TELL ME ANOTHER STORY
THE BOOK OF STORY PROGRAMS
CAROLYN SHERWIN BAILEY
1918 MILTON BRADLEY COMPANY SPRINGFIELD, MASS. NEW YORK BOSTON PHILADELPHIA ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO
COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY MILTON BRADLEY COMPANY, SPRINGFIELD, MASS.
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The reward of the story-teller who has successfully met the child's story interest is the plea embodied in the title of this book: "Tell me another story." The book meets this child longing on a psychologic basis. It consists of groups of stories arranged so that their telling will result in definite mental growth for children, as well as satisfied story hunger.
There has been a tendency in the past to group stories in a haphazard way; there has been no organized plan of selecting stories to precede and follow one another for the purpose of definite functioning of mind processes. The effect of one story of distinctly differentiated theme from one which has just been told is to break continuity of thought. On the other hand, stories of similar theme, but contrasting form told in the story-hour have a mental effect of concentration and will training. This mental growth through stories is the aim of the book.
The instinctive and universal interests of all children form the themes of the story programs; and these interests are presented in their natural order for a year, beginning with home life, taking the child out into the world, and carrying him through his school, industrial, seasonable, and holiday activities. Three stories have been grouped in each program as the number upon which children can most easily fix their attention.
The plan of grouping the stories in each program is very definite and psychologic. The first story in a group is an apperceptive one; it secures the child's spontaneous attention because, through its plot, it touches his own life in some way. It brings him into close and intimate touch with the interest theme of the program because it speaks of things that he knows, and other things that he can do. The second story in each group makes an appeal to the child's reasoning powers; having secured his attention through the apperceptive story, the story-teller now takes the child a-field, mentally, and secures his voluntary attention. It calls for constructive thought; it presents the theme of the program in a broader way, with wider application. It is, usually, the longest story of the program. The third story is, invariably, the dessert of this story meal. Through its brevity, humor, tenderness, or sharply contrasting treatment of the program theme, it supplies the necessary relaxation, the fitting climax for the program.
An analysis of the Trade Life program will illustrate the psychologic appeal upon which the book is built. The story, The Holiday, opens the program with its apperceptive appeal, showing the dependence of the home upon the industrial life of the community and the possibility of a child's cooeperation in it. The second story in the trade program, Selma Lagerlooef's Nils and the Bear, gives this wonderful Swedish writer's presentation of the iron industry as a factor in our growth from savagery to civilization. The third story, The Giant Energy and Fairy Skill, by Maud Lindsay, gives the program its climax in fantasy and contrast.
A similar analysis may be made of each program in the book.
It is not intended that the stories shall never be told to children separately; on the contrary, each story is one of the best examples to be found of the child interest which forms its theme. The book has been prepared, however, to meet in an educational way the need expressed in its title. It should be of value for the home, school, library, and settlement.
CAROLYN SHERWIN BAILEY.
NEW YORK, 1918.
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I am indebted for editorial courtesies in connection with copyrighted material appearing in Tell Me Another Story to the following publishers:
Frederick A. Stokes and the Butterick Company for The Country Cat by Grace McGowan Cooke, and appearing in Sonny Bunny Rabbit and His Friends. Lucy Wheelock for The Little Acorn. Julia Darrow Cowles for The Plowman Who Found Content from The Art of Story Telling. The D. C. Heath Company for The Story of the Laurel by Grace H. Kupfer. Ginn and Company for The Story of the First Thanksgiving, and Doll-in-the-Grass. Doubleday, Page and Company for The Animals' New Year's Eve and Nils and the Bear from the Further Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlooef. The Youth's Companion for Chip's Thanksgiving, The Rescue of Old Glory, The Tinker's Willow, The Three Brothers, and Molly's Easter Hen. The Thomas Y. Crowell Company for The Bird, and The Gray Hare from The Long Exile by Count Lyof N. Tolstoi. The American Book Company for The Three Little Butterfly Brothers. Little, Brown and Company for How Peter Rabbit Got His White Patch. The Pilgrim Press for How the Flowers Came by Jay T. Stocking, appearing as Queeny Queen and The Flowers, in The City That Never Was Reached. The Giant's Plaything is used by special permission of the publishers of the Book of Knowledge. The selections by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Alice Brown are used by permission of and by special arrangement with the Houghton Mifflin Company. The Milton Bradley Company controls the copyrights of The Giant Energy and Fairy Skill, and The Birthday by Maud Lindsay, and my story, The Log Cabin Boy.
CAROLYN SHERWIN BAILEY.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Treasure in the House The Old House Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen The Little Boy Who Wanted a Castle
The Playmates The Star Child Adapted from Oscar Wilde Ole Luk-Oie Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen
What Father Does Is Always Right Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen The Elder Tree Mother Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen The Happy Family Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen
The Wonder Shoes The Emperor's New Clothes Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen How Primrose Went to the Party
The Prince Who Wasn't Hungry The Field The Magic Saucepan Adapted from Juliana Horatio Ewing
The Top That Could Sing The Money Pig Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen The Giant's Plaything
The Holiday Nils and the Bear Selma Lagerlooef The Giant Energy and the Fairy Skill. Maud Lindsay
The Farm House Adapted from Charles and Mary Lamb The Plowman Who Found Content Julia Darrow Cowles The Farmer and the Troll Adapted from a Folk Tale
A Puritan School-Day The Last Class Translated from the French of Alphonse Daudet Timothy's Shoes Adapted from Juliana Horatio Ewing
The Three Apples The Horn of Plenty Adapted from Ovid The Goose Who Tried to Keep the Summer
Chip's Thanksgiving Annie Hamilton Donnell The First Thanksgiving Albert F. Blaisdell and Francis K. Ball The King's Thanksgiving
The Gray Hare Count Lyof N. Tolstoi The Snow Image Adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorne The Fire That Would Not Burn
The Child Who Saw Santa Claus The Christmas Garden The Christmas Tree in the Barn
The Rescue of Old Glory Mrs. J. W. Wheeler The Log Cabin Boy Their Flag
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY.
The Valentine Box The Prince's Valentine Why the Dove is on our Valentines Adapted from an Indian Folk Tale
Molly's Easter Hen Annie Willis McCullough The Song of the Spring The Easter Story
The Bird Count Lyof N. Tolstoi The Nightingale Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen How the Wren Became King Adapted from a Manx Folk Tale
The Little Red Princess How the Flowers Came Jay T. Stocking The Three Little Butterfly Brothers Adapted from a German Folk Tale
Why Peter Rabbit Wears a White Patch Thornton Burgess The Animals' New Year's Eve Selma Lagerlooef The Country Cat Grace McGowen Cooke
The Three Brothers Patten Beard The Cry Fairy Alice Brown Doll-in-the-Grass Adapted by Marian F. Lansing
The Ploughman and His Sons La Fontaine The Bag of Dust The Camel and the Pig Indian
How the Moon Was Kind to Her Mother Indian The Rabbit Who Was Grateful Indian Why the Bees Gather Honey Indian
The Birthday Present Maud Lindsay The Birthday of the Infanta Adapted from Oscar Wilde The Prickly Bush
The Tinker's Willow Edward W. Frentz The Story of the Laurel Grace Kupfer The Little Acorn Lucy Wheelock
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THE TREASURE IN THE HOUSE
Once upon a time there was a little Princess, and when she was ten years old they gave her a wonderful birthday party. There were musicians, and roses in all the rooms, and strawberry ice cream, and cakes with pink icing. Every one brought gifts.
The King, her father, gave the Princess a white pony with a long tail, and a blue and silver harness. The Queen, her mother, gave the Princess a little gold tea set for her dolls. There were other beautiful gifts; a ring with a sparkling stone set in it, and a dozen or so new silk dresses, and a nightingale in a gold cage; but every one waited to see what the gift of the Princess' fairy-godmother would be.
She was late coming to the party. One never knew just how she would come, on wings, or on a broomstick. This time she came walking, and dressed in a short red gown and a white apron. Her kind eyes twinkled as she gave her gift to the Princess.
Such a strange gift as it was, only a tiny black key!
"This will unlock a little house at the end of the garden which is my birthday gift to you," the fairy-godmother of the Princess said. "In the little house you will find a treasure." And then, as suddenly as she had come, the fairy-godmother was gone, wearing one of her surprise smiles on her lips.
Every one wondered about the house, and some of the guests went to the end of the garden to look at it. All they saw, though, was a tiny thatched cottage, very neat, but not at all fine. So they turned up their noses and went back to the castle.
"A very poor present indeed!" they said.
The little Princess put the key in the silk bag that hung at her side and then forgot all about it. Not until late in the afternoon did she go to the end of the garden.
The little house made her curious, because it was so different from the castle. The castle had great, coloured windows, but the little house had tiny ones with crimson geraniums on the ledges and plain white curtains.
She opened the door and went inside. The castle had many rooms, large and lonely, but the little house had one room, small and very cozy. There was a chimney and a fireplace where a bright little fire sparkled and danced and chuckled to itself. A tea kettle hung over the hob and it was singing, as the water bubbled, the merriest song that the little Princess had ever heard. The table was set for tea. It was a very plain tea, only white bread and butter, and honey, and milk; but it made the Princess hungry to look at it. In front of the fire stood a straight-backed chair and a little spinning wheel.
The Princess sat down to her tea. How pleasant the little house was, she thought, and how unusually hungry she was!
At tea, in the castle, she often was not hungry and asked for food that was not good for her, roasted peacock, and almond cakes, and plum pudding. But here, in her own little house, she found that nothing was quite so good as bread and butter, and her milk tasted as sweet as the honey.
After tea the Princess sat down in the straightest chair, and although she had never in her life touched a spinning wheel before, she began to spin. Whirr, whirr, the wheel turned and sang, as fine white thread grew from the bunch of linen floss. The fire danced, and the tea kettle sang, and the spinning wheel whirred merrily. It was so pleasant to have had such a nice tea and to be working in her own little house that the Princess began to sing too. She sang like a bird, and she had never known before that she could sing.
"I heard you singing, and I stopped."
The Princess turned and she saw a little boy of her own age standing in the room. He had a very pleasant face, but he was dressed in ragged clothes. His shirt was so full of holes that it scarcely covered his back.
"What are you spinning?" he asked.
The Princess had not known, until that moment, what she was spinning, but now she understood at once.
"I am spinning to make you a new shirt," she said.
"Oh, thank you!" said the little boy as he smiled down at her. The Princess looked at him, wondering. She noticed that his eyes looked very like those of her fairy-godmother.
Then she thought of something else.
"In the little house you will find a treasure," her fairy-godmother had said.
She looked all about. There was no gold, or anything that she had thought before was a treasure there. Then she listened to her heart that was singing, too, now. That was it. Her fairy-godmother had given her, in her little house, the treasure of a happy heart.
THE OLD HOUSE
Up there in the street was an old, old house.
All the other houses in the street were new, with large window panes and smooth walls, but the old house had queer faces cut out of the beams over the windows, and under the eaves was a dragon's head for a rain-water spout. The front steps were as broad as those to a palace, and as high, it seemed, as to a church tower.
"How long is that old place to stand and spoil our street?" said the families who lived in the new houses.
But at the window opposite the old house there sat a little boy with rosy cheeks and bright eyes. He certainly liked the old house best, in sunshine or when the moon shone on it. He knew who lived there, an old man who wore a coat with large brass buttons and a wig which one could see was really a wig. Every morning there came an ancient servant to put his rooms in order and to do his errands. Now and then the old man came to the window and looked out, and the little boy nodded to him, and the old man nodded back as if he were pleased. The little boy heard his father and mother say,
"The old man opposite is rich, but he is so very, very lonely."
The Sunday following the little boy took something, and wrapped it up in a piece of paper. He went downstairs and stood in the doorway, and when the errand man came past, he said to him,
"I say, sir, will you give this to the old man over the way for me? I have two toy soldiers. This is one of them and he shall have it, for I hear that he is lonely."
The errand man looked pleased, nodded, and took the toy soldier over to the old house. Afterwards there came a message; it was to ask if the little boy himself would not come over and pay a visit. So he got permission of his mother, and went over to the old house.
It seemed as if the brass balls on the iron fence shone brighter than ever because he had come. There were steps in the garden that went down and then up again, and the porch, even, was overgrown with green stuff as if it were part of the garden. The walls of the hall were hung with musty leather, printed with gold flowers, and there were chairs with high backs that creaked as if they had the gout.
And at last the little boy came into the room where the old man sat.
"I thank you for the toy soldier, my little friend," said the old man, "and I thank you because you came over to see me."
The pendulum of the great clock went to and fro, and the hands turned, and everything in the room became still older, but the little boy went up to the old man and took his hand.
"They said at home," said the little boy, "that you were very lonely."
Then the old man took a book with pictures in it down from a shelf, and he went into the other room to the pantry. It was really delightful in the old house!
But the toy soldier, who sat on a cabinet, suddenly spoke.
"I can't bear it any longer," he said. "The days are so dull and the evenings are still duller. Here it is not at all like your home, where your father and mother talk so pleasantly, and you and the other children make such a delightful noise."
"Oh, you mustn't mind that," said the little boy. "This house is full of old thoughts that come and visit and bring much company with them."
"I see nothing of them, and I don't know them because I am new," said the toy soldier. "I cannot bear it!"
"But you must!" said the little boy.
Then in came the old man with the most pleased and happy face, and bringing such delicious sweets, apples, and nuts. So the little boy thought no more about the toy soldier.
He went home, happy. Weeks and days passed, and he nodded over to the old house, and the old man nodded back. Then the little boy went over again.
The old man went to find a treasure box that he had with secret drawers, and the toy soldier took this opportunity of speaking once more to the little boy.
"Do you still sing on Sundays?" he asked. "When the curtains are up I can see you all over there at home distinctly. Tell me about my brother. Does he still live? Yes, he is happy then. Oh, I cannot bear it here any longer."
"You are given away as a present," the little boy said. "You will have to stay. Can't you try and make the best of it?"
The old man came in now with the box. Secret springs released the drawers and in these were cards, large and gilded, such as one never sees now. Then he opened the piano. It had landscapes painted on the inside of the lid. It was very hoarse but the old man could play on it and he sang a song too.
"I will go to the wars! I will go to the wars!" shouted the toy soldier as loudly as he could, and he threw himself off the cabinet right down on the floor.
Where was he? The old man looked, and the little boy looked, but the soldier was away and he stayed away.
"I shall find him!" said the old man, but he never did. The floor was too open. The toy soldier had fallen through a crack, and there he lay.
The little boy went home, and that week passed, and several weeks too. The windows were frosted; the little boy had to breathe on them to get a peep over at the old house; and snow covered the carved heads over the windows. The old house looked very cold, but now there was no one at home in it. And when the spring came they pulled the house down.
After a while a fine house was built in its place with large windows and smooth white walls. Before it, where part of the old house had stood, a garden was laid out and there were grape vines running along the walks. Birds built their nests in the vines and chattered away to each other, but not about the old house, for they could not remember it, so many years had passed. So many years had gone by that the little boy had grown up to a whole man. And he had just been married and had brought his wife to live in the house here, where the garden was. She had brought a wild flower with her that she found very pretty and he stood by her as she planted it in the garden and pressed the earth around it with her fingers.
Oh, what was that? She had pricked her finger. There sat something pointed, sticking straight out of the soft mould.
It was—yes, guess—it was the toy soldier who had tumbled and turned about among the timber and the rubbish, and had lain for many years in the ground.
The young wife wiped the dirt off the soldier, first with a green leaf, and then with her fine handkerchief. It was just as if the toy soldier had awakened from a dream. Then the young man told his wife about the old house and the old man and the toy soldier that he had sent over because the old man had been so lonely.
"Very, very lonely!" said the toy soldier, "but it is delightful not to be forgotten!"
THE LITTLE BOY WHO WANTED A CASTLE
There was once a boy who thought a great deal about castles. He had a very beautiful picture book with coloured pictures of castles that showed how large and different and fine they were, and, presently, after thinking a long time about it, the boy decided that a castle was where he would like, most of all, to live.
So very early one morning, when it was a sunny day and pleasant enough for any sort of an adventure, the boy made up his mind that he would go out for a little journey and try to find himself a castle.
He told his mother about it, for he always told her everything, and she smiled down into his face as she buttoned his coat.
"Are you sure that you can find a castle?" she asked.
"Oh, yes indeed, very sure," the boy answered. "And if I can't I'll ask some one on the road and he'll be able to tell me."
"Well, don't go so far away from home as to be late for supper," said his mother, kissing him good-bye. And the boy said good-bye to his mother and started off, but he made up his mind that probably he wouldn't be home that night because he would be having his supper in his castle.
The road was wide, and long, and winding, and the boy went down it for a long way. He saw no great golden castle, only pleasant little white houses with gardens, and people passing by with loads of vegetables and fruit and flowers going to the town. At last he came to a sharp turn in the road, and he saw an old man standing there with his dog.
"Please, sir," asked the boy, "I am taking a journey to find a castle. Can you tell me how to find one?"
The old man looked surprised. "I've heard about castles around here," he said, "but I don't know as you'll find one in a day. You'll know one, though, by the gold on the roof," he explained.
So the boy went on farther still, and he came to another turn in the road. A girl with her flock of geese stood there, and the boy spoke to her. "I am taking a journey to a castle," he said. "Can you tell me how to find one?"
The girl laughed. "You'll know it by the garden," she said. "All castles have very pretty gardens."
So the boy went farther still, and where the road curved he met an old granny walking toward him with her knitting in her hand.
"Please, granny," said the boy. "I am taking a journey to find a castle. Can you direct me to one?"
The granny looked down through her spectacles at the boy. "Perhaps you will come to a castle beyond the last turn in the road," she said, pointing behind her. "They say there are castles hidden hereabouts. You'll know it by the fine feasts they give every day at sundown, and the king and queen will be waiting at the door to welcome you."
"How shall I know the king and queen? Do they always wear crowns?" asked the little boy.
"Not always," said the granny, "but you can tell a true king and queen because they are so good and wise and kind."
So the boy thanked the granny and went on, but it was growing late in the day and he was tired. The bend in the road seemed a very long way off and he had to sit down several times before he reached it. His feet ached and his back was tired when he came to it, but when he turned and came out on the other side, he saw something wonderful.
Just a little way ahead lay the castle.
He could be quite sure that it was a castle because the roof shone with gold in the setting sun and in front lay a pretty garden of flowers of all kinds; pink roses, and tall white lilies, and purple violets. In the doorway stood two people waiting; they must be the king and queen, thought the little boy. As he ran and came nearer, he could smell the feast—a savoury meat pie, and freshly baked cake, and sweet fruits.
The boy ran faster and came to the gate and went up the walk. At the doorway he stopped. Why, it was his own house that he had come back to by way of the turns in the road. This was his own pretty garden that he saw, and his own fine supper that he smelled. His own dear father and mother waited in the door, with their arms outstretched to greet him.
"You are the king and queen," shouted the boy, "always good and kind!"
"And this is our castle," laughed his mother. "Come in, my little Prince. The feast is waiting for you."
There was once a Prince and he was very lonely, because he had no sisters or brothers in the palace with whom to play. And one day his father and mother, the King and Queen, decided that they would send to some neighboring Kingdoms to borrow a little Princess, who should come and live at the palace, and be the sister and the playmate of the Prince.
So they sent for one of the Court Messengers, and then they called the Prince to tell him that he was going to have a little Princess to be his playmate.
They talked the matter over with the Court Wise-Man that the Messenger might understand just what sort of little Princess he should bring, and make no mistake about it.
"She must be sweet tempered," said the King.
"And I should like her to have blue eyes and yellow hair and curls," said the Queen.
"And if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion," said the Court Wise-Man, "she should be rich, for she and the Prince will need a great many new toys."
They never thought to ask the Prince what his choice of a little Princess would be. But the Prince did not wait to be asked.
"I want only a little Princess who can make molasses pop-corn balls," he said.
The King and the Queen and the Court Wise-Man were aghast at this. They knew that the Prince was very fond of molasses pop-corn balls, but the palace Cook always made him some every Saturday morning, enough to last a whole week. But the Prince went on, and explained.
"The Princess who comes to play with me must be able to do what I want her to, and I want her to make my pop-corn balls fresh every day. Don't bring any Princess who can't," he said.
So they all knew that the matter was decided, for the Prince had a very strong mind of his own. The Court Messenger started out to find a little Princess who was sweet tempered, and had blue eyes, and yellow hair that curled, and was rich, and knew how to make molasses pop-corn balls.
He thought that he would find the right Princess overnight, but it came to be weeks and weeks and she was still as far away as ever. The Princesses who were sweet tempered were apt to have brown hair and hazel eyes, and if there was a sweet tempered one with blue eyes and yellow hair that curled she belonged in a Kingdom where there was very little money. And none of the Princesses had even so much as heard of molasses pop-corn balls. The Court Messenger grew so worried that he could neither eat nor sleep, but one day as he wandered about in foreign places he smelled something like molasses boiling. He followed the odor and he came to a rich appearing palace. In he went, without waiting to knock, and beside the kitchen fireplace he discovered a Princess with blue eyes and yellow hair that curled. She was stirring molasses in a kettle with one hand, and shaking a corn popper with the other.
"What are you making?" begged the Messenger in great excitement.
"Molasses pop-corn balls," said the little Princess.
"Are you sweet tempered?" asked the Messenger.
"I never cry, or scold," said the little Princess.
"Then come with me and be the Prince's playmate," said the Messenger. "We must have a Princess who will make him pop-corn balls every day."
The little Princess looked up in surprise. "Can the Prince play to me on a jews-harp?" she asked.
"I do not think his Highness can," said the Messenger.
"Then I can't go with you," said the little Princess. "I will go only to a Prince who can play on a jews-harp."
"I won't learn to play on a jews-harp," said the little Prince when they told him about it.
So he was without a sister and a playmate, and every day he grew more lonely and more unhappy. But he thought a great deal and at last he said:
"I should like to have that little Princess very much. Will you ask her if she will come if she does not have to make molasses pop-corn balls?"
Now, all this time, the Princess had been thinking too. When the Court Messenger gave her the Prince's message, she smiled and said she would come. "The Prince need not play to me on a jews-harp if he does not want to," she said.
So they packed her clothes in ten trunks, and she rode in a gold chariot to the palace of the Prince. The doors were opened wide to greet her, and through them came the sound of the merriest music. The Princess clasped her hands in happiness.
"Who is playing the jews-harp?" she asked. "I am so fond of one."
Just then the Prince came in. It had been he who was playing. He had learned how for her pleasure.
"What are you carrying in that basket?" he asked of the little Princess.
"Some molasses pop-corn balls that I made for you," she said. "And I will make you some to-morrow, dear Prince."
Once upon a time a poor Woodcutter was making his way through a pine forest. It was winter, and a night of bitter weather. So cold was it that even the animals and the birds did not know what to make of it. The little Squirrels who lived inside the tall fir tree kept rubbing each other's noses to keep warm, and the Rabbits curled themselves up in their holes and did not even look out of doors.
And as the Woodcutter pressed on toward home, bewailing his lot, there fell from heaven a very bright and beautiful star. It slipped down the side of the sky, passing by the other stars, and it seemed to sink behind a clump of willow trees no more than a stone's throw away.
"Why, there is a crock of gold for whoever finds it," he said, and he hastened toward it. Stooping down, he placed his hands upon a thing of gold lying on the white snow. It was a cloak of golden tissue, curiously wrought with stars, and wrapped in many folds. There was no gold in it, but only a little child who was asleep.
Very tenderly the Woodcutter took up the child and wrapped the cloak around it to shield it from the harsh cold, and he made his way down the hill to the village.
"I have found something in the forest," he said to his wife when he reached the poor house where they lived.
"What is it?" she cried. "The house is bare and we have need of many things." So he drew the cloak back and showed her the sleeping child.
"It is a Star-Child," he said, and told her of the strange manner of finding it.
"But our children lack bread; can we feed another?" she asked.
"God careth for the sparrows even," he answered.
So after a time she turned round and looked at him, and her eyes were full of tears. And he came in swiftly, and placed the child in her arms, and she kissed it, and laid it in a little bed where the youngest of their own children was lying. And on the morrow the Woodcutter took the curious cloak of gold and placed it in a great chest, and a chain of amber that was round the child's neck his wife took and set in the chest also.
So the Star-Child was brought up with the children of the Woodcutter, and sat at the same board with them, and was their playmate. And every year he became more beautiful to look at, so that all those who dwelt in the village were filled with wonder. While they were swarthy and black-haired, he was white and delicate as ivory, and his curls were like the rings of the daffodil. His lips, also, were like the petals of a red flower, and his eyes were like violets, and his body like a narcissus of a field where the mower comes not.
Yet, the Star-Child's beauty worked him harm, for he grew proud and cruel and selfish. He despised the other children of the village because they were of mean parentage, and he made himself master of them and called them his servants. He had no pity for the poor, or for those who were blind, or lame; but would cast stones at them.
Now there passed one day through the village a poor beggar-woman. Her garments were torn and ragged, and her feet were bleeding from the rough road on which she had travelled, and she was in very evil plight. And being weary, she sat her down under a chestnut-tree to rest.
But when the Star-Child saw her, he said to his companions, "See! There sits a beggar-woman under that fair and green-leaved tree. Come, let us drive her hence, for she is ugly and ill-favoured."
So he came near and threw stones at her, and mocked her, and, she looked at him with terror in her eyes, nor did she move her gaze from him.
"Whose child is this?" she asked. Then the Woodcutter, who was passing by, told of finding the Star-Child, of the chain of amber around his neck and the cloak wrought with stars. And, hearing, the beggar-woman cried with joy.
"He is my little son," she said, "whom I lost through enchantment in the forest. I have searched for him through all the world."
The Woodcutter called the Star-Child, and said to him,
"Here is thy mother, waiting for thee."
But the Star-Child laughed scornfully.
"I am no son of thine," he said. "I am a Star-Child, and thou art a beggar, and ugly, and in rags. Get thee hence that I may see thee no more."
"Oh, my little son," cried the beggar-woman. "Will you not kiss me before I go? I have suffered much to find thee."
"No," said the Star-Child. "I would rather kiss an adder or a toad than thee."
So the woman went away into the forest, weeping bitterly, and the Star-Child was glad and ran back to his playmates. But when they saw him coming they ran away from him in fear. He went to the well and looked in. Lo, his face was as the face of a toad and his body was scaled like an adder. He flung himself down on the grass, and wept.
"I denied my mother," he said. "This has come upon me because of my sin. I will seek her through all the world, nor rest until I have found her."
So he ran away into the forest and called out to his mother to come to him, but there was no answer. All day long he called to her, and when the sun set he lay down to sleep on a bed of leaves, and the birds and the animals fled from him, for they remembered his cruelty, and he was alone save for the toad that watched him, and the slow adder that crawled past.
And in the morning he rose up and plucked some bitter berries from the trees and ate them, and took his way through the great wood, weeping sorely. And of everything that he met he made inquiry if perchance they had seen his mother.
He said to the Mole, "Thou canst go beneath the earth. Tell me, is my mother there?"
And the Mole answered, "Thou hast blinded mine eyes. How should I know?"
He said to the Linnet, "Thou canst fly over the tops of the tall trees and canst see the whole world. Tell me, canst thou see my mother?"
And the Linnet answered, "Thou hast clipt my wings for thy pleasure. How should I fly?"
And to the little Squirrel who lived in the fir tree, and was lonely, he said, "Where is my mother?"
And the Squirrel answered, "Thou hast slain mine. Dost thou seek to slay thine also?"
And the Star-Child wept and bowed his head and prayed forgiveness of God's things, and went on through the forest, seeking for the beggar-woman.
When he passed through the villages the children mocked him and threw stones at him. He had no place to rest his head, and none had pity on him. For the space of three years he wandered over the world, and often seemed to see his mother in the road in front of him, and would call to her, and run after her until the sharp flints made his feet bleed. But overtake her he could not, and there was neither love nor charity for him. It was such a world as he had made for himself in the days of his pride.
It happened that in his wanderings he was taken and sold as a slave, and his master, who was a wicked magician, demanded that he go out in search of a piece of pure white gold.
"See that thou bringest it," said the magician, "or it will go hard with thee."
So the Star-Child went in search of the piece of white gold but he could not find it, although he sought for it from morn to noon, and from noon to sunset. Then he set his face toward home, weeping bitterly, for he knew that the magician would beat him with an hundred stripes. But suddenly he heard, from a thicket a cry, and, forgetting his own sorrow, he ran to the place. He saw a little Hare caught in a trap.
The Star-Child had pity on it and released it and the Hare said to him, "What shall I give thee in return for my freedom?"
And the Star-Child said to it, "I am seeking for a piece of white gold nor can I, anywhere, find it; and if I bring it not to my master he will beat me."
"Come with me," said the Hare. "I know where it is hidden, and for what purpose."
So the Star-Child went with the Hare, and in the cleft of a great oak tree he saw the white gold that he was seeking. He took it and ran swiftly toward the city.
Now at the gate of the city there was seated one who was a leper. When he saw the Star-Child he called to him and said, "Give me a piece of money or I must die of hunger. They have turned me out of the city and there is no one who has pity on me."
"Alas," cried the Star-Child. "I have but one piece of money, and if I bring it not to my master he will beat me, for I am his slave."
"Give me the piece of money or I must die," cried the leper and the Star-Child had pity on him and gave him the piece of gold. Yet his heart was heavy, for he knew what evil fate awaited him.
But, lo, as he passed through the gates of the city, the guards bowed to him and the high officers of the city ran forth to meet him and cried, "Thou art our lord for whom we have been waiting, and the son of our king."
And the Star-Child wondered.
"I am no king's son, but the child of a beggar-woman and evil to look at," he said. Then he saw his image in one of the burnished shields of the guards.
Lo, his face was again beautiful, and all his comeliness had come back to him again.
But he said to them, "I am not worthy, for I have denied my mother, nor may I rest until I have found her. Let me go, for I must wander again through the world." As he spoke he looked toward the road and there he saw the beggar-woman who was his mother and at her side stood the leper who had sat beside the gate.
Then a cry of joy broke from the Star-Child's lips and he ran over, and kneeled down, and kissed the wounds in his mother's feet. And the beggar-woman put her hand on his head and said to him, "Rise"; and the leper put his hand upon the Star-Child also, and said to him, "Rise."
And he rose up from their feet and looked at them; and they were a King and a Queen.
And the Queen said to him, "This is thy father whom thou hast fed."
And the King said, "This is thy mother whose feet thou hast washed with thy tears."
And they clothed the Star-Child in fair raiment and set a crown upon his head and a sceptre in his hand and he was the ruler of the city. He was wise and merciful to all, and to the Woodcutter and his family he sent many rich gifts. He would not suffer any one to be cruel to bird or beast, but taught love and loving kindness; and to the poor he gave bread, and to the naked raiment; and there was peace and plenty in the land.
In the whole world there is nobody who knows so many stories as Ole Luk-Oie. He really can tell stories.
It is in the evening, when the children are sitting nicely at table, or upon their stools, that Ole Luk-Oie comes. Softly he creeps up the stairs, for he walks in socks; opens the door very gently, and squirts sweet milk in the children's eyes—whisk! just a tiny drop, but quite enough to prevent them from keeping their eyes open; and so they cannot see him.
Then he steals just behind them, and blows softly at the back of their necks, so that their heads become heavy. But of course it does not hurt them, for Ole Luk-Oie is fond of the children, and only wants them to be quiet. They are most quiet when they are in bed; and they have to be quiet indeed when Ole Luk-Oie tells them his stories.
When the children are nearly asleep, Ole Luk-Oie seats himself upon the bed. He is neatly dressed; his coat is of silk, but it is impossible to say of what color, for it shines green, red, and blue, according to which side he turns. Under each arm he carries an umbrella. One is lined with pictures, and this he spreads over the good children, so that they dream the most beautiful stories the whole night through; but on the other umbrella there are no pictures, and this he holds over the naughty children, so that they sleep heavily, and when they awake in the morning they have not dreamed at all.
We shall now hear how Ole Luk-Oie came to a little boy named Hjalmar, and what he told him.
Over the chest of drawers in Hjalmar's room hung a large picture in a gilt frame. It was a landscape. One could see tall trees, and flowers in the grass. There was a great lake, and a river that flowed round the forest, past castles, and out and out into the sea.
Ole Luk-Oie touched the painting with his magic squirt, and the birds in it began to sing, the branches of the trees moved, and the clouds floated along. Then Ole Luk-Oie lifted little Hjalmar up to the frame, and Hjalmar put his feet into the picture, right into the high grass; and there he stood, with the sun shining upon him. He ran to the water and seated himself in a little boat that lay there; it was painted red and white, and the sails gleamed with silver. Six swans, wearing golden circlets around their necks and twinkling blue stars on their heads, drew the boat.
Gorgeous fishes, with scales of silver and gold, swam after the boat, sometimes springing high into the air and falling back with a splash into the water. They wanted all to follow Hjalmar, and each one had a story to tell.
It was really a beautiful voyage. At one time the forests were thick and dark, at another they looked like a glorious garden full of sunlight and flowers. There were great palaces of glass and marble; on the balconies stood Princesses, and they were all little girls whom Hjalmar knew well—he had played with them before. Each one stretched forth her hand, and held out the prettiest sugar pig that a cake-woman could sell. Hjalmar took hold of one end of the sugar pig as he passed by, but the Princess also held fast, so that each of them got a piece—she the smaller part, and Hjalmar the larger.
Before each palace stood little Princes as sentries. They presented arms with golden swords, and then it rained raisins and tin soldiers; they were real Princes. At one moment Hjalmar was sailing through forests, at another through great halls, or straight through the middle of a town.
Ole Luk-Oie had taken Hjalmar for a wonderful journey that night.
And another night Ole Luk-Oie said to Hjalmar, "Don't be afraid. I will show you a little mouse," and he held out his hand with the pretty little creature. "It has come to invite you to a wedding. Two little Mice are going to be married to-night. They live under the floor of your mother's pantry; it is said to be such a nice place to live in."
"But how can I get through the mouse hole in the floor?" asked Hjalmar.
"I will see to that," said Ole Luk-Oie. And with his magic squirt he touched Hjalmar, who at once began to grow smaller and smaller, until at last he was scarcely as big as a finger.
"Now you can borrow the tin soldier's uniform. I think it will fit you," said Ole Luk-Oie.
And in a moment Hjalmar was dressed like the smartest of tin soldiers.
"Will you be so kind as to take a seat in your Mamma's thimble?" said the mouse; "I shall then have the honour of drawing you."
"Oh, dear! are you going to take this trouble yourself, little miss?" said Hjalmar.
Then they drove to the mouse's wedding. They passed first through a long passage beneath the floor, which was only just high enough to drive through in a thimble; and the whole passage was lit up with phosphorescent wood.
"Doesn't it smell nice here?" said the mouse, who was drawing the thimble. "The whole passage has been greased with bacon fat; it could not be more exquisite."
Then they came into the bridal hall. On the right hand stood all the little lady mice; and they whispered and giggled as if they were making fun of one another; on the left stood all the gentlemen mice, stroking their whiskers with their forepaws; and in the center of the hall you could see the bride and bridegroom, standing in a hollow cheese.
More and more guests arrived, until the mice were nearly treading one another to death. The bridal pair had stationed themselves just in the doorway, so that one could neither come in nor go out. Like the passage, the floor had been greased with bacon fat, and that was the whole of the feast; but for dessert they produced a pea on which a mouse belonging to the family had bitten the name of the bridal pair—that is to say, the first letter of the name. It was something extraordinary.
All the mice said it was a beautiful wedding, and that the entertainment had been very enjoyable.
So Hjalmar drove home again. He had been in very distinguished society; but he had been obliged to shrink together to make himself small, and to put on the tin soldier's uniform.
"Am I to hear any more stories now?" asked little Hjalmar, as soon as Ole Luk-Oie had put him to bed Saturday night.
"We have no time for that this evening," said Ole Luk-Oie; and he spread his finest umbrella over the child. "Now look at these Chinamen."
And the whole umbrella looked like a great china bowl, with blue trees and painted bridges, upon which stood little Chinamen, nodding their heads.
"We must have the whole world nicely cleaned up for to-morrow morning," said Ole Luk-Oie, "for it is a holiday—it is Sunday. I must go to the church steeple to see that the little church goblins are polishing the bells, so that they may sound sweetly. I must go out into the fields, and see that the winds are blowing the dust from the grass and leaves; and—this is the greatest work of all—I must bring down all the stars to polish them. I have to number each one of them before I take them in my apron, and the holes in which they are up there must be numbered as well, so that they may be put back in their right places, or they would not stick firmly, and then we should have too many shooting-stars, for they would be dropping down one after the other!"
"Do you know, Mr. Luk-Oie," said an old portrait, which hung on the wall in the room where Hjalmar slept, "that I am Hjalmar's great-grandfather? I am much obliged to you for telling the boy stories; but you must not confuse ideas. The stars cannot be taken down and polished. They are spheres, just like our earth, and that is just the best thing about them."
"I thank you, old grandfather," said Ole Luk-Oie, "I thank you! You are the head of the family, the ancestral head: but I am older than you! I am an old heathen; the Romans and Greeks called me the Dream God. I have been in the noblest houses, and am admitted there still. I know how to act with great people and with small. Now you can tell your story!"
Ole Luk-Oie took his umbrella, and went away.
And Hjalmar awoke.
WHAT FATHER DOES IS ALWAYS RIGHT
I have no doubt that you have been out in the country, and have seen a real old farm-house, with a thatched roof, and moss, and plants growing wild upon it. There is a stork's nest on the ridge, for one cannot very well do without the stork; the walls are sloping, the windows low, and the baking-oven projects from the wall like a fat little body. The elder-tree hangs over the fence, and there is a little pool of water, with a duck and her ducklings, beneath some old willow-trees. There is, also, a dog that barks at everybody who passes by.
Just such an old farm-house stood out in the country, and there lived an old couple, a peasant and his wife. Little though they had, there was one thing they could not do without, and that was the horse, that found a living by grazing on the roadside.
Father rode on it to town, and the neighbours borrowed it; but the old couple thought it might perhaps be better to sell the horse or exchange it for something more useful.
"You will know best, father, what this something should be," said the wife. "To-day is market-day in town; ride down there and sell the horse or make a good exchange. What you do is always right—so ride to the market."
So she wrapped his muffler around him, for she could do this better than he, and tied it in a double knot, so that it looked very smart; then she brushed his hat with the palm of her hand, and gave him a hearty kiss. He rode away on the horse that was about to be sold or exchanged. Yes; father knew what he was about!
A man came along, leading a cow—as pretty a cow as one could wish to see.
"She must give good milk, I am sure," thought the peasant; "it would be a very good exchange to get her for the horse. Hello there, you, with the cow!" he cried, "let us have a little chat. Of course, a horse costs more than a cow, but I don't mind that; I happen to have more use for the cow. Shall we make an exchange?"
"All right," said the man with the cow, and so they exchanged.
Now that the bargain was made, the peasant might have returned home, for he had finished his business; but, as he had made up his mind to go to market, he thought he might as well do so, if only to see what was going on. So off he walked with his cow.
He walked quickly, and the cow walked quickly, and so they soon overtook a man who was leading a sheep. It was a fine sheep, in good condition, and with plenty of wool.
"Now, that is just the thing I should like to have," thought the peasant. "There is plenty of grass for it by the roadside, and in the winter we could take it into the house with us. As a matter of fact, it would be more suitable for us to keep than a cow. Shall we exchange?" he asked.
The man with the sheep was quite willing; so the exchange was made.
The peasant went along the road with his sheep, and at the stile he met a man with a big goose under his arm.
"That is a heavy bird you have there," said the peasant, "with plenty of feather and fat. It would look capital tied with a piece of string by the pond. It would be something for the wife to save the potato peelings for. She has so often said: 'If we only had a goose!' and now she can get one, and we shall have it. Shall we exchange? I will give you the sheep for the goose, and thank you into the bargain," said the peasant. The other man was quite willing; and so they exchanged, and the peasant got the goose.
He was now close to the town. The crowd on the road became greater, and there was a crush and a rush of men and cattle. They were walking on the road and by the roadside, and at the turn-pike-gate they walked even in the toll-man's potato-field, where a hen was strutting about with a string tied to her leg, in order that she should not go astray in the crowd and so get lost. It was a nice fat hen; it winked with one eye, and looked very artful. "Cluck! cluck!" it said; what it thought, when saying it, I do not know; but the peasant thought, as he saw the hen,
"Now, that is the nicest hen I have ever seen. She is finer than our parson's hen. I should like to have her. A hen can always pick up something; she can almost keep herself. I think it would be a good exchange if I got her for the goose. Shall we exchange?" he said.
"Exchange!" said the other; "that wouldn't be so bad." So they exchanged; the toll-man got the goose, and the peasant got the hen.
He had done a good deal of business on his way to town; it was very hot, and he was very tired; he would be all the better for a piece of bread, and now he was at the inn.
He was going in, and the innkeeper was going out, so they met in the doorway.
The innkeeper carried a big sack of something.
"What have you there?" said the peasant.
"Apples!" answered the man; "a whole sackful for the pigs."
"Oh, that is a rare lot; I should like mother to see them. Last year we had only one single apple on the old tree by the peat-house; this apple we kept on the top of the cupboard until it cracked. 'Well, it is always property,' said mother; but here she could see any quantity of property; yes, I should like to show them to her."
"Well, what will you give for them?" asked the man.
"What will I give? I'll give my hen in exchange," he said, and so he gave his hen in exchange, got the apples, and went into the inn.
Many strangers were present in the room, and they soon heard the whole story—how the horse was exchanged for the cow, and so on, down to the apples.
"Well, your good wife will give it to you when you get home," said one of them.
"Not at all," said the peasant; "she will give me a kiss, instead of scolding me, and she will say: 'What father does is always right.'"
"Shall we wager," said the stranger, "a barrel of gold coins—a hundred pounds to a hundredweight?"
"It is quite enough to make it a bushelful," said the peasant; "I can only set the bushel of apples against it; but I will throw myself and the wife into the bargain, and that, I should say, is good measure!"
"Done!" he said; and so the wager was made.
The innkeeper's carriage came up, and the stranger got in, the peasant got in, and the apples got in, and away they all went to the peasant's house.
"Good evening, mother!"
"Good evening, father!"
"I have made the exchange."
"Well, you understand what you are about," said the woman, and she was so glad to see him, she forgot all about the sack and the stranger.
"I have exchanged the horse for a cow."
"Oh, how nice to get milk!" said the wife; "now we can have butter and cheese on the table; that was indeed a capital exchange!"
"Yes, but I exchanged the cow for a sheep."
"Well, that is perhaps better," said the wife; "you always think of everything. We have just enough pasture for a sheep; ewe's milk, and cheese, and woolen socks, and a woolen jacket—the cow cannot give these. How you do think of everything, to be sure!"
"But the sheep I exchanged for a goose."
"Are we really going to have roast goose for Christmas this year, father dear? You are always thinking of something to please me. This is a capital idea of yours; the goose can be tied to a string, and we will fatten her for Christmas!"
"But I exchanged the goose for a hen," said the old man.
"A hen! oh, that was a good bargain!" said the woman. "A hen lays eggs, and hatches them, and so we can get chickens—a whole poultry-yard—and that's the very thing I have always wished for."
"Yes; but the hen I exchanged for a sack of apples!"
"Now, I must really kiss you!" said the woman.
"Thank you, thank you, my dear man! Now I'll tell you something; when you were gone, I thought I would make a nice meal for you—pancakes with onions. The eggs I had, but I had no onions, so I went over to the school-master's—they have onions, I know, but the wife is mean, poor thing. I asked her to lend me some. 'Lend!' she said; 'there is nothing that grows in our garden that I could lend you—not even an apple.' But now I can lend her ten, or a whole sackful—that is really nice, father."
"Well, that is capital!" exclaimed the stranger, "always going downhill, and yet always cheerful; it is worth the money." So he paid a hundredweight of gold to the peasant.
Now, that is my story. I heard it when I was little, and now you have heard it too, and know that what father does is always right.
THE ELDER TREE MOTHER
There was once a little boy who had caught cold; he had gone out and got wet feet. No one could imagine how it had happened, for it was quite dry weather. His mother undressed him, put him to bed, and had the tea-urn brought in to make him a good cup of elder tea, for that warms well.
"Now you are to drink your tea," said the mother, "and then perhaps you will hear a story."
The little boy drank the elder tea and then looked at the tea-pot. The lid raised itself and the elder flowers came forth from it, white and fresh. They shot forth long branches even out of the spout; they spread about in all directions and became larger and larger. There was the most glorious elder bush, in fact quite a tree. It stretched to the bed and thrust the curtains aside; how fragrant it was and how it bloomed! And in the midst of the tree sat an old, pleasant looking woman in a strange dress. It was quite green like the leaves of the elder tree, and bordered with great white elder blossoms. One could not tell whether this border was of stuff, or of living green and real flowers.
"Who are you?" the little boy asked.
"They used to call me a Dryad," said the woman, "but I have a better name than that. I am the Elder Tree Mother."
Then she took the little boy out of bed, and laid him upon her bosom. The blossoming elder branches wound round them so they sat as it were in the thickest arbor, and this arbor flew away with them through the air. It was very beautiful. Elder Mother all at once became a pretty young girl; at her throat she had a real elder flower, and on her head a wreath of elder blossoms. Her eyes were large and blue. She and the boy were of the same age and felt the same joys.
Hand in hand they went out of the arbor, and now they stood in the beauteous flower garden of home. The father's staff was tied up near the fresh grass plot, and for the little boy there was life in the staff. The polished head turned into a noble, neighing horse's head with a flowing mane, and four slender legs shot forth. They seated themselves upon it and began to ride miles away. And the little girl who, as we know, was no one else but Elder Mother, cried out,
"Now we're in the country. Do you see the farm-house with the great baking oven standing out of the wall? The elder tree spreads its branches over it, and the cock walks about, scratching for his hens. Look how he struts!
"Now we are at the forge where the fire burns and the hammers send bright sparks flying far around. But away, away!"
Everything, and more than the little girl mentioned as she sat on the stick behind him, flew past them. He will never forget, and throughout their whole journey the elder tree smelled so fresh, so fragrant. He noticed the roses and the fresh beech trees, but the elder tree smelled stronger than all for its flowers hung round the little girl and he often leaned against them as they flew onward.
"Here it is beautiful in spring!" said the little girl.
And they stood in the green beech wood where the thyme lay in fragrance beneath their feet and pink anemones looked pretty against the green.
"Here it is beautiful in summer!" said she.
And they passed by old castles where swans swam about and they looked down the shady avenues. In the fields the corn waved like a sea. In the ditches yellow and red flowers were growing, and in the hedges wild hops. In the evening the moon rose, round and large, and the haystacks in the meadows smelled sweet.
"Here it is beautiful in autumn!" said the little girl.
And the sky seemed twice as lofty and twice as blue as before and the forests were decked in the most gorgeous tints of red, yellow, and green. Whole flocks of wild ducks flew screaming overhead. The sea was dark blue and covered with ships with white sails; and in the barns sat old women, girls, and children picking hops into a large tub. The young people sang songs and the older ones told tales of goblins. It could hardly be finer anywhere.
"Here it is beautiful in winter!" said the little girl.
All the trees were covered with hoar frost so that they looked like white trees of coral. The snow creaked beneath one's boots as if every one had new boots on, and one shooting star after another fell from the sky. In the houses Christmas trees were lighted, and there were presents and there was happiness. In the country people's farm-houses the violin sounded, and there were merry games for apples. Even the poorest child said, "It is beautiful in winter!"
So the little girl showed the boy everything, and suddenly the boy grew up and was to go out into the wide world, far away to the hot countries where the coffee grows. When they were to part the little girl took an elder blossom from her wreath and gave it to him to keep. He put it in a book, and the more he looked at the flower the fresher it became so that he seemed, as it were, to breathe the forest air of home. Then he plainly saw the little girl looking out with her clear blue eyes from between the petals of the flower and she whispered,
"Here it is beautiful in spring, summer, autumn, and winter!" and hundreds of pictures glided through his thoughts.
Many years went by. He seemed to be an old man and sat with his wife under the blossoming elder tree. The little maiden with the blue eyes and with the wreath of elder blossoms in her hair sat up in the tree, and nodded to both of them, and said, "To-day is our golden wedding day!" Then she took two flowers out of her hair and kissed them, and they gleamed, first, like silver, then like gold. When she laid them on the heads of the old people, each changed to a golden crown. There they both sat like a King and Queen, under a fragrant tree that looked quite like an elder bush; and he told his old wife the story of the Elder Tree Mother.
"Some call me Elder Tree Mother," said the little girl in the tree, "others the Dryad, but my real name is Remembrance. It is I who sit in the tree that grows on and on, and I can think back and tell stories. Let me see if you still have your flower?"
The old man opened his book; there lay the elder blossom as fresh as if it had only just been placed there; and Remembrance nodded, and the two old people with the golden crowns on their heads sat in the red evening sunlight, and they closed their eyes, and—the story was finished.
The little boy lay in his bed and did not know whether he had been dreaming or had heard a tale told. The tea-pot stood on the table, but no elder bush was growing out of it.
"How beautiful that was!" said the little boy. "Mother, I have been in the hot countries."
"Yes, I am sure of that!" replied the mother. "When one drinks two cups of hot elder tea one very often gets into the hot countries." And she covered him up well that he might not take cold. "You have slept well," she said.
"But where is the Elder Tree Mother?" asked the little lad.
"She's in the tea-pot," said his mother, "and there she may stay."
THE HAPPY FAMILY
The biggest leaf in the country is certainly the burdock leaf. Put one in front of your waist and it's just like an apron, and if you lay it upon your head it is almost as good as an umbrella, for it is remarkably large. Burdocks have another use. Snails feed on them.
Now there was an old estate where the burdocks grew and there was no stopping them. Here and there stood an apple or a plum tree; but for this nobody would have thought a garden had been there. Everywhere were burdocks, and among them lived two ancient white snails.
They did not know themselves how old they were, but they could very well remember that there had been a great many more of them; that they had descended from a large family. They led a very retired and happy life and, as they had no children, they had adopted a little common snail which they brought up as their own child. But the little thing would not grow, for he was only a common snail, although the mother declared that he was getting too large for his shell. And when the father noticed how small their child was, she told him to feel the little snail's shell, and he felt it, and said that she was right.
One day it rained very hard.
"Listen, how it's drumming on the burdock leaves, rum-dum-dum! rum-dum-dum!" said the Father Snail.
"That's what I call drops," said the Mother. "It's coming straight down the stalks. You'll see how wet the garden will be directly. I'm glad that we have our good houses and the little one has his own. There has been more done for us than for any other creature; one can see very plainly that we are the grand folks of the world! We have houses from our birth and the burdock forest has grown for us. I should like to know how far it extends and what lies beyond it."
"There's nothing," said the Father Snail, "that can be better than here at home. I have nothing at all to wish for. You must watch the little one. Has he not been creeping up the stalk these three days? My head quite aches when I look at him."
"Well, don't scold him," said the Mother Snail. "He crawls deliberately. We shall have much joy in him, and we old people have nothing else to live for. But have you ever thought where we shall get a wife for him? Don't you think that farther in the wood there may be some more of our kind?"
"There may be black snails there, I think," said the Father Snail,—"black snails without houses! But they are too vulgar. And they're conceited at that. We can give the commission to the Ants, though; they run to and fro, as if they had business. They're sure to know of a wife for our young gentleman."
"I certainly know the most beautiful of brides," said one of the Ants, "but I fear she would not do, for she is the Queen."
"That does not matter," said the two old Snails. "Has she a house?"
"She has a castle!" replied the Ant, "the most beautiful ants' castle, with seven hundred passages."
"Thank you," said the Mother Snail, "our boy shall not go into an ant-hill. If you know of nothing better, we will give the commission to the white gnats. They fly far about in rain and sunshine, and they know the burdock wood, inside and outside."
"We have a wife for him," said the Gnats. "A hundred man-steps from here a little snail with a house is sitting on a gooseberry bush. She is quite alone, and old enough to marry. It's only a hundred man-steps from here."
"Yes, let her come to him," said the old people. "He has a whole burdock forest, and she has only a bush."
So they brought the little maiden Snail. Eight days passed before she arrived, but that was the rare circumstance by which one could see that she was of the right kind.
And then they had the wedding. Six Glow-Worms lighted as well as they could. With this exception it went very quietly, for the old Snails could not bear feasting and noise.
The Father Snail could not make a speech, he was so much moved; but he gave the young people the whole burdock forest for an inheritance. He said, what he and the Mother Snail had always said, that it was the best place in the world. And when the wedding was over, the old people crept into their houses and never came out again, for they slept.
The young Snail pair now ruled in the forest, and had a large family. The rain fell down upon the burdock leaves to play the drum for them. The sun shone to color the burdock forest for them; and they were happy, very happy. The whole family was uncommonly happy!
THE WONDER SHOES
They looked like any other pair of boy's shoes, the same stout soles, strong lacings, shiny tips and uppers. But when the old shoemaker put them on Gustave, and laced them up, and saw that they exactly fitted, he said to Gustave:
"Wonder shoes, little man. They will be wonder shoes!"
The old shoemaker had lived a great many years. He had made shoes for Gustave's father, and when he said anything about heels or toes or leather it was quite sure to be true. But here was something very strange. Gustave's blue eyes looked and looked in surprise at his new shoes. They seemed not in the least different from those that he had just worn out, or those that he kept for Sunday. He glanced up at his mother, who was giving the shoemaker a shining silver dollar and a shining silver half dollar to pay for them. She did not say anything. She only smiled back into his eyes. Then Gustave spoke to the old shoemaker.
"Why are they wonder shoes?" he asked.
"Oh you will find out!" chuckled the old shoemaker as he patted Gustave's head. So Gustave and his mother went out of the old shoemaker's shop and up the street.
It was a windy, blustering day. The dry leaves were flying, and the weather cocks turned, creaking, around, and Gustave had to hold his head low for he was only a little boy and the wind nearly pushed him down. A bent old gentleman, walking with a cane, passed them. Puff, whisk, the wind took the old gentleman's hat and sent it racing ahead of him along the street.
But the wonder shoes were quicker than the wind. They carried Gustave like a flying breeze after the old gentleman's hat. He caught it, and picked it up and gave it back to the old gentleman, who was very grateful indeed, and gave Gustave a bright penny.
"A swift little boy!" exclaimed the old gentleman, but Gustave did not tell him about the wonder shoes. He had decided to keep that for a secret.
When Gustave and his mother reached home, his mother decided to make a loaf of white cake. But, alas; when she went to the pantry, she discovered that she had no butter.
"Run to the grocery shop, Gustave," she said, "and bring me back a pat of butter by the time that the fire is burning brightly for baking the cake."
Gustave started for the grocery store, but he had not gone very far on the way when he met his friend Max, who had a new velocipede, painted red. Max called to Gustave:
"You may ride my velocipede as much as you like," he said. "We will take turns."
Gustave stopped. He had no velocipede of his own. He could imagine himself riding on Max's velocipede, the wheels spinning around so fast as he played that he was a fire engine chief, or an automobile racer, or a chariot driver in a circus. But it was only a second that Gustave stopped. His new shoes would not let him stay any longer. On they raced toward the grocery store, carrying Gustave almost as fast as Max's velocipede could go. He called back to Max:
"I can't stop, now. I must fetch my mother a pat of butter by the time that the fire is ready for the cake."
That was all Gustave said. He did not tell him about the wonder shoes for that was a secret.
When he came back that way with the butter, Max was still out at play.
"I will race with you as far as my gate," Gustave said to Max.
"But I shall beat you because I am riding my velocipede and can race on wheels while you will have to race on foot," said Max.
But Gustave was off like an arrow and although Max worked the pedals of his new velocipede as fast as he could, he was not able to win the race. Gustave reached his gate before Max on his velocipede did.
"How did you go so fast?" asked Max.
"I have new shoes," said Gustave, but still he did not tell the secret of their wonder.
"I should like to have a pair just like them," said Max, who was often late for school and seldom able to do an errand for his mother promptly.
"I will ask the old shoemaker if he has any more shoes like mine, Max," Gustave said. So, after he had given his mother the pat of butter, which was exactly in time, he went back to the shop of the old shoemaker.
"My friend, Max, wants a pair of wonder shoes like mine," Gustave said. "Have you any more?" he asked.
The old shoemaker smiled, and chuckled, and laughed, until his spectacles nearly dropped off.
"More wonder shoes?" he said. "Why any little boy may have a pair if he wants them. It all depends upon the boy himself whether or not he has wonder shoes."
THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES
Many years ago there lived an Emperor who was so exceedingly fond of fine new clothes that he spent all his money on rich garments. He did not care for his soldiers, nor for the theatre, nor for driving about, except for the purpose of showing his new clothes.
He had a dress for every hour of the day, and just as they say of a king, "He is in Council," they always said of him, "The Emperor is in his Wardrobe."
Well, the great town in which he lived was very busy. Every day a number of strangers arrived.
One day two rogues came along, saying they were weavers, and that they knew how to weave the finest stuff one could imagine. Not only, said they, were the colors and designs exceedingly beautiful, but the clothes that were made of their material had the wonderful quality of being invisible to everybody who was either unfit for his position, or was extraordinarily stupid.
"They must be splendid clothes," thought the Emperor; "by wearing them I could easily discover what persons in my kingdom are unfit for their posts. I could distinguish the wise from the stupid. I must have that stuff woven for me at once!" So he gave the two rogues a large sum of money, in order that they might begin their work without delay.
The rogues put up two looms, and pretended to be working, but they had nothing at all in the frames. Again and again they demanded the finest silks and the most magnificent gold thread, but they put it all in their own pockets, and worked at their empty looms late into the night.
"Now, I should like to know how far they have got on with that stuff," thought the Emperor; but he felt quite uncomfortable when he remembered that those who were stupid or unfit for their positions could not see it. He did not think for a moment that he had anything to fear for himself; but, nevertheless, he would rather send somebody else first to see how the stuff was getting on.
Everybody in the town knew what a remarkable quality the stuff possessed, and each was anxious to see how bad or stupid his neighbors were.
"I will send my honest old minister to the weavers," thought the Emperor; "he can judge best how the stuff looks, for he is intelligent, and no one is better fit for his office than he."
So the clever old minister went out into the hall, where the two rogues were sitting at work at their empty looms.
"Goodness me!" he thought, and opened his eyes wide; "I cannot see anything," but he did not say so. Both of the rogues begged him to be so kind as to step nearer, and asked him if it was not a pretty design, and were not the colors beautiful, and they pointed to the empty looms.
But the poor old minister kept on opening his eyes wider and wider: he could not see anything for there was nothing there.
"Goodness me!" he thought; "am I really stupid? I never thought so, and nobody must know it. Am I really unfit for my office? No; I must certainly not tell anybody that I cannot see the stuff."
"Well, what do you think of it?" asked the one who was weaving.
"Oh, it is beautiful! Most magnificent!" replied the old minister, and looked through his spectacles. "What a pattern! and what colors! Yes, I must tell the Emperor that I like it very much indeed."
"Ah! we are very glad of that," said both weavers, and then they described the colors, and explained the strange patterns.
The old minister listened attentively, so as to be able to repeat it all when he returned to the Emperor, and this he did.
The rogues now asked for more money, and for more silk and gold thread, which they required for weaving. They put everything into their pockets, and not a thread went on the frames, but nevertheless they continued to work at the empty looms.
Soon afterward the Emperor sent another clever statesman to see how the weaving was getting on, and whether the stuff was nearly ready. The same thing happened to him as to the minister; he looked and looked, but as there was nothing on the empty frames, he could not see anything.
"Now, is not that a beautiful piece of stuff?" said both rogues, and described the beauty of the pattern, which did not exist at all.
"I am not stupid," thought the statesman, "so it must be that I am unfit for the high position I hold; that is very strange, but I must not let anybody notice it." So he praised the piece of stuff which he could not see, and said how pleased he was with the beautiful colors and the pretty pattern.
"Oh! it is really magnificent!" he said to the Emperor.
All the people in the town were talking about the beautiful stuff, and the Emperor himself wished to see it while it was still on the loom. With a whole suite of chosen courtiers, among whom were the two honest old statesmen who had been there before, the Emperor went to the two cunning rogues, who were now weaving as fast as they could, but without thread or shuttle.
"Well! is it not magnificent?" cried the two clever statesmen; "does your majesty recognize how beautiful is the pattern, how charming the colors?" and they pointed to the empty looms, for they thought that the others could see the stuff.
"What?" thought the Emperor; "I cannot see anything; this is terrible! Am I stupid; or am I not fit to be Emperor? This would be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me! Yes, it is very beautiful," he said at last; "we give our highest approbation!" and he nodded as if he were quite satisfied, and gazed at the empty looms.
He would not say that he saw nothing, and the whole of his suite looked and looked; but, like the others, they were unable to see anything. So they said, just like the Emperor, "Yes, it is very pretty," and they advised him to have some clothes made from this magnificent stuff, and to wear them for the first time at the great procession that was about to take place. "It is magnificent! beautiful! excellent!" they said one to another, and they were all so exceedingly pleased with it that the Emperor gave the two rogues a decoration to be worn in the button-hole, and the title "Imperial Weavers."
The rogues worked throughout the whole of the night preceding the day of the procession, and had over sixteen candles alight, so that people should see how busy they were in preparing the Emperor's new clothes.
They pretended to take the stuff off the looms, cut it in the air with great scissors, and sewed with needles without thread, and at last they said:
"See! now the clothes are ready!"
The Emperor, followed by his most distinguished courtiers, came in person, and the rogues lifted their arms up in the air, just as if they held something, and said, "See! here are the trousers, here is the coat, here is the cloak," and so forth. "It is as light as a cobweb; one might imagine one had nothing on, but that is just the beauty of it!"
"Yes," said all the courtiers; but they could not see anything, because there was nothing.
"Will your imperial highness condescend to undress?" said the rogues; "we will then attire your majesty in the new clothes, here in front of the mirror."
"Oh! how well they look! how beautifully they fit!" said every one; "what a pattern! what colors! It is indeed a magnificent dress."
"They are standing outside with the canopy which is to be carried over your majesty in the procession," announced the Master of Ceremonies.
"Well, I am ready," said the Emperor. "Does it not fit me well!" and he turned again to the mirror, for he wanted it to appear that he was admiring his rich costume.
The chamberlains who were to carry the train fumbled with their hands on the floor just as if they were holding the train up; they raised their hands in the air, but dared not let any body notice that they saw nothing; and so the Emperor went in procession beneath the magnificent canopy, and all the people in the street and at the windows said: "Oh! how beautiful the Emperor's new clothes are; what a splendid train, and how well everything fits!"
No one would admit that he could see nothing, for that would have shown that he was either unfit for his post or very stupid. None of the Emperor's costumes had ever been so much admired.
"But he has no robe on at all!" said a little child.
"Just hear the voice of the innocent," said his father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said.
"He has no robe on," cried the whole of the people at last; and the Emperor shivered, for it seemed to him that they were right.
But he thought to himself, "I must go through with the procession," and he walked with even greater dignity than before; and the chamberlains followed, carrying the train which did not exist at all.
HOW PRIMROSE WENT TO THE PARTY
The Prince who lived in the great white castle at the top of the green hill was to give a party, and he had invited the children from the village to come.
For days there had been talk of little else at the cottage doorsteps, and in the market place. Oh, the children all knew how wonderful a party at the Prince's castle would be. The doors would be thrown wide open; in all the rooms there would be rose trees of every kind and color; birds would sing in golden cages; and each child would be given a feast and precious gifts.
There was something else, though, that the children knew. One must be dressed in a fitting way to appear at the castle of the Prince. Each child knew that he or she must appear in the best that they had to wear.
Well, that was easily arranged. They nearly all had ribbons, and there were bits of fine lace laid away in the home chests that could trim their frocks. Pieces of velvet were to be had and the village tailor was busy, night and day, making ruffled shirts and fine suits for the boys, while the mothers stitched and embroidered for the girls.
But when their party clothes were made, another thought came to the children. They should, themselves, carry gifts to the Prince.
This, also, was arranged. A bit of old carving from this cottage, an old silver cup from that shelf, a basket of rare fruits from this fertile orchard. These were good gifts.
So, at last, the children started up the hill to the castle. All were ready to meet the Prince, they felt sure, except Primrose; she walked apart from the others for she had no party dress, and no gift to carry.
She was named Primrose because she made a poor, bare little hut on the edge of the forest bright, just as a wild flower makes a waste spot beautiful. In all her life Primrose had never been to a party, and now she was invited with the others. But her feet were bare, and her little brown dress was torn, and she had no hat to cover her wind-blown, yellow hair.
As they went up the hill, the children passed a poor fagot gatherer, bending under her great bundle.
"Off a pleasuring, with little thought for others," the old woman mumbled to herself, but Primrose stole up to her side and slipped one soft little hand in the woman's hard, care-worn one.
"I will carry half your fagots for you to the turn of the road," she said. And she did, with the old woman's blessing on her sunny head at the turn.
Farther on, the children passed a young thrush that had fallen out of its nest and was crying beside the road. The mother bird cried, too. It was as if she said,
"You have no thought of my trouble."
But Primrose lifted the bird in her two hands and scrambled through the bushes until she had found its nest and put it safely in. The branches tore her dress that had been ragged before, but the mother thrush sang like a flute to have her little one back.
Just outside the castle gates, there was a blind boy seated, asking alms. When the other children passed him, laughing and chattering of all that they saw, tears fell down the cheeks of the little blind boy, for he had not been able to see for a long, long time. The others did not notice him, but Primrose stopped beside him and put her hands softly on his eyes. Then she picked a wild rose that grew beside the road and put it close to his face. He could feel its soft petals, and smell its perfume, and it made him smile.
Then Primrose hurried through the castle gates and up to the doors. They were about to be closed. The children had crowded in.
"There is no one else to come," the children shouted.
Then they added, "There is no other child except Primrose and she has no dress for a party and no gift for you, great Prince."
But the Prince, his kind eyes looking beyond them, and his arms outstretched, asked,
"What child, then, do I see coming in so wonderful a dress and carrying a precious gift in her hand?"
The children turned to look. They saw a little girl who wore a crown; it was the fagot bearer's blessing that had set it upon her head. Her dress was of wonderful gold lace; each rag had been turned to gold when she helped the little lost bird. In her hand she carried a clear, white jewel; her gift for the Prince; it was a tear she had taken from the little blind boy's face.
"Why, that is Primrose," the children told the Prince.
THE PRINCE WHO WASN'T HUNGRY
Once upon a time there was a little Prince who had very little to do, and so he thought a great deal about eating. All the grown-up people in the castle were most anxious to have the little Prince grow up to be a fine, strong King. So they, too, thought a great deal about what the Prince should eat. The Queen made out long lists of good things for his meals. The Court Chancellor bought food, himself, in town so as to be sure that it would be fresh. The Court Cook was busy boiling, and broiling, and simmering, and tasting for the little Prince almost all day long. While the Court Ladies in Waiting served the little Prince's meals in the most dainty ways: sometimes on rosebud china, and sometimes in gold bowls, and always with silver spoons.
Such delicious foods as they were! No child, but a Prince, had ever tasted them.
There were wheat cakes made from only golden wheat, and served with honey from the wild bees' combs. There were eggs that a tiny bantam hen had laid, made into an omelette with very rare herbs from the castle kitchen garden. There were tarts filled with wild strawberries or black cherries, which every one knows are the nicest strawberries and cherries of all. There were such strange, sweet dishes as violet jelly, and rose-leaf jam, and clover preserve, very good indeed for supper, spread on sugar wafers.
At first the little Prince had an excellent appetite for all these good things. He looked forward so to his meals that he thought very little about running and playing with the castle pages. Instead, he spent ever so much time watching the clock, and he made up a new timetable for himself.
"Half past breakfast, it is now!" the little Prince would say, or, "A quarter before dinner," or, "Ten minutes of supper." And the Prince grew so fat that he looked like a little stuffed pig.
But after a while, the Prince lost his appetite. None of the rare foods that they gave him tasted as delicious as they had before. He began asking for things to eat that no one could give him; a blue apple, or a mug of dew, or a pat of butter made of buttercups.
"What shall we do about it?" all the people in the castle said, and the Queen cried, and the Court Cook wrung his hands. The little Prince would eat nothing else, and they were afraid that he would starve.
Then the little Prince asked them for the best food in the world, and would have no other. He had eaten what every one thought was the best, so they did not know what to do. One day they missed the little Prince. He had gone down into the village to try and find, for himself, the best food in the world.
He asked every one whom he met about it. Every one knew from his velvet suit and his buckled shoes that he was the Prince, so they all tried to feed him.
"Now, I have the best food in the world, a nicely roasted chicken," said the innkeeper.
"Oh, no, I have eaten roasted chicken and I am tired of it, thank you," said the Prince.
"I am sure that I have the best food in the world," said the baker, "a frosted plum cake."
"Oh, no, I have eaten frosted plum cake, and I am tired of it, thank you," said the Prince.
"Of course I have the best food in the world, chocolate ice cream," said the sweets man.
"Oh, no, I have eaten chocolate ice cream and I am tired of it, thank you," said the Prince.
So he went this way and that way, but he could not find anything that he wanted to eat.
When it was late in the afternoon he came to the woods and there he met a little boy of his own age, chopping down small trees. The boy's cheeks were rosy, and his eyes were bright. His arms, swinging the shiny hatchet, were tough with strong muscles. He looked as if he had eaten good food all his life, so the little Prince spoke to him.
"Have you any of the best food in the world?" he asked.
"Oh, yes; right here in my pocket," said the boy.
"May I have some?" begged the little Prince.
"Yes, indeed," said the boy, "if you will help me with my chopping first. I am not going to eat my supper until I have finished my work."
So the little Prince took the hatchet and chopped, while the boy tied the wood into bundles and gathered up the chips. The air was crisp and sweet, and the work made the little Prince's blood flow fast and warm. He liked it very much indeed, so he kept on chopping until his arms ached and he had to sit down on a stump to rest.
"Now we will eat," said the boy, and he pulled a piece of strange, dark food from his pocket. He broke it in two and gave half to the Prince who ate it in hungry mouthfuls.
It tasted better than anything he had ever eaten before!
"It is the best food in the world. Thank you," said the little Prince. "I shall see that you are made a page, and I will take back part of this food to share with my mother, the Queen."
But the Queen and all the other people were very much surprised at what the little Prince brought them.
It was a piece of brown bread and butter!
The field was small, and full of stones, and barren. Although it lay beside a much travelled road and not far from the town, no one had noticed it except to say how useless it was.
"It would take a great deal of time to cultivate that field," the farmer said as he drove by in the fall with his team full of ripe vegetables and fruit for market. He had bought a farm that was ploughed and planted. There had been no stones for him to dig out and take away.
"That would be a fine field to play in," said the children as they passed by on their way to school, "only it is too rough. It would hurt our feet."
"If only something could be raised in the field," said the people who had houses close by. "Then we should be sure of having food for the winter."
But no one paid any further attention to the field.
There was a secret about it, though.
The field was alive. Deep down in its earth, under its thick clods and heavy stones, the field had a great wish to grow. And to grow, the field must be clean, so it called to Mother Nature for help. Mother Nature spoke to her winds about it.
"Four Winds," she said, "will you sweep the field clean, and so help it to grow?"
The winds heard Mother Nature calling and they got out their four brooms and swept the field as clean as they could. But that was not enough. The field must be rich as well as clean before it could grow. So the field called once more to Mother Nature, and Mother Nature spoke to her trees.
"Trees of the roadside," she said, "will you give your leaves to cover the field, and lose their beautiful colors, and become loam? The four winds have swept the field clean, but it must be rich before it can grow."
The trees heard Mother Nature calling, and they gave all their leaves to the field. But that was not enough. The field must be dug, as well as enriched and cleaned, before it could grow.
So the field called a third time to Mother Nature, and Mother Nature spoke to her children, the earth worms.
"Earth Worms," she said, "will you creep and dig underneath the field and turn up the earth in furrows? The four winds have swept the earth clean, and the trees have given their leaves to make it rich, but it must be dug before it can grow."
Although the earth worms are very small, they heard Mother Nature calling. They crept down under the earth and began working together to dig the field. Wherever they found rich earth they threw it up to take the place of the fallow. But their work was not enough. The field must be planted, as well as dug and enriched and cleaned, before it could grow. So the field called again to Mother Nature, and Mother Nature spoke to her children in feathers and soft coats.
"Birds and Four-Footed Children in soft coats," she said, "will you bring seeds and scatter them over the field? The four winds have swept it clean, and the trees have given their leaves to make it rich. The earth worms have dug the field, but it must be planted before it can grow."
Then the birds brought all kinds of seeds in their feathers, and the squirrels and the chipmunks and the sheep and the cattle passing through brought seeds in their soft coats and scattered them over the field. But this was not enough. The field must be nourished as well as planted, and dug, and enriched, and cleaned before it could grow. So the field called again to Mother Nature, and Mother Nature spoke to the sky.
"Sky," she said, "will you send rain and sun to the fields? The four winds have swept it clean, and the trees have given their leaves to make it rich. The earth worms have dug the field, and my children in feathers and soft coats have planted it, but it must be nourished before it can grow."
So the sky sent down spring rains and golden sunshine to the field, and the field's great wish began to come true. Where there had been only rough clods and between the heavy stones the field began to grow. The seeds of green grass, and of bright flowers, and of many different kinds of grain sprouted and pushed up through the earth. An apple seed sent up a shoot that would be an apple tree some day. An acorn sent up a tiny oak tree that would grow and grow until it was large enough to be cut for the beams of a house or the sides of a ship. But that was not enough. The field must be tended as well as nourished, and planted, and dug, and enriched, and cleaned before its great wish could really come true. So the field called for the last time to Mother Nature, and Mother Nature spoke to her humble child, the toad.
"Toad," she said, "will you tend the field? The four winds have swept it, and the trees have given their leaves to make it rich. The earth worms have dug the field, and my children in feathers and soft coats have planted it. The sky has sent rain and sun to nourish it, but it must be guarded from enemies before it can grow."
So the toad and all his brothers, who had been hiding beneath the stones of the field that they might not be killed, came out, and tended the field. They ate the insects and other creatures that would have destroyed the sprouts, and so the field grew.
It lay in the sunshine, bright with flowers, and green with the sprouts of growing food and trees.
"A fertile field!" said the farmer. "I shall help it to grow."
"The field is alive!" cried the children. "We can go in it and help the farmer."
"The field is rich!" said all the people who lived near by. "It is growing, and will help us to live."
And the field was cleaned, and enriched, and ploughed, and planted, and nourished, and tended each year by the hands of children and men. They took away the clods and the stones, for they had found out the secret hidden underneath. The field was alive, and it had a great wish to grow.
THE MAGIC SAUCEPAN
A long time ago, in the days of the fairies and other little folk, there lived a housewife who was very stingy indeed. She thought only of her own cupboard and meals, and never of the needs of her neighbors. When she did give alms it was a dry loaf or a scraped bone for which she had no use, and she looked for great reward because she gave even these.
She lived in the country, not far from the hills where the little Hillmen stayed. The Hillmen were fairy folk, kin to the elves and in appearance somewhat like the brownies. They made their homes in the trunks of old trees or in the hollows of the hills, gathering nuts, and grains, and such fruits as the farmers dropped at the time of harvesting. They were generous, kind little folk and couldn't abide meanness.
One day a Hillman came down and knocked at the door of the housewife. When her maid-servant opened it a crack, he took off his little green cap politely and told her his errand.
"We're giving a christening party on the hill to-night, good mother," the Hillman said, "and we need an extra saucepan, for all of ours are in use. Will you lend us one?"
"Shall I loan one of our saucepans to the Hillman, mistress?" the maid-servant asked.
"Oh, yes, I suppose it is wiser to be neighborly with them," the housewife replied.
So the maid-servant went over to the side of the kitchen where the pots hung on the wall to get a saucepan down. There was a fine supply to choose from, large and small, polished copper and brass, iron, and shining tin. But just as the maid-servant put out her hand to take one of their best saucepans, the housewife whispered to her.