Dick and His Cat and Other Tales
Author: Various
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3. One day I went down to the table and found one of the gayest flies I had ever known, lying on his back upon the cloth.

4. He was cold and stiff. Nearly all the friends I had made that summer were dying or dead around me, or else they had crept into corners out of sight.

5. I knew that something must be done, or I too should one day be found lying on my back with my legs in the air, and Thomas would sweep me away, as he did the other flies.

6. I made up my mind to choose the best place I could, and there seemed none better than the old red curtain from which I had first come out into that pleasant room.

7. I therefore ran about on the wall behind it for some time, looking for a proper hole. I found just the nook I wanted, where a bit of the wall paper was peeling off.

8. I had hardly crept into it when I was fast asleep. To my good sense and quickness I owe my life. If I had not been a clever fly, I should have died, I dare say, like the rest.

9. As it is, here I am, alive and merry. When I woke the next warm spring day, there was little Rose and Mr. and Mrs. Sutton sitting at breakfast just as they had done when first I saw them.

10. Rose was perhaps a little taller, and the bald place on her grand-father's head may have been a wee bit wider.

11. But the jam was just as good, the honey and sugar as sweet, and the white cap just as clean and nice to sit on. The flowers in the garden, too, smell as fresh as ever—still I prefer the jam.

12. If I might say one word at parting, it would be this. Do not forget that there is room in this big wide world for a poor little fly as well as for boys and girls.

13. And if you enjoy life and like a good game at play,—why, so do we! So let us have our harmless games and do our tiny bit of work for you in peace.

* * * * *

Write: As soon as it felt cold the fly went to sleep. He did not wake up till the next spring. There is room in the world for flies as well as for boys and girls.

Questions: 1. What did the fly now begin to feel? 2. What did he see on the table? 3. Where did he hide himself? 4. When did he wake from his sleep? 5. What change did he see in Rose? 6. What does the fly say as a parting word?



1. There was once a young hen. She had led a very quiet life in a village until she was nearly one year old. Then, all at once, she found that people began to make a great fuss about her.

2. You will never guess why, and so, as I think you may like to hear all about her, I will begin at once and tell you. Betty,—that was the name of this hen,—was one of ten fluffy little yellow chicks.

3. She was dressed in soft bright down when she first crept out of her egg-shell. She had a sharp beak and bright clever black eyes.

4. One morning, as her mother was strutting about the yard with all her children behind her, crying "cluck, cluck!" as she scratched up bits for them among the straw, Gip, the little pet dog, ran up.

5. He was only a puppy, and he meant nothing but play. Perhaps he mistook the small round chicks for a lot of little balls rolling about. At any rate he snatched up Betty, who was the finest of them, in his mouth.

6. With a roguish look at their fat old mother, he began to scamper off with her. "Cackle, cackle!" screamed the old hen. "Put the baby down this moment, sir!" And the mother flew at Gip before he had gone six yards.

7. She jumped upon his back, and began to flap his head with her wings as hard as she could, while she made digs at his back with her beak.

8. The pretty dog, finding himself treated in this way, soon dropped the chicken out of his mouth. Little Betty rolled out from between his white teeth and fell flop! to the ground.

9. She was not a bit hurt, for she toddled back to join her brothers and sisters, who were all crying "peep! peep!" in a great fright. They were afraid of seeing her eaten up alive.

10. But though her child was none the worse, the mother-hen began to batter and beat poor Gip as if he had maimed it for life. And she never forgave the little dog after that day.

11. When she saw him coming, even at a distance, she pushed out her head, stuck all her feathers on end, and spread out her tail like a bush.

12. Perhaps it was the dreadful fright which Betty felt while she was in the jaws of Gip, which made her so grave and thoughtful a chicken as she soon became. She walked better than the rest.

13. She held herself upright, and her mother was never heard to say, "heads up!" as she did to the other chickens. Her mistress said one morning that Betty was "the pride of the brood."

14. Her two brothers were very greedy chickens, I am sorry to say. And as they grew older, they began to fight sadly for each worm or grain of corn which they found.

15. Though Betty and the rest of the chickens grew up white as snow, one of these young cocks had a speckled breast, and the other had two black feathers in his tail. This spoilt their look.

16. They were both taken away one day by a strange man, in spite of all that their mother could say. She bustled up and tried to rescue her sons. Although they were both in the habit of eating too much, she loved them in spite of all.

* * * * *

Write: A little chick was picked up by a puppy. He did not kill it, but put it down when the hen came after him. The chicken was not hurt.

Questions: 1. How many brothers and sisters had Betty? 2. What did the puppy do one day? 3. What did the old hen do? 4. What did Betty's mistress call her? 5. What sort of chickens were the two brothers? 6. What became of them?


1. Time passed on, and Betty grew fast in size and beauty. Her mistress made up her mind to send her to the Poultry Show at the Crystal Palace.

2. The cook and all who saw her said that Betty ought to go, her beauty was so great. She was quite a perfect pattern of what a white hen of her sort ought to be.

3. She would be certain to win a first prize of the first class, they all thought. Poor Betty! From the day that it was settled for her to go to the Poultry Show her troubles began.

4. When first it was made known in the yard she became rather vain, in spite of all that her mother could say. The fact was that the old hen felt proud of it herself, and Betty knew it.

5. She would be always pluming the feathers of her daughter, cackling loudly, and calling to strange chickens to come and admire the lovely back and smooth wings of her child.

6. The young cocks from next door sat on the railings to chatter, and even forgot to quarrel. They stared at Miss Betty as she walked with her beak in the air, and they made rude remarks.

7. "Why don't you grow a pair of spurs and learn to crow?" they called out. When Mrs. Dorking, Betty's mother, heard these speeches from the young cocks she flew into a great passion.

8. "I will set the dog at you, you young scamps, if you do not be off this moment," cried she. So they dropped off one by one, for they did not know that the old hen was not able to carry out her threat.

9. As Betty became vain she became idle too. Instead of making her mother and sisters happy with her pretty playful ways, and making herself useful and pleasant at home, she grew pettish.

10. And instead of working to help earn her own living, by catching flies, scratching up worms, and watching under the old oak tree for cock-chafers, she would lose patience, and call loudly to the cook to bring her food.

11. And, strange to say, the cook would come too, and, not content with waiting on Betty, would drive away each fowl and chick that came up to share what she had brought.

12. She let none of them have a bit till Betty had eaten all that she pleased. Was not this enough to spoil any young hen? Betty was fast getting pert. All this was because of her good looks and her five toes.

13. You will see after a while that she would have been more happy if she had been born ugly, or with four toes, like her sisters.

* * * * *

Write: Betty was to go to a show. She grew vain when she heard this. And as she became vain she grew idle too. She was spoilt.

Questions: 1. Where did Betty's mistress think of sending her? 2. What did they all think that she would get at the show? 3. What made her grow proud? 4. What did she do instead of earning her living? 5. What did the young cocks say? 6. What answer did the old hen make to them?


1. After a little more time had passed, Betty was taken out of the yard. They did not let her stay with her sisters and the other fowls any longer, but she was placed in a large room by herself.

2. Here she was fed on all sorts of dainties. She had chestnuts, minced liver, new milk, and fresh lettuce. Life was now a feast to Betty, but she found it rather dull.

3. "I would rather have one worm or a spider," said she, with a sigh. How she longed for a good scamper with her sisters! "I am sure that we should never squabble now," said the poor, lonely little thing.

4. But this time alone did not last long. One morning a worse thing was done to her. She was taken by the cook and plunged into a warm bath. It was not of the least use for her to kick and scream.

5. The cook did not care. She rubbed Betty gently with a soaped flannel, talking to her in a soothing way all the time, and then set her down before the fire to dry.

6. But Betty's fright was soon over, and she was not at all hurt, of course. Yet she might have caught her death of cold, and all this because of the show! that her feathers might look fine.

7. If the cook had let Betty alone to clean them, she would have done it better. The soap was bad for them, so was the water.

8. Betty felt very pleased when the cook went to call all the other servants. She wished them to admire the snowy whiteness of her feathers. "If she does not win a first prize I will eat my head!" said the cook.

9. "You will have a fine big meal, then," said the housemaid, "and I should not wonder if you have not spoilt her feathers for ever by washing them. You never ought to have done it, and the poor thing may get ill."

10. But thanks to the care taken of her, Betty did not get ill, though the nasty soap made her feel sick; and the cook saw that she had made a mistake in washing Betty.

11. "All creatures can clean themselves," said the housemaid, "leastways all birds can, at any rate, and we do harm by meddling."

12. "I think we ought to keep her under a wash-tub or in a basket until the day for the show," said the cook. "She will be sure to get dirty again in that barn."

13. When a nice new hen-coop was turned over her, Betty began to think about her mother. "What a horrid time she must have spent when we were little, and she had to stay in a coop!" said the young hen to herself.

14. "And yet I think that I am even worse off than she was, for I have to stay here without any little chickens to amuse me, or to run under my wings."

* * * * *

Write: The young hen was washed. It was bad for her and made her feathers rough. She grew tired of being shut up though she was well fed.

Questions: 1. Where was Betty placed alone? 2. What did she say to herself about her food? 3. What did the cook do to her? 4. What did the housemaid tell her? 5. Where was Betty put next? 6. What did she think about in the coop?


1. "No, I have nothing to amuse me," said Betty, "but the thought of how handsome I am. It is nice to think of that, and yet I am almost tired of hearing it."

2. Betty would have given one of the best feathers in her tail for a good race after a beetle, or for a good scratch for grubs down by the manure heap, which was the best place.

3. But she had hardly yet begun her trials. On the next day, the coachman took her in a hamper to the show. Betty screamed as she was put into it, for she did not like it at all.

4. "I will behave well, no matter what happens," said poor Betty. But she felt afraid of the noise, the pushing, and the crowd of people and poultry at the Palace.

5. There were Spanish cocks and hens, who were lofty and silent. There were little silver bantams who chuckled. Some hens were tiny dwarfs like the bantams, others were giants like the Cochin China fowls.

6. There were gamecocks, too, looking like fierce soldiers. Among all the smart poultry Betty found herself passed over and called "only a pullet."

7. All the other fowls were called "loves" and "dears," while hardly any people took notice of her plain white dress and rosy head-dress. But one gentle lady came by, who stopped near Betty.

8. She pointed Betty out to a child who was with her, saying that she was one of the best hens of her kind which she had ever seen.

9. The lady added, "No fowls lay better eggs than these pretty Dorkings.

"They make the best mothers, they are English in their habits, and therefore stronger than birds from foreign lands."

10. The air at the Crystal Palace was hot and close. Betty began to wish herself at home again. She could not eat, though food was there.

11. And though her feathers were all ruffled and in a mess, she did not feel able to put them to rights. Yet she knew that she ought to tidy herself.

12. One of the hens near began to mock at her. She said with a pretence of being polite: "May I put your tail tidy for you, madam, since it seems too much trouble for you to do it yourself?"

13. And then the sly thing gave a tweak and pulled out Betty's longest feather.

14. A hen near gave a dab with her beak at Betty's pink comb, and made it bleed. And though she said after that she did not mean to hurt her, that did not heal the sore place.

* * * * *

Write: At the show Betty found it hot and close. She did not care to eat. The other hens played tricks with her. She wished herself at home.

Questions: 1. When Betty was in the coop what did she long for? 2. When she got to the show what did she see? 3. How did she feel? 4. How did the other hens behave to Betty? 5. What did the lady say about her? 6. What happened to her comb?


1. After a time Betty felt better. The other fowls left off teasing her. They had only been in rough play, and did not mean to worry her too much.

2. She dipped her bill into a dish of water which was there, picked a bit of lettuce, and said to herself that she would make the best of a bad job.

3. Betty was still as vain of having five toes on each foot as any fine young lady could be of wearing new shoes. She was always holding up one foot or else the other. No doubt she meant to show off.

4. There was a great cackling and noise in some of the pens after a while, and Betty heard that the judges were coming. These were the people who were to give the prizes, and she felt now more vain than ever.

5. She made up her mind to present her foot to the judges, and even to push it out between the wires of her pen, as far as she could. "They cannot help giving me a prize when they see my five toes!" she said to herself.

6. But just as she had thrust her toe right out between the wires, after much trouble, she heard an odd voice from the next pen say, "Hullo, what's that? Is it a grub?"

7. A queer big bird with a long neck had caught sight of the foot, and he gave a great snap at it as he saw it move. Betty tried to pull her toes back, but the big bird would not let go.

8. At last it ended by his pecking off the nail and first joint of poor Betty's middle claw. She was in much pain and screamed loudly.

9. Up rushed a man, the keeper, who took Betty out in a great hurry. "We must have no wounded or sick birds here for the judges to see," he said.

10. And he put poor Betty quickly away into one of the pens which had been used for bringing fowls to the show. It was empty but for two or three poor hens who were either dead or dying.

11. These were fowls which had been hurt on the way, by being shaken or roughly used. They had been put into baskets too small for them, or had been badly used in some other way. It is bad for birds to travel.

12. Here Betty sank down on the ground. At first she could do nothing but think of her poor toe; she pushed it into some soft stuff which lay on the floor, and this stopped the bleeding.

13. How sad she felt! All her fine hopes of a prize were gone. She was a cripple now for life, and no one would care for her fine looks any more.

14. "I wonder what is the use of shows?" thought Betty. "Why do people want other people to tell them that their cocks and hens are pretty?"

15. After the bustle and fuss of the day were over, one of the keepers came with a boy to look after the dead and dying.

16. "She was as great a beauty as ever I did see," said the man. "A perfect pullet!—that she was. But, dear me! she is not perfect now that her toe is gone.

17. "She is good for nothing now but to lay eggs and bring up chicks. She was worth a couple of pounds; now she would only fetch a couple of shillings.

18. "Here, Jack, tie a bit of rag round the stump, and give her food and water in that spare box. I cannot bear to wring her neck, as we are forced to do with many, to put them out of pain."

* * * * *

Write: Poor Betty had her toe bitten off. She was put into a place out of sight. Here she was in great pain, and had lost all hopes of a prize.

Questions: 1. After a time how did Betty feel? 2. What did she do with her foot? 3. What happened to one of her toes? 4. Where was she put after her toe was bitten off? 5. What was the boy told to do for Betty? 6. What did the man say that she was fit for now?


1. Poor Betty had plenty of time to think over all her troubles. But after two or three days she heard a sound which made her feel very happy.

2. It was the voice of her old friend the coachman, who had come to fetch her away. She cackled to him in a most loving way; but, alas! the coachman had nothing to say to her.

3. He was cross and sulky because Betty had not won a prize.

"Poor thing!" said the cook when Betty got home, "what an object she looks to be sure! She is as light as a feather.

4. "The mother that hatched her won't know her again. I declare that I don't believe this is our Betty at all, but some old rubbish of a bird they have sent us instead!"

5. "Oh yes," said her mistress, coming up to look, "it is our Betty. But I beg of you to get rid of her at once. I cannot bear the sight of her after thinking she would get a prize."

6. "Shall I step out and do it at once?" said the cook, calmly.

"No, no!" said the mistress. "Do not kill her. Give her away. She will be a useful hen to some one else, and is sure to lay plenty of eggs."

"Very good, ma'am," replied the cook.

7. There was no washing this time before Betty was sent away. That was one comfort. She was huddled, just as she was, into a hamper, and sent as a present to a friend of the cook.

8. This friend was the wife of a farmer, and she was such a kind, good, rosy, happy, pleasant woman, that it was quite a treat to look at her. She lived about five miles from Betty's old home.

9. The large farm-yard into which Betty now stepped from her hamper, was like a new world to her. She began at once to dig with those of her sharp claws which were left.

10. And finding chalk like that which had been under the soil at home, she nodded her head and chuckled, for she was pleased. No hen can be happy without chalk, after she is old enough to lay eggs.

11. She knew that the yard in which she now was, would be a fine place for her young brood. They would not be likely to get the cramp or catch colds.

12. The fowl-house was built on a gentle slope, and below, at some little distance, was a pond with two or three green islands in the middle of it. Here some water birds, such as Betty had never seen before, were paddling about.

13. She could not think how they did it. The yard had good shelter from rough, cold winds, for a fir wood was at the back of it. And the houses for cattle and horses stood with their backs to it on two sides.

14. The houses where the hens were to sit on their eggs, were sprinkled with chalk laid over dry coal ashes. This was to keep the floor clean and wholesome.

They were swept out often. The perches for roosting were not thin sticks, but nice stout boughs of trees, so that the feet could clasp them without slipping.

* * * * *

Write: The new home to which Betty was sent pleased her. She thought that she should soon forget her sorrows. The fowl-house was nice and clean.

Questions: 1. To whom was Betty sent? 2. What sort of woman was the farmer's wife? 3. When Betty stepped out of her hamper what did she begin to do? 4. What did she find? 5. What was the hen-house like?


1. Her friends at the old home had all walked on dry land. But here she found many ducks and drakes, besides odd-looking fowls with feathers down their legs.

2. Spring came, and Betty paced the yard with twelve fine chickens behind her. All of them had five toes on each little foot, as their mother had when she was born. So they were all right.

3. Down the velvet back of each chick were stripes of dark brown, which was the proper pattern for their first short coats. After a time they would put off baby-clothes, and be dressed in pure white like their mother.

4. As her chicks slept under her wings, or chirped with their merry little voices, she forgot all else but her darlings. What did it matter having one claw too few, now that she had her dear babies?

5. Betty took care to keep her children neat, and to teach them good manners. "You may gobble up a worm, children, as fast as you like, when you find it, so that no one else may get it," said she.

6. "But don't let me see two of you having a fight, or both tugging at the same worm. You must not ruffle up your feathers at each other, or fight, though you may do so if you meet a rat."

7. As Betty was such an anxious and watchful mother herself, she could not help feeling quite vexed at the way in which Snowdrop, one of the ducks, went on.

8. This big white duck did not seem to mind a bit whether her children were a credit to her or not. "See!" said this good hen, pointing to her twelve clean little chicks. "Where will you find such children as mine?

9. "I spend all my time in teaching them how to behave themselves. I show them how to walk nicely, and how to pick up their meals in a proper way.

10. "I show them how to keep their feathers combed and brushed. But you, bad mother that you are, allow your poor little yellow ducklings to shuffle in the mud up to their wings.

11. "And twice I have seen them at the very edge of the pond. It made me shudder! It will be a wonder if they do not get drowned, or catch their death of cold. How thin and pale they look!"

12. As Betty said these words to Snowdrop, the old duck shook her bill, and after a few more quacks turned her back and waddled off.

13. Soon after this, a magpie came down to tell all the fowls in the yard that one of Snowdrop's ducklings had been eaten by a rat, and that a second had been stolen by a hawk.

14. Two more of them had run away under the gate and had strayed towards a tent where some gipsies lived. As they never came back, it was thought that the gipsies had taken them off.

15. A fifth of the brood, which had been weakly from birth, had caught cold in a bitter wind and died. And the last had pined away from feeling lonely after losing all its brothers and sisters.

* * * * *

Write: The hen had now twelve chicks. She took more care of her children than the duck did of hers. Betty thought Snowdrop a bad mother.

Questions: 1. What other creatures did Betty see in the yard? 2. How many chickens had she? 3. What did she teach them? 4. What was the name of the duck? 5. What sort of mother was she? 6. What did Betty say to her?


1. As Betty's brood was now grown old enough to go into the world, she had plenty of time to pay Snowdrop a visit. So she went off one fine morning and found her near the brink of the pond.

2. Snowdrop was using her orange bill as a shovel to catch leeches in the mud. Betty told her that she had come to have a chat with her. She wished to speak about the way in which she had brought up her children.

3. "I am sure, my dear Snowdrop," said Betty, "that cold water was the death of all your lost ducklings, no matter what you or any other bird may say.

4. "You are a strong duck, and so it has not hurt you yet. But you see that your frail little ones are all gone. It is all through your careless habit of letting them dabble in the mud all day and get their feet wet."

5. "Nonsense!" said Snowdrop, as, with an eye dark and bright as that of Betty, she glanced at her own orange legs and webbed feet.

6. "Nonsense! It is all nature, and runs in the blood," she said. "My mother before me, and her mother before that, knew that water never hurts a duck. It hurts us to be kept dry!

7. "And as for catching cold or getting fits, or cramp, or the pip—can you do this?" And as she spoke, Snowdrop waddled down the steepest part of the bank.

8. She set her breast for a moment against the tiny ripples of the pond until she was in water deep enough to swim in. Then, all of a sudden, she turned herself upside down.

9. Her head went below, and nothing of her could be seen above but a tail, and two yellow legs. She stayed so long like this, grubbing for water-snails, that Betty began to fear she should never see her head again.

10. But she popped it out again in a few minutes, and came sailing with a saucy quack back again to the bank. "Do I look any the worse?" said she.

11. Betty held her tongue. She still thought, as she had done before, that no matter what Snowdrop did, cold water was bad for ducklings.

12. A young Bantam hen, who was standing by, said to Betty, "Where can you have come from, and what sort of egg did you creep out of, not to have seen a duck swim before?" said the Bantam.

13. "All the yard knows that they are the best sailors in the world! But for you and me, our ruffles are too well starched for such a way of life."

14. Here was a new wonder to Betty. Though a shower of rain soaked all her fine feathers through, and made them limp as old rags, Snowdrop came out of the pond dry and warm, her plumes crisp and neat.

15. Not a trace of water was to be seen on her. Well, to be sure! Betty could not make it out. After all there must be a thing or two which even the wisest hen does not know.

16. "I advise you to carry oil in your feathers when you learn to swim," said Snowdrop, as she skimmed off again over the pond. "That is my plan, but ducks are too wise to boast about it."

* * * * *

Write: Betty went to see the duck. She felt much surprise at seeing her swim and dive. But she still thought that water was not good for ducklings.

Questions: 1. Where did Betty find Snowdrop? 2. What did Betty say to her? 3. What did the Bantam hen say? 4. What did Snowdrop do to show Betty? 5. What did Betty still think about ducklings? 6. How was it that the duck's feathers were not wet?


1. Weeks went by. Snowdrop thought that it was time for her to bring some more little ducklings into the world, instead of those which she had lost.

2. So, down among the green rushes at the very brink of the pond, she made a nest. It was not much more than a bundle of straws which the wind had swept into that place but it did very well.

3. Snowdrop had poked the straws into a heap with her beak. She trod them down with her feet, made a round hole with her breast in the middle, and put a few feathers inside.

4. In this rough nest she laid seven pale green eggs, and very pretty they looked. Betty no sooner heard of this, than she ran as fast as she could to the spot. She had a kind thought in her head.

5. She had now no little ones of her own; and somehow, though she laid an egg each day in the wicker nest, it was always gone before night. So she had nothing to sit on.

6. And so it had come into her good heart that she would offer to sit on Snowdrop's eggs for her. "I promise you to do it well," said she to the duck.

7. "If you trust me with your eggs I will treat them just as if they were my own. And when the young are hatched I will nurse the dear little things, teach them, and bring them up better than you could do yourself."

8. The duck, who just then saw her drake bowing his head to her as he swam along, thought that she would like to join him on the pond.

9. Snowdrop loved pleasure. Why should she sit cooped up on a nest for four weeks, when she might be having fun on the pond? Betty was willing to do it for her.

10. She liked hunting for slugs and worms, or swimming races with her drake, better than sitting still. So she said "yes" to Betty's offer and marched off.

11. The good little hen climbed as well as she could on to the nest; but she did not half like the look of it. Why, the eggs were ready to roll out at the sides! And her body was not so big as that of Snowdrop, neither were her wings so wide.

12. It was a great job for her to keep the large eggs under cover at all, but she shook out her feathers and spread out her wings as far as they would go, though it made them ache.

13. Then she felt nervous because the pond was so near. "It is bad for eggs to get damp!" she said to herself. "What could make that foolish Snowdrop choose such a place? And I dare say that I shall get the cramp too."

14. But she sat on bravely for all that. Betty never left the eggs of which she was taking care, except for a few moments when she was forced by hunger to run to the yard.

15. The good farmer's wife saw her racing there one day. She watched her pick up some corn in a great hurry and then rush off. She went after Betty and saw her get into the nest of the duck, to sit there after her hasty meal.

* * * * *

Write: The hen wished to sit on the eggs of the duck. She did not leave them except to get food when she was hungry. The wife of the farmer found the eggs.

Questions: 1. What did Snowdrop make among the rushes? 2. How many eggs did she lay? 3. What did the hen offer to do? 4. What did Snowdrop say? 5. How did Betty get food? 6. Who saw her running back to the eggs?


1. "Pretty dear!" said the farmer's wife to Betty, as she saw her climb gently on to the eggs and spread out her small wings as far as she could.

2. "This will never do," she went on. "If you want to hatch them, my pretty, you had better do it in your own nest."

3. So she stooped down, stroked Betty's white back softly, and then, with a firm, gentle hand, pushed her aside while she took all the seven eggs into her apron.

4. At first Betty did not like it. She did not know what Snowdrop would say, and besides, she had a longing inside her to finish the job. She wanted to see the dear little things come from the shells.

5. "I shall love them as my own," said she, "unless the farmer's wife takes them from me." But she was quite happy when she saw the eggs placed safely in her own snug dry nest.

6. Betty sat on the eggs for three long weeks. She knew that was the proper time to wait for her own broods. But still no sign of the young ones was to be seen.

7. "I do believe that cold water has killed them before they are born!" said poor Betty, "for they never ought to have been laid so near a pond."

8. She sat on and on, for a fourth week. And, at the end of that time, she had her reward. There was a little faint tapping sound inside the shells.

9. The baby ducks were trying to get out of prison. She helped them by picking away bits of the shell as it broke, to let the light in at their tiny windows.

10. At last seven little yellow things as soft as satin cried, "peep, peep!" in a pretty whisper round her feet. Their bills and their feet were rather flat, it is true, but what of that? Betty loved them as if they were her own chicks.

11. "Of course I do not expect that they will be quite so handsome, so clever, or so good as if born from my own eggs," said she.

12. "They will be poor weak little things. I can see that they are rather stupid, even now, from their staying in the shells a week longer than they ought.

13. "But I must take a little extra care with them!" Very proud was Mother Betty, but in spite of all her fondness, the young ducks gave her much trouble.

14. They would not come when they were called. And they would play in the gutter. They dabbled with their little yellow feet in the black mud, as often as ever they could.

15. They liked digging in a dirty ditch for worms better than feeding from a nice clean plate. And they will gobble snails, shells and all, no matter what Betty said.

* * * * *

Write: It was four weeks before the eggs were hatched. Betty found that the young ducks did not like to feed as chicks did. They loved to dabble in the mud.

Questions: 1. What did the farmer's wife say when she saw Betty climb into the nest? 2. Where did she put the eggs? 3. How long did Betty sit on them? 4. Where did the young ducks want to play? 5. What did they wish to eat? 6. Why did Betty think them stupid?


1. But Betty was a hopeful hen. She did not give up trying to teach the young ducklings and bring them up well. She kept them with great care from speaking to any of their own kind.

2. She would not let them play with other ducklings. They had never seen that dreadful pond yet. She would not let them waddle within sight of it.

3. As to their bad manners, their love of dirt and snails and wet, she could only think that it came from their having once laid as eggs in that old straw cradle of theirs, among the green rushes.

4. "Or else it is because their feet are the wrong shape," said Betty, as she looked down at the yellow boots of her foster-sons and daughters. On the whole they did not behave so very badly, she thought.

5. They came up with the chickens at meal times, even if they did go straight back to that vile gutter the moment they had gobbled all they could get.

6. "What a clever hen is Betty Dorking!" the others said. "She has brought up the duck's brood and will make chickens of them!" It is true that the wise old gander laughed at this notion.

7. He said, "You never see a silk purse made out of any other thing but silk," and all his wives nodded their heads and cackled. They said it was witty, though they had no idea what the speech meant.

8. As the golden ears were taken by heaps into the rick-yard, the birds felt as glad as the farmer and his wife did. The great sheaves were stacked and the fowls gleaned after them.

9. Betty, as well as the rest, picked up plenty of loose grains. There was a little squabbling once, and the turkey-cock trod on one of Betty's ducklings.

10. The great bird said nothing but "gobble gobble!" and did not even show that he was sorry. The peacock was not too proud to come walking in among the rest, in a dainty way, holding up his train.

11. He liked wheat as much as any of them. But he could not bear soiling his dress. Betty now thought it was time to take her foster-children into the world, before winter came.

12. They were grown to a fair size, and as yet no cold water had ever come near them, except a few splashes, which their nurse could not prevent.

13. After a good deal of driving and shrieking to them, she got her brood into a small crowd, to see if they were neat. She smoothed their downy heads, she plumed their soft wings with loving care.

14. Then she said, "My dears, you are all as tidy as you can be made. I am now going to take you on a visit to your own mother, whom you have never yet seen.

15. "Behave well, and give me no cause to feel shame when she sees how I have brought you up. Now, Forward! March!"

* * * * *

Write: The young ducks had never seen a pond. Their foster-mother made them tidy. She wished to take them into the world and show them their mother.

Questions: 1. What did the other hens say of Betty and her brood? 2. What did the gander say? 3. What bird came to pick up wheat with the fowls? 4. What did the turkey-cock do? 5. What did Betty say to her ducklings before taking them into the world? 6. To whom did she wish to show them?


1. And where was Snowdrop to be found? At the pond, of course, swimming round and round with half-a-dozen other ducks and drakes as happy and careless as herself.

2. She swam towards the brink when she saw Betty coming. The ducklings waddled as fast as they could lay their flat feet to the ground, as soon as they caught sight of the pond.

3. Betty could not keep up with them, for she had never quite lost a limp, after having her toe bitten off. "See," she said to Snowdrop, as she hobbled up, "here are your children.

4. "Look at them well! How unlike they are to any ducklings you ever brought up yourself! There are no ducks in the whole yard that can compare with them. Just watch how well they behave."

5. "Quack!" said Snowdrop. "It is all because of the pains I have taken," said Betty.

"Quack, quack!" said Snowdrop again.

6. "They have never been tempted to go into horrid cold water. They have never even seen a pond till now. What do you say to that?"

7. "Quack, quack, quack!" replied the snowy sailor, glancing her bright eye upon her little ones. The next moment the merry little ducks were sailing after her round the pond!

8. They dived head foremost, they grubbed for leeches, they paddled with their flat feet as if they had done nothing else since they were out of the shell.

9. Poor Betty with outspread wings danced round the pond crying at the top of her shrill voice, "Come back! come back! You will all be drowned."

10. But it was useless. The little ducks would obey her no longer. They went on swimming about after their own lily-white mother.

11. Snowdrop swam to the edge at last, and spoke thus to Betty. "I thank you for the good you meant to me and mine. But dry land will not give us your sharp toes to scratch with, any sooner than water will give you web-feet to swim with.

12. "All that you have taught my children on dry land, I shall be pleased to repay by teaching the next brood you have to swim and dive." At this the gander stretched out his throat and laughed.

13. "You should allow yourself more time to think," said old Dame Turkey, the wife of the turkey-cock, as she stood on one leg to listen.

14. "You are always in a hurry and a bustle. Don't mind so much about the affairs of other people, and take things calmly, as I do. If you had been more like me, you would not have made this mistake about the duck."

15. "We have not all the same habits,—the same nature," said Mistress Betty, softly. "And I see that it is of no use trying to make other folks' children like our own." Dame Turkey nodded her head in a very wise manner.

16. She must have been a very clever old dame, for she knew when to keep silent. As for Betty, she grew to be a very modest, useful hen, with no pride or conceit about her.

17. At the present time, though she is getting old, she is still a worthy fowl. She lives at the same farm, and would divide her last worm with a chicken or a friend. But she has never tried to turn ducklings into chicks again.

* * * * *

Write: The little ducks saw the pond. They ran to it and went in. It was of no use for the hen to call them back. They went after their own mother-duck.

Questions: 1. Where was Snowdrop to be found? 2. What did the ducklings do when they saw the pond? 3. What did the guinea-hen call out? 4. What did Betty do? 5. What did Dame Turkey say? 6. What sort of hen did Betty become?




fa'-mous Whit'-ting-ton walk'-ed pave'-ments in-stead' door'-step for-lorn'


hid'-ing pleas'-ant ei'-ther


emp'-ty pas'-sion laugh'-ed pa'-ti-ent greet'-ing for'-eign


daugh'-ter whis'-per beau'-ty fetch'-ing may'-or


wreck'-ed reach'-ed pal'-ace cush'-i-on leap'-ed mor'-sel fam'-ine


sur-pris'-ed strug'-gled coax flan'-nel wrap'-ping caught glimpse feast'-ing in'-stant scar'-ed roy'-al trea'-sure


Eng'-land learn'-ed hand'-some friends need'-ed great'-est faith'-ful treat'-ed purr'-ed laur'-el



land'-lord bread cheese ven'-ture beam'-ing bus'-tle crouch'-ing shad'-ow dis'-mal blink'-ed voice


hud'-dled cra'-zy guard


ad-vise' twi'-light anx'-i-ous daz'-zling whirl-'ing strug'-gle pierce starv'-ed-looking


whine tread prais'-ed foot'-prints faith'-ful guide hoarse ea'-ger wood'-en white'-ness feel'-ings flash'-ing rous'-ed shoul'-ders tongue


steam'-ing pulse bur'-i-ed howl'-ing guid'-ed dumb friend'-ly dole'-ful re-proach' birth'-day en-joy'-ed



froz'-en roost moon'-shine stu'-pid


watch'-ed freez'-ing Christ'-mas stirr'-ed


pig'-sty com-plaint' coax'-ed car'-rots jui'-cy mor'-tar soak'-ed


puz'-zle tip'-toe scram'-ble sheet ice wak'-en-ed foot'-marks



cur'-tain break'-fast-room pret'-ty mak'-ing la'-zy grand'-child grand'-pa house'-fly touch'-ed pitch'-ed


tea'-cad-dy sug'-ar-ba-sin com'-fort ache glut'-ton seem'-ed dain'-ty


yel'-low whole'-some gree'-dy bal'-ance des-pair' cream'-jug mis'-hap jerk'-ed crawl'-ing grea'-sy


hon'-ey lawn scoop'-ed dai'-sy tri'-fle


buzz'-ed side'-board tempt'-ing o'-cean wretch'-ed


spi'-der a-sham'-ed knitt'-ing need'-les spear strain'-ed


child'-hood list'-en ser'-vants mag'-got


drown'-ing strength trow'-sers a-sleep' Nep'-tune tease


gran'-ny seat'-ed doz'-ing po-lite' frizz'-ing


rous'-ed blaze nei'-ther knock drench'-ed dog'-gie


ceil'-ing pranc'-ing speech cof'-fee


gay'-est Thom'-as en-joy' peace



qui'-et guess scratch'-ed rogu'-ish scream'-ed todd'-led maim'-ed jaws bust'-led res'-cue


spoilt beau'-ty crys'-tal cer'-tain plum'-ing ad-mire' rail'-ings quar'-rel pas'-sion catch'-ing cock'-chafers


dain'-ties chest'-nuts minc'-ed squab'-ble plung'-ed soap'-ed flan'-nel sooth'-ing white'-ness house'-maid med'-dling


bee'-tle ma-nure' poul'-try chuck'-led Dork'-ing for'-eign comb


teas'-ing let'-tuce wear'-ing prize wound'-ed rough'-ly bleed'-ing cou'-ple


cack'-led hatch'-ed hud'-dled chalk pad'-dling sprink'-led whole'-some boughs slip'-ping


pat'-tern ba'-bies feath'-ers wad'-dled mag'-pie stray'-ed gip'-sies


shov'-el leech'-es or'-ange wa'-ter-snails tongue soak'-ed skimm'-ed


pok'-ed hatch'-ed ner'-vous


re-ward' pris'-on ex'-tra ditch


awk'-ward speak'-ing daugh'-ters laugh'-ed no'-tion rick'-yard sheaves glean'-ed squab'-bling pea'-cock daint'-ty shriek'-ing plum'-ed


caught hob'-bled out'-spread calm'-ly mis'-tress si'-lent con-ceit'


* * * * *

Transcriber's Notes

Corrected minor punctuation errors.

Moved some illustrations to avoid breaking up paragraphs of text.


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