Minor punctuation errors have been changed without notice. A printer error has been changed and is listed at the end.
FOR LOWER GRADES
NEW YORK CINCINNATI CHICAGO AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY
BY FLORENCE HOLBROOK.
ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL, LONDON.
HOLBROOK'S DRAMATIC READER.
TO THE CHILDREN
These little plays—well-known stories done into dialogue—were written for children who like to imagine themselves living with their favorite characters in forest, in palace, or in fairyland.
It is hoped that you will enjoy these old friends in their new dress almost as well as you loved them in the old. When you read the words of bird or tree or prince or child, try to speak with the voice and manner which you think that character would use. Thus you will make the reading a joy to yourselves and a great satisfaction to your hearers.
To try to put oneself in the place of another is very good training for the imagination. It also teaches us to be more kind to others and to all living creatures. We learn that most persons are striving to do better and to be better, and we grow in understanding and sympathy.
May these little plays help you to the enjoyment of the great dramas which you will read when you are older.
LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD 7
GOLDILOCKS, OR THE THREE BEARS 16
THE BIRD WITH THE BROKEN WING 26
CORNELIA AND HER JEWELS 34
THE PIED PIPER 56
MOTHER GOOSE'S PARTY 65
LITTLE TWO-EYES 83
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK 100
HAeNSEL AND GRETEL 107
KING ALFRED 125
ROBIN HOOD AND THE SAD KNIGHT 139
WILLIAM TELL 152
TIME AND THE SEASONS 162
THE GINGERBREAD MAN 170
THE GOOD FAIRY 178
A DRAMATIC READER
LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD, MOTHER, BIRD, WOLF, MILLER, GRANDMOTHER
SCENE I.—At Red Riding-Hood's Home
Mother. Would you like to go to grandmother's to-day, my child? The sun is bright and the air is warm and pleasant.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Yes, mother, you know I always like to visit dear grandmamma.
Mother. Then you may go. You may carry your little basket, and I'll put some honey and a jar of butter in it for grandma.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Oh, that will be a nice present for her! And may I take her some flowers?
Mother. Yes, dear child. Gather some of those you like best.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Here they are, mother—roses and pansies! Aren't they pretty?
Mother. Very pretty and sweet. Now put on your little red cloak and take the basket. Be very careful as you pass through the wood, and go directly to grandma's house.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Yes, dear mother. Nothing will harm me. All the birds and animals love me and I love them.
Mother. Good-by, little daughter. Give me a kiss and take my love to dear grandmother.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Good-by, mamma: good-by!
SCENE II.—In the Wood
Little Red Riding-Hood (singing).
Good morning, merry sunshine, How did you come so soon? You chase the little stars away And shine away the moon. I saw you go to sleep last night Before I ceased my playing. How did you get 'way over there, And where have you been staying?
How pretty it is here in the wood! Oh, what a lovely bed of moss! You must come with me, pretty green moss, to grandma's house. Good morning, pretty bird: will you sing to me this morning?
Bird. Yes, little Red Riding-Hood. I will sing to you because you love all the birds and can understand my song. Soon I'll show you my little birds who are just big enough to fly.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Thank you, dear bird, I shall be glad to see the cunning little things. But now I must hurry to grandmother's with the butter and the honey. Good-by!
Bird. Good-by, little friend! Chirp, chirp; chirp, chirp!
Little Red Riding-Hood. Now the little bird has flown away. I must put this moss in my basket and then hurry along—
Wolf. Ugh, ugh!
Little Red Riding-Hood. Oh! how you frightened me, Mister Wolf! Where did you come from?
Wolf. From my pretty cave, far, far in the dark wood, little girl. What is your name?
Little Red Riding-Hood. Why, don't you know me? I'm little Red Riding-Hood.
Wolf. I'm a stranger in this place, little girl; but I shall know you the next time I see you—ugh, ugh! What have you in your pretty basket, little Red Riding-Hood? It smells like honey.
Little Red Riding-Hood. It is honey, Mr. Wolf. I am taking it to my dear grandmother.
Wolf. Are you all alone in the wood, my child? Isn't your mother with you? Aren't you afraid?
Little Red Riding-Hood. Afraid? no, indeed! Why should I be afraid? All the animals are my friends.
Wolf. Oh, yes, of course they are all your friends! But is it far to your grandmother's house?
Little Red Riding-Hood. No, Mr. Wolf, only about half a mile. You go down this path to the mill and then turn to the right, and the first house you come to is my grandmother's. It's a little red house.
Wolf. Oh, that is very easy to find! But I know a shorter way through the wood. Let us run a race and see who will get there first.
Little Red Riding-Hood. All right, Mr. Wolf. Good-by!
Wolf. Ugh, ugh; good-by!
Little Red Riding-Hood. How fast he runs! I know he will win the race. How surprised dear grandma will be when Mr. Wolf knocks at the door! Now I see the mill. I will sing the pretty mill song we learned in school the other day.
[Begins to sing, then stops suddenly.]
Oh, there is the miller. Good morning, Mr. Miller! Have you seen Mr. Wolf go by?
Miller. No, little Red Riding-Hood. Have you seen a wolf in the wood?
Little Red Riding-Hood. Yes, Mr. Miller, and he said he would race with me to my grandmother's house.
Miller. My dear child, I will call the men who are chopping trees in the forest and they will catch Mr. Wolf. He is no friend of ours, and you must not talk with him, for he is cruel and will do you harm.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Will he? Then I will never say another word to him. But I must hurry on to dear grandmother's.
SCENE III.—Grandmother's House
Little Red Riding-Hood. Here I am at the door; I will knock. May I come in, dear grandmother?
Wolf (in the house). Open the latch and walk in.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Here I am, dear grandmother! I am so glad the bad wolf did not get here first. Are you so sick you must stay in bed? See the nice butter and honey that mother sent you. And see the pretty flowers I've brought you.
Wolf. Thank you, my child.
Little Red Riding-Hood. How rough your voice is, grandmother!
Wolf. That's because I've such a bad cold.
Little Red Riding-Hood. But how bright your eyes are, grandmother!
Wolf. The better to see you, my child.
Little Red Riding-Hood. How long your arms are, grandmother!
Wolf. The better to hold you, my child.
Little Red Riding-Hood. And how big your teeth are, grandmother!
Wolf. The better to eat you—ugh! ugh!
[The miller and the wood choppers rush in.]
Mr. Miller. Here's an end to you, Mr. Wolf! These men with their axes will stop your cruel deeds.
[The wolf runs out, followed by the men.]
Come, little Red Riding-Hood, don't be afraid. The wolf can't harm you now. Here is your grandmother, who has just come home from the village. She will take care of you.
Little Red Riding-Hood. Dear grandmother! I thought that the wolf was you.
Grandmother. Darling little Red Riding-Hood! How glad I am that you are safe. Now you must stay with me till your mother comes, and we will tell her how the brave men saved you and me from the hungry wolf. Won't she be glad to see her little Red Riding-Hood again?
GOLDILOCKS, OR THE THREE BEARS
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—GOLDILOCKS, THE DOLLIE, FATHER BEAR, MOTHER BEAR, BABY BEAR
SCENE I.—Goldilocks in the Garden with her Doll
Goldilocks. O dear! I do wish mother would come home. I am going to meet her. She told me not to go out of the garden lest I should get lost; but if I keep in the road, I can't get lost! Come, Dollie, you and I will go just a little way to meet mamma.
How warm it is in the sunshine! I think we shall go into the shady wood a little while. Let us pick some of these pretty flowers to make a wreath—won't mother be surprised when I show her all these flowers. Here is a lovely red one; and here's another like a daisy.
How dark it is here! I cannot see the road. I wonder if I'm lost! O mamma, mamma! I'm afraid. Dear Dollie, I'm glad you are with me.
Dollie. But I'm afraid, too!
Goldilocks. Please, dear Dollie, don't be afraid. Why, there's nothing to be afraid of—oh!
Dollie. What is the matter, Goldilocks?
Goldilocks. Look, what is that?
Dollie. I don't see anything.
Goldilocks. I thought I saw a bear.
Dollie. Well, I hope not. I don't like bears.
Goldilocks. But there is a little house. Isn't it a funny little house? I wonder who lives there!
Dollie. Dear Goldilocks, please, don't you think we'd better go home? I don't like strange little houses in the wood.
Goldilocks. Perhaps a kind fairy lives there who will show us the way home.
Dollie. Yes, or perhaps she is the Gingerbread Witch who will turn us into gingerbread for her supper!
Goldilocks. Don't say such uncomfortable things, Dollie. She couldn't turn you into gingerbread, anyway.
Dollie. Well, I know I'm made of sawdust, but she might make mush of me for breakfast!
Goldilocks. I know you're fooling now, dear Dollie. Let's look in the window. I don't see anyone. I'll knock at the door. No one answers. Come, Dollie, we'll open the door and walk in. How nice and warm it is. There is a good fire in the kitchen stove.
Dollie. Yes, and I smell something good to eat.
Goldilocks. Here it is on the table—what pretty bowls—one, two, three! I'll taste the porridge in the big bowl first. O Dollie, it is too hot! I burned my mouth.
Dollie. Try the next bowl. Perhaps the porridge in the middle-sized bowl is not so hot.
Goldilocks. No, indeed, it isn't; but it is too cold.
Dollie. Aren't you hard to please? I'm so hungry I could eat anything.
Goldilocks. Now this in the little bowl is just right. Sit down, Dollie, and we'll eat it all up.
Dollie. Do you think it is very polite for us to eat it all?
Goldilocks. You should have spoken of that before. It is too late now when it is all gone. Come, let us go into the parlor.
Dollie. Don't you think we'd better go home?
Goldilocks. How can we when I don't know the way? I'm tired, and I think I'll rest awhile in this nice big rocking-chair. But it's too high; I can't get into it.
Dollie. Don't move it out of its place.
Goldilocks. Never mind! I'll try the middle-sized chair. I don't like this, it is too low.
Dollie. Well, Goldilocks, you must not put chairs out of their places!
Goldilocks. Oh, it won't hurt them. Now let us try this pretty little chair. Come, Dollie, I'll sing you a song:
Rock-a-bye, Dollie, in the treetop, When the wind blows, the cradle will rock; When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall And down will come Dollie, cradle and all!
Dollie. Well, something broke then!
Goldilocks. Yes, the cradle and all came down that time. Dear, O dear! I wish I hadn't rocked you so hard. I wish I hadn't run away! [Crying.]
Dollie. Don't cry, dear Goldilocks. Let us see what we can find in the next room. Perhaps some one is in there who will take us to your dear mother.
Goldilocks. O Dollie! I'm a naughty girl not to mind my mother. If I'd only stayed at home in the garden!
Dollie. Oh, see the big bed!
Goldilocks. I'm so tired I believe I'll climb in and go to sleep. But I don't like it. This big bed is too hard.
Dollie. And this middle-sized one is too soft.
Goldilocks. But this little one is just right. Go—to—sleep—Dollie—
SCENE II.—The Bear Family in the Wood
Father Bear. Well, little son, aren't you about ready to go home?
Sonny Bear. Oh, no, father! Let me play just a little longer. Here are such good places to hide in the shady wood.
Mother Bear. No, dear little sonny, we must go home now. It is getting late. It's time for you to have your supper and go to bed.
Sonny Bear. All right, mother dear. I believe I am hungry, and your porridge is always so good.
Mother Bear. Most children like porridge. Perhaps you can have a nice red apple, too.
Sonny Bear. Oh, goody! Little sonny bears always like apples, don't they, papa?
Father Bear. Yes, my dear. Mother, let me take your knitting basket. What are you making now?
Mother Bear. A warm cap for sonny. Isn't it pretty?
Father Bear. Very pretty, and he should be very glad he has such a good mother.
Sonny Bear. She is a good mother, and you are a very good father, too.
Father Bear. Well, here we are at home again. But the door is open. I'm certain I closed it when we went away. Who has been here?
Mother Bear. Let us take off our wraps and have our tea.
Father Bear. Why, somebody has been tasting my porridge.
Mother Bear. What? Let me see! Some one has left a spoon in my porridge, too.
Sonny Bear. Oh, mamma! Look at my bowl! Some one has eaten my porridge all up.
Mother Bear. Never mind, sonny boy, you may have some of mine. But I wonder who has been here. Let us go into the parlor and see if anyone is there.
Father Bear. Who's been moving my chair?
Mother Bear. Some one has been sitting in my chair!
Sonny Bear. Look, mother! Some one has been rocking in my chair and broken it all to pieces! O dear! my nice little chair!
Father Bear. Never mind, Sonny Bear; don't cry. I'll buy you another chair at Mr. Wolf's store to-morrow.
Mother Bear. And now it is time for us to go to bed. Our little son is tired and sleepy.
Father Bear. I'll carry him up stairs. Come, sonny, there you are up on my shoulder.
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross To see an old woman ride on a white horse. With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, She shall have music wherever she goes!
Well, who's been in my bed, I'd like to know?
Mother Bear. Why, look at my bed. Some one has been lying on my bed!
Sonny Bear. Come quick, Mother! Father, come! Some one is in my bed.
Goldilocks (waking and frightened). Oh, see the three Bears. Come, Dollie, let us jump out of the window. [Runs away.]
Mother Bear. The little girl has gone, dear. Now you must go to sleep.
THE BIRD WITH THE BROKEN WING
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—THE BIRD, THE OAK TREE, THE MAPLE, THE WILLOW, THE SPRUCE, THE PINE, THE JUNIPER, THE FOREST FAIRY, JACK FROST
SCENE I.—In the Woods
The Oak. See that flock of birds coming! The winter is near and they are flying south.
The Maple. I hope they will not light on my branches; I like to keep my leaves in order.
The Willow. So many birds will break my tender twigs. I am sure I do not want them either. Here they come!
[The birds fly over the trees.]
Little Bird. Oh, I can fly no farther! My wing is broken and I cannot hold it up. I am so tired and cold and hungry! I must rest to-night in this forest. I am sure some big strong tree will give me a resting place. I will ask this tall Oak, he looks so strong and his leaves are so thick and warm! May I rest in your branches to-night, great Oak Tree? I am a poor little bird with a broken wing and I am cold and tired and hungry.
The Oak. I am sorry; but my branches are all engaged by the squirrels, who are getting their acorns in for the winter. I have no room for strange birds.
Little Bird. Oh! I am so lonely, so tired! Surely the handsome Maple Tree will take me in. She has no acorns and so the squirrels will not be in her branches. Kind, lovely Maple Tree, may I rest to-night in your branches? I am a poor little bird with a broken wing. I will not harm your pretty leaves.
The Maple. My leaves tremble to think of taking in strange birds! My house is in perfect order and I cannot think of disturbing it. Please go away!
Little Bird. Oh, what shall I do? The Oak and the Maple are so unkind and I am shivering with cold and weak with hunger. Surely some tree must be kind. Dear Willow, you are kind, are you not? Will you take me upon your graceful branches just for to-night?
The Willow. Really, Mr. Bird with the broken wing, I think you should have gone on with the other birds. I cannot take you in. I do not know your name or anything about you. Besides, I am very sleepy, and so, good night!
Little Bird. Oh, my dear bird friends, how I wish some of you were here! I shall perish with the cold if I must stay on the ground. Where can I go? The Oak, the Maple, and the Willow have all turned me away and the night is coming on.
The Spruce. Dear little bird with the broken wing, come to me! Can you hop up into my branches if I hold them down to you? See, here I am! I am not so handsome as the Maple tree, but my leaves grow thick and I'll try to keep you warm through the night. Come!
Little Bird. Dear Spruce tree, how kind you are! I did not see you at first. Yes, here I am, on your lowest branch. How cosy and warm I feel. Oh, you are so good, and I was so tired and cold. Here I'll rest. I wish I could ever thank you enough for your goodness.
The Spruce. Do not speak of that, dear little bird; I am ashamed of the proud, selfish trees that would not shelter you. Should we not all be kind and helpful to one another?
The Pine. Well said, sister Spruce. And I will do my best to help you. I am not so strong as the Oak tree, little bird, but I will stand between you and the cold north wind. Rest warm and safe in the branches of the kind Spruce tree.
Little Bird. I thank you, tall Pine tree, for your kindness. You are a good brother of the Spruce and I shall rest well while you are both taking care of me.
The Juniper. I cannot keep the strong north wind from you, little bird with the broken wing, but if you are hungry, you may eat of my berries. Perhaps then you will rest better.
Little Bird. Thank you, dear Juniper tree. Why are you all so kind to me? Your berries are good, and now I am cold and hungry no longer. I'll go to sleep. Good night, dear trees!
Trees. Good night, little bird, and may you have sweet dreams!
SCENE II.—Midnight in the Forest
Jack Frost. Here I am in the great forest. How I dislike to touch all these beautiful leaves; yet I must obey the orders of King Winter. Here comes the Forest Fairy. Do you know why I have come, dear Fairy of the Forest?
Forest Fairy. Yes, Mr. Frost. I know that you must touch all the leaves, turning them into brilliant hues of gold and crimson and brown. I dislike to have them go, and yet you and I must obey the commands of King Winter. But,—
Jack Frost. But what, dear Fairy? You speak as if you had some wish to make—what is it?
Forest Fairy. I must tell you. Such a dear little bird came to the forest this evening. He had a broken wing, and he was cold and very tired. He asked shelter from the great Oak, the proud Maple, and the graceful Willow,—and all refused. I was so ashamed of my trees!
Jack Frost. What! did all the trees refuse to help a poor, tired little bird?
Forest Fairy. Listen! just as I was intending to speak to the trees, I heard the Spruce tell him to come to her branches and she would give him shelter. Then the Pine tree offered to keep the north wind from him, and the Juniper gave him her berries to eat. Could you, dear Jack Frost—
Jack Frost. Yes, yes, I know what you would ask. Such kindness as this should meet with some reward. The leaves of the proud Oak, the Maple, and the Willow shall fall to the ground when the cold of winter comes; but the Spruce, the Pine, the Juniper, and all their family shall keep their leaves and they shall be green all through the year. They shall be called the Evergreen Trees.
CORNELIA AND HER JEWELS
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—CORNELIA, NYDIA THE MAID, JULIA, ELDER SON, YOUNGER SON
SCENE.—Home of Cornelia
Nydia. Madam, the lady Julia waits to salute you.
Cornelia. Bid her enter, I pray. It is not fitting to have her wait.
Nydia. She is at the door, gracious madam.
Cornelia. Welcome, thrice welcome, fair Julia.
[Nydia carries Julia's casket.]
Julia. Thanks, dear Cornelia, for your kind greeting. May you and all your household have peace and joy.
Cornelia. And may those blessings be yours also, dear Julia. But tell me, what treasures have you in that charming casket?
Julia. A few poor jewels, fair friend. Bring me the casket, Nydia. These are some presents my parents and husband have given me.
Cornelia. I am so glad you have brought them to show me. You are very kind, for you know I greatly admire beautiful jewels.
Julia. See, here is a pearl necklace.
Cornelia. How lovely! Let me clasp it about your neck. It is very becoming. And what other gems have you?
Julia. Here is a girdle my mother gave me for a wedding present. Isn't it pretty?
Cornelia. Pretty! my dear, it is exquisite! Your mother showed much good taste when she chose this for you.
Julia. And here are some rings from the far East. See these emeralds and rubies; how they flash in the sunlight!
Cornelia. How well they look on your white hands! But I see something else.
Julia. Yes, this is my handsomest jewel, a diamond bracelet. This I like best of all.
Cornelia. They are all lovely, my dear friend, and I am glad you have such beautiful things.
Julia. But, dear Cornelia, where are your jewels? All Rome knows how rich your famous father, Scipio, was, and surely he gave you many handsome ornaments. Please show them to me.
Cornelia. Oh, no, dear friend. But hark! I think I hear my sons. Nydia, tell them I wish to see them.
Nydia. Here are the children, madam.
The Boys (running in). Dear mother! darling mother!
Cornelia. Tell me, my Caius, what did the pedagogue teach you to-day?
Caius. O mother! It was wonderful! He told us how Horatius kept the bridge in the brave days of old. Wasn't that a great and noble deed, mother mine?
Cornelia. Yes, my darling. And you, my Tiberius, have you been pleased with your lessons?
Tiberius. Mother, how you must honor our grandfather, the noble Scipio! Our teacher told the boys of his great campaigns in Africa and how the Senate called him Africanus after the war was over.
Cornelia. Yes, my son, such work and such lives are lessons worthy of study. They teach the young how they too may live and die for their beloved country.
Caius. I shall try to be a brave man some day, too, dear mother.
Tiberius. And I, mother, shall try to be worthy of our noble family.
Cornelia. My dear, noble boys! Julia, these are my jewels.
Julia. How you shame my vanity, noble Cornelia! What are all the precious stones in the world compared with these noble boys! Daughter of the famous Scipio, the world will remember you through the great deeds of your sons, and all mankind will honor you as CORNELIA, MOTHER OF THE GRACCHI.
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—CINDERELLA, MOTHER, FATHER, KATHERINE, ELIZABETH, FAIRY GODMOTHER, PRINCE, HERALD
SCENE I.—Cinderella's Home
Mother. I am so glad we are all invited to the ball at the Prince's palace. You know, my dear, that it will be a great pleasure for our girls.
Father. Yes; and I suppose you will all have to buy new ball dresses.
Katherine. O mamma! isn't it lovely! May I have a blue silk dress?
Elizabeth. And may I have pink, dear mother? And shall we get them to-day?
Mother. Yes, my child; and you may both go with me to buy your dresses and slippers.
Cinderella. Dear papa, may I go to the ball at the Prince's palace?
Father. You, my child! Aren't you too young for parties? Ask your mother.
Cinderella. May I go to the ball, mother?
Mother. Nonsense, child! what are you thinking of? A ball is no place for a child like you. You are better off at home by the kitchen fire.
Cinderella. But I'm fourteen. Sister Katherine, won't you coax mamma to let me go?
Katherine. No, indeed, I'll not! What would you do at a ball? a silly thing like you!
Elizabeth. Don't be a goose. Wait till you're older and better looking. There's no room in the carriage for you, and you are too young, anyway.
Mother. Come, girls, it is time for us to go down town to buy our new gowns. Cinderella, go to your lessons. Don't think any more about the ball. You can't go, and so that's the end of it.
SCENE II.—Cinderella's Home
Father. Come, girls! aren't you ready yet? Is your mother coming?
Katherine. Yes, father, in just a minute.
Mother. Here we are, dear. Don't the girls look sweet?
Father. Yes, yes! but, come on, for we are late now.
Mother. Good night, Cinderella. Be a good girl and go to bed at nine o'clock.
[All go out, leaving Cinderella alone.]
Cinderella. Good-by!—Now they have gone and I am all alone. Oh, why couldn't I go, too! How pretty they all looked! I would not take up much room, and I don't like to be left here by myself when they are having such a good time. Oh, dear! I believe I'm going to cry, but I can't help it. [Cries.]
[Enter fairy godmother.]
Fairy Godmother. Why are you crying, Cinderella?
Cinderella. Who is that? I thought I heard some one speaking to me, but I can't see anybody.
Fairy Godmother. What is the matter, Cinderella?
Cinderella. Oh, lovely lady! who are you?
Fairy Godmother. I am your fairy godmother, my child, and I wish to know why you are crying.
Cinderella. Oh, dear! I'm crying because they have all gone to the ball; and I wanted to go, too, and they wouldn't take me!
Fairy Godmother. Never mind, my dear. Stop crying, and I will let you go.
Cinderella. Oh, dear fairy godmamma! will you, really? But how can I go in this old dress?
Fairy Godmother. You'll see. Tell me, Cinderella, have you a big yellow pumpkin in the kitchen garden?
Cinderella. Yes, I think so. I saw one there yesterday.
Fairy Godmother. Go, get it for me.
Cinderella (runs out, and returns with the pumpkin). I've found it! Here it is!
Fairy Godmother. Yes, that is a fine pumpkin. I'll touch it with my wand. What is it now?
[The pumpkin is changed to a carriage.]
Cinderella. Oh! oh! how lovely! Such a beautiful, big, yellow coach! Why, it is much finer than papa's black carriage.
Fairy Godmother. I am glad you like your coach. Now do you think there are any rats in your rat trap?
Cinderella. I'll go see. Yes, here is the trap with two big rats in it. What long tails they have!
Fairy Godmother. Wait till I touch them with my fairy wand. Now what do you see?
Cinderella. Oh, dear godmother! what a wonderful wand to change rats into great handsome horses with long manes and tails! You dear horses! I'll get you some sugar to eat.
Fairy Godmother. Don't stop to pet them now, but fetch me the mousetrap.
Cinderella. Here it is with two cunning little mice in it. What will you do with them?
Fairy Godmother. Touch them with my fairy wand and turn them into a coachman and a footman. See, the coachman is on the box with the reins in his hand, and the footman holds the door open for you. Will you step in, Cinderella?
Cinderella. In these clothes, dear godmother?
Fairy Godmother (laughing). That wouldn't be nice, would it? Well, let us see what my wand can do for you. Now look in the glass and tell me what you see there.
Cinderella. Oh, what a pretty lady! Why, I do believe she is myself! What a beautiful dress! And look, dear godmother! see my pretty glass slippers!
Fairy Godmother. Yes, my dear, you are all ready for the Prince's ball. I want you to have a happy time, but remember this. You must start for home when the clock strikes twelve or your pretty clothes will change, your coach will turn into a pumpkin, your horses to rats, and you will have to walk home.
Cinderella. I'll remember, dear godmother, and run away on the first stroke. Thank you so much! Good-by!
[Enters the coach and is driven away.]
SCENE III.—The Prince's Palace
Cinderella. Here I am at the palace. Please announce me as the Lady from Far Away.
Herald. The Lady from Far Away!
Prince. What a lovely lady! she must be a princess. Tell me, fair lady, are you a princess from the land of flowers?
Cinderella. I am not a princess, sir, but only a girl from the land of happy thoughts.
Prince. You say well, fair lady, for no one can look upon you without thoughts of love and joy.
Cinderella. And you, great Prince, have thoughts of great and noble deeds, have you not?
Prince. Yes, I have thoughts of great deeds, of brave men and fair ladies, of games and victories,—but now I have forgotten all but you.
Cinderella. Will you remember me to-morrow or shall I fade away like the dreams of night?
Prince. No dreams could be fairer, but I hope you will not vanish as they do. If you do, I am quite sure that I shall find you!
Cinderella. Don't be too sure, for I am not what I seem. I am a princess only in your thoughts; really I am—
Prince. What? a flower, a star, a goddess?
Cinderella. No, only a woman—
Prince. The best of all, a woman! And now will the dream-woman dance with me?
Cinderella. With pleasure; what lovely music!—and so many pretty women. What beautiful rooms!
[Cinderella, the Prince, her father, mother, sisters, and two gentlemen dance the minuet.]
Prince. Will you not tell me your name and where you live?
Cinderella. Both are a secret.
Prince. It makes no difference to me, for I know you, and that is enough.
Cinderella. I hear the clock! What hour is it striking?
Prince. Twelve—but that is early. You need not go?
Cinderella. Yes, I must, and quietly. Do not try to keep me, Prince—good night!
Prince. She is gone! and I do not know where she lives. How can I find her? I'll give another ball and hope she will come again.
[All go out.]
SCENE IV.—Cinderella's Home
Father. Well, girlies, did you have a pleasant time at the ball?
Katherine. Oh, yes, papa, splendid! But did you see the lovely princess that came so late?
Elizabeth. She was the prettiest girl there. I wonder who she is!
Mother. So do I. It seems to me I've seen her somewhere. Perhaps I've met her in my travels; but I can't remember where it was.
Father. What is her name?
Katherine. I heard some one say she was Lady Far Away. But that's not a real name.
Elizabeth. Perhaps she is a princess in disguise.
Cinderella. Tell me, sister, how this princess looked.
Elizabeth. Oh! she is lovely! Golden curls and blue eyes and such a sweet smile!
Katherine. She wore a beautiful dress that shone like the moonlight.
Elizabeth. Did you notice her pretty slippers? They looked like crystal.
Mother. The Prince danced with her all the time.
Father. Why, here comes the Prince's herald. I'll see what he wants. Here is a note. It is an invitation to go to the Prince's palace again to-night. Do you all want to go?
All. Yes, yes, father, please!
Father. All right, we'll go!
Cinderella. Can't I go this time, mamma?
Mother. No, my dear. When you are a little older you can go, but not now.
SCENE V.—At the Palace
Prince. I wonder if my fairy princess will come to-night. I've been looking for her for more than an hour. Oh, here she is! Dear lady, I've been hoping you would come.
Cinderella. So you have not forgotten me?
Prince. No, and never shall. Will you go with me to see the flowers?
Cinderella. What lovely flowers! This is certainly the home of the flower fairies. See the roses nodding at us. They almost ask us to love them.
Prince. May I give you this dainty pink one? It is the color of your cheeks.
Cinderella. Remember I am from the land of Far Away and I must vanish at midnight.
Prince. Tell me where your father lives that I may call upon him.
Cinderella. Not now; but sometime I may tell you about my fairy godmother.
Prince. There! I knew you must be a sister of the fairies. Does your fairy godmother have a fairy wand?
Cinderella. Yes, and she does wonderful things with it—but my father and mother do not know about her.
Prince. Of course not. Only very young people know about fairy godmothers. But we know, don't we?
Cinderella. Hark! I hear the chimes ringing. It must be twelve o'clock, and I must go.
Prince. Do not go, dear princess. Stay here in my palace, always.
Cinderella. The fairies are calling me and I am late. I must go. Perhaps I can come again sometime. Oh, I am afraid—
Prince. Afraid of what?
Cinderella. Good-by, good-by!
Prince. She's gone! What was she afraid of? I cannot see her! Who is that child running down the stairway? She must be one of the servants who has been watching the dancers. I wish I could see my princess. What is that shining thing on the stairs? She has lost one of her crystal slippers. Now I know how I shall find her. To-morrow I shall send a herald through the city to find the owner of this pretty little slipper.
SCENE VI.—Cinderella's Home
Cinderella. Mamma, mamma, here is a man on horseback who wants to see you.
Mother. What is your errand, sir?
Herald. I am sent by the great Prince of our country to find the owner of this slipper. He says he will marry no one but the lady who can wear this little crystal slipper.
Mother. I'll call my daughters. Katherine! Elizabeth! We were all at the ball at the Prince's palace. Katherine, is this your glass slipper? Try it on.
Katherine. Yes, mother. My, how small it is! I cannot get my foot in it!
Elizabeth. Perhaps it will fit me. My feet are smaller than yours. No, I cannot push my foot in, no matter how long I try. It must be a magic slipper.
Cinderella. May I try on the slipper?
Mother. My dear child, why should you try on the slipper? It belongs to the princess who went to the ball.
Katherine. And you were not at the ball, Cinderella!
Elizabeth. Your foot is too big for it, my dear little sister.
Herald. Pardon me, ladies, but the orders of the Prince are that every lady, young or old, must try on the slipper, and when the owner is found she must go with me to the palace.
Cinderella. Give it to me, please. See how easily it slips on my foot—and here is the mate to the glass slipper in my pocket. Dear Mother, I am the fairy princess you saw at the ball.
Mother. You, my dear! and I did not know you!
Herald. Now, lady, please come with me to the Prince's palace. You shall be a princess.
Cinderella. Good-by, dear sisters! Good-by, dear mother! I am going to the Prince's palace.
THE PIED PIPER
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—MAYOR, FIRST COUNCILMAN, SECOND COUNCILMAN, THIRD COUNCILMAN, TEN CITIZENS, PIPER
SCENE I.—The Mayor's Office
Mayor and Councilmen, sitting around a table.—Citizens come in.
First Citizen. Our Mayor is a noddy!
Second Citizen. Look at our corporation sitting in the gowns we pay for, and doing nothing!
Third Citizen. See here, how the rats made a nest in my Sunday hat!
Fourth Citizen. When I was cooking dinner the bold rats licked the soup from my ladle!
Fifth Citizen. They are so bold they are always fighting with the dogs and cats!
Sixth Citizen. Yes, and they kill them, too!
Seventh Citizen. My baby cried in his sleep, and when I went to him there was a big rat in his cradle.
Eighth Citizen. What are you going to do about it, Mr. Mayor?
Ninth Citizen. You'd better wake up, sirs! Don't go to sleep over this!
Tenth Citizen. I tell you, you'll have to do something to save us from this army of rats!
First Councilman. What can we do?
Second Councilman. I'm sure we've tried everything, but every day the rats grow worse and worse.
Third Councilman. I'm sure it isn't very pleasant for us to have the city overrun with the creatures!
Mayor. I'd sell my ermine gown for a guilder! It is no easy thing to be mayor and I wish I was a plowboy in the country! Try to think of something to do.
First Councilman. It is easy to bid us rack our own brains!
Second Councilman. I'm sure my head aches trying to think.
Third Councilman. I've wondered and thought, till I've no thoughts left.
Mayor. Oh! if I only had a great big trap! Yes, a thousand big traps! Bless us, what noise is that? Is it a rat?—Come in!
First Councilman. Who is this who dares to come into the Mayor's office without an introduction?
Second Councilman. Hasn't he a funny coat?
Third Councilman. But what a pleasant face! He smiles all the time.
Mayor. He looks like the picture of my grandsire. What is your name, and your business, my man?
Pied Piper. Please your honors, my name is Pied Piper. My business is to play upon my pipe. I can charm with the magic of my notes all things to do my will. But I use my charm on creatures that do people harm, the toad, the mole, and the viper, and rats—rats!
Mayor. Rats! Well, then, you're the man we want. We'll pay you a thousand guilders if you'll free our town of rats.
Piper. A thousand guilders! Done! It's a bargain!
SCENE II.—Same as Scene I. The Mayor and Councilmen looking out of window
Mayor. There he goes down the street.
First Councilman. What a strange looking pipe he plays!
Second Councilman. I believe it must be a magic one.
Third Councilman. Do you hear the music? What is that other noise?
Mayor. Look, look at the rats! Did you ever see such a sight!
First Councilman. The streets are crowded with them! Big and little, brown, black, and gray, they are tumbling over each other in their hurry!
Second Councilman. Sir! he is going toward the bridge.
Third Councilman. They must think he is playing a tune of apples and cheese!
Mayor. There they are at the river. They are plunging in! they will be drowned!
First Councilman. Good for the piper!
Mayor. Ring the bells for the people. Tell them to get long poles, poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Second Councilman. Here comes the Piper.
Third Councilman. That was well done, Mr. Piper.
Pied Piper. Yes, all the rats are drowned and now I've come for my pay.
Mayor. Pay! why what have you done? Just played a tune on your pipe. You must be joking.
Piper. You promised—
First Councilman. You impudent fellow! You certainly don't think a tune on your pipe is worth one thousand guilders? There is no work in that.
Second Councilman. The rats are dead and can't come to life again, I think!
Mayor. My friend, we are much obliged, of course. We are much obliged and will gladly give you fifty guilders. You know your time is not worth more.
Piper. No trifling, pray. I'll have what you promised, or you may find that I'll play a tune you do not like!
Mayor. What! do you threaten us, fellow? Do what you please. Do you think we care? Play on your old pipe whatever tune you wish.
Piper. Listen, then, and look from your window when I play again in the street below.
Mayor. What does the lazy fellow mean by his threats?
First Councilman. Hear his wonderful music! Listen.
Second Councilman. Oh! what is he doing! See the children!
Third Councilman. They are following him. There is my son. Where are you going, my boy? Come back!
Mayor. Let me see! O woe! there are my own three lovely children. Run, some one, and stop them!
Third Councilman. I'll go; I'll go.
Mayor. It is useless. Every child in our city is following the magic sound.
Second Councilman. The music seems to say: "Come, children, to the wonderful land of play. There flowers and fruits will welcome you. The birds and beasts will play with you, and you will never be sad or sorry in the wonderful land of play." No wonder the children follow the Piper.
Third Councilman (enters). The children and the Piper have all disappeared! A mountain opened and let them in!
First Councilman. The children, the blessed children, have gone! What shall we do without the children?
Mayor. Oh, wicked man that I am! Why did I break my promise? Why did I not give him the thousand guilders?
Second Councilman. Yes, we are all wicked men, and we are punished for not keeping our word.
Mayor. Let us write this sad story on a column so that all may read; and let us paint the picture of the Piper with our little ones following him, on a church window, so that all men may know how our children have been stolen away.
First Councilman. And may this sad story teach us all to keep our word with every one.
MOTHER GOOSE'S PARTY
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—MOTHER GOOSE, JACK GOOSE, MOTHER HUBBARD, DOG, A-DILLAR-A-DOLLAR, MARY (AND HER LAMB), OLD MRS. SHOEMAN, HER SONS (TOMMY TUCKER, JACKY HORNER), MISS MUFFET, BOY BLUE, BO-PEEP, NANCY ETTICOAT, LITTLE BOY WHO LIVES IN THE LANE, OLD KING COLE, MAN IN THE MOON, TOM THE PIPER'S SON, MISTRESS MARY
SCENE I.—Home of Mother Goose
Mother Goose. I really think I must give a party. All my friends have been so good to me and I have been entertained in so many homes! Wherever I go I am sure to see one of my Mother Goose books, and the children all seem to love it so much. Let me see! whom shall I invite? I think I'll ask Old Mother Hubbard to take tea with me and we'll talk about the party together. Jack, Jack!
Jack (enters). Yes, mother dear, what is it?
Mother Goose. Jack Goose, I wish you to run over to Mother Hubbard's house and ask her to take tea with me this afternoon. Now be nimble, Jack,—be quick!
Jack. Yes, mother dear. See me jump over the candlestick! Isn't that fine jumping?
Mother Goose. Very fine indeed, Jack. Now do your errand, and hurry home.
Jack. Yes, mother, I will. Good-by.
Mother Goose. Good-by.
SCENE II.—House of Mother Hubbard
Jack (knocking). I wonder if Old Mother Hubbard is at home. Hark! I hear her dog barking. Yes, and I hear her step. Here she is!
Mother Hubbard (opening the door). Who is this knocking so loud? Oh, it's you, little nimble Jack! Will you come in?
Jack. No, thank you, Mrs. Hubbard. My mother wishes you to come over to our house for tea this afternoon. Will you come?
Mother Hubbard. Yes, thank you, Jack, I will. Tell your mother that I'm just going to market to buy my poor doggie a bone.
Jack. O Mother Hubbard! please let me play with your dog. He's such a dear old doggie! Do you remember how he danced a jig the other day?
Mother Hubbard. Yes, Jack, I do; and I think you danced with him. You are both nimble young things and both like to dance. Well, good-by, now. Have a good time together and I'll bring you something little boys like.
Jack. Thank you! Good-by, good-by! Now, doggie, let's dance.
Old Mother Hubbard, she went to the cupboard, To get the poor doggie a bone; But when she got there, the cupboard was bare, And so the poor doggie had none.
Dog (sadly). Bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow!
Jack. Oh! you don't like that song! Never mind, old fellow! Mother Hubbard has gone to the butcher's and she'll get you a bone, I'm sure. Wait till she comes back.
Dog (gayly). Bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow!
Jack. I thought you would like that. Here she comes now. We've had a lovely dance, Mother Hubbard, and now I must hurry home.
Mother Hubbard. Thank you for staying and taking good care of my dog. Here are some fresh Banbury buns for you.
Jack. Oh, thank you, Mother Hubbard. I'm very fond of Banbury buns. Good-by!
Mother Hubbard. Good-by, Jack. Tell your mother I'll be over soon.
Jack. Bring your dog with you, and we'll have another dance. Good-by.
Dog. Bow-wow! bow-wow! bow-wow!
SCENE III.—Mother Goose and Mother Hubbard at the Tea Table
Mother Goose. I am pleased to see you, Mother Hubbard. I hear that your cupboard is no longer bare and empty, and I am very glad you are able to give your poor dog all the bones a good dog should have. Now for our tea. Shall I put two or three lumps in your cup?
Mother Hubbard. Three, please. I like my tea very sweet. And now tell me, Mother Goose, what is the reason you sent for me to-day?
Mother Goose. Well, I am going to give a party and I wish to ask your advice.
Mother Hubbard. Indeed! Whom do you think of inviting?
Mother Goose. First, the dear Old Woman who lives in the shoe—
Mother Hubbard. What! and all her children?
Mother Goose. No, only the two eldest. You know the party is for my son Jack, too, and we must have the young people as well as their parents. Old King Cole will come and bring his fiddlers three to play for the young folks who dance.
Mother Hubbard. I hope you won't invite Tom the Piper's Son, or My Son John as his mother calls him,—or Humpty-Dumpty. They are not good boys for your son Jack to play with!
Mother Goose. I suppose not; but I like them all, and I dislike to leave out anyone. I don't wish to hurt their feelings.
Mother Hubbard. There are little Bo-Peep and Boy Blue, who are good children, although rather silly; and there are little Miss Muffet and Nancy Etticoat, both very pretty little girls; and there are Jacky Horner and Tommy Tucker and the Man-in-the-Moon and Taffey and Daffey-Down-Dilly and—
Mother Goose. I'll have to give a garden party if I invite all those! I can't leave any out, and I think I'll have the party out-of-doors.
Mother Hubbard. That will be fine! I only hope it will be a pleasant day. When will you give it?
Mother Goose. Two weeks from to-day, the first of May.
Mother Hubbard. That's May Day and a very good day for a party out-of-doors. Well I must go home now. Good-by! If I can help you, please call upon me.
Mother Goose. Thank you, Mother Hubbard! Good-by, and thank you again for coming over.
SCENE IV.—At the Party
Mother Hubbard. What a lovely day you have for your party, Mother Goose! The sun shines so bright and warm, and the flowers are lovely. Is there anything I can do?
Mother Goose. No, thank you. I'm glad you came early. Have you seen the tables?
Mother Hubbard. They are lovely! Where did you get such pretty flowers?
Mother Goose. From Mistress Mary, quite contrary. You know she has a garden
With cockle shells, and silver bells, And pretty maids all in a row.
Mother Hubbard. I see some one coming.
Mother Goose. Why, how do you do, A-Dillar-a-Dollar! Are you always in such good time?
A-Dillar-a-Dollar. I'm afraid not, Mrs. Goose. They call me
A ten o'clock scholar, Why did you come so soon? You used to come at ten o'clock, And now you come at noon!
Mother Goose. And here comes Mary with her little lamb. Do you like the lamb better than a Teddy Bear, Mary?
Mary. Yes, indeed, I do. Because the lamb loves me, you know.
It followed me to school one day, Which was against the rule; It made the children laugh and play, To see the lamb at school.
Mother Goose. Here comes the Old Woman who lives in a shoe, and her two oldest boys. Dear Mrs. Shoe-woman, I am very glad to see you! How did you leave all of your children?
Mrs. Shoe-woman. Oh, dear, Mother Goose! I have so many children I don't know what to do: when they are naughty I give them some broth without any bread, and whip them all soundly and put them to bed.
Mother Goose. Here are all the children coming to the party! Come, children, let us have a dance. All stand around the Maypole as I call your names:
Little Miss Muffet and Boy Blue;
Little Bo-Peep and Jacky Horner;
Nancy Etticoat and Jack-be-nimble;
Mary and the little Boy who lives in the Lane.
All take ribbons and stand around the Maypole. Are you all ready?
Children. Yes, Mother Goose, we are all ready when the music begins.
Mother Goose. Old King Cole, will you have your three fiddlers play for the dance?
King Cole. With pleasure, dear Mother Goose—and I'll sing:
Hey diddle, diddle! the cat and the fiddle; The cow jumped over the moon; The little dog laughed to see such craft, And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Old King Cole was a merry old soul; And a merry old soul was he; He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl, And he called for his fiddlers three.
Mother Goose. These are very good songs, but they will not do for a Maypole dance. Here, Little Tommy Tucker, sing for your supper.
Tommy Tucker. All right, Mother Goose.
Handy Spandy, Jack-a-dandy, Loved plum cake and sugar candy; He bought some at a grocer's shop, And out he came, hop, hop, hop.
Little Tommy Tucker, sings for his supper; What shall he eat? White bread and butter; How shall he eat it without any knife? How shall he marry without any wife?
[Dance about the Maypole.]
Mother Goose. Why, who can that man be? He is tumbling down in a very queer way! Who are you?
I'm the Man in the Moon, Come down too soon To ask the way to Norwich. I went by the south, And burnt my mouth, Eating cold pease-porridge.
Are Jack and Jill here?
Jack. Here I am, Mr. Moon-Man.
Jill. Oh, dear Mr. Moon-Man, where is your dog and your bundle of sticks?
Jack. Tell us what the children play in your country, the Moon!
Children. Please do, Mr. Moon-Man!
Moon-Man. Well, children, I can tell you how they learn to count. They all say—
One, two; buckle my shoe; Three, four; shut the door; Five, six; pick up sticks;
and then they all pick up sticks and put them on the fire.
Tom. I don't think that is much fun!
Children. Of course you don't. You don't like sticks.
Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son, Stole a pig and away he run! The pig was eat, And Tom was beat, And Tom ran roaring down the street!
Mistress Mary. Now, children, let us sit in a circle and play games and sing songs. Little Bo-Peep, you may sing your little song first.
Little Bo-Peep, she lost her sheep, And doesn't know where to find them;
Leave them alone and they will come home Bringing their tails behind them.
Mistress Mary. Now Jack and Jill—
Jack and Jill. Shall we go up the hill to get a pail of water?
Jack and Jill went up the hill To get a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after.
Up Jack got and home did trot As fast as he could caper; He went to bed to mend his head, With vinegar and brown paper.
Jill came in and she did grin, To see his paper plaster; Her mother, vexed, did spank her next For laughing at Jack's disaster.
Mistress Mary. Now, I'll sing a song and then help Mother Goose with the supper. [Sings.]
Sing a song a sixpence, Pocket full of rye; Four-and-twenty blackbirds Baked in a pie. When the pie was opened The birds began to sing, Wasn't that a dainty dish To set before the king?
Mother Goose. Now I must have some children to help me.
Jack Goose. I'll take the bean porridge hot and bean porridge cold, mother, and Tommy Tucker can go with me and pass the white bread and butter.
Mother Goose. That's my good Jack. Now Tom the Piper's Son may take the roast pig and Mary may pass the Banbury cross buns.
Miss Muffet. Dear Mother Goose, may I pass the curds and whey?
Mother Goose. Yes, my dear child, but be careful not to spill any. Then for the last course Jack Horner will pass the Christmas pie and give every child a big fat plum.
Little Jacky Horner Sitting in a corner Eating a Christmas pie He put in his thumb And pulled out a plum And said—What a great boy am I?
Old King Cole. Mother Goose, you have given us a beautiful party and we have had a lovely time. We hope you will live to give many more to your friends and the children.
Children. Yes, Mother Goose, your party was just lovely!
Mother Goose. Thank you, dear children.
King Cole. Now, little folks, let us sing a good-by song to Mother Goose.
The girls (bowing to King Cole).
The king was in the counting room, Counting out his money.
The boys (bowing to Mother Goose).
The queen was in the parlor, Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden
(To Mistress Mary)
Hanging out the clothes, Along came a blackbird And nipped off her nose!
Mother Goose. And that story means that night is coming and putting the day to sleep.
King Cole. So it does, and you see the sun is fast going down behind the western hills. Say good-by, children, for it is time to go home.
Children. Good night, Mother Goose.
Mother Goose. Good night, dear children, and don't forget your old Mother Goose.
Children. Forget dear Mother Goose? Never! Good-by, good-by!
Mother Goose. Good-by.
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—MOTHER, LITTLE ONE-EYE, LITTLE TWO-EYES, LITTLE THREE-EYES, LITTLE OLD WOMAN, TREE, PRINCE, GOAT
SCENE I.—Dining Room at Little Two-Eyes' Home
Mother. Come to dinner, little One-Eye and little Three-Eyes. Here is some good soup and white bread for you. Little Two-Eyes, you can have what your sisters do not want.
Little Three-Eyes. Here's a crust for you. That is enough for a girl with only two eyes.
Little One-Eye. What a shame to have a sister with two eyes! You look just like other people! Little Three-Eyes and I are very different.
Little Three-Eyes. Here little Two-Eyes, take this bowl. I don't want any more and you can have what is left.
Mother. Now, children, run away and play. Little Two-Eyes, take the goat and go out to the hillside. You must stay till it begins to get dark, and then you may come home. You must work, because you have two eyes like other people, but my little One-Eye and Three-Eyes may stay at home and play.
SCENE II.—On the Hillside
Little Two-Eyes. Come, little goat, here is some green grass for you to eat. I wish that my sisters loved me and that my mother was not ashamed of me. Oh, why do I have two eyes just like all other people? I am so hungry, Oh, dear! Oh, dear! (Cries.)
Wood Fairy. My child, why do you cry?
Little Two-Eyes. Because I have only two eyes, and my mother and my sisters treat me badly. I don't have enough to eat and I am so hungry. My dress is old, and my sisters have nice dresses and pretty ribbons. But who are you?
Wood Fairy. I am the little Old Woman who lives on this hill. I have come to help you. Listen, little Two-Eyes! You need never be hungry again. Say to your little goat:
Little goat, bleat! Little table, rise!
Then a table will rise before you with all the food you can eat. When you have finished eating, you must say:
Little goat, bleat! Little table, away!
and it will disappear before your eyes. Good-by, dear little Two-Eyes. I must go now, but remember what I have told you.
Little Two-Eyes. Why, where has that queer looking little woman gone? I am so hungry I'll try now if what she said can be true.
Little goat, bleat! Little table, rise!
Goat. Bla-a! Bla-a! Bla-a!
Little Two-Eyes. Oh, look, little goat! what a pretty table! and how good the food looks. Now we shall have all we want to eat. Here is something for you, and here are oranges and meat and pudding for me! Dear little woman! How can I thank her? Now I can eat no more.
Little goat, bleat! Little table, away!
Goat. Bla-a! Bla-a! Bla-a!
Little Two-Eyes. There, it is gone. Aren't we happy, little goat? But see, it is time to go home. Come, little goat.
SCENE III.—At Home
Mother. Here, little Two-Eyes, here are the crusts your sisters saved for you.
Two-Eyes. Thank you, mother, but I don't care for any crusts. I'm not hungry.
Mother. Not care for them? You are not hungry? You have always eaten them before now and asked for more! You didn't eat any supper last night, either. What does this mean? What did you have to eat to-day?
Two-Eyes. I cannot tell you, mother.
Mother. You cannot? Then, little One-Eye, you shall go to the hillside with little Two-Eyes and find out why she is no longer hungry.
Little One-Eye. I don't want to go! The walk is too long, and I shall get tired!
Mother. Just this once, my dear! You will not have to go again. But we must learn the secret.
Little Two-Eyes. Come, sister. Come, little goat.
SCENE IV.—The Hillside
Little Two-Eyes. Now we are almost there. Are you tired, little One-Eye?
Little One-Eye. Oh! I am so tired, and my feet hurt so I can hardly walk.
Little Two-Eyes. I have to walk this far every day.
Little One-Eye. Yes, but you have two eyes like other people and you must expect to work. I cannot go any farther. I'll lie down here and rest.
Little Two-Eyes. I'll sing you a pretty song:
Are you awake, little One-Eye? Are you asleep, little One-Eye?
Yes, you are asleep, little One-Eye, and now I can have my dinner.
Little goat, bleat! Little table, rise!
Goat. Bla-a! Bla-a! Bla-a!
Little Two-Eyes. Here is the little table again! Oh, how thankful I am for the good food. Dear little old woman, you are very good to send me such nice things to eat. Here is some for you, little goat. Now I have had enough.
Little goat, bleat! Little table, away!
There, it is gone. Little One-Eye, wake up! It is time to go home.
Little One-Eye. Did I go to sleep?
Little Two-Eyes. Indeed, you did, and now we must hurry home. Come, little goat!
SCENE V.—At Home
Mother. Well, little One-Eye, tell us what you have seen. Why doesn't little Two-Eyes eat the food we have for her?
Little One-Eye. I don't know, mother. The way was so long and I was so tired; I fell asleep; and when I woke up it was time to come home.
Mother. It was a hard walk for you, my dear; but we must find out who is giving little Two-Eyes something to eat. To-morrow you must go, little Three-Eyes.
Little Three-Eyes. I'll find out, mother. If anyone dares to give food to little Two-Eyes, I'll tell you all about it.
Mother. Yes, my dear, I know you won't go to sleep. I can trust you to find out everything.
SCENE VI.—On the Hillside
Little Two-Eyes. Come, sister, we must go on, for it is a long way to the top of the hill.
Little Three-Eyes. I'm not going any farther, I'm too tired! I'll rest a little here.
Little Two-Eyes. All right, little Three-Eyes. I'll sing you a song.
Are you awake, little Three-Eyes? Are you asleep, little Two-Eyes?
Yes, you are asleep, and now I'll have my dinner.
Little goat, bleat! Little table, rise!
Goat. Bla-a! Bla-a! Bla-a!
Little Two-Eyes. Here is our dinner again, little goat. See this fresh lettuce and cabbage and good bread and butter. Here is some honey, too, and cake. Isn't this a good dinner?
Little goat, bleat! Little table, away!
Goat. Bla-a, bla-a, bla-a!
Little Two-Eyes. Now it is gone. Three-Eyes, wake up! It is time home.
Little Three-Eyes. How long I have slept! What will my mother say? But I think I have a surprise for you, little Two-Eyes!
SCENE VII.—At Home
Mother. Well, little Three-Eyes, did you go to sleep, too?
Little Three-Eyes.—Yes, mother, but only with two eyes. Little Two-Eyes sang to me,
"Are you awake, little Three-Eyes? Are you asleep, little Two-Eyes?"
and so two of my eyes went to sleep, but one stayed awake and watched.
Mother. What did you see? Tell me quickly, dear little Three-Eyes.
Little Three-Eyes. First she said,
"Little goat, bleat! Little table, rise!"
and the goat said, "Bla-a, bla-a, bla-a!" Then a table came up out of the ground. Oh! it was such a pretty little table with a white cloth over it and all kinds of good things on it. No wonder little Two-Eyes doesn't eat any of our common food. It isn't good enough for her! She has food fit for a queen,—nuts and cake, and candy, too!
Mother. So that is why little Two-Eyes doesn't eat the crusts we save for her! Well, I'll see if she is going to have better food, than we have. Bring me the long sharp knife.
[Goes out and soon returns.]
There, now the goat is dead. Little Two-Eyes, perhaps you'll eat the food we give you now!
Little Two-Eyes. Oh, my poor little goat! What shall I do without it!
Mother. Go to bed, and to-morrow morning you shall go to the hillside alone. And you must stay there all day, too.
SCENE VIII.—On the Hillside
Little Two-Eyes. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! my poor goat is dead! Now I shall be hungry and lonely too! Where shall I go, and what can I do?
Little Wood Fairy. Little Two-Eyes, why are you weeping?
Little Two-Eyes. Because my mother has killed my poor goat, and she has sent me here to stay all alone, and I am so hungry and thirsty again.
Little Wood Fairy. Little Two-Eyes, let me tell you what to do. Ask your sisters to give you the heart of your goat. Bury it in the ground before the house door. Watch, and to-morrow a wonderful tree will come up out of the ground.
Little Two-Eyes. Thank you, dear little woman! I'll go home and do as you have told me.
SCENE IX.—At Home
Little Two-Eyes. Little One-Eye and little Three-Eyes, please let me have the heart of my goat!
One-Eye. Certainly, if that is all you want.
Three-Eyes. Here it is, but I don't see what you want it for!
Little Two-Eyes (goes to door). Now I'll plant it as the little woman told me. I wonder what kind of a tree will appear to-morrow? Poor little goat, I'm so sorry you have gone! Now I must go into the house and try to sleep.
SCENE X.—In the Garden
Little One-Eye. Mamma, mamma, look here! Come quickly! Isn't this a wonderful tree!
Mother. Why, how strange! This tree was not here yesterday. I wonder how it came! I never saw such a beautiful tree before!
Little One-Eye. Do you see the golden apples on it? O mamma! may we have some? Please, mother!
Mother. Yes, dear little One-Eye. You are the oldest, climb up into the tree and pick some golden apples for us.
One-Eye. That will be fun. Here I go!
Mother. Why don't you get the apples, little One-Eye?
Little One-Eye. They all get away from me. When I try to pick one it springs back!
Mother. Come down, little One-Eye. Now little Three-Eyes, you can see better with your three eyes, than your sister with her one eye. You may climb up and get some apples for us.
Little Three-Eyes. I'll pick a lot of them and throw them down for you to catch. Why, how funny they act! I almost get one and it always springs away!
Mother. Come down and let me try. I never heard of fruit that would not be picked. Now children, I'll get some of the lovely apples for you. There! Why, what is the matter? I can't reach a single apple.
Little Two-Eyes. Let me try; perhaps I can pick some.
Mother. You, with your two eyes! How can you expect to get them if we can't?
Little Two-Eyes. Please let me try, mother.
Mother. Well, I suppose you can try, but I know you can't get them.
Two-Eyes. Here they are. Catch them, mother; catch them, little One-Eye! Oh, mother! I see a young man on horseback coming along the road. He looks like a prince.
Mother. Hurry down, little Two-Eyes! He must not see you,—a girl with two eyes! I'm ashamed of you. Hide under this barrel!
[The prince rides up.]
Prince. Good morning, ladies, what a lovely tree you have here! She who gives me a branch shall have whatever she wishes.
Little One-Eye. The tree is ours, Great Prince; but when we try to get its fruit, it slips away from us.
Prince. It is strange, if the tree belongs to you, that you cannot get the fruit! But where do these apples come from?
Little Three-Eyes. We have another sister, but she has only two eyes and we are ashamed of her; so we hid her under this barrel, and she has rolled the apples out to you.
Prince. Little Two-Eyes, come out. Can you get me a branch from this wonderful tree?
Little Two-Eyes. Yes, Prince; here is a branch with many golden apples on it.
Prince. And what is your wish, little Two-Eyes?
Little Two-Eyes. O Prince! My mother and my sisters are ashamed of me and do not treat me well. They do not give me enough to eat and they do not like to have me near them. Please take me away where I can be happy and free!
Prince. Come with me, little Two-Eyes; you shall go to my father's palace and be a little princess. There you will be happy and free and never be hungry or lonely again.
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
THE WEEK—MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY
Monday. Well, I am glad to be here at last. Certainly my work is very important. As the first working day of the week, I begin all business; and I have always heard that if a thing is well begun, it is half done. People call me Moon-day—isn't that a pretty name, the day of the moon? How beautiful the moon is, riding in her silver chariot across the dark blue sky! I am proud of my name. The moon is constantly changing and I like change. I like brightness and cleanliness too, and good housewives wash their clothes on Monday. How white and clean they look hanging on the line! The sun and wind play hide and seek and help to cleanse the clothes. School begins on Monday and the little children run and laugh on their way to school. Every one seems happy that another week has begun.
Tuesday. I am named for Tui, the god of war. In the countries of the north I am greatly honored by all the people. Soldiers when going to war call on Tui for help, and they like to begin a battle on Tuesday. Monday likes to begin work, but I like to make some progress. The children always know their lessons better on Tuesday, and are happier than on Monday. The white clothes are sprinkled and rolled, and now the maids iron the pretty baby dresses and the house linen. They sing and laugh over their work. The world is all running smoothly on Tuesday, and I think I like my work the best.
Wednesday. I should be the best of days, for I am named for Woden, or Odin, the king of the gods. The hardest work of the week is finished when I come, and there is time for a rest. Perhaps mother will bake a special cake for dinner. To-day the children take their music lessons, and the boys go for a lesson in swimming or gymnastic exercise. This is the day young people choose for their wedding day, and you don't know how glad I am to be a part of their happiness. I believe I have more sunshine than the other days, for Woden likes to have clear skies and health-giving breezes. I would not change with any of my sister days.
Thursday. I bring the thunder and the lightning, and I cleave the dark clouds with my rapid flashes. I glory in a storm, for Thor, the god of thunder, has chosen me for his day, and I bear his name. A life of ease and quiet has no charms for me. I like the din and crash of war, the noise and hurry of business. The fury of the heavens, the crash of falling trees, the roaring of waters,—what can give greater pleasure? Business thrives on Thursday. Men rush to and fro, buying and selling, building great houses, digging in the mines, and sailing the seas. Life and action are my delight. Hurrah for Thor's day!
Friday. After the bustle and work of the week I come to clean and settle all disturbances. Now dirt and dust must disappear under the broom and brush. How the windows shine and how spotless is the hearth! Children rake up the leaves and burn them; all rubbish must be cleared away. Order and neatness I love; and so does Freya, for whom I am named. She is the goddess of beauty, and there is no beauty where neatness and order are absent. Some say that I am an unlucky day, but that is a mistake. See what wonderful things have happened on my day, what great men have been born on Friday! I am the last school day of the week, and to-day the children may forget lessons and play outdoors a little longer. To-day the family gather for a story at the twilight hour, and all is rest and happiness.
Saturday. I am the jolly day of the week. "School is out!" the children cry, and all day long they sing and call to each other in their games. To-day I smell the cakes and pies cooking in the range, for Saturday is baking day. How the little children love to watch mother stirring the cake and frosting, and how they beg to clean the sweet stuff out of the bowl. Father comes home earlier to-day, and all go for a walk in the woods or park. All men need a holiday, for "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." The boys play ball and run and shout in their joy. The girls have little parties, and cook gives them some fresh cakes. I am named for Saetere, god of the harvest, and he is always merry. So I wish all people to be happy on Saturday, the play day of the week.
Sunday. You have all spoken well, my sisters, and each one has some claim to be the best day of the week. How fine it is that every day holds some special joy in work or play! But you all know the highest joy is mine. I am named for the golden sun that gives light to the world. On Sunday men think of the inner light that makes them love the good and the true and persuades them to do right. To-day the family is united, and in the morning with fresh garments and happy faces they seek the knowledge of a higher life. Around the dinner table they talk happily together of their work and play, and they plan how they may do better work during the next week. Love and peace are in all hearts. A desire to help the weak and poor and sad is in every soul. I am happy and blest to be Sunday.
HAeNSEL AND GRETEL
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—HAeNSEL, GRETEL, MOTHER, FATHER, THE GINGERBREAD WITCH, SANDMAN, CHILDREN
SCENE I.—In the Cottage
Haensel. I wish mother would come home! I'm cold and hungry. I'm tired of bread. I want some milk and sugar.
Gretel. Hush, Haensel; don't be cross!
Haensel. If we only had something good to eat: eggs, and butter and meat. Oh, dear!
Gretel. Dear Haensel, if you will stop crying, I'll tell you a secret.
Haensel. Oh, what is it? Something nice?
Gretel. Yes, indeed. Look in this jug! It is full of milk. Mother will make us a pudding for supper.
Haensel. Goody, goody! How thick the cream is! Let me taste it.
Gretel. Aren't you ashamed, you naughty boy! Take your finger out of the cream. We must go back to work. When mother comes she will be cross if you have not finished the broom.
Haensel. I'll not work any more. I want to dance.
Gretel. So do I. I like to dance better than to work. Come, let us dance and sing.
Brother, come and dance with me, Both my hands I offer thee; Right foot first, Left foot then, Round about and back again.
Haensel. I can't dance. Show me what I ought to do.
Gretel. Look at me. Do this.
With your foot you tap, tap, tap! With your hands you clap, clap, clap! Right foot first, Left foot then, Round about and back again.
With your hands you clap, clap, clap! With your foot you tap, tap, tap! Right foot first, Left foot then, Round about and back again.
Gretel. That is fine, brotherkin! Soon you will dance as well as I. Come, try again.
With your head you nick, nick, nick! With your fingers click, click, click! Right foot first, Left foot then, Round about and back again.
O Gretel dear, O sister dear, Come dance and sing with me.
O Haensel dear, O brother dear, Come dance and sing with me. Tra, la, la, tra, la, la, La, la, la, la, tra, la, la.
[Knocks down the milk.]
Mother (enters). What is all this noise?
Gretel. 'Twas Haensel. He wanted—
Haensel. 'Twas Gretel. She said I—
Mother. Hush, you noisy children! What work have you done? Gretel, your stocking is not done yet; and where are your brooms, you lazy Hans? You have knocked over the milk too! What shall we have for supper? Lazy folks can't stay in my house. Take the basket and go to the woods for strawberries. And don't dare to come back without them! Off with you! and be quick too!
[The children go out. Mother sits weeping.]
Oh! I am so tired and hungry. Nothing in the house to eat. What shall I do for the poor hungry children—Oh, dear, what can I do!
[Goes to sleep, crying.]
Father (enters, singing).
Hillo, hilloo, hillo, hilloo, Little mother, where are you?
Mother (looking up). Who is singing and making so much noise?
Father. I called you, for I am hungry and want my supper.
Mother. Your supper! with nothing in the house to eat and nothing to drink.
Father. Let us see. Open your eyes and look in my basket. Cheer up, mother!
Mother. What do I see? Ham and butter and flour and sausage! Where did you get all these good things, father?
Father. Hurrah, won't we have a merry time, won't we have a happy time? I sold so many brooms at the fair that I could buy you all these good things and some tea besides.
Mother. Tea! how good it smells and how glad I am! Now I will cook the supper.
Father. But where are the children? Haensel! Gretel! Where are they?
Mother. Oh, the bad children! They did no work and they were singing and dancing and spilled the milk, so I sent them to the woods to pick some strawberries for supper.
Father. Laughing and dancing! Why should you be angry? Where have they gone?
Mother. To the mountain.
Father. To the mountain! the home of the witch!
Mother. What do you mean? The witch?
Father. Yes, the old witch of the mountain turns all children to gingerbread and then she eats them.
Mother. Eats them! Oh, my children, my pretty little children! Come, we must find them! Haensel, Gretel, where are you?
Father. I will go with you, mother. Don't cry! we will surely find them.
SCENE II.—In the Forest
Gretel. See, my wreath is nearly done.
Haensel. And the basket is filled with strawberries. Won't mother be pleased? We will have them for supper.
Gretel. Let me put the wreath on you!
Haensel. No, no! boys don't wear wreaths. Put it on your own head. You shall be queen of the woods.
Gretel. Then I must have a nosegay, too.
Haensel. Now you have a scepter and a crown. You shall have some strawberries, too. Don't they taste good?
Gretel. Let me feed you.
Haensel. And I'll feed you. Don't be greedy!
Gretel. Oh, Haensel, the berries are all gone. What naughty children we are! We must pick some more now for mother.
Haensel. I don't care, I was so hungry. But it is too late to pick strawberries now. Let us go home.
Gretel. Let us hurry; it is dark and I'm afraid.
Haensel. Pooh, I'm not afraid. But I can't see the way. Gretel, we're lost!
Gretel. What was that?
Gretel. That shining there in the dark!
Haensel. Pshaw, don't be afraid! That is a birch tree in its silver dress.
Gretel. There, see! a lantern is coming this way.
Haensel. That is a will-of-the-wisp with its little candle.
Gretel. I'm frightened, I'm frightened! I wish I were home!
Haensel. Gretelkin, stick close to me! I'll take care of you.
Gretel. See! what is that little man in gray?
Haensel. I see him, too. I wonder who he is!
With my little bag of sand By every child's bedside I stand. Then little tired eyelids close, And little limbs have sweet repose. Then from the starry sphere above The angels come with peace and love. Then slumber, children, slumber, For happy dreams are sent you Through the hours you sleep.
Haensel. I'm sleepy. Let us go to sleep.
Gretel. Let us say our prayers first.
When at night I go to sleep Fourteen angels watch do keep: Two my head are guarding, Two my feet are guiding, Two are on my right hand, Two are on my left hand, Two who warmly cover, Two who o'er me hover, Two to whom 'tis given To guide my steps to Heaven.
Gretel. Good night, dear brother.
Haensel. Good night, dear sister. Don't be afraid. I'll take care of you.
SCENE III.—In the Wood—Morning
Haensel. Wake up, dear little sister! The birds are singing and it is time to get up!
Gretel. I'm awake, dear brother. Come, let us hurry home.
Haensel. Here is a path! Oh, Gretel, look at the pretty house!
Gretel. A cottage all made of chocolate creams!
Haensel. The house seems to smile!
Gretel. It looks good enough to eat.
Haensel. Let's nibble it!
[A voice within the house.]
Nibble, nibble, manikin! Who's nibbling at my housekin?
Haensel. Oh, did you hear?
Gretel. It's the wind!
Haensel. Never mind, let us eat the cake. I'm hungry. Take a bite! Isn't it good?
Gretel. Yes, and look at the candy! What a funny fence this is! It looks like little boys and girls made of gingerbread with sugar trimmings. I wonder who lives in this house?
[The Gingerbread Woman comes out of the house and speaks.]
You've come to visit me, that is sweet, You charming children, so good to eat!
Haensel. Who are you, ugly one? Let me go!
Gretel. Take your arms away from me!
The Gingerbread Witch. Come into my house, little children! You may have sugarplums and peaches and cherries and candies and everything nice that little folks like!
Haensel. No, I won't! I don't want to go into your house. I want to go home!
Gretel. I don't like you, Mrs. Gingerbread! You aren't nice like my mother. I want to go home to my own mother!
The Gingerbread Witch. Come, dear little Gretel. You must go in with me. We'll leave Haensel in this little house outside. He must get fatter, so we will give him many good things to eat. Get in, Haensel. I must lock you in!
Haensel. What are you going to do with me?
The Gingerbread Witch. I'll fatten you up nicely and then you will see! Now I'll go inside for some sugarplums. You wait here, Gretel, until I come back. Hocus, pocus, malus locus! now you can't move!
Haensel. Listen, Gretel! Watch the old witch and see everything she does to me. Hush, she's coming back!
The Gingerbread Witch. Now, Hans, eat this raisin. It will make you fat! Now, Gretel, you have stood still long enough.
Hocus, pocus, elder bush! Rigid body loosen, hush!
Then, Gretel, you must come with me, but Hans cannot move until he gets nice and fat like you. Run in, little daughter, and get some more nuts and raisins for him. I like plump little bodies like yours!
[Gretel goes in.]
Haensel. Please let me out, Mrs. Gingerbread.
The Gingerbread Witch. When you are fatter. Now I must look to my fire. It is burning well, and the oven will soon be hot enough to bake my dinner. When I change my gingerbread I'll pop little Gretel in and shut the door.
[Gretel comes in very quietly and goes to Hans.]
Hocus, pocus, elder bush! Rigid body loosen, hush!
The Gingerbread Witch. What are you saying?
Gretel. Oh, nothing,—only,—
The Gingerbread Witch. Only what?
Gretel. Only, much good may it do to Hans!
The Gingerbread Witch. Poor Hans is too thin, but I hope the raisins and nuts will be good for him. But, you, my plump little Gretel, are just fat enough—come, peep in the oven and see if the gingerbread is ready!
Sister dear, have a care; She means to hurt you, so beware!
Gretel (shyly). I don't understand what I am to do!
The Gingerbread Witch. Do? Why, open the oven door!
Haensel. Sister dear, now take care!
Gretel. I'm such a goose, I don't understand.
The Gingerbread Witch. Do as I say, it's only play! This is the way.
[Opens the door and looks in oven. Hans and Gretel run and push her in.]
Children sing. One little push, bang goes the door, clang! Now, let us be happy, dancing so merrily. Hurrah! Hurrah!
Haensel. Why, see the children, Gretel. The fence is moving! The gingerbread children are real children, but their eyes are shut!
The Children. We are saved! We are saved!
Gretel. Who are you? Why do you keep your eyes shut? You're sleeping and yet you are talking!
The Children. O touch us, we pray, that we may awake!
Haensel. The witch has changed them into gingerbread children. I know what to do. Let us say what the witch said to you, and what you said to me!
Haensel and Gretel.
Hocus, pocus, elder bush! Rigid body loosen, hush!
The Children. (Opening their eyes and running toward Haensel and Gretel.) We thank you, we thank you both!
Gretel. Oh, I am so glad!
The Children. The spell is broken and we are free. The witch can do us no more harm. Come, let us shout for glee!
Come, children all, and form a ring, Join hands together, while we sing.
Gretel. Oh, Haensel dear, I wish father and mother were here!
Haensel. Look, Gretel! There they are!
[Father and Mother enter.]
Father. Why, mother, the children are here! Come, my dear Haensel and Gretel! How glad I am we have found you safe and well!
Haensel. Oh, father, we must tell you all about the Gingerbread Witch!
Mother. My dear children, were you frightened?
Gretel. Yes, mother, I was. But, mother, Haensel comforted me, and we said our prayers and went to sleep.
Mother. The good angels watched over you and brought you back! Come, let us go to the village and take all these dear children to their mothers. Won't they be surprised and happy to see their dear children again?
Father. Come, children!
PERSONS IN THE PLAY—QUEEN JUDITH, ETHELBALD, ETHELBERT, ETHELRED, ALFRED, PEASANTS, KING'S OFFICERS
SCENE I.—In the Castle
Ethelbald. Tell us a story, lady mother.
Ethelbert. Yes, tell us a story.
Ethelred. I wish it would stop raining, so that we might take our hawks for a hunt!
Queen. I have something to show you, my princes. Is not this a beautiful book?
Alfred. How lovely the red velvet, and see, the clasp is of gold!
Ethelred. And there are jewels in the clasp!
Queen. It is well bound, as so precious a volume should be; but the binding is the least valuable part of the book. Shall we look within?
Ethelbald. Pray show us, lady mother!
Queen. Observe the forms of mighty warriors, fair ladies, and royal chiefs of the olden times in bright and glowing colors.
Ethelbert. How brave they look! Who are they? Tell us of them, dear mother.
Queen. These pictures are beautiful and appeal to the eye, but neither they nor the velvet and gold of the binding give the joy which is greatest.
Alfred. What do you mean, dear lady mother?
Queen. This is a book I greatly enjoy, for it is full of the tales of the mighty King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. You will like to hear me read these brave stories when you are tired with your day's work, or on rainy days when you can neither hunt nor ride. Then you know not how to amuse yourselves and time is heavy on your hands, since you can neither read nor play upon the musical instruments that give us so much pleasure.
Ethelred. The book is so lovely. Let me take it, lady mother!
Queen. I would that the children of my royal husband could read the book.
Ethelbald. Our father does not think much of books and music. He likes to hunt and fight, and so do I.
Ethelred. And I love to hunt, but I love to hear the stories of great kings and warriors, too.
Alfred. To which of us wilt thou give the book, lady mother?
Queen. I will bestow it on him who shall first learn how to read it.
Alfred. Will you really, dear mother?
Queen. Yes, upon the faith of a queen, I will. I will not give it to one who cannot read it. Books are meant for the learned and not for the ignorant. The sons of a king should cease to play with toys.
Alfred. May I take the book a little while?
Queen. Yes, you may take the precious volume, Alfred, for I know you will not injure it, and I hope you will soon learn how to make its wisdom your own.
Alfred. Thank you, lady mother. I shall study the book and learn to read, for I wish to know all about the brave knights of Arthur's court.
SCENE II.—Years later, when Alfred is King
KING ALFRED, OSCAR THE EARL, ODULPH, THE EARL'S SON
Alfred. All the others have gone back to their homes. In no other way can ye serve me. Wherefore do ye go about to weep and break my heart?
Oscar. We weep, royal Alfred, because thou hast forbidden us to share thy fortunes; as if we were the swarm of summer flies, who follow only while the sun shineth.
Alfred. My valiant Oscar, and you my faithful Odulph, listen to me. I do not despair. The time is not ripe now for further war. Our foes the Danes have conquered us for a time. I trust that the time will come when we shall drive them from our land. But we must do that which seems best for the present and seek to be more successful in the future. We must not sit down and weep; no, this rather shall you do. Go back to your own people and keep me in their memory. When the Dane rules most cruelly, then rise up and cry aloud in the ears of the people, "Alfred the king yet liveth!" Then gather the soldiers and I shall come to lead them to victory.
Oscar. Thou shalt be obeyed, my royal lord. I will return to my men and do as thou hast said. But let my son Odulph stay with thee, if only as thy servant.
Odulph. Well will I serve thee, my royal lord. It is not well for the king to fare alone.
Alfred. I am well content to serve myself, or even to be servant to others, until a happier time shall come. If Odulph desires to serve me, it shall be by bringing good tidings of your success with my people. When the time comes that we may again fight for our country, let him bring me the welcome message. Then we will free our country from the Danish yoke.
Oscar. Farewell, my royal master, since thou wilt have it so.
Odulph. And may the time soon come when I shall bring the message to thee!
Alfred. Farewell, my loyal friends. All will be well.
SCENE III.—In the Peasant's Home
KING ALFRED, PEASANT CUDRED, WIFE SWITHA
Alfred. Save you, good father! May a Saxon stranger, whom the Danish robbers have made homeless, share a lodging with thy master's cattle for the night?
Cudred. Wilt thou swear to me that thou art not a Dane in disguise?
Alfred. I say to thee, my friend, I am no Dane, but a true Saxon.
Cudred. Then thou shalt share the calf's crib to-night. Perchance thou art hungry, too?
Alfred. To say truth, father, I have not broken my fast to-day; neither have I had aught to drink save from these marshy streams. I shall be right thankful for some food, even a crust of coarsest rye bread.
Cudred. Rye bread, forsooth! Thou talkest of dainties indeed! Thou wilt get nothing better than flat oaten cakes here.
Alfred. I have always wished to taste an oaten cake.
Cudred. Follow me, then, and thou shalt have thy desire. Switha, Switha!
Switha. Well, I hear thee!
Cudred. Switha, I have brought thee home a guest who will be glad to partake of our supper.
Switha. A guest! And thinkest thou I've naught better to do than broil fish and bake cakes for all the vagabonds who roam the land?
Cudred. Patience, good Switha. I have not asked thee to cook for a vagabond. This is an honest Saxon whom it will be charity to feed and shelter for the night.
Switha. Let me hold the torch and see this Saxon guest. Thou lookest like a guest of fashion, sorry fellow!
Cudred. Cease thy scolding talk, woman! I see by this light that our guest hath not been used to beg for charity from such as thou. Why be so hard of heart and by thy rude taunts make bitter the food he must receive from our hands?
Switha. I have heard that charity begins at home, and I am sure we are poor enough.
Cudred. Not poor enough to refuse food to the hungry, such as it is. Here is fish, and here an oaten cake which you wish to taste.
Alfred. Thanks for your goodness, kind host. Indeed, I am hungry.
Switha. You eat like a hungry wolf.
Alfred. And now I am hungry no longer. I thank you both for a good supper, and I hope you will never be sorry you have given charity to a stranger. Now, Cudred, I shall be glad to sleep.
Cudred. This way, then, to the bed of straw. Now, tell me truly, art thou not some mighty earl in disguise?
Alfred. I am Alfred, thy king—I know from thy goodness to me when thou thoughtest me a beggar that thou art a good man, therefore I confide in thee. I know thou wilt not betray thy king.
Cudred. Not all the gold of Denmark should tempt me to commit so base a crime, but we must not let Switha know who thou art, my royal master.
Alfred. I shall be careful. Soon, I hope, my friends will bring me word that my army awaits me, when I shall again try to set my country free.
SCENE IV.—In the Peasant's Hut
KING ALFRED, SWITHA
King Alfred. It rains so hard to-day that I cannot hunt, so will mend my bow and make some new arrows. May I sit by your fire, good dame Switha?
Switha. Yes, and as I have made a good batch of cakes you might watch them bake.
Alfred. Gladly will I watch them. Show me what I must do.
Switha. Turn them often before the fire, thus, so that they will not burn. Now I will go for more wood for the fire.
Alfred. How long, I wonder, must I remain in hiding. It is very hard to wait. If only I knew how my people were faring. Will the time never come when I can rule over England and unite my people? So many plans have I for their happiness and progress. Schools we must have. The Bible must be translated for the people to read. Roads must be built and the country made safe for all. How long must I sit in Cudred's cottage mending arrows when my heart wishes to help my suffering people!