Slovenly Betsy
by Heinrich Hoffman
Home - Random Browse




With Numerous Illustrations in Color from the Original Designs by Walter Hayn

Applewood Books Bedford, Massachusetts This edition of Slovenly Betsy was originally published in 1911.


Betsy would never wash herself When from her bed she rose, But just as quickly as she could She hurried on her clothes. To keep her clothes all nice and clean Miss Betsy took no pains; In holes her stockings always were, Her dresses filled with stains. Sometimes she went day after day And never combed her hair, While little feathers from her bed Stuck on it here and there. The schoolboys, when they Betsy saw, Would point her out, and cry, "Oh! Betsy, what a sight you are! Oh! Slovenly Betsy, fie!"

One rainy day her parents went Some pleasant friends to meet. They took Betsy along with them, All dressed so clean and neat. Nice little boys and girls were there, With whom our Betsy played, Until of playing she grew tired, And to the garden strayed. Out in the rain she danced awhile, But 'twas not long before Flat down she tumbled in the mud, And her best clothes she tore.

Oh! what a sight she was, indeed, When in the room she came; The guests all loudly laughed at her, And she almost died with shame. She turned, and to her home she ran, And then, as here you see, She washed her clothes, and since has been As neat as she could be.


This Phoebe Ann was a very proud girl, Her nose had always an upward curl.

She thought herself better than all others beside, And beat even the peacock himself in pride.

She thought the earth was so dirty and brown, That never, by chance, would she look down; And she held up her head in the air so high That her neck began stretching by and by. It stretched and it stretched; and it grew so long That her parents thought something must be wrong. It stretched and stretched, and they soon began To look up with fear at their Phoebe Ann.

They prayed her to stop her upward gaze, But Phoebe kept on in her old proud ways, Until her neck had grown so long and spare That her head was more than her neck could bear— And it bent to the ground, like a willow tree, And brought down the head of this proud Phoebe, Until whenever she went out a walk to take, The boys would shout, "Here comes a snake!"

Her head got to be so heavy to drag on, That she had to put it on a little wagon. So don't, my friends, hold your head too high, Or your neck may stretch, too, by and by.


Mamma and Nurse went out one day, And left Pauline alone at play; Around the room she gayly sprang, Clapp'd her hands, and danced, and sang. Now, on the table close at hand, A box of matches chanced to stand, And kind Mamma and Nurse had told her, That if she touched them they would scold her. But Pauline said, "Oh, what a pity! For when they burn it is so pretty; They crackle so, and spit, and flame; And Mamma often burns the same. I'll only light a match or two As I have often seen my mother do."

When Minz and Maunz, the cats, heard this, They said, "Oh, naughty, naughty Miss. Me-ow!" they cried, "Me-ow, me-o, You'll burn to death, if you do so. Mamma forbids it, don't you know?"

But Pauline would not take advice, She lit a match, it was so nice! It crackled so, it burned so clear,— Exactly like the picture here. She jumped for joy and ran about, And was too pleased to put it out.

When Minz and Maunz, the cats, saw this, They said, "Oh, naughty, naughty Miss!" And rais'd their paws And stretch'd their claws; "'Tis very, very wrong, you know; Me-ow, me-o, me-ow, me-o! You will be burnt if you do so. Mamma forbids it, don't you know?"

Now see! oh, see! a dreadful thing! The fire has caught her apron string: Her apron burns, her arms, her hair; She burns all over, everywhere.

Then how the pussy cats did mew, What else, poor pussies, could they do? They screamed for help, 'twas all in vain, So then they said, "We'll scream again. Make haste, make haste! Me-ow! me-o! She'll burn to death—we told her so."

Pauline was burnt with all her clothes, And arms and hands, and eyes and nose; Till she had nothing more to lose Except her little scarlet shoes; And nothing else but these was found Among her ashes on the ground. And when the good cats sat beside The smoking ashes, how they cried, "Me-ow, me-o! Me-ow, me-oo! What will Mamma and Nursey do?" Their tears ran down their cheeks so fast They made a little pond at last.


"Here, Charlotte," said Mamma one day. "These stockings knit while I'm away, And should you fail, be sure you'll find Mamma is strict, although she's kind."

But Charlotte took a lazy fit, And did not feel inclined to knit; And soon upon the ground let fall Needles, and worsted, hose, and all. "I shall not knit," said she, "not I; At least not now, but by and by;" Then stretched, and yawned, and rubbed her eyes, Like sluggards, when 'tis time to rise.

But when Mamma came home, and found The work all strewed upon the ground, Quoth she, "You will not knit, and so To school barefooted you shall go."

This put poor Charlotte in a fright. And though she knew it served her right, She wept, and begged, and prayed; but still She could not change her mother's will.

To school, where all were spruce and neat, Poor Charlotte went with naked feet. Some showed their pity, some their pride, While Charlotte hid her face and cried.


"Oh, why are you always so bitterly crying? You surely will make yourself blind. What reason on earth for such sobbing and sighing, I pray, can you possibly find? There is no real sorrow, there's nothing distressing, To make you thus grieve and lament. Ah! no; you are just at this moment possessing Whatever should make you content.

Now do, my dear daughter, give over this weeping," Such was a kind mother's advice. But all was in vain; for you see she's still keeping Her handkerchief up to her eyes.

But now she removes it, and oh! she discloses A countenance full of dismay; For she certainly feels, or at least she supposes Her eyesight is going away. She is not mistaken, her sight is departing; She knows it and sorrows the more; Then rubs her sore eyes, to relieve them from smarting, And makes them still worse than before.

And now the poor creature is cautiously crawling And feeling her way all around; And now from their sockets her eyeballs are falling; See, there they are down on the ground. My children, from such an example take warning, And happily live while you may; And say to yourselves, when you rise in the morning, "I'll try to be cheerful today."


"I pray you now, my little child," Thus once a kind old lady Spoke to her niece in accents mild, "Do try to be more steady. I know that you will often see Rude boys push, drive, and hurry; But little girls should never be All in a heat and flurry."

While thus the lady gave advice And lectured little Polly, To see her stand with downcast eyes, You'd think she'd owned her folly. She did, and many a promise made; But when her aunt departed, Forgetting all, the silly maid Off to the playground started.

Now see what frolic and what fun, The little folks are after; Away they jump, away they run, With many a shout and laughter.

But fools who never will be taught, Except by some disaster, Soon find their knowledge dearly bought, And of a cruel master. This little girl, who, spite of all Her good old aunt had spoken, Would romp about, had such a fall That her poor leg was broken.

In sore amaze, those standing by Then placed her on a barrow; But oh! to hear her scream and cry Their souls it sure did harrow.

See how her brother bursts in tears, When told the dreadful story; And see how carefully he bears The limb all wet and gory.

Full many a week, screwed up in bed, She lingered sad and weary;

And went on crutches, it is said, Until she died so dreary.


The little girls whom now you'll see Were sisters in one family; And both enjoyed an equal share Of a kind mother's anxious care. This one in neatness took a pride, And oft the brush and comb applied;

Oft washed her face, and oft her hands; See, now, thus occupied she stands.

The other—oh! I grieve to say How she would scream and run away, Soon as she saw her mother stand, With water by, and sponge in hand. She'd kick and stamp, and jump about, And set up such an awful shout, That one who did not know the child, Would say she must be going wild.

In consequence it came to pass, While one was quite a pretty lass, And many a fond admirer gained, And many a little gift obtained;

The other, viewed with general scorn, Was left forsaken and forlorn; For no one can endure to see A child all dirt and misery. Behold how needful 'tis that we Should clean in dress and person be; Or else, believe me, 'tis in vain We hope affection to obtain.

A sloven will be always viewed With pity by the wise and good; While ev'n the vicious and the base Behold with scorn a dirty face.


Now Minnie was a pretty girl, Her hair so gracefully did curl; She had a slender figure, too, And rosy cheeks, and eyes of blue. And yet, with all those beauties rare, Those angel eyes and curly hair, Oh! many, many faults had she, The worst of which was jealousy. When on the brilliant Christmas tree St. Nicholas hung his gifts so free, The envious Minnie could not bear With any one those gifts to share. And when her sisters' birthdays came Minnie (it must be told with shame) Would envy every pretty thing Which dear Mamma to them would bring.

Sometimes great tears rolled from her eyes, Sometimes she pierced the air with cries, For hours together she would fret Because their toys she could not get. Ah, then! how changed this pretty child, No longer amiable and mild. That fairy form and smiling face Lost all their sprightliness and grace. Her tender mother often sighed, And to reform her daughter tried. "Oh! Minnie, Minnie," she would say, "Quite yellow you will turn some day."

Now came the merry Christmas feast; St. Nicholas brought to e'en the least Such pretty presents, rich and rare, But all the best for Minnie were. Now to her little sister Bess St. Nicholas brought a yellow dress; This Minnie longed for (envious child), And snatched it from her sister mild. Then all in tears did Bessie run To tell her mother what was done.

Then Minnie ran triumphantly To try the dress on, as you see. But Minnie was not satisfied, She pouted, fretted, sulked, and cried; Sisters and brothers had no rest,— She vowed their presents were the best, And springing quickly to the glass, What saw she there? Alas! alas! Oh! what a sad, such deep disgrace! She found she had a yellow face. "Ah, me!" she cried, now, in despair, "Where are my rosy cheeks—oh, where?" Exclaimed her mother, "Now you see The punishment of jealousy."


Oh! how this Mary loved to eat,— It was her chief delight; She would have something, sour or sweet, To munch from morn till night. She to the pantry daily stole, And slyly she would take Sugar, and plums, and sweetmeats, too, And apples, nuts, and cake.

Her mother Mary oft reproved, But, ah! it did no good; Munch, nibble, chew, from morn to night, The little glutton would.

One day, upon some bee-hives near She chanced to cast her eyes; "How nice that honey there must taste!" She cried, and off she flies. On tiptoe now the hives she nears, Close up to them she creeps, And through the little window panes Quite cautiously she peeps. "Oh, dear! how good it looks!" she cries, As she the honey sees; "I must, I will, indeed, have some; It cannot hurt the bees." And then a hive she gently lifts,— Oh, foolish, foolish child,— Down, down it falls—out swarm the bees Buzzing with fury wild. With fright she shrieks, and tries to run, But ah! 'tis all in vain; Upon her light the angry bees, And make her writhe with pain.

Four weeks and more did Mary lie Upon her little bed, And, ah! instead of honey, she On medicine was fed. Her parents grieved so much at first Their child so sick to see; But once more well, with joy they found Her cured of gluttony.


I never saw a girl or boy So prone as Sophie to destroy Whate'er she laid her hands upon, Though tough as wood, or hard as stone; With Sophie it was all the same, No matter who the thing might claim, No matter were it choice or rare, For naught did the destroyer care. Her playthings shared the common lot; Though hers they were, she spared them not, Her dolls she oft tore limb from limb, To gratify a foolish whim.

"Fie!" said her mother, "don't you know, That if you use your playthings so, Kriss Kringle will in wrath refuse To give you what you might abuse? Remember, how in times gone by, You've always found a rich supply Of Christmas presents; but beware, You'll find no more another year."

You'd think such words would surely tend To make this child her ways amend. But no; she still her course pursued, Regardless of advice so good. But when her mother sees 'tis plain That all her arguments are vain, Says she, "Since I have done my best, I'll let experience do the rest." Meantime the season of the year For Christmas gifts was drawing near, And Sophie doubted not that she An ample store of them would see. At length the happy hour was come. The children, led into the room, Behold, with wonder and surprise, Three tables set before their eyes. One is for Nelly, one for Ned, And both with choicest treasures spread.


Home - Random Browse