness from him. He was only a very
poor and infirm old man, and had but little in his power to give or do,
but what he could was all done so cheerfully and kindly, that the very
sight of his old wrinkled, weather-beaten face seemed like sunshine in
the wretched rooms where poverty and want lived so hardly.

"More than one even of his little kitchens had been generously given
away by Joe, and though they were really of no value, to him they were
the produce of hours of labour and pains, and the means by which he
earned his scanty living. Poor little Biddy Doolan, a small child, who
had been wasting away many months in a slow decline, was found by her
mother (who had gone to the dispensary for some medicine for her), lying
back on the heap of straw, cold and lifeless, with the treasured
kitchen, the _one_ toy of a long miserable childhood, cuddled fast in
the thin stiff arms. Old Joe cried over her like a child, and was more
active than ever in his errands among the sick children. He was at last
christened "Dr. Joe," by universal consent, and was really often sent
for after the regular doctor, and he came as regularly, although he had
no fee beyond the thanks of his poor little patients.

"I used always to accompany him in his weekly long journeys, holding the
place of honour on the trays, next to Liza's basket, and many a funny
scene have we witnessed together. Joe's customers were "legion," for
every child that could raise twopence was ready enough to buy one of the
kitchens. And as times did get a little better, Joe _was_ able to add
the long wished-for wooden table, which gave a great finish and air of
reality to his little constructions. His sales rose one third after
this, and Joe's spirits went up with them. On Liza's next visit she
suggested that he might make a parlour too, she thought, and old Joe,
getting quite venturesome, jumped at the idea.

"'I've a cousin in service, Joe,' said Liza, 'she lives nurse at Mrs.
Spenser's, and I'll ask her if she can't save us up a few bits and
scraps of print and muslin. I think I could help you a little too, even
if 'tis only in a small way.'

"'Thankee sure, Liza,' replied Joe, delighted, 'and now I'll tell ye
what, you and mother come up some afternoon, and we'll see what we can
do between us all. I'll see ye safe back at night.'

"And blind Liza and her mother did come, and what between Liza's neat
and clever fingers, her old mother's sharp eyes, and Joe's own handy
work, they had speedily turned out half a dozen little parlours, that
Joe fairly hopped round, shouting with delight. The cousin had been very
generous and set them up with a tolerable hoard of bits and scraps, so
that, what with paper and paint and all, they were, as Joe declared,
"fit for a queen to live in." The walls were papered with Joe's choicest
scraps, and the floor carpeted with a piece of print, while scraps of
muslin stood for curtains. Liza had manufactured some square cushions of
a suitable size, which did duty for ottomans, and a round piece of card
board, glued on a pillar leg, composed of an empty cotton reel painted
brown, did duty for a centre table. Then Joe decorated the centre of the
back wall with what he considered a splendid likeness of a grand drawing
room grate. He looked at his work with great satisfaction, and was never
weary of pointing out the best charms of each parlour to the old lady,
Liza's mother, who really was a very useful and agreeable helper to the
party. She perched her old horn spectacles on the tip of her little
nose, and peeped in, suggesting improvements here and there, and she cut
out the carpets quite tidily. Their only regret was that Liza could not
see them too, but she was so cheerful, and guessed and described what
the parlours were like so well, that they declared she must have eyes in
the tips of her fingers.

"'Now,' said Joe, as they finished the sixth by the dim light of a
halfpenny dip, 'ladies, I'm uncommon obliged to you for your help, which
great it is, and well I shall do by it, I don't doubt, but I'm afraid I
shan't manage 'em so well for myself arterwards.'

"'O yes, you will Joe,' replied Liza, cheerfully; 'you know you always
were a handy man; you can cut the carpets and curtains every bit as well
as mother can. And as for the ottomy's, I'll make you a dozen or two
when I'm home, and I'll bring 'em to you next week, or what's better
still, you can fetch 'em. Don't you think its Joe's turn to return our
visit, mother?'

"'Indeed I do,' replied the old woman, 'and Joseph knows he'll be

"And thus it was arranged, and in about ten days' time Joe went to their
house, and carried them a very glowing account of the remarkable success
that had attended him "along of the parlours;" he also opened his heart
so much, that he actually took me with him, as an offering to Liza. I am
very much afraid the glory of those horrid little new parlours had quite
put him out of conceit with me. Liza had been as good as her word, and
furnished Joe with a pocket full of ottomy's, all covered with gay
shreds of chintz. The nurse at Mrs. Spenser's had sent them a most
bountiful collection of bits, for she had spoken to her mistress, and
told her the purpose she was collecting them for, and Mrs. Spenser, with
her usual kindness, had herself found a good parcel of bits to add to
the store.

"On hearing this, Joe thought he could do no less than to leave me with
his humble and grateful duty to the young ladies at Mrs. Spenser's
house, on his way back to his own underground home. And so this is how I
became a member of your circle, my friends, and have had the honour of
being called on to amuse you in my turn. I believe, from a few words I
heard nurse let fall some time ago, that my old master is still alive,
and doing a flourishing trade in "Kitchens and Parlours!" And I have no
doubt he is still carrying out his less lucrative, but charitable
calling, among the sick children of his wretched neighbourhood."

"We are all much obliged to you for your history," said the Ball, "which
is quite as interesting as any we have heard this evening. And now I
shall call upon our very fair friend the Shuttlecock for the next





"Oh," simpered the Shuttlecock, "I am quite distracted at the idea of
being called upon to take any part in public affairs. And, alas, how it
will torture my sensitive feelings to recall to mind the bright scenes
in which I appeared, and was once one of the most important actors! Ah,
my friends, although you see me reduced to this--to _this_ miserable
shadow of what I once was--you are not to imagine I was always thus
faded, thus broken and destroyed! No! In my youth my heart was indeed
light within me; for was it not of the best and most expensive species
of cork? A portion of a noble tree that once waved its umbrageous
branches in the fair land of Spain, and that fulfilled a better purpose,
even than that of sheltering a fair group of dark-eyed Castilian maids,
by furnishing the substance that was to assume so fair a shape as I did
once! My outside was no less beautiful, for I was covered with the best
and brightest hued scarlet morocco leather, and gilded richly besides. A
noble coronet of graceful plumes, once white as driven snow, adorned me,
plucked I doubt not, from the soaring pinion of some beautiful bird. Not
low, therefore, could have been the rank of him to whom I owe my
existence; indeed I have very little reason to doubt that he was of very
ancient lineage and noble name. But alas! It is unavailing to recall all
these bright departed glories, which have long, long since fled, and
left me the wreck you behold me!"

So saying, the Shuttlecock feebly waved her last remaining dingy
feather, and sank down on her side, as if in despair. But the Kite
fanned her very busily; and the Humming Top gave her such a long,
tiresome lecture on the duty of being contented, that she speedily
recovered herself, and continued her story.

"My first public appearance in life was on the occasion of a superb
Fancy Fair, which was held in the ancestral park of one of our country's
proudest nobles. It was for the benefit of a distinguished charity, and
some of the fairest and most fashionable ladies of the court were to
hold stalls on the occasion. It was whispered that even Royalty or some
of its branches might visit the spot, and therefore every effort was
made to give the fête a worthy success. Words would fail me were I to
describe to you the beauty of the scene on the important day. A monster
marquee was erected on the most commanding site in the fine domain, and
decorated gaily with the flags of all nations. A fine avenue of aged
trees made a noble sheltered walk for the gay visitors, and it led
almost all the way to the marquee, the space between being covered with
a smart scarlet-striped awning overhead.

"I had time to observe all this, as I was carried in a basket from the
Castle, down the green slopes to the marquee, by one of the many smart
ladies' maids in attendance. But when we entered, the effect, at once so
fairy-like and so elegant, rendered me motionless and almost senseless.
The interior was draped with pink and green, and the elegant stalls were
being laid out with all their pretty trifles. I was honoured with a
place on the stall of the Duchess herself, and had therefore an
excellent opportunity of witnessing the habits and manners of real high
life, and I felt at once in my element. Here, thought I, am I placed in
my natural sphere, a dweller with the fair and the noble, surrounded
with rank and beauty, and breathing only the refined air of higher life.
I was cut short in my musings by Lord Adolphus, the youngest son of the
Duchess, who, with the charming vivacity so natural to his birth and
station, abstracted me from the dainty basket in which I reposed, with a
few companions of less merit. I was soon in full activity, and took my
first flights to admiration, by the ready and graceful assistance of
himself and a young companion, also a titled member of society.

"'What a jolly shuttlecock,' remarked Lord Adolphus, 'it goes as high as
the top of the tent, I declare. I say, Gerry, do you think you could
pitch it over, outside? I'll bet you twopence you don't.'

"'I'll lay six to one, I _do_,' replied Sir Gerald, running eagerly out
of the tent, with me in his hand. He did not exhibit _quite_ the same
amount of refinement as his noble young friend; in fact, he was more
like boys in general, and lacked that _perfume_, if I may call it so, of
high breeding which so signally showed itself in _my_ earliest friend,
Lord Adolphus. After a spirited contest between the two gallant boys, I
_was_ thrown over the marquee, and, after such a lofty and prolonged
flight, fell exhausted, without the power of saving myself, into a
little crystal pool of water close by. I heard my noble young
playfellows searching for me everywhere, and began to entertain a deadly
fear that I should be left in my watery prison. Luckily, the warm day
and their game had made them thirsty, and they both came to quench their
thirst here, little thinking of finding me, whom they had no doubt so
long and vainly searched for.

"'By Jove, Dolly,' cried Sir Gerald, '_here's_ the shuttlecock after

"'What a lark,' replied Lord Adolphus; 'it's been chucked into old
Rosamond's well, and ought to come out beautiful for ever!'

"'I'm glad we found it,' said Sir Gerald; 'or perhaps there'd have been
a row. I saw Githa count 'em all, and she'd have been sure to bully us
about it.'

"'We could have given her the tin for it then,' replied Adolphus, 'only
I'm so hard up just now. I owe a lot of money for sweets and tarts; and
I want to buy a cricket bat this quarter. But hulloa, Gerry, how wet the
beggar is?'

"But the dear gentlemanly fellow, soon remedied this fault, for he wiped
me carefully with his own cambric handkerchief, and I was not the worse,
except that my coronet of plumes looked rather damp, or, as Sir Gerald
facetiously expressed it, "all draggletail!"

"A little sojourn in the glowing Sun, soon restored my feathers to their
early beauty, as I was carefully taken back, no worse for my pleasant
little gambol, and placed in the basket again, on the Duchess's stall.
The hour of opening arrived, one o'clock; but, out upon the cruel Fates!
long before the turning point of noon, lowering clouds had veiled the
bright, too treacherously bright rays of the Sun, and heavy, drenching
showers succeeded, ending in a steady downpour that promised to last out
the day. Oh dear! What ruin and destruction ensued to the elegant
erection of the morning! The marquee leaked in many places from the
sudden violence of the storm, and none of the precautions, hastily
taken, would make it quite water-tight. The unlucky visitors, with their
gay summer dresses all sopped and clinging with wet, crowded in to gain
what little shelter they could; and all was damp, dreary and desolate!
The higher class, more fortunate than the rest, accompanied the Duchess
to the Castle; the stalls were deserted in favour of the younger, and
less particular among the gay party, and the marquee was only crowded by
the more persevering vulgar mob, who were determined to have, as I heard
one of the horrors avow, "their full pennorth," all they could see and
get for their money.

"An evil destiny which seems to have fallen upon me early, relentlessly
followed me now, and ruled my unwilling sacrifice. I was positively sold
from the stall of the Duchess, by her Grace's own maid, to a rich grocer
in the city, for the sum of sixpence! Oh, degradation indeed! Fallen,
fallen, fallen from my high estate indeed was I. No friendly hand
interposed; no better purchaser came, so I was ignominiously wrapped in
paper and put in Mr. Figge's pocket. Nor had ruthless fortune yet done
with me, for when I was carried to the abode of the Figge's, although I
had been really destined as a gift to his only daughter, Araminta
Philippina, I was, by mistake in the hurry of returning, dropped in the
carriage, and although a vigorous search seemed to be made by the fine
footman, he did not succeed in finding me, and I remained hid in a far
back corner of the roomy equipage for some days. Had I fallen to the
share of Araminta Philippina, I should at least have retained the small
consolation of being incessantly pointed out as having been bought from
the Duchess herself, and a faint ray of my lost station would have still
glimmered about me.

"But, alas, on emerging from my obscurity, I found I had indeed fallen
in life, and from the highest to the lowest, for I was now located in
the Mews, where Mr. Figge's carriage was kept; and having been found
during its dusting and arrangement by the wife of the coachman, I was
handed over to her horrible tribe of uncouth, ill-behaved children.

"Oh, for the language that I heard round me now! It made my very
feathers quiver sometimes; and as for the flights I took now,--ugh--it
makes me shudder to recall them! I who had bathed in fair Rosamond's
crystal stream, was now doomed to be plunged in the inky rills that ran
in the gutters round the sooty roofs. My beautiful red leather cover was
soon dyed a dingy black; most of my feathers were violently pulled out
by some of the younger ones, and the rest became somewhat of the colour
of a London sparrow. At last, as a sort of release from worse miseries,
I was tossed up so high by the horrid little flat wooden bat, which now
became the means of my ascending, (and that in the hands of the
coachman's eldest son, was an instrument of indiscriminate torment to
everything animate and inanimate), that I fell on the ledge of a back
window in one of the houses in a square adjoining. The boy, I imagine,
did not dare to go round to the house to ask for me again, and was
therefore reduced to his original stock of playthings, consisting
chiefly of a mutilated ginger-beer bottle, some oyster shells, and a

"Meanwhile I dwelt for some time on the window ledge, exposed to the
wind and rain, but at any rate free from the vulgar annoyances to which
I had been subjected of late. And this I could endure more calmly, and I
had almost become resigned to my hard lot, when one day to my
astonishment the window was opened. A young woman leant out with a
hammer and nails in her hands, and proceeded to fix one in firmly on the
side of the window. She did not see me, for I had become securely lodged
in the other corner almost out of sight, and so she did not either pick
me up, nor what I secretly feared most, throw me back again into the low
haunts of my former miserable and odious life. She contented herself
with merely hanging out a bird in its cage, and then partially closed
the window again, and, I suppose, left the room.

"It is not my usual habit to make acquaintance _too_ readily with
strangers, and therefore I did not commence a conversation with my
feathered neighbour; but, then, as you are doubtless well aware, birds
are generally of a sociable disposition, and prone to make remarks and
enter into conversation with comparative strangers. And my new neighbour
proved no exception to the rule, for he began to chatter and chirp in
the most voluble manner, and had speedily related all his own personal
history, and that of several members of his family. But I am not very
fond of the affairs of people that do not belong to my own class, and
therefore did not pay much attention to his gossip. He was of a prying
disposition too, as very communicative people generally are, and seemed
rather anxious to know all about me. But I rather politely but loftily
repelled him, for I did not choose my misfortunes to be the common talk
of such small people. So I briefly informed him I had been far better
off, and indeed it was now, only owing to peculiar circumstances I
wished to remain for a time in comparative retirement.

"From him I learned that his owner was the under housemaid at this
house, and that she was shortly about to leave, having obtained another
situation where there was less work to do. The bird prattled in a lively
fashion about the merry life he had led hitherto and the continued
change he had seen, and seemed to be quite looking forward to what he
called "his next place."

"'I only wish you were going with me, you poor thing; I am sure you must
be moped to death with staying up here by yourself so long. Don't you
think you could manage to roll into my cage, and then we could go off

"My propriety was terribly shocked by this proposal of the goldfinch's,
and for some time I could give him no answer.

"'You silly thing!' said he, angrily, at last, 'surely you may travel
with your own relations, and you know you and I must be kin, because we
have both the distinguished ornament of feathers.'

"This delicate compliment softened me a little, I must confess!" said
the Shuttlecock, bridling up with a very dignified air, which, in her
dilapidated state, with her one ragged feather sticking out all awry,
was a very comic affair. Consequently none of the toys could help
laughing; as for the Kite, he was so amused that he waggled about like a
sail in a rough wind. Even the languid, delicate Doll could not forbear
a feeble smile, and the Shuttlecock became so indignant, that she would
have bounced out of the party, had her powers been equal to her spirit.
But, alas, though her cork was still sound, her wings had departed, and
the solitary draggletail feather was not sufficient to waft her above
the rude mirth of her auditors. But she was so deeply offended that it
took the Ball a long time, and a world of trouble, to pacify her. At
last, on his hinting that as time was passing by he should be reduced to
calling upon another member present for a story, she permitted herself
to be pacified, and resumed her narrative, with a more haughty air, and
in finer words than before:--

"My poor autobiography can be concluded in very few words now, for I
have but little more to relate. My feathered connection, for he
certainly made his claim good to a distant relationship, would take no
denial, and told me he had set his heart on taking me with him when he
went; and that he had a plan of his own by which he would be able to
carry out his purpose. I therefore submitted to his decision, and
counted the days, I must honestly own, very eagerly, until the period of
our joint captivity arrived. The evening before, my bird relation
requested a friendly Breeze, with whom he was on friendly terms, to blow
me close to his cage. I was then, I should tell you, possessed still of
several of my plumes, although they were in a dingy condition, and
therefore more able to help myself. A good strong gust then, at the
right moment, and carefully adjusted to the right quarter, sufficed to
take me to the ledge of the bird's food box. From thence he speedily,
though with some amount of hard work, managed to pull and drag me inside
the cage, a friendly wire stretching widely for the purpose. My friend
then carefully pushed me under his seed-box, knowing that as long as I
was pretty well out of sight, his mistress, Mary, would not take much
trouble about it. From former experience and frequent removes, he knew
well she would only find time to tie him up, cage and all, in a blue
handkerchief, and carry him off at the very last moment. All this came
to pass, as he so sagely predicted, and after being blinded-up in this
fashion for some time, and jogged and shaken in a very uncomfortable
manner, we came to our journey's end in a bedroom in this house. We were
not disturbed till next morning, for Mary had only time to give my
friend his seed and water, before she set off on her new round of
duties. Two days after, however, she managed to find time to think of
the bird.

"'You shall go down stairs into the kitchen, my pretty Dick,' said she,
chirping to him, 'for cook says she is fond of birds, and will give me
some sugar for you. But I must clean your cage first, for you are not
fit to be seen, I'm sure, now!'

"And so saying, she proceeded to make Dick's house clean and neat, and
in the course of doing so, she came upon me. 'Why, Dickey,' she said,
laughing, 'have you been trying a game of shuttlecock, by way of sport?
How came this in your cage, I wonder!'

"Dick tried to explain in his bird fashion, and did so, _I_ thought,
very intelligibly, but, then, as you know, all human beings are so very
difficult of comprehension. So she took me out in spite of all my poor
cousin's protests, and laid me on the table in her room. On the
following Sunday, when Mary was to stay at home with the little ones
while nurse went to church, she remembered me, and brought me down to
amuse the young Spensers. Like all the rest of their race, they soon
became tired of me, and I was thrust away in this dusty cupboard till
now. Of all the histories that have been related to amuse you, none, I
am sure, have surpassed mine for vicissitudes and changes. I was the
early companion of Duchesses and Lords, and yet have been doomed to
endure the society of coachmen and stable boys, and to be rescued from a
rackety bird-cage to end my days in a dusty cupboard!"

Then the Shuttlecock ceased to speak, and betook herself to her corner,
to bewail in private the sad downfall she had endured.

"And now," said the Ball, "I will call upon our venerable friend, the
Noah's Ark; I am sure he will be able to tell us a great deal that is
very interesting about himself and his numerous tribe."

The poor old Ark creaked slowly forward, and announced his willingness
to add his history to the rest, beginning in the following words.




"I must tell you a little about the hands that first made us, and to do
so I must take you in fancy to the high Alps in Switzerland. There,
during the long bright summer months, according to the practice of the
country, the flocks and herds are pastured, only descending to the
villages in autumn, when food and fodder grow scant. A temporary
dwelling is erected, in which the Sennerin, the young girl who usually
takes charge of them, lives for the season, and where she follows the
dairy business peculiar to her calling. The long summer days pass so
calmly and pleasantly there, while the cows and their young ones crop
the juicy herbage of these mountain pastures. Meanwhile the shepherd
lads, and those who are not busied in more active labours, often pass
their leisure hours, while guarding their flocks with the help of their
intelligent dogs, in carving cleverly some pretty little toys in the
light wood peculiar to their province. These find a ready sale with the
travellers, who climb these lofty heights to feast their eyes on the
ranges of distant peaks and Alpine passes, that seem almost reaching up
to the sky.

"Sitting on the grass, with their quaint, old-fashioned knives, these
lads carve elegant and graceful trifles, that often eventually find
their way into royal palaces, and are used by many dainty fingers. My
maker, however, was more given to the construction of toys for children;
he preferred fashioning all kinds of animals and reptiles, to making
flower bestudded paper knives or perforated work baskets; and he found a
very good and ready sale for all he had time to manufacture. By his
patient and incessant industry, he had earned a comfortable living for
many years for his blind and aged mother, to whom he was a most dutiful
and tender son. Never a penny of Fritz's money was spent in idle folly,
for neither gay ribbons for his hat nor silver buckles for his shoes
ever wiled away his earned money from its pious purpose. He certainly
was a true but very humble admirer of our Sennerin, who was the only
daughter of a rich farmer of the village; and I had a few opportunities
for noticing that she always prized more the simple Alpine roses, for
which Fritz had climbed many a dangerous spot, than she did the
elaborate carvings or purchased trinkets which were offered to her by
others. I hope long ere this, Fritz, the good son and industrious
villager, is the owner of the goodly farm, and the happy husband of the
pretty Sennerin. But I did not remain long enough to know much of the
progress of his affairs; for although it took him half the summer to
make me and two similar Arks, we were readily disposed of at once, on
his return to the village. The toy merchant made his yearly visit then,
and carried us all off with a host of other articles of similar

"I hope I may be excused for a little pardonable vanity in describing
our personal appearance to you; for, in common with you all, I have been
also divested by time and rough usage of most of my early charms. When I
was first springing from beneath the skilful fingers of Fritz, I was the
prettiest specimen of a model Swiss cottage set upon a boat floor, that
ever was made. My walls were formed of the pretty very white species of
wood, used by these deft shepherd carvers, and light, graceful openwork
patterns were formed on them, by delicately cut cross pieces of a darker
shade. The roof, with wide projecting eaves, after the regular chalet
pattern, had its cross beams, and here and there the usual stones, laid
on it, which, in the original structures, are placed there to add some
weight of resistance to the furious mountain gales that come sweeping
down the deep gorges. There was a row of windows, which were really cut
out and glazed, through which you might obtain a view of the jumble of
animals huddled together inside. A perforated gallery of light wood ran
all round the walls half way up, from whence a staircase, general to
these Swiss cottages, led down, and in this case terminated on the floor
of the flat wooden boat, which of rather unusual depth, formed the
bottom of the Ark.

"As to my contents, they were of a rather miscellaneous character, for
although Fritz had a natural love for animals, and considerable success
in copying those with which he was acquainted, his knowledge of the more
distant creation was limited to the quaint old woodcuts in his mother's
Bible, in which they were drawn with more spirit and imagination than
correctness. And so Fritz's horses, oxen, pigs, sheep, dogs, and goats
were characteristic and good, but his elephant and camel, though
original, were eccentric, to use a mild term. They were all executed,
however, with great pains, and the wood from which they were carved was
specially selected with a view to their colour and marks. Thus, for
example, the tiger, though his outline and shape were rather doubtful,
and he partook more than he should of the square frame of a cow, was cut
out of a bit of wood where a knot had been, which caused it to be
streaked in a manner very suitable to the stripes of that animal. The
birds generally were a greater success, for with most of these Fritz was
tolerably familiar. We had certainly all spent a very pleasant summer,
high up in the Alps, with the most delicious clear sky overhead and the
fragrant herbage beneath. It was so calm and clear, that the silence was
broken alone by the far off sheep and goat bells, the faint low of the
drowsy cattle, or the sweet song of distant birds. How often I have
recalled that pleasant early life, which was so very speedily

"The toy merchant soon packed up his wares and departed, and we saw and
heard nothing more, until we were unpacked from a huge case of other
toys, and placed in the window of a famous toyshop in St. Paul's
Churchyard. In the window there, for some months, we attracted
numberless groups of delighted little admirers, but our high price
placed us beyond the reach of most people. Our turn came at last; we
were selected by a doating grandpapa for his pet little grand-daughter,
and carefully packed up and taken to the abode of our future owner. The
pretty little child was too young as yet to have such a beautiful and
costly toy in her own charge, so her Mamma undertook the care of us, and
Beatrice was allowed to play with us occasionally.

"She was a queer little mortal, this new mistress of ours, and not
particularly fond of toys in general. She was highly delighted at first,
and twice or thrice when she was allowed to play with us, she arranged
us carefully in pairs on the table. But when Nurse or Mamma tried to
improve her knowledge, and give her a sly object lesson on zoology, Miss
Beatrice grew refractory, and cared for us no more. Unfortunately on one
occasion when her Mamma was seriously ill, the nurse gave us to her to
play with, to keep her quiet, and the whole house being somewhat upset
by the illness, the child was not taken much notice of. Alas, when Nurse
came in the evening to collect my animals and put me away, she found a
most deplorable state of things. Beatrice had been dragging me about as
a carriage for her doll, and had thus damaged my pretty railed gallery
and staircase past all mending. My roof was in three pieces, and the
reckless little savage had first strewn all my beasts over the floor,
and then as deliberately walked over them. Oh, what a havoc was there!
My poor dear cows and sheep, that had cost the ingenious Fritz so much
time and trouble, had not three legs to boast of between them, and as
for the birds, they were most of them pounded to pieces and bits. I
thought with bitter regret of the green mountain heights where we had so
merrily proceeded under Fritz's laborious fingers, and had been the
admiration of the whole little Swiss village.

"When Beatrice's mother was better, she was much vexed to hear what had
happened to us, and was very angry indeed with Beatrice for her wilful
mischief. I believe from that time, the child took a dislike to us, for
she was a capricious, odd-tempered little thing, and certainly never
played with us without doing us some further injury. As for the animals,
they were left and dropped all over the house. Poor old Grandmamma
coming to spend the day, fell down and sprained her ancle by treading on
the elephant. The camel was thrown through one of the windows by a
little boy visitor during a romp with Beatrice, and Aunt Priscilla was
almost irreparably offended the last time she stayed there, by finding a
wooden pig in her fur-lined slipper. She put her foot hastily in without
seeing it, and hurt it so, that she declared she was lame for a month
afterwards. In short, we were always in trouble in some way or other,
and Beatrice's mother more than once threatened to give us away.

"It would have been a small consolation to us if our young owner had
played with us sometimes, or taken ever so little pride in us. But no;
she only took us out to bring more shame and disgrace on us, and on
herself. For instance, once when her Godmother took her to church for
the first time, Beatrice took her handkerchief out of her pocket, and
with it a number of wooden animals, which fell in a pattering shower on
the pavement. Naughty Beatrice would stop in the middle of the aisle and
pick us all up, to the astonishment of the congregation, the horror of
her Godmother, and the utter scandal of the grave old clerk. Nay, worse
even, for when the sermon commenced, she rushed out of her seat, and
began to hunt about under the people's feet in the free benches for a
missing camelopard!

"After this terrible mishap, Nurse laid hands on all the stray animals
she could find, and clapped them all hastily into my box, shutting down
the lid decidedly, and promising Beatrice she should see us no more. She
was as good as her word, and hid us behind a great pile of clean dimity
curtains in the linen closet, where we remained snugly packed away for
some time. But, alas! one day our mischievous little mistress, during
one of her prowls, chanced to see the open door of the linen closet, and
could not resist a sudden raid upon it. To her great joy, she found us,
and carefully lugging us out, she hid us in her little cot till bedtime.

"It happened to be the day of a dinner party, and all the servants were
very busy with the preparations for it, while the lady of the house was
equally engaged in superintending the arrangements. In the evening,
while dinner was proceeding, Beatrice, well-dressed for the occasion,
was taken down into the drawing-room, to wait till she could go in to
dessert. Her nurse, no doubt, was using her ears and eyes in other
matters, and so the mischievous little maid was left to her own devices.
The results, however, were very unpleasantly visible to her Mamma, when
having helped a lady to some trifle, she observed her become very red,
and lay down her spoon. On enquiry, she found that she had met with a
wooden frog in the trifle, and on further search, some more of my
unlucky animals were found located among the sweet dishes. A huge dog
was floundering in the jelly, and a regular flight of birds had got
about the blancmange.

"The end of this disagreeable affair was, that Miss Beatrice was sent to
bed in dire disgrace, and the poor innocent animals, all sticky from
their sweet bath, were consigned to the fire. The few remaining
creatures that were left of all the numerous flock Fritz had so proudly
made, were hastily gathered together, and with me, given away next

"Our next owner was a little boy, a very quiet little fellow, to whom we
became the greatest treasure in the world. He thought me the most
beautiful toy that was ever made, although I was in such a sadly damaged
condition. His only grief was, that my stock of animals had now dwindled
down to about twenty, and of these, most were maimed or deficient in
some way. However, he wisely made the best of a bad matter, and set to
work to repair the damage as well as he could. With his elder brother's
kind help, and the loan of a glue-pot, he repaired, as neatly as
possible, the breakage of my gallery and staircase. With pins, cork, and
sealing-wax, he next proceeded to tinker-up the poor mutilated animals,
and succeeded in making them all stand pretty firmly once more. It would
have done Fritz's honest heart good to see how carefully the little
fellow handled his masterpiece, and how very conscientiously he tried to
put all to rights again. And if the horse _had_ two odd scarlet legs
made out of sealing-wax, it was better than going a cripple for life;
and as for the squirrel, he need not have grumbled, for a black pin for
a tail was better than none. To be sure, he did stick the bear's head on
the wrong way, but then it did not much matter, it only looked as if he
had met with a tree he wanted to climb, and was looking up it.

"And so once more we were patched up into ordinary respectability, and
so pretty did we look, even in our less bright condition, that at last,
as Harry was a little too old to play with such toys, and cared much
more for making and mending them, we were laid out in great style, and
to as much advantage, on the little chess table in the bow window, and
covered with a glass shade to preserve us from the dust!

"Here we dwelt in state for some years, while Harry grew up and went to
school, and after that to college, and ceased to care for such trifles.
And then his mother gave us to Celia Spenser, on her birthday, who was
much delighted, and for a long while we were a very favourite toy of
hers; but her little brothers and sister made fresh ravages on our
impaired value, although it is but fair to say the misfortunes were
unintentional, and they were really sorry when they had broken any of my
beams, or lost an animal. And now our turn has come to be cast aside,
and so here we are with the rest of the old pensioners!"

And having said this, the Ark creaked his lid down again, and finished
his story, for which he received the thanks of all the assembled party.

"Now," said the Ball, musing gravely, "I shall call next in order on the
Marbles to relate their general history, and as I don't know which of
them to ask first, I must call upon them collectively."





"We are of what may be styled republican principles," said a large China
Marble, rolling out of the heap. "Of all the speakers who have already
come forward, the Kite, Doll, and yourself, for instance, are simple
individuals. The Tea-things are a large family, under the rule of their
mother, the Teapot; a kind of domestic despotism. The Noah's Ark might
represent a constitutional or limited monarchy, where the Ark is a sort
of governing or holding together of the rest of the members. And so they
have all very properly, as representatives, related their own peculiar
history. But _we_ Marbles are a republic, and therefore can't quite tell
all our story as one, because several kinds or classes of us wish to
tell their own separate tale."

"I daresay this is all very clever, and very true," replied the Ball,
suppressing a yawn; "but I don't quite understand all you have said.
However, let that pass; the only question before us is, how the
proceedings are to be arranged in this manner. I think, as President of
our party, I can hardly allow all of you to relate a distinct story,
because there are several other people who are waiting in their turn,
and it is due to them, as well as fair to the rest, not forgetting those
who have gone before, that we should not spend all our time in hearing
separately half a dozen members of your party."

"But we have no story to tell as a body," urged a Bright Glass Marble;
"if you won't hear us separately, we have no whole adventure to relate
worth mentioning."

The Ball, somewhat puzzled, consulted gravely with the rest; and after
whispering in one corner with the Kite, and in another with the Rocking
Horse--after having failed in obtaining any opinion from the Doll, who
was too languid to care much about the matter, and having skilfully
evaded the Humming Top, who had more to say on the subject than any one
cared to hear--he once more took his place, and gave his decision

"After a consultation and council with several distinguished members of
our party, I am happy to tell you that we are willing to allow three of
you to relate your separate stories, on the distinct understanding that
they do not exceed, in their united length, the narrations that have
gone before."

On behalf of his companions, the China Marble who had first spoken,
willingly agreed to the terms, and called upon the Bright Glass Marble
to speak first. And so the small green glassy thing rolled smoothly
forward, looking like a little curled-up snake, and began to speak.

"I am not going to relate to you the usual pursuits and habits of a
common Marble! I am not made like them of mere earth or clay, but of
glass--bright shining glass--the result of a marvellous combination of
different things by the aid of chemical skill and knowledge. These
delicate threads that you can perceive winding gracefully and
symmetrically through me are of Venetian origin, and the mode of making
them--once a trade secret--was first discovered in that "city of an
hundred isles." I was not baked in a hot oven, as my humbler brethren
are, but melted and cleared again and again in a far fiercer heat, until
my nature became refined and purified, and my clear colour green as the
sea which glides like a glittering network through and round Venice.

"Nor was all this trouble taken with me only that I might become a mere
child's toy, like these dingy, earthen globes; no! I was designed to
become a member of a charming party, who lived in separate apartments,
on a large mahogany board, and our party was elegantly called for that
reason by the French name of _Solitaire_! Some of my family were
crimson, some blue, some striped like sea-shells, some flaked with gold,
but all beautiful. We lived for a long time appropriately enough in the
Crystal Palace, where we lay with hosts of other brilliant things, too
numerous to mention, on a long counter in the Bohemian Court. I may say,
without vanity, that we were the objects of admiration to thousands, and
many of our sparkling host were carried off like trophies, to adorn the
mansions of the great and noble.

"My destination was at first a fortunate one; but, alas, in common with
yourselves, I have also met with reverses in life; and on _me_, poor
little me, Fate seems to have poured out all her hardest punishment. We
were purchased at first by Lord Latimer for his little daughter Florine,
and for a while laid on inlaid tables and were only handled by fair and
jewelled fingers. I need not enter into the plan of the game of
Solitaire, which had just then come out fresh, and was universally
popular, for, as in many other cases what is _play_ to others is _work_
to us. I had nothing to complain of, however, for my fair young mistress
was very gentle and lady-like, and skilled in the game, so that we were
daintily used and carefully kept. Indeed while we breathed the perfumed
air of that luxurious boudoir, sweetened with the rarest exotic flowers,
and ornamented with every graceful trinket and toy that could please its
owner, our life passed like a fairy dream. But sweet and amiable as
Florine was, she too had her faults, and a love of change and novelty
was one of them. When she had possessed us a brief year, she grew weary
of us, and passed on to other amusements. Her whole thoughts were now
given to table croquet, and we lay idle and disused. At last one day we
were coolly given away to little Rosie Herbert, a small friend of hers,
who carried us exultingly off at once. Unluckily our new owner was a
mere raw school girl, and having no mother, and more of her own way than
was good for her, we were taken by her to school, and there we ran the
gauntlet of twenty or thirty school girls, and never knew ten minutes'
peace through the day, except at meal times. We now became acquainted
with rough treatment, for we were usually sent rolling on the floor into
all corners of the room half a dozen times a day, and many of my friends
were lost entirely by these means. What became of them eventually I do
not know, as we never met all together again, the vacant place in the
board being filled up by Rosie with _beans_, neighbours, I need hardly
say, not by any means acceptable to the poor remainder of us! What we
underwent at that dreadful school, or even a tithe of the mischievous
pranks we saw there, would take too long a time to describe; and the
only wonder is, that any of us escaped to tell the tale, for when our
novelty wore off, the value for us lessened also. One unscrupulous girl
made frequent use of us to torment her enemies by putting some of us in
their beds, others in their shoes, nay, even one girl narrowly escaped
choking by nearly swallowing _me_ in a cup of tea, into which I had been
slily slipped. One or two of us broke a few window panes, and we were
frequently sent rolling about the writing table, until at last Miss
Blunt desired Rosie to collect us all, and keep us in her play-box till
the holidays, on pain of entire confiscation.

"We then, or at least the few survivors of our once numerous band, hoped
we had now at last a little interval of peace, before we retired into
private life. On once more emerging from obscurity, and accompanying
Rosie home, we found that our chance was not much improved, for we were
continually being slily purloined to replenish her brother Robert's
marble bag. For a long time I had seen my companions gradually
disappearing one by one, and dreaded the time when I too must follow,
and at last the terrible moment arrived. I was carried off, and once
more became a haunter of a school, but this time it was one for boys,
and from my former experience, I was in utter despair at the fate before
me. Fortunately, however, in the first game of marbles in which Robert
indulged after I came into his possession, I was won by Frank Spenser.
He was just on the eve of leaving school, and consequently I had no very
unpleasant encounters to anticipate. With the rest of my companions I
was put aside and forgotten, and that is how I came to reside in the toy

"Well," said one of the common marbles, coming forward, "_I_ can't lay
any claim to such a fine appearance, nor shall I be able to relate such
a distinguished history. My origin is humble enough, for I am made of
clay, in common with many other things of far more importance than
marbles. My first appearance in life was in a wicker basket with a lot
of others in the dingy window of old Spattleberry's shop, where we lived
in company with bottles of lollipops, ginger beer, jam tarts, string,
slate pencil, tops, knives, and parliament. I have lived in a public
school almost all my life, and I only wish I could get back there once
more. None of your grand scented drawing rooms and faddling girls for
me! I prefer boys for companions, and revel in a playground; why I don't
even object to a jacket pocket! I can't say I have exactly a partiality
for pockets in general, for my friends, the boys, _are_ rather apt to
put queer things in them, such as biscuit crumbs, beetles, fishing
worms, and a host of other odds and ends, not to mention an occasional
snake. But I've been very lucky, for I was a favourite alley, and have a
bright red ring round me, so that I was pretty generally kept in careful
quarters. Oh! how many jolly games I have had in the capital playground
of Dewberry Grammar School with my owner, Ben Baily, and his chum, Bill
Smith. The marbles I won for him, helped by his own good play, for he
_was_ a first-rate player, made quite a goodly store in his play-box.
Many a boy who had been so lucky, and who played so well, would have
sold them secretly to old Spattleberry, as indeed I have known some mean
boys do. But Ben was an honest, open-hearted fellow, born to be a
sailor, so I was not surprised to hear of him afterwards as a naval
cadet, going through a course of training in the "Dreadnought" frigate.
But at the time I knew him he was only a truthful, frank schoolboy, very
mischievous, and getting into lots of scrapes, but then they were never
wicked ones, or likely to do harm to anybody, and only arising from the
spirit of fun in him, that brimmed over sometimes.

"I soon discovered how his hoard of marbles gradually melted away, for I
saw him several times fill the empty bag of a little fellow who had lost
his all, and who found a generous friend in Ben. But though he was very
kind to the little ones, and liberal too in his way, nothing roused him
to a regular raging passion quicker than meanness or cheating. Now
little Sam Markham, who first bought me from old Spattleberry, was the
meanest little sneak that ever lived, and did not care what he did, so
long as he was not found out. Ben had an instinctive dislike of him, and
never played with him, so that there was a sort of unspoken feud between
them. Mean little Sam feared Ben's blunt, straightforward ways; and Ben
had a sort of big contempt for Sam's trickfulness and shifty ways, and
so they gave each other usually, what Ben would have called, a "wide

"But one day, Ben happened to perch himself on a very high bough of the
old elm tree that stood in a corner of the playground; for he was always
given to climbing, and that he knew from long experience was a secure
nook to rest in away from intrusion. Many a summer holiday did he spend
studying Robinson Crusoe, or Peter Simple, or something of that sort.
But on this day he happened to have got "Snarley-yow," which some chum
had lent him, and he was deaf and blind to almost everything. But a loud
squabble under the tree at last aroused him a little, and 'It's not
fair, Sam; I know you're cheating,' reached his ears; and shaking
himself like a waking dog, he peered down through the leaves and
branches to see what was the matter. There stood Sam, his eyes
twinkling, and his mouth grinning from ear to ear, as he pocketed a lot
of marbles, confiscated from "blundering Bill," as William Smith was
politely christened by the boys. Now Bill was a good deal younger than
that little sharper, Sam, and a novice to boot in the game, and so was
not near a match for him. Ben's honest blood boiled, and he only waited
a few minutes just to witness some most gross cheating, and to see poor
Bill turn away with his empty bag, when he slid down the old tree trunk
like a thunderbolt, coming down upon sly Sam, and sending all his
ill-gotten gains spinning to every corner of the playground. Sam had the
soundest thrashing he had ever experienced, and was mulcted besides of
all the marbles he had robbed Bill of; and though Ben was scarcely his
equal in size, and a year younger, he was far too formidable and
uncompromising an antagonist for Sam to contend openly with. So he
resigned his ill-gotten plunder, and slunk off rubbing his shoulders,
while Ben picked up "Snarley-yow," which he had pitched away in the
beginning of the fray, and somewhat too tired to re-climb his favourite
look-out, threw himself on a patch of grass hard by. From that hour the
friendship of little Bill Smith and Ben was sealed and cemented by
Bill's giving and Ben's taking me as an offering, each ignorant that I
had really originally belonged to Sam. The latter was too cowardly to
reclaim even his own, and therefore contented himself from that time by
lavishing every petty but secret malignity he could devise upon the two
friends. But Ben very speedily left Dewberry, and went to the Naval
School, and gave me with one or two more especial favourites to Frank

"I believe I am the next delegate," said a fine bright, speckled marble,
rolling forward; "and I consider it only candid to warn you that I am
not what I may appear to be. My outward looks would lead you to suppose
I was made of agate, or polished stone at least, but I have really been
the innocent cause of so much deception that I think it only right to
state at the beginning that I am only composed of some species of
chinaware, so highly glazed as to appear like a better material. We
found a very ready sale at the better class of toy shops and were very
popular among the young fry, who cared more for outward looks, and were
not so skilful in selecting really good articles as the bigger boys.

"I was purchased at the "Civet Cat," in Brompton, by little Augusta
Finekyn, as a present for her brother Fred on his approaching birthday,
and as I cost the large sum of fourpence, she had saved a month's pocket
money for the purpose. She intended to keep me as a profound secret
until the auspicious day; but her plan was really defeated by several
unlucky mishaps. First of all, she dropped me in the middle of a crowded
crossing, and was very nearly run over by an omnibus in her search for
me, and only rescued by the old crossing sweeper. The paper in which I
had been wrapped was so saturated with mud, that she was obliged to take
it off and wrap me in a corner of her pocket handkerchief. When she
arrived at home she took off her things, forgetting me in her hurry, and
ran down to dinner. During that meal, having occasion to want her
handkerchief she drew it out of her pocket and me with it, sending me
rolling among the dishes and plates, to her great dismay. However,
Freddy was good-natured, and did not wish to vex his little sister, and
so he pretended not to see me. Three days intervened before the
birthday, and incessantly during that time did luckless Augusta contrive
to drop me about in the oddest places, putting Fred's gravity and good
humour to the sorest test possible, and I think both were equally
relieved when the day arrived at last, and she was able to present it in
due form. Fred had plenty of marbles of a better kind and more suitable
for playing, but he did not vex his affectionate little sister by
telling her so. For a long time I was kept in his desk with a funny
jumble of other odds and ends not often wanted, but never exposed to
view, for poor Fred on first returning to school had innocently
exhibited me as an _agate_ marble, fully believing I really was so. But
a more knowing boy, the son of a working jeweller who was on the same
form with him, soon undeceived him, and from that time, with natural
disgust at having been "so green," as his schoolfellow said, Fred
carefully buried me in the recesses of his desk, and showed me no more.

"When he left school I went back among his other valuables, and was
buried for many years in his old play-box. But one day I was rummaged
out with a host of other antiquated things and laid on the table. A very
smart young lady in a gay muslin dress, plentifully be-dropped with
knots of ribbon, seemed to be "tidying up" as she called it; a process
that appeared to me to consist in routing out and clearing away all the
old hoards, and making the room as bare as an empty shop.

"'Oh dear,' she laughed, as I tumbled out with the rest of the boyish
treasures; 'here's that wretched old marble, which was _not_ agate after
all. The little horror! Here, Jane, give it to Cook; she wanted a marble
the other day to put into her tea-kettle, and this will be just the
thing for her.'

"And so I was consigned to Cook, and for many months continued to roll
and rattle about in the bottom of her horrid old black tea-kettle,
accumulating all the disagreeable "fur," as she called it, that is
generally found lining the inside of a kettle where the water in use is
very hard. My pretty streaks and spots soon disappeared beneath this
dreadful covering, and no one now--not even Fred Finekyn himself--(far
less the airyfied young lady, into whom my early admirer, Augusta, had
merged), would have recognised the gay and polished marble in the rough,
stony-looking lump that made such a dull clatter in the kettle.

"But all things come to an end, even long captivities, and so one happy
day saw me, still an inhabitant of the old kettle, sold at the sale,
which took place when the Finekyns went "abroad." After this I resided
for some time at a marine store-shop, and there my house and I parted
company, and I was sent once more into the world as a marble, for the
kettle was sold elsewhere, and I was dropped out during the examination
of the old woman purchaser. When I was picked up, the shopman soon
finding out that I was worth looking at, cleaned me, and restored me to
a faint likeness of my former show, and sold me for the reduced price of
twopence to an eager school boy. After a good many vicissitudes and
changes, I came into Frank Spenser's possession, and became, with the
rest, an inmate of the toy-cupboard."

The Ball, spying another little marble rolling forward as if to speak,
returned thanks to them for their three stories, and called on the
Rocking-Horse to be the next entertainer.




"I could tell you lots of stories," said the Rocking Horse, stumbling
and limping forward, as lightly as he could with his mutilated members,
"for I have really seen so much of life, and have had so many little
riders in turn. There was my first owner, dear bright golden-haired
Charlie, "Bonnie Prince Charlie," as he was called by all, with his
bright smile, and sunny eyes, and his musical laugh. He was going to be
a knight-errant, and ride about all over the country, rescuing
distressed damsels, and setting captives free, and fighting at least ten
people at once! There was a pretty little girl, who used to come
sometimes to spend the day with his sisters, and Charlie was very fond
of her, calling her his princess. Little Julia was a nice child, and was
never better pleased than when she was mounted on me behind Charley,
with her fat arms clasped tight round his waist. The stories that boy
used to invent, surpassed anything I ever heard before or since; I am
sure he must have read a good deal, and remembered it all too, to be
able to describe the things he did. And Julia used to cuddle up to him,
and say what he bid her, for she was a sweet, docile little thing, but
she did not understand a tenth part of what he told her, and she used to
get so frightened, and cling so tight, and call out 'O Charlie, don't
rock so hard, please,' when he grew excited and set me off at first rate
speed. And then Charlie used to say, 'You must not say that, Judy; you
ought to say, Pray lessen your speed, gallant knight, your war charger
is so fleet!' and Julia would say so, and all went smoothly enough till
Charlie went off again full pelt, and then the whole thing was gone over
again. But one day, one warm summer evening, Charlie was a little more
wild than usual, and forgetting what he was about, he rocked too
furiously, and down we all came together. It did not much matter to
Charlie and me, for it was neither our second nor third tumble, and he
used only to jump up again, and rush to see whether I was damaged,
before he looked at his own bruised knees, and say, 'That was a horrid
spill, old boy, but never mind, we haven't damaged _your_ knees,

"But this time it was a more serious case, and I lay uncared for, while
Charlie scrambled hastily up, and, like a brave boy, looked first after
his poor little playmate. She was more hurt than either, and lay moaning
piteously, till Charlie ran in a fright and fetched his mother. When the
doctor came, as he did pretty quickly, he said poor Julia's little fat
arm was broken, and she could not be removed, even home. Oh, what a sad
time that was; the whole household seemed to watch night and day over
the little patient sufferer, and poor Charlie roamed about in a
miserable and distracted way that was quite sad to see. She was
delirious and in some danger for a time; and while it lasted Charlie
came and sat by me and told me all his sorrow in the most disconsolate
way in the world.

"'You've broken _your_ leg, gallant grey,' he said to me; 'but then the
carpenter can mend that with no great ado, and _I've_ sprained my ancle,
but that's nothing, for it does not hurt much, and I can easily bear
that; but I wish we had both broken all our legs, before dear little
Julia had been hurt. I'm afraid I shall never be a good knight now!'

"And then he laid his head on his knees, and actually cried bitterly.
But all turned out better in the end, for the doctor cured Julia, and
when the patient little girl grew better, all her care was to comfort
Charlie, and she left her own mother (who had come to nurse her), no
peace until she had formally forgiven Charlie. But poor contrite Charlie
could not so readily forgive himself, and as a proof of his real wish to
cure himself of his careless habits, he gave me away to Philip Reeves,
an old friend of his, taking tender care to have me effectually mended
up, and bidding me a most affectionate farewell. I did not like my new
home very much, for though I had carried double before, little Julia was
a mere feather weight, and Charlie rode very lightly; but the Reeves's
children mounted me two and three at a time played rude, practical jokes
and treated me with all sorts of indignities. Once the little wretches
actually set Tom on me with his face to my tail, and then called me a
donkey, and shouted out, 'Gee up, Neddy!' And as for falls, we were
always tumbling about,--my entire occupation was tumbling about. They
dragged off all my pretty harness in tatters, by way of hauling me up
again, and then replaced it with a horrid lot of common rope. As for my
tail, oh, that was too bad! That abominable little Annie, the baby, got
hold of me after one of my falls, and by the help of nurse's scissors,
which had been dropped just by, she managed to shear all the hair off
close to the stump, and disfigured me for life. Then another of my legs
was broken, past mending. And so I lost all my good looks by degrees. To
finish my troubles, the two younger boys took it into their heads that I
wanted rubbing down, and they set to work with a vengeance, with the
help of the nursery bath and a hard hair brush, and by the time they
were found out, the nursery was swimming, and my poor complexion gone
for ever!

"No one could stand that, and patience won't last for ever, so you
cannot be surprised at my running away, and I think I managed my escape
pretty luckily. One Saturday night, when the workwoman was there, her
son came to fetch her home, and she somehow smuggled him into the empty
nursery to wait until she was ready to go home with him. The children
had all been put in their bath, and packed off early to bed, and Susan,
the nursemaid, had run downstairs for a few minutes' gossip in the
kitchen. Bob, the boy, began to eye me with great attention, and at last
he drew near and began to play with me. His mother went to put on her
bonnet and shawl, and Bob seized the opportunity.

"'You be a tidy pony!' said he, 'will you go along with me?'

"As I made no objection, and indeed was glad to go, he whipped me up in
his arms, ran down the back stairs and off with me like a shot. I was in
a dreadful fright for fear we should be found out, I can tell you, for
there was a wretched small woolly toy-dog, an old enemy of mine, and the
little horror barked with all his might, and tried to give the alarm.
But luckily for me, little Annie had that day poked a pin through the
kid over his sound-hole, and so he had almost lost his voice, and was
not heard at all. When I came to reflect on the matter calmly, I must
own it _was_ rather an undignified method of running away, but I was too
anxious at the time to escape, and did not think much about it. Bob
hurried down some back lanes and byeways till he reached his own door,
and then he rushed in, and running upstairs, hid me under his bed. He
was up in the morning long before his mother, and got me out into the
back-yard, hiding me behind the old water-butt. Bob's mother happened to
be that week very busy, and away every day, so that he easily kept me
out of the way. There was a nice hue and cry at the Reeves's when the
children found out I had vanished, and Bob's mother came home each day,
giving him a full history of the loss, little suspecting he was
concerned in it.

"But evil deeds seldom meet with thorough success, and so Bob found out,
for a playfellow of his, it seems, had watched enough of his proceedings
to find out that all was not right, and one day he attacked him on the
subject. Bob was in a terrible fright, and at last made up his mind to
take me back to the Reeves's again, hoping to smuggle me in after the
same fashion he had brought me away. I was not much improved, as you may
fancy, after being stabled so long behind that dirty tarred barrel.
Indeed, I think the Reeves's children might almost have met me without
recognising me. But they were not destined to be put to the trial, for
just as Bob got near to the door, out sallied a whole tribe of the young
ones, bound for a late walk. Bob beat a precipitate retreat, and pitched
me headlong into a big laurel hedge, near the gate. As it proved
afterwards, the children had not seen me, and so there I lay all night,
when a drenching rain came down, and washed off all the paint I had
left. I was now a poor wreck of a thing, and did not look as if I was of
any value, and I was so out of heart and miserable, that I did not care
what became of me. So when I was picked out of the hedge by Bill Soames,
and carried to his cottage-home as a precious treasure, I was resigned
to my fate. Horses, said I to myself, are peculiarly liable to these ups
and downs of life, for, as we all know, the spirited racer that wins the
Challenge Cup, may end his days harnessed to a cart. And so why should I
lament my fate! I dare say, Bill Soames will be kind to me, and he looks
as if he could ride. And so he could too, and many a prance we had on
the brick floor of that old cottage, for in spite of my lame legs and
docked tail, there was a little life and spirit left still in the poor
old nag. And through all my life, I have been _very_ lucky in one thing,
my foundations were good! Let what would happen to my legs or tail, at
any rate, my rockers never came off! So I could get on pretty fairly
even now, and Bill was as proud of me as if I had been a real flesh and
blood steed.

"Many and many a box on the ears did he get from his mother, for picking
her lilac or her roses to stick in my ears; and the day when she gave
him some old scraps of dirty ribbon was a joyous day for him. The only
pity was that his wish to adorn me to the best advantage led him in a
weak moment to accept the proposal of George Hall, the little painter,
who offered to make me as good as new! I can't bear to think of it, much
less describe _that_ operation, and you may take my word for it I should
have run away again, if I had not been tied up to the leg of the great
wooden table. Bill remarked that he had seen the farrier singe and clip
horses, and he always took good care to tie them up tight first. And so
there I was at their mercy, and I came out of their hands such a figure,
that I only wonder the nervous old cat, who lived there too, did not
have a fit at the first sight of me. I had been painted black, with
great white spots, just like big white wafers plentifully besprinkled
all over me; and they had picked out my eyes and nose with such bright
red borders, that it looked as if I breathed fire and flame, and I
should have made a capital steed for the Fire-King in the pantomime.
Bill was so delighted with me, that when I was dry and fit to be
touched, he took more pains and care of me than ever. He stabled me in a
corner, always offered me a share of his supper (but, as you may
suppose, I don't eat bread and cheese), and covered me over from the
dust with the counterpane of his own bed.

"So I was obliged to make the best of it, and bear my terrible
disfigurement as well as I could, for the sake of the good, warm-hearted
lad, who loved me so very dearly. And at last I got used to my new
colour, and even the atrocious spots, for everybody round was always
admiring me, and praising my beauty; and I began to think I was not so
very bad after all, till one day, when the memory of all my reverses and
troubles seemed to come back over me like a thunderbolt. I was standing
out on the little green space before the cottage, in the sun, as I often
did, for Bill was very fond of mounting and riding in the sight of all
passers by. There was a low green quickset hedge dividing the cottage
garden from the road, and a open wooden gate. I heard a voice say, 'I'll
be shot if that ain't the very likeness of him. If he were only of a
dirty white, and hadn't no spots, I'd say for certain it were he.
There's a lump in his hind leg looks uncommon like the jine where he
were broken!'

"Just at this moment, George Hall and Bill came out of the cottage door,
and the speaker shuffled off rather fast, but not until I had managed to
catch a glimpse of him, and had recognised my old friend Bob, with whom
I had first eloped. And the very next day, when I was out as usual, who
should come by but "Bonnie Prince Charlie," hand in hand with little
Julia. I declare the few hairs of my mane and tail fairly stiffened at
the sight of them, and I longed to be able to trot out like a fairy
horse and ask them to get on my back, and let me carry them off to some
delightful island, and make them a real prince and princess! Dear little
Julia, she had not quite got back her nice rosy fat cheeks, but her eyes
were as bright, and her merry voice as sweet as ever, as she prattled
merrily to Charlie, who watched over her in the most careful way,
guarding the poor lame arm quite jealously from harm. I heard them
before I saw them, and knew their dear voices, bless them! in a moment.

"'You shall have a carriage and pair, Judy, at least,' said Charlie,
'and a gentle mare for riding on, with a long tail and flowing mane. And
you will be able to plait them up with ribbons, as Camilla did, you
know, for Black Auster.'

"'I would rather have a little Shetland pony,' said Julia, 'I'm _so_
afraid of big horses, Charlie!'

"'Why a pony is the most dangerous of all, Julia,' replied Charley with
a learned air; 'it is so much more frisky, and apt to run away. But
we'll take care to have one that's warranted to carry a lady.'

"'But I'm not a real grown-up lady yet, am I?' said the innocent little
girl, turning her blue wondering eyes full on Charlie, who she evidently
thought the most wonderful hero in the world. Charlie laughed, and
pulled her curls, and said he hoped _he_ should be able to take better
care of her when he was bigger, 'better than I _have_ done, Ju,' he
added, somewhat dolefully; 'I shall not forget that spill with Gallant
Grey in a hurry. What a jolly horse he was too, and how delighted I was
when Papa let me choose him at that lovely shop in London, where they
sell nothing but horses, and a little girl sits and rocks on one in the
window, you know. Poor old Gallant Grey, I wonder how he's getting on,
and whether Phil Reeves has had as many spills as I have. But halloa,
Ju, here's a queer thing! why, if there is not a rocking-horse in that
little garden!'

"As Bonnie Prince Charlie and his little princess stood hand-in-hand at
the gate and peeped at me with surprise through the rails, I could have
eaten my head with vexation to think I could not even neigh a "how d'ye
do?" to them.

"'My eyes,' said Charlie, as he slowly turned away, 'what an old nag
_that_ is! not a bad made animal, but what a colour, and what spots!
What can he be? Perhaps they're going to have Guy Faux on horseback, and
are getting ready the steed!'

"And off went Charlie and Julia, and I could hear their merry voices
ringing with laughter, for a long way down the lane. If it had only been
in my nature to cry, I should have shed red hot tears of vexation,
enough to burn up the little grass plat I stood on. I never saw Charlie
and Julia again, and lived for a long while a sort of humdrum existence
with Bill Soames. But life seemed very flat after that sad
mortification, and I never went on the little grass plat again without
remembering it. And time passed on, and when Bill grew bigger and went
out to work, he gave me away to another chum, who was a horrid sailor
boy, and had no more notion of riding than a teaspoon. He soon grew
tired of me, and passed me on to some one else. And so have I served
many masters, and have in my time been kept in some very queer stables.
But I never cared for any of my subsequent owners so much as I did for
Charlie, and Bill Soames, for they were all dull, uninteresting boys,
who treated me as a mere toy, and cared less for me than a top or a

"When I came to Harry Spenser, however, I began to think I was going to
have a sort of second life, and be happy once more. The first thing that
made me take to him was that he saved up his pocket money till he could
afford to have me re-painted. I was now a bright bay, with a white star
on my forehead, and though I bore a good many marks of ill usage and
former accidents, and both my knees were broken, still at a distance I
looked pretty well. Harry's little brother, Frank, thought me
perfection, and christened me "Bay Middleton," and had many a pleasant
ride on me. But Harry was just in all the delight of the perusal of the
Arabian nights, and could think of nothing but the Enchanted Horse, and
he played at being Prince Firouz Schah, till I was quite tired of it. He
drove two huge nails in my neck to serve for the two pegs that he was to
turn, the one to raise him up among the clouds like a bird, and the
other to lower him to earth once more. The latter peg is still here, as
you may see, behind my ear, but they never performed that feat with me,
for Harry was not magician enough to endow me with flying powers. He
tried very hard to get Celia to play the part of the Princess of Bengal,
but though she was very willing and obliging, and tried to do what he
wished, she was too big to ride behind him, and he did not think her
quite majestic enough for the part. At last, when Harry went off to
Eton, I was put away here, and though for a time I indulged in a faint
hope that he might look for me on his return for the holidays, I was
disappointed, and even Frank has never looked for me since. And so now,
my friends, I have given you a history of all that has befallen me,
including the famous episode of my running away."

The Toys, who had been much amused by the relation of the Rocking Horse,
more particularly by the grave manner in which he spoke, to which his
very rackety and dilapidated appearance lent a ludicrous effort, now
thanked him very heartily for his story, and proceeded to call on the
Skipping-rope for the next story.





"Story," said the Skipping-rope, "to be sure you shall have it, and a
very queer one it is, quite the oddest of the lot, I rather think. But I
shall be very happy to begin it at once, if the Kite will be so good as
to disentangle his tail."

"Pshaw," growled the Kite, "why, I was obliged to tell mine while you
were tugging at me all the while. Two or three times, when I had
something very particular to say, you pulled my tail, suddenly, and I
lost the thread of my discourse. So tit for tat, my friend, do you
unwind your yarn, and I won't serve you any worse than you did me."

The Skipping-rope, finding she could not gain her point, gave herself a
spiteful wriggle, which nearly tore off the grand tassel at the end of
the Kite's tail, and set off full gallop in her recital, leaving him no
breathing time to complain:--

"I began life," said she, "as a mere length of rope, although I only
form now a small portion of the coil to which I belonged. I was the
property of a poor fisherman, who lived in a hut belonging to a cluster
of storm-beaten cots, called by great courtesy, the 'village' of
Rocksand, in Devonshire. All the people who lived there were very poor,
and gained a precarious living by fishing, while their wives occupied
the spare time left after "keeping house, and minding the childer," by
cultivating the very small bits of garden ground that belonged to them,
and which were situated on the top of a very lofty cliff, some height
above the nestling cottages which were huddled under its shelter on the
shore, not so very far above the high tide line. Indeed, in stormy
weather, the rough seas which churned up the restless pebbles on the
beach, sent their waves in very adverse weather, and during winds that
set dead in shore, into somewhat disagreeable nearness to the doorsteps!
And as for the spray, well! in storms it put out the fires, by falling
down the low wide chimneys, but in ordinary weather people never minded

"As for the children, they were like little ducklings, and directly they
were big they took to the water like young Newfoundland puppies; and
while they were too small for that, they played in it, and made "sand
pies," for there was no mud there, and became dirty and draggled, and
therefore happy to their heart's content. And a rare hardy, ruddy set
they were, living on the very scantiest and coarsest fare, and thriving
on the salt fresh breezes, like young giants, as they were. My owner was
a tall, strong young man, who supported his wife and two little ones by
his own incessant hard work. He was a capital climber too, and was very
fond of scrambling about the face of the cliff in almost inaccessible
places for birds' nests and eggs, of which he had quite a large
collection. He used to blow and preserve the eggs, replace them in their
pretty and curious nests, and then offer them for sale in the
neighbouring town. He also collected the samphire growing on the rocky
masses that jutted out into the sea, and for which his wife found a
ready sale in the town market. They were frugal, hard-working people,
but they often found it very difficult to provide food and clothing for
their little ones, and to keep the boat and nets in good repair. I am
proud to say I was a very useful member of the family, and was wanted
everywhere. During the intervals of time, when my services were not
required in the boat, I did duty as a clothes line, which rather grated
against my dignity, for I fancied it was not the sort of work I ought to
be set to do. However, I consoled myself with the reflection that I had
nothing to do with common clothes props or garden walls, for I was
generally stretched out on the beach, in a sheltered nook behind the
cottage. One end was tied fast to an old mast that now bore a
weathercock, and the other was fastened to a ring in a piece of rock,
near by. So I was patiently contented to hold up all the family wardrobe
to dry, for it was not a very large one, and I knew every time exactly
what I should have to carry. And the sea winds were very obliging, and
dried all the clothes so fast, that my patience was not much tested.

"I tethered the little boat to her landing-place close by, and many a
time has Mary been only too glad to lay hold of me, when her husband
threw me ashore, after a long night's buffeting with the winds and
waves. Even little Robin came behind her and gave fierce tugs at me, to
"draw daddie home again!" Once I saved his father's life, so precious to
all that little family, for he would have been sorely missed, while
there were so many young mouths to feed. It so happened on the day I
mean, that he had taken me out with him, not a usual thing unless it
threatened stormy weather. But that morning, when he set out early, the
sky was as blue and cloudless as on a bright summer's day, and there was
hardly a puff of wind going. He put up his little sail, but it flapped
almost lazily against the mast, and he and his "mate," as he called the
old boatman (who was a sort of second partner in the boat and fishing
gear), had to take to their oars and row to the fishing stakes and nets.
They had taken a good stock of fish, and were thinking of getting back
with the tide, when a sudden squall arose, beginning with "the little
black cloud, as big as a man's hand," and ending in a fierce wind, that
soon lashed the sea up into big mountains of waves. The fisherman, while
prudently watching and carefully managing his sail, had stood on the
seat of the boat, but a sudden gust coming as the wind chopped round to
another point, he stepped hastily on the side, his foot slipped on the
wet edge, and he overbalanced and fell into the raging waves. The old
boatman, who was used to mishaps at sea, dropped the tiller, and rushed
to his mate's assistance, and when he came to the surface threw an end
of my rope to him. By the help of this and the oar, he managed with some
difficulty, and after he had swam some time alongside, by my help to
drag him on board again, though with no small danger of upsetting the
frail skiff. They were some time in getting back, for the poor fellow
was rather exhausted by his ducking and long swim in the water, and
could not pull the oar with his usual skill. After that feat, I was
still more valued, and invariably taken out in the boat in case of
future accidents.

"And now the summer came on, and with it the busiest time of the women
of Rocksand, for most of them were hard at work early and late in their
little patches of garden ground. The fishermen generally left all these
matters to their wives, but my master was an industrious young man, and
was not particular what he turned his hand to, so that he might often
have been seen in the potato ground, hoeing and weeding, while his mates
were lying on the shore watching the weather or smoking their pipes at
the cottage doors. Just now, the crop of potatoes was being dug, and so
John Pike and his wife were hard at work on their ridges. It was a long
trudge from the village, and the weather was hot, so Mary had brought
both her children with her. The youngest, about two years old, she had
laid on an old shawl under the hedge, and there he sat propped up, and
mighty busy over a basket of shells she had brought up for him to play
with. The elder boy, about five, was trotting about very soberly, so
that they did not watch him perhaps as keenly as they ought, and so he
scrambled through a hole in the fence to the next field, and somehow
managed to tumble into the old well there. The fright of his parents on
hearing his shrieks may be imagined but not described, and they both
rushed to the direction the sound came from. John soon saw what was the
matter, and running back, snatched me hastily up, and ran to the side of
the well. It was luckily an old one, long unused, and in consequence of
the dry weather had but little water. It took John very few seconds to
throw one end of me hastily but tightly round a tree close by, and let
himself down. He got hold of the little fellow, and climbed out again
with my help, laying him on the grass, when he got him out. For a long
time they thought the child was dead; but they carried him home, and
very luckily met the village doctor on their way, by whose skill, after
long, long persevering efforts he was brought slowly to life. But for
many a month after that he was ill from the combined effects of the
shock, the bad air, the fright, and the water. Indeed, as the doctor
said, he must have spent a cat's nine lives in getting through it at

"It was a sad trial for poor John and his wife, although they bore it
patiently enough, only thankful that their Robin was spared to them. But
his mother had no time to give to her crops now, and John had more than
he could manage with his fishing besides, and was not able to make it as
profitable as usual. But all their poor neighbours were very kind to
them, and would always bring in any bit of more tempting food than they
usually had, for poor little Robin. He lay patient enough on his hard
bed, and was very cheerful and bright when his illness would allow it.
His father had delighted him beyond measure by tying me to the top of
his bed, so that he could drag himself up into a sitting posture by my
help, and he fancied himself quite a sailor, and used to lie there
smiling, and talking in a low voice to himself about the ropes and
rigging of a ship. Old Bill, the boatman, his father's mate, had made
him a little boat, and while he was finishing it, he used to sit by poor
Robin's bedside, and tell him all about the different parts of a ship,
so that the child (who was naturally quick, and was now no doubt made
more so by his illness, and long rest), soon became quite knowing about
the different sails and ropes.

"'This is a sloop, Bill, aint it,' he used to say, ''cause she's only
got one mast. I should like to have a brig with two masts, and lots of

"Poor little Robin! he was never well again, for, as it seemed
afterwards, his spine had received some injury from the fall, which it
never recovered. He only lived to be twelve years old, and during that
time could never get about like other boys, and was continually laid up,
especially in the cold winter season, for months together. But as his
body became so weak, his mind seemed to grow instead, and he was more
like a man than a child in his thoughts and ways, though _always_
patient. He improved on his old tutor's lessons too, and became quite a
skilful boat maker, and turned out some very pretty little wooden models
of ships and boats, all properly rigged, which his mother sold for him
in the market at the town hard by. He was able by these means to add a
little to the family fund, and though his gains were, of course, but
small, it was better than being a helpless burthen upon his poor
parents, and the light work whiled away many a weary hour of suffering
and pain for him. Through all the years that had passed since his
accident, I had been left still tied to the tester of his bed, and I
still served to help him to drag up his feeble limbs, and to turn in
bed, for he was very feeble, poor fellow.

[Illustration: JACK IN JEOPARDY. _Page 188._]

"But I was destined to play an important part once more, and for the
last time in the family history. When Robin was about twelve years old,
there came a very severe winter, which was sorely felt all through the
little fishing village, and by none more heavily than the poor
fisherman's family. The fishing turned out badly, and the previous
potato crop having been a scanty one, they barely found enough to live
upon. Poor Robin had been more than usually delicate and ailing during
that winter, and suffered more than the rest from all the privations.
The spring drew on drearily enough, cold, dull, and cheerless, so that
there scarcely seemed a glimpse of hope of better days. One day when
John was almost out of heart and hope, he set off on a long ramble,
hoping by diligent climbing and search to find at any rate a few rare
birds' nests in the crevices of the cliffs. Everything had gone worse
even than usual, there had been no fish caught worth mentioning for many
days, and John's poor old patched and mended nets were rapidly falling
to pieces in spite of all his care, while he was not able to buy enough
bread for the little household, not to mention material for new nets. So
he climbed wearily on, and rounded rock after rock, meeting with but
little success, till at last he had reached a long distance from home,
and had climbed a good way up one of the tallest cliffs in the
neighbourhood. He was rewarded by finding a couple of rare nests full of
eggs, and with renewed hope he climbed eagerly on. He saw one just a
little above him, but in a very awkward place to get at, for there was a
cleft in the rock he must leap over to get at it. He had a steady head
and a light foot, and took the leap without hesitation, when, to his
horror, as he alighted on the other side a piece of the mouldering stone
broke off, and fell rolling down with a loud noise, crumbling to pieces
as it bounded down the sharp rocky face of the cliff. There was now too
wide a space between for him to risk the return, and there he stood on a
narrow ledge of rock, with the sharp peaks and the roaring sea beneath
him, and a steep wall of cliff stretching up above his head. John Pike
was a brave man, and had been used to face many a danger, but the blood
seemed to leave his heart, and his breath almost stopped, as he
understood the full peril of his position. It was indeed a serious one,
and as he thought over the scant chance there was of any help or rescue,
he covered his face with his hands and groaned in agony for those at
home, more than for himself. And while he stood there, despairing of all
human aid, many a prayer went up from his heart's core to God for help
for the sake of his wife and poor Robin. And then he set to work with
all his best energy to make his terrible position known. He had
fortunately a handkerchief in his pocket, and this he tied to the
walking-stick he always took with him on his climbing expeditions. He
shouted at frequent intervals in the hope of making some one hear, and
at last, to his great joy, he espied a little figure below on the
distant beach! It was a poor shrimper, with her nets on her back,
returning home, and she saw at a glance how the case stood, and hastened
at once to the village to give an alarm. In a shorter space of time than
could have been hoped even, John saw a number of his fellow fishermen
hastening down the beach to him. He could not catch their words, but he
understood from their signs that they found it would be impossible to
get him down again, and so they were going to mount the cliff, and try
and get at him that way. As they passed the village on their way to the
top of the cliff, poor Mary rushed out wildly to them, for she had by
accident heard the truth, anxiously as her kind neighbours had tried to
prevent it. They hastily told her their plans, and asked her for the
longest ropes she had, as they would want all they could get. She
hurriedly dragged me down, and rushed after them, for, as she said, she
could not stay at home, while her husband was in such peril, and she
must see the worst with her own eyes. When they reached the top of the
cliff, the fishermen hastily rigged up a sort of rude windlass, and
knotting the lengths of rope firmly together, they succeeded in making a
line long enough to reach him, and firm enough to bear him. It was an
anxious time, while they gradually drew him up the steep face of the
cliff. They did not dare to pull quickly, for fear he should be dashed
against the rock and lose his hold, and they were also afraid of grazing
the rope against the jagged rocks. But at last, with great care, and by
his own prudent management and skill in guiding the rope, he was landed
safely on the top of the cliff. Poor Mary was so overjoyed at his
escape, that when they all turned to go home, and were tying up the rope
again, she caught me up, and declared she should value me to her dying
day. Strangely enough, I was the only rope that was damaged of all, for
I had been chafed a good deal against the rock, and in one place was
nearly cut through. For a long while after Mary shuddered so at the
sight of that piece of me, that at last Robin, who had regained
possession of me, cut me through. The longer piece was kept for the
boat, and the shorter length you now behold was tied up again for poor
Robin's use as before.

"There was not one in the village who did not heartily rejoice at John's
rescue; and it almost seemed as if after that things had come to the
worst, for they began to mend. There were more fish taken than had been
known on that coast for many years, and the weather proved most
fortunate for getting in the humble crops, so that John had some new
nets at last; and the poor family had enough to eat. But better food and
brighter days could not save poor Robin; the long winter had told too
heavily upon him to enable him to rally again. By the time the
blackberries were in flower on the top of the cliff, Robin had faded
away, like their leaves, but very patient, very happy to the last. His
mother had fancied him asleep, as he lay so quietly with one of my ends
still held fast in his wasted fingers. His mother fretted so for him,
and took his loss so sadly to heart, that it was pitiable to see her.
The sight of his vacant bed, and the cord still hanging there, seemed to
go like a knife to her heart; and therefore John took me away one day
without her knowledge, and put me out of sight.

"I was forgotten for many years, so many indeed, that when I next came
to daylight I found everything strange and altered in the cottage. John
and his wife, grown old and past work, had gone to live in another
house, better sheltered from the wind, and one of their children, now
married, had settled there instead. I was tossed about for a long while,
for no one now living knew my real history, and had therefore little
value for me, and indeed I was more especially held in dislike by the
young ones, as affording them just that taste of "the rope's end" that
they did not covet.

"The end of my career was that of being tied round a box, when one of
the daughters went to service, and left Rocksand, and thus I came to
town. My life here had nothing remarkable in it; I was put to my present
use one day when one of the young Spensers was taken with a passion for
skipping. They declared I was heavier and better than all the smart
skipping-ropes to be bought at the toy shop, and made such continual use
of me, that I am really almost threadbare. But I was poked away in this
cupboard on the occasion of some great nursery clearing, and here I have
lived ever since."

"How you must have regretted your freedom," said the Kite, in a
sympathising tone; "I feel myself sometimes quite what I may call
sky-sick! I would give all my tassels and fringes for one more good
flight through the clear air. When I think of the bright sun, and the
nice fleecy clouds, I am almost inclined to tumble to pieces for grief,
to think I can't get out of this horrid, dusty stuffy hole of a toy
cupboard, as they call it! A prison _I_ consider it, and a cruel one

"I _would_ give anything I could," sighed the old Skipping-rope, "for
even one breath of the fresh salt sea breeze. I think of the dancing
waves glittering in the sun, till I feel quite giddy. But it is no use
repining, and after all, really this little break on the monotony of our
existence is very pleasant."

"It _is_ very pleasant," assented the Ball, "but I am afraid our time
to-night at any rate grows very short, for it is almost dark, and that
terrible old woman will be coming back. So with your leave, my friends,
I will call upon the Humming Top for his story."





The Humming Top, who had begun to fear he should not be allowed a chance
of speaking at all, and who felt just a little put out at coming so late
in the list, gave himself a majestic twirl, and spun for a minute or two
before he condescended to speak. At last, when he had reached a
commanding position, he leaned gracefully back, and commenced his story
in a very grand manner and air:--

"As I perceive, my friends, that your curiosity is more directed to our
adventures in the world, than to our origin and construction, and as few
of you have discoursed upon your native places and earliest histories, I
will not trouble you with mine. Sufficient to the purpose is it that I
made my first appearance in the world on a large stall in the Soho
Bazaar, which was then in all its early glory. I was then, I may say,
splendid in appearance, for I was painted in many brilliant hues, and
there was no lack of gilding about me, so that when I was properly spun,
I appeared like a gorgeous flower, all one mass of dazzling hues.
Indeed, when the lady who superintended the stall took me out of the
folds of silver paper in which I was carefully wrapped, she laughed, and
said to her assistant, 'why surely this must be the King of the Humming
Tops!' I was placed in a very prominent position among all the gay toys
which adorned the counter, and I must say they were all exceedingly nice
in their behaviour, and paid a great deal of respect to me. Many
pleasant days I passed there with my companions, for I was of a rather
high price, and those were dear times for articles of luxury and
pleasure. We had no cheap twopenny and penny toys then, for it was long
before Christmas trees became generally known in England. I have always
regretted the inroads of those new comers, because they have introduced
so many cheap toys--penny toys, indeed; fancy a whole stall devoted to
penny toys!"

"I must beg entirely to disagree with you," interrupted the Ball; "I for
one most distinctly say, that I don't see why all these simple pleasures
should be kept for rich children only. I am sure our friend, the Teapot,
in the course of her story, gave us a very truthful description of the
value of toys to the poor children."

"If I may be allowed to speak again," said the Teapot, eagerly, "I would
say with all my strength that I am glad of the cheapness of common toys.
I am sure the Humming Top has never seen what I have; how should he,
mixing up, as he has done, with only the better class of playthings? But
if I were asked," continued the little motherly Teapot, getting quite
warm on the subject--"if I were asked 'What was the good of toys?' I
should reply, 'To please poor children.'"

"I quite agree with you," remarked the Toy Kitchen; "and though, as I
said before, I am not very clever at explaining my meaning, I should
like to say a few words too. I have spent most of my life among the
poor, as I have told you before, and I have often thought that whoever
invented toys must have meant them first of all for the poor, more
particularly the poor little children who live in great cities. Now,
there is an old proverb, I often heard my old master repeat, that 'All
work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,' and he said it was the truest
word ever spoken. And if the better-off children want a little play to
liven up their days, when they are fed with plenty of good food, and
live in pure air, their hardest work being book lessons, what must poor
children do, who very often earn their very scanty living from the
cradle almost? Our good friend, the Teapot, has told us how the sight of
a halfpenny toy will bring such delight to little dim eyes, and skinny
faces, as must be pleasant to see; so I for one say with all my might,
'Prosperity, and plenty of it, to the cheap toys!'"

The Humming Top was quite disgusted with this long discussion, and
pooh-poohed it all as very low; but the number of votes was against him,
so with an offended roll round, he took up the thread of his story.

"Well, there is no accounting for tastes, and so I will say no more,
only that I have been brought up so entirely among people of the better
classes, that I cannot say much on any other subject. I told you before
that I lay for some time unsold, on account of the highness of my price,
and during that time made acquaintance with many sets of
companions,--dolls, boxes of soldiers, and various others. At last, to
my great joy, I was selected by a lady for her little daughter, and
taken home to a very nice large house in Russell Square.

"Little Mary was an only child, and was therefore the idol of her
parents; but, although she was much indulged, she was not by any means a
spoiled child. Used as she had been from her cradle to the companionship
of much older persons, she was a quiet, well-behaved little damsel
enough. Her father and mother were not at all young, and having neither
brothers nor sisters to play with, Mary naturally knew and felt little
of the riotous gaiety of a child. The nursery was as tidy and as neatly
arranged as any room in that handsome but formal house, and the _litter_
of playthings was not much known there in those days. Mary had one or
two dolls, very smartly dressed, but the prim little damsel played with
them in a sort of grave, old-fashioned, motherly way that had no
childishness in it. Her books were kept on a small bookshelf hung up on
purpose, and her toys were put away in orderly fashion in a drawer.

"How happy I was! for I was used carefully and well, never flung
violently about or used roughly, and my little mistress had a dainty way
of spinning me that would have won the affection of the hardest and
sternest of Humming Tops. During all the years I lived with her, I never
saw her look untidy, or with a spot or soil on frock or pinafore, nor
did I ever know her to be anything but placid and gentle, very happy but
very grave. So it was no wonder her father and mother loved her so
dearly, and lavished on her every comfort and pleasure that money could
purchase. And she grew up to be a very sweet, quiet girl, the comfort of
her old parents, and beloved more in her own home than anywhere else.
She did not care for gaiety much, nor wish to go to many parties or
plays, and even when she did, she was so modest and retiring in her
manner that she was often passed over without much notice, and very few
would have known her for the rich heiress that she was. And this of
course, you know, was long after we had parted company. For, strange to
say, she seemed to grow younger in some things, as she grew older in
years, and when she was fifteen or sixteen, she looked more of a child
than she did when she was really little. She had a simple, earnest way
with her that was very pleasant, and she was fond of her old toys till
she grew up. I don't mean to say she played with us then, but she valued
us as the treasures of her childhood, her happy childhood, and put us
carefully away as old friends. Indeed, as far as I am concerned, I may
even date our intimate fellowship far later than this, for when she was
a woman grown, she would often take me out in a sort of musing way, and
say, 'Come, old Busy Bee, and give me a little of your humming?' She
called me 'old Busy Bee,' you must know, as a sort of pet nickname. And
you may be sure I put on my best waltzing powers, and hummed like twenty
Dumbledores in a churn! And as she grew up she had plenty of suitors,
and her parents wished her to go out sometimes to grand balls and
parties, so that she was much admired and followed. I have often known
her come home from one of these, and come into her room, and, throwing
off her rich dress and ornaments, she would sit down by a little table
and take me out and spin me in a sort of absent way.

"'Busy Bee, there are plenty come wooing to little plain, quiet Mary;
what shall she say, Busy Bee? Come, hum me an answer!'

"And then I hummed away loudly, and told her that she was so good and
sweet, that she was fit for any lord in the land. But she would always
wilfully misunderstand me, and she would reply:--

"'You are right, Busy Bee! I must never leave the dear father and
mother; if the king himself came a wooing, I would make him a low
curtsey, Busy Bee, like this, and say, 'No, I thank your Majesty!''

"But at last a day came when the kind, loving old father was taken ill,
and carried to his long home, and his faithful old wife did not very
long survive him, and so poor Mary was left all alone. I say poor Mary,
for though she had plenty of money, and houses, and dresses, and fine
jewels, not to speak of hosts of busybody relations who were always
looking her up, she had lost the tender love that had been her joy from
infancy. And hers was one of those loving natures that are shaken to the
very core of their hearts by these heavy sorrows, which break up all the
firm foundations of a young life, and that however bravely they may be
borne, as they were indeed in her case, poor dear, are long felt, and
suffered. Our merry evening gossips had ceased for a long time, and
indeed I had almost begun to fancy I was intended to be the inhabitant
of the drawer for the rest of my life. An old Fan who had slipped in
with us by accident, told me that Mary had been abroad for many months
with an aunt of hers, and that she might not return for some time. One
night, however, I heard an unusual bustle in the neighbourhood, and
presently our drawer was pulled open by a hand whose touch thrilled me
in a moment, for I knew it was that of my dear mistress.

"'Poor old Busy Bee,' said she, softly, 'you and I have not hummed
together for a long while, so come out of your hiding place, old friend,
and hum away as pleasantly as you used to do!'

"As you may suppose, I was not slow to obey the summons, and I was soon
spinning and humming on the table before her, and telling her in my way
how very glad I was to see her once more. But she did not listen to me
this night, and even let me roll off the table more than once, holding
me in one hand after she picked me up, and absently threading me without
the key.

"'Well, Busy Bee,' she said at last, softly, 'we are going a long, long
journey, and I daresay shall not see the old house again for many, many
years! I wonder if you will hum as well in India, Busy Bee, or whether
the hot, sultry air there will cause you to be drowsy. But it does not
matter whether it is hot or cold, so long as you are happy! Go back to
night to your place in the drawer, and to-morrow you shall be packed
carefully away in one of those grand new trunks Morris is so proud of
and so busy over. You will have a trip on the deep, deep sea, and when
you next come out you will perhaps see palm trees and black people! You
will have to learn Hindostanee, Busy Bee, and forget all your English
ways of humming.'

"Then my mistress put me carefully back in the drawer, and I lost no
time in telling the fan what delightful things were in store for us, and
we both dropped asleep planning what we should do in India, though not
before we had had a vehement quarrel, for the Fan gave herself such
airs, and said we were going out entirely on her account, for that she
had many relations in that country, and the heads of the family were
called Punkahs, and were high in office there. But we were both doomed
to disappointment, for time passed on, and we never came out of our
drawer after all. We did not know any more until a long, long while
afterwards, when we were routed out of the drawer by accident, by the
old housekeeper. 'Bless my heart, Ann,' said she, 'dear Miss Mary, or,
as I should say, Mrs. Warren, never took her poor little old treasures
after all. I suppose Morris forgot to look in this drawer, for I know
she cleared all the rest. I'll be bound how sorry she was when she
unpacked at Calcutta, and missed them. If we get a chance, Maynard,
we'll send these over to her, when another box goes.'

"This was a terrible blow to us, to find that our dear young mistress
had married and gone away to India without us. The fan was inconsolable,
and led me such a life with her groans and sighs that I wished myself
anywhere else, and could only hope old Mrs. Jones would be as good as
her word and send us over. But she never did, and there we lay no doubt
for many years almost untouched. From what I could find out from stray
bits of news, the house was left in the charge of the old Aunt with whom
Mary had lived after the death of her parents, and who now had two
daughters living with her, both middle-aged women, and one of them a
widow. So there were no young children in the house, and we never heard
merry voices nor pattering feet, nor saw any little faces in the
deserted room. I was always of a more quiet nature, and so I bore my
long captivity better than the Fan did. She, poor frivolous, fluttering
thing, could only lament over the balls and parties she had once known,
and sigh over her imprisonment.

"But the longest day must come to an end at last, and so ours did, for
we were aroused from our lethargy by a little shrill voice, which cried,
'O Mamma, which is the drawer where the toys were kept?'

"'Here, my darling,' answered a soft, low voice, which vibrated through
every fibre of both the fan and myself, for we recognised the tones of
our dear mistress once more. And then we saw her too, for the
long-closed drawer was opened at last, and we beheld her, a slender,
sweet-looking woman, with her little daughter, Ellen, by her side. We
could have fancied from her size that our own little Mary was there
again, but when she looked round, her sallow complexion, bright,
restless eyes, and long dark hair, plainly bespoke the little
Indian-born child.

"'May I have all these for my very own, dear Mamma?' asked she, in her
little eager voice.

"'Yes, Nelly, you may if you like, on condition you take care of my poor
old playthings, especially this Humming Top, which I used to call my
Busy Bee, Nelly, when I was young. It was given to me when I was a
little child; but then _I_ was very careful of _my_ toys, and put them
away neatly when I had done with them, very unlike a little girl I know,
but we won't mention names, who destroys her toys sadly.'

"But Nelly was too busy over her fresh hoard to listen to any warnings,
and for a little while she kept her word, and put us away when she had
done playing with us. But this did not last long, for she was a careless
child, _very_ different to her dear mother. I had been secretly hoping
that my good mistress would take me under her especial charge again, and
that I should see a little more of her. But I suppose she was too busied
with her many cares and occupations now, and she had so long broken off
all her old habits and ways of thinking, that she hardly seemed like the
same. But you see she had been away all these years, and perhaps passed
through many changes, and had lost these old memories to which we clung
so fast.

"As for Nelly, Oh! what a child she was, as different to her mother as
night to day; noisy and active, restless and wild spirited, the old
house echoed as it had not done for many generations. There was more
untidiness, uproar, and trouble in one week now than had been seen in
three years before. As for the poor old nursery, how Mrs. Warren could
come in as calmly, and smile as she did, seeming pleased at all the
disorder and her little girl's high spirits--_rudeness_, _we_ called
it--we could never understand. The poor Fan used to wave mournfully at
me sometimes with the few sticks she had left, and really I almost
believe we half regretted our old quiet. Miss Nelly was more fond of the
Fan than anything, and gave it plenty of employment, almost wearing it
out in doing so; but she turned up her little pert nose at me, and
called me a prosy old drone! Yes, actually, you may well be surprised,
but after I had been spinning with all my might, and humming the best
air I knew, she would push me roughly from her, and go off to something
else. To be sure it was her way with everything, for she brought home a
number of pretty Indian toys, all made of wood, and painted in very gay
colours with beautiful varnish; but these she utterly despised and flung
about. They would have been quite tip-top society at a bazaar or in a
fancy fair, and the poor things felt their degradation keenly, only
being foreigners, they could not make themselves so easily understood.
But I could repeat such tales to you that they told me of their native
country, and their makers!"





Just at this moment the Humming Top was suddenly interrupted by a
violent, loud noise which checked his humming pretty quickly, and
startled all the rest of the toys so much, that they rolled and rattled
back into their shelter, the toy cupboard, as speedily as they could.

"Vich of the painters is a coming to-morrow, Seusan, my child," said old
Mrs. Jones, the charwoman, as she popped her head in at the door, and
held up a tall dip in a tin candlestick to see if all was safe.

"Well, I thought I'd a shet up these here windows," said she, "but I
s'pose I didn't, and the wind must have blowed the cupboard door open,
and sent these here old playthings all over the room. Come in, my dear,
and just help me to put them in again, will ye?"

And with Susan's help, old Mrs. Jones made a complete, clean sweep of
all the poor dilapidated toys, huddled them roughly back into their
cupboard, and shut the door, not only turning the button firmly, but
locking it as well.

"Them painter chaps," said Mrs. Jones, as she put the key in her great
dimity pocket, "isn't to be trusted no ways. They're as likely to shy
all them old playthings out o' winder as not, and then the poor children
would miss 'em when they come home."

And so the room was once more left to stillness and darkness for the
night. The little mice came out and ran riot about the bare floor, and
tried to get into the cupboard, but they could not manage it; and the
crickets chirped loudly in the distant kitchen, for they were so used to
Mrs. Jones, they did not mind her a bit. But the poor toys were really
shut up again, and their holiday ended much quicker than they had
expected. They heard the distant sounds of the workmen all over the
house, and even heard them come into the nursery itself, but they saw
nothing more. They could even hear the regular dabs and sweeps of the
painter's brush, especially when he was at work on the door that shut
them up so closely, and then afterwards they heard the paper hangers
ripping off the old papers with a rushing noise, and scraping and sizing
the walls for the new paper, but they never got out.

Then the next sounds that greeted them, after a long interval, were the
voices of Mr. Spenser and old Mrs. Jones. He had come to see how the
house looked after the workmen had left, and she was showing him all
over it.

"The nursery looks very nice, sir," she said, as she opened the door,
"the old dirty paper all gone, and new paint, you can hardly know it
again. This here new paper, to my mind, with the trails of roses and
jessamy, is the prettiest in the house!"

"It looks very clean and bright certainly," replied Mr. Spenser, "but
why don't you open this door too? You can't have too much air!"

"This is only a cupboard, sir," answered Mrs. Jones. "There were a lot
of old playthings left here, and I thought them painters might fling 'em
about, so I just turned the key, sir, but I'm going to clean it right
down to-morrow. I thought, sir, that may be, the young ladies and
gentlemen might be put out if they found all their little things losed.
But here's the key, sir, in my pocket, and now they're all off the
premises, there's no need to keep it locked up."

"Quite right, Mrs. Jones," said Mr. Spenser, "I'm very glad you had so
much thought. I don't know how Nurse came to overlook this cupboard."

"Why, there, she had such a deal to do with packing up all the things,
sir," replied Mrs. Jones, "that t'aint to be wondered at, and its all
safe enough to my certain knowledge;" and then, after a little fumbling,
she unlocked the door, and threw it wide open, disclosing all the heap
of old toys huddled up together.

"Well this _is_ a queer collection!" said Mr. Spenser, laughing; "a
regular museum of antediluvian playthings! Where on earth could they
have come from? I don't remember seeing the children with any of these,
even any time back! However, shut them up, Mrs. Jones, till the children
come home, and then we'll enquire into the matter!"

Again was the door shut, and the Toys consigned once more to quiet and
darkness, but this time only the button was turned, and not the key, so
they slumbered peacefully enough and with the hope of freedom before
them. And next morning if they had not a holiday to themselves, they had
at any rate a little fresh air and sunshine. They were all turned out on
the floor, while Mrs. Jones brought her pail and scrubbing brush, and
gave the cupboard one of her "good cleans," as she called them. And when
it was all thoroughly dry, which she had taken care to hasten by setting
the windows and doors open, she came back and began to replace the Toys.

"Now I've cleaned the cupboard, I s'pose I'm bound to tidy up the
playthings," said she to herself; "anyhow I'll dust 'em a bit."

How they all quaked as they came under her hands, for she did dust them
with a vengeance! She rubbed and scrubbed them with an old piece of tea
cloth, she tugged asunder the Kite and the Skipping-rope in a lively
manner, that ended in the loss of half his long tail and much of his
fringe, she shook the dust out of the old Doll, and almost all the
little life and bran she had left with it; she mixed up the Tea-things
and Marbles in a bowl of cold water, and then dry rubbed them with a
hard duster; she bumped the Ball, she flapped the Toy Kitchen, she
rubbed down the Rocking Horse till his last leg fell off; in short she
cleaned them all, up and down, till they hardly knew whether they were
wood or tin! She finished up by arranging them all after her own fancy
on the shelf of the cupboard.

"Well really," said she, taking a step backward to survey the general
effect, "it looks almost as nice as a toy shop!" And in the pride of her
heart at her own work, she left the door ajar, that it might not be lost
upon the family. And by-and-bye the housemaid and cook returned from
their holiday, and they set to work and unpacked all the furniture out
of the lumber room and replaced each article in its proper position. And
the carpenter came and nailed down the carpets and put up the curtains,
and the work proceeded fast and merrily, for they were all expected home
the next evening. So the Toys heard and saw more life around them than
they had done for years, but they were not able to resume their gossips,
for there were people in and out the whole day; and even by night they
were not alone, for the cook slept in the room on a hasty-shake down
bed, so as to be able to get every other room settled. And when the
evening came, the arrival of the family was soon made known by the noisy
bustle of the children and the clatter all over the house. The mice
trembled with fear behind the wainscots, and the crickets shrunk back
into their farthest holes, for they understood well enough that their
reign was over for the present. As for the Toys, they rather rejoiced
than otherwise, for they had been in their time used to human
companionship, and after their lonely captivity, were not sorry to
welcome it once again.

And as for the children, they were boiling over with wild spirits and
merriment at their return to such a pleasant, bright home. They rambled
all over the house, and held solemn councils in each room as to the new
paper and paint, and were altogether thoroughly happy. Their long visit
by the seaside had done them a world of good, for the fresh salt breezes
had seemed to send new strength to every fibre of their bodies and rosy
colour to their cheeks, although the sun had done his part so well, that
they were tanned of a healthy brown as well as red. Indeed, as Frank
said, they had all had a coat of paint too, only that it was of a light
mahogany colour!

When Miss Watson came next morning, she was so hugged, and welcomed, and
talked to eagerly by all three at once, that after enduring it patiently
for a little while, she laughed gaily, and said:--

"My dears, I really must say to you, as the French king did to his
courtiers and the donkey, when they all deafened him with their clamour,
'one at a time, gentlemen, if you please!' for while Celia prattles in
one ear, and Florry gabbles in the other, and while Frank dances before
me and shouts into both, I am quite unable to understand one word from
either. You are not more rejoiced to see me than I am to welcome you all
back, especially my dear Celia," said Miss Watson, as she affectionately
drew Celia close to her and kissed her, "for I see I have been a true
prophet, and that you have found the roses I promised you. So I think,
as this morning evidently is not likely to be spent in lessons, I must
take you one at a time and hear all you have to tell me, only remember,
gentlemen, it must be one at a time!"

They all laughed heartily, and promised to comply with her desire, and
so, as Frank said he could not keep his word if he stayed there, for he
should be sure to begin telling her some of his adventures, he went off
to the garden to see how that was getting on, and whether the scarlet
runners in his little plot bid fair to give him one dish of beans that
year. Florry was so eager to talk to Miss Watson, and so full of
chatter, that by common consent she was banished to the nursery, where
she made a descent upon the open toy cupboard, and routed them all about
till they hardly knew what had come upon them. Meanwhile Miss Watson and
Celia had a very pleasant chat upon all that had happened during the
holidays. And presently Mrs. Spenser came in, and greeted Miss Watson

"It does seem so good to be at home again," she said. "We have enjoyed
our trip immensely, and the young folks have benefited by it so much
that I quite rejoice in it. Don't you think Celia is looking blooming
again, Miss Watson. You were quite right in your predictions; the nice
rambles and drives on the beach, and a fair amount of sea bathing, have
indeed brought back her rosy cheeks. And Frank is all the better for it
too, so I think the change will quite set him up before he goes to
Westminster. And I don't know whether they told you that dear Harry came
to us from Winchester, and was with us the whole time, which was a great
treat, especially to me; and, dear boy, he enjoyed it so much. He is
grown such a fine fellow, Miss Watson, you would hardly know your old
pupil, and he is now gone to spend the rest of his vacation with his
uncle Henry, in the Isle of Man."

"I am sure it has done you all good," replied Miss Watson, "but I must
confess, my dear Mrs. Spenser, the change for the better in yourself
seems to me the best of all. You were looking so worn and thin when I
last saw you, that I observed to my sister I thought _you_ were the
person who needed change most!"

"I believe I did," answered Mrs. Spenser, smiling; "I had been feeling
far from strong for a long while, so that the rest and freedom from care
has been a real holiday to me. But I _am_ so glad to get home once more,
indeed, I believe one of the great blessings in going away lies in the
pleasure of coming back; and all looks so fresh and bright, it is like a
new house!"

"Mamma, Mamma," cried Florry, eagerly, "we have found all the old toys
we thought we had lost! There was a cupboard in the nursery, which Nurse
says she had lost the key of for a long while--and she thought it was
empty. Do come and see, Celia; there's your old doll, and the
skipping-rope, and all Harry's marbles, besides the big kite, and such a
lot of things." "Oh!" said Celia, clapping her hands and dancing round
the room, "it's like Ali Baba's hoard of riches, and Frank says it's a
regular treasure of Toys!"



  Transcriber's notes:
   1. Extensive normalisation of " (used for direct speech) and '
      (used for speech-within-speech).
   2. Corrected "could'nt" to "couldn't".
   3. Replaced "roley poley" with "roley-poley" for consistency.
   4. Corrected "surburban" to "suburban".
   5. Corrected "I can, myself remember" to "I can myself remember"
      (superfluous comma).
   6. Corrected "and done her hair." to "and done her hair?"
      (? missing in original)
   7. Corrected "usually termed 'Jean'" to "usually termed 'Jean,'"
      (comma missing in original)
   8. Corrected "lovedher" to "loved her".
   9. Corrected "wont" to "won't".
  10. Corrected "the fellow to he" to "the fellow to ye".
  11. Corrected "Mrs. Spencer's" to "Mrs. Spenser's" (typo 3x).
  12. Corrected "The Story of the Leaden Tea-things" (ToC) to "The
      Fate of the Leaden Tea-things" (used in text).
  13. Corrected "The Toy Kitchen and its Maker" (ToC) to "The Toy
      Kitchen; and its Maker" (used in text).
  14. Corrected "pantomine" to "pantomime" (typo).
  15. Corrected "belonging" to "belonged" (typo).
  16. Corrected "is'nt" to "isn't".
  17. Corrected "such a lot of things. Oh!" to "" such a lot of
      things." "Oh!" (change of speaker).
  18. Changed for consistency: playbox to play-box, kindhearted to
      kind-hearted, goodnatured to good-natured, "penn'orth"
      to "pennorth".
  19. Corrected "drivin" to "drivin'".
  20. Corrected "hav'nt" to "haven't".

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales of the Toys, Told by Themselves" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.