Part 2 out of 3
"A fine bird, my dears, a very fine bird, and I know he will do something
remarkable before he dies."
She was right for once; and this is what he did.
One day the farmer had to go away and stay all night, leaving the old lady
alone with two boys. They were not afraid; for they had a gun, and quite
longed for a chance to fire it. Now it happened that the farmer had a good
deal of money in the house, and some bad men knew it; so they waited for
him to go away that they might steal it. Cocky was picking about in the
field when he heard voices behind the wall, and peeping through a hole saw
two shabby men hiding there.
"At twelve, to-night, when all are asleep, we will creep in at the kitchen
window and steal the money. You shall watch on the outside and whistle if
any one comes along while I'm looking for the box where the farmer keeps
it," said one man.
"You needn't be afraid; there is no dog, and no one to wake the family, so
we are quite safe," said the other man; and then they both went to sleep
till night came.
Cocky was much troubled, and didn't know what to do. He could not tell the
old lady about it; for he could only cackle and crow, and she would not
understand that language. So he went about all day looking very sober, and
would not chase grasshoppers, play hide-and-seek under the big burdock
leaves, or hunt the cricket with his sisters. At sunset he did not go into
the hen-house with the rest, but flew up to the shed roof over the
kitchen, and sat there in the cold ready to scare the robbers with a loud
crow, as he could do nothing else.
At midnight the men came creeping along; one stopped outside, and the
other went in. Presently he handed a basket of silver out, and went back
for the money. Just as he came creeping along with the box, Cocky gave a
loud, long crow, that frightened the robbers and woke the boys. The man
with the basket ran away in such a hurry that he tumbled into a well; the
other was going to get out of the window, when Cocky flew down and picked
at his eyes and flapped his wings in his face, so that he turned to run
some other way, and met the boys, who fired at him and shot him in the
legs. The old lady popped her head out of the upper window and rang the
dinner-bell, and called "Fire! fire!" so loud that it roused the
neighbors, who came running to see what the trouble could be.
They fished one man out of the well and picked up the wounded one, and
carried them both off to prison.
"Who caught them?" asked the people.
"We did," cried the boys, very proud of what they had done; "but we
shouldn't have waked if our good Cocky had not crowed, and scared the
rascals. He deserves half the praise, for this is the second time he has
caught a thief."
So Cocky was brought in, and petted, and called a fine fellow; and his
family were so proud of him they clucked about it for weeks afterward.
When the robbers were tried, it was found that they were the men who had
robbed the bank, and taken a great deal of money; so every one was glad to
have them shut up for twenty years. It made a great stir, and people would
go to see Cocky and tell how he helped catch the men; and he was so brave
and handsome, they said at last,--
"We want a new weather-cock on our court-house, and instead of an arrow
let us have a cock; and he shall look like this fine fellow."
"Yes, yes," cried the young folks, much pleased; for they thought Cocky
ought to be remembered in some way.
So a picture was taken, and Cocky stood very still, with his bright eye on
the man; then one like it was made of brass, and put high up on the court-
house, where all could see the splendid bird shining like gold, and
twirling about to tell which way the wind was. The children were never
tired of admiring him; and all the hens and chickens went in a procession
one moonlight night to see it,--yes, even Mamma Partlet and Granny
Cockletop, though one was lame and the other very old, so full of pride
were they in the great honor done King Cockyloo.
This was not the end of his good deeds; and the last was the best of all,
though it cost him his life. He ruled for some years, and kept his kingdom
in good order; for no one would kill him, when many of the other fowls
were taken for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. But he did die at last;
and even then he was good and brave, as you shall hear.
One of the boys wanted to smoke a pipe, and went behind the hen-house, so
nobody should see him do such a silly thing. He thought he heard his
father coming, and hid the pipe under the house. Some straw and dry leaves
lay about, and took fire, setting the place in a blaze; for the boy ran
away when he saw the mischief he had done, and the fire got to burning
nicely before the cries of the poor hens called people to help. The door
was locked, and could not be opened, because the key was in the pocket of
the naughty boy; so the farmer got an axe and chopped down the wall,
letting the poor biddies fly out, squawking and smoking.
"Where is Cocky?" cried the other boy, as he counted the hens and missed
the king of the farmyard.
"Burnt up, I'm afraid," said the farmer, who was throwing water on the
Alas! yes, he was: for when the fire was out they found good old Cocky
sitting on a nest, with his wide wings spread over some little chicks
whose mother had left them. They were too small to run away, and sat
chirping sadly till Cocky covered and kept them safe, though the smoke
choked _him_ to death.
Every one was very sorry; and the children gave the good bird a fine
funeral, and buried him in the middle of the field, with a green mound
over him, and a white stone, on which was written,--
Here lies the bravest cock that ever crew:
We mourn for him with sorrow true.
Now nevermore at dawn his music shall we hear,
Waking the world like trumpet shrill and clear.
The hens all hang their heads, the chickens sadly peep;
The boys look sober, and the girls all weep.
Good-by, dear Cocky: sleep and rest,
With grass and daisies on your faithful breast;
And when you wake, brave bird, so good and true,
Clap your white wings and crow, "Cock-a-doodle-doo."
[Illustration: The lion walked awhile to rest himself.]
Rosy was a nice little girl who lived with her mother in a small house in
the woods. They were very poor, for the father had gone away to dig gold,
and did not come back; so they had to work hard to get food to eat and
clothes to wear. The mother spun yarn when she was able, for she was often
sick, and Rosy did all she could to help. She milked the red cow and fed
the hens; dug the garden, and went to town to sell the yarn and the eggs.
She was very good and sweet, and every one loved her; but the neighbors
were all poor, and could do little to help the child. So, when at last the
mother died, the cow and hens and house had to be sold to pay the doctor
and the debts. Then Rosy was left all alone, with no mother, no home, and
no money to buy clothes and dinners with.
"What will you do?" said the people, who were very sorry for her.
"I will go and find my father," answered Rosy, bravely.
"But he is far away, and you don't know just where he is, up among the
mountains. Stay with us and spin on your little wheel, and we will buy the
yarn, and take care of you, dear little girl," said the kind people.
"No, I must go; for mother told me to, and my father will be glad to have
me. I'm not afraid, for every one is good to me," said Rosy, gratefully.
Then the people gave her a warm red cloak, and a basket with a little loaf
and bottle of milk in it, and some pennies to buy more to eat when the
bread was gone. They all kissed her, and wished her good luck; and she
trotted away through the wood to find her father.
For some days she got on very well; for the wood-cutters were kind, and
let her sleep in their huts, and gave her things to eat. But by and by she
came to lonely places, where there were no houses; and then she was
afraid, and used to climb up in the trees to sleep, and had to eat berries
and leaves, like the Children in the Wood.
She made a fire at night, so wild beasts would not come near her; and if
she met other travellers, she was so young and innocent no one had the
heart to hurt her. She was kind to everything she met; so all little
creatures were friends to her, as we shall see.
One day, as she was resting by a river, she saw a tiny fish on the bank,
nearly dead for want of water.
"Poor thing! go and be happy again," she said, softly taking him up, and
dropping him into the nice cool river.
"Thank you, dear child; I'll not forget, but will help you some day," said
the fish, when he had taken a good drink, and felt better.
"Why, how can a tiny fish help such a great girl as I am?" laughed Rosy.
"Wait and see," answered the fish, as he swam away with a flap of his
Rosy went on her way, and forgot all about it. But she never forgot to be
kind; and soon after, as she was looking in the grass for strawberries,
she found a field-mouse with a broken leg.
"Help me to my nest, or my babies will starve," cried the poor thing.
"Yes, I will; and bring these berries so that you can keep still till your
leg is better, and have something to eat."
Rosy took the mouse carefully in her little hand, and tied up the broken
leg with a leaf of spearmint and a blade of grass. Then she carried her to
the nest under the roots of an old tree, where four baby mice were
squeaking sadly for their mother. She made a bed of thistledown for the
sick mouse, and put close within reach all the berries and seeds she could
find, and brought an acorn-cup of water from the spring, so they could be
"Good little Rosy, I shall pay you for all this kindness some day," said
the mouse, when she was done.
"I'm afraid you are not big enough to do much," answered Rosy, as she ran
off to go on her journey.
"Wait and see," called the mouse; and all the little ones squeaked, as if
they said the same.
Some time after, as Rosy lay up in a tree, waiting for the sun to rise,
she heard a great buzzing close by, and saw a fly caught in a cobweb that
went from one twig to another. The big spider was trying to spin him all
up, and the poor fly was struggling to get away before his legs and wings
Rosy put up her finger and pulled down the web, and the spider ran away at
once to hide under the leaves. But the happy fly sat on Rosy's hand,
cleaning his wings, and buzzing so loud for joy that it sounded like a
"You've saved my life, and I'll save yours, if I can," said the fly,
twinkling his bright eye at Rosy.
"You silly thing, you can't help me," answered Rosy, climbing down, while
the fly buzzed away, saying, like the mouse and fish,--
"Wait and see; wait and see."
Rosy trudged on and on, till at last she came to the sea. The mountains
were on the other side; but how should she get over the wide water? No
ships were there, and she had no money to hire one if there had been any;
so she sat on the shore, very tired and sad, and cried a few big tears as
salt as the sea.
"Hullo!" called a bubbly sort of voice close by; and the fish popped up
his head. Rosy ran to see what he wanted.
"I've come to help you over the water," said the fish.
"How can you, when I want a ship, and some one to show me the way?"
"I shall just call my friend the whale, and he will take you over better
than a ship, because he won't get wrecked. Don't mind if he spouts and
flounces about a good deal, he is only playing; so you needn't be
Down dived the little fish, and Rosy waited to see what would happen; for
she didn't believe such a tiny thing could really bring a whale to help
Presently what looked like a small island came floating through the sea;
and turning round, so that its tail touched the shore, the whale said, in
a roaring voice that made her jump,--
"Come aboard, little girl, and hold on tight. I'll carry you wherever you
It was rather a slippery bridge, and Rosy was rather scared at this big,
strange boat; but she got safely over, and held on fast; then, with a roll
and a plunge, off went the whale, spouting two fountains, while his tail
steered him like the rudder of a ship.
Rosy liked it, and looked down into the deep sea, where all sorts of queer
and lovely things were to be seen. Great fishes came and looked at her;
dolphins played near to amuse her; the pretty nautilus sailed by in its
transparent boat; and porpoises made her laugh with their rough play.
Mermaids brought her pearls and red coral to wear, sea-apples to eat, and
at night sung her to sleep with their sweet lullabies.
So she had a very pleasant voyage, and ran on shore with many thanks to
the good whale, who gave a splendid spout, and swam away.
Then Rosy travelled along till she came to a desert. Hundreds of miles of
hot sand, with no trees or brooks or houses.
"I never can go that way," she said; "I should starve, and soon be worn
out walking in that hot sand. What _shall_ I do?"
Wait and see:
You were good to me;
So here I come,
From my little home,
To help you willingly,"
said a friendly voice; and there was the mouse, looking at her with its
bright eyes full of gratitude.
"Why, you dear little thing, I'm very glad to see you; but I'm sure you
can't help me across this desert," said Rosy, stroking its soft back.
"That's easy enough," answered the mouse, rubbing its paws briskly. "I'll
just call my friend the lion; he lives here, and he'll take you across
"Oh, I'm afraid he'd rather eat me. How dare you call that fierce beast?"
cried Rosy, much surprised.
"I gnawed him out of a net once, and he promised to help me. He is a noble
animal, and he will keep his word."
Then the mouse sang, in its shrill little voice,--
"O lion, grand,
Come over the sand,
And help me now, I pray!
Here's a little lass,
Who wants to pass;
Please carry her on her way."
In a moment a loud roar was heard, and a splendid yellow lion, with fiery
eyes and a long mane, came bounding over the sand to meet them.
"What can I do for you, tiny friend?" he said, looking at the mouse, who
was not a bit frightened, though Rosy hid behind a rock, expecting every
moment to be eaten.
Mousie told him, and the good lion said pleasantly,--
"I'll take the child along. Come on, my dear; sit on my back and hold fast
to my mane, for I'm a swift horse, and you might fall off."
Then he crouched down like a great cat, and Rosy climbed up, for he was so
kind she could not fear him; and away they went, racing over the sand till
her hair whistled in the wind. As soon as she got her breath, she thought
it great fun to go flying along, while other lions and tigers rolled their
fierce eyes at her, but dared not touch her; for this lion was king of
all, and she was quite safe. They met a train of camels with loads on
their backs; and the people travelling with them wondered what queer thing
was riding that fine lion. It looked like a very large monkey in a red
cloak, but went so fast they never saw that it was a little girl.
"How glad I am that I was kind to the mouse; for if the good little
creature had not helped me, I never could have crossed this desert," said
Rosy, as the lion walked awhile to rest himself.
"And if the mouse had not gnawed me out of the net I never should have
come at her call. You see, little people can conquer big ones, and make
them gentle and friendly by kindness," answered the lion.
Then away they went again, faster than ever, till they came to the green
country. Rosy thanked the good beast, and he ran back, for if any one saw
him, they would try to catch him.
"Now I have only to climb up these mountains and find father," thought
Rosy, as she saw the great hills before her, with many steep roads winding
up to the top, and far, far away rose the smoke from the huts where the
men lived and dug for gold. She started off bravely, but took the wrong
road, and after climbing a long while found the path ended in rocks over
which she could not go. She was very tired and hungry; for her food was
gone, and there were no houses in this wild place. Night was coming on,
and it was so cold she was afraid she would freeze before morning, but
dared not go on lest she should fall down some steep hole and be killed.
Much discouraged, she lay down on the moss and cried a little; then she
tried to sleep, but something kept buzzing in her ear, and looking
carefully she saw a fly prancing about on the moss, as if anxious to make
her listen to his song,--
"Rosy, my dear,
Don't cry,--I'm here
To help you all I can.
I'm only a fly,
But you'll see that I
Will keep my word like a man."
Rosy couldn't help laughing to hear the brisk little fellow talk as if he
could do great things; but she was very glad to see him and hear his
cheerful song, so she held out her finger, and while he sat there told him
all her troubles.
"Bless your heart! my friend the eagle will carry you right up the
mountains and leave you at your father's door," cried the fly; and he was
off with a flirt of his gauzy wings, for he meant what he said.
Rosy was ready for her new horse, and not at all afraid after the whale
and the lion; so when a great eagle swooped down and alighted near her,
she just looked at his sharp claws, big eyes, and crooked beak as coolly
as if he had been a cock-robin.
He liked her courage, and said kindly in his rough voice,--
"Hop up, little girl, and sit among my feathers. Hold me fast round the
neck, or you may grow dizzy and get a fall."
Rosy nestled down among the thick gray feathers, and put both arms round
his neck; and whiz they went, up, up, up, higher and higher, till the
trees looked like grass, they were so far below. At first it was very
cold, and Rosy cuddled deeper into her feather bed; then, as they came
nearer to the sun, it grew warm, and she peeped out to see the huts
standing in a green spot on the top of the mountain.
"Here we are. You'll find all the men are down in the mine at this time.
They won't come up till morning; so you will have to wait for your father.
Good-by; good luck, my dear." And the eagle soared away, higher still, to
his nest among the clouds.
It was night now, but fires were burning in all the houses; so Rosy went
from hut to hut trying to find her father's, that she might rest while she
waited: at last in one the picture of a pretty little girl hung on the
wall, and under it was written, "My Rosy." Then she knew that this was the
right place; and she ate some supper, put on more wood, and went to bed,
for she wanted to be fresh when her father came in the morning.
While she slept a storm came on,--thunder rolled and lightning flashed,
the wind blew a gale, and rain poured,--but Rosy never waked till dawn,
when she heard men shouting outside,--
"Run, run! The river is rising! We shall all be drowned!"
Rosy ran out to see what was the matter, though the wind nearly blew her
away; she found that so much rain had made the river overflow till it
began to wash the banks away.
"What shall I do? what shall I do?" cried Rosy, watching the men rush
about like ants, getting their bags of gold ready to carry off before the
water swept them away, if it became a flood.
As if in answer to her cry, Rosy heard a voice say close by,--
Rumble and crash!
Here come the beavers gay;
See what they do,
Rosy, for you,
Because you helped _me_ one day."
And there in the water was the little fish swimming about, while an army
of beavers began to pile up earth and stones in a high bank to keep the
river back. How they worked, digging and heaping with teeth and claws, and
beating the earth hard with their queer tails like shovels! Rosy and the
men watched them work, glad to be safe, while the storm cleared up; and by
the time the dam was made, all danger was over. Rosy looked into the faces
of the rough men, hoping her father was there, and was just going to ask
about him, when a great shouting rose again, and all began to run to the
pit hole, saying,--
"The sand has fallen in! The poor fellows will be smothered! How can we
get them out? how can we get them out?"
Rosy ran too, feeling as if her heart would break; for her father was down
in the mine, and would die soon if air did not come to him. The men dug as
hard as they could; but it was a long job, and they feared they would not
be in time.
Suddenly hundreds of moles came scampering along, and began to burrow down
through the earth, making many holes for air to go in; for they know how
to build galleries through the ground better than men can. Every one was
so surprised they stopped to look on; for the dirt flew like rain as the
busy little fellows scratched and bored as if making an underground
"What does it mean?" said the men. "They work faster than we can, and
better; but who sent them? Is this strange little girl a fairy?"
Before Rosy could speak, all heard a shrill, small voice singing,--
"They come at my call;
And though they are small,
They'll dig the passage clear:
I never forget;
We'll save them yet,
For love of Rosy dear."
Then all saw a little gray mouse sitting on a stone, waving her tail
about, and pointing with her tiny paw to show the moles where to dig.
The men laughed; and Rosy was telling them who she was, when a cry came
from the pit, and they saw that the way was clear so they could pull the
buried men up. In a minute they got ropes, and soon had ten poor fellows
safe on the ground; pale and dirty, but all alive, and all shouting as if
they were crazy,--
"Tom's got it! Tom's got it! Hooray for Tom!"
"What is it?" cried the others; and then they saw Tom come up with the
biggest lump of gold ever found in the mountains.
Every one was glad of Tom's luck; for he was a good man, and had worked a
long time, and been sick, and couldn't go back to his wife and child. When
he saw Rosy, he dropped the lump, and caught her up, saying,--
"My little girl! she's better than a million pounds of gold."
Then Rosy was very happy, and went back to the hut, and had a lovely time
telling her father all about her troubles and her travels. He cried when
he heard that the poor mother was dead before she could have any of the
good things the gold would buy them.
"We will go away and be happy together in the pleasantest home I can find,
and never part any more, my darling," said the father, kissing Rosy as she
sat on his knee with her arms round his neck.
She was just going to say something very sweet to comfort him, when a fly
lit on her arm and buzzed very loud,--
"Don't drive me away,
But hear what I say:
Bad men want the gold;
They will steal it to-night,
And you must take flight;
So be quiet and busy and bold."
"I was afraid some one would take my lump away. I'll pack up at once, and
we will creep off while the men are busy at work; though I'm afraid we
can't go fast enough to be safe, if they miss us and come after," said
Tom, bundling his gold into a bag and looking very sober; for some of the
miners were wild fellows, and might kill him for the sake of that great
But the fly sang again,--
"Slip away with me,
And you will see
What a wise little thing am I;
For the road I show
No man can know,
Since it's up in the pathless sky."
Then they followed Buzz to a quiet nook in the wood; and there were the
eagle and his mate waiting to fly away with them so fast and so far that
no one could follow. Rosy and the bag of gold were put on the mother
eagle; Tom sat astride the king bird; and away they flew to a great city,
where the little girl and her father lived happily together all their
[Illustration: Poor Billy dangling from a bough, high above the ground.]
HOW THEY RAN AWAY.
Two little boys sat on the fence whittling arrows one fine day. Said one
little boy to the other little boy,--
"Let's do something jolly."
"All right. What will we do?"
"Run off to the woods and be hunters."
"What can we hunt?"
"Bears and foxes"
"Mullin says there ain't any round here."
"Well, we can shoot squirrels and snare wood-chucks."
"Haven't got any guns and trap."
"We've got our bows, and I found an old trap behind the barn."
"What will we eat?"
"Here's our lunch; and when that's gone we can roast the squirrels and
cook the fish on a stick. I know how."
"Where will you get the fire?"
"Got matches in my pocket."
"I've got a lot of things we could use. Let's see."
And as if satisfied at last, cautious Billy displayed his treasures, while
bold Tommy did the same.
Besides the two knives there were strings, nails, matches, a piece of
putty, fish-hooks, and two very dirty handkerchiefs.
"There, sir, that's a first-rate fit-out for hunters; and with the jolly
basket of lunch Mrs. Mullin gave us, we can get on tip-top for two or
three days," said Tommy, eager to be off.
"Where shall we sleep?" asked Billy, who liked to be comfortable both
night and day.
"Oh, up in trees or on beds of leaves, like the fellows in our books. If
you are afraid, stay at home; I'm going to have no end of a good time."
And Tommy crammed the things back into his pockets as if there were no
time to lose.
"Pooh! I ain't afraid. Come on!" And jumping down Billy caught up his rod,
rather ashamed of his many questions.
No one was looking at them, and they might have walked quietly off; but
that the "running away" might be all right, both raced down the road,
tumbled over a wall, and dashed into the woods as if a whole tribe of wild
Indians were after them.
"Do you know the way?" panted Billy, when at last they stopped for breath.
"Yes, it winds right up the mountain; but we'd better not keep to it, or
some one will see us and take us back. We are going to be _real_
hunters and have adventures; so we must get lost, and find our way by the
sun and the stars," answered Tommy, who had read so many Boys' Books his
little head was a jumble of Texan Rangers, African Explorers, and Buffalo
Bills; and he burned to outdo them all.
"What will our mothers say if we really get lost?" asked Billy, always
ready with a question.
"Mine won't fuss. She lets me do what I like."
That was true; for Tommy's poor mamma was tired of trying to keep the
lively little fellow in order, and had got used to seeing him come out of
all his scrapes without much harm.
"Mine will be scared; she's always afraid I'm going to get hurt, so I'm
careful. But I guess I'll risk it, and have some fun to tell about when we
go home," said Billy, trudging after Captain Tommy, who always took the
These eleven-year-old boys were staying with their mothers at a farm-house
up among the mountains; and having got tired of the tame bears, the big
barn, the trout brook, the thirty colts at pasture, and the society of the
few little girls and younger boys at the hotel near by, these fine fellows
longed to break loose and "rough it in the bush," as the hunters did in
their favorite stories.
Away they went, deeper and deeper into the great forest that covered the
side of the mountain. A pleasant place that August day; for it was cool
and green, with many brooks splashing over the rocks, or lying in brown
pools under the ferns. Squirrels chattered and raced in the tall pines;
now and then a gray rabbit skipped out of sight among the brakes, or a
strange bird flew by. Here and there blackberries grew in the open places,
sassafras bushes were plentiful, and black-birch bark was ready for
"Don't you call this nice?" asked Tommy, pausing at last in a little dell
where a noisy brook came tumbling down the mountain side, and the pines
"Yes; but I'm awful hungry. Let's rest and eat our lunch," said Billy,
sitting down on a cushion of moss.
"You always want to be stuffing and resting," answered sturdy Tommy, who
liked to be moving all the time.
He took the fishing-basket, which hung over his shoulder by a strap, and
opened it carefully; for good Mrs. Mullin had packed a nice lunch of bread
and butter, cake and peaches, with a bottle of milk, and two large pickles
slipped in on the sly to please the boys.
Tommy's face grew very sober as he looked in, for all he saw was a box of
worms for bait and an old jacket.
"By George! we've got the wrong basket. This is Mullin's, and he's gone
off with our prog. Won't he be mad?"
"Not as mad as I am. Why didn't you look? You are always in such a hurry
to start. What _shall_ we do now without anything to eat?" whined
Billy; for losing his lunch was a dreadful blow to him.
"We shall have to catch some fish and eat blackberries. Which will you do,
old cry-baby?" said Tommy, laughing at the other boy's dismal face.
"I'll fish; I'm so tired I can't go scratching round after berries. I
don't love 'em, either." And Billy began to fix his line and bait his
"Lucky we got the worms; you can eat 'em if you can't wait for fish," said
Tommy, bustling about to empty the basket and pile up their few
possessions in a heap. "There's a quiet pool below here, you go and fish
there. I'll pick the berries, and then show you how to get dinner in the
woods. This is our camp; so fly round and do your best."
Then Tommy ran off to a place near by where he had seen the berries, while
Billy found a comfortable nook by the pool, and sat scowling at the water
so crossly, it was a wonder any trout came to his hook. But the fat worms
tempted several small ones, and he cheered up at the prospect of food.
Tommy whistled while he picked, and in half an hour came back with two
quarts of nice berries and an armful of dry sticks for the fire.
"We'll have a jolly dinner, after all," he said, as the flames went
crackling up, and the dry leaves made a pleasant smell.
"Got four, but don't see how we'll ever cook 'em; no frying-pan," grumbled
Billy, throwing down the four little trout, which he had half cleaned.
"Don't want any. Broil 'em on the coals, or toast 'em on a forked stick.
I'll show you how," said cheerful Tommy, whittling away, and feeding his
fire as much like a real hunter as a small boy could be.
While he worked, Billy ate berries and sighed for bread and butter. At
last, after much trouble, two of the trout were half cooked and eagerly
eaten by the hungry boys. But they were very different from the nice brown
ones Mrs. Mullin gave them; for in spite of Tommy's struggles they would
fall in the ashes, and there was no salt to eat with them. By the time the
last were toasted, the young hunters were so hungry they could have eaten
anything, and not a berry was left.
"I set the trap down there, for I saw a hole among the vines, and I
shouldn't wonder if we got a rabbit or something," said Tommy, when the
last bone was polished. "You go and catch some more fish, and I'll see if
I have caught any old chap as he went home to dinner."
Off ran Tommy; and the other boy went slowly back to the brook, wishing
with all his might he was at home eating sweet corn and berry pie.
The trout had evidently gone to their dinners, for not one bite did poor
Billy get; and he was just falling asleep when a loud shout gave him such
a fright that he tumbled into the brook up to his knees.
"I've got him! Come and see! He's a bouncer," roared Tommy, from the berry
bushes some way off.
Billy scrambled out, and went as fast as his wet boots would let him, to
see what the prize was. He found Tommy dancing wildly round a fat gray
animal, who was fighting to get his paws out of the trap, and making a
queer noise as he struggled about.
"What is it?" asked Billy, getting behind a tree as fast as possible, for
the thing looked fierce, and he was very timid.
"A raccoon, I guess, or a big woodchuck. Won't his fur make a fine cap? I
guess the other fellows will wish they'd come with us." said Tommy,
prancing to and fro, without the least idea what to do with the creature.
"He'll bite. We'd better run away and wait till he's dead," said Billy.
"Wish he'd got his head in, then I could carry him off; but he does look
savage, so we'll have to leave him awhile, and get him when we come back.
But he's a real beauty." And Tommy looked proudly at the bunch of gray fur
scuffling in the sand.
"Can we ever eat him?" asked hungry Billy, ready for a fried crocodile if
he could get it.
"If he's a raccoon, we can; but I don't know about woodchucks. The fellows
in my books don't seem to have caught any. He's nice and fat; we might try
him when he's dead," said Tommy, who cared more for the skin to show than
the best meal ever cooked.
The sound of a gun echoing through the wood gave Tommy a good idea,--
"Let's find the man and get him to shoot this chap; then we needn't wait,
but skin him right away, and eat him too."
Off they went to the camp; and catching up their things, the two hunters
hurried away in the direction of the sound, feeling glad to know that some
one was near them, for two or three hours of wood life made them a little
They ran and scrambled, and listened and called; but not until they had
gone a long way up the mountain did they find the man, resting in an old
hut left by the lumbermen. The remains of his dinner were spread on the
floor, and he lay smoking, and reading a newspaper, while his dog dozed at
his feet, close to a well-filled game-bag.
He looked surprised when two dirty, wet little boys suddenly appeared
before him,--one grinning cheerfully, the other looking very dismal and
scared as the dog growled and glared at them as if they were two rabbits.
"Hollo!" said the man
"Hollo!" answered Tommy.
"Who are you?" asked the man.
"Hunters," said Tommy.
"Had good luck?" And the man laughed.
"First-rate. Got a raccoon in our trap, and we want you to come and shoot
him," answered Tommy, proudly.
"Sure?" said the man, looking interested as well as amused.
"No, but I think so."
"What's he like?"
Tommy described him, and was much disappointed when the man lay down
again, saying, with another laugh,--
"It's a woodchuck; he's no good."
"But I want the skin."
"Then don't shoot him, let him die; that's better for the skin," said the
man, who was tired and didn't want to stop for such poor game.
All this time Billy had been staring hard at the sandwiches and bread and
cheese on the floor, and sniffing at them, as the dog sniffed at him.
"Want some grub?" asked the man, seeing the hungry look.
"I just do! We left our lunch, and I've only had two little trout and some
old berries since breakfast," answered Billy, with tears in his eyes and a
hand on his stomach.
"Eat away then; I'm done, and don't want the stuff." And the man took up
his paper as if glad to be let alone.
It was lucky that the dog had been fed, for in ten minutes nothing was
left but the napkin; and the boys sat picking up the crumbs, much
refreshed, but ready for more.
"Better be going home, my lads; it's pretty cold on the mountain after
sunset, and you are a long way from town," said the man, who had peeped at
them over his paper now and then, and saw, in spite of the dirt and rips,
that they were not farmer boys.
"We don't live in town; we are at Mullin's, in the valley. No hurry; we
know the way, and we want to have some sport first. You seem to have done
well," answered Tommy, looking enviously from the gun to the game-bag, out
of which hung a rabbit's head and a squirrel's tail.
"Pretty fair; but I want a shot at the bear. People tell me there is one
up here, and I'm after him; for he kills the sheep, and might hurt some of
the young folks round here," said the man, loading his gun with a very
sober air; for he wanted to get rid of the boys and send them home.
Billy looked alarmed; but Tommy's brown face beamed with joy as he said
"I hope you'll get him. I'd rather shoot a bear than any other animal but
a lion. We don't have those here, and bears are scarce. Mullin said he
hadn't heard of one for a long time; so this must be a young one, for they
killed the big one two years ago."
That was true, and the man knew it. He did not really expect or want to
meet a bear, but thought the idea of one would send the little fellows
home at once. Finding one of them was unscared, he laughed, and said with
a nod to Tommy,--
"If I had time I'd take _you_ along, and show you how to hunt; but
this fat friend of yours couldn't rough it with us, and we can't leave him
alone; so go ahead your own way. Only I wouldn't climb any higher, for
among the rocks you are sure to get hurt or lost."
"Oh, I say, let's go! Such fun, Billy! I know you'll like it. A real gun
and dog and hunter! Come on, and don't be a molly-coddle," cried Tommy,
wild to go.
"I won't! I'm tired, and I'm going home; you can go after your old bears
if you want to. I don't think much of hunting anyway, and wish I hadn't
come," growled Billy, very cross at being left out, yet with no desire to
scramble any more.
"Can't stop. Good-by. Get along home, and some day I'll come and take you
out with me, little Leatherstocking," said the man, striding off with the
dear gun and dog and bag, leaving Billy to wonder what he meant by that
queer name, and Tommy to console himself with the promise made him.
"Let's go and see how old Chucky gets on," he said good-naturedly, when
the man vanished.
"Not till I'm rested. I can get a good nap on this pile of hay; then we'll
go home before it's late," answered lazy Billy, settling himself on the
rough bed the lumbermen had used.
"I just wish I had a boy with some go in him; you ain't much better than a
girl," sighed Tommy, walking off to a pine-tree where some squirrels
seemed to be having a party, they chattered and raced up and down at such
He tried his bow and shot all his arrows many times in vain, for the
lively creatures gave him no chance. He had better luck with a brown bird
who sat in a bush and was hit full in the breast with the sharpest arrow.
The poor thing fluttered and fell, and its blood wet the green leaves as
it lay dying on the grass. Tommy was much pleased at first; but as he
stood watching its bright eye grow dim and its pretty brown wings stop
fluttering, he felt sorry that its happy little life was so cruelly ended,
and ashamed that his thoughtless fun had given so much pain.
"I'll never shoot another bird except hawks after chickens, and I won't
brag about this one. It was so tame, and trusted me, I was very mean to
As he thought this, Tommy smoothed the ruffled feathers of the dead
thrush, and, making a little grave under the pine, buried it wrapped in
green leaves, and left it there where its mate could sing over it, and no
rude hands disturb its rest.
"I'll tell mamma and she will understand: but I _won't_ tell Billy.
He is such a greedy old chap he'll say I ought to have kept the poor bird
to eat," thought Tommy, as he went back to the hut, and sat there,
restringing his bow, till Billy woke up, much more amiable for his sleep.
They tried to find the woodchuck, but lost their way, and wandered deeper
into the great forest till they came to a rocky place and could go no
farther. They climbed up and tumbled down, turned back and went round,
looked at the sun and knew it was late, chewed sassafras bark and
checkerberry leaves for supper, and grew more and more worried and tired
as hour after hour went by and they saw no end to woods and rocks. Once or
twice they heard the hunter's gun far away, and called and tried to find
Tommy scolded Billy for not going with the man, who knew his way and was
probably safe in the valley when the last faint shot came up to them.
Billy cried, and reproached Tommy for proposing to run away; and both felt
very homesick for their mothers and their good safe beds at Farmer
The sun set, and found them in a dreary place full of rocks and blasted
trees half-way up the mountain. They were so tired they could hardly walk,
and longed to lie down anywhere to sleep; but, remembering the hunter's
story of the bear, they were afraid to do it, till Tommy suggested
climbing a tree, after making a fire at the foot of it to scare away the
bear, lest he climb too and get them.
But, alas! the matches were left in their first camp; so they decided to
take turns to sleep and watch, since it was plain that they must spend the
night there. Billy went up first, and creeping into a good notch of the
bare tree tried to sleep, while brave Tommy, armed with a big stick,
marched to and fro below. Every few minutes a trembling voice would call
from above, "Is anything coming?" and an anxious voice would answer from
below, "Not yet. Hurry up and go to sleep! I want my turn."
At last Billy began to snore, and then Tommy felt so lonely he couldn't
bear it; so he climbed to a lower branch, and sat nodding and trying to
keep watch, till he too fell fast asleep, and the early moon saw the poor
boys roosting there like two little owls.
A loud cry, a scrambling overhead, and then a great shaking and howling
waked Tommy so suddenly that he lost his wits for a moment and did not
know where he was.
"The bear! the bear! don't let him get me! Tommy, Tommy, come and make him
let go," cried Billy, filling the quiet night with dismal howls.
Tommy looked up, expecting to behold a large bear eating his unhappy
friend; but the moonlight showed him nothing but poor Billy dangling from
a bough, high above the ground, caught by his belt when he fell. He had
been dreaming of bears, and rolled off his perch; so there he hung,
kicking and wailing, half awake, and so scared it was long before Tommy
could make him believe that he was quite safe.
How to get him down was the next question. The branch was not strong
enough to bear Tommy, though he climbed up and tried to unhook poor Billy.
The belt was firmly twisted at the back, and Billy could not reach to undo
it, nor could he get his legs round the branch to pull himself up. There
seemed no way but to unbuckle the belt and drop. That he was afraid to
try; for the ground was hard, and the fall a high one. Fortunately both
belt and buckle were strong; so he hung safely, though very uncomfortably,
while Tommy racked his boyish brain to find a way to help him.
Billy had just declared that he should be cut in two very soon if
something was not done for him, and Tommy was in despair, when they
thought they heard a far-off shout, and both answered it till their
throats were nearly split with screaming.
"I seem to see a light moving round down that way," cried Billy from his
hook, pointing toward the valley.
"They are looking for us, but they won't hear us. I'll run and holler
louder, and bring 'em up here," answered Tommy, glad to do anything that
would put an end to this dreadful state of things.
"Don't leave me! I may fall and be killed! The bear might come! Don't go!
don't go!" wailed Billy, longing to drop, but afraid.
"I won't go far, and I'll come back as quick as I can. You are safe up
there. Hold on, and we'll soon get you down," answered Tommy, rushing
away helter-skelter, never minding where he went, and too much excited to
care for any damage.
The moon was bright on the blasted trees; but when he came down among the
green pines, it grew dark, and he often stumbled and fell. Never minding
bumps and bruises, he scrambled over rocks, leaped fallen trunks,
floundered through brooks, and climbed down steep places, till, with a
reckless jump, he went heels over head into a deep hole, and lay there for
a moment stunned by the fall. It was an old bear-trap, long unused, and
fortunately well carpeted with dead leaves, or poor Tommy would have
broken his bones.
When he came to himself he was so used up that he lay still for some time
in a sort of daze, too tired to know or care about anything, only dimly
conscious that somebody was lost in a tree or a well, and that, on the
whole, running away was not all fun.
By and by the sound of a gun roused him; and remembering poor Billy, he
tried to get out of the pit,--for the moon showed him where he was. But it
was too deep, and he was too stiff with weariness and the fall to be very
nimble. So he shouted, and whistled, and raged about very like a little
bear caught in the pit.
It is very difficult to find a lost person on these great mountains, and
many wander for hours not far from help, bewildered by the thick woods,
the deep ravines, and precipices which shut them in. Some have lost their
lives; and as Tommy lay on the leaves used up by his various struggles, he
thought of all the stories he had lately heard at the farm, and began to
wonder how it would feel to starve to death down there, and to wish poor
Billy could come to share his prison, that they might die together, like
the Babes in the Wood, or better still the Boy Scouts lost on the prairies
in that thrilling story, "Bill Boomerang, the Wild Hunter of the West."
"I guess mother is worried this time, because I never stayed out all night
before, and I never will again without leave. It's rather good fun,
though, if they only find me. I ain't afraid, and it isn't very cold. I
always wanted to sleep out, and now I'm doing it. Wish poor Billy was
safely down and in this good bed with me. Won't he be scared all alone
there? Maybe the belt will break and he get hurt bumping down. Sorry now I
left him, he's such a 'fraid-cat. There's the gun again! Guess it's that
man after us. Hi! hollo! Here I am! Whoop! Hurrah! Hi! hi! hi!"
Tommy's meditations ended in a series of yells as loud as his shrill
little voice could make them, and he thought some one answered. But it
must have been an echo, for no one came; and after another rampage round
his prison, the poor boy nestled down among the leaves, and went fast
asleep because there was nothing else to do.
So there they were, the two young hunters, lost at midnight on the
mountain,--one hanging like an apple on the old tree, and the other sound
asleep in a bear-pit. Their distracted mothers meantime were weeping and
wringing their hands at the farm, while all the men in the neighborhood
were out looking for the lost boys. The hunter on his return to the hotel
had reported meeting the runaways and his effort to send them home in good
season; so people knew where to look, and, led by the man and dog, up the
mountain went Mr. Mullin with his troop. It was a mild night, and the moon
shone high and clear; so the hunt was, on the whole, rather easy and
pleasant at first, and lanterns flashed through the dark forest like
fireflies, the lonely cliffs seemed alive with men, and voices echoed in
places where usually only the brooks babbled and the hawks screamed. But
as time went on, and no sign of the boys appeared, the men grew anxious,
and began to fear some serious harm had come to the runaways.
"I can't go home without them little shavers no way, 'specially Tommy,"
said Mr. Mullin, as they stopped to rest after a hard climb through the
blasted grove. "He's a boy after my own heart, spry as a chipmunk, smart
as a young cockerel, and as full of mischief as a monkey. He ain't afraid
of anything, and I shouldn't be a mite surprised to find him enjoyin'
himself first-rate, and as cool as a coocumber."
"The fat boy won't take it so easily, I fancy. If it hadn't been for him
I'd have kept the lively fellow with me, and shown him how to hunt. Sorry
now I didn't take them both home," said the man with the gun, seeing his
mistake too late, as people often do.
"Maybe they've fell down a precipice and got killed, like Moses Warner,
when he was lost," suggested a tall fellow, who had shouted himself
"Hush up, and come on! The dog is barkin' yonder, and he may have found
'em," said the farmer, hurrying toward the place where the hound was
baying at something in a tree.
It was poor Billy, hanging there still, half unconscious with weariness
and fear. The belt had slipped up under his arms, so he could breathe
easily; and there he was, looking like a queer sort of cone on the blasted
"Wal, I never!" exclaimed the farmer, as the tall lad climbed up, and,
unhooking Billy, handed him down like a young bird, into the arms held up
to catch him.
"He's all right, only scared out of his wits. Come along and look for the
other one. I'll warrant he went for help, and may be half-way home by this
time," said the hunter, who didn't take much interest in the fat boy.
Tommy's hat lay on the ground; and showing it to the dog, his master told
him to find the boy. The good hound sniffed about, and then set off with
his nose to the ground, following the zigzag track Tommy had taken in his
hurry. The hunter and several of the men went after him, leaving the
farmer with the others to take care of Billy.
Presently the dog came to the bear-pit, and began to bark again.
"He's got him!" cried the men, much relieved; and rushing on soon saw the
good beast looking down at a little white object in one corner of the dark
It was Tommy's face in the moonlight, for the rest of him was covered up
with leaves. The little round face seemed very quiet; and for a moment the
men stood quite still, fearing that the fall might have done the boy some
harm. Then the hunter leaped down, and gently touched the brown cheek. It
was warm, and a soft snore from the pug nose made the man call out, much
"He's all right. Wake up here, little chap; you are wanted at home. Had
hunting enough for this time?"
As he spoke, Tommy opened his eyes, gave a stretch, and said, "Hollo,
Billy," as calmly as if in his own bed at home. Then the rustle of the
leaves, the moonlight in his face, and the sight of several men staring
down at him startled him wide awake.
"Did you shoot the big bear?" he asked, looking up at the hunter with a
"No; but I caught a little one, and here he is," answered the man, giving
Tommy a roll in the leaves, much pleased because he did not whine or make
"Got lost, didn't we? Oh, I say, where's Billy? I left him up a tree like
a coon, and he wouldn't come down," laughed Tommy, kicking off his brown
bed-clothes, and quite ready to get up now.
They all laughed with him; and presently, when the story was told, they
pulled the boy out of the pit, and went back to join the other wanderer,
who was now sitting up eating the bread and butter Mrs. Mullin sent for
their very late supper.
The men roared again, as the two boys told their various tribulations; and
when they had been refreshed, the party started for home, blowing the tin
horns, and firing shot after shot to let the scattered searchers know that
the lost children were found. Billy was very quiet, and gladly rode on the
various broad backs offered for his use, but Tommy stoutly refused to be
carried, and with an occasional "boost" over a very rough place, walked
all the way down on his own sturdy legs. He was the hero of the adventure,
and was never tired of relating how he caught the woodchuck, cooked the
fish, slid down the big rock, and went to bed in the old bear-pit. But in
his own little mind he resolved to wait till he was older before he tried
to be a hunter; and though he caught several wood-chucks that summer, he
never shot another harmless little bird.
[Illustration: A wasp flew out and stung her lips.]
THE FAIRY BOX.
"I wish I had a magic bracelet like Rosamond's, that would prick me when I
was going to do wrong," said little May, as she put down the story she had
There was no one else in the room, but she heard a sweet voice sing these
words close to her ear:--
"Now hark, little May,
If you want to do right,
Under your pillow
Just look every night.
If you have been good
All through the day,
A gift you will find,
Useful or gay;
But if you have been
Cross, selfish, or wild,
A bad thing will come
For the naughty child.
So try, little dear,
And soon you will see
How easy and sweet
To grow good it will be."
May was very much surprised at this, and looked everywhere to see who
spoke, but could find no one.
"I guess I dreamed it; but my eyes are wide open, and I can't make up
poetry, asleep or awake."
As she said that, some one laughed; and the same voice sang again,--
"Ha, ha, you can't see,
Although I am here;
But listen to what
I say in your ear.
Tell no one of this.
Because, if you do,
My fun will be spoilt,
And so will yours too.
But if you are good,
And patient, and gay,
A real fairy will come
To see little May."
"Oh, how splendid that will be! I'll try hard, and be as good as an angel
if I can only get one peep at a live fairy. I always said there were such
people, and now I shall know how they look," cried the little girl, so
pleased that she danced all about the room, clapping her hands.
Something bright darted out of the window from among the flowers that
stood there, and no more songs were heard; so May knew that the elf had
"I've got a fine secret all to myself, and I'll keep it carefully. I
wonder what present will come to-night," she said, thinking this a very
She was very good all day, and made no fuss about going to bed, though
usually she fretted, and wanted to play, and called for water, and plagued
poor Nursey in many ways. She got safely into her little nest, and then
was in such a hurry to see what was under her pillow that she forgot, and
called out crossly,--
"Do hurry and go away. Don't wait to hang up my clothes, you slow old
thing! Go, go!"
That hurt Nurse's feelings, and she went away without her good-night kiss.
But May didn't care, and felt under her pillow the minute the door was
shut. A lamp was always left burning; so she could see the little gold box
she drew out.
"How pretty! I hope there is some candy in it," she said, opening it very
Oh, dear! what _do_ you think happened? A wasp flew out and stung her
lips; then both wasp and box vanished, and May was left to cry alone, with
a sharp pain in the lips that said the unkind words.
"What a dreadful present! I don't like that spiteful fairy who sends such
horrid things," she sobbed.
Then she lay still and thought about it; for she dared not call any one,
because nobody must guess the secret. She knew in her own little heart
that the cross words hurt Nursey as the sting did her lips, and she felt
sorry. At once the smart got better, and by the time she had resolved to
ask the good old woman to forgive her, it was all gone.
Next morning she kissed Nursey and begged pardon, and tried hard to be
good till tea-time; then she ran to see what nice things they were going
to have to eat, though she had often been told not to go into the dining-
room. No one was there; and on the table stood a dish of delicious little
cakes, all white like snowballs.
"I must have just a taste, and I'll tell mamma afterward," she said; and
before she knew it one little cake was eaten all up.
"Nobody will miss it, and I can have another at tea. Now, a lump of sugar
and a sip of cream before mamma comes, I so like to pick round."
Having done one wrong thing, May felt like going on; so she nibbled and
meddled with all sorts of forbidden things till she heard a step, then she
ran away; and by and by, when the bell rang, came in with the rest as prim
and proper as if she did not know how to play pranks. No one missed the
cake, and her mother gave her another, saying,--
"There, dear, is a nice plummy one for my good child."
May turned red, and wanted to tell what she had done, but was ashamed
because there was company; and people thought she blushed like a modest
little girl at being praised.
But when she went to bed she was almost afraid to look under the pillow,
knowing that she had done wrong. At last she slowly drew out the box, and
slowly opened it, expecting something to fly at her. All she saw was a
tiny black bag, that began at once to grow larger, till it was big enough
to hold her two hands. Then it tied itself tight round her wrists, as if
to keep these meddlesome hands out of mischief.
"Well, this is very queer, but not so dreadful as the wasp. I hope no one
will see it when I'm asleep. I do wish I'd let those cakes and things
alone," sighed May, looking at the black bag, and vainly trying to get her
She cried herself to sleep, and when she woke the bag was gone. No one had
seen it; but she told her mamma about the cake, and promised not to do so
"Now this shall be a _truly_ good day, every bit of it," she said, as
she skipped away, feeling as light as a feather after she had confessed
her little sins.
But, alas! it is so easy to forget and do wrong, that May spoilt her day
before dinner by going to the river and playing with the boats, in spite
of many orders not to do it. She did not tell of it, and went to a party
in the afternoon, where she was so merry she never remembered the naughty
thing till she was in bed and opened the fairy box. A little chain
appeared, which in a flash grew long and large, and fastened round her
ankles as if she were a prisoner. May liked to tumble about, and was much
disgusted to be chained in this way; but there was no help for it, so she
lay very still and had plenty of time to be sorry.
"It is a good punishment for me, and I deserve it. I won't cry, but I
will--I _will_ remember." And May said her prayers very soberly,
really meaning to keep her word this time.
All the next day she was very careful to keep her lips from cross words,
her hands from forbidden things, and her feet from going wrong. Nothing
spoilt this day, she watched so well; and when mamma gave the good-night
kiss, she said,--
"What shall I give my good little daughter, who has been gentle, obedient,
and busy all day?"
"I want a white kitty, with blue eyes, and a pink ribbon on its neck,"
"I'll try and find one. Now go to bed, deary, and happy dreams!" said
mamma, with many kisses on the rosy cheeks, and the smile that was a
May was so busy thinking about the kitty and the good day that she forgot
the box till she heard a little "Mew, mew!" under her pillow.
"Mercy me! what's that?" And she popped up her head to see.
Out came the box; off flew the lid, and there, on a red cushion, lay a
white kit about two inches long. May couldn't believe that it was alive
till it jumped out of its nest, stretched itself, and grew all at once
just the right size to play with and be pretty. Its eyes were blue, its
tail like a white plume, and a sweet pink bow was on its neck. It danced
all over the bed, ran up the curtains, hid under the clothes, nipped May's
toes, licked her face, patted her nose with its soft paw, and winked at
her in such a funny way that she laughed for joy at having such a dear
kitty. Presently, as if it knew that bed was the place to lie quiet in,
puss cuddled down in a little bunch and purred May to sleep.
"I suppose that darling kit will be gone like all the other things," said
May, as she waked up and looked round for her first pretty gift.
No; there was the lovely thing sitting in the sun among the flower-pots,
washing her face and getting ready for play. What a fine frolic they had;
and how surprised every one was to see just the pussy May wanted! They
supposed it came as kitties often come; and May never told them it was a
fairy present, because she had promised not to. She was so happy with
little puss that she was good all day; and when she went to bed she
"I wish I had a dog to play with darling Snowdrop, and run with me when I
go to walk."
"Bow, wow, wow!" came from under the pillow; and out of the box trotted a
curly black dog, with long ears, a silver collar, and such bright, kind
eyes May was not a bit afraid of him, but loved him at once, and named him
Floss, he was so soft and silky. Pussy liked him too; and when May was
sleepy they both snuggled down in the same basket like two good babies,
and went to by-low.
"Well, I never! What shall we find next?" said Nurse, when she saw the dog
in the morning.
"Perhaps it will be an elephant, to fill the whole house, and scare you
out of your wits," laughed May, dancing about with Snowdrop chasing her
bare toes, while Floss shook and growled over her shoes as if they were
"If your cousin John wants to give you any more animals, I wish he'd send
a pony to take you to school, and save my old legs the pain of trotting
after you," said Nurse; for May did have a rich cousin who was very fond
of her, and often gave her nice things.
"Perhaps he will," laughed May, much tickled with the idea that it was a
fairy, and not Cousin John, who sent the cunning little creatures to her.
But she didn't get the pony that night; for in the afternoon her mother
told her not to sit on the lawn, because it was damp, and May did not
mind, being busy with a nice story. So when she took up her box, a loud
sneeze seemed to blow the lid off, and all she saw was a bit of red
"What is this for?" she asked, much disappointed; and as if to answer, the
strip of flannel wrapped itself round her neck.
"There! my throat _is_ sore, and I _am_ hoarse. I wonder how
that fairy knew I sat on the damp grass. I'm so sorry; for I did want a
pony, and might have had it if I'd only minded," said May, angry with
herself for spoiling all her fun.
It _was_ spoilt; for she had such a cold next day she couldn't go out
at all, but had to take medicine and keep by the fire, while the other
children had a lovely picnic.
"I won't wish for anything to-night; I don't deserve a present, I was so
disobedient. But I _have_ tried to be patient," said May, feeling for
The fairy had not forgotten her, and there was a beautiful picture-book,
full of new, nice stories printed in colored ink.
"How splendid to read to-morrow while I'm shut up!" she said, and went to
sleep very happily.
All the next day she enjoyed the pretty pictures and funny tales, and
never complained or fretted at all, but was so much better the doctor said
she could go out to-morrow, if it was fine.
"Now I will wish for the pony," said May, in her bed. But there was
nothing in the box except a little red-silk rope, like a halter. She did
not know what to do with it that night, but she did the next morning; for
just as she was dressed her brother called from the garden,--
"May, look out and see what we found in the stable. None of us can catch
him, so do come and see if you can; your name is on the card tied to his
May looked, and there was a snow-white pony racing about the yard as if he
was having a fine frolic. Then she knew the halter was for him, and ran
down to catch him. The minute she appeared, the pony went to her and put
his nose in her hand, neighing, as if he said,--
"This is my little mistress; I will mind her and serve her well."
May was delighted, and very proud when the pony let her put on the saddle
and bridle that lay in the barn all ready to use. She jumped up and rode
gayly down the road; and Will and mamma and all the maids and Floss and
Snowdrop ran to see the pretty sight. The children at school were much
excited when she came trotting up, and all wanted to ride Prince. He was
very gentle, and every one had a ride; but May had the best fun, for she
could go every day for long trots by the carriage when mamma and Will
drove out. A blue habit and a hat with a long feather were bought that
afternoon; and May was so happy and contented at night that she said to
herself as she lay in bed,--
"I'll wish for something for Will now, and see if I get it. I don't want
any more presents yet; I've had my share, and I'd love to give away to
other people who have no fairy box."
So she wished for a nice boat, and in the box lay a key with the name
"Water Lily" on it. She guessed what it meant, and in the morning told her
brother to come to the river and see what she had for him. There lay a
pretty green and white boat, with cushioned seats, a sail all spread, and
at the mast-head a little flag flying in the wind, with the words "Water
Lily" on it in gold letters.
Will was so surprised and pleased to find that it was his, he turned heels
over head on the grass, kissed May, and skipped into his boat, crying,
"All aboard!" as if eager to try it at once.
May followed, and they sailed away down the lovely river, white with real
lilies, while the blackbirds sang in the green meadows on either side, and
boys and girls stopped on the bridges to see them pass.
After that May kept on trying to be good, and wishing for things for
herself and other people, till she forgot how to be naughty, and was the
sweetest little girl in the world. Then there was no need of fairies to
help her; and one night the box was not under the pillow.
"Well, I've had my share of pretty things, and must learn to do without.
I'm glad I tried; for now it is easy to be good, and I don't need to be
rewarded," said May, as she fell asleep, quite happy and contented, though
she did wish she could have seen the fairy just once.
Next morning the first thing she saw was a beautiful bracelet, shining on
the table; and while she stood admiring it, she heard the little voice
"Here is the bracelet
For good little May
To wear on her arm
By night and by day.
When it shines like the sun,
All's going well;
But when you are bad,
A sharp prick will tell.
Farewell, little girl,
For now we must part.
Make a fairy-box, dear,
Of your own happy heart;
And take out for all
Sweet gifts every day,
Till all the year round
Is like beautiful May."
As the last words were sung, right before her eyes she saw a tiny creature
swinging on the rose that stood there in a vase,--a lovely elf, with wings
like a butterfly, a gauzy dress, and a star on her forehead. She smiled,
and waved her hand as she slowly rose and fluttered away into the
sunshine, till she vanished from sight, leaving May with the magic
bracelet on her arm, and the happy thought that at last she had
_really_ seen a fairy.
[Illustration: Johnny leaned forward to enjoy the long-desired "peek."]
A HOLE IN THE WALL.
If any one had asked Johnny Morris who were his best friends, he would
"The sun and the wind, next to mother."
Johnny lived in a little court that led off from one of the busiest
streets in the city,--a noisy street, where horse-car bells tinkled and
omnibuses rumbled all day long, going and coming from several great depots
near by. The court was a dull place, with only two or three shabby houses
in it, and a high blank wall at the end.
The people who hurried by were too busy to do more than to glance at the
lame boy who sat in the sunshine against the wall, or to guess that there
was a picture-gallery and a circulating-library in the court. But Johnny
had both, and took such comfort in them that he never could be grateful
enough to the wind that brought him his books and pictures, nor to the sun
that made it possible for him to enjoy them in the open air, far more than
richer folk enjoy their fine galleries and libraries.
A bad fall, some months before the time this story begins, did something
to Johnny's back which made his poor legs nearly useless, and changed the
lively, rosy boy into a pale cripple. His mother took in fine washing, and
worked hard to pay doctors' bills and feed and clothe her boy, who could
no longer run errands, help with the heavy tubs, or go to school. He could
only pick out laces for her to iron, lie on his bed in pain for hours,
and, each fair day, hobble out to sit in a little old chair between the
water-butt and the leaky tin boiler in which he kept his library.
But he was a happy boy, in spite of poverty and pain; and the day a great
gust came blowing fragments of a gay placard and a dusty newspaper down
the court to his feet, was the beginning of good fortune for patient
Johnny. There was a theatre in the street beyond, and other pictured bits
found their way to him; for the frolicsome wind liked to whisk the papers
around the corner, and chase them here and there till they settled under
the chair or flew wildly over the wall.
Faces, animals, people, and big letters, all came to cheer the boy, who
was never tired of collecting these waifs and strays; cutting out the big
pictures to paste on the wall with the leavings of mother's starch, and
the smaller in the scrap-book he made out of stout brown wrappers or
newspapers, when he had read the latter carefully. Soon it was a very gay
wall; for mother helped, standing on a chair, to put the large pictures
up, when Johnny had covered all the space he could reach. The books were
laid carefully away in the boiler, after being smoothly ironed out and
named to suit Johnny's fancy by pasting letters on the back. This was the
circulating library; for not only did the papers whisk about the court to
begin with, but the books they afterward made went the rounds among the
neighbors till they were worn out.
The old cobbler next door enjoyed reading the anecdotes on Sunday when he
could not work; the pale seamstress upstairs liked to look over
advertisements of the fine things which she longed for; and Patsey Flynn,
the newsboy, who went by each day to sell his papers at the station, often
paused to look at the play-bills,--for he adored the theatre, and
entertained Johnny with descriptions of the splendors there to be beheld,
till he felt as if he had really been, and had known all the famous
actors, from Humpty Dumpty to the great Salvini.
Now and then a flock of dirty children would stray into the court and ask
to see the "pretty picters." Then Johnny was a proud and happy boy; for,
armed with a clothes-pole, he pointed out and explained the beauties of
his gallery, feeling that he was a public benefactor when the poor babies
thanked him warmly, and promised to come again and bring all the nice
papers they could pick up.
These were Johnny's pleasures: but he had two sorrows,--one, a very real
one, his aching back; and the other, a boyish longing to climb the wall
and see what was on the other side, for it seemed a most wonderful and
delightful place to the poor child, shut up in that dismal court, with no
playmates and few comforts.
He amused himself with imagining how it looked over there, and nearly
every night added some new charm to this unseen country, when his mother
told him fairy tales to get him to sleep. He peopled it with the dear old
characters all children know and love. The white cat that sat on the wall
was Puss in Boots to him, or Whittington's good friend. Blue-beard's wives
were hidden in the house of whose upper windows the boy could just catch
glimpses. Red Riding-hood met the wolf in the grove of chestnuts that
rustled over there; and Jack's Beanstalk grew up just such a wall as that,
he was sure.
But the story he liked best was the "Sleeping Beauty in the Wood;" for he
was sure some lovely creature lived in that garden, and he longed to get
in to find and play with her. He actually planted a bean in a bit of damp
earth behind the water-barrel, and watched it grow, hoping for as strong a
ladder as Jack's. But the vine grew very slowly, and Johnny was so
impatient that he promised Patsey his best book "for his ownty-donty," if
he would climb up and report what was to be seen in that enchanted garden.
"Faix, and I will, thin." And up went good-natured Pat, after laying an
old board over the hogshead to stand on; for there were spikes all along
the top of the wall, and only cats and sparrows could walk there.
Alas for Johnny's eager hopes, and alas for Pat's Sunday best! The board
broke, and splash went the climber, with a wild Irish howl that startled
Johnny half out of his wits and brought both Mrs. Morris and the cobbler
to the rescue.
After this sad event Pat kept away for a time in high dudgeon, and Johnny
was more lonely than ever. But he was a cheery little soul, so he was
grateful for what joys he had, and worked away at his wall,--for the March
winds had brought him many treasures, and after April rains were over, May
sunshine made the court warm enough for him to be out nearly all day.
"I'm so sorry Pat is mad, 'cause he saw this piece and told me about it,
and he'd like to help me put up these pictures," said Johnny to himself,
one breezy morning, as he sat examining a big poster which the wind had
sent flying into his lap a few minutes before.
The play was "Monte Cristo," and the pictures represented the hero getting
out of prison by making holes in the wall, among other remarkable
"This is a jolly red one! Now, where will I put it to show best and not
spoil the other beauties?"
As he spoke, Johnny turned his chair around and surveyed his gallery with
as much pride and satisfaction as if it held all the wonders of art.
It really _was_ quite splendid; for every sort of picture shone in
the sun,--simpering ladies, tragic scenes, circus parades, labels from tin
cans, rosy tomatoes, yellow peaches, and purple plums, funny
advertisements, and gay bills of all kinds. None were perfect, but they
were arranged with care; and the effect was very fine, Johnny thought.
Presently his eyes wandered from these treasures to the budding bushes
that nodded so tantalizingly over the wall. A grape-vine ran along the
top, trying to hide the sharp spikes; lilacs tossed their purple plumes
above it, and several tall chestnuts rose over all, making green tents
with their broad leaves, where spires of blossom began to show like
candles on a mammoth Christmas tree. Sparrows were chirping gayly
everywhere; the white cat, with a fresh blue bow, basked on the coping of
the wall, and from the depths of the enchanted garden came a sweet voice
"And she bids you to come in,
With a dimple in your chin,
Billy boy, Billy boy."
Johnny smiled as he listened, and put his finger to the little dent in his
own chin, wishing the singer would finish this pleasing song. But she
never did, though he often heard that, as well as other childish ditties,
sung in the same gay voice, with bursts of laughter and the sound of
lively feet tripping up and down the boarded walks. Johnny longed
intensely to know who the singer was; for her music cheered his solitude,
and the mysterious sounds he heard in the garden increased his wonder and
his longing day by day.
Sometimes a man's voice called, "Fay, where are you?" and Johnny was sure
"Fay" was short for Fairy. Another voice was often heard talking in a
strange, soft language, full of exclamations and pretty sounds. A little
dog barked, and answered to the name Pippo. Canaries carolled, and some
elfish bird scolded, screamed, and laughed so like a human being, that
Johnny felt sure that magic of some sort was at work next door.
A delicious fragrance was now wafted over the wall as of flowers, and the
poor boy imagined untold loveliness behind that cruel wall, as he tended
the dandelions his mother brought him from the Common, when she had time
to stop and gather them; for he loved flowers dearly, and tried to make
them out of colored paper, since he could have no sweeter sort.
Now and then a soft, rushing sound excited his curiosity to such a pitch
that once he hobbled painfully up the court till he could see into the
trees; and once his eager eyes caught glimpses of a little creature, all
blue and white and gold, who peeped out from the green fans, and nodded,
and tried to toss him a cluster of the chestnut flowers. He stretched his
hands to her with speechless delight, forgetting his crutches, and would
have fallen if he had not caught by the shutter of a window so quickly
that he gave the poor back a sad wrench; and when he could look up again,
the fairy had vanished, and nothing was to be seen but the leaves dancing
in the wind.
Johnny dared not try this again for fear of a fall, and every step cost
him a pang; but he never forgot it, and was thinking of it as he sat
staring at the wall on that memorable May day.
"How I _should_ like to peek in and see just how it all really looks!
It sounds and smells so summery and nice in there. I know it must be
splendid. I say, Pussy, can't you tell a feller what you see?"
Johnny laughed as he spoke, and the white cat purred politely; for she
liked the boy who never threw stones at her, nor disturbed her naps. But
Puss could not describe the beauties of the happy hunting-ground below;
and, to console himself for the disappointment, Johnny went back to his
"Now, if this man in the play dug his way out through a wall ten feet
thick with a rusty nail and a broken knife, I don't see why I couldn't
pick away one brick and get a peek. It's all quiet in there now; here's a
good place, and nobody will know, if I stick a picture over the hole. And
I'll try it, I declare I will!"
Fired with the idea of acting Monte Cristo on a small scale, Johnny caught
up the old scissors in his lap, and began to dig out the mortar around a
brick already loose, and crumbling at the corners. His mother smiled at
his energy, then sighed and said, as she clapped her laces with a heavy
"Ah, poor dear, if he only had his health he'd make his way in the world.
But now he's like to find a blank wall before him while he lives, and none
to help him over."
Puss, in her white boots, sat aloft and looked on, wise as the cat in the
story, but offered no advice. The toad who lived behind the water-barrel
hopped under the few leaves of the struggling bean, like Jack waiting to
climb; and just then the noon bells began to ring as if they sang clear
"Turn again, Whittington, Lord Mayor of London."
So, cheered by his friends, Johnny scraped and dug vigorously till the old
brick fell out, showing another behind it. Only pausing to take breath, he
caught up his crutch and gave two or three hearty pokes, which soon
cleared the way and let the sunshine stream through, while the wind tossed
the lilacs like triumphal banners, and the jolly sparrows chirped,--
"Hail, the conquering hero comes!"
Rather scared by his unexpected success, the boy sat silent for a moment
to see what would happen. But all was still; and presently, with a beating
heart, Johnny leaned forward to enjoy the long-desired "peek." He could
not see much; but that little increased his curiosity and delight, for it
seemed like looking into fairy-land, after the dust and noise and dingy
houses of the court.
A bed of splendid tulips tossed their gay garments in the middle of a
grass-plot; a strange and brilliant bird sat dressing its feathers on a
golden cage; a little white dog dozed in the sun; and on a red carpet
under the trees lay the Princess, fast asleep.
"It's all right," said Johnny, with a long sigh of pleasure; "that's the
Sleeping Beauty, sure enough. There's the blue gown, the white fur-cloak
sweeping round, the pretty hair, and--yes--there's the old nurse,
spinning and nodding, just as she did in the picture-book mother got me
when I cried because I couldn't go to see the play."
This last discovery really did bewilder Johnny, and make him believe that
fairy tales _might_ be true, after all, for how could he know that
the strange woman was an Italian servant, in her native dress, with a
distaff in her hand? After pausing a moment, to rub his eyes, he took
another look, and made fresh discoveries by twisting his head about. A
basket of oranges stood near the Princess, a striped curtain hung from a
limb of the tree to keep the wind off, and several books fluttered their
pictured leaves temptingly before Johnny's longing eyes.
"Oh, if I could only go in and eat 'em and read 'em and speak to 'em and
see all the splendid things!" thought the poor boy, as he looked from one
delight to another, and felt shut out from all. "I can't go and wake her
like the Prince did, but I do wish she'd get up and do something, now I
_can_ see. I daren't throw a stone, it might hit some one, or holler,
it might scare her. Pussy won't help, and the sparrows are too busy
scolding one another. I know! I'll fly a kite over, and that will please
her any way. Don't believe she has kites; girls never do."
Eager to carry out his plan, Johnny tied a long string to his gayest
poster, and then fastening it to the pole with which he sometimes fished
in the water-cask, held it up to catch the fresh breezes blowing down the
court. His good friend, the wind, soon caught the idea, and with a strong
breath sent the red paper whisking over the wall, to hang a moment on the
trees and then drop among the tulips, where its frantic struggles to
escape waked the dog, and set him to racing and barking, as Johnny
hurriedly let the string go, and put his eye to his peep-hole.
The eyes of the Princess were wide open now, and she clapped her hands
when Pippo brought the gay picture for her to see; while the old woman,
with a long yawn, went away, carrying her distaff, like a gun, over her
"She likes it! I'm so glad. Wish I had some more to send over. This will
come off, I'll poke it through, and maybe she will see it."
Very much excited, Johnny recklessly tore from the wall his most cherished
picture, a gay flower-piece, just put up; and folding it, he thrust it
through the hole and waited to see what followed.
Nothing but a rustle, a bark, and a queer croak from the splendid bird,
which set the canaries to trilling sweetly.
"She don't see, maybe she will hear," said Johnny. And he began to whistle
like a mocking-bird; for this was his one accomplishment, and he was proud
Presently he heard a funny burst of laughter from the parrot, and then the
"No, Polly, you can't sing like that bird. I wonder where he is? Among the
bushes over there, I think. Come, Pippo, let us go and find him."
"Now she's coming!" And Johnny grew red in the face trying to give his
best trills and chirrups.
Nearer and nearer came the steps, the lilacs rustled as if shaken, and
presently the roll of paper vanished. A pause, and then the little voice
exclaimed, in a tone of great surprise,--
"Why, there's a hole! I never saw it before. Oh! I can see the street. How
nice! how nice!"
"She likes the hole! I wonder if she will like me?" And, emboldened by
these various successes, Johnny took another peep. This was the most
delicious one of all; for he looked right into a great blue eye, with
glimpses of golden hair above, a little round nose in the middle, and red
lips below. It was like a flash of sunshine, and Johnny winked, as if
dazzled; for the eye sparkled, the nose sniffed daintily, and the pretty
mouth broke into a laugh as the voice cried out delightedly,--
"I see some one! Who are you? Come and tell me!"
"I'm Johnny Morris," answered the boy, quite trembling with pleasure.
"Did you make this nice hole?"
"I just poked a brick, and it fell out."
"Papa won't mind. Is that your bird?"
"No; it's me. I whistled."
"It's very pretty. Do it again," commanded the voice, as if used to give
Johnny obeyed; and when he paused, out of breath, a small hand came
through the hole, grasping as many lilies of the valley as it could hold,
and the Princess graciously expressed her pleasure by saying,--
"I like it; you shall do it again, by and by. Here are some flowers for
you. Now we will talk. Are you a nice boy?"
This was a poser; and Johnny answered meekly, with his nose luxuriously
buried in the lovely flowers,--
"Not very,--I'm lame; I can't play like other fellers."
"_Porverino_!" sighed the little voice, full of pity; and, in a
moment, three red-and-yellow tulips fell at Johnny's feet, making him feel
as if he really had slipped into fairy-land through that delightful hole.
"Oh, thank you! Aren't they just elegant? I never see such beauties,"
stammered the poor boy, grasping his treasures as if he feared they might
"You shall have as many as you like. Nanna will scold, but papa won't
mind. Tell me more. What do you do over there?" asked the child, eagerly.
"Nothing but paste pictures and make books, when I don't ache too bad. I
used to help mother; but I got hurt, and I can't do much now," answered
the boy, ashamed to mention how many laces he patiently picked or clapped,
since it was all he could do to help.
"If you like pictures, you shall come and see mine some day. I do a great
many. Papa shows me how. His are splendid. Do you draw or paint yours?"
"I only cut 'em out of papers, and stick 'em on this wall or put 'em in
scrap-books. I can't draw, and I haven't got no paints," answered Johnny.
"You should say 'haven't any paints.' I will come and see you some day;
and if I like you, I will let you have my old paint-box. Do you want it?"
"Guess I do!"
"I think I _shall_ like you; so I'll bring it when I come. Do you
"Awfully, sometimes. Have to lay down all day, and can't do a thing."
"Do you cry?"
"No! I'm too big for that. I whistle."
"I _know_ I shall like you, because you are brave!" cried the
impetuous voice, with its pretty accent; and then an orange came tumbling
through the hole, as if the new acquaintance longed to do something to
help the "ache."
"Isn't that a rouser! I do love 'em, but mother can't afford 'em often."
And Johnny took one delicious taste on the spot.
"Then I shall give you many. We have loads at home, much finer than these.
Ah, you should see our garden there!"
"Where do you live?" Johnny ventured to ask; for there was a homesick
sound to the voice as it said those last words.
"In Rome. Here we only stay a year, while papa arranges his affairs; then
we go back, and I am happy."
"I should think you'd be happy in there. It looks real splendid to me, and
I've been longing to see it ever since I could come out."
"It's a dull place to me. I like better to be where it's always warm, and
people are more beautiful than here. Are _you_ beautiful?"
"What queer questions she does ask!" And poor Johnny was so perplexed he
could only stammer, with a laugh,--
"I guess not. Boys don't care for looks."
"Peep, and let me see. I like pretty persons," commanded the voice.
"Don't she order round?" thought Johnny, as he obeyed. But he liked it,
and showed such a smiling face at the peep-hole, that Princess Fay was
pleased to say, after a long look at him,--
"No, you are not beautiful; but your eyes are bright, and you look
pleasant, so I don't mind the freckles on your nose and the whiteness of
your face. I think you are good. I am sorry for you, and I shall lend you
a book to read when the pain comes."
"I couldn't wait for that if I had a book. I do _love_ so to read!"
And Johnny laughed out from sheer delight at the thought of a new book;
for he seldom got one, being too poor to buy them, and too helpless to
enjoy the free libraries of the city.
"Then you shall have it _now_." And there was another quick rush in
the garden, followed by the appearance of a fat little book, slowly pushed
through the hole in the wall.
"This is the only one that will pass. You will like Hans Andersen's fairy
tales, I know. Keep it as long as you please. I have many more."
"You're so good! I wish I had something for you," said the boy, quite
overcome by this sweet friendliness.
"Let me see one of _your_ books. They will be new to me. I'm tired of
Quick as a flash, off went the cover of the old boiler, and out came half-
a-dozen of Johnny's best works, to be crammed through the wall, with the
"Keep 'em all; they're not good for much, but they're the best I've got.
I'll do some prettier ones as soon as I can find more nice pictures and
"They look very interesting. I thank you. I shall go and read them now,
and then come and talk again. Addio, Giovanni."
Thus ended the first interview of little Pyramus and Thisbe through the
hole in the wall, while puss sat up above and played moonshine with her
After that day a new life began for Johnny, and he flourished like a poor
little plant that has struggled out of some dark corner into the sunshine.
All sorts of delightful things happened, and good times really seemed to
have come. The mysterious papa made no objection to the liberties taken
with his wall, being busy with his own affairs, and glad to have his
little girl happy. Old Nanna, being more careful, came to see the new
neighbors, and was disarmed at once by the affliction of the boy and the
gentle manners of the mother. She brought all the curtains of the house
for Mrs. Morris to do up, and in her pretty broken English praised
Johnny's gallery and library, promising to bring Fay to see him some day.
Meantime the little people prattled daily together, and all manner of
things came and went between them. Flowers, fruit, books, and bonbons kept
Johnny in a state of bliss, and inspired him with such brilliant
inventions that the Princess never knew what agreeable surprise would come
next. Astonishing kites flew over the wall, and tissue balloons exploded
in the flower-beds. All the birds of the air seemed to live in that court;
for the boy whistled and piped till he was hoarse, because she liked it.
The last of the long-hoarded cents came out of his tin bank to buy paper
and pictures for the gay little books he made for her. His side of the
wall was ravaged that hers might be adorned; and, as the last offering his
grateful heart could give, he poked the toad through the hole, to live
among the lilies and eat the flies that began to buzz about her Highness
when she came to give her orders to her devoted subjects.
She always called the lad Giovanni, because she thought it a prettier name
than John; and she was never tired of telling stories, asking questions,
and making plans. The favorite one was what they would do when Johnny came
to see her, as she had been promised he should when papa was not too busy
to let them enjoy the charms of the studio; for Fay was a true artist's
child, and thought nothing so lovely as pictures. Johnny thought so, too,
and dreamed of the happy day when he should go and see the wonders his
little friend described so well.
"I think it will be to-morrow; for papa has a lazy fit coming on, and then
he always plays with me and lets me rummage where I like, while he goes
out or smokes in the garden. So be ready; and if he says you can come, I
will have the flag up early and you can hurry."
These agreeable remarks were breathed into Johnny's willing ear about a
fortnight after the acquaintance began; and he hastened to promise, adding
soberly, a minute after,--
"Mother says she's afraid it will be too much for me to go around and up
steps, and see new things; for I get tired so easy, and then the pain
comes on. But I don't care how I ache if I can only see the pictures--and
"Won't you ever be any better? Nanna thinks you might."
"So does mother, if we had money to go away in the country, and eat nice
things; and have doctors. But we can't; so it's no use worrying." And
Johnny gave a great sigh.
"I wish papa was rich, then he would give you money. He works hard to make
enough to go back to Italy, so I cannot ask him; but perhaps I can sell
_my_ pictures also, and get a little. Papa's friends often offer me
sweets for kisses; I will have money instead, and that will help. Yes, I
shall do it." And Fay clapped her hands decidedly.
"Don't you mind about it. I'm going to learn to mend shoes. Mr. Pegget
says he'll teach me. That doesn't need legs, and he gets enough to live on
"It isn't pretty work. Nanna can teach you to braid straw as she did at
home; that is easy and nice, and the baskets sell very well, she says. I
shall speak to her about it, and you can try to-morrow when you come."
"I will. Do you really think I _can_ come, then?" And Johnny stood up
to try his legs; for he dreaded the long walk, as it seemed to him.
"I will go at once and ask papa."
Away flew Fay, and soon came back with a glad "Yes!" that sent Johnny
hobbling in to tell his mother, and beg her to mend the elbows of his only
jacket; for, suddenly, his old clothes looked so shabby he feared to show
himself to the neighbors he so longed to see.
"Hurrah! I'm really going to-morrow. And you, too, mammy dear," cried the
boy, waving his crutch so vigorously that he slipped and fell.