The Doers
by William John Hopkins
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Once upon a time there was a little boy who was almost five years old. And his mother used to let him wander about the garden and in the road near the house, for there weren't many horses going by, and the men who drove the horses that did go by knew the little boy and they were careful.

So this boy wandered about and played happily by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls. And wherever he went his cat went too.

One morning he saw some men come with a big cart and two horses, and they stopped in a field near his house where there were some queer boards nailed on sticks that were stuck in the ground; and the boards turned corners, and there were strings across from one board to another.

And the men got out of the big cart and unhitched the horses from the cart, and the little boy thought he had better go there and see what they were going to do.

So he went, dragging his cart behind him, with his shovel and his hoe rattling in the bottom of it.

And his cat saw him going, and she ran on ahead with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.

And the little boy came to the men and the horses and he stopped and stood still.

And his cat stopped too, but she didn't stand still; she rolled over on her back on the ground and wanted to play, but nobody would pay any attention to her.

Pretty soon one of the men looked down and saw the little boy.

"Hello!" he said.

"Hello," said the little boy. "What are you going to do?"

"Why," said the man, "we're going to dig dirt."

"Are you going to dig a hole?" the little boy asked.

"Yes," said the man; "a great big hole."

"And what is the hole for?" the little boy asked. "Is it to plant something in?"

"No," said the man, "it's going to be the cellar of a house."

"Oh," said the little boy, "is it? And do you think I could help you dig? I've got my shovel and my cart."

"I'm afraid," said the man, "that it wouldn't do. You see that great scoop?"

He pointed to a big iron scoop that was in the cart.

The little boy looked and nodded.

"Is that a scoop? What is it for?"

"The horses drag it, and a man takes hold of those two handles like plough-handles, and it scoops the dirt right up."

The little boy nodded again.

"You can watch us if you want to," the man said then. "But you must be careful not to get in the way of the horses."

"And can my kitty watch too?"

The man laughed and said his kitty could watch if she wanted to.

And the other men took pickaxes out of the cart, the handles of the pickaxes and their iron heads, and each man slipped the head of his pickaxe over the handle and gave it a tap on the ground to drive the head on.

And they walked slowly in under the strings between the boards and they got in a line.

And the little boy sat down on a stone that was just the right size and watched them. His cat came and got right between his feet.

Then the man at the end of the line raised his pickaxe high above his head, and the next man did the same, and then the third man, and so on to the other end of the line.

And the first man struck his pickaxe down hard into the ground, and it made the ground grunt, Mnh!

And the second man did the same, and the ground gave another grunt, Mnh!

And then the third man did the same thing, and so on to the other end of the line.

Then the first man was ready again, so that the sound of the pickaxes was as regular as the ticking of the tall clock.

When the pickaxe was in the ground, each man gave a kind of a pry that loosened the dirt.

And when they had picked, the men went ahead a little short step and picked a new place and left the loosened dirt behind, so that, pretty soon, they were walking on the dirt that they had loosened.

The cat had got tired of lying between the little boy's feet and having no attention paid to her, so she got up and ran off a little way, and stopped and looked back, but the little boy wouldn't look.

So she walked back, with her bushy tail straight up in the air, and rubbed against the little boy's legs.

Still the little boy didn't notice her. And the reason why he didn't notice her was that the horses were being hitched to the big iron scoop.

As soon as the horses were hitched to the scoop, they started walking along; and the scoop turned right over on its face, upside down, because the man didn't have hold of the handles.

And the horses dragged the scoop, upside down, and it bumped over the stones and made a ringing kind of noise, and they dragged it in between the boards and over the dirt that had been loosened by the pickaxes, and when they got to the end of the loosened dirt, they stopped.

Then the man turned the horses around, and he took hold of the handles of the scoop and turned it over; and he kept hold of the handles, and the horses started, and the scoop dug into the loose dirt and scooped it right up and carried it along.

Now the field, where they were digging the cellar, sloped down behind where the cellar was to be, so that, when the horses came to that part, they were walking down-hill.

And the man let go of the handles of the scoop, and it turned over and dumped its load of dirt.

And when the horses heard the scoop bumping and banging on the ground, they turned around of their own accord and walked back to get a new load.

And so they did until they had scooped out all the dirt that had been loosened.

Then the pickaxe men went back and began again on the part that had been scooped, but the horses had to wait for the dirt to be loosened, and they stood outside of the cellar.

It was beginning to look a little bit like a cellar now, but a very shallow one.

And the little boy was getting tired of watching the pickaxes rise and fall and of listening to the noise the ground made. So he got up.

And his cat saw him getting up, and she ran to him, and she saw that he was going to the man with the horses, so she ran ahead, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.

The man saw them coming, and he looked at the little boy and smiled.

"I've got to go now," the little boy said, when he had come to the man.

"So soon?" asked the man. "I hope you aren't tired."

"I think I'd better go home," the little boy said. "P'r'aps my mother would like to see me."

"I shouldn't wonder if she'd like to see you pretty often," the man said. "You tell her that you'll be safe here. I'll keep my eye on you."

"How will you get your eye on me?" the little boy asked.

The man laughed. "Will you come again?"

"I'll come to-morrow," the little boy said. "P'r'aps I'll come this afternoon. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said the man.

And he watched the little boy as he trudged away, dragging his cart, with his hoe and his shovel rattling in the bottom of it, and with his cat walking beside him and looking up into his face.

And that's all of this story.



Once upon a time there was a little boy and he was almost five years old. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls.

One morning he was sitting right down in the gravel of his front walk, the walk that led to the front door of the house that he lived in, and he had been digging in the gravel. The hole that he was digging was square.

And he had picked the dirt all over with a big nail, and pried it loose, and then he had pretended that his shovel was a big iron scoop that could scoop the dirt out just the way the big scoop did when it was dragged by the horses.

For he had been watching the men dig a cellar in the field next to his house.

And his cat was there, rolling in the gravel and playing with the air.

Pretty soon his mother looked out of a window, and then she came running out.

"My dear little boy," she said, "what are you digging?"

The little boy got up, and the cat scampered away a few feet, with her bushy tail straight up in the air.

"I'm digging a cellar for a house," said the little boy.

"Oh," said his mother. "Well, don't you think you'd better build the house over near the sand-pile? People coming in might not see this house, and they might kick it over and walk on it. But the masons have come to work on the real cellar."

"The masons?" the little boy asked.

"The men to build the cellar wall. You may go and watch them if you like."

The little boy nodded again. Then he put his shovel into his cart, and took hold of the handle of the cart. Then he looked back.

"Good-bye," he said.

"Good-bye, my dear little son," his mother said.

And she watched him trudging away, dragging his cart, with his shovel and his hoe rattling in the bottom of it.

And his cat ran on ahead, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.

The little boy saw a man hoeing slowly at something in a big shallow wooden box.

And the something that he was hoeing at was all white and it slopped here and there; and the hoe was all white, and the outside of the box was all covered with slops of the same white stuff, and the man's shoes were white, too, and the bottoms of his overalls.

And there was a pile of new sand that looked all moist and just right to play in.

There was another man standing at the edge of the cellar and looking down into it.

The cellar itself was so deep now that the little boy could just see the tops of the hats of the men who were working in it.

The man who had been looking down into the cellar heard the shovel and the hoe rattling in the cart and looked up.

"Hello!" he called.

"Hello," said the little boy. "What are you doing?"

"I'm just looking to see if the men do their work right. Come over here and I'll show you."

So the little boy left his cart beside the pile of sand and walked over to where the man was.

And the man met him and took hold of his hand; and they walked together to the edge of the cellar and looked down into it, and the man stooped down and kneeled on one knee, with his arm half around the little boy so that he wouldn't fall in.

In the cellar the little boy saw a great many big stones that lay all about the middle, where they had been dumped; and there were six men working around the edge of the cellar building the wall.

In part of the cellar the wall had been begun and was about two feet high; but in another part there was nothing but the smooth dirt at the bottom, and the smooth sides of the cellar that went straight up.

And two of the men were digging a trench in the smooth bottom of the cellar where the wall would be.

When they had the shallow trench dug for a few feet, one of the men put down his shovel and went to the pile of stones.

And he found some stones that were the size he wanted, each of them just about as big as he could carry in one hand. And he took two of these and went to the trench and put them in.

Then he went to the pile and got two more, and he put them in the trench, too. And so he did until the bottom of the trench was all covered.

Then he got smaller stones and threw them in on top of the bigger ones; and, on top of those, still smaller stones that were flattish.

The flat stones filled the trench up nearly to the top, and he didn't put in any more but took up his shovel again and helped the other man dig.

Then two of the other men came, and they looked at the trench to see if it was all right.

Then they went to the pile of big stones and they picked out one of the biggest, and they took their big iron crowbars and put the points of the bars under the stone, to move it.

The little boy wondered.

"What are they going to do?" he asked. "Are they going to move it? Can they move it?"

The man nodded.

"Easy enough," he said. "You watch."

And the men pried with their crowbars, and the big stone started from its place and rolled down from the pile. And the men got it over to the trench, sometimes prying it with their crowbars and sometimes rolling it with their hands, and they set it in its place on top of the small flat stones.

Then one of the men shut one of his eyes and squinted along the wall that was done to see if the stone was just in the right place; and the other man moved the stone with his crowbar just a little until it was in exactly the right place.

Then they went to the pile again and got another big stone in the same way, and they got it over to the trench and set it in its place beside the first.

Then the men went to the pile again, and they picked out a stone that was nearly as big as the bottom stones, and they hammered it with great hammers and split off some thin, flat pieces.

That was to make it fit better in the place where it was to go. The ground all about the wall was covered with thin, flat pieces that had been hammered off other stones.

And they got a great thick board, and they put one end of the board on top of the bottom stones which they had just put in the trench, and they put the other end of the board on the ground in front of the stone which they had been hammering, and they rolled the stone slowly up the board until it came to the end.

And they rolled it off the end upon the bottom stones, and got it into its place with their crowbars.

And where it did not fit well enough, they put in thin, flat pieces that they picked up from the ground.

The man who knelt on one knee at the edge of the cellar told the little boy about it as the men worked.

And, when the men had put in the little flat pieces of stone, one of them looked up and smiled at the little boy and said that they called the thin, flat pieces "chocks."

"Not woodchucks," he said, "but just chocks."

The little boy smiled and nodded. He had never seen a woodchuck, but there was a picture of one in his animal-book. It wasn't a very good picture.

"I guess," he said, "that they are stone-chucks."

All the men who heard him laughed. And they went to work again, and the little boy turned to the man who was holding him.

"I've got to go now," he said, "and play in that pile of sand."

"All right," said the man. "You play there just as long as you want to."

So the little boy went over to the man who was hoeing the white stuff. It wasn't so white as it had been and it was thicker, just about like nice mud.

And his cat came up from somewhere. The little boy didn't know where she had been, but he didn't pay any attention to her. He just stood and watched the man.

"What are you making?" he asked at last.

"I'm making mortar," the man said. "They put it in the cracks of the wall, to hold it together."

"Oh," said the little boy. "Well, would you like to have me help you?"

"You might bring me a load of sand," said the man, "if you want to. I shall have to put in more sand."

So the little boy went to his cart, and he threw out his hoe. He wasn't careful where he threw it, and the handle of the hoe hit the cat.

And the cat ran home as fast as she could go. But the little boy didn't know it, he was so busy.

And he backed the cart up to the sand-pile, and he took his shovel and shoveled sand into the cart until the man said that was enough.

Then he took hold of the handle and pulled. It was heavier than he thought it would be, but he pulled it over to the box of mortar. It was only a few steps.

Then the man told him to shovel it in, a little at a time.

And the little boy shoveled it in slowly, and he felt very proud, for he was helping to make real mortar.

And he kept on shoveling until the man said that was enough.

The man hoed the mortar for a few minutes, and then he took up a queer-looking thing that he said was his hod.

It was made of two boards that were put together like a V with the point down; and another board was nailed across one end, but the other end was left open.

It was a kind of a trough; and a stick like a broom-handle stuck down from the middle of it.

And the man filled this hod with mortar, and he turned around and put the hod across one shoulder with the bottom of the trough resting on his shoulder.

And he took hold of the stick, and he walked off, down a ladder into the cellar.

And he dumped the mortar out of the hod on to a board near the men who were building the wall. Then he came up again.

The little boy watched him until he had come up out of the cellar. And he asked the man whether he would want any more sand, but the man said that he wouldn't for some time.

So the little boy went and played in the sand-pile for a long time, and, while he was playing, his cat came and rubbed against him. Then the little boy got up.

"I've got to go now," he said to the mortar man. "Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said the man. "Come again."

"Yes," said the little boy, "I will."

And he put his shovel and his hoe into his cart, and he took hold of the handle of the cart, and he walked off, with his shovel and his hoe rattling behind him.

And his cat ran on ahead, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.

And that's all of this story.



Once upon a time there was a little boy and he was almost five years old. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.

They were building a house in the field next to that little boy's house, and he used to go there almost every day to watch the men and to help.

One day it was late when he went, because his mother had taken him with her down to the Square to do an errand, and when he came back he had to change his clothes and put on his overalls. His mother wouldn't let him wear his overalls down to the Square.

And when he had his overalls on, he hurried and got his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he called his cat, and she came running, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.

And he hurried to the new house, dragging his cart; and his shovel and his hoe rattled in the bottom of it.

The mortar man saw him.

"Hello," he said.

"Hello," said the little boy. "Did you wonder where I was?"

"I did that," said the mortar man.

"Well, I had to go on an errand with my mother," the little boy said, "but I hurried and came as soon as I could, and here I am. Do you want some sand?"

But the mortar man didn't want any more sand then. He filled his hod with mortar, and he stooped down and took the hod of mortar on his shoulder, and he went trotting to the ladder, and he went down the ladder.

Then the little boy couldn't see him, because the cellar walls were done and the carpenters had come, and they had put on the great square beams that lie on top of the cellar walls, and they had put in the beams that go across from one side to the other and hold up the floors.

But there were some men in the cellar, for the little boy could hear them laughing and talking.

And the mortar man had told him that they were the bricklayers who were building the chimneys and two of the masons who were smearing mortar over all the cracks of the wall, so that the water wouldn't leak through from the ground into the cellar.

The little boy wished that he could see those men, but he was afraid that it wouldn't be being careful to go down that ladder, and he didn't think he could do it, anyway, for the steps were too far apart.

So he looked about and he saw the man who had held the handles of the scoop, and who had held him that other day, while he looked down into the cellar and saw the masons building the wall. He was called the foreman.

The foreman was glad to see the little boy, and beckoned to him.

And the little boy went, and the foreman took hold of his hand, and they went together right up on the floor beams; but the foreman carried him when they got up there, because there weren't any boards on the beams yet, and the little boy might have fallen through between the beams.

And when they got to the right place, they both stooped over and looked down between the beams, through a great big square hole. A chimney would come up through the hole, and the bricklayers were building it.

The little boy was surprised to see how enormous a chimney had to be at the bottom.

There were four men laying bricks as fast as ever they could, but it was all the little boy could do to watch one of the men.

First, he took up a brick from the pile, with his left hand, and he generally tossed the brick up a little way in the air, and it turned over before he caught it again, so that he saw all sides of it; and, with the flat trowel which he held in his right hand, he scooped up some mortar.

And he slapped the trowelful of mortar down on the bricks where he wanted to put that other brick, and he gave a little wipe with the trowel around the edges, and he pressed the brick that he was holding in his left hand down into place, and he tapped the brick with the handle of the trowel, and the mortar squeezed out all around, and, with his trowel, he scooped off the mortar that had squeezed out, and he slapped that down in a new place.

Then he began again, and reached down for another brick.

The little boy was so busy watching the bricklayer that he forgot all about the masons who were putting mortar on the wall.

But, pretty soon, all the men said something to all the other men, and they stopped laying bricks, and they began to take off their overalls.

"What are they going to do now?" the little boy asked.

"They are going to eat their dinner," said the foreman. "Come on."

So the foreman and the little boy got down on the ground again, and the foreman set the little boy down, and he took his hand, and they went back, near the pile of sand, where there were some nice boards to sit on.

And the men all came trooping out of the cellar, and each man went and got his dinner from the place where he had put it when he came there in the morning.

Some of the men had their dinner in pails and some had theirs in baskets and one man had his in a newspaper, so that he wouldn't have anything to carry home at night.

And the men came where the nice boards were, and they sat around anywhere, and they opened their pails and their baskets and the newspaper bundle, and they began to eat their dinners.

The little boy had sat down, too, but he didn't feel very comfortable.

He thought that, perhaps, he ought to have brought his dinner, but he didn't know about it, so how could he have brought it?

And he got up and started home, but the foreman called after him and asked him why he was going.

And the little boy said that he was going to bring his dinner, too, and eat it with them.

And the foreman said that they would give him some of their dinner, and that there were all sorts of nice things that their wives had cooked.

And the little boy said that he would ask his mother, and he would hurry as fast as he could.

In a few minutes, the little boy came back to the place where the men were sitting.

He walked very carefully, because he was carrying a cup of milk; and his cat walked beside him and looked up at the cup of milk all the time, and, every few steps, she stood on her hind legs and tried to reach the milk.

But she couldn't, and the little boy didn't pay any attention to her.

When he got to the men, the foreman asked him what his mother said.

And the little boy told him that his mother said he could have some of their things if they didn't give him any cake or any pie, and that any of the men could have their tea or coffee warmed for them if they would take it to his house.

The men who had tea or coffee were glad to hear that, and they went to the little boy's house and took their tea and their coffee.

Some had it in bottles and some had it in the covers of their dinner-pails, with the cup to drink out of fitting over the top.

The foreman didn't go, and the little boy sat down close to him and began to drink his milk; but his cat bothered him by trying to get it.

So the little boy gave her a push with his foot.

"Get away, kitty," he said. "You can't have any."

Then the foreman laughed, and he broke off a piece of white bread and gave it to the little boy. And the little boy took a great enormous bite.

"Is it good?" the foreman asked.

The little boy nodded. "M—m—m!" he said. He couldn't really say anything because he had his mouth full of bread.

"My wife made it," said the foreman. "I think she's a very fine cook."

The little boy put his mouthful of bread in his cheek so that he could speak.

"Yes," he said, "I think so too."

The foreman laughed again, and then the men began to come back.

They all wanted to give the little boy something; and some of them gave him other little pieces of white bread, and some of them gave him little corners of their sandwiches, and some gave him little pieces of dark-colored bread.

And he ate his pieces of bread and drank his milk, and the foreman gave him two of some little thin molasses cookies that were all crackly and crumbly; for little crackly cookies like those aren't much like cake.

When all the men had finished their dinner and had drunk their tea and their coffee, they went and put their pails and their baskets away and then came back and sat down again, and some of them got out their pipes and filled them.

The little boy was very happy, and he sat on the board with his hands in his lap, and he smiled.

"Now," said the foreman, "there's time for a story before you go to work again. Do any of you know a story?"

He looked all about and, last of all, he looked at the little boy. "Do you know any story?"

"Well," the little boy said, "I know about Jonah."

"Will you tell us about Jonah?" the foreman asked. "I should like to hear that story."

"Yes," said the little boy, "I will tell it. Well, once upon a time there was a man named Jonah. And he had to go to Nineveh to tell the people how bad they were. But he didn't want to go; so he didn't. He ran away in a ship.

"And when he got into the ship, he lay down and went to sleep. And the ship started, and pretty soon the wind began to blow terribly hard, and there were 'normous great waves, and the ship got all tippy. And the sailors were afraid, and they threw out the things that were in the ship.

"So the captain went to the place where Jonah was. 'Wake up, Jonah!' he said. 'Why don't you get up and pray?'

"Then the sailors talked together, and said that it must be Jonah's fault. 'Who is this Jonah, anyway?' they said. 'Where did he come from, and what is he doing here? Let's ask him.'

"So they did. And Jonah told them, and said: 'I guess you'll have to throw me out of the ship.' So they threw Jonah over into the water, and there wasn't any more storm.

"And Jonah, he went down and down and down in the water, and I guess he thought he was going to be drowned. Then a great, big whale came along and saw Jonah, and he opened his mouth wide and went at Jonah and swallowed him. But he didn't bite him or chew him or anything.

"But Jonah was terribly scared, 'cause he couldn't hardly guess where he was. The insides of the whale were all wet, and it was all pitchy dark in there.

"There wasn't anything for Jonah to do but to think, and after he had thought for a long, long time, the whale up-swallowed him and spitted him out on to the beach. And I s'pose Jonah went and washed his clothes, because they were all whaley.

"And then he went to Nineveh and told them to be more better, and they did be."

And that's all of Jonah.



Once upon a time there was a little boy and he was almost five years old. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.

They were building a house in a field near that little boy's house; and, one morning, he had heard the sounds of hammers and of mallets all the time he was at breakfast.

So he hurried to get through, and he slipped down from his chair and took off his napkin and he wiped his mouth and he turned to his mother.

She was sitting still, smiling because he was in such a hurry.

"You seem to be in a good deal of a hurry," she said.

"Yes," he said, nodding, "I am. I think I had better go over to the new house."

"To see whether the men are doing their work right?" she asked.

"You see, I have to help the mortar man," he explained. "Good-bye."

"Good-bye, dear," she said. Then she kissed him. "Be very careful."

"Yes, I will."

Then he went out, and he got his cart, and he put his shovel and his hoe in it, and he called his cat; but no cat came. And he called her again, but she didn't come then.

So he took up the handle of his cart, and he walked over to the new house, dragging his cart behind him, with his shovel and his hoe rattling in the bottom of it.

The mortar man was still there, hoeing mortar for the bricklayers to use, for the chimneys weren't done yet.

"Hello," said the mortar man.

"Hello," the little boy said. "I came as soon as I could."

"Where's your kitty?" the mortar man asked. "You couldn't find her, could you? Well, look around behind you."

The little boy looked around behind him.

He was standing with his back to the house, so that, when he looked behind him he saw the new house and the carpenters who were working at great beams which were on wooden horses that stood on the ground.

And he saw his cat, too. She was walking toward him, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.

But the little boy was too much interested in what the carpenters were doing to pay much attention to his cat.

"What are those men doing?" he asked of the mortar man.

"The carpenters? They are cutting mortises in those girts. That is, little holes in those big beams. The ends of other beams will be made small enough to go in those holes, and they will hold the floor up."

"Mor—tar!" shouted one of the men who were building the chimney.

The mortar man hurried off with his hod of mortar, and the little boy wandered over to where the carpenters were.

His cat went, too, but he left his cart by the pile of sand.

There were two carpenters there, and they both looked up and smiled.

They had great thick chisels and heavy wooden mallets in their hands, and there was a big bit, or "borer," as the little boy called it, lying on the ground between them. And I don't know why "borer" isn't a better name for it.

There were some round holes in the beams which had been made by the borer, and the men were making those round holes square with the chisels.

One of the men had just finished a hole when the little boy came, and he went ahead to the next round hole, and he put the edge of the chisel carefully against the wood, and he struck it with the mallet.

Plack! Plack! Plack! shrieked the mallet on the chisel.

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! the wood grunted, and it seemed to shiver when the mallet struck.

Then there was a splintering noise and a part of the wood broke away.

Plack! Plack! Plack! screamed the mallet again.

The wood grunted again, but it was of no use, and another piece broke away.

And then the man hit the chisel again and another piece broke off, and the chisel came through on the other side of the beam.

And the carpenter drove the chisel through at the other side of the hole, in the same way; and what had been a round hole was a square one.

Then he laid the mallet down and took the chisel in both hands, and he leaned over the square hole and made the sides all smooth with the chisel.

Then he made a sort of sloping hole, a kind of a little square trench, and it went from the side of the beam into the square hole.

Then he put his tools down and looked at the little boy again and smiled.

"There!" he said. "That's done."

The little boy smiled back at him.

"Is it?" he said. "What goes in that hole? I could put my hand in it."

"It's not for little boys' hands," answered the carpenter. "The end of a short beam goes in there. I'll show you. We have to make places for the chimneys to come through and so people can go upstairs without knocking their heads. Did you ever think of that?"

The little boy shook his head, and he came nearer. "Show me."

So the carpenter went to a little pile of short beams; and he took one and brought it back.

And he turned the big beam on edge, and fitted the end of the little beam into the hole.

The end of the little beam had already been made small, so that it would go in.

"There," he said. "Now here, where I stand, will be the stairs for people to go up, and there will be that other big beam on the other side. We have to leave this big hole in the floor so that a man can go on the stairs without hitting his head, you know. Everywhere else will be a floor, except where the chimneys come through. Do you understand?"

The little boy nodded. He thought that he understood, although it was not very easy to understand.

And while he was trying to understand better, there came a voice behind him.

"Hello! I wondered where you were."

And he looked around and there was his friend the foreman, and the cat had gone to meet him and was coming back beside him, and she was looking up into the foreman's face, and her bushy tail was sticking straight up into the air.

"Hello," said the little boy; and he leaned back against the horse that the beam rested on.

"Your kitty," said the foreman, "came up here all by herself, and she followed me about."

The little boy laughed.

"She's a funny kitty," he said.

The foreman stooped down.

"I think you'd better tell me your name," he said. "I like to know the names of my friends."

"My name is David," the little boy answered.

"And mine is Jonathan," said the foreman quickly. "Think of that! Now, Davie, come with me and let's see how the other men are getting on."

So David put his little hand into the foreman's big one, and they started; and David saw some men putting up a great, tall beam on one of the corners.

Two men were holding it, and another man reached up as high as he could and nailed a board to it, and the other end of the board was fastened down low, so that the tall beam shouldn't fall over when the men let go.

"What are those men doing?" David asked. "That sticks up like my kitty's tail, doesn't it?"

"So it does," the foreman said. "There'll be more of them presently, sticking up all along every side."

"Will there? How many of those sticks will there be?"

"Oh, I don't know; more than fifty, I should think."

"A cat with fifty tails." And the little boy laughed. "Did you ever see a kitty with fifty tails?"

"All sticking straight up in the air!" said the foreman. "That would be funny. She'd look like a porcupine."

"What is a porcupine?" David asked. "Did I ever see one?"

"I guess not," the foreman answered. "Anyway, I never did. It's a little animal all covered with sharp things. It's just as if your kitty's fur was about three or four times as long as it is, and every hair was stiff and sharp. There's a great rattling as they walk, I'm told. The Indians used to sew the quills—the sharp things—on their soft leather slippers, because they looked pretty."

"Tell me some more about them," said David.

"I don't know any more. See, Davie, the men are putting up another stick."

So David watched the men put up that stick, and he forgot about the porcupine, which was what the foreman wanted.

And then he watched them put up another, and then another.

"They look as if they were the bones of the house," he said.

"So they do, Davie," the foreman said, "and so they are. And the whole frame, before it's boarded in—before any boards are nailed on—looks like the skeleton of a house, and so it is. They'll have pretty near the whole frame up by the time you eat your supper; or to-morrow morning, at any rate. Then you look and see. It's much the same way that your body's made: your ribs and the other bones are the frame, and inside you there are a lot of rooms, and it's all covered with soft skin instead of boards."

"Am I? What are my ribs?"

"These bones." And the foreman stooped and ran his finger quickly down David's ribs, and David shrieked with laughter.

"Tickles," said David. "Show me my ribs again."

"It isn't good for little boys to be tickled too much," said the foreman. "Now we'll go over to the sand-pile for a while. I don't want to take you into the house until they get the frame all up and some floors down. It isn't safe."

So they turned around and went to the sand-pile, and the foreman stayed there a little while and played in the sand.

Then he had to go away; and the mortar man had gone away, and nobody was there but David and his cat.

And David thought that he would help the mortar man, so he filled his cart with sand and dragged it over to the mortar box and shoveled it in.

Then he took up the handle of his cart, and he called his cat, and he walked along to his house, dragging his cart.

And his shovel rattled in the bottom of it, and his cat ran on before him.

But he had forgotten his hoe. It was in the pile of sand.

And that's all of this story.



Once upon a time there was a little boy and he was almost five years old. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing. And his name was David.

They were building a house in a field near David's house; and, one morning, he heard a curious sound, and he wondered what they were doing, and he asked his mother.

"Mother," he said, "what are they doing? What are they? It sounds as if they were pickaxing the dirt."

His mother laughed. "Well," she answered, "perhaps they are. I don't know what they are doing. I think you'll have to go and see."

"Think I'll have to go and see," David repeated; "but I'll have my breakfast first."

So he had his breakfast first, and he hurried a little because he wanted to know what the noise was.

And when he was through his breakfast he took off his napkin and slipped down from his chair and went around to kiss his mother.

His father had gone off to town in the early train.

"Good-bye," said David.

"Good-bye, dear," said his mother. "Be very careful."

He nodded. "Yes, I will." He was going out, but he stopped. "I don't hear it now, mother. I don't hear the noise. Do you suppose they've stopped doing it?"

"If you go right along over there, I think you'll find out about it."

So the little boy went out, and he picked up his shovel, but he couldn't find his hoe.

And he put his shovel into his cart, and took up the handle of the cart, and his cat came running, and he went toward the new house, dragging his cart behind him with his shovel rattling in the bottom of it. His cat ran on ahead.

Long before he got as far as the house, he saw some men's heads bob up in the middle of the road; heads without any bodies to them.

And he went nearer, and he saw that the men were in a trench that they had dug in the road, as far as the new house.

Some long iron pipes were in the gutter. The pipes were big enough for his kitty to crawl through.

He wanted to ask somebody about them, but there was nobody there except the two men in the trench, so he walked along until he came to the mortar box.

The mortar man wasn't there. He had gone into the house with a hod of mortar.

So David looked all about for somebody.

He saw the pile of sand with his hoe sticking out of it, but he didn't pay any attention to it, for he wasn't thinking about hoes then.

And he saw the bones of the house almost all up, so that they made a pretty good skeleton, and the carpenters were putting up the rafters: the beams that hold up the roof.

And other carpenters had just begun nailing boards on to the outside of the up-and-down beams, and there was a great noise of hammering.

At last he saw the foreman.

"Hello!" David called.

There was such a noise, with the carpenters all hammering, that the foreman didn't hear him.

"Hello!" called David again, louder.

Still the foreman didn't hear.

"Hello!" David shouted as loud as he could shout. "Hello, Jonathan!"

The foreman heard, that time, and he looked around and laughed.

"Ho, Davie!" he said in a big round voice. "Just wait a minute and I'll be down there."

So David waited a minute, then two, then five minutes, and the foreman came. Then David asked his question.

"What are the men doing in the road?"

"They're digging a trench. When they get it done, they'll lay water pipes in it. And the water will come all the way from the reservoir on the hill, and it will go through pipes that are already laid under the streets, and it will come to this street, and it will turn into this street and go along, and some will go into your house, and some will keep on to this house and go in through a pipe that will be under the ground just the other side of the sand-pile.

"That pipe will go through the cellar wall, and to all the faucets in the house, so that when the little boy who will live here wants to wash his hands or take a bath, he will turn a faucet and the water will come running. There, now."

"Oh," said David, "will a little boy live here?"

"I don't know who will live here, Davie," the foreman answered. "There most generally is a little boy or so in any family that lives in this town."

"Oh," said David; and he nodded his head, and he saw a faucet that was nailed to a board.

And the faucet was on the end of a pipe which stuck up from the ground near the mortar box.

"Why," he said, "there's a faucet, and water will come. I've seen the mortar man get it there."

"Yes," said the foreman. "We had to have water to use. It comes through this pipe that lies on top of the ground all the way to your house. See?"

And the foreman showed David the pipe. It was hidden by the long grass.

"They're going to lay the pipes now, Davie. Do you want to see them do it?"

So David put his little hand into the foreman's big one, and they went together to where the men were.

The men had got up out of the trench, and they were going to take up one of the iron pipes that lay in the gutter.

Just as they began to lift it, out of one end of it popped David's kitty. She scurried around and popped into the end of another pipe, and all the men laughed.

"Funny kitty," said David.

Then the men took hold of the pipe that the cat had been in at first, and they lifted it, one at each end, and they carried it and put it down beside the trench.

Then they got into the trench again, and they took hold of the pipe and lowered it to the bottom.

David couldn't see what the men were doing then, and he went to the edge of the trench and squatted there and watched.

He saw the end of a pipe sticking out of the ground into the trench. It looked as if it had been in the ground a long time.

"What is that?" he asked the foreman.

The foreman said it was the end of the old pipe, and there was a place near his house where they could put a long iron thing into the ground, down as far as the pipes, and turn it and let the water into this pipe. The long iron thing was like a clock-key.

"And Davie," he said, "you see that one end of each pipe flares out bigger than the other end. The men put the small end of one pipe into the flaring end of the next. You'll see."

So David looked and the men fitted the small end of the new pipe into the flaring end of the old one, and they blocked the new pipe up with dirt and stones until it was just right.

Then one of the men took some things that were in the trench. All that David saw was what looked like some old frazzled-out rope, and he laid the things he had taken up around the new pipe in the joint, and he hammered them in tight with a kind of a dull chisel. That was so that the water shouldn't leak through.

When the men had the old frazzled-out rope all hammered in tight, the other man came and brought him something that looked all snaky, and it was shiny like the lead of a pencil, and it waved about as if it were heavy and it seemed to be all moist like mud.

And the man took this snaky, wavy thing, and he wrapped it around the pipe, and he drove it into the joint until it looked like a part of the pipe.

Then he felt it all over carefully, and he stood up and looked at it.

And he made up his mind that it was all right, and the other man began to shovel dirt down into the trench, and they punched the dirt until it was all hard under the pipe and at the sides.

Then they went to the gutter and picked up another pipe.

The foreman couldn't wait any longer.

"I've got to go now, Davie."

"Where have you got to go?" David asked. "Can I go with you?"

"I've got to go into the house. I can't take you in there yet. I'm afraid you'd get hurt. In a day or two you can go in."

David nodded. He was thinking about those pipes.

"Will the men keep on putting those pipes together until they come to the house?" he asked. "And how will they get the pipe into the house? They'll have to put it through a window."

"No," the foreman answered, "they won't have to put it through a window. They'll lay the pipes straight past the house, and they'll plug up the end until there are some more houses built on this road.

"Then they'll fit a little pipe into the side of the big pipe and run it through a hole in the cellar wall.

"The little pipe is not much bigger than that pipe that the faucet is on, over by the mortar box. What'll you do now, Davie?—play in the sand?"

David nodded again. "Good-bye," he said.

"Good-bye." And the foreman went into the house.

And David dug in the sand for a while, and then he looked for his cat, but he didn't see her; so he put his shovel and his hoe into the cart, and walked off, dragging the cart, with the shovel and the hoe rattling in the bottom of it.

And when he got to the pipes, the cat popped out of the end of one of them, and she ran ahead of David, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air, and David walked along to his house.

And that's all.



Once upon a time there was a little boy, and he was almost five years old, and his name was David. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.

One day he wandered up to the corner of the road that he lived on.

He wasn't allowed to go beyond that corner, and his mother didn't like to have him go so far as the corner.

But he was pretending, and he didn't know how far he had come.

He played in the gravel of the gutter for a long time, and he was talking nearly all the time.

His cat was there, taking little runs away, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air. Then she would lie down on her back and play with the air, and then she always jumped up in a great hurry and ran back to David and rubbed against him.

But David wasn't talking to his cat, and he wasn't talking to himself.

He was talking to the pretend child who was his playmate and who had come there holding to the other handle of his cart and helping him drag it.

And he was so busy that he didn't notice the great wagon that was just about to turn the corner.

The driver called to him.

"Hey, little boy! Don't get run over."

David scrambled up on the sidewalk before he even looked, for he remembered to be careful.

Then he looked, and he saw a big wagon that was drawn by two horses, and the wagon was loaded with short, shiny boards, tied together in bundles, and on top of the bundles of short, shiny boards were bundles of shingles, a great many of them.

David knew what shingles looked like when they came in bundles, but he wondered what the shiny, short boards were.

But he didn't ask, because the horses were almost trotting, they were walking so fast, and the driver seemed to be pretty busy.

He supposed that the shingles and things were going to the new house, and he watched the wagon until it stopped there.

Then he took up the handle of his cart, and he walked off with it as fast as he could walk, and then he began to run, and his shovel and his hoe rattled so that you would have thought they would rattle out.

The pretend child didn't go with David, for he had forgotten all about her.

Sometimes the child was a girl and sometimes it was a boy; but it was a girl that morning. She was left in the gutter at the corner.

And David didn't call his cat, and the cat stayed at the corner for a while, and first she looked at the pretend little girl and then she looked after David, and she didn't know which to go with.

But at last she went running after David, and she caught up with him, and she ran on ahead, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.

When David got to the house, he found the wagon there, and the horses were standing still, and the driver was throwing off the bundles of shingles and another man was piling them up.

They had got almost to the shiny, short boards.

And the foreman was there, and he was putting something down with a very short pencil in a little old book.

"Hello," said David. "What are—"

But the foreman interrupted him.

"Just wait a minute, Davie, until I get these checked up."

So David waited a long time, but the wagon was unloaded at last, and the little book put in the foreman's pocket.

"Now, Davie," the foreman said, "what was it that you were asking me?"

"I was asking what are these," said David, putting his hand on a bundle of the shiny boards.

"Those are clapboards, Davie."

The foreman stooped down and pointed to the house.

"You see they have begun to put them on the outside of the walls of the house, but we had to have some more. You see that one edge of a clapboard is thin and the other edge is thick."

He pulled one of the clapboards from a bundle and showed David.

"The thick edges go over the thin edges, very much like shingles, and they keep the rain and the wind out. You know about shingles?"

David nodded doubtfully.

"I don't know whether I do or not."

"Well," the foreman said, "you ought to know about them. Those two men have just begun to shingle the piazza roof. If you can wait a few minutes, I'll take you up there. You aren't very busy this morning, are you?"

David smiled and shook his head.

The foreman smiled too.

"You wait right here, and I'll come and get you pretty soon."

So David waited, and while he was waiting he watched the men putting on clapboards.

They had begun at the top and had got about halfway down that side.

The side of the house was all covered with red stuff which looked something like cloth and something like thick paper. It was paper, and it rippled and waved in the wind.

The men were putting the clapboards on outside of that red paper.

A man had a pile of clapboards beside him, and he took one up and he lifted the edge of the one above, and he tucked the thin edge of the clapboard that he held in his hand under the edge that he had lifted; and he gave it little taps with his hammer until it was in the right place, and then he drove fine nails through the thick edge that he had lifted, and through the thin edge of the clapboard beneath, and into the wall of the house.

Then he took up another clapboard and put it close up to the one that he had just fastened, with its thin edge tucked under the thick edge of the one above.

The men put on clapboards very fast, and David was so interested in seeing them do it that he forgot that the foreman had not come back for him.

He had gone up nearer, so as to see just how the clapboards went on, when he heard the foreman's voice behind him.

"Well, Davie," said the foreman, "do you think you could put on clapboards as fast as that?"

David shook his head.

"No, I couldn't."

"Perhaps not. But come on, and we'll see what you can do with shingles."

And the foreman took David's small hand in his big one, and they went to where a ladder stood leaning against the edge of the piazza roof.

A little way below the edge of the roof there was a rough sort of a platform, made of two boards laid on some other boards that were nailed to the posts of the piazza and to long sticks which went up and down and had their ends resting on the ground.

This was what the carpenters called a staging or scaffolding, and when they got through their work, they would take it down.

"Now, Davie," said the foreman, "you take hold of the rungs and climb up. It's a pretty long stretch for little legs, but I'll hold you, and I won't let you fall. Don't look down. Look up."

So David took hold of a rung and stretched his leg as high as it would go, and he managed to get his foot on the first rung.

Then he pulled himself up and reached up with one hand and took hold of the next rung; and then he put his other hand up, and he stretched his leg up as high as it would go, and he stepped up another rung.

The rungs of a ladder are the little round sticks that go across that you put your feet on.

David climbed very slowly, and he was rather scared at first; but he felt the foreman's arm around him, and the foreman kept just behind him, so that he stopped being scared.

And he climbed a little faster, and he came to the platform.

"Now, what shall I do?" he asked.

"Now you hold your breath," the foreman said, "and I'll put you over on to the staging."

So Davie held his breath and one of the shingle men came and held him by the arms when the foreman had set him down upon the boards.

Then the foreman stepped upon the staging and put his arm around David again.

"There!" said the foreman. "You've climbed your first ladder. Now we'll see about the shingling."

There was a whole bundle of shingles on the staging, and another bundle that had been opened, and the shingle men had thrown a good many of these shingles up on the roof, so that they would be handy.

And David saw that there were three rows of shingles on already, and that a string was stretched tight across the last row; and the string was chalky-looking, and blue.

"They're just going to mark another row," the foreman said. "You watch."

Then one of the shingle men lifted the stretched string between his thumb and his forefinger, and he let it go, and it snapped down hard upon the shingles.

And they took the string away, and there was a blue line all along the row of shingles.

"What is that?" David asked.

"Chalk, Davie. They put chalk on the string by rubbing a lump of chalk on it. That line shows where the edge of the next row of shingles goes.

"And they lay the shingles on so that each crack in the row beneath is covered. The shingles are different widths, you see, and they can always find one that fits up close to the next one and covers a crack.

"If the cracks were not covered, the rain would get through and the roof would leak.

"Now let's see if you can lay shingles. Pick out one that you think will be right to cover the crack in the row beneath, and lay it down close up to the last one and with its thick edge to that blue line."

David was rather excited at the thought that he was to lay the shingles.

"Shall I?" he asked.

The foreman nodded, and he pointed to a shingle.

"Try that one."

So David took the one that the foreman pointed at, and he laid it down as well as he could, close up to the last one which the shingle man had put on, and with its thick edge at the blue line.

It took him some time, because he had never laid shingles before; but the shingle man had only to change it a tiny bit, and then he drove in two nails about halfway up toward the thin edge.

And David took another shingle which the foreman pointed at, and he fitted it in its place a little more quickly, and the shingle man didn't have to change that one at all, but drove the nails with hardly more than two blows of his hammer.

So David kept on laying shingles, and the shingle man nailed them.

At first the foreman pointed to the right shingles; but, after a while, he didn't point, but David chose them himself.

And they finished that row, and they began the next.

"I'm afraid, Davie," the foreman said, "that we'll have to go down now. Aren't you ready to go?"

David was getting a little bit tired, for the shingle man nailed his shingles before he could wink, and he felt hurried all the time.

So he said that he was ready, and the foreman took him under his arm and carried him down the ladder that way.

"Good-bye," he called to the shingle men as he was going down.

"Good-bye," the shingle men called to David. "We're much obliged."

"You're welcome," David called back to the shingle men.

Then he was set down on the ground, and he was rather glad to feel the ground again.

And his cat came running, with her bushy tail straight up in the air, and David started off.

"Where are you going so fast?" the foreman asked.

David stopped for a moment.

"I've got to go home now."

"To tell your mother that you've been shingling?"

David nodded, and he smiled shyly.

"Well, good-bye, Davie," the foreman said.

"Good-bye," said David.

And he turned again and ran to his cart, and he took up the handle.

And he started walking as fast as he could, dragging his cart, with his shovel and his hoe rattling in the bottom, and his cat ran on ahead; and she ran right up the front steps and in at the door, and David came after.

But he left his cart in the path.

And that's all of the shingle story.



Once upon a time there was a little boy, and he was almost five years old, and his name was David. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.

They were building a new house in the field next to David's house, and it was all done on the outside, but it wasn't painted.

And the men were working inside, for David could hear the hammering, and sometimes he could hear them sawing.

One morning, after breakfast, David went to his mother and said that the foreman wanted him to come to the new house that morning, for the plumbers would be there.

He didn't know what plumbers were.

"What are plumbers, mother?"

"They are men who mend the pipes, dear," his mother answered.

"What pipes?" he asked. "Are the pipes broken?"

His mother laughed. "Well, I suppose they put in the water pipes, and the bathtubs and the basins and the hot-water boiler and all those things."

David nodded, and let his mother kiss him, and then he went out.

And his cat was there, waiting for him, and his cart was there, with his shovel and his hoe in the bottom of it. And he stooped down and took hold of the handle of his cart, and he trudged to the new house, dragging his cart.

The mortar man had gone some time before, and there wasn't any sand-pile, but the foreman saw him coming.

"Hello, Davie," he called.

"Hello," David called back.

"You're just in time to go into the house with me," the foreman said.

So David dropped the handle of his cart and the foreman took hold of his hand, and they went up the steps and into the house.

The partition walls between the rooms weren't all done, and David could see right through them in some places into the next room.

And the foreman and David went through the place that would be the front hall when it was done, with the front stairs going up out of it; and some carpenters were working there now and there was a great mess.

"What are the carpenters doing?" David asked.

"They're nailing on laths, Davie," the foreman answered. "Laths, you see, are the little thin sticks that go on the up-and-down sticks of the walls, and the plaster goes on them and squeezes between them. Then, when it hardens, the part that is between the laths holds the rest of the plaster up and against the wall."

David nodded, but they were in the back hall now, with the back stairs going up out of it, and he forgot the carpenters and the laths.

Under the back stairs were some stairs that went down to the cellar, and the foreman started down.

"Be careful of the steps, Davie," said the foreman. "They have to have these rough boards on them now, while the workmen are here, so that the real steps won't get all dirty and worn. When the men are almost through, about the last thing they do is to lay floors and put nice boards on the stairs."

David couldn't see very well, but he could feel that the boards of the stairs were uneven and rough, and some of them were small; but he was careful, and he went slowly, and at last he was on the cellar floor.

Far off in the very end of the cellar he saw a lantern lighted, and a flickering light which moved about, high up.

Then, as he got used to the darkness, he saw the legs of two men; and they had great wrenches and were doing something to long pipes, and they had a candle which they held close up to the pipes, so that they could see.

And the pipes went along close to the beams overhead, so that the men were all the time bumping their heads and knocking their elbows on the beams, and they didn't have room enough to work.

That was the reason why David had seen only their legs when he first came down.

It wasn't a very convenient way to work, but the men didn't seem to mind. Perhaps they were used to it.

"Are those the pipes that the water goes through?" David asked.

"Yes, Davie," the foreman said. "It comes in through the wall there, close down to the floor, from that pipe that you saw the men laying in the street.

"Then it goes up and through these pipes to the back of the cellar, and then up again to the kitchen and the pantry and the bathrooms.

"It isn't much fun being down here, is it?"

"No," David said, "it isn't."

The foreman laughed.

"Well, you wait a half a jiffy and we'll go up."

So David waited while the foreman took a paper out of his pocket.

And first he looked at the paper and then he looked at the pipes, and then he looked at the paper again.

Then he folded the paper and put it into his pocket, and he took David's hand and they went up the cellar stairs, and through a door into the kitchen.

There David saw the legs of two other men who were lying down under the sink.

They had a stump of a candle, too, for David could see its flickering light.

And there was a kind of a lamp out on the floor beyond, and it burned with a sputtering and a hissing and a roaring, and it threw a big bluish kind of a flame straight out, like water out of a hose.

David watched the men for nearly a minute without saying anything, but he couldn't guess what they were up to.

"What are they doing?" he asked at last.

"They're putting in the waste pipe and the trap," said the foreman; "but you don't know what that is, of course. They're putting in the pipe that the water runs through when it runs out of the sink."

"Oh, I know," David cried. "It's for the dirty water that the pots and pans have been washed in; the soapy water."

"That's just right, Davie."

"Well," David said, "why do they have to be lying down to do it? I should think they'd rather do it standing up or sitting down."

At that, one of the men poked his head out and smiled at David.

"You got that just right, too," he said; "but here's where it has to go, and there's no other way that I know of."

"The pipe has to be under the sink, Davie, for the water to run into it," the foreman said. "Now come on, and we'll go upstairs again."

So the foreman and David went up the back stairs very slowly and carefully, for there were rough boards on those stairs, too; and they went through a door and through the upstairs hall, and through another door into a small square room.

The foreman said that that room would be the bathroom. No plaster was on the walls yet, but the laths were all on. And there wasn't any bathtub yet, nor any basin; only some pipes sticking up out of the floor.

And David saw the bodies and the legs of two more men.

These men had their heads and shoulders through a great square hole in the floor, and their bodies and their legs were lying on the floor and sticking out straight.

David laughed. "Water-pipe men are funny men," he said.

One of the men lifted his head out of the hole in the floor and smiled at David, but he didn't say anything.

"They're putting in the waste pipe and the trap," the foreman said; "that is, the pipe that the water will run through when it runs out of the bathtub. A tub will be here Davie, after the floor is laid."

David nodded.

"Would you like to be a plumber, Davie?" the foreman asked, smiling.

David shook his head.

"I think I'd better go now," he said. "My kitty won't know where I am."

So the foreman laughed, and he tucked David under his arm and carried him downstairs and out of the front door, and he set him down on the ground.

"Good-bye, Davie," said the foreman.

"Good-bye," said David.

And he took hold of the handle of his cart, and walked home as fast as he could, dragging his cart, and his shovel and his hoe rattled in the bottom of it.

When he got home, there was his cat waiting for him.

David dropped the handle of his cart, and ran around to the back of the house and got an old grocery box that he used to play with.

He kept all his things at the back of the house: old broken grocery boxes and old tin cans and rows of bottles, some of them filled with water and some filled with thin mud and some empty, and nails and pieces of iron and sticks; but not his toys.

And David dragged the old grocery box around to the front, and put it opposite the end of a step.

Not all of the boards which had been nailed on for a cover were taken off, so that the inside of the box was hard to get at, and it was rather dark.

Then he picked up two short sticks and put them on the step.

David hurried to do all these things, and when he had them done, he hurried into the house and into the dining-room, and he climbed up in a chair and took a short candle out of one of the candlesticks which they used on the table.

Then he pushed the chair over near where the matches were, and he climbed up again and got three matches. And then he hurried out again.

He scratched one of the matches on the piazza floor and managed to get the candle lighted with that first match.

So he dropped the other two matches, he didn't know where, and he carried his candle to the grocery box, very carefully, so that it shouldn't blow out, and he reached in and put it in a corner.

Then he lay down on the step and put his head and shoulders and his arms inside the box, and he took the two short sticks in his hands.

David's mother had heard the chair scraping on the dining-room floor, when he pushed it over to get the matches, and she thought that, as likely as not, that was David, and she thought that she had better see what he was doing.

She didn't think there was any great hurry about it, and so she came downstairs in a few minutes, and she went out upon the piazza.

There she saw David's body and his fat little legs sticking out straight on the step, but his head and his arms were in the box, so she couldn't see them.

And there was a light flickering inside the box, and there was a noise of scraping and knocking, once in a while.

But she wasn't surprised.

"What in the world are you doing, dear?" she asked.

David drew his head out of the box so that he could see his mother and answer her. His face was pretty red.

"I'm a plumber, mother," he said, "and I'm doing the work in the bathroom. Plumbers always do it this way."

David's mother laughed.

"So they do, dear, pretty nearly," she said. "Be very careful of the candle, and don't burn yourself or set the box afire, and be sure to blow it out when you are through."

And David nodded and put his head back in the box, and his mother went in, smiling.

And his cat came and stood on the cover boards that had been left on, and she put her head down and peered into the box, but she didn't get in.

And that's all of the plumber story.



Once upon a time there was a little boy, and he was almost five years old, and his name was David. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.

They were building a new house in the field next to David's house, and the masons were through their work, and the bricklayers were through, and the water men were through, and the plumbers were through, and the gas men were through, and the plasterers were through, and the carpenters were almost through, for they were laying nice clean boards on the floors, and they had the floors almost done.

David had watched them do it, and had seen how they put one board down after another, and gave the last board whacks with a hammer, to drive it close up against the next board, and nailed it through the edge, so that the nails shouldn't show.

But they always put a piece of a board against the floor board, and whacked the hammer on that, because they wanted the floor to be all smooth and shiny and not to show any marks of a hammer.

And now the house had to be painted.

So, one morning, a great big wagon came to the new house.

And on the wagon were ladders, some of them very tall, and they stuck out far beyond the ends of the wagon; and there were great enormous hooks, and boards that were all painty; and a great many pots of paint, some dark green for the blinds, and some a lemon-yellow for the corners of the house and what the painters call the trimmings.

But most of the paint was white.

There were two kinds of white paint, one kind for the outside of the house and another for the inside.

And there were all the kinds of brushes that the painters would need, and there were great bundles of cloth, which the painters would spread over the floors, so that the nice clean floors shouldn't get all spattered with paint; and there were some odds and ends besides.

And the painters came, and they took the things all off the wagon.

Of course, the carpenters had some ladders that would reach, but those were the carpenters' ladders, not the painters'; and the carpenters had some boards, but those were the carpenters' boards, not the painters'.

That is why the painters had brought boards and ladders.

David had gone on the train with his father and his mother, that morning, but the painters didn't know about him, so they kept right on with their work.

The foreman was there, and he was sorry that David wasn't there to see what the painters were doing, but he knew that David would see them before they were through with their work.

The wagon was unloaded, and some of the painters went inside the house, to paint the parts that had to be painted in there; and some of the painters got ready to paint the outside of the house.

And they took thick pieces of board, and bored a hole in the middle, and they nailed those pieces of board on the roof, near the edge.

And they put the great enormous hooks up there, with the pointed ends in the holes in the boards, and the other ends hanging over the edge of the roof, over the gutter and the eaves.

The ends of the hooks which hung over had pulleys in them, and through the pulleys ran long ropes which hung down to the ground.

And the painters fastened the end of one of the ropes to one end of a ladder, and the end of another rope to the other end of the ladder.

Then they put some of the painty boards along over the rungs, so that the men shouldn't fall through or drop their pots of paint through, and they had made a sort of a staging which could be highered or lowered by the ropes.

And they tried the ropes, to see that it was all right, and two painters got on it, with their pots of paint and their brushes and everything they needed.

And one man sat at each end, and they pulled on the ropes, and hoisted the staging, with themselves sitting on it, up off the ground.

And the staging, with the two men on it, and their pots of paint, went slowly higher and higher, until it was as high as it could go, and the men could reach the highest board that they had to paint.

Then they fastened the ropes carefully, and they stirred up the paint, and they took up the brushes and they dipped the brushes in the paint, and they knocked them gently against the side of the paint-pot, plop, plop, plop, and they began to move them quickly over the boards, swish, swish, swish, first one side of the brush, and then back again on the other side.

And the first thing you knew they had all those boards painted, and they had to lower the staging so that they could reach the boards lower down.

"Hello!" called a little clear voice, and the painters looked down.

The foreman was standing there, watching the painters; and he looked, and there was David, all dressed in his go-to-town clothes.

And the foreman looked again, and there was David's mother, standing by her gate and waiting for David.

And she had on her go-to-town clothes, too.

"Hello, Davie," the foreman called. "You're all dressed up, aren't you? You'd better go and get into your overalls, quick, and then come back."

David's mother had heard what the foreman said, and she nodded and smiled to thank him, because she would have to call very loud, indeed, to make him hear, and she didn't like to.

And David nodded, and he ran back to his mother.

"Mother," he said, "the foreman said to get into my overalls. What did he mean, mother? Does that mean to put them on?"

"Yes, dear," his mother said, smiling.

So David paid no attention to his cat, who was coming to meet him and to rub against him, but he hurried to change his clothes and to put on his overalls.

And when he had his clothes changed and his overalls on, he ran out, and there was his cat waiting for him.

And he took up the handle of his cart, and he walked off as fast as he could, dragging his cart, and his shovel and his hoe rattled in the bottom of it; and his cat ran on ahead, with her bushy tail sticking up in the air.

I don't know why David took his cart that time, for there wasn't any mortar man, and there wasn't any sand-pile. He almost always took his cart.

When David got to the house, there was the foreman standing in almost the same place, but the painters had lowered the staging some more.

And David didn't say anything, but he dropped the handle of his cart, and he went to the foreman and reached up for the foreman's hand.

And the foreman's big hand closed over David's little one, and the foreman smiled, but he didn't say anything, either. He waited for David to speak.

David watched the painters for some time.

"What color are they painting it?" he asked at last. "It looks like white on the brushes, but sort of watery when they put it on, just as my paints look when I put a great deal of water with them. Have they got a great deal of water with their paint?"

"Not water, Davie," the foreman answered, "but oil. This is the first coat of paint, you see, put right on the bare wood, and the wood soaks the oil out of the paint at a great rate. They won't put so much oil in the second and third coats."

"Oh," said David, "will they paint it three times?"

"Three times for new wood," the foreman said.

He didn't say any more then, but he watched and so did David while the painters dipped their brushes and patted them against the sides of their paint-pots and brushed them quickly back and forth over the new clapboards.

"Come with me, Davie," the foreman said at last, "and let's see if we can't scare up something else that's interesting."

And so David went with the foreman, and they went around by the cellar door.

And there they saw a great pile of shutters or blinds which were to go on the outside of all the windows of the house.

These blinds were leaning, one against another, and they had already been painted a kind of bluish gray, and each one had whole rows of little slats that you could turn back and forth.

And beyond the pile of bluish gray blinds was a smaller pile of dark green blinds, and the dark green blinds glistened with fresh paint, and they were leaning, one against another.

And between the pile of bluish gray blinds and the pile of dark green blinds were two painters, painting for dear life, and they were painting the bluish gray blinds dark green.

David watched them for a few minutes. It seemed to be a good deal of trouble to get the slats well painted.

"These," said the foreman, putting his hand on the bluish gray blinds, "are just as they come from the mill—the factory where they are made. This first coat of paint is put on there. Then our painters paint them whatever color is wanted."

David nodded, but he didn't say anything, for he didn't understand why the carpenters didn't make the blinds.

Pretty soon he pulled at the foreman's hand.

"I want to go back," he said.

So they went back to the painters who were painting the side of the house.

They had lowered the staging so low that the foreman could reach it.

"I'll tell you what, Davie," the foreman said. "Do you suppose you could paint a clapboard?"

"Oh," cried David, "will they let me?"

"I guess so," the foreman answered. "You ask them."

David looked up at the painters, and the painters looked down at David, and they were smiling.

David started to speak, but he couldn't ask what he wanted to. And the painters saw what was the matter, and one of them spoke.

"Want to paint a board?" he asked. "Well, come on up here."

So the foreman put his hands under David's arms, and he lifted David right up, over the staging, and set him down with his feet hanging over. And the painter dipped his brush into the paint, and patted it gently against the side of the paint-pot, plop, plop, plop, and he handed the brush to David.

"Oh," David said, "it's heavy!"

"So it is," the painter said. "The paint is mostly lead, that's why. Now, you move the brush away from you as if you were sweeping the floor or dusting the board. Then, when it has gone as far as you can reach, you bring it back on the other side."

David tried, but he didn't do it very well and the paint squeezed out of the brush and ran down and dripped from the edge of the clapboard.

"Not that way," the painter said. "I'll show you."

Then he took hold of David's wrist, but he left the brush in David's hand, and he moved it the way it ought to go, and he swept up all the little rivers of paint and all the little drips, and spread it smoothly over the clapboard.

"There!" said the painter. "Now, do you see?"

David nodded, and he tried again.

This time he did better, but the paint was all gone from the brush, and he held it out to the painter for more.

So the painter dipped it again, and David took it, and painted some more.

And each time he did better than he had done the last time, and he hitched along on the staging, and that clapboard was all painted before he knew it.

And David sighed and started to get up on his feet.

But the other painter called to him.

"Hey, David!" he called. "Aren't you going to do any painting for me? That isn't fair. You come over and do a board for me."

David smiled with pleasure. "Yes, I will," he said.

So he crawled on his hands and knees along the staging, and the foreman walked along on the ground beside him.

And he painted a clapboard for that other painter, but a great drop of the paint got on the leg of his overalls.

"Oh," he said, "I got some paint on my overalls."

"Gracious!" said the painter. "That's nothing. Look at my overalls."

The painter's overalls were made of strong white cloth, and they were all splashed up with paint, all colors. But he had painted a great deal more than David had.

So David finished the clapboard, and then he got up on his feet, and the foreman took him and lifted him down to the ground.

"Thank you," said the painter.

"Thank you," said the other painter.

"You're welcome," David said. "Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said both the painters.

And David began to run to his cart.

"Good-bye, Davie," the foreman said.

David stopped a moment and looked around.

"Good-bye," he said.

Then his cat came running to meet him, and he grabbed up the handle of his cart, and he kept on running, dragging his cart, and his shovel and his hoe rattled away like everything in the bottom of it.

And when he got to his house, he didn't stop running, but just dropped the handle of the cart, and he climbed up the steps as fast as he could and ran into the house.

"Mother," he called, "I painted two boards and I got some paint on my overalls. But you ought to see the painter's overalls. They're awful painty."

And that's all.



Once upon a time there was a little boy, and he was almost five years old, and his name was David. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.

He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.

Behind David's house were some thin woods. And in those woods were oak trees, several kinds, but he didn't know the difference between the kinds.

And there were cedar trees and chestnut trees and birch trees of three kinds; and there were white pine trees and pitch pine trees, and the pitch pine trees were sticky all over.

David knew the pitch pine trees, because he had got his clothes all covered with their stickiness.

And there were a few great sycamore trees, and some ash trees, and some beech trees, and a lot of other kinds that I can't remember the names of.

All summer there were lots of birds in these woods and about the edge of them; and in the winter, when all those summer birds had gone away, other birds came.

And four blue jays stayed there all the year, and the crows stayed, of course, but they didn't live in those woods especially.

And there were chickadees and juncos, which are one kind of snowbird; and there were a lot of little birds which looked like sparrows, and there were red-polled linnets, and occasionally a flock of cedar-birds would cover the cedars like gray snowflakes, and once David's mother called him to come quick and see the pine grosbeaks.

And when David came, he saw a great flock of birds which looked gray, but three of them had the most beautiful rose-colored feathers on their breasts and shoulders and heads, making them look as if they had tied rose-colored aprons about their necks. David watched them until they flew away.

All these birds were very busy feeding on the seeds of weeds or the berries of the trees, and some of them dug insects out of the bark.

And there were gray squirrels which raced along the branches of the trees, and jumped from one branch to another, and poked about on the ground and opened the chestnut-burs which had just fallen from the trees, and ate the chestnuts, or scampered over the roof just above David's head, and made a great racket.

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