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´╗┐Title: Very Short Stories and Verses For Children
Author: Clifford, W. K., Mrs., -1929
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 "Very Short Stories and Verses For Children" ***

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[Illustration: "APPLE BLOSSOM, I AM WAITING; ARE YOU HERE?" _P_. 14]







_With Illustrations by Edith Campbell._



These stories, with the exception of the first one, are reprinted from
two little books--"Children Busy," etc., and "Under Mother's Wing."
They were then only signed with my initials. Some of the verses appear
now for the first time.

L. C.




MASTER WILLIE                       9

SWINGING                           17

THE WOODEN DOLL                    18

WATCHING                           20

THE LIGHT ON THE HILLS             22

WRITING A BOOK                     25

THE RABBIT                         27

THE SANDY CAT                      28

ON THE WAY TO THE SUN              30

IN THE MOONLIGHT                   33

THE POOR LITTLE DOLL               35

THE VIOLETS                        37

THE FIDDLER                        39

THE BROKEN HORSE                   40

THE RAINBOW-MAKER                  41

OVER THE PORRIDGE                  43


THE PROUD BOY                      47

SEEKING THE VIOLETS                49

TOMMY'S STOCKINGS                  51

MIDSUMMER-NIGHT                    52

THE LITTLE MAID                    54

WAR                                55

PEACE                              56

MY LITTLE BROTHER                  58

THE KITE                           59

THE TINKER'S MARRIAGE              61


ROUND THE TEA-TABLE                64

TOMMY                              67

THE SWALLOWS                       69

A FIRST LOVE-MAKING                71

SMUT                               72

SEE-SAW                            74

THE BAD GIRL                       75

MORNING TIME                       78

THE PINK PARASOL                   80

THE SISTERS                        82

THE WHITE RABBITS                  83

THE WOODEN HORSE                   84

THE DUCK POND                      86

THE LITTLE MAID                    88

THE DONKEY ON WHEELS               89

COCK-A-DOODLE                      91


GOOD-DAY, GENTLE FOLK              94


There was once a little boy called Willie. I never knew his other name,
and as he lived far off behind the mountain, we cannot go to inquire.
He had fair hair and blue eyes, and there was something in his face
that, when you had looked at him, made you feel quite happy and rested,
and think of all the things you meant to do by-and-by when you were
wiser and stronger. He lived all alone with the tall aunt, who was very
rich, in the big house at the end of the village. Every morning he went
down the street with his little goat under his arm, and the village
folk looked after him and said, "There goes Master Willie."

The tall aunt had a very long neck; on the top of it was her head, on
the top of her head she wore a white cap. Willie used often to look up
at her and think that the cap was like snow upon the mountain. She was
very fond of Willie, but she had lived a great many years and was
always sitting still to think them over, and she had forgotten all the
games she used to know, all the stories she had read when she was
little, and when Willie asked her about them, would say, "No, dear, no,
I can't remember; go to the woods and play." Sometimes she would take
his face between her two hands and look at him well while Willie felt
quite sure that she was not thinking of him, but of someone else he did
not know, and then she would kiss him, and turn away quickly, saying,
"Go to the woods, dear; it is no good staying with an old woman." Then
he, knowing that she wanted to be alone, would pick up his goat and
hurry away.

He had had a dear little sister, called Apple-blossom, but a strange
thing had happened to her. One day she over-wound her very big doll
that talked and walked, and the consequence was quite terrible. No
sooner was the winding-up key out of the doll's side than it blinked
its eyes, talked very fast, made faces, took Apple-blossom by the hand,
saying, "I am not your doll any longer, but you are my little girl,"
and led her right away no one could tell whither, and no one was able
to follow. The tall aunt and Willie only knew that she had gone to be
the doll's little girl in some strange place, where dolls were stronger
and more important than human beings.

After Apple-blossom left him, Willie had only his goat to play with; it
was a poor little thing with no horns, no tail and hardly any hair, but
still he loved it dearly, and put it under his arm every morning while
he went along the street.

"It is only made of painted wood and a little hair, Master Willie,"
said the blacksmith's wife one day. "Why should you care for it; it is
not even alive."

"But if it were alive, anyone could love it."

"And living hands made it," the miller's wife said. "I wonder what
strange hands they were;--take care of it for the sake of them, little

"Yes, dame, I will," he answered gratefully, and he went on his way
thinking of the hands, wondering what tasks had been set them to do
since they fashioned the little goat. He stayed all day in the woods
helping the children to gather nuts and blackberries. In the afternoon
he watched them go home with their aprons full; he looked after them
longingly as they went on their way singing. If he had had a father and
mother, or brothers and sisters, to whom he could have carried home
nuts and blackberries, how merry he would have been. Sometimes he told
the children how happy they were to live in a cottage with the door
open all day, and the sweet breeze blowing in, and the cocks and hens
strutting about outside, and the pigs grunting in the styes at the end
of the garden; to see the mother scrubbing and washing, to know that
the father was working in the fields, and to run about and help and
play, and be cuffed and kissed, just as it happened. Then they would
answer, "But you have the tall lady for your aunt, and the big house to
live in, and the grand carriage to drive in, while we are poor, and
sometimes have little to eat and drink; mother often tells us how fine
it must be to be you."

"But the food that you eat is sweet because you are very hungry," he
answered them, "and no one sorrows in your house. As for the grand
carriage, it is better to have a carriage if your heart is heavy, but
when it is light, then you can run swiftly on your own two legs." Ah,
poor Willie, how lonely he was, and yet the tall aunt loved him dearly.
On hot drowsy days he had many a good sleep with his head resting
against her high thin shoulders, and her arms about him.

One afternoon, clasping his goat as usual, he sat down by the pond. All
the children had gone home, so he was quite alone, but he was glad to
look at the pond and think. There were so many strange things in the
world, it seemed as if he would never have done thinking about them,
not if he lived to be a hundred.

He rested his elbows on his knees and sat staring at the pond. Overhead
the trees were whispering; behind him, in and out of their holes the
rabbits whisked; far off he could hear the twitter of a swallow; the
foxglove was dead, the bracken was turning brown, the cones from the
fir trees were lying on the ground. As he watched, a strange thing
happened. Slowly and slowly the pond lengthened out and out,
stretching away and away until it became a river--a long river that
went on and on, right down the woods, past the great black firs, past
the little cottage that was a ruin and only lived in now and then by a
stray gipsy or a tired tramp, past the setting sun, till it dipped into
space beyond. Then many little boats came sailing towards Willie, and
one stopped quite close to where he sat, just as if it were waiting for
him. He looked at it well; it had a snow-white sail and a little man
with a drawn-sword for a figure-head. A voice that seemed to come from
nowhere asked--

"Are you ready, Willie?" Just as if he understood he answered back--

"Not yet,--not quite, dear Queen, but I shall be soon. I should like to
wait a little longer."

"No, no, come now, dear child; they are all waiting for you." So he got
up and stepped into the boat, and it put out before he had even time to
sit down. He looked at the rushes as the boat cut its way through them;
he saw the hearts of the lilies as they lay spread open on their great
wide leaves; he went on and on beneath the crimson sky towards the
setting sun, until he slipped into space with the river.

He saw land at last far on a-head, and as he drew near it he understood
whither the boat was bound. All along the shore there were hundreds
and hundreds of dolls crowding down to the water's edge, looking as if
they had expected him. They stared at him with their shining round
eyes; but he just clasped his little goat tighter and closer, and
sailed on nearer and nearer to the land. The dolls did not move; they
stood still, smiling at him with their painted lips, then suddenly they
opened their painted mouths and put out their painted tongues at him;
but still he was not afraid. He clasped the goat yet a little closer,
and called out, "Apple-blossom, I am waiting; are you here?" Just as he
had expected, he heard Apple-blossom's voice answering from the back of
the toy-town--

"Yes, dear brother, I am coming." So he drew close to the shore, and
waited for her. He saw her a long way off, and waved his hand.

"I have come to fetch you," he said.

"But I cannot go with you unless I am bought," she answered, sadly,
"for now there is a wire spring inside me; and look at my arms, dear
brother;" and pulling up her pink muslin sleeves, she showed him that
they were stuffed with sawdust. "Go home, and bring the money to pay
for me," she cried, "and then I can come home again." But the dolls had
crowded up behind, so that he might not turn his boat round. "Straight
on," cried Apple-blossom, in despair; "what does it matter whether you
go backwards or forwards if you only keep straight when you live in a
world that is round?"

So he sailed on once more beneath the sky that was getting grey,
through all the shadows that gathered round, beneath the pale moon, and
the little stars that came out one by one and watched him from the sky.

I saw him coming towards the land of story-books. That was how I knew
about him, dear children. He was very tired and had fallen asleep, but
the boat stopped quite naturally, as if it knew that I had been waiting
for him. I stooped, and kissed his eyes, and looked at his little pale
face, and lifting him softly in my arms, put him into this book to
rest. That is how he came to be here for you to know. But in the
toy-land Apple-blossom waits with the wire spring in her breast and the
sawdust in her limbs; and at home, in the big house at the end of the
village, the tall aunt weeps and wails and wonders if she will ever see
again the children she loves so well.

She will not wait very long, dear children. I know how it will all be.
When it is quite dark to-night, and she is sitting in the leather chair
with the high back, her head on one side, and her poor long neck
aching, quite suddenly she will hear two voices shouting for joy. She
will start up and listen, wondering how long she has been sleeping, and
then she will call out--

"Oh, my darlings, is it you?" And they will answer back--

"Yes, it is us, we have come, we have come!" and before her will stand
Willie and Apple-blossom. For the big doll will have run down, and the
wire spring and the sawdust will have vanished, and Apple-blossom will
be the doll's little girl no more. Then the tall aunt will look at them
both and kiss them; and she will kiss the poor little goat too,
wondering if it is possible to buy him a new tail. But though she will
say little, her heart will sing for joy. Ah, children, there is no song
that is sung by bird or bee, or that ever burst from the happiest lips,
that is half so sweet as the song we sometimes sing in our hearts--a
song that is learnt by love, and sang only to those who love us.



    Swing, swing, swing,
        Through the drowsy afternoon;
    Swing, swing, swing,
        Up I go to meet the moon.
    Swing, swing, swing,
        I can see as I go high
    Far along the crimson sky;
        I can see as I come down
        The tops of houses in the town;
        High and low,
        Fast and slow,
        Swing, swing, swing.


    Swing, swing, swing,
        See! the sun is gone away;
    Swing, swing, swing,
        Gone to make a bright new day.
    Swing, swing, swing.
        I can see as up I go
        The poplars waving to and fro,
        I can see as I come down
        The lights are twinkling in the town,
        High and low,
        Fast and slow,
        Swing, swing, swing.


The wooden doll had no peace. My dears, if ever you are a doll, hope to
be a rag doll, or a wax doll, or a doll full of sawdust apt to ooze
out, or a china doll easy to break--anything in the world rather than a
good strong wooden doll with a painted head and movable joints, for
that is indeed a sad thing to be. Many a time the poor wooden doll
wished it were a tin train, or a box of soldiers, or a woolly lamb, or
anything on earth rather than what it was. It never had any peace; it
was taken up and put down at all manners of odd moments, made to go to
bed when the children went to bed, to get up when they got up, be
bathed when they were bathed, dressed when they were dressed, taken out
in all weathers, stuffed into their satchels when they went to school,
left about in corners, dropped on stairs, forgotten, neglected, bumped,
banged, broken, glued together,--anything and everything it suffered,
until many a time it said sadly enough to its poor little self, "I
might as well be a human being at once and be done with it!" And then
it fell to thinking about human beings; what strange creatures they
were, always going about, though none carried them save when they were
very little; always sleeping and waking, and eating and drinking, and
laughing and crying, and talking and walking, and doing this and that
and the other, never resting for long together, or seeming as if they
could be still for even a single day. "They are always making a noise,"
thought the wooden doll; "they are always talking and walking about,
always moving things and doing things, building up and pulling down,
and making and unmaking for ever and for ever, and never are they
quiet. It is lucky that we are not all human beings, or the world would
be worn out in no time, and there would not be a corner left in which
to rest a poor doll's head."


    Dear father's ship is very near,
    We'll blow him kisses, baby dear,--
      He may come home to-day.
    A happy wind that journeys south
    Seems just to linger round my mouth,
      Then bear a kiss away.

    Come, baby, I will hold you--so,
    We'll watch the waves that outward go,
      And call, "Come back to-day!"
    For father's heart seems always near,
    And who can tell but he may hear,
      Or know the words we say?

    All round and up the cottage wall
    The honeysuckle's grown so tall,
      It sees above the gate;
    The flowers came hurrying up so sweet--
    We told the little seeds they'd meet
      Dear father,--and they wait.

    We first shall see a speck of white,
    Far, far away, there where the light
      Has swept the morning dim;
    So silent will his coming seem,
    'Twill be like waking from a dream
      To wave our hands to him.

    And then, and then he'll hoist you high,
    And swiftly pass the people by,
      Just stopping here and there
    To shake the neighbours by the hand,
    And tell them of the southern land,
      And ask them how they fare.

    He is not very far away,
    For mother said he'd come to-day--
      We knew it by her face;
    She caught you up and kissed you so,
    And now she's busy to and fro,
      And sings about the place.


"I want to work at my picture," he said, and went into the field. The
little sister went too, and stood by him watching while he painted.

"The trees are not quite straight," she said, presently, "and oh, dear
brother, the sky is not blue enough."

"It will all come right soon," he answered. "Will it be of any good?"

"Oh yes," she said, wondering that he should even ask, "it will make
people happy to look at it. They will feel as if they were in the

"If I do it badly, will it make them unhappy?"

"Not if you do your very best," she answered; "for they will know how
hard you have tried. Look up," she said suddenly, "look up at the light
upon the hills," and they stood together looking at all he was trying
to paint, at the trees and the field, at the deep shadows and the hills
beyond, and the light that rested upon them.

"It is a beautiful world," the girl said. "It is a great honour to make
things for it."

"It is a beautiful world," the boy echoed sadly. "It is a sin to
disgrace it with things that are badly done."

"But you will do things well?"

"I get so tired," he said, "and long to leave off so much. What do you
do when you want to do your best,--your very, very best?" he asked,

"I think that I am doing it for the people I love," she answered. "It
makes you very strong if you think of them; you can bear pain, and walk
far, and do all manner of things, and you don't get tired so soon."

He thought for a moment. "Then I shall paint my picture for you," he
said; "I shall think of you all the time I am doing it."

Once more they looked at the hills that seemed to rise up out of the
deep shadows into the light, and then together they went home.

Soon afterwards a great sorrow came to the boy. While the little sister
slept, she wandered into another world, and journeyed on so far that
she lost the clue to earth, and came back no more. The boy painted many
pictures before he saw the field again, but in the long hours, as he
sat and worked, there came to him a strange power that answered more
and more truly to the longing in his heart--the longing to put into the
world something of which he was not ashamed, something which should
make it, if only in the person of its meanest, humblest citizen, a
little happier or better.

At last, when he knew that his eye was true and his touch sure, he took
up the picture he had promised to paint for the dear sister, and
worked at it until he was finished.

"This is better than all he has done before," the beholders said. "It
is surely beautiful, for it makes one happy to look at it."

"And yet my heart ached as I did it," the boy said, as he went back to
the field. "I thought of her all the time I worked,--it was sorrow that
gave me power." It seemed as if a soft voice, that spoke only to his
heart, answered back--

"Not sorrow but love, and perfect love has all things in its gift, and
of it are all things born save happiness, and though that may be born

"How does one find happiness?" interrupted the boy.

"It is a strange chase," the answer seemed to be; "to find it for one's
own self, one must seek it for others. We all throw the ball for each

"But it is so difficult to seize."

"Perfect love helps one to live without happiness," his own heart
answered to himself; "and above all things it helps one to work and to

"But if it gives one happiness too?" he asked eagerly.

"Ah, then it is called Heaven."


"Let us write a book," they said; "but what shall it be about?"

"A fairy story," said the elder sister.

"A book about kings and queens," said the other.

"Oh, no," said the brother, "let's write about animals."

"We will write about them all," they cried together. So they put the
paper, and pens, and ink ready. The elder sister took up a fairy story
and looked at it, and put it down again.

"I have never known any fairies," she said, "except in books; but, of
course, it would not do to put one book inside another--anyone could do

"I shall not begin to-day," the little one said, "for I must know a few
kings and queens before I write about them, or I may say something

"I shall write about the pig, and the pony, and the white rabbit," said
the brother; "but first I must think a bit. It would never do to write
a book without thinking."

Then the elder sister took up the fairy story again, to see how many
things were left out, for those, she thought, would do to go into her
book. The little one said to herself, "Really, it is no good thinking
about kings and queens until I have known some, so I must wait;" and
while the brother was considering about the pig, and the pony, and the
white rabbit, he fell asleep.

So the book is not written yet, but when it is we shall know a great


    The moon is shining o'er the field,
      A little breeze is blowing,
    The radish leaves are crisp and green,
      The lettuces are growing.

    The owl is in the ivy-bush,
      With both his eyes a-winking;
    The rabbit shakes his little tail,
      And sits him down a-thinking--

    "Oh! where are all the dormice gone?
      And are the frogs a-wooing?
    Will no one come to play with me?
      What are they all a-doing?"

    Poor little rabbit, all alone,
      Don't let the master meet you;
    He'll shoot you with his little gun,
      And merrily he'll eat you!


The sandy cat sat by the kitchen fire. Yesterday it had had no supper;
this morning everyone had forgotten it. All night it had caught no
mice; all day as yet it had tasted no milk. A little grey mouse, a
saucerful of milk, a few fish or chicken bones, would have satisfied
it; but no grey mouse, with its soft stringy tail behind it, ran across
the floor; no milk was near, no chicken bones, no fish, no anything.
The serving-maid had been washing clothes, and was hanging them out to
dry. The children had loitered on their way to school, and were
wondering what the master would say to them. The father had gone to the
fair to help a neighbour to choose a horse. The mother sat making a
patchwork quilt. No one thought of the sandy cat; it sat by the fire
alone and hungry.

At last the clothes were all a-drying, the children had been scolded,
and sat learning a lesson for the morrow. The father came from the
fair, and the patchwork quilt was put away. The serving-maid put on a
white apron with a frill, and a clean cap, then taking the sandy cat in
her arms, said, "Pussy, shall we go into the garden?" So they went and
walked up and down, up and down the pathway, till at last they stopped
before a rose tree; the serving-maid held up the cat to smell the
roses, but with one long bound it leaped from her arms and


Ah, dear children, I cannot tell, for I was not there to see; but if
ever you are a sandy cat you will know that it is a terrible thing to
be asked to smell roses when you are longing for a saucerful of milk
and a grey mouse with a soft stringy tail.


He had journeyed a long way, and was very tired. It seemed like a dream
when he stood up after a sleep in the field, and looked over the wall,
and saw the garden, and the flowers, and the children playing all
about. He looked at the long road behind him, at the dark wood and the
barren hills; it was the world to which he belonged. He looked at the
garden before him, at the big house, and the terrace, and the steps
that led down to the smooth lawn--it was the world which belonged to
the children.

"Poor boy," said the elder child, "I will get you something to eat."

"But where did he come from?" the gardener asked.

"We do not know," the child answered; "but he is very hungry, and
mother says we may give him some food."

"I will take him some milk," said the little one; in one hand she
carried a mug and with the other she pulled along her little broken

"But what is he called?" asked the gardener.

"We do not know," the little one answered; "but he is very thirsty, and
mother says we may give him some milk."

"Where is he going?" asked the gardener.

"We do not know," the children said; "but he is very tired."

When the boy had rested well, he got up saying, "I must not stay any
longer," and turned to go on his way.

"What have you to do?" the children asked.

"I am one of the crew, and must help to make the world go round," he

"Why do we not help too?"

"You are the passengers."

"How far have you to go?" they asked.

"Oh, a long way!" he answered. "On and on until I can touch the sun."

"Will you really touch it?" they said, awestruck.

"I dare say I shall tire long before I get there," he answered sadly.
"Perhaps without knowing it, though, I shall reach it in my sleep," he
added. But they hardly heard the last words, for he was already far

"Why did you talk to him?" the gardener said. "He is just a working

"And we do nothing! It was very good of him to notice us," they said,

"Good!" said the gardener in despair. "Why, between you and him there
is a great difference."

"There was only a wall," they answered. "Who set it up?" they asked

"Why, the builders, of course. Men set it up."

"And who will pull it down?"

"It will not want any pulling down," the man answered grimly. "Time
will do that."

As the children went back to their play, they looked up at the light
towards which the boy was journeying.

"Perhaps we too shall reach it some day," they said.


He picked a buttercup, and held it up to her chin. "Do you like
butter?" he asked.

"Butter!" she exclaimed. "They are not made into butter. They are made
into crowns for the Queen; she has a new one every morning."

"I'll make you a crown," he said. "You shall wear it to-night."

"But where will my throne be?" she asked.

"It shall be on the middle step of the stile by the corn-field."

So when the moon rose I went out to see.

He wore a red jacket and his cap with the feather in it. Round her head
there was a wreath of buttercups; it was not much like a crown. On one
side of the wreath there were some daisies, and on the other was a
little bunch of blackberry-blossom.

"Come and dance in the moonlight," he said; so she climbed up and over
the stile, and stood in the corn-field holding out her two hands to
him. He took them in his, and then they danced round and round all down
the pathway, while the wheat nodded wisely on either side, and the
poppies awoke and wondered. On they went, on and on through the
corn-field towards the broad green meadows stretching far into the
distance. On and on, he shouting for joy, and she laughing out so
merrily that the sound travelled to the edge of the wood, and the
thrushes heard, and dreamed of Spring. On they went, on and on, and
round and round, he in his red jacket, and she with the wild flowers
dropping one by one from her wreath. On and on in the moonlight, on and
on till they had danced all down the corn-field, till they had crossed
the green meadows, till they were hidden in the mist beyond.

That is all I know; but I think that in the far far off somewhere,
where the moon is shining, he and she still dance along a corn-field,
he in his red jacket, and she with the wild flowers dropping from her


It was a plain little doll that had been bought for sixpence at a stall
in the market-place. It had scanty hair and a weak composition face, a
calico body and foolish feet that always turned inwards instead of
outwards, and from which the sawdust now and then oozed. Yet in its
glass eyes there was an expression of amusement; they seemed to be
looking not at you but through you, and the pursed-up red lips were
always smiling at what the glass eyes saw.

"Well, you _are_ a doll," the boy said, looking up from his French
exercise. "And what are you staring at me for--is there anything
behind?" he asked, looking over his shoulder. The doll made no answer.
"And whatever are you smiling for?" he asked; "I believe you are always
smiling. I believe you'd go on if I didn't do my exercise till next
year, or if the cat died, or the monument tumbled down." But still the
doll smiled in silence, and the boy went on with his exercise.
Presently he looked up again and yawned. "I think I'll go for a
stroll," he said, and put his book by. "I know what I'll do," he said,
suddenly; "I'll take that doll and hang it up to the apple tree to
scare away the sparrows." And calling out, "Sis, I have taken your
doll; I'm going to make a scarecrow of it," he went off to the garden.

His sister rushed after him, crying out, "Oh, my poor doll! oh, my dear
little doll! What are you doing to it, you naughty boy?"

"It's so ugly," he said.

"No, it is not ugly," she cried.

"And it's so stupid,--it never does anything but smile,--it can't even
grow,--it never gets any bigger."

"Poor darling doll," Sis said, as she got it once more safely into her
arms, "of course you can't grow, but it is not your fault, they did not
make any tucks in you to let out."

"And it's so unfeeling. It went smiling away like anything when I could
not do my French."

"It has no heart. Of course it can't feel."

"Why hasn't it got a heart?"

"Because it isn't alive. You ought to be sorry for it, and very, very
kind to it, poor thing."

"Well, what is it always smiling for?"

"Because it is so good," answered Sis, bursting into tears. "It is
never bad-tempered; it never complains, and it never did anything
unkind," and, kissing it tenderly, "you are always good and sweet," she
said, "and always look smiling, though you must be very unhappy at not
being alive."


The sun came out and shone down on the leafless trees that cast hardly
any shadows on the pathway through the woods.

"Surely the Spring is coming," the birds said; "it must be time to wake
the flowers."

The thrush, and the lark, and the linnet sang sweetly. A robin flew up
from the snow, and perched upon a branch; a little ragged boy at the
end of the wood stopped and listened.

"Surely the Spring is coming," he too said; "and mother will get well."

The flowers that all through the Winter had been sleeping in the ground
heard the birds, but they were drowsy, and longed to sleep on. At last
the snowdrops came up and looked shiveringly about; and a primrose leaf
peeped through the ground, and died of cold. Then some violets opened
their blue eyes, and, hidden beneath the tangle of the wood, listened
to the twittering of the birds. The little ragged boy came by; he saw
the tender flowers, and, stooping down, gathered them one by one, and
put them into a wicker basket that hung upon his arm.

"Dear flowers," he said, with a sigh, as if loth to pick them, "you
will buy poor mother some breakfast," and, tying them up into little
bunches, he carried them to the town. All the morning he stood by the
road-side, offering his flowers to the passers-by, but no one took any
notice of him; and his face grew sad and troubled. "Poor mother!" he
said, longingly; and the flowers heard him, and sighed.

"Those violets are very sweet," a lady said as she passed; the boy ran
after her.

"Only a penny," he said, "just one penny, for mother is at home." Then
the lady bought them, and carried them to the beautiful house in which
she lived, and gave them some water, touching them so softly that the
poor violets forgot to long for the woods, and looked gratefully up
into her face.

"Mother," said the boy, "see, I have brought some bread for your
breakfast. The violets sent it to you," and he put the little loaf down
before her.

The birds knew nothing of all this, and went on singing till the ground
was covered with flowers, till the leaves had hidden the brown branches
of the trees, and the pathway through the woods was all shade, save for
the sunshine that flecked it with light.


    The fiddler played upon his fiddle
      All through that leafy June,
    He always played hey-diddle-diddle,
      And played it out of tune.

    And down the hill the children came,
      And down the valley too:
    I never heard the fiddler's name,
      So cannot tell it you.
      Hey-diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle-dee.

    On--on they came, and when they heard
      That tune so swift and sweet,
    They did not say a single word,
      But shuffled with their feet.

    Then round they went, and round and round,
      All to that cracked old fiddle,
    And still was heard the magic sound,
      Hey-diddle-diddle, diddle-diddle-dee.


They were all very sad, and the girl in the pink frock was crying
bitterly, for they had been to the woods, and on the way home the
wooden horse had fallen over on one side and broken off his head.

"Don't cry so, pray don't cry so," the little one said, as she knelt
down in front of her sister, and tried to kiss her.

"And oh, sister," said the brother, "it would have been far worse if he
had lost his tail too. Besides, perhaps he does not mind much; it is
not as if he were alive."

"Ah, yes," sobbed the tall girl. "But when you are as old as I am you
will know that it is a terrible thing to lose your head, even if it is
only wooden."


The children stood under an archway. Behind them was the blue sky; in
front of them the clear, still lake that wandered and wound about the
garden; above their heads the leaves of a tree whispered and told
strange stories to the breeze.

"Poor tree! it is sighing for the blossoms the wind has carried away,"
they said to each other, and they looked back at the garden. "And, poor
flowers, too," they said, "all your bright colours are gone, and your
petals lie scattered on the ground; to-morrow they will be dead." "Ah,
no," the flowers sighed, "the rainbow-maker will gather them up, and
once more they will see the sun." Before the children could answer, a
tall fair maiden came down the pathway. They could see her plainly in
the twilight. Her eyes were dim with gathering tears, but on her lips
there was a smile that came and went and flickered round her mouth. All
down her back hung her pale golden hair; round her neck was a kerchief
of many colours; her dress was soft and white, and her snowy apron was
gathered up in one hand. She looked neither to the right nor to the
left. She did not utter a single word; and the children could hear no
sound of her footstep, no rustling from her dress. She stooped, and
picking up the fading petals, looked at them tenderly for a moment,
while the tears fell slowly down her cheeks; but the smile hovered
round her mouth; for she knew that they would shine again in the sight
of their beloved sun. When her apron was quite full, she turned round
and left the garden. Hand-in-hand the children followed. She went
slowly on by the side of the lake, far, far away across the meadows and
up the farthest hill, until at last she found her home behind a cloud
just opposite the sun. There she sat all through the summer days making
rainbows. When the children had watched her for a long long time, they
went softly back to their own home. The rainbow-maker had not even seen

"Mother," they said one day, "we know now where the colours go from the
flowers. See, they are there," and as they spoke they thought of the
maiden sitting silently at work in her cloud-home. They knew that she
was weeping at sending forth her most beautiful one, and yet smiling as
she watched the soft archway she had made. "See, they are all there,
dear mother," the children repeated, looking at the falling rain and
the shining sun, and pointing to the rainbow that spanned the river.


They sat down to eat their porridge. The naughty little girl turned her
back upon her sister, and put a large spoonful into her mouth.

"Oh--oh--oh!" she cried, "I have burnt my tongue."

"Eat it slowly," said the good little sister. _She_ took up her
porridge carefully, and after blowing it very gently, and waiting for a
minute or two while it cooled, ate it, and found it very nice.

"I shall not eat mine until it is quite cold," said Totsey, getting

"Then it will be nasty," said the good little sister, still going on
with her own porridge.

"Oh, dear," said Totsey, "if I eat it too hot it burns me, and if I eat
it too cold it's nasty. What shall I do?"

"Take it as I do mine," said the good little sister. "It is the right

"There are two wrong ways and only one right way; it isn't fair,"
sighed the naughty little girl. "And, oh! my porridge is so nasty."
Then she asked, "Did you ever eat your porridge too hot and burn your

"No," answered the good little sister; "I never ate my porridge too hot
and burnt my tongue."

"Did you ever eat your porridge when it was quite cold and very nasty?"

"No," answered the good little sister again; "I never ate my porridge
when it was quite cold and very nasty."

"Well, I have," said Totsey; "and so I know about two things that you
do not know about." And the naughty little sister got up and walked
away, and the good little sister sat still and thought about many



    The baby she has golden hair,
      Her cheeks are like a rose,
    And she sits fastened in her chair,
      A-counting of her toes.
    The mother she stands by the door,
      And all the place is neat,
    She says, "When it is half-past four,
      He'll come along the street."
      And O! in all this happy world
        There's not a sight so sweet,
      As 'tis to see the master, dear,
        A-coming down the street.
          A-coming O! a-coming O!
            A-coming down the street.


    The baby's sister toddles round,
      And sings a little song,
    And every word and every sound
      Says, "Father won't be long."
    And when he comes we'll laugh for glee,
      And then his bonnie face,
    However dark the day may be,
      Makes sunshine in the place.
      And O! in all this happy world
        There's not a sight so sweet,
      As 'tis to see the master, dear,
        A-coming down the street,
          A-coming O! a-coming O!
            A-coming down the street.


There was once a very proud boy. He always walked through the village
with his eyes turned down and his hands in his pockets. The boys used
to stare at him, and say nothing; and when he was out of sight, they
breathed freely. So the proud boy was lonely, and would have had no
friends out of doors if it had not been for two stray dogs, the green
trees, and a flock of geese upon the common.

One day, just by the weaver's cottage, he met the tailor's son. Now the
tailor's son made more noise than any other boy in the village, and
when he had done anything wrong he stuck to it, and said he didn't
care; so the neighbours thought that he was very brave, and would do
wonders when he came to be a man, and some of them hoped he would be a
great traveller, and stay long in distant lands. When the tailor's son
saw the proud boy he danced in front of him, and made faces, and
provoked him sorely, until, at last, the proud boy turned round and
suddenly boxed the ears of the tailor's son, and threw his hat into the
road. The tailor's son was surprised, and, without waiting to pick up
his hat, ran away, and sitting down in the carpenter's yard, cried
bitterly. After a few minutes, the proud boy came to him and returned
him his hat, saying politely--

"There is no dust on it; you deserved to have your ears boxed, but I am
sorry I was so rude as to throw your hat on to the road."

"I thought you were proud," said the tailor's son, astonished; "I
didn't think you'd say that--I wouldn't."

"Perhaps you are not proud?"

"No, I am not."

"Ah, that makes a difference," said the proud boy, still more politely.
"When you are proud, and have done a foolish thing, you make a point of
owning it."

"But it takes a lot of courage," said the tailor's son.

"Oh, dear, no," answered the proud boy; "it only takes a lot of
cowardice not to;" and then turning his eyes down again, he softly
walked away.


All the wood had been blue with violets, but now they were nearly gone.
The birds sang louder and louder to keep them and to call them back,
but soon there was not a violet left in all the wood from end to end.
The snowdrops died, and the primrose faded, the cowslips and blue-bells
vanished, the thorn grew white with blossom, the wild honeysuckle
filled the wood with its fragrance, and soon the fruit began to ripen.

The blackbirds and the swallows and the chaffinches, and all the birds
they knew, gathered round the garden trees and bushes, and forgot the
woods, until suddenly one day they espied a little child. She was
sitting on a chair under a tree; she had a little table before her and
a pink ribbon round her hat; she was eating fruit with a large silver
spoon. The birds were afraid, and held aloof until a sparrow chirped
and the child looked up, and when they saw how blue her eyes were, they
sang out bravely and fluttered round her, thinking that she had brought
them news from the violets. But she never looked up again, though the
birds crowded on to the branch above her, and perched upon the table,
and rubbed their little beaks against her plate. She just held on her
hat with one hand, and with the other went on taking up fruit with a
silver spoon.

"Ah, dear child," a swallow twittered, "perhaps you do not know what is
written in your eyes; so many of us carry secrets that we ourselves
know last of all."


    Two little maids went out one day,
      And really it was shocking!
    They met poor Tommy on the way,
      With holes in either stocking.

    They sat down on a low stone seat,
      And to and fro kept rocking,
    While they knitted, swift and neat,
      Each of them a stocking.

    And sweet they sang a little song,
      The dickie-birds kept mocking;
    And Tommy wished that all day long
      They'd sit and knit a stocking.


The children were very much puzzled what to do, for it was
Midsummer-night, and they knew that there was a dream belonging to it;
but how to come across it they could not tell. They knew that the dream
had something to do with fairies, a queen, and all manner of lovely
things; but that was all. At first they thought they would sit up with
the doors and windows open, and the dog on the steps ready to bark if
he saw anything unusual. Then they felt sure that they could not dream
while they were wide-awake, so three of them went to bed, and one dozed
in a corner of the porch, with her clothes on. Presently the dog
barked, and two children in their night-gowns ran out to see, and one
took off her night-cap and looked out of window; but it was only old
Nurse coming back from a long gossip with the village blacksmith's wife
and mother-in-law. So the dog looked foolish, and Nurse was angry, and
put them all to bed without any more ado.

"Oh," they cried, "but the fairies, and the queen, and the flowers!
What shall we do to see them?"

"Go to sleep," said Nurse, "and the dream may come to you;--you can't
go to a dream," she added, for you see she was just a peasant woman,
and had never travelled far, or into any land but her own.

So the children shut their eyes tightly and went to sleep, and I think
that they saw something, for their eyes were very bright next morning,
and one of them whispered to me, softly, "The queen wore a wreath of
flowers last night, dear mother, and, oh, she was very beautiful."


    A little maid went to market,
      She went into the town,
    And all the things she had to buy
      She carefully wrote down.
    The coffee, sugar, tea, and rice--
      The currant cake for tea,
    And then she had to reckon up,
      And see how much they'd be.

    She sat her down as she came back,
      She sat her down to see
    What they had cost--the currant cake,
      The coffee, and the tea.
    She could not make her money right,
      And yet, how she did try!
    She could not make her money right,
      And oh! how she did cry.

    She's counting still, my dears, my dears,
      She's counting day and night,
    But though she counts for years and years,
      She'll never make it right.
    She'll never make it right--right--right,
      Oh! never any more,
    Though she sits counting--count--count--count,
      Till she is ninety-four.


"I don't like you," said he, in a rage.

"You are a naughty boy," said she, crossly.

"I shall never speak to you again."

"I shall never play with you any more."

"I don't care."

"And I don't care."

"I shall tell of you."

"All right. I shall tell of you."

"Nasty mean thing to threaten."

"You threatened first."

"Nasty, disagreeable thing."

"Ugly, unkind boy." Then they turned back to back, and stood sulking.
He put his hands into his pockets, and she sucked her finger.

"That's the worst of a girl," thought he; "I shan't give in."

"I can't bear boys," thought she; "and I won't make it up to-day."

"We might have had good fun all this afternoon if she hadn't been so
silly," he thought presently.

"It would have been so nice if he hadn't been disagreeable," she
thought after a bit. Then he began to fidget and to kick the floor a
little with one foot, and she began to cry and to wipe her tears away
very softly and quickly, so that he might not see them.


He looked over his shoulder quickly. She saw him, and turned still more
quickly away. "I shall go and take a long walk in the woods," he said.

"You don't know where the rabbit-holes are," she answered.

"Yes, I do; I found them out the other day."

"I shall go out with Mary."

"All right."

"And I shall never go into the woods with you any more."

"Very well. I don't care," he said. Then she broke down and sobbed.

"You are a very unkind boy."

"It's all your fault."

"No, it's all yours. You began."

"No, you began."

"You don't like me now," she sobbed.

"Yes, I do."

"You said I was a nasty, disagreeable thing."

"Well, I didn't mean it if I did. You said I was an ugly, unkind boy."

"Oh, but I didn't mean it," she said.

"You know I'm very fond of you."

"So am I of you."

"All right, then, let's make it up." So he turned round quickly and she
turned round slowly, and he put his arms round her waist, and she put
her hands up on to his shoulders, and they kissed each other, and
hugged each other, and rubbed noses, and laughed.

"Shall we go to the woods?" she asked, doubtfully.

"Yes, come along."

"You said you'd go without me," she pouted.

"Oh, but I shouldn't have liked it a bit."

"And I should have been so unhappy," she said.

"And now we just will have a game," he answered, as hand-in-hand they
went off as fast as they could scamper.


    My baby brother's fat, as fat
      As any boy can be,
    And he is just the sweetest duck
      That ever you did see.

    I count the dimples in his hands
      A dozen times a-day,
    And often wonder when he coos
      What he would like to say.

    I comb the down upon his head--
      He hasn't any hair,--
    It must be cold without, and yet
      He never seems to care.

    It is so nice to see him kick,
      He has such pretty feet;
    I think if we might eat him up
      It would be quite a treat.


It was the most tiresome kite in the world, always wagging its tail,
shaking its ears, breaking its string, sitting down on the tops of
houses, getting stuck in trees, entangled in hedges, flopping down on
ponds, or lying flat on the grass, and refusing to rise higher than a
yard from the ground.

I have often sat and thought about that kite, and wondered who its
father and mother were. Perhaps they were very poor people, just made
of newspaper and little bits of common string knotted together, obliged
to fly day and night for a living, and never able to give any time to
their children or to bring them up properly. It was pretty, for it had
a snow-white face, and pink and white ears; and, with these, no one,
let alone a kite, could help being pretty. But though the kite was
pretty, it was not good, and it did not prosper; it came to a bad end,
oh! a terrible end indeed. It stuck itself on a roof one day, a common
red roof with a broken chimney and three tiles missing. It stuck itself
there, and it would not move; the children tugged and pulled and coaxed
and cried, but still it would not move. At last they fetched a ladder,
and had nearly reached it when suddenly the kite started and flew
away--right away over the field and over the heath, and over the far
far woods, and it never came back again--never--never.

Dear, that is all. But I think sometimes that perhaps beyond the dark
pines and the roaring sea the kite is flying still, on and on, farther
and farther away, for ever and for ever.


    Two beaux and a belle, a goat and a carriage,
    They all set off to the tinker's marriage.
    Two three-cornered hats, and one with a feather,
    They looked very fine in the sweet summer weather.
    But the carriage turned over, the poor goat shied,
    The little belle laughed, the silly beaux cried,
    And the tinker fumed, "Oh, why do they tarry?
    And why don't they come to see me marry?
    I shall throw my bride right into the sea,
    If they are not here by half-past three."
    But the belle was laughing, "Oh, what shall we do!"
    And the beaux were crying, "Bee-bee-bee-boo."


"To-morrow is May-day," the children said; "the birds must call us very
early, and we will go to the woods and make a garland." And in the
morning, long before the sun had looked over the tops of the houses
into the village street, they were far away in the woods.

"I will give them some roses as they come back," the gardener said.
"They shall put them among the spring flowers, as a swallow among the
thrushes, to show that summer is on its way."

When the children had made their garland and a posy for each one of
them, they went singing all down the village street, over the grey
stone bridge, beyond the hayricks, and past the houses on the

In one of the houses there was a pale little child with a sad, thin
face. "Mother," he said, "here are some children with a garland. Will
it be summer when they have gone by?" He called after them as they went
on, "Come back, oh, come back again!"

"Yes, we will come back," they answered, but they went on their way
singing. All through the day he waited for them, but they did not come;
and at last, when it was evening, the mother took him up into her arms
to carry him to his bed. Suddenly he heard the children singing in the
distance. "Oh, mother," he exclaimed, "they are coming;" and he watched
till they came up the hill again and stood before him. "But where is
your garland?" he asked.

"We gave it to lame Mary, the postman's wife, for she is always longing
to see the fields," they answered; "but these roses are for you, dear
little boy; they are all for you," and putting them into his hands they
went back to the village.

"You are very tired," the child said to the roses; "all your leaves are
drooping. Poor roses, perhaps you are lonely away from the garden; but
you shall sleep near me, and there is a star rising up in the sky; it
will watch us all through the night." Then the child nestled down in
his white bed--he and his little warm heart, in which there was love
for all things. While he slept the roses looked at his pale little face
and sighed, and presently they stole softly on to his cheeks and rested
there. The children saw them still there when the summer was over; when
the garland was quite dead, and lame Mary longed for the fields no


    A nice little party we're seated at tea,
      The dollies all seem very glad,
    Save the poor little thing who is leaning on me;
      I fear that she feels rather bad;
    Poor limp little thing! she wants a back-bone,
      She's only just made up of rag.
    There's little Miss Prim sitting up all alone,
      And the Japanese looks like a wag.

    Now what shall we talk of, my own dollies fair?
      And what shall we give you for tea?
    That queer little thing with the short frizzy hair,
      Why does he keep looking at me?
    My sister and I we will sing you a song
      Before we get up from the table;
    It shall not be sad, and it shall not be long--
      We'll sing it as well as we're able.


    The darkness is stealing all over the place,
      The flowers are weeping for sorrow,
    The daisy is hiding its little round face,
      The sun has gone seeking to-morrow.

    So while you are seated all round the tea-table,
    Please join in the chorus as well as you're able;
    O! sing! sing away for your life.


      It's time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
      Time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
      It's time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
        So bring me the carving-knife.

    The darkness is hiding the birds on the trees,
      The thrushes are weary of singing,
    A strange little rumour is borne on the breeze
      Of Summer the swallows are bringing.

    So while you are seated all round the tea-table,
    Please join in the chorus as well as you're able;
      O! sing! sing away for your life.


      It's time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
      Time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
      It's time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
        So bring me the carving-knife.

    The Summer is stealing all over the place,
      The wind is all scented with roses,
    The dear little birds are all flying a race,
      On purpose to give us their noses.

    So while you are seated all round the tea-table,
    Please join in the chorus as well as you're able;
      O! sing! sing away for your life.


    It's time to cut off the dicky birds' noses
    Time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
    It's time to cut off the dicky birds' noses,
      So bring me the carving-knife.


Tommy was sitting on the bench near the end of the lane. By his side
was a basin tied up in a cotton handkerchief; in the buttonhole of his
coat there was a sprig of sweet-william. The girls from the big house
came and stood still in front of him, staring at him rudely, but he did
not speak.

"Tommy, are you tired?" they asked.

"Yes," Tommy answered, crossly, "I'm very tired, and father's working
in the fields, and I have got to take him his dinner before I go to the

"Why don't the servants take it?"

"Servants!" said Tommy scornfully; "we've no servants. We are not rich

"Wouldn't you like to be rich?" the eldest sister asked, while the two
little ones walked slowly round Tommy, looking at the feather in his
hat; he had put it there so that he might look smart when he went on to
the village.

"No, it's too expensive," said Tommy, shaking his head; "rich people
have to buy such a lot of things, and to wear fine clothes, and they
can't have dinner in the fields."

"My father has his dinner in a room," said the girl.

"That's because he's rich," answered Tommy, "and people would talk if
he didn't; rich people can't do as they like, as poor can."

"And my father lives in a big house," the girl went on, for she was
vulgar, and liked to boast.

"Yes, and it takes up a lot of room; my father's got the whole world to
live in if he likes; that's better than a house."

"But my father doesn't work," said the girl, scornfully.

"Mine does," said Tommy, proudly. "Rich people can't work," he went on,
"so they are obliged to get the poor folk to do it. Why, we have made
everything in the world. Oh! it's a fine thing to be poor."

"But suppose all the rich folk died, what would the poor folk do?"

"But suppose all the poor folk died," cried Tommy, "what would the rich
folk do? They can sit in carriages, but can't build them, and eat
dinners, but can't cook them." And he got up and went his way. "Poor
folk ought to be very kind to rich folk, for it's hard to be the like
of them," he said to himself as he went along.


There were some children in the north looking at the swallows flying
south. "Why are they going away?" the little one asked.

"The summer is over," the elder sister answered, "and if they stayed
here they would be starved and die of cold, and so, when the summer
goes, they journey south."

"Our mother and sisters are in the south," the little one said, as they
looked after the birds. "Dear little swallows, tell mother that we are
watching for her!" But they were already flying over the sea. The
chilly winds tried to follow, but the swallows flew so swiftly they
were not overtaken; they went on, with the summer always before them.
They were tired many a time; once they stayed to rest upon the French
coast, and once, in the Bay of Biscay, they clung to the rigging of a
ship all through the night, but in the morning they went on again.

Far away in the south, two English children were looking from the
turret window of an old castle.

"Here are the swallows," they said; "perhaps they have come from
England. Dear swallows, have you brought us a message?" they asked.

"It was very cold, we had no time for messages; and we must not lose
the track of summer," the swallows twittered, and they flew on till
they reached the African shore.

"Poor little swallows," said the English children, as they watched the
ship come into port that was to take them back to their own land; "they
have to chase the summer and the sun, but we do not mind whether it is
summer or winter, for if we only keep our hearts warm, the rest does
not matter."

"It is very good of the swallows to come to us," the elder sister said,
in the next spring, when she heard their first soft twitter beneath the
eaves, "for the summer is in many places, and we are so far from the

"Yes, it is very good of them to come," the children answered; "dear
little swallows, perhaps they love us!"


    A land there is beyond the sea
      That I have never seen,
    But Johnny says he'll take me there,
      And I shall be a queen.
    He'll build for me a palace there,
      Its roof will be of thatch,
    And it will have a little porch
      And everything to match.

    And he'll give me a garden-green,
      And he'll give me a crown
    Of flowers that love the wood and field
      And never grow in town.
    And we shall be so happy there,
      And never, never part,
    And I shall be the grandest queen--
      The queen of Johnny's heart.

    Then, Johnny, man your little boat
      To sail across the sea;
    There's only room for king and queen--
      For Johnny and for me.
    And, Johnny dear, I'm not afraid
      Of any wind or tide,
    For I am always safe, my dear,
      If you are by my side.


Now, this story is quite true. Once upon a time there was a cat called
Mr. Puff; he lived in a grand house, quite close to the Turkish
Embassy. A lord and a lady and several servants lived with Mr. Puff; he
was very kind to them, letting them do in all things as they liked, and
never sending them away or keeping the house to himself. One day Mr.
Puff, being out in the rain, found a poor little kitten, covered with
mud, and crying bitterly: so Mr. Puff took the kitten between his
teeth, carried it home, and set it down on the drawing-room hearth-rug.
The lord and the lady had the kitten washed, and gave it food, and
called it Smut. Then Smut went and sat him down on the lord's

When Smut grew to be a cat, but before he was yet a large one, the lord
and the lady thought awhile, and spoke, "We have a dear friend," they
said, "and he is catless; therefore, if Mr. Puff will agree, we will
take Smut to him as a present." And Mr. Puff agreed. So Smut was put
into a birdcage, for there was nothing else to serve him for a
travelling carriage, and taken to the dear friend's house. The dear
friend had a little girl with golden hair, and when she saw Smut, she
cried out for joy, and said, "Never before did I see a dicky-bird with
a furry coat, a long tail, and little white teeth." But Smut shook his
head, as if to say, "I am not a dicky-bird, sweet maid, but only a
four-legged cat;" then they opened the birdcage door, and he walked
out, waving his tail.

Now, when Smut grew up, his gravity and dignity made all who knew his
history wonder, and few could believe that he had once been a dirty
kitten, covered with mud, glad to accept the charity of Mr. Puff. When
a year had gone, or perhaps even a longer time, there was a great war
in Turkey, and terrible battles were fought. Then Smut looked very
anxious, and went quite bald, and his coat fell off in little patches;
but none could tell why. At last he died, and the little girl wept
sorely, and all who had known him grieved and lamented.

And when Smut had been sleeping only a little while beneath the lilac
tree, accident revealed that, instead of a lowly foundling, he had been
of high degree, for the little vagrant Mr. Puff had found was no less a
person than the Turkish Ambassador's coachman's wife's cat's kitten.


    Get into the boat and away to the west,
                      See-saw! see-saw!
    For they've cut down the tree with the poor linnet's nest,
                      See-saw! see-saw!
    The bulrushes nod and the water-lilies sigh,
                      See-saw! see-saw!
    And all of us know the sad reason why,
                      See-saw! see-saw!

        For, oh! the tree--the tree's cut down,
        And every one of its leaves are brown;
        And in the field the children play,
        But the little linnet has flown away:
                  Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear!


She was always called the bad girl, for she had once, when she was very
little, put out her tongue at the postman. She lived alone with her
grandmother and her three brothers in the cottage beyond the field, and
the girls in the village took no notice of her. The bad girl did not
mind this, for she was always thinking of the cuckoo clock. The clock
stood in one corner of the cottage, and every hour a door opened at the
top of its face, and a little cuckoo came out and called its name just
the same number of times that the clock ought to have struck, and
called it so loudly and in so much haste that the clock was afraid to
strike at all. The bad girl was always wondering whether it was worse
for the clock to have a cupboard in its forehead, and a bird that was
always hopping in and out, or for the poor cuckoo to spend so much time
in a dark little prison. "If it could only get away to the woods," she
said to herself, "who knows but its voice might grow sweet, and even
life itself might come to it!" She thought of the clock so much that
her grandmother used to say--

"Ah, lassie, if you would only think of me sometimes!" But the bad girl
would answer--

"You are not in prison, granny dear, and you have not even a bee in
your bonnet, let alone a bird in your head. Why should I think of you?"

One day, close by the farm, she saw the big girls from the school
gathering flowers.

"Give me one," she said; "perhaps the cuckoo would like it." But they
all cried, "No, no!" and tried to frighten her away. "They are for the
little one's birthday. To-morrow she will be seven years old," they
said, "and she is to have a crown of flowers and a cake, and all the
afternoon we shall play merry games with her."

"Is she unhappy, that you are taking so much trouble for her?" asked
the bad girl.

"Oh, no; she is very happy: but it will be her birthday, and we want to
make her happier."


"Because we love her," said one;

"Because she is so little," said another;

"Because she is alive," said a third.

"Are all things that live to be loved and cared for?" the bad girl
asked, but they were too busy to listen, so she went on her way
thinking; and it seemed as if all things round--the birds, and bees,
and the rustling leaves, and the little tender wild flowers, half
hidden in the grass--answered, as she went along--

"Yes, they are all to be cared for and made happier, if it be

"The cuckoo clock is not alive," she thought. "Oh, no; it is not
alive," the trees answered; "but many things that do not live have
voices, and many others are just sign-posts, pointing the way."

"The way! The way to what, and where?"

"We find out for ourselves;--we must all find out for ourselves," the
trees sighed and whispered to each other.

As the bad girl entered the cottage, the cuckoo called out its name
eleven times, but she did not even look up. She walked straight across
to the chair by the fireside, and kneeling down, kissed her granny's



        Awake, my pet!
        What! slumbering yet,
    When the day's so warm and bright?
        The flowers that wept
        Before they slept
    O'er the darkness of yesternight,
        Have listened long
        To the lark's wild song,
    And awoke with the morning light.


        Again and again
        Through the window-pane
    The jasmine flowers kept peeping,
        And in at the door,
        And along the floor,
    The sunny rays came creeping,
        So I opened wide
        The sash, and tried
    To tell them you were sleeping.


        Awake, my dear,
        The winter drear
    Has fled with all things dreary,
        But quickly by
        The spring will fly,
    And soon the birds will weary.--
        Awake while yet
        The dew is wet
    And day is young, my deary.


The pink parasol had tender whalebone ribs and a slender stick of
cherry-wood. It lived with the wilful child in the white-house, just
beyond the third milestone. All about the trees were green, and the
flowers grew tall; in the pond behind the willows the ducks swam round
and round and dipped their heads beneath the water.

Every bird and bee, every leaf and flower, loved the child and the pink
parasol as they wandered in the garden together, listening to the birds
and seeking the shady spots to rest in, or walking up and down the long
trim pathway in the sunshine. Yet the child tired of it all, and before
the summer was over, was always standing by the gate, watching the
straight white road that stretched across the plain.

"If I might but see the city, with the busy streets and the eager
crowds," he was always saying to himself.

Then all that lived in the garden knew that the child would not be with
them long. At last the day came when he flung down the pink parasol,
and, without even one last look at the garden, ran out at the gate.

The flowers died, and the swallows journeyed south; the trees
stretched higher and higher, to see the child come back across the
plain, but he never came. "Ah, dear child!" they sighed many a time,
"why are you staying? and are your eyes as blue as ever; or have the
sad tears dimmed them? and is your hair golden still? and your voice,
is it like the singing of the birds? And your heart--oh! my dear, my
dear, what is in your heart now, that once was so full of summer and
the sun?"

The pink parasol lay on the pathway, where the child left it, spoilt by
the rain, and splashed by the gravel, faded and forgotten. At last, a
gipsy lad, with dark eyes, a freckled face, and little gold rings in
his ears, came by; he picked up the pink parasol, hid it under his
coat, and carried it to the gipsy tent. There it stayed till one day
the cherry-wood stick was broken into three pieces, and the pink
parasol was put on the fire to make the water boil for the gipsy's


The little sisters went into the room to play at ball.

"We must be careful not to wake the white cat," the tall one said,

"Or to spoil the roses," the fat one whispered; "but throw high, dear
sister, or we shall never hit the ceiling."

"You dear children," thought the white cat, "why do you come to play
here at all? Only just round the corner are the shady trees, and the
birds singing on the branches, and the sunshine is flecking the
pathway. Who knows but what, out there, your ball might touch the sky?
Here you will only disturb me, and perhaps spoil the roses; and at best
you can but hit the ceiling!"


    All the white rabbits but two, my dears,
      All the white rabbits but two,
    Away they all sailed in a cockle-shell boat,
      Painted a beautiful blue.

    All the white rabbits so snowy and sleek,
      Away they went down to the shore;
    Little they thought, so happy and meek,
      They'd never come up from it more.

    Oh, the white rabbits they wept and they sobbed,
      Till the boat it shook up in the sails;
    Oh, the white rabbits they sobbed and they shook
      From their poor loppy ears to their tails.

    Away they all sailed to a desolate land
      Where never a lettuce-leaf grew,
    All the white rabbits but two, my dears,
      All the white rabbits but two.


"Come and have a ride," the big brother said.

"I am afraid," the little one answered; "the horse's mouth is wide

"But it's only wooden. That is the best of a horse that isn't real. If
his mouth is ever so wide open, he cannot shut it. So come," and the
big brother lifted the little one up, and dragged him about.

"Oh, do stop!" the little one cried out in terror; "does the horse make
that noise along the floor?"


"And is it a real noise?"

"Of course it is," the big brother answered.

"But I thought only real things could make real things," the little one
said; "where does the imitation horse end and the real sound begin?"

At this the big brother stood still for a few minutes.

"I was thinking about real and imitation things," he said presently.
"It's very difficult to tell which is which sometimes. You see they get
so close together that the one often grows into the other, and some
imitated things become real and some real ones become imitation as they
go on. But I should say that you are a real coward for not having a

"No, I am not," the little one laughed; and, getting astride the wooden
horse, he sat up bravely. "Oh, Jack, dear," he said to his brother, "we
will always be glad that we are real boys, or we too might have been
made with mouths we were never able to shut!"


So little Bridget took the baby on her right arm and a jug in her left
hand, and went to the farm to get the milk. On her way she went by the
garden-gate of a large house that stood close to the farm, and she told
the baby a story:--

"Last summer," she said, "a little girl, bigger than you, for she was
just able to walk, came to stay in that house--she and her father and
mother. All about the road just here, the ducks and the chickens from
the farm, and an old turkey, used to walk about all the day long, but
the poor little ducks were very unhappy, for they had no pond to swim
about in, only that narrow ditch through which the streamlet is
flowing. When the little girl's father saw this, he took a spade, and
worked and worked very hard, and out of the ditch and the streamlet he
made a little pond for the ducks, and they swam about and were very
happy all through the summer days. Every morning I used to stand and
watch, and presently the garden-gate would open, and then the father
would come out, leading the little girl by the hand, and the mother
brought a large plateful of bits of broken bread. The little girl used
to throw the bread to the ducks, and they ran after it and ate it up
quickly, while she laughed out with glee, and the father and the
mother laughed too just as merrily. Baby, the father had blue eyes, and
a voice that you seemed to hear with your heart.

"The little girl used to feed the chickens too, and the foolish old
turkey that was so fond of her it would run after her until she
screamed and was afraid. The dear father and the little girl came out
every morning, while the black pigs looked through the bars of the
farm-yard gate and grunted at them, as if they were glad, and I think
the ducks knew that the father had made the pond, for they swam round
and round it proudly while he watched them, but when he went away they
seemed tired and sad.

"The pond is not there now, baby, for a man came by one day and made it
into a ditch again; and the chickens and the ducks from the farm are
kept in another place.

"The little girl is far away in her own home, which the father made for
her, and the dear father lives in his own home too--in the hearts of
those he loved."

That was the story that Bridget told the baby.


    There is a sweet maiden asleep by the sea,
      Her lips are as red as a cherry;
    The roses are resting upon her brown cheeks--
      Her cheeks that are brown as a berry.

    She's tired of building up castles of sand,
      Her hands they are gritty and grubby;
    Her shoes, they are wet, and her legs, they are bare,
      Her legs that are sturdy and chubby.

    I'll wrap a shawl round you, my dear little maid,
      To keep the wind off you completely,
    And soft I will sing you a lullaby song,
      And soon you will slumber most sweetly.


There was once a poor little donkey on wheels. It had never wagged its
tail, or tossed its head, or said, "Hee-haw!" or tasted a tender
thistle. It always went about, anywhere that anyone pulled it, on four
wooden wheels, carrying a foolish knight, who wore a large cocked hat
and a long cloak, because he had no legs. Now, a man who has no legs,
and rides a donkey on wheels, has little cause for pride; but the
knight was haughty, and seldom remembered his circumstances. So the
donkey suffered sorely, and in many ways.

One day the donkey and the knight were on the table in front of the
child to whom they both belonged. She was cutting out a little doll's
frock with a large pair of scissors.

"Mistress," said the knight, "this donkey tries my temper. Will you
give me some spurs?"

"Oh, no, sir knight," the child answered. "You would hurt the poor
donkey; besides, you have no heels to put them on."

"Cruel knight!" exclaimed the donkey. "Make him get off, dear mistress;
I will carry him no longer."

"Let him stay," said the child, gently; "he has no legs, and cannot

"Then why did he want spurs?"

"Just the way of the world, dear donkey; just the way of the world."

"Ah!" sighed the donkey, "some ways are very trying, especially the
world's;" and then it said no more, but thought of the fields it would
never see, and the thistles it would never taste.


    I know a lovely dicky-bird,
      A cock-a-doodle-doo;--
    My father and my mother
      And my sister know it too.

    It struts about so gaily,
      And it is brave and strong;
    And when it crows, it is a crow,
      Both very loud and long.

    Oh, "Cock-a-doodle-doo," it crows,
      And cock-a-doodle won't
    Leave off its cock-a-doodling,
      When mother dear cries "Don't!"


She was always called the "little great lady," for she lived in a grand
house, and was very rich. He was a strange boy; the little great lady
never knew whence he came, or whither he went. She only saw him when
the snow lay deep upon the ground. Then in the early morning he swept a
pathway to the stable in which she had once kept a white rabbit. When
it was quite finished, she came down the steps in her white dress and
little thin shoes, with bows on them, and walked slowly along the
pathway. It was always swept so dry she might have worn paper shoes
without getting them wet. At the far end he always stood waiting till
she came, and smiled and said, "Thank you, little boy," and passed on.
Then he was no more seen till the next snowy morning, when again he
swept the pathway; and again the little great lady came down the steps
in her dainty shoes, and went on her way to the stable.

But at last, one morning when the snow lay white and thick, and she
came down the steps as usual, there was no pathway. The little boy
stood leaning on a spade, his feet buried deep in the snow.

"Where is your broom? and where is the pathway to the rabbit house?"
she asked.

"The rabbit is dead, and the broom is worn out," he answered; "and I am
tired of making pathways that lead to empty houses."

"But why have you done it so long?" she asked.

"You have bows on your shoes," he said; "and they are so thin you could
not walk over the snow in them--why, you would catch your death of
cold," he added, scornfully.

"What would you do if I wore boots?"

"I should go and learn how to build ships, or paint pictures, or write
books. But I should not think of you so much," he said.

The little great lady answered eagerly, "Go and learn how to do all
those things; I will wait till you come back and tell me what you have
done," and she turned and went into the house.

"Good-bye," the boy said, as he stood watching for a moment the closed
door; "dear little great lady, good-bye." And he went along the unmade
pathway beyond the empty rabbit house.


    Oh, yes, sir and miss, I have been to the town;
        It really was pleasant and gay;
    But now I must hurry, the sun's going down,
        And so I will wish you good-day.
    And so I will wish you good-day, gentle folk,
        And so I will wish you good-day.

    I know a white rabbit just over the hill,
        He's eating a lettuce for tea;
    And a fat speckled duck, with a very large bill,
        Is quacking, "Oh, where can she be?"
    And two little mice are there, standing quite still,
        They're all of them waiting for me.

    For we all love the stars and the little pale moon,
        Beneath them we frolic and play;
    My friends have been waiting the whole afternoon,
        And so I will wish you good-day.
    And so I will wish you good-day, gentle folk,
        And so I will wish you good-day.

       *       *       *       *       *


Foolscap 8vo, Paper Boards, price One Shilling each.


_Author of "Anyhow Stories," etc._






_By the Author of "Spenser for Children."_

LONDON: WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.

The Canterbury Poets.


_From English and American Writers of
Three Centuries._


This Volume contains contributions by Lord Tennyson, William Bell
Scott, Robert Browning, James Russell Lowell, George Macdonald,
Algernon Charles Swinburne, Theodore Watts, Austin Dobson, Hon. Roden
Noel, Edmund Gosse, Robert Louis Stevenson, etc., etc.

WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Page 58: Corrected typo has'nt to hasn't:
 (He has'nt any hair,--).

Page 61: Added a (probably missing) period:
  (They looked very fine in the sweet summer weather.)

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