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Title: A Christmas Hamper - A Volume of Pictures and Stories for Little Folks
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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See Transcriber’s Notes at end of text.



[Illustration:

    This Christmas hamper, neat and trim,
    Is full of sweet things to the brim!
    Its tales and rhymes, and pictures bright,
    Will please you, dear, on Christmas night,
    When of such games as blind-man’s-buff
    And hide-and-seek you’ve had enough.]



[Illustration: A CARRIAGE AND PAIR.]

[Illustration]


a Christmas Hamper

A Volume of Pictures and Stories
for Little Folks


T. NELSON & SONS
LONDON, EDINBURGH &
NEW YORK

[Illustration]



CONTENTS


   A Very Naughty Little Person.

   Poor Uncle Tom.

   A Snow Man.

   Not Such Fun as it Seemed.

   On the Sands.

   Old Clothes.

   The Little Tiny Thing.

   Questions.
     Answers.

   A Lesson in Manners.

   The Prize Boat.

   The Little Thief in the Pantry.

   Great-Grandmother’s Wish.



[Illustration]



A Very Naughty Little Person.

[Illustration]

    I’M told I’m very naughty—
      I almost ’spect I am;
    But, somehow, when I shut the door
      It’s nearly sure to slam.

    Can you tell why my shoe-strings break
      And tie themselves in knots,
    And how it is my copy-books
      Are always full of blots?

    It seems as if too many blots
      Lived in one pot of ink;
    But when they’re wet and shiny,
      They’re pretty, don’t you think?

    Why does my hair get tangled?
      What makes me talk all day?
    And why don’t toys and books just try
      To put themselves away?

    I think that p’r’aps I _might_ be good
      A little, by-and-by;
    It’s very hard, but sometimes
      I _almost_ ’spect I’ll try.

    But now they say I’m naughty,
      And p’r’aps it’s nearly true;
    There are so many naughty things
      For little folks to do.



Poor Uncle Tom.

[Illustration]


HE seemed a funny old gentleman, the children thought, but still rather
nice, especially when he brought those sweets out of his pocket and
let them dip into the bag and take what they liked. They had seen him
walking through the wood, and then when they left off playing, he had
come to sit down beside them, and asked them their names.

“Mine’s Hugh, like father,” said the eldest; “and this is Lily, and
this is Tom.”

The old gentleman looked a little quickly at Tom.

“Who is he named after?” he said.

The children’s faces grew grave.

“He is named after poor Uncle Tom,” said Lily in a low voice, “who went
to sea and was drowned.”

There was silence for a minute. Then the old gentleman spoke again,—

“So poor Uncle Tom was drowned, was he?”

“Yes,” said Hugh. “His ship was lost, and everybody was drowned, ’cept
two or three that got in the boat, and Uncle Tom wasn’t among them.
Father waited and waited, but it wasn’t any good. So then he put up a
monument in the church just where we can see it from our pew.”

“And we always sings about the saints of God on his burfday,” said
Lily, “and father cries a little.”

[Illustration]

“No, he don’t!” said Hugh indignantly. “Father’s a man, and men don’t
cry!”

“But he does,” said Lily. “I saw a weeny little tear on his cheek this
morning, for to-day is Uncle Tom’s burfday, and his voice goes all
shaky like, ’cause he was so fond of poor Uncle Tom, and says he was so
good.”

The old gentleman sat silent, staring hard at the ground.

“Is it long since Uncle Tom went away?” he said at last.

“It is ten years,” replied Hugh. “It was the year I was born.”

“Ten years—so it is,” murmured the old gentleman—“only ten years, and
it has seemed like a hundred.”

The children looked at one another surprised.

“Did you ever know Uncle Tom?” asked Hugh curiously.

“Yes, I knew him well. I was on his ship.”

“But you aren’t drowned!” cried Lily.

The old gentleman smiled.

“No,” he said, “I wasn’t drowned; I got off safe. Uncle Tom used to
talk to me, though, about his old home, and one day he said that he had
carved his name on a tree in the park, and I was to go and see it if I
ever got home.”

“Oh, I’ll show you,” said little Tom. “It is on a beech tree close by
here. I’ll show you. There it is.”

He pointed to a tree on which some initials and a date were cut deep
into the bark.

“It has kept very fresh,” said the old gentleman. “I thought it would
have been grown over by now.”

“Father always comes and tidies it up on uncle’s birthday,” said
the boy. “See, he is coming now! I’ll go and tell him you are
here.—Father!” he shouted, running off—“father, here’s a gentleman who
knew Uncle Tom!”

But when father came near and saw the old gentleman, he stared at him
for a moment as if he had seen a ghost, and then he gave a great cry.

“Tom, Tom, it is you yourself!”

And it _was_ Uncle Tom, who had not been drowned after all, but when
the ship was wrecked had managed to get ashore to an island, and there
had lived on the fish he caught, and birds’ eggs, and cocoa-nuts,
watching for a sail, like Robinson Crusoe. At last the sail came after
ten long years. And when he reached England he did not write, but came
down to his old home to see who was there, for of course he had heard
no tidings all the time.

Nobody recognized him at the village, for the tropical sun had burned
his skin brown, and the long waiting and the sorrow and the hardships
had turned his hair white. Only his brother knew him by his eyes, for
they two had loved each other very much.

“But what will father do with your tombstone?” said Lily gravely, as
she sat on her uncle’s knee that night. “It is such a pretty one, with
a beautiful angel on it!”

[Illustration]



A Snow Man.

[Illustration]


        OH, the beautiful snow!
        We’re all in a glow—
    Nell, Dolly, and Willie, and Dan;
        For the primest of fun,
        When all’s said and done,
    Is just making a big snow man.

        Two stones for his eyes
        Look quite owlishly wise,
    A hard pinch of snow for his nose;
        Then a mouth that’s as big
        As the snout of a pig,
    And he’ll want an old pipe, I suppose.

        Then the snow man is done,
        And to-morrow what fun
    To make piles of snow cannon all day,
        And to pelt him with balls
        Till he totters and falls,
    And a thaw comes and melts him away.

[Illustration: FINISHING TOUCHES.]



Not Such Fun as it Seemed.

[Illustration]


“ISN’T it fun, Dolly?” asked Eric, as he and his little sister ran
along the sea front as fast as their sturdy legs could carry them.

Eric was the jolliest little boy imaginable, but, unfortunately, a
little bit too fond of mischief, and Dolly was generally only too eager
to join in her brother’s pranks.

Just now they were running away from nurse, who was down on the sands
with baby. They waited until her head was turned away, then off they
ran.

“We’ll go out to the rocks and play at being shipwrecked sailors,” Eric
went on. “I’ve got some biscuits in my pocket, and I’ll dole them out,
piece by piece, and pretend we shan’t have any more food unless a boat
takes us off.”

[Illustration]

Poor Eric! his play very soon became earnest, for he and Dolly waded
out to a big rock in a very lonely part of the coast, and so interested
were they in their game that they never noticed the tide coming in
until it had surrounded them, and there was no getting back.

[Illustration: ALONG THE SEA FRONT.]

They waited on and on, hoping some one would come for them, and fearing
every moment that the sea would cover the rock, and that they would be
drowned.

It was long past dinner-time, and they were wet through and hungry and
wretched when at last a fisherman, who had been sent out to search for
them, spied the two forlorn little figures, and rescued them.

They went home hand in hand, very solemn and silent, expecting to get a
good scolding; but instead of that, mother burst into tears of relief,
and both Eric and Dolly felt so thoroughly ashamed of themselves for
having frightened their darling mother so terribly that it was a very
long, long time before they got into mischief again.

[Illustration]



On The Sands.

[Illustration]


    THE sun is shining brightly,
    The seagulls floating lightly,
      And the sea is calling, “Children,
      Won’t you come and play with me?”
    So ask for breakfast early,
    While the waves are crisp and curly,
      And come with us to paddle,
      Paddle gaily in the sea.



Old Clothes.

[Illustration]


THE sunniest of days, the clearest and loveliest of blue seas, and I, a
little lobster, young, proud, and as lively as a cricket—that is what
people say; but I can’t help thinking “as lively as a shrimp” would
sound better.

I always wear a lovely suit of armour, like those old warriors you read
about. It is strong and firm and well jointed, so that I can move ever
so fast—of course not so fast as that silly little fish.

He has armour too, he says, but wears it _inside_. That seems queer to
me; I can’t quite believe it.

But I want to tell you what a queer thing happened to mine not long
ago. _It grew small and shabby_, like your last year’s dress; that is
why I have called this story “Old Clothes.”

Listen. I lived a very happy life out at sea for some time, till one
day I fell into a strange basket-box thing.

There were several other lobsters and one or two crabs sitting there,
looking anxious and disturbed. And I soon found out that they had need
to feel so, for there was no _exit_. That means “way out” in plain
words.

Our basket was joined to a strong rope, and that was attached to a cork
floating on the top of the water.

Not long after I had fallen into this basket, which I now know was a
lobster-trap, a boat rowed out from the shore, stopped just above us,
and then we were lifted up, up, right out of the water, and placed in
the boat.

The next thing was a good deal of pushing and knocking about, and then
some one tossed me carelessly out on the beach, saying roughly, “Too
small for any use.”

But some one else thought differently. Another hand touched me, and
another voice said, “Just the thing for my aquarium.”

[Illustration: THE LITTLE CAPTIVE.]

What that meant I could not even guess; but it turned out to be the
tiniest sea in the world. Steady old limpets, red anemones, hermit
crabs, and shrimps were all there.

It was a very nice home, with plenty of good food, the only drawback
being want of space.

And now the event happened that I promised to tell you about.

My armour took to hurting me. You will hardly believe me. We all know
that _new_ clothes hurt sometimes, but _old_ ones!

It grew tighter and tighter. I wriggled about, feeling miserable. Oh,
if only I could get out of this!

At last I grew desperate. This choked, tight feeling was too much. I
gave a tremendous struggle, and shook myself; crickle, crackle went my
old armour, off it came, and out I stepped.

But, oh, so tender, and so nervous! The shrimps pranced round and
knocked up against me, pricking and tormenting till I could have
screamed.

I crept behind a stone and looked at my old armour half sadly. It
looked just like old me, only so still, and rather as if I had been out
in the rain all night and had shrunk.

Then I glanced at the new me. Well, I was a pretty fellow—not
blue-black any longer, but a reddish pink of lovely hue.

Some one else took pride in my appearance, for I heard again a voice
say, “Look at my lobster; he has cast his shell.”

I hadn’t, you know—it was the shell that had cast me; but these men
can’t know _everything_.

The man touched me, but he hurt me almost as much as the shrimps, and I
shrank farther still behind the stone out of his way. There I quietly
lay for some days, till one morning, feeling braver and ever so much
bigger, I stepped out for an early saunter.

That moment came a voice, “Oh, here is my lobster! How he has grown,
more than half as big again!” Down came the hand as before; and just to
show him I was also half as _strong_ again, I gave him a nip.

He keeps his hands above water now, and _me_ at arm’s length.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: WINTER ABROAD.]

[Illustration: WINTER AT HOME.]



The Little Tiny Thing.

[Illustration]


OUT in the garden Mary sat hemming a pocket-handkerchief, and there
came a little insect running—oh, in such a hurry!—across the small
stone table by her side.

The sewing was not done, for Mary liked doing nothing best, and she
thought it would be fun to drop her thimble over the little ant. “Now
he is in the dark,” said she. “Can he mind? He is only such a little
tiny thing.”

Mary ran away, for her mother called her, and she forgot all about the
ant under the thimble.

There he was, running round and round and round the dark prison, with
little horns on his head quivering, little perfect legs bending as
beautifully as those of a race-horse, and he was in quite as big a
fright as if he were an elephant.

“Oh,” you would have heard him say, if you had been clever enough, “I
can’t get out, I can’t get out! I shall lie down and die.” ” Mary went
to bed, and in the night the rain poured. The handkerchief was soaked
as if somebody had been crying very much, when she went out to fetch
it as soon as the sun shone. She remembered who was under the thimble.
“I wonder what he is doing,” said Mary. But when she lifted up the
thimble the little tiny thing lay stiff and still.

“Oh, did he die of being under the thimble?” she said aloud. “I am
afraid he _did_ mind.”

“Why did you do that, Mary?” said her father, who was close by, and who
had guessed the truth. “See! he moves one of his legs. Run to the house
and fetch a wee taste of honey from the breakfast-table for the little
thing you starved.”

“I didn’t mean to,” said Mary.

She touched the honey in the spoon with a blade of grass, and tenderly
put a drop of it before the little ant. He put out a fairy tongue to
lick up the sweet stuff. He grew well, and stood upon his pretty little
jointed feet. He tried to run.

“Where is he in such a hurry to go, do you think?” said father.

“I don’t know,” said Mary softly. She felt ashamed.

“He wants to run home,” said father. “I know where he lives. In a
little round world of ants, under the apple tree.”

“Oh! Has such a little tiny thing a real home of his own? I should have
thought he lived just anywhere about.”

“Why, he would not like that at all. At home he has a fine palace, with
passages and rooms more than you could count; he and the others dug
them out, that they might all live together like little people in a
little town.”

“And has he got a wife and children—a lot of little ants at home?”

“The baby ants are born as eggs; they are little helpless things, and
must be carried about by their big relations. There are father ants and
mother ants, and lots of other ants who are nurses to the little ones.
Nobody knows his own children, but all the grown-up ones are kind to
all the babies. This is a little nurse ant. See how she hurries off!
Her babies at home must have their faces washed.”

“O father!” cried Mary; “now that is a fairy story.”

“Not a bit of it,” said father. “Ants really _do_ clean their young
ones by licking them. On sunny days they carry their babies out, and
let them lie in the sun. On cold days they take them downstairs, away
from the cold wind and the rain. The worker ants are the nurses. Though
the little ones are not theirs, they love them and care for them as
dearly as if they were.”

[Illustration]

“Why, that’s just like Aunt Jenny who lives with us, and mends our
things, and puts baby to bed, and goes out for walks with us.”

“Just the same,” said father, laughing.

“Is that the reason we say _Ant_ Jenny?”

“You little dunce! Who taught you to spell? But it is not a bad idea,
all the same. It would be a good thing if there were as many ‘ant’
Jennys in this big round world of ours as there are in the ants’ little
round world—folk who care for all, no matter whose children they are.”

[Illustration]

While they were talking, the little ant crept to the edge of the table,
and down the side, and was soon lost among the blades of grass.

“He will never find his way,” said Mary.

“Let him alone for that,” said father. “The ants have paths leading
from their hill. They never lose their way. But they meet with sad
accidents sometimes. What do you think I saw the other day? One of
these small chaps—it may have been this very one—was carrying home a
scrap of something in his jaws for the youngsters at home. As he ran
along, a bird dropped an ivy berry on him. Poor mite of a thing! This
was worse than if a cannon ball were to fall from the sky on one of us.
He lay under it, not able to move. By-and-by one of his brother ants,
who was taking a stroll, caught sight of him under the berry.

“What did he do?” said Mary.

“First he tried to push the berry off his friend’s body, but it was
too heavy. Next he caught hold of one of his friend’s legs with his
jaws, and tugged till I thought it would come off. Then he rushed about
in a frantic state, as if he were saying to himself, ‘What shall I do?
what shall I do?’ And then he ran off up the path. In another minute he
came hurrying back with three other ants.”

“Is it quite true, father?”

“Quite. The four ants talked together by gentle touches of their
horns. They looked as if they were telling one another what a dreadful
accident it was, and how nobody knew whose turn would come next. After
this they set to work with a will. Two of them pushed the berry as hard
as they could, while the other two pulled their friend out by the hind
legs. When at last he was free, they crowded round as if petting and
kissing him. You see these little ant folk have found out that ‘’Tis
love, love, love, that makes the world go round.’ I shouldn’t wonder if
that ant you teased so thoughtlessly is gone off to tell the news at
home that there is a drop of honey to be had here.”

“Oh, he couldn’t, father!”

“Wait and see,” said father.

In a little while back came the ant with a troop of friends.

“He has been home and told them the good news about the honey,” said
father. “Do you think that all children are as kind as that?”

Mary said, “No, they’re not. I don’t run to call all the others when I
find a good place for blackberries.”

“Then,” said father, “don’t be unkind to the ant, who is kinder than
you, though he is only a little tiny thing.”

[Illustration: GOOD FRIENDS.]



Questions.

[Illustration]


    OH, where do they sell all the lilies and roses,
    The “pandies” and “pudsies” and funny snub noses,
    The dimpled wee “chin-chops” and fat pinky knees,
    Of the dear little, queer little, babies one sees?

    And what would they want for some soft golden curlies;
    A pair of blue eyes, and two teeth white as pearlies;
    A mouth like a rosebud, just made for a kiss?
    I fear they would ask me a great deal for this.

    And where is the gentle school-mistress who teaches
    The mothers and grannies their sweet baby speeches,
    Their “lovies” and “dovies” and tender “coo-coos”
    That the newest new pet understands in two twos?


Answers.

    ALAS! and alas! you may search through the city,
    Yet ne’er find the shop where they sell things so pretty;
    But I think it’s the angels from far, far away,
    Teach the mothers and grannies the sweet things they say.



A Lesson in Manners.

    THERE was once a dear little, queer little cat,
      The sweetest kit e’er seen,
    Who made up her mind to journey
      To town to see the queen.

[Illustration]

    Mr. Puggy, a teacher of manners and dancing,
      Gave her a lesson or two.
    “Observe my instructions, Miss Tabby,
      And be sure to do as I do.”

[Illustration]

    But Tabby espied her saucer of milk,
      And made a dart at that,
    While Pug distressfully murmured,
     “What a very ill-bred cat!”

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

The Prize Boat.


“DON’T do it, Dick!” pleaded Dolly.

“Girls always spoil sport!” growled Mark, as he saw Dick ready to give
in.

“We shan’t hurt the boat! Don’t be silly, Dolly. Even if the sails do
get wet, Tom can get fresh ones. And it will be better for him to know
whether it will sail or not.” And the twins departed for the seashore
with the boat in their hands.

How they wished they had taken Dolly’s advice, when they saw the ship,
which had sailed so gallantly at first in the little cove, break from
its moorings and drift out to sea!

Tom had worked very hard for the prize of £2 offered in a weekly paper
for the best-made boat, not only for the sake of the money, but because
the toys were to go to the Home for Orphans. And now all his work was
gone.

“Oh! well, it can’t be helped,” he said good-naturedly, when his first
feeling of anger had passed; “but I wish you chaps would leave my
things alone.”

“But it can be helped,” said Dolly, rushing in. “See! a fisherman
brought it to shore, and it isn’t a bit broken.”

So the orphans got the boat after all, and had great fun sailing it in
the river near the Home; and what was perhaps more wonderful, Tom won
the prize.

[Illustration]



The Little Thief in the Pantry.


“MOTHER dear,” said a little mouse one day, “I think the people in our
house must be very kind; don’t you? They leave such nice things for us
in the larder.”

There was a twinkle in the mother’s eye as she replied,—

“Well, my child, no doubt they are very well in their way, but I
don’t think they are quite as fond of us as you seem to think. Now
remember, Greywhiskers, I have absolutely forbidden you to put your
nose above the ground unless I am with you, for kind as the people are,
I shouldn’t be at all surprised if they tried to catch you.”

Greywhiskers twitched his tail with scorn; he was quite sure he knew
how to take care of himself, and he didn’t mean to trot meekly after
his mother’s tail all his life. So as soon as she had curled herself
up for an afternoon nap he stole away, and scampered across the pantry
shelves.

Ah! here was something particularly good to-day. A large iced cake
stood far back upon the shelf, and Greywhiskers licked his lips as he
sniffed it. Across the top of the cake there were words written in pink
sugar; but as Greywhiskers could not read, he did not know that he was
nibbling at little Miss Ethel’s birthday cake. But he did feel a little
guilty when he heard his mother calling. Off he ran, and was back in
the nest again by the time his mother had finished rubbing her eyes
after her nap.

She took Greywhiskers up to the pantry then, and when she saw the hole
in the cake she seemed a little annoyed.

[Illustration]

“Some mouse has evidently been here before us,” she said, but of course
she never guessed that it was her own little son.

The next day the naughty little mouse again popped up to the pantry
when his mother was asleep; but at first he could find nothing at all
to eat, though there was a most delicious smell of toasted cheese.

Presently he found a dear little wooden house, and there hung the
cheese, just inside it.

In ran Greywhiskers, but, oh! “click” went the little wooden house, and
mousie was caught fast in a trap.

When the morning came, the cook, who had set the trap, lifted it from
the shelf, and then called a pretty little girl to come and see the
thief who had eaten her cake.

“What are you going to do with him?” asked Ethel.

“Why, drown him, my dear, to be sure.”

The tears came into the little girl’s pretty blue eyes.

“You didn’t know it was stealing, did you, mousie dear?” she said.

“No,” squeaked Greywhiskers sadly; “indeed I didn’t.”

Cook’s back was turned for a moment, and in that moment tender-hearted
little Ethel lifted the lid of the trap, and out popped mousie.

Oh! how quickly he ran home to his mother, and how she comforted and
petted him until he began to forget his fright; and then she made him
promise never to disobey her again, and you may be sure he never did.



Great-Grandmother’s Wish.


“DID you ever see a fairy, grannie?” said Trots.

“No,” she said, “but my great-grandmother did.”

[Illustration: A VISIT TO GRANNIE.]

“Oh, do tell me!” cried Trots.

“Well, once upon a time, as she was carrying her butter to market,
she picked up a crooked sixpence. And with it, and what she sold her
butter for, she bought a little black pig. Now, coming home, she had
to cross the brook; so she picked piggy up in her arms and carried her
over the brook. And, lo, instead of a pig, there was a little fairy in
her arms!”

“Oh!” cried Trots, “what was it like?”

“Well, it had a red cap on its head, and a green frock, and it had
gauzy wings, and it wanted to fly away, but great-grandmother held it
tight.

“‘Please let me go,’ said the fairy.

“‘What will you give me?’ said great-grandmother.

“‘I will give you one wish,’” answered the fairy.

So great-grandmother thought and thought what was the best thing to
wish for, and at last she said,—

“‘Give to me and to my daughters to the eleventh generation the lucky
finger and the loving heart.’

“‘You have wished a big wish,’ said the fairy, ‘but you shall have
it.’” So she kissed great-grandmother’s eyes and mouth, and then she
flew away.

“And did the wish come true?” asked Trots.

“Always—always,” answered grannie. “We have been since then the best
spinners and knitters in all the countryside, and the best wives and
daughters.”

“But,” said Trots, “what will the eleventh generation do when the wish
stops and the good-luck?”

“I don’t know,” said grannie, shaking her head. “I suppose they’ll have
to catch a fairy of their own.”



Transcriber’s notes:

A Table of Contents was created for this text version.

  Not Such Fun as it Seemed:
      ... and Dolly was generally only too eager to join in her
      brothers pranks. Brothers corrected to brother’s.
      ... and Dolly was generally only too eager to join in her
      brother’s pranks.

  The Little Tiny Thing:
      ... said father. Do you think that all children
      are as kind as that?” Missing opening quotation mark before the
      word Do. Opening quotation mark inserted.
      ... said father. “Do you think that all children
      are as kind as that?”

  Great-Granmother’s Wish:
     “‘I will give you one wish,’ answered the fairy.
     Missing ending closing double quotation mark. Inserted
     “‘I will give you one wish,’” answered the fairy.

     “‘You have wished a big wish,’ said the fairy, ‘but
     you shall have it.’ So she kissed great-grandmother’s eyes
     and mouth, and then she flew away.” Misplaced ending double quote.
     Repositioned—“‘You have wished a big wish,’ said the fairy, ‘but
     you shall have it.’” So she kissed great-grandmother’s eyes
     and mouth, and then she flew away.





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