Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
THE LOUISA ALCOTT READER
_A Supplementary Reader for the Fourth Year of School_
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT
[Illustration: "Lily rocked and ate till she finished the top of the
I. A CHRISTMAS DREAM
II. THE CANDY COUNTRY
III. NAUGHTY JOCKO
IV. THE SKIPPING SHOES
VI. ROSY'S JOURNEY
VII. HOW THEY RAN AWAY
VIII. THE FAIRY BOX
IX. A HOLE IN THE WALL
X. THE PIGGY GIRL
[Illustration: She actually stood in "a grove of Christmas trees."]
A CHRISTMAS DREAM, AND HOW IT CAME TRUE.
"I'm so tired of Christmas I wish there never would be another one!"
exclaimed a discontented-looking little girl, as she sat idly watching
her mother arrange a pile of gifts two days before they were to be given.
"Why, Effie, what a dreadful thing to say! You are as bad as old Scrooge;
and I'm afraid something will happen to you, as it did to him, if you
don't care for dear Christmas," answered mamma, almost dropping the silver
horn she was filling with delicious candies.
"Who was Scrooge? What happened to him?" asked Effie, with a glimmer of
interest in her listless face, as she picked out the sourest lemon-drop
she could find; for nothing sweet suited her just then.
"He was one of Dickens's best people, and you can read the charming story
some day. He hated Christmas until a strange dream showed him how dear and
beautiful it was, and made a better man of him."
"I shall read it; for I like dreams, and have a great many curious ones
myself. But they don't keep me from being tired of Christmas," said Effie,
poking discontentedly among the sweeties for something worth eating.
"Why are you tired of what should be the happiest time of all the year?"
asked mamma, anxiously.
"Perhaps I shouldn't be if I had something new. But it is always the same,
and there isn't any more surprise about it. I always find heaps of goodies
in my stocking. Don't like some of them, and soon get tired of those I do
like. We always have a great dinner, and I eat too much, and feel ill next
day. Then there is a Christmas tree somewhere, with a doll on top, or a
stupid old Santa Claus, and children dancing and screaming over bonbons
and toys that break, and shiny things that are of no use. Really, mamma,
I've had so many Christmases all alike that I don't think I _can_
bear another one." And Effie laid herself flat on the sofa, as if the mere
idea was too much for her.
Her mother laughed at her despair, but was sorry to see her little girl so
discontented, when she had everything to make her happy, and had known but
ten Christmas days.
"Suppose we don't give you _any_ presents at all,--how would that
suit you?" asked mamma, anxious to please her spoiled child.
"I should like one large and splendid one, and one dear little one, to
remember some very nice person by," said Effie, who was a fanciful little
body, full of odd whims and notions, which her friends loved to gratify,
regardless of time, trouble, or money; for she was the last of three
little girls, and very dear to all the family.
"Well, my darling, I will see what I can do to please you, and not say a
word until all is ready. If I could only get a new idea to start with!"
And mamma went on tying up her pretty bundles with a thoughtful face,
while Effie strolled to the window to watch the rain that kept her
in-doors and made her dismal.
"Seems to me poor children have better times than rich ones. I can't go
out, and there is a girl about my age splashing along, without any maid to
fuss about rubbers and cloaks and umbrellas and colds. I wish I was a
"Would you like to be hungry, cold, and ragged, to beg all day, and sleep
on an ash-heap at night?" asked mamma, wondering what would come next.
"Cinderella did, and had a nice time in the end. This girl out here has a
basket of scraps on her arm, and a big old shawl all round her, and
doesn't seem to care a bit, though the water runs out of the toes of her
boots. She goes paddling along, laughing at the rain, and eating a cold
potato as if it tasted nicer than the chicken and ice-cream I had for
dinner. Yes, I do think poor children are happier than rich ones."
"So do I, sometimes. At the Orphan Asylum today I saw two dozen merry
little souls who have no parents, no home, and no hope of Christmas beyond
a stick of candy or a cake. I wish you had been there to see how happy
they were, playing with the old toys some richer children had sent them."
"You may give them all mine; I'm so tired of them I never want to see them
again," said Effie, turning from the window to the pretty baby-house full
of everything a child's heart could desire.
"I will, and let you begin again with something you will not tire of, if I
can only find it." And mamma knit her brows trying to discover some grand
surprise for this child who didn't care for Christmas.
Nothing more was said then; and wandering off to the library, Effie found
"A Christmas Carol," and curling herself up in the sofa corner, read it
all before tea. Some of it she did not understand; but she laughed and
cried over many parts of the charming story, and felt better without
All the evening she thought of poor Tiny Tim, Mrs. Cratchit with the
pudding, and the stout old gentleman who danced so gayly that "his legs
twinkled in the air." Presently bedtime arrived.
"Come, now, and toast your feet," said Effie's nurse, "while I do your
pretty hair and tell stories."
"I'll have a fairy tale to-night, a very interesting one," commanded
Effie, as she put on her blue silk wrapper and little fur-lined slippers
to sit before the fire and have her long curls brushed.
So Nursey told her best tales; and when at last the child lay down under
her lace curtains, her head was full of a curious jumble of Christmas
elves, poor children, snow-storms, sugarplums, and surprises. So it is no
wonder that she dreamed all night; and this was the dream, which she never
She found herself sitting on a stone, in the middle of a great field, all
alone. The snow was falling fast, a bitter wind whistled by, and night was
coming on. She felt hungry, cold, and tired, and did not know where to go
nor what to do.
"I wanted to be a beggar-girl, and now I am one; but I don't like it, and
wish somebody would come and take care of me. I don't know who I am, and I
think I must be lost," thought Effie, with the curious interest one takes
in one's self in dreams.
But the more she thought about it, the more bewildered she felt. Faster
fell the snow, colder blew the wind, darker grew the night; and poor Effie
made up her mind that she was quite forgotten and left to freeze alone.
The tears were chilled on her cheeks, her feet felt like icicles, and her
heart died within her, so hungry, frightened, and forlorn was she. Laying
her head on her knees, she gave herself up for lost, and sat there with
the great flakes fast turning her to a little white mound, when suddenly
the sound of music reached her, and starting up, she looked and listened
with all her eyes and ears.
Far away a dim light shone, and a voice was heard singing. She tried to
run toward the welcome glimmer, but could not stir, and stood like a small
statue of expectation while the light drew nearer, and the sweet words of
the song grew clearer.
From our happy home
Through the world we roam
One week in all the year,
Making winter spring
With the joy we bring,
For Christmas-tide is here.
Now the eastern star
Shines from afar
To light the poorest home;
Hearts warmer grow,
Gifts freely flow,
For Christmas-tide has come.
Now gay trees rise
Before young eyes,
Abloom with tempting cheer;
Blithe voices sing,
And blithe bells ring,
For Christmas-tide is here.
Oh, happy chime,
Oh, blessed time,
That draws us all so near!
"Welcome, dear day,"
All creatures say,
For Christmas-tide is here.
A child's voice sang, a child's hand carried the little candle; and in the
circle of soft light it shed, Effie saw a pretty child coming to her
through the night and snow. A rosy, smiling creature, wrapped in white
fur, with a wreath of green and scarlet holly on its shining hair, the
magic candle in one hand, and the other outstretched as if to shower gifts
and warmly press all other hands.
Effie forgot to speak as this bright vision came nearer, leaving no trace
of footsteps in the snow, only lighting the way with its little candle,
and filling the air with the music of its song.
"Dear child, you are lost, and I have come to find you," said the
stranger, taking Effie's cold hands in his, with a smile like sunshine,
while every holly berry glowed like a little fire.
"Do you know me?" asked Effie, feeling no fear, but a great gladness, at
"I know all children, and go to find them; for this is my holiday, and I
gather them from all parts of the world to be merry with me once a year."
"Are you an angel?" asked Effie, looking for the wings.
"No; I am a Christmas spirit, and live with my mates in a pleasant place,
getting ready for our holiday, when we are let out to roam about the
world, helping make this a happy time for all who will let us in. Will you
come and see how we work?"
"I will go anywhere with you. Don't leave me again," cried Effie, gladly.
"First I will make you comfortable. That is what we love to do. You are
cold, and you shall be warm, hungry, and I will feed you; sorrowful, and I
will make you gay."
With a wave of his candle all three miracles were wrought,--for the snow-
flakes turned to a white fur cloak and hood on Effie's head and shoulders,
a bowl of hot soup came sailing to her lips, and vanished when she had
eagerly drunk the last drop; and suddenly the dismal field changed to a
new world so full of wonders that all her troubles were forgotten in a
Bells were ringing so merrily that it was hard to keep from dancing. Green
garlands hung on the walls, and every tree was a Christmas tree full of
toys, and blazing with candles that never went out.
In one place many little spirits sewed like mad on warm clothes, turning
off work faster than any sewing-machine ever invented, and great piles
were made ready to be sent to poor people. Other busy creatures packed
money into purses, and wrote checks which they sent flying away on the
wind,--a lovely kind of snow-storm to fall into a world below full of
Older and graver spirits were looking over piles of little books, in which
the records of the past year were kept, telling how different people had
spent it, and what sort of gifts they deserved. Some got peace, some
disappointment, some remorse and sorrow, some great joy and hope. The rich
had generous thoughts sent them; the poor, gratitude and contentment.
Children had more love and duty to parents; and parents renewed patience,
wisdom, and satisfaction for and in their children. No one was forgotten.
"Please tell me what splendid place this is?" asked Effie, as soon as she
could collect her wits after the first look at all these astonishing
"This is the Christmas world; and here we work all the year round, never
tired of getting ready for the happy day. See, these are the saints just
setting off; for some have far to go, and the children must not be
As he spoke the spirit pointed to four gates, out of which four great
sleighs were just driving, laden with toys, while a jolly old Santa Claus
sat in the middle of each, drawing on his mittens and tucking up his wraps
for a long cold drive.
"Why, I thought there was only one Santa Claus, and even he was a humbug,"
cried Effie, astonished at the sight.
"Never give up your faith in the sweet old stones, even after you come to
see that they are only the pleasant shadow of a lovely truth."
Just then the sleighs went off with a great jingling of bells and
pattering of reindeer hoofs, while all the spirits gave a cheer that was
heard in the lower world, where people said, "Hear the stars sing."
"I never will say there isn't any Santa Claus again. Now, show me more."
"You will like to see this place, I think, and may learn something here
The spirit smiled as he led the way to a little door, through which Effie
peeped into a world of dolls. Baby-houses were in full blast, with dolls
of all sorts going on like live people. Waxen ladies sat in their parlors
elegantly dressed; black dolls cooked in the kitchens; nurses walked out
with the bits of dollies; and the streets were full of tin soldiers
marching, wooden horses prancing, express wagons rumbling, and little men
hurrying to and fro. Shops were there, and tiny people buying legs of
mutton, pounds of tea, mites of clothes, and everything dolls use or wear
But presently she saw that in some ways the dolls improved upon the
manners and customs of human beings, and she watched eagerly to learn why
they did these things. A fine Paris doll driving in her carriage took up a
black worsted Dinah who was hobbling along with a basket of clean clothes,
and carried her to her journey's end, as if it were the proper thing to
do. Another interesting china lady took off her comfortable red cloak and
put it round a poor wooden creature done up in a paper shift, and so badly
painted that its face would have sent some babies into fits.
"Seems to me I once knew a rich girl who didn't give her things to poor
girls. I wish I could remember who she was, and tell her to be as kind as
that china doll," said Effie, much touched at the sweet way the pretty
creature wrapped up the poor fright, and then ran off in her little gray
gown to buy a shiny fowl stuck on a wooden platter for her invalid
"We recall these things to people's minds by dreams. I think the girl you
speak of won't forget this one." And the spirit smiled, as if he enjoyed
some joke which she did not see.
A little bell rang as she looked, and away scampered the children into the
red-and-green school-house with the roof that lifted up, so one could see
how nicely they sat at their desks with mites of books, or drew on the
inch-square blackboards with crumbs of chalk.
"They know their lessons very well, and are as still as mice. We make a
great racket at our school, and get bad marks every day. I shall tell the
girls they had better mind what they do, or their dolls will be better
scholars than they are," said Effie, much impressed, as she peeped in and
saw no rod in the hand of the little mistress, who looked up and shook her
head at the intruder, as if begging her to go away before the order of the
school was disturbed.
Effie retired at once, but could not resist one look in at the window of a
fine mansion, where the family were at dinner, the children behaved so
well at table, and never grumbled a bit when their mamma said they could
not have any more fruit.
"Now, show me something else," she said, as they came again to the low
door that led out of Doll-land.
"You have seen how we prepare for Christmas; let me show you where we love
best to send our good and happy gifts," answered the spirit, giving her
his hand again.
"I know. I've seen ever so many," began Effie, thinking of her own
"No, you have never seen what I will show you. Come away, and remember
what you see to-night."
Like a flash that bright world vanished, and Effie found herself in a part
of the city she had never seen before. It was far away from the gayer
places, where every store was brilliant with lights and full of pretty
things, and every house wore a festival air, while people hurried to and
fro with merry greetings. It was down among the dingy streets where the
poor lived, and where there was no making ready for Christmas.
Hungry women looked in at the shabby shops, longing to buy meat and bread,
but empty pockets forbade. Tipsy men drank up their wages in the bar-
rooms; and in many cold dark chambers little children huddled under the
thin blankets, trying to forget their misery in sleep.
No nice dinners filled the air with savory smells, no gay trees dropped
toys and bonbons into eager hands, no little stockings hung in rows beside
the chimney-piece ready to be filled, no happy sounds of music, gay
voices, and dancing feet were heard; and there were no signs of Christmas
"Don't they have any in this place?" asked Effie, shivering, as she held
fast the spirit's hand, following where he led her.
"We come to bring it. Let me show you our best workers." And the spirit
pointed to some sweet-faced men and women who came stealing into the poor
houses, working such beautiful miracles that Effie could only stand and
Some slipped money into the empty pockets, and sent the happy mothers to
buy all the comforts they needed; others led the drunken men out of
temptation, and took them home to find safer pleasures there. Fires were
kindled on cold hearths, tables spread as if by magic, and warm clothes
wrapped round shivering limbs. Flowers suddenly bloomed in the chambers of
the sick; old people found themselves remembered; sad hearts were consoled
by a tender word, and wicked ones softened by the story of Him who forgave
But the sweetest work was for the children; and Effie held her breath to
watch these human fairies hang up and fill the little stockings without
which a child's Christmas is not perfect, putting in things that once she
would have thought very humble presents, but which now seemed beautiful
and precious because these poor babies had nothing.
"That is so beautiful! I wish I could make merry Christmases as these good
people do, and be loved and thanked as they are," said Effie, softly, as
she watched the busy men and women do their work and steal away without
thinking of any reward but their own satisfaction.
"You can if you will. I have shown you the way. Try it, and see how happy
your own holiday will be hereafter."
As he spoke, the spirit seemed to put his arms about her, and vanished
with a kiss.
"Oh, stay and show me more!" cried Effie, trying to hold him fast.
"Darling, wake up, and tell me why you are smiling in your sleep," said a
voice in her ear; and opening her eyes, there was mamma bending over her,
and morning sunshine streaming into the room.
"Are they all gone? Did you hear the bells? Wasn't it splendid?" she
asked, rubbing her eyes, and looking about her for the pretty child who
was so real and sweet.
"You have been dreaming at a great rate,--talking in your sleep, laughing,
and clapping your hands as if you were cheering some one. Tell me what was
so splendid," said mamma, smoothing the tumbled hair and lifting up the
Then, while she was being dressed, Effie told her dream, and Nursey
thought it very wonderful; but mamma smiled to see how curiously things
the child had thought, read, heard, and seen through the day were mixed up
in her sleep.
"The spirit said I could work lovely miracles if I tried; but I don't know
how to begin, for I have no magic candle to make feasts appear, and light
up groves of Christmas trees, as he did," said Effie, sorrowfully.
"Yes, you have. We will do it! we will do it!" And clapping her hands,
mamma suddenly began to dance all over the room as if she had lost her
"How? how? You must tell me, mamma," cried Effie, dancing after her, and
ready to believe anything possible when she remembered the adventures of
the past night.
"I've got it! I've got it!--the new idea. A splendid one, if I can only
carry it out!" And mamma waltzed the little girl round till her curls flew
wildly in the air, while Nursey laughed as if she would die.
"Tell me! tell me!" shrieked Effie. "No, no; it is a surprise,--a grand
surprise for Christmas day!" sung mamma, evidently charmed with her happy
thought. "Now, come to breakfast; for we must work like bees if we want to
play spirits tomorrow. You and Nursey will go out shopping, and get heaps
of things, while I arrange matters behind the scenes."
They were running downstairs as mamma spoke, and Effie called out
"It won't be a surprise; for I know you are going to ask some poor
children here, and have a tree or something. It won't be like my dream;
for they had ever so many trees, and more children than we can find
"There will be no tree, no party, no dinner, in this house at all, and no
presents for you. Won't that be a surprise?" And mamma laughed at Effie's
"Do it. I shall like it, I think; and I won't ask any questions, so it
will all burst upon me when the time comes," she said; and she ate her
breakfast thoughtfully, for this really would be a new sort of Christmas.
All that morning Effie trotted after Nursey in and out of shops, buying
dozens of barking dogs, woolly lambs, and squeaking birds; tiny tea-sets,
gay picture-books, mittens and hoods, dolls and candy. Parcel after parcel
was sent home; but when Effie returned she saw no trace of them, though
she peeped everywhere. Nursey chuckled, but wouldn't give a hint, and went
out again in the afternoon with a long list of more things to buy; while
Effie wandered forlornly about the house, missing the usual merry stir
that went before the Christmas dinner and the evening fun.
As for mamma, she was quite invisible all day, and came in at night so
tired that she could only lie on the sofa to rest, smiling as if some very
pleasant thought made her happy in spite of weariness.
"Is the surprise going on all right?" asked Effie, anxiously; for it
seemed an immense time to wait till another evening came.
"Beautifully! better than I expected; for several of my good friends are
helping, or I couldn't have done it as I wish. I know you will like it,
dear, and long remember this new way of making Christmas merry."
Mamma gave her a very tender kiss, and Effie went to bed.
* * * * *
The next day was a very strange one; for when she woke there was no
stocking to examine, no pile of gifts under her napkin, no one said "Merry
Christmas!" to her, and the dinner was just as usual to her. Mamma
vanished again, and Nursey kept wiping her eyes and saying: "The dear
things! It's the prettiest idea I ever heard of. No one but your blessed
ma could have done it."
"Do stop, Nursey, or I shall go crazy because I don't know the secret!"
cried Effie, more than once; and she kept her eye on the clock, for at
seven in the evening the surprise was to come off.
The longed-for hour arrived at last, and the child was too excited to ask
questions when Nurse put on her cloak and hood, led her to the carriage,
and they drove away, leaving their house the one dark and silent one in
"I feel like the girls in the fairy tales who are led off to strange
places and see fine things," said Effie, in a whisper, as they jingled
through the gay streets.
"Ah, my deary, it _is_ like a fairy tale, I do assure you, and you
_will_ see finer things than most children will tonight. Steady, now,
and do just as I tell you, and don't say one word whatever you see,"
answered Nursey, quite quivering with excitement as she patted a large box
in her lap, and nodded and laughed with twinkling eyes.
They drove into a dark yard, and Effie was led through a back door to a
little room, where Nurse coolly proceeded to take off not only her cloak
and hood, but her dress and shoes also. Effie stared and bit her lips, but
kept still until out of the box came a little white fur coat and boots, a
wreath of holly leaves and berries, and a candle with a frill of gold
paper round it. A long "Oh!" escaped her then; and when she was dressed
and saw herself in the glass, she started back, exclaiming, "Why, Nursey,
I look like the spirit in my dream!"
"So you do; and that's the part you are to play, my pretty! Now whist,
while I blind your eyes and put you in your place."
"Shall I be afraid?" whispered Effie, full of wonder; for as they went out
she heard the sound of many voices, the tramp of many feet, and, in spite
of the bandage, was sure a great light shone upon her when she stopped.
"You needn't be; I shall stand close by, and your ma will be there."
After the handkerchief was tied about her eyes, Nurse led Effie up some
steps, and placed her on a high platform, where something like leaves
touched her head, and the soft snap of lamps seemed to fill the air.
Music began as soon as Nurse clapped her hands, the voices outside sounded
nearer, and the tramp was evidently coming up the stairs.
"Now, my precious, look and see how you and your dear ma have made a merry
Christmas for them that needed it!"
Off went the bandage; and for a minute Effie really did think she was
asleep again, for she actually stood in "a grove of Christmas trees," all
gay and shining as in her vision. Twelve on a side, in two rows down the
room, stood the little pines, each on its low table; and behind Effie a
taller one rose to the roof, hung with wreaths of popcorn, apples,
oranges, horns of candy, and cakes of all sorts, from sugary hearts to
gingerbread Jumbos. On the smaller trees she saw many of her own discarded
toys and those Nursey bought, as well as heaps that seemed to have rained
down straight from that delightful Christmas country where she felt as if
she was again.
"How splendid! Who is it for? What is that noise? Where is mamma?" cried
Effie, pale with pleasure and surprise, as she stood looking down the
brilliant little street from her high place.
Before Nurse could answer, the doors at the lower end flew open, and in
marched twenty-four little blue-gowned orphan girls, singing sweetly,
until amazement changed the song to cries of joy and wonder as the shining
spectacle appeared. While they stood staring with round eyes at the
wilderness of pretty things about them, mamma stepped up beside Effie, and
holding her hand fast to give her courage, told the story of the dream in
a few simple words, ending in this way:--
"So my little girl wanted to be a Christmas spirit too, and make this a
happy day for those who had not as many pleasures and comforts as she has.
She likes surprises, and we planned this for you all. She shall play the
good fairy, and give each of you something from this tree, after which
every one will find her own name on a small tree, and can go to enjoy it
in her own way. March by, my dears, and let us fill your hands."
Nobody told them to do it, but all the hands were clapped heartily before
a single child stirred; then one by one they came to look up wonderingly
at the pretty giver of the feast as she leaned down to offer them great
yellow oranges, red apples, bunches of grapes, bonbons, and cakes, till
all were gone, and a double row of smiling faces turned toward her as the
children filed back to their places in the orderly way they had been
Then each was led to her own tree by the good ladies who had helped mamma
with all their hearts; and the happy hubbub that arose would have
satisfied even Santa Claus himself,--shrieks of joy, dances of delight,
laughter and tears (for some tender little things could not bear so much
pleasure at once, and sobbed with mouths full of candy and hands full of
toys). How they ran to show one another the new treasures! how they peeped
and tasted, pulled and pinched, until the air was full of queer noises,
the floor covered with papers, and the little trees left bare of all but
"I don't think heaven can be any gooder than this," sighed one small girl,
as she looked about her in a blissful maze, holding her full apron with
one hand, while she luxuriously carried sugar-plums to her mouth with the
"Is that a truly angel up there?" asked another, fascinated by the little
white figure with the wreath on its shining hair, who in some mysterious
way had been the cause of all this merry-making.
"I wish I dared to go and kiss her for this splendid party," said a lame
child, leaning on her crutch, as she stood near the steps, wondering how
it seemed to sit in a mother's lap, as Effie was doing, while she watched
the happy scene before her.
Effie heard her, and remembering Tiny Tim, ran down and put her arms about
the pale child, kissing the wistful face, as she said sweetly, "You may;
but mamma deserves the thanks. She did it all; I only dreamed about it."
Lame Katy felt as if "a truly angel" was embracing her, and could only
stammer out her thanks, while the other children ran to see the pretty
spirit, and touch her soft dress, until she stood in a crowd of blue gowns
laughing as they held up their gifts for her to see and admire.
Mamma leaned down and whispered one word to the older girls; and suddenly
they all took hands to dance round Effie, singing as they skipped.
It was a pretty sight, and the ladies found it hard to break up the happy
revel; but it was late for small people, and too much fun is a mistake. So
the girls fell into line, and marched before Effie and mamma again, to say
goodnight with such grateful little faces that the eyes of those who
looked grew dim with tears. Mamma kissed every one; and many a hungry
childish heart felt as if the touch of those tender lips was their best
gift. Effie shook so many small hands that her own tingled; and when Katy
came she pressed a small doll into Effie's hand, whispering, "You didn't
have a single present, and we had lots. Do keep that; it's the prettiest
thing I got."
"I will," answered Effie, and held it fast until the last smiling face was
gone, the surprise all over, and she safe in her own bed, too tired and
happy for anything but sleep.
"Mamma, it was a beautiful surprise, and I thank you so much! I don't see
how you did it; but I like it best of all the Christmases I ever had, and
mean to make one every year. I had my splendid big present, and here is
the dear little one to keep for love of poor Katy; so even that part of my
wish came true."
And Effie fell asleep with a happy smile on her lips, her one humble gift
still in her hand, and a new love for Christmas in her heart that never
changed through a long life spent in doing good.
[Illustration: "Hollo, what do you want?" he asked, staring at her.]
THE CANDY COUNTRY.
"I shall take mamma's red sun-umbrella, it is so warm, and none of the
children at school will have one like it," said Lily, one day, as she went
through the hall.
"The wind is very high; I'm afraid you'll be blown away if you carry that
big thing," called Nurse from the window, as the red umbrella went bobbing
down the garden walk with a small girl under it.
"I wish it would; I always wanted to go up in a balloon," answered Lily,
as she struggled out of the gate.
She got on very well till she came to the bridge and stopped to look over
the railing at the water running by so fast, and the turtles sunning
themselves on the rocks. Lily was fond of throwing stones at them; it was
so funny to watch them tumble, heels over head, splash into the water.
Now, when she saw three big fellows close by, she stooped for a stone, and
just at that minute a gale of wind nearly took the umbrella out of her
hand. She clutched it fast; and away she went like a thistle-down, right
up in the air, over river and hill, houses and trees, faster and faster,
till her head spun round, her breath was all gone, and she had to let go.
The dear red umbrella flew away like a leaf; and Lily fell down, down,
till she went crash into a tree which grew in such a curious place that
she forgot her fright as she sat looking about her, wondering what part of
the world it could be.
The tree looked as if made of glass or colored sugar; for she could see
through the red cherries, the green leaves, and the brown branches. An
agreeable smell met her nose; and she said at once, as any child would, "I
smell candy!" She picked a cherry and ate it. Oh, how good it was!--all
sugar and no stone. The next discovery was such a delightful one that she
nearly fell off her perch; for by touching her tongue here and there, she
found that the whole tree was made of candy. Think what fun to sit and
break off twigs of barley sugar, candied cherries, and leaves that tasted
like peppermint and sassafras!
Lily rocked and ate till she finished the top of the little tree; then she
climbed down and strolled along, making more surprising and agreeable
discoveries as she went.
What looked like snow under her feet was white sugar; the rocks were lumps
of chocolate, the flowers of all colors and tastes; and every sort of
fruit grew on these delightful trees. Little white houses soon appeared;
and here lived the dainty candy-people, all made of the best sugar, and
painted to look like real people.
Dear little men and women, looking as if they had stepped off of wedding
cakes and bonbons, went about in their gay sugar clothes, laughing and
talking in the sweetest voices. Bits of babies rocked in open-work
cradles, and sugar boys and girls played with sugar toys in the most
natural way. Carriages rolled along the jujube streets, drawn by the red
and yellow barley horses we all love so well; cows fed in the green
fields, and sugar birds sang in the trees.
Lily listened, and in a moment she understood what the song said,--
Come, come and eat,
Dear little girls
With yellow curls;
For here you'll find
Sweets to your mind.
On every tree
Sugar-plums you'll see;
In every dell
Grows the caramel.
Over every wall
Where our river goes
Under your feet
Lies sugar sweet;
Over your head
Grow almonds red.
Our lily and rose
Are not for the nose;
Our flowers we pluck
To eat or suck
And, oh! what bliss
When two friends kiss,
For they honey sip
From lip to lip!
And all you meet,
In house or street,
At work or play,
Sweethearts are they.
So, little dear,
Pray feel no fear;
Go where you will;
Eat, eat your fill.
Here is a feast
From west to east;
And you can say,
Ere you go away,
'At last I stand
In dear Candy-land,
And no more can stuff;
For once I've enough.'
"That is the most interesting song I ever heard," said Lily, clapping her
sticky hands and dancing along toward a fine palace of white cream candy,
with pillars of striped peppermint stick, and a roof of frosting that made
it look like the Milan Cathedral.
"I'll live here, and eat candy all day long, with no tiresome school or
patchwork to spoil my fun," said Lily.
So she ran up the chocolate steps into the pretty rooms, where all the
chairs and tables were of different colored candies, and the beds of spun
sugar. A fountain of lemonade supplied drink; and floors of ice-cream that
never melted kept people and things from sticking together, as they would
have done had it been warm.
For a long while Lily was quite happy, going about tasting so many
different kinds of sweeties, talking to the little people, who were very
amiable, and finding out curious things about them and their country.
The babies were made of plain sugar, but the grown people had different
flavors. The young ladies were flavored with violet, rose, and orange; the
gentlemen were apt to have cordials of some sort inside of them, as she
found when she ate one now and then slyly, and got her tongue bitten by
the hot, strong taste as a punishment The old people tasted of peppermint,
clove, and such comfortable things, good for pain; but the old maids had
lemon, hoarhound, flag-root, and all sorts of sour, bitter things in them,
and did not get eaten much. Lily soon learned to know the characters of
her new friends by a single taste, and some she never touched but once.
The dear babies melted in her mouth, and the delicately flavored young
ladies she was very fond of. Dr. Ginger was called to her more than once
when so much candy made her teeth ache, and she found him a very hot-
tempered little man; but he stopped the pain, so she was glad to see him.
A lime-drop boy and a little pink checker-berry girl were her favorite
playmates; and they had fine times making mud-pies by scraping the
chocolate rocks and mixing this dust with honey from the wells near by.
These they could eat; and Lily thought this much better than throwing away
the pies, as she had to do at home. They had candy-pulls very often, and
made swings of long loops of molasses candy, and bird's-nests with almond
eggs, out of which came birds who sang sweetly. They played football with
big bull's-eyes, sailed in sugar boats on lakes of syrup, fished in rivers
of molasses, and rode the barley horses all over the country.
Lily discovered that it never rained, but snowed white sugar. There was no
sun, as it would have been too hot; but a large yellow lozenge made a nice
moon, and red and white comfits were the stars.
The people all lived on sugar, and never quarrelled. No one was ill; and
if any got broken, as sometimes happened with such brittle creatures, they
just stuck the parts together and were all right again. The way they grew
old was to get thinner and thinner till there was danger of their
vanishing. Then the friends of the old person put him in a neat coffin,
and carried him to the great golden urn which stood in their largest
temple, always full of a certain fine syrup; and here he was dipped and
dipped till he was stout and strong again, and went home to enjoy himself
for a long time as good as new.
This was very interesting to Lily, and she went to many funerals. But the
weddings were better still; for the lovely white brides were so sweet Lily
longed to eat them. The feasts were delicious; and everybody went in their
best clothes, and danced at the ball till they got so warm half-a-dozen
would stick together and have to be taken to the ice-cream room to cool
off. Then the little pair would drive away in a fine carriage with white
horses to a new palace in some other part of the country, and Lily would
have another pleasant place to visit.
But by and by, when she had seen everything, and eaten so much sweet stuff
that at last she longed for plain bread and butter, she began to get
cross, as children always do when they live on candy; and the little
people wished she would go away, for they were afraid of her. No wonder,
when she would catch up a dear sugar baby and eat him, or break some
respectable old grandmamma all into bits because she reproved her for
naughty ways. Lily calmly sat down on the biggest church, crushing it
flat, and even tried to poke the moon out of the sky in a pet one day. The
king ordered her to go home; but she said, "I won't!" and bit his head
off, crown and all.
Such a wail went up at this awful deed that she ran away out of the city,
fearing some one would put poison in her candy, since she had no other
"I suppose I shall get somewhere if I keep walking; and I can't starve,
though I hate the sight of this horrid stuff," she said to herself, as she
hurried over the mountains of Gibraltar Rock that divided the city of
Saccharissa from the great desert of brown sugar that lay beyond.
Lily marched bravely on for a long time, and saw at last a great smoke in
the sky, smelt a spicy smell, and felt a hot wind blowing toward her.
"I wonder if there are sugar savages here, roasting and eating some poor
traveller like me," she said, thinking of Robinson Crusoe and other
wanderers in strange lands.
She crept carefully along till she saw a settlement of little huts very
like mushrooms, for they were made of cookies set on lumps of the brown
sugar; and queer people, looking as if made of gingerbread, were working
very busily round several stoves which seemed to bake at a great rate.
"I'll creep nearer and see what sort of people they are before I show
myself," said Lily, going into a grove of spice-trees, and sitting down on
a stone which proved to be the plummy sort of cake we used to call
Presently one of the tallest men came striding toward the trees with a
pan, evidently after spice; and before she could run, he saw Lily.
"Hollo, what do you want?" he asked, staring at her with his black currant
eyes, while he briskly picked the bark off a cinnamon-tree.
"I'm travelling, and would like to know what place this is, if you
please," answered Lily, very politely, being a little frightened.
"Cake-land. Where do you come from?" asked the gingerbread man, in a crisp
tone of voice.
"I was blown into the Candy country, and have been there a long time; but
I got tired of it, and ran away to find something better."
"Sensible child!" and the man smiled till Lily thought his cheeks would
crumble. "You'll get on better here with us Brownies than with the lazy
Bonbons, who never work and are all for show. They won't own us, though we
are all related through our grandparents Sugar and Molasses. We are busy
folks; so they turn up their noses and don't speak when we meet at
parties. Poor creatures, silly and sweet and unsubstantial! I pity 'em."
"Could I make you a visit? I'd like to see how you live, and what you do.
I'm sure it must be interesting," said Lily, picking herself up after a
tumble, having eaten nearly all the stone, she was so hungry.
"I know you will. Come on! I can talk while I work." And the funny
gingerbread man trotted off toward his kitchen, full of pans, rolling-
pins, and molasses jugs.
"Sit down. I shall be at leisure as soon as this batch is baked. There are
still some wise people down below who like gingerbread, and I have my
hands full," he said, dashing about, stirring, rolling out, and slapping
the brown dough into pans, which he whisked into the oven and out again so
fast that Lily knew there must be magic about it somewhere.
Every now and then he threw her a delicious cooky warm from the oven. She
liked the queer fellow, and presently began to talk, being very curious
about this country.
"What is your name, sir?"
Lily thought it a good one; for he was very quick, and she fancied he
could be short and sharp if he liked.
"Where does all this cake go to?" she asked, after watching the other
kitchens full of workers, who were all of different kinds of cake, and
each set of cooks made its own sort.
"I'll show you by and by," answered Snap, beginning to pile up the heaps
of gingerbread on a little car that ran along a track leading to some
unknown storeroom, Lily thought.
"Don't you get tired of doing this all the time?"
"Yes; but I want to be promoted, and I never shall be till I've done my
best, and won the prize here."
"Oh, tell me about it! What is the prize, and how are you promoted? Is
this a cooking-school?"
"Yes; the prize for best gingerbread is a cake of condensed yeast. That
puts a soul into me, and I begin to rise till I am able to go over the
hills yonder into the blessed land of bread, and be one of the happy
creatures who are always wholesome, always needed, and without which the
world below would be in a bad way."
"Bless me! that is the queerest thing I've heard yet. But I don't wonder
you want to go; I'm tired of sweets myself, and long for a good piece of
bread, though I used to want cake and candy at home."
"Ah, my dear, you'll learn a good deal here; and you are lucky not to have
got into the clutches of Giant Dyspepsia, who always gets people if they
eat too much of such rubbish and scorn wholesome bread. I leave my ginger
behind when I go, and get white and round and beautiful, as you will see.
The Gingerbread family have never been as foolish as some of the other
cakes. Wedding is the worst; such extravagance in the way of wine and
spice and fruit I never saw, and such a mess to eat when it's done! I
don't wonder people get sick; serves 'em right." And Snap flung down a pan
with such a bang that it made Lily jump.
"Sponge cake isn't bad, is it? Mamma lets me eat it, but I like frosted
pound better," she said, looking over to the next kitchen, where piles of
that sort of cake were being iced.
"Poor stuff. No substance. Ladies' fingers will do for babies, but pound
has too much butter ever to be healthy. Let it alone, and eat cookies or
seed-cakes, my dear. Now, come along; I'm ready." And Snap trundled away
his car-load at a great pace.
Lily ran behind to pick up whatever fell, and looked about her as she
went, for this was certainly a very queer country. Lakes of eggs all
beaten up, and hot springs of saleratus foamed here and there ready for
use. The earth was brown sugar or ground spice; and the only fruits were
raisins, dried currants, citron, and lemon peel. It was a very busy place;
for every one cooked all the time, and never failed and never seemed
tired, though they got so hot that they only wore sheets of paper for
clothes. There were piles of it to put over the cake, so that it shouldn't
burn; and they made cook's white caps and aprons of it, and looked very
nice. A large clock made of a flat pancake, with cloves to mark the hours
and two toothpicks for hands, showed them how long to bake things; and in
one place an ice wall was built round a lake of butter, which they cut in
lumps as they wanted it.
"Here we are. Now, stand away while I pitch 'em down," said Snap, stopping
at last before a hole in the ground where a dumbwaiter hung ready, with a
name over it.
There were many holes all round, and many waiters, each with its name; and
Lily was amazed when she read "Weber," "Copeland," "Dooling," and others,
which she knew very well.
Over Snap's place was the name "Newmarch;" and Lily said, "Why, that's
where mamma gets her hard gingerbread, and Weber's is where we go for ice-
cream. Do _you_ make cake for them?"
"Yes, but no one knows it. It's one of the secrets of the trade. We cook
for all the confectioners, and people think the good things come out of
the cellars under their saloons. Good joke, isn't it?" And Snap laughed
till a crack came in his neck and made him cough.
Lily was so surprised she sat down on a warm queen's cake that happened to
be near, and watched Snap send down load after load of gingerbread to be
eaten by children, who would have liked it much better if they had only
known where it came from, as she did.
As she sat, the clatter of many spoons, the smell of many dinners, and the
sound of many voices calling, "One vanilla, two strawberries, and a
Charlotte Russe," "Three stews, cup coffee, dry toast," "Roast chicken and
apple without," came up the next hole, which was marked "Copeland."
"Dear me! it seems as if I was there," said Lily, longing to hop down, but
afraid of the bump at the other end.
"I'm done. Come along, I'll ride you back," called Snap, tossing the last
cooky after the dumb-waiter as it went slowly out of sight with its spicy
"I wish you'd teach me to cook. It looks great fun, and mamma wants me to
learn; only our cook hates to have me mess round, and is so cross that I
don't like to try at home," said Lily, as she went trundling back.
"Better wait till you get to Bread-land, and learn to make that. It's a
great art, and worth knowing. Don't waste your time on cake, though plain
gingerbread isn't bad to have in the house. I'll teach you that in a
jiffy, if the clock doesn't strike my hour too soon," answered Snap,
helping her down.
"Why, of my freedom. I never know when I've done my task till I'm called
by the chimes and go to get my soul," said Snap, turning his currant eyes
anxiously to the clock.
"I hope you _will_ have time." And Lily fell to work with all her
might, after Snap had put on her a paper apron and a cap like his.
It was not hard; for when she was going to make a mistake a spark flew out
of the fire and burnt her in time to remind her to look at the receipt,
which was a sheet of gingerbread in a frame of pie-crust hung up before
her, with the directions written while it was soft and baked in. The third
sheet she made came out of the oven spicy, light, and brown; and Snap,
giving it one poke, said, "That's all right. Now you know. Here's your
He handed her a receipt-book made of thin sheets of sugar-gingerbread held
together by a gelatine binding, with her name stamped on the back, and
each leaf crimped with a cake-cutter in the most elegant manner.
Lily was charmed with it, but had no time to read all it contained; for
just then the clock began to strike, and a chime of bells to ring,--
Go to the head.
Your task is done;
A soul is won.
Take it and go
Where muffins grow,
Where sweet loaves rise
To the very skies,
And biscuits fair
Perfume the air.
Make no delay;
In the sea of flour
Plunge this hour.
Safe in your breast
Let the yeast-cake rest,
Till you rise in joy,
A white bread boy!"
"Ha, ha! I'm free! I'm free!" cried Snap, catching up the silver-covered
square that seemed to fall from heaven; and running to a great white sea
of flour, he went in head first, holding the yeast-cake clasped to his
breast as if his life depended on it.
Lily watched breathlessly, while a curious working and bubbling went on,
as if Snap was tumbling about down there like a small earthquake. The
other cake-folk stood round the shore with her; for it was a great event,
and all were glad that the dear fellow was promoted so soon. Suddenly a
cry was heard, and up rose a beautiful white figure on the farther side of
the sea. It moved its hand, as if saying "Good-by," and ran over the hills
so fast they had only time to see how plump and fair he was, with a little
knob on the top of his head like a crown.
"He's gone to the happy land, and we shall miss him; but we'll follow his
example and soon find him again," said a gentle Sponge cake, with a sigh,
as all went back to their work; while Lily hurried after Snap, eager to
see the new country, which was the best of all.
A delicious odor of fresh bread blew up from the valley as she stood on
the hill-top and looked down on the peaceful scene below. Fields of yellow
grain waved in the breeze; hop-vines grew from tree to tree; and many
windmills whirled their white sails as they ground the different grains
into fresh, sweet meal, for the loaves of bread that built the houses like
bricks and paved the streets, or in many shapes formed the people,
furniture, and animals. A river of milk flowed through the peaceful land,
and fountains of yeast rose and fell with a pleasant foam and fizz. The
ground was a mixture of many meals, and the paths were golden Indian,
which gave a very gay look to the scene. Buckwheat flowers bloomed on
their rosy stems, and tall corn-stalks rustled their leaves in the warm
air that came from the ovens hidden in the hillsides; for bread needs a
slow fire, and an obliging volcano did the baking here.
"What a lovely place!" cried Lily, feeling the charm of the homelike
landscape, in spite of the funny plump people moving about.
Two of these figures came running to meet her as she slowly walked down
the yellow path from the hill. One was a golden boy, with a beaming face;
the other a little girl in a shiny brown cloak, who looked as if she would
taste very nice. They each put a warm hand into Lily's, and the boy
"We are glad to see you. Muffin told us you were coming."
"Thank you. Who is Muffin?" asked Lily, feeling as if she had seen both
these little people before, and liked them.
"He was Ginger Snap once, but he's a Muffin now. We begin in that way, and
work up to the perfect loaf by degrees. My name is Johnny Cake, and she's
Sally Lunn. You know us; so come on and have a race."
Lily burst out laughing at the idea of playing with these old friends of
hers; and all three ran away as fast as they could tear, down the hill,
over a bridge, into the middle of the village, where they stopped,
panting, and sat down on some very soft rolls to rest.
"What do you all do _here_?" asked Lily, when she got her breath
"We farm, we study, we bake, we brew, and are as merry as grigs all day
long. It's school-time now, and we must go; will you come?" said Sally,
jumping up as if she liked it.
"Our schools are not like yours; we only study two things,--grain and
yeast. I think you'll like it. We have yeast to-day, and the experiments
are very jolly," added Johnny, trotting off to a tall brown tower of rye
and Indian bread, where the school was kept.
Lily never liked to go to school, but she was ashamed to own it; so she
went along with Sally, and was so amused with all she saw that she was
glad she came. The brown loaf was hollow, and had no roof; and when she
asked why they used a ruin, Sally told her to wait and see why they chose
strong walls and plenty of room overhead. All round was a circle of very
small biscuits like cushions, and on these the Bread-children sat. A
square loaf in the middle was the teacher's desk, and on it lay an ear of
wheat, with several bottles of yeast well corked up. The teacher was a
pleasant, plump lady from Vienna, very wise, and so famous for her good
bread that she was a Professor of Grainology.
When all were seated, she began with the wheat ear, and told them all
about it in such an interesting way that Lily felt as if she had never
known anything about the bread she ate before. The experiments with the
yeast were quite exciting,--for Fraulein Pretzel showed them how it would
work till it blew the cork out, and go fizzing up to the sky if it was
kept too long; how it would turn sour or flat, and spoil the bread if care
was not taken to use it just at the right moment; and how too much would
cause the loaf to rise till there was no substance to it.
The children were very bright; for they were fed on the best kinds of
oatmeal and Graham bread, with very little white bread or hot cakes to
spoil their young stomachs. Hearty, happy boys and girls they were, and
their yeasty souls were very lively in them; for they danced and sung, and
seemed as bright and gay as if acidity, heaviness, and mould were quite
Lily was very happy with them, and when school was done went home with
Sally and ate the best bread and milk for dinner that she ever tasted. In
the afternoon Johnny took her to the cornfield, and showed her how they
kept the growing ears free from mildew and worms. Then she went to the
bakehouse; and here she found her old friend Muffin hard at work making
Parker House rolls, for he was such a good cook he was set to work at once
on the lighter kinds of bread.
"Well, isn't this better than Candy-land or Saccharissa?" he asked, as he
rolled and folded his bits of dough with a dab of butter tucked inside.
"Ever so much!" cried Lily. "I feel better already, and mean to learn all
I can. Mamma will be so pleased if I can make good bread when I go home.
She is rather old-fashioned, and likes me to be a nice housekeeper. I
didn't think bread interesting then, but I do now; and Johnny's mother is
going to teach me to make Indian cakes to-morrow."
"Glad to hear it. Learn all you can, and tell other people how to make
healthy bodies and happy souls by eating good plain food. Not like this,
though these rolls are better than cake. I have to work my way up to the
perfect loaf, you know; and then, oh, then, I'm a happy thing."
"What happens then? Do you go on to some other wonderful place?" asked
Lily, as Muffin paused with a smile on his face.
"Yes; I am eaten by some wise, good human being, and become a part of him
or her. That is immortality and heaven; for I may nourish a poet and help
him sing, or feed a good woman who makes the world better for being in it,
or be crumbed into the golden porringer of a baby prince who is to rule a
kingdom. Isn't that a noble way to live, and an end worth working for?"
asked Muffin, in a tone that made Lily feel as if some sort of fine yeast
had got into her, and was setting her brain to work with new thoughts.
"Yes, it is. I suppose all common things are made for that purpose, if we
only knew it; and people should be glad to do anything to help the world
along, even making good bread in a kitchen," answered Lily, in a sober way
that showed that her little mind was already digesting the new food it had
She stayed in Bread-land a long time, and enjoyed and learned a great deal
that she never forgot. But at last, when she had made the perfect loaf,
she wanted to go home, that her mother might see and taste it.
"I've put a good deal of myself into it, and I'd love to think I had given
her strength or pleasure by my work," she said, as she and Sally stood
looking at the handsome loaf.
"You can go whenever you like; just take the bread in your hands and wish
three times, and you'll be wherever you say. I'm sorry to have you go, but
I don't wonder you want to see your mother. Don't forget what you have
learned, and you will always be glad you came to us," said Sally, kissing
"Where is Muffin? I can't go without seeing him, my dear old friend,"
answered Lily, looking round for him.
"He is here," said Sally, touching the loaf. "He was ready to go, and
chose to pass into your bread rather than any other; for he said he loved
you and would be glad to help feed so good a little girl."
"How kind of him! I must be careful to grow wise and excellent, else he
will be disappointed and have died in vain," said Lily, touched by his
Then, bidding them all farewell, she hugged her loaf close, wished three
times to be in her own home, and like a flash she was there.
Whether her friends believed the wonderful tale of her adventures I cannot
tell; but I know that she was a nice little housekeeper from that day, and
made such good bread that other girls came to learn of her. She also grew
from a sickly, fretful child into a fine, strong woman, because she ate
very little cake and candy, except at Christmas time, when the oldest and
the wisest love to make a short visit to Candy-land.
[Illustration: As soon as he was alone, Jocko ... jumped on his back.]
"A music-man! a music-man! Run quick, and see if he has got a monkey on
his organ," cried little Neddy, running to the window in a great hurry one
Yes; there was the monkey in his blue and red suit, with a funny little
cap, and the long tail trailing behind. But he didn't seem to be a lively
monkey; for he sat in a bunch, with his sad face turned anxiously to his
master, who kept pulling the chain to make him dance. The stiff collar had
made his neck sore; and when the man twitched, the poor thing moaned and
put up his little hand to hold the chain. He tried to dance, but was so
weak he could only hop a few steps, and stop panting for breath. The cruel
man wouldn't let him rest till Neddy called out,--
"Don't hurt him; let him come up here and get this cake, and rest while
you play. I've got some pennies for you."
So poor Jocko climbed slowly up the trellis, and sat on the window-ledge
trying to eat; but he was so tired he went to sleep, and when the man
pulled to wake him up, he slipped and fell, and lay as if he were dead.
Neddy and his aunt ran down to see if he was killed. The cross man scolded
and shook him; but he never moved, and the man said,--
"He is dead. I don't want him. I will sell him to some one to stuff."
"No; his heart beats a little. Leave him here a few days, and we will take
care of him; and if he gets well, perhaps we will buy him," said Aunt
Jane, who liked to nurse even a sick monkey.
The man said he was going on for a week through the towns near by, and
would call and see about it when he came back. Then he went away; and
Neddy and aunty put Jocko in a nice basket, and carried him in. The minute
the door was shut and he felt safe, the sly fellow peeped out with one
eye, and seeing only the kind little boy began to chatter and kick off the
shawl; for he was not much hurt, only tired and hungry, and dreadfully
afraid of the cruel man who beat and starved him.
Neddy was delighted, and thought it very funny, and helped his aunt take
off the stiff collar and put some salve on the sore neck. Then they got
milk and cake; and when he had eaten a good dinner, Jocko curled himself
up and slept till the next day. He was quite lively in the morning; for
when Aunt Jane went to call Neddy, Jocko was not in his basket, and
looking round the room for him, she saw the little black thing lying on
the boy's pillow, with his arm round Neddy's neck like a queer baby.
"My patience! I can't allow that," said the old lady, and went to pull
Jocko out. But he slipped away like an eel, and crept chattering and
burrowing down to the bottom of the bed, holding on to Neddy's toes, till
he waked up, howling that crabs were nipping him.
Then they had a great frolic; and Jocko climbed all over the bed, up on
the tall wardrobe, and the shelf over the door, where the image of an
angel stood. He patted it, and hugged it, and looked so very funny with
his ugly black face by the pretty white one, that Neddy rolled on the
floor, and Aunt Jane laughed till her glasses flew off. By and by he came
down, and had a nice breakfast, and let them tie a red ribbon over the
bandage on his neck. He liked the gay color, and kept going to look in the
glass, and grin and chatter at his own image, which he evidently admired.
"Now, he shall go to walk with me, and all the children shall see my new
pet," said Neddy, as he marched off with Jock on his shoulder.
Every one laughed at the funny little fellow with his twinkling eyes,
brown hands, and long tail, and Neddy felt very grand till they got to the
store; then troubles began. He put Jocko on a table near the door, and
told him to stay there while he did his errands. Now, close by was the
place where the candy was kept, and Jocko loved sweeties like any girl; so
he hopped along, and began to eat whatever he liked. Some boys tried to
stop him; and then he got angry at them for pulling his tail, and threw
handfuls of sugarplums at them. That was great fun; and the more they
laughed and scrambled and poked at him, the faster he showered chocolates,
caramels, and peppermints over them, till it looked as if it had rained
candy. The man was busy with Neddy at the other end of the store; but when
he heard the noise, both ran to see what was the matter. Neither of them
could stop naughty Jocko, who liked this game, and ran up on the high
shelves among the toys. Then down came little tubs and dolls' stoves, tin
trumpets and cradles, while boxes of leaden soldiers and whole villages
flew through the air, smash, bang, rattle, bump, all over the floor. The
man scolded, Neddy cried, the boys shouted, and there was a lively time in
that shop till a good slapping with a long stick made Jock tumble into a
tub of water where some curious fishes lived, and then they caught him.
Neddy was much ashamed, and told the man his aunt would pay for all the
broken things. Then he took his naughty pet, and started to go home and
tie him up, for it was plain this monkey was not to be trusted. But as
soon as they got out, Jocko ran up a tree and dropped on to a load of hay
passing underneath. Here he danced and pranced, and had a fine time,
throwing off the man's coat and rake, and eating some of the dinner tied
up in a cloth. The crusts of bread and the bones he threw at the horse;
this new kind of whip frightened the horse, and he ran away down a steep
hill, and upset the hay and broke the cart. Oh, such a time! It was worse
than the candy scrape; for the man swore, and the horse was hurt, and
people said the monkey ought to be shot, he did so much mischief. Jocko
didn't care a bit; he sat high up in a tree, and chattered and scolded,
and swung by his tail, and was so droll that people couldn't help laughing
at him. Poor Neddy cried again, and went home to tell his troubles to Aunt
Jane, fearing that it would take all the money in his bank to pay for the
damage the bad monkey had done in one hour.
As soon as he was alone Jocko came skipping along, and jumped on his back,
and peeped at him, and patted his cheeks, and was so cunning and good
Neddy couldn't whip him; but he shut him up in a closet to punish him.
Jocko was tired; so he went to sleep, and all was quiet till dinner-time.
They were ready for the pudding, and Neddy had saved a place for a good
plateful, as he liked snow-pudding, when shrieks were heard in the
kitchen, and Mary the maid rushed in to say,--
"Oh, ma'am, that horrid beast has spoilt the pudding, and is scaring Katy
out of her life!"
They all ran; and there sat that naughty monkey on the table, throwing the
nice white snow all over poor cook, till her face looked as if she was
ready to be shaved. His own face looked the same, for he had eaten all he
wanted while the pudding stood cooling in the pantry. He had crept out of
a window in the closet, and had a fine rummage among the sugar-buckets,
butter-boxes, and milk-pans.
Kate wailed, and Mary scolded; but Aunt Jane and grandpa laughed, and
Neddy chased Jock into the garden with the broom. They had to eat bread
and jelly for dessert, and it took the girls a long time to clear up the
mess the rascal made.
"We will put his collar and chain on again, and keep him tied up all the
time till the man comes," said Aunt Jane.
"But I can't catch him," sighed Neddy, watching the little imp whisk about
in the garden among the currant-bushes, chasing hens and tossing green
apples round in high glee.
"Sit quietly down somewhere and wait till he is tired; then he will come
to you, and you can hold him fast," said Aunt Jane.
So Neddy waited; and though he was much worried at his new pet's
naughtiness, he enjoyed his pranks like a boy.
Grandpa took naps in the afternoon on the piazza, and he was dozing
comfortably when Jocko swung down from the grape-vine by his long tail,
and tickled the old gentleman on the nose with a straw. Grandpa sneezed,
and opened one eye to brush away the fly as he supposed. Then he went to
sleep again, and Jocko dropped a caterpillar on his bald head; this made
him open the other eye to see what that soft, creepy thing could be. Neddy
couldn't help laughing, for he often wanted to do just such things, but
never dared, because grandpa was a very stern old gentleman, and no one
took liberties with him. Jocko wasn't afraid, however; and presently he
crept to the table, stole the glasses lying there, put them on, and taking
up the paper held it before him, chattering as if he were reading it, as
he had seen people do. Neddy laughed out loud at this, and clapped his
hands, Jocko looked so like a little old man, in spite of the tail curled
up behind. This time grandpa opened both eyes at once, and stared as if he
saw a hobgoblin before him; then he snatched off the spectacles, and
caught up his cane, crying angrily,--
"You rascal, how dare you!"
But Jocko tossed the paper in his face, and with one jump lighted on the
back of old Tom, the big yellow cat, who lay asleep close by. Scared half
out of his wits, Tom spit and bounced; but Jocko held fast to his collar,
and had a fine race round the garden, while the girls laughed at the funny
sight, and Neddy shouted, "It's a circus; and there's the monkey and the
pony." Even grandpa smiled, especially when puss dashed up a tree, and
Jock tumbled off. He chased him, and they had a great battle; but Tom's
claws were sharp, and the monkey got a scratch on the nose, and ran crying
to Neddy for comfort.
"Now, you naughty fellow, I'll chain you up, and stop these dreadful
tricks. But you are great fun, and I can't whip you," said the boy; for he
knew what it was to enjoy a holiday, and poor Jocko had not had one for a
Jocko ate some lunch, took a nap in the grass, and then was ready for more
frolics. Neddy had fastened him to a tree in the garden, so that he could
enjoy the sun and air, and catch grasshoppers if he liked. But Jocko
wanted something more; and presently Neddy, who was reading in his hammock
on the piazza, heard a great cackling among the hens, and looked up to see
the monkey swinging by his tail from a bough, holding the great cock-a-
doodle by his splendid tail, while all the twenty hens clucked and cackled
with wrath and fear at such a dreadful prank.
"Now, that's too bad; I _will_ slap him this time," said Neddy,
running to save his handsome bird from destruction. But before he got
there poor cocky had pulled his fine tail-feathers all out in his
struggles, and when set free was so frightened and mortified that he ran
away and hid in the bushes, and the hens went to comfort him.
Neddy gave Jocko a good whipping, and left him looking as meek as a baby,
all cuddled up in a little bunch, with his head in his hands as if crying
for his naughtiness. But he wasn't sorry. Oh, dear, no! for in half an
hour he had picked every one of the sweet peas Aunt Jane was so fond of,
thrown all the tomatoes over the fence, and let the parrot out of his
cage. The sight of Polly walking into the parlor with a polite "How are
you, ma'am?" sent Aunt Jane to see what was going on. Neddy was fast
asleep in the hammock, worn out with his cares; and Jocko, having unhooked
his chain, was sitting on the chimney-top of a neighbor's house, eating
"We shall not live to the end of the week if this sort of thing goes on. I
don't know what to do with the little beast; he's as bad as an elephant to
take care of," said the poor lady, in despair, as she saw Jocko throw his
corncob down on the minister's hat as that stately gentleman went by.
As none of them could catch him, Miss Jane let him alone till Neddy waked
up and could go and find some of the big boys to help him.
Jocko soon left the roof, and skipped in at a window that stood open. It
was little Nelly Brown's play-room, and she had left her pet doll Maud
Mabel Rose Matilda very ill in the best bed, while she went down to get a
poppy leaf to rub the darling's cheeks with, because she had a high fever.
Jocko took a fancy to the pretty bed, and after turning the play-house
topsy-turvy, he pulled poor Maud Mabel Rose Matilda out by her flaxen
hair, and stuffing her into the water-pitcher upside down, got into the
bed, drew the lace curtains, and prepared to doze deliciously under the
pink silk bed-cover.
Up came Nelly, and went at once to the dear invalid, saying in her
motherly little voice,--
"Now, my darling child, lie quite still, and I won't hurt you one bit."
But when she drew the curtain, instead of the lovely yellow-haired doll in
her ruffled nightcap, she saw an ugly little black face staring at her,
and a tiny hand holding the sheet fast. Nelly gave one scream, and flew
downstairs into the parlor where the Sewing-circle was at work,
frightening twenty-five excellent ladies by her cries, as she clung to her
"A bogie! a bogie! I saw him, all black; and he snarled at me, and my
dolly is gone! What shall I do? oh, what shall I do?"
There was great confusion, for all the ladies talked at once; and it so
happened that none of them knew anything about the monkey, therefore they
all agreed that Nelly was a foolish child, and had made a fuss about
nothing. She cried dismally, and kept saying to her mother,--
"Go and see; it's in my dolly's bed,--I found it there, and darling Maudie
"We _will_ go and see," said Mrs. Moses Merryweather,--a stout old
lady, who kept her six girls in such good order that _they_ would
never have dared to cry if ten monkeys had popped out at them.
Miss Hetty Bumpus, a tall thin maiden lady, with a sharp eye and pointed
nose, went with her; but at the door that led to the dining-room both
stopped short, and after one look came flying back, calling out together,--
"Mrs. Brown, your supper is spoilt! a dreadful beast has ruined it all!"
Then twenty-five excited ladies flew across the hall to behold Jocko
sitting on the great cake in the middle of the table, his feet bathed in
cream from the overturned pitcher, while all around lay the ruins of
custards, tarts, biscuits, and sauce, not to mention nice napkins made
into hay-cocks, spoons, knives, and forks, on the floor, and the best
silver teapot in the fireplace.
While Nelly told her tale and the ladies questioned and comforted her,
this bad monkey had skipped downstairs and had a delightful party all by
himself. He was just scraping the jelly out of a tart when they disturbed
him; and knowing that more slaps were in store for him if he stayed, he at
once walked calmly down the ravaged table, and vanished out of the window
carrying the silver tea-strainer with him to play with.
The ladies had no supper that night; and poor Mrs. Brown sent a note to
Aunt Jane, telling her the sad story, and adding that Nelly was quite ill
with the fright and the loss of dear Maud Mabel Rose Matilda, drowned in
the water-pitcher and forever spoilt.
"John shall go after that man to-morrow, and bring him back to carry this
terrible monkey away. I can't live with him a week; he will cost me a
fortune, and wear us all out," said Aunt Jane, when Jocko was safely shut
up in the cellar, after six boys had chased him all over the neighborhood
before they caught him.
Neddy was quite willing to let him go; but John was saved his journey, for
in the morning poor Jocko was found dead in a trap, where his inquisitive
head had been poked to see what the cheese tasted like.
So he was buried by the river, and every one felt much relieved; for the
man never came back, thinking Jocko dead when he left him. But he had not
lived in vain; for after this day of trial, mischievous Neddy behaved much
better, and Aunt Jane could always calm his prankish spirit by saying, as
her finger pointed to a little collar and chain hanging on the wall,--
"If you want to act like naughty Jocko, say so, and I'll tie you up. One
monkey is enough for this family."
[Illustration: Kitty laughed, and began to dance.... Such twirlings and
skippings as she made.]
THE SKIPPING SHOES.
Once there was a little girl, named Kitty, who never wanted to do what
people asked her. She said "I won't" and "I can't," and did not run at
once pleasantly, as obliging children do.
One day her mother gave her a pair of new shoes; and after a fuss about
putting them on, Kitty said, as she lay kicking on the floor,--
"I wish these were seven-leagued boots, like Jack the Giant Killer's, then
it would be easy to run errands all the time. Now, I hate to keep
trotting, and I don't like new shoes, and I won't stir a step."
Just as she said that, the shoes gave a skip, and set her on her feet so
suddenly that it scared all the naughtiness out of her. She stood looking
at these curious shoes; and the bright buttons on them seemed to wink at
her like eyes, while the heels tapped on the floor a sort of tune. Before
she dared to stir, her mother called from the next room,--
"Kitty, run and tell the cook to make a pie for dinner; I forgot it."
"I don't want to," began Kitty, with a whine as usual.
But the words were hardly out of her mouth when the shoes gave one jump,
and took her downstairs, through the hall, and landed her at the kitchen
door. Her breath was nearly gone; but she gave the message, and turned
round, trying to see if the shoes would let her walk at all. They went
nicely till she wanted to turn into the china-closet where the cake was.
She was forbidden to touch it, but loved to take a bit when she could. Now
she found that her feet were fixed fast to the floor, and could not be
moved till her father said, as he passed the window close by,--
"You will have time to go to the post-office before school and get my
"I can't," began Kitty; but she found she could, for away went the shoes,
out of the house at one bound, and trotted down the street so fast that
the maid who ran after her with her hat could not catch her.
"I can't stop!" cried Kitty; and she did not till the shoes took her
straight into the office.
"What's the hurry to-day?" asked the man, as he saw her without any hat,
all rosy and breathless, and her face puckered up as if she did not know
whether to laugh or to cry.
"I won't tell any one about these dreadful shoes, and I'll take them off
as soon as I get home. I hope they will go back slowly, or people will
think I'm crazy," said Kitty to herself, as she took the letters and went
The shoes walked nicely along till she came to the bridge; and there she
wanted to stop and watch some boys in a boat, forgetting school and her
father's letters. But the shoes wouldn't stop, though she tried to make
them, and held on to the railing as hard as she could. Her feet went on;
and when she sat down they still dragged her along so steadily that she
had to go, and she got up feeling that there was something very strange
about these shoes. The minute she gave up, all went smoothly, and she got
home in good time.
"I won't wear these horrid things another minute," said Kitty, sitting on
the doorstep and trying to unbutton the shoes.
But not a button could she stir, though she got red and angry struggling
to do it.
"Time for school; run away, little girl," called mamma from upstairs, as
the clock struck nine.
"I won't!" said Kitty, crossly.
But she did; for those magic shoes danced her off, and landed her at her
desk in five minutes.
"Well, I'm not late; that's one comfort," she thought, wishing she had
come pleasantly, and not been whisked away without any luncheon.
Her legs were so tired with the long skips that she was glad to sit still;
and that pleased the teacher, for generally she was fussing about all
lesson time. But at recess she got into trouble again; for one of the
children knocked down the house of corn-cobs she had built, and made her
"Now, I'll kick yours down, and see how you like it, Dolly."
Up went her foot, but it didn't come down; it stayed in the air, and there
she stood looking as if she were going to dance. The children laughed to
see her, and she could do nothing till she said to Dolly in a great
"Never mind; if you didn't mean to, I'll forgive you."
Then the foot went down, and Kitty felt so glad about it that she tried to
be pleasant, fearing some new caper of those dreadful shoes. She began to
see how they worked, and thought she would try if she had any power over
them. So, when one of the children wanted his ball, which had bounced over
the hedge, she said kindly,--"Perhaps I can get it for you, Willy."
And over she jumped as lightly as if she too were an india-rubber ball.
"How could you do it?" cried the boys, much surprised; for not one of them
dared try such a high leap.
Kitty laughed, and began to dance, feeling pleased and proud to find there
was a good side to the shoes after all. Such twirlings and skippings as
she made, such pretty steps and airy little bounds it was pretty to see;
for it seemed as if her feet were bewitched, and went of themselves. The
little girls were charmed, and tried to imitate her, but no one could, and
they stood in a circle watching her dance till the bell rang, then all
rushed in to tell about it.
Kitty said it was her new shoes, and never told how queerly they acted,
hoping to have good times now. But she was mistaken.
On the way home she wanted to stop and see her friend Bell's new doll, but
at the gate her feet stuck fast, and she had to give up her wishes and go
straight on, as mamma had told her always to do.
"Run and pick a nice little dish of strawberries for dinner," said her
sister, as she went in.
"I'm too ti--" There was no time to finish, for the shoes landed her in
the middle of the strawberry bed at one jump.
"I might as well be a grasshopper if I'm to skip round like this," she
said, forgetting to feel tired out there in the pleasant garden, with the
robins picking berries close by, and a cool wind lifting the leaves to
show here the reddest and ripest ones hid.
The little dish was soon filled, and she wanted to stay and eat a few,
warm and sweet from the vines; but the bell rang, and away she went, over
the wood-pile, across the piazza, and into the dining-room before the
berry in her mouth was half eaten.
"How this child does rush about to-day!" said her mother. "It is so
delightful to have such a quick little errand-girl that I shall get her to
carry some bundles to my poor people this afternoon.
"Oh, dear me! I do hate to lug those old clothes and bottles and baskets
of cold victuals round. Must I do it?" sighed Kitty, dismally, while the
shoes tapped on the floor under the table, as if to remind her that she
must, whether she liked it or not.
"It would be right and kind, and would please me very much. But you may do
as you choose about it. I am very tired, and some one must go; for the
little Bryan baby is sick and needs what I send," said mamma, looking
Kitty sat very still and sober for some time, and no one spoke to her. She
was making up her mind whether she would go pleasantly or be whisked about
like a grasshopper against her will. When dinner was over, she said in a
"I'll go, mamma; and when all the errands are done, may I come back
through Fairyland, as we call the little grove where the tall ferns grow?"
"Yes, dear; when you oblige me, I am happy to please you."
"I'm glad I decided to be good; now I shall have a lovely time," said
Kitty to herself, as she trotted away with a basket in one hand, a bundle
in the other, and some money in her pocket for a poor old woman who needed
The shoes went quietly along, and seemed to know just where to stop. The
sick baby's mother thanked her for the soft little nightgowns; the lame
girl smiled when she saw the books; the hungry children gathered round the
basket of food, like young birds eager to be fed; and the old woman gave
her a beautiful pink shell that her sailor son brought home from sea.
When all the errands were done Kitty skipped away to Fairyland, feeling
very happy, as people always do when they have done kind things. It was a
lovely place; for the ferns made green arches tall enough for little girls
to sit under, and the ground was covered with pretty green moss and wood-
flowers. Birds flew about in the pines, squirrels chattered in the oaks,
butterflies floated here and there, and from the pond near by came the
croak of frogs sunning their green backs on the mossy stones.
"I wonder if the shoes will let me stop and rest; it is so cool here, and
I'm so tired," said Kitty, as she came to a cosey nook at the foot of a
The words were hardly out of her mouth when her feet folded under her, and
there she sat on a cushion of moss, like the queen of the wood on her
throne. Something lighted with a bump close by her; and looking down she
saw a large black cricket with a stiff tail, staring at her curiously.
"Bless my heart! I thought you were some relation of my cousin
Grasshopper's. You came down the hill with long leaps just like him; so I
stopped to say, How d' ye do," said the cricket, in its creaky voice.
"I'm not a grasshopper; but I have on fairy shoes to-day, and so do many
things that I never did before," answered Kitty, much surprised to be able
to understand what the cricket said.
"It is midsummer day, and fairies can play whatever pranks they like. If
you didn't have those shoes on, you couldn't understand what I say. Hark,
and hear those squirrels talk, and the birds, and the ants down here. Make
the most of this chance; for at sunset your shoes will stop skipping, and
the fun all be over."
While the cricket talked Kitty did hear all sorts of little voices,
singing, laughing, chatting in the gayest way, and understood every word
they said. The squirrels called to one another as they raced about,--
"Here's a nut, there's a nut;
Hide it quick away,
In a hole, under leaves,
To eat some winter day.
Acorns sweet are plenty,
We will have them all:
Skip and scamper lively
Till the last ones fall."
The birds were singing softly,--
"Rock a bye, babies,
Your cradle hangs high;
Soft down your pillow,
Your curtain the sky.
Father will feed you,
While mother will sing,
And shelter our darlings
With her warm wing."
And the ants were saying to one another as they hurried in and out of
their little houses,--
"Work, neighbor, work!
Do not stop to play;
Wander far and wide,
Gather all you may.
We are never like
But like the busy bees,
Industrious and wise."
"Ants always were dreadfully good, but butterflies are ever so much
prettier," said Kitty, listening to the little voices with wonder and
Come down below,--
It's lovely and cool
Out here in the pool;
On a lily-pad float
For a nice green boat.
Here we sit and sing
In a pleasant ring;
Or leap frog play,
In the jolliest way.
Our games have begun,
Come join in the fun."
"Dear me! what could I do over there in the mud with the queer green
frogs?" laughed Kitty, as this song was croaked at her.
"No, no, come and fly
Through the sunny sky,
Or honey sip
From the rose's lip,
Or dance in the air,
Like spirits fair.
Come away, come away;
'Tis our holiday."
A cloud of lovely yellow butterflies flew up from a wild-rose bush, and
went dancing away higher and higher, till they vanished in the light
beyond the wood.
"That is better than leap-frog. I wish my skipping shoes would let me fly
up somewhere, instead of carrying me on errands and where I ought to go
all the time," said Kitty, watching the pretty things glitter as they
Just at that minute a clock struck, and away went the shoes over the pool,
the hill, the road, till they pranced in at the gate as the tea-bell rang.
Kitty amused the family by telling what she had done and seen; but no one
believed the Fairyland part, and her father said, laughing,--
"Go on, my dear, making up little stories, and by and by you may be as
famous as Hans Christian Andersen, whose books you like so well."
"The sun will soon set, and then my fun will be over; so I must skip while
I can," thought Kitty, and went waltzing round the lawn so prettily that
all the family came to see her.
"She dances so well that she shall go to dancing-school," said her mother,
pleased with the pretty antics of her little girl.
Kitty was delighted to hear that; for she had longed to go, and went on
skipping as hard as she could, that she might learn some of the graceful
steps the shoes took before the day was done.
"Come, dear, stop now, and run up to your bath and bed. It has been a long
hot day, and you are tired; so get to sleep early, for Nursey wants to go
out," said her mother, as the sun went down behind the hills with a last
bright glimmer, like the wink of a great sleepy eye.
"Oh, please, a few minutes more," began Kitty, but was off like a flash;
for the shoes trotted her upstairs so fast that she ran against old
Nursey, and down she went, splashing the water all over the floor, and
scolding in such a funny way that it made Kitty laugh so that she could
hardly pick her up again.
By the time she was ready to undress the sun was quite gone, and the shoes
she took off were common ones again, for midsummer day was over. But Kitty
never forgot the little lessons she had learned: she tried to run
willingly when spoken to; she remembered the pretty steps and danced like
a fairy; and best of all, she always loved the innocent and interesting
little creatures in the woods and fields, and whenever she was told she
might go to play with them, she hurried away almost as quickly as if she
still wore the skipping shoes.
[Illustration: So Cocky was brought in, and petted.]
In the barnyard a gray hen sat on her nest, feeling very happy because it
was time for her eggs to hatch, and she hoped to have a fine brood of
chickens. Presently crack, crack, went the shells, "Peep, peep!" cried the
chicks; "Cluck, cluck!" called the hen; and out came ten downy little
things one after the other, all ready to run and eat and scratch,--for
chickens are not like babies, and don't have to be tended at all.
There were eight little hens and two little cockerels, one black and one
as white as snow, with yellow legs, bright eyes, and a tiny red comb on
his head. This was Cockyloo, the good chick; but the black one was named
Peck, and was a quarrelsome bad fowl, as we shall see.
Mrs. Partlet, the mamma, was very proud of her fine family; for the eight
little daughters were all white and very pretty. She led them out into the
farmyard, clucking and scratching busily; for all were hungry, and ran
chirping round her to pick up the worms and seeds she found for them.
Cocky soon began to help take care of his sisters; and when a nice corn or
a fat bug was found, he would step back and let little Downy or Snowball
have it. But Peck would run and push them away, and gobble up the food
greedily. He chased them away from the pan where the meal was, and picked
the down off their necks if they tried to get their share. His mother
scolded him when the little ones ran to hide under her wings; but he
didn't care, and was very naughty. Cocky began to crow when he was very
young, and had such a fine voice that people liked to hear his loud, clear
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" early in the morning; for he woke before the sun was
up, and began his song. Peck used to grumble at being roused at dawn, for
he was lazy; but the hens bustled up, and were glad to get out of the
The father cock had been killed by a dog; so they made Cocky king of the
farmyard, and Peck was very jealous of him.
"I came out of the shell first, and I am the oldest; so I ought to be
king," he said.
"But we don't like you, because you are selfish, cross, and lazy. We want
Cocky; he is so lively, kind, and brave. He will make a splendid bird, and
_he_ must be our king," answered the hens; and Peck had to mind, or
they would have pulled every feather out of his little tail.
He resolved to do some harm to his good brother, and plagued him all he
could. One day, when Cocky was swinging with three of his sisters on a
bush that hung over the brook, Peck asked a stupid donkey feeding near to
come and put his heavy foot on the bush. He did it, and crack went the
branch, splash went the poor chicks into the water, and all were drowned
but Cocky, who flew across and was saved. Poor little Hop, Chirp, and
Downy went floating down the brook like balls of white foam, and were
never seen again. All the hens mourned for them, and put a black feather
in their heads to show how sorry they were. Mamma Partlet was heart-broken
to lose three darlings at once; but Cocky comforted her, and never told
how it happened, because he was ashamed to have people know what a bad
bird Peck was.
A butterfly saw it all, and he told Granny Cockletop about it; and the
hens were so angry that they turned Peck out of the barnyard, and he had
to go and live in the woods alone. He said he didn't care; but he did, and
was very unhappy, and used to go and peep into the pleasant field where
the fowls scratched and talked together. He dared not show himself, for
they would have driven him out. But kind Cocky saw him, and would run with
some nice bit and creep through the fence into the wood, saying,--"Poor
brother, I'm sorry for you, and I'll come and play with you, and tell you
Now in this wood lived a fox, and he had been planning to eat Peck as soon
as he was fat; for he missed the good corn and meal he used to have, and
grew very thin living on grasshoppers and berries. While he waited the sly
fellow made friends with Peck, though the bird knew that foxes ate hens.
"I'm not afraid, and I don't believe old Granny Cockletop's tales. I can
take care of myself, I guess," he said, and went on playing with the fox,
who got him to tell all about the hen-house,--how the door was fastened,
and where the plump chickens roosted, and what time they went to bed,--so
that he could creep in and steal a good supper by and by. Silly Peck never
guessed what harm he was doing, and only laughed when Cocky said,--
"You will be sorry if you play with the fox. He is a bad fellow; so be
careful and sleep on a high branch, and keep out of his way, as I do."
Cocky was fat and large, and the fox longed to eat him, but never could,
because he wisely ran home whenever he saw the rogue hiding in the wood.
This made Peck angry, for he wanted his brother to stay and play; and so
one day, when Cocky ran off in the midst of a nice game, Peck said to the
"See here, if you want to catch that fellow, I'll tell you how to do it.
He has promised to bring me some food to-night, when all the rest are at
roost. He will hide and not get shut up; then, when those cross old
biddies are asleep, he will cluck softly, and I am to go in and eat all I
want out of the pan. You hide on the top of the hen-house; and while he
talks to me, you can pounce on him. Then I shall be the only cock here,
and they will have to make me king."
"All right," said the fox, much pleased with the plan, and very glad that
Peck had a chance to get fatter.
So when it was night, Peck crept through the broken paling and waited till
he heard the signal. Now, good Cocky had saved up nice bits from his own
dinner, and put them in a paper hidden under a bush. He spread them all
out in the barnyard and called; and Peck came in a great hurry to eat
them, never stopping to say, "Thank you."
Cocky stood by talking pleasantly till a little shower came up.
"Peck, dear, put this nice thick paper over you; then you will be dry, and
can go on eating. I'll step under that burdock leaf and wait till you are
done," said Cocky; and Peck was too busy gobbling up the food to remember
Now the fox had just crept up on the hen-house roof; and when he peeped
down, there was just light enough to see a white thing bobbing about.
"Ah, ha! that's Cockyloo; now for a good supper!" And with a jump he
seized Peck by the head before he could explain the mistake.
One squawk, and the naughty bird was dead; but though the paper fell off,
and the fox saw what he had done, it was too late, and he began to eat
Peck up, while Cocky flew into a tree and crowed so loud that the farmer
ran with his gun and shot the fox before he could squeeze through the hole
in the fence with the fowl in his mouth.
After that the hens felt safe, for there were no more foxes; and when they
heard about Peck they did not mourn at all, but liked Cocky better than
ever, and lived happily together, with nothing to trouble them.
King Cockyloo grew to be a splendid bird,--pure white, with a tall red
comb on his head, long spurs on his yellow legs, many fine feathers in his
tail, and eyes that shone like diamonds. His crow was so loud that it
could be heard all over the neighborhood, and people used to say, "Hark!
hear Farmer Hunt's cock crow. Isn't it a sweet sound to wake us in the
dawn?" All the other cocks used to answer him, and there was a fine
matinee concert every day.
He was a good brother, and led his five little sisters all about the
field, feeding, guarding, and amusing them; for mamma was lame now, and
could not stir far from the yard. It was a pretty sight to see Cocky run
home with a worm in his bill or a nice berry, and give it to his mother,
who was very proud of her handsome son. Even old Granny Cockletop, who
scolded about everything, liked him; and often said, as the hens sat
scuffling in the dust,--