"Solomon; the Man who was Wond'rous Wise."
and on the other side was a picture of a bramble-bush.
What Jack Horner Did
What Jack Horner Did
Little Jack Horner sat in a corner, Eating a Christmas pie; He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum And said, "What a good boy am I!"
Little Jack Horner lived in an old, tumble-down house at the edge of a big wood; and there many generations of Horners had lived before him, and had earned their living by chopping wood. Jack's father and mother were both dead, and he lived with his grandfather and grandmother, who took great pains to teach him all that a boy should know.
They lived very comfortably and happily together until one day a great tree fell upon Grandpa Horner and crushed his legs; and from that time on he could not work at all, but had to be nursed and tended very carefully.
This calamity was a great affliction to the Horners. Grandma Horner had a little money saved up in an old broken teapot that she kept in the cupboard, but that would not last them a great time, and when it was gone they would have nothing with which to buy food.
"I 'm sure I do n't know what is to become of us," she said to Jack, "for I am too old to work, and you are too young." She always told her troubles to Jack now; small though he was, he was the only one she could talk freely with, since it would only bother the poor crippled grandfather to tell him how low the money was getting in the teapot.
"It is true," replied Jack, "that you are too old to work, for your rheumatism will barely allow you to care for the house and cook our meals; and there is grandpa to be tended. But I am not too young to work, grandma, and I shall take my little hatchet and go into the wood. I cannot cut the big trees, but I can the smaller ones, and I am sure I shall be able to pile up enough wood to secure the money we need for food."
"You are a good boy, dear," said grandma Horner, patting his head lovingly, "but you are too young for the task. We must think of some other way to keep the wolf from the door."
But Jack was not shaken in his resolve, although he saw it was useless to argue further with his grandmother. So the next morning he rose very early and took his little axe and went into the wood to begin his work. There were a good many branches scattered about, and these he was able to cut with ease; and then he piled them up nicely to be sold when the wood-carter next came around. When dinner-time came he stopped long enough to eat some of the bread and cheese he had brought with him, and then he resumed his work.
But scarcely had he chopped one branch when a faint cry from the wood arrested his attention. It seemed as if some one was shouting for help. Jack listened a moment, and again heard the cry.
Without hesitation he seized his axe and ran toward the place from whence the cry had proceeded. The underbrush was very thick and the thorns caught in his clothing and held him back, but with the aid of his sharp little axe he overcame all difficulties and presently reached a place where the wood was more open.
He paused here, for often he had been told by Grandpa Horner that there were treacherous bogs in this part of the wood, which were so covered with mosses and ferns that the ground seemed solid enough to walk upon. But woe to the unlucky traveler who stepped unawares upon their surface; for instantly he found himself caught by the clinging moist clay, to sink farther and farther into the bog until, swallowed up in the mire, he would meet a horrible death beneath its slimy surface. His grandfather had told him never to go near these terrible bogs, and Jack, who was an obedient boy, had always kept away from this part of the wood. But as he paused, again that despairing cry came to his ears, very near to him now, it seemed:
Forgetful of all save a desire to assist this unknown sufferer, Jack sprang forward with an answering cry, and only halted when he found himself upon the edge of a vast bog.
"Where are you?" he then shouted.
"Here!" answered a voice, and, looking down, Jack saw, a few feet away, the head and shoulders of a man. He had walked into the bog and sunk into its treacherous depths nearly to his waist, and, although he struggled bravely, his efforts only seemed to draw him farther down toward a frightful death.
For a moment, filled with horror and dismay, Jack stood looking at the man. Then he remembered a story he had once heard of how a man had been saved from the bog.
"Be quiet, sir!" he called to the unfortunate stranger; "save all your strength, and I may yet be able to rescue you."
He then ran to a tall sapling that stood near and began chopping away with his axe. The keen blade speedily cut through the young but tough wood, and, then Jack dragged it to the edge of the bog, and, exerting all his strength, pushed it out until the sapling was within reach of the sinking man.
"Grab it, sir!" he called out, "and hold on tightly. It will keep you from sinking farther into the mire, and when you have gained more strength you may be able to pull yourself out."
"You are a brave boy," replied the stranger, "and I shall do as you tell me."
It was a long and tedious struggle, and often Jack thought the stranger would despair and be unable to drag his body from the firm clutch of the bog; but little by little the man succeeded in drawing himself up by the sapling, and at last he was saved, and sank down exhausted upon the firm ground by Jack's side.
The boy then ran for some water that stood in a slough near by, and with this he bathed the stranger's face and cooled his parched lips. Then he gave him the remains of his bread and cheese, and soon the gentleman became strong enough to walk with Jack's help to the cottage at the edge of the wood.
Grandma Horner was greatly surprised to see the strange man approaching, supported by her sturdy little grandson; but she ran to help him, and afterward gave him some old clothing of Grandpa Horner's, to replace his own muddy garments. When the man had fully rested, she brewed him her last bit of tea, and by that time the stranger declared he felt as good as new.
"Is this your son, ma'am?" he asked, pointing to Jack.
"He is my grandson, sir," answered the woman.
"He is a good boy," declared the stranger, "and a brave boy as well, for he has saved my life. I live far away in a big city, and have plenty of money. If you will give Jack to me I will take him home and educate him, and make a great man of him when he grows up."
Grandma Horner hesitated, for the boy was very dear to her and the pride of her old age; but Jack spoke up for himself.
"I 'll not go," he said, stoutly; "you are very kind, and mean well by me, but grandma and grandpa have only me to care for them now, and I must stay with them and cut the wood, and so keep them supplied with food."
The stranger said nothing more, but he patted Jack's head kindly, and soon after left them and took the road to the city.
The next morning Jack went to the wood again, and began chopping as bravely as before. And by hard work he cut a great deal of wood, which the wood-carter carried away and sold for him. The pay was not very much, to be sure, but Jack was glad that he was able to earn something to help his grandparents.
And so the days passed rapidly away until it was nearly Christmas time, and now, in spite of Jack's earnings, the money was very low indeed in the broken teapot.
One day, just before Christmas, a great wagon drove up to the door of the little cottage, and in it was the stranger Jack had rescued from the bog. The wagon was loaded with a store of good things which would add to the comfort of the aged pair and their grandson, including medicines for grandpa and rare teas for grandma, and a fine suit of clothes for Jack, who was just then away at work in the wood.
When the stranger had brought all these things into the house, he asked to see the old teapot. Trembling with the excitement of their good fortune, Grandma Horner brought out the teapot, and the gentleman drew a bag from beneath his coat and filled the pot to the brim with shining gold pieces.
"If ever you need more," he said, "send to me, and you shall have all you wish to make you comfortable."
Then he told her his name, and where he lived, so that she might find him if need be, and then he drove away in the empty wagon before Grandma Horner had half finished thanking him.
You can imagine how astonished and happy little Jack was when he returned from his work and found all the good things his kind benefactor had brought. Grandma Horner was herself so delighted that she caught the boy in her arms, and hugged and kissed him, declaring that his brave rescue of the gentleman had brought them all this happiness in their hour of need.
"To-morrow is Christmas," she said, "and we shall have an abundance with which to celebrate the good day. So I shall make you a Christmas pie, Jack dear, and stuff it full of plums, for you must have your share of our unexpected prosperity."
And Grandma Horner was as good as her word, and made a very delicious pie indeed for her darling grandson.
And that is was how it came that
"Little Jack Horner sat in a corner Eating a Christmas pie; He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum And said, "What a good boy am I!
And he was—a very good boy. Do n't you think so?
The Man in the Moon
The Man in the Moon
The Man in the Moon came tumbling down, And enquired the way to Norwich; He went by the south and burned his mouth With eating cold pease porridge!
What! Have you never heard the story of the Man in the Moon? Then I must surely tell it, for it is very amusing, and there is not a word of truth in it.
The Man in the Moon was rather lonesome, and often he peeked over the edge of the moon and looked down upon the earth and envied all the people who lived together, for he thought it must be vastly more pleasant to have companions to talk to than to be shut up in a big planet all by himself, where he had to whistle to keep himself company.
One day he looked down and saw an alderman sailing up through the air towards him. This alderman was being translated (instead of being transported, owing to a misprint in the law) and as he came near the Man in the Moon called to him and said,
"How is everything down on the earth?"
"Everything is lovely," replied the alderman, "and I would n't leave it if I was not obliged to."
"What 's a good place to visit down there?" enquired the Man in the Moon.
"Oh, Norwich is a mighty fine place," returned the alderman, "and it 's famous for its pease porridge;" and then he sailed out of sight and left the Man in the Moon to reflect upon what he had said.
The words of the alderman made him more anxious than ever to visit the earth, and so he walked thoughtfully home, and put a few lumps of ice in the stove to keep him warm, and sat down to think how he should manage the trip.
You see, everything went by contraries in the Moon, and when the Man wished to keep warm he knocked off a few chunks of ice and put them in his stove; and he cooled his drinking water by throwing red-hot coals of fire into the pitcher. Likewise, when he became chilly he took off his hat and coat, and even his shoes, and so became warm; and in the hot days of summer he put on his overcoat to cool off.
All of which seems very queer to you, no doubt; but it was n't at all queer to the Man in the Moon, for he was accustomed to it.
Well, he sat by his ice-cool fire and thought about his journey to the earth, and finally he decided the only way he could get there was to slide down a moonbeam.
So he left the house and locked the door and put the key in his pocket, for he was uncertain how long he should be gone; and then he went to the edge of the moon and began to search for a good strong moonbeam.
At last he found one that seemed rather substantial and reached right down to a pleasant-looking spot on the earth; and so he swung himself over the edge of the moon, and put both arms tight around the moonbeam and started to slide down. But he found it rather slippery, and in spite of all his efforts to hold on he found himself going faster and faster, so that just before he reached the earth he lost his hold and came tumbling down head over heels and fell plump into a river.
The cool water nearly scalded him before he could swim out, but fortunately he was near the bank and he quickly scrambled upon the land and sat down to catch his breath.
By that time it was morning, and as the sun rose its hot rays cooled him off somewhat, so that he began looking about curiously at all the strange sights and wondering where on earth he was.
By and by a farmer came along the road by the river with a team of horses drawing a load of hay, and the horses looked so odd to the Man in the Moon that at first he was greatly frightened, never before having seen horses except from his home in the moon, from whence they looked a good deal smaller. But he plucked up courage and said to the farmer,
"Can you tell me the way to Norwich, sir?"
"Norwich?" repeated the farmer musingly; "I do n't know exactly where it be, sir, but it 's somewhere away to the south."
"Thank you," said the Man in the Moon.—But stop! I must not call him the Man in the Moon any longer, for of course he was now out of the moon; so I 'll simply call him the Man, and you 'll know by that which man I mean.
Well, the Man in the—I mean the Man (but I nearly forgot what I have just said)—the Man turned to the south and began walking briskly along the road, for he had made up his mind to do as the alderman had advised and travel to Norwich, that he might eat some of the famous pease porridge that was made there. And finally, after a long and tiresome journey, he reached the town and stopped at one of the first houses he came to, for by this time he was very hungry indeed.
A good-looking woman answered his knock at the door, and he asked politely,
"Is this the town of Norwich, madam?"
"Surely this is the town of Norwich," returned the woman.
"I came here to see if I could get some pease porridge," continued the Man, "for I hear you make I the nicest porridge in the world in this town."
"That we do, sir," answered the woman, "and if you 'll step inside I 'll give you a bowl, for I have plenty in the house that is newly made."
So he thanked her and entered the house, and she asked,
"Will you have it hot or cold, sir?"
"Oh, cold, by all means," replied the Man, "for I detest anything hot to eat."
She soon brought him a bowl of cold pease porridge, and the Man was so hungry that he took a big spoonful at once.
But no sooner had he put it into his mouth than he uttered a great yell, and began dancing frantically about the room, for of course the porridge that was cold to earth folk was hot to him, and the big spoonful of cold pease porridge had burned his mouth to a blister!
"What 's the matter?" asked the woman.
"Matter!" screamed the Man; "why, your porridge is so hot it has burned me."
"Fiddlesticks!" she replied, "the porridge is quite cold."
"Try it yourself!" he cried. So she tried it and found it very cold and pleasant. But the Man was so astonished to see her eat the porridge that had blistered his own mouth that he became frightened and ran out of the house and down the street as fast as he could go.
The policeman on the first corner saw him running, and promptly arrested him, and he was marched off to the magistrate for trial.
"What is your name?" asked the magistrate.
"I have n't any," replied the Man; for of course as he was the only Man in the Moon it was n't necessary he should have a name.
"Come, come, no nonsense!" said the magistrate, "you must have some name. Who are you?"
"Why, I 'm the Man in the Moon."
"That 's rubbish!" said the magistrate, eyeing the prisoner severely, "you may be a man, but you 're not in the moon-you 're in Norwich."
"That is true," answered the Man, who was quite bewildered by this idea.
"And of course you must be called something," continued the magistrate.
"Well, then," said the prisoner, "if I 'm not the Man in the Moon I must be the Man out of the Moon; so call me that."
"Very good," replied the judge; "now, then, where did you come from?"
"Oh, you did, eh? How did you get here?"
"I slid down a moonbeam."
"Indeed! Well, what were you running for?"
"A woman gave me some cold pease porridge, and it burned my mouth."
The magistrate looked at him a moment in surprise, and then he said,
"This person is evidently crazy; so take him to the lunatic asylum and keep him there."
This would surely have been the fate of the Man had there not been present an old astronomer who had often looked at the moon through his telescope, and so had discovered that what was hot on earth was cold in the moon, and what was cold here was hot there; so he began to think the Man had told the truth. Therefore he begged the magistrate to wait a few minutes while he looked through his telescope to see if the Man in the Moon was there. So, as it was now night, he fetched his telescope and looked at the Moon,—and found there was no man in it at all!
"It seems to be true," said the astronomer, "that the Man has got out of the Moon somehow or other. Let me look at your mouth, sir, and see if it is really burned."
Then the Man opened his mouth, and everyone saw plainly it was burned to a blister! Thereupon the magistrate begged his pardon for doubting his word, and asked him what he would like to do next.
"I 'd like to get back to the Moon," said the Man, "for I do n't like this earth of yours at all. The nights are too hot."
"Why, it 's quite cool this evening!" said the magistrate.
"I 'll tell you what we can do," remarked the astronomer; "there 's a big balloon in town which belongs to the circus that came here last summer, and was pawned for a board bill. We can inflate this balloon and send the Man out of the Moon home in it."
"That 's a good idea," replied the judge. So the balloon was brought and inflated, and the Man got into the basket and gave the word to let go, and then the balloon mounted up into the sky in the direction of the moon.
The good people of Norwich stood on the earth and tipped back their heads, and watched the balloon go higher and higher, until finally the Man reached out and caught hold of the edge of the moon, and behold! the next minute he was the Man in the Moon again!
After this adventure he was well contented to stay at home; and I 've no doubt if you look through a telescope you will see him there to this day.
The Jolly Miller
The Jolly Miller
There was a jolly miller Lived on the river Dee; He sang and worked from morn till night, No lark so blithe as he. And this the burden of his song Forever seemed to be: I care for nobody, no! not I, Since nobody cares for me.
"Cree-e-eekety-cruck-crick! cree-e-eekety-cruck-crick!" sang out the big wheel of the mill upon the river Dee, for it was old and ricketty and had worked many years grinding corn for the miller; so from morning till night it creaked and growled and complained as if rebelling against the work it must do. And the country people, at work in the fields far away, would raise their heads when the soft summer breezes wafted the sound of the wheel to their ears and say,
"The jolly miller is grinding his corn." And again, at the times when the mill was shut down and no sound of the wheel reached them, they said to one another,
"The jolly miller has no corn to grind to-day," or, "The miller is oiling the great wheel." But they would miss the creaking, monotonous noise, and feel more content when the mill started again and made music for them as they worked.
But no one came to the mill unless they brought corn to grind, for the miller was a queer man, and liked to be alone. When people passed by the mill and saw the miller at his work, they only nodded their heads, for they knew he would not reply if they spoke to him.
He was not an old man, nor a sour man, nor a bad man; on the contrary he could be heard singing at his work most of the time. But the words of his song would alone have kept people away from him, for they were always these:
"I care for nobody, no! not I, Since nobody cares for me."
He lived all alone in the mill-house, cooking his own meals and making his own bed, and neither asking nor receiving help from anyone. It is very certain that if the jolly miller had cared to have friends many would have visited him, since the country people were sociable enough in their way; but it was the miller himself who refused to make friends, and old Farmer Dobson used to say,
"The reason nobody cares for the miller is because he won't let them. It is the fault of the man himself, not the fault of the people!"
However this may have been, it is true the miller had no friends, and equally sure that he cared to have none, for it did not make him a bit unhappy.
Sometimes, indeed, as he sat at evening in the doorway of the mill and watched the moon rise in the sky, he grew a bit lonely and thoughtful, and found himself longing for some one to love and cherish, for this is the nature of all good men. But when he realized how his thoughts were straying he began to sing again, and he drove away all such hopeless longings.
At last a change came over the miller's life. He was standing one evening beside the river, watching the moonbeams play upon the water, when something came floating down the stream that attracted his attention. For a long time he could not tell what it was, but it looked to him like a big black box; so he got a long pole and reached it out towards the box and managed to draw it within reach just above the big wheel. It was fortunate he saved it when he did for in another moment it would have gone over the wheel and been dashed to pieces far below.
When the miller had pulled the floating object upon the bank he found it really was a box, the lid being fastened tight with a strong cord. So he lifted it carefully and carried it into the mill-house, and then he placed it upon the floor while he lighted a candle. Then he cut the cord and opened the box and behold! a little babe lay within it, sweetly sleeping upon a pillow of down.
The miller was so surprised that he stopped singing and gazed with big eyes at the beautiful face of the little stranger. And while he gazed its eyes opened—two beautiful, pleading blue eyes,—and the little one smiled and stretched out her arms toward him.
"Well, well!" said the miller, "where on earth did you come from?"
The baby did not reply, but she tried to, and made some soft little noises that sounded like the cooing of a pigeon.
The tiny arms were still stretched upwards, and the miller bent down and tenderly lifted the child from the box and placed her upon his knee, and then he began to stroke the soft, silken ringlets that clustered around her head, and to look upon her wonderingly.
The baby leaned against his breast and fell asleep again, and the miller became greatly troubled, for he was unused to babies and did not know how to handle them or care for them. But he sat very still until the little one awoke, and then, thinking it must be hungry, he brought some sweet milk and fed her with a spoon. The baby smiled at him and ate the milk as if it liked it, and then one little dimpled hand caught hold of the miller's whiskers and pulled sturdily, while the baby jumped its little body up and down and cooed its delight.
Do you think the miller was angry? Not a bit of it! He smiled back into the laughing face and let her pull his whiskers as much as she liked. For his whole heart had gone out to this little waif that he rescued from the river, and at last the solitary man had found something to love.
The baby slept that night in the miller's own bed, snugly tucked in beside the miller himself; and in the morning he fed her milk again, and then went out to work singing more merrily than ever.
Every few minutes he would put his head into the room where he had left the child, to see if it wanted anything, and if it cried even the least bit he would run in and take it in his arms and soothe the little girl until she smiled again.
That first day the miller was fearful some one would come and claim the child, but when evening came without the arrival of any stranger he decided the baby had been cast adrift and now belonged to nobody but him.
"I shall keep her as long as I live," he thought, "and never will we be separated for even a day. For now that I have found some one to love I could not bear to let her go again."
He cared for the waif very tenderly; and as the child was strong and healthy she was not much trouble to him, and to his delight grew bigger day by day.
The country people were filled with surprise when they saw a child in the mill-house, and wondered where it came from; but the miller would answer no questions, and as year after year passed away they forgot to enquire how the child came there and looked upon her as the miller's own daughter.
She grew to be a sweet and pretty child, and was the miller's constant companion. She called him "papa," and he called her Nathalie, because he had found her upon the water, and the country people called her the Maid of the Mill.
The miller worked harder than ever before, for now he had to feed and clothe the little girl; and he sang from morn till night, so joyous was he, and still his song was:
"I care for nobody, no! not I, Since nobody cares for me."
One day, while he was singing this, he heard a sob beside him, and looked down to see Nathalie weeping.
"What is it, my pet?" he asked, anxiously.
"Oh, papa," she answered, "why do you sing that nobody cares for you, when you know I love you so dearly?"
The miller was surprised, for he had sung the song so long he had forgotten what the words meant.
"Do you indeed love me, Nathalie?" he asked.
"Indeed, indeed! You know I do!" she replied.
"Then," said the miller, with a happy laugh, as he bent down and kissed the tear-stained face, "I shall change my song."
And after that he sang:
"I love sweet Nathalie, that I do. For Nathalie she loves me."
The years passed by and the miller was very happy. Nathalie grew to be a sweet and lovely maiden, and she learned to cook the meals and tend the house, and that made it easier for the miller, for now he was growing old.
One day the young Squire, who lived at the great house on the hill, came past the mill and saw Nathalie sitting in the doorway, her pretty form framed in the flowers that climbed around and over the door.
And the Squire loved her after that first glance, for he saw that she was as good and innocent as she was beautiful. The miller, hearing the sound of voices, came out and saw them together, and at once he became very angry, for he knew that trouble was in store for him, and he must guard his treasure very carefully if he wished to keep her with him. The young Squire begged very hard to be allowed to pay court to the Maid of the Mill, but the miller ordered him away, and he was forced to go. Then the miller saw there were tears in Nathalie's eyes, and that made him still more anxious, for he feared the mischief was already done.
Indeed, in spite of the miller's watchfulness, the Squire and Nathalie often met and walked together in the shady lanes or upon the green banks of the river. It was not long before they learned to love one another very dearly, and one day they went hand in hand to the miller and asked his consent that they should wed.
"What will become of me?" asked the miller, with a sad heart.
"You shall live in the great house with us," replied the Squire, "and never again need you labor for bread."
But the old man shook his head.
"A miller I have lived," quoth he, "and a miller will I die. But tell me, Nathalie, are you willing to leave me?"
The girl cast down her eyes and blushed sweetly.
"I love him," she whispered, "and if you separate us I shall die."
"Then," said the miller, kissing her with a heavy heart, "go; and may God bless you."
So Nathalie and the Squire were wed, and lived in the great house, and the very day after the wedding she came walking down to the mill in her pretty new gown to see the miller.
But as she drew near she heard him singing, as was his wont; and the song he sung she had not heard since she was a little girl, for this was it:
"I care for nobody, no! not I, Since nobody cares for me."
She came up softly behind him, and put her arms around his neck.
"Papa," said she, "you must not sing that song. Nathalie loves you yet, and always will while she lives; for my new love is complete in itself, and has not robbed you of one bit of the love that has always been your very own."
The miller turned and looked into her blue eyes, and knew that she spoke truly.
"Then I must learn a new song again," he said, "for it is lonely at the mill, and singing makes the heart lighter. But I will promise that never again, till you forget me, will I sing that nobody cares for me."
And the miller did learn a new song, and sang it right merrily for many years; for each day Nathalie came down to the mill to show that she had not forgotten him.
The Little Man and His Little Gun
The Little Man and His Little Gun
There was a little man and he had a little gun, And the bullets were made of lead, lead, lead. He went to the brook and shot a little duck, And the bullet went right through its head, head, head.
There was once a little man named Jimson, who had stopped growing when he was a boy, and never started again. So, although he was old enough to be a man he was hardly big enough, and had he not owned a bald head and gray whiskers you would certainly have taken him for a boy whenever you saw him.
This little man was very sorry he was not bigger, and if you wanted to make him angry you had but to call attention to his size. He dressed just as big men do, and wore a silk hat and a long-tailed coat when he went to church, and a cap and top-boots when he rode horseback. He walked with a little cane and had a little umbrella made to carry when it rained. In fact, whatever other men did this little man was anxious to do also, and so it happened that when the hunting season came around, and all the men began to get their guns ready to hunt for snipe and duck, Mr. Jimson also had a little gun made, and determined to use it as well as any of them.
When he brought it home and showed it to his wife, who was a very big woman, she said,
"Jimson, you 'd better use bullets made of bread, and then you won't hurt anything."
"Nonsense, Joan," replied the little man, "I shall have bullets made of lead, just as other men do, and every duck I see I shall shoot and bring home to you."
"I 'm afraid you won't kill many," said Joan.
But the little man believed he could shoot with the best of them, so the next morning he got up early and took his little gun and started down to the brook to hunt for duck.
It was scarcely daybreak when he arrived at the brook, and the sun had not yet peeped over the eastern hill-tops, but no duck appeared anywhere in sight, although Mr. Jimson knew this was the right time of day for shooting them. So he sat down beside the brook and begun watching, and before he knew it he had fallen fast asleep.
By and by he was awakened by a peculiar noise.
"Quack, quack, quack!" sounded in his ears; and looking up he saw a pretty little duck swimming in the brook and popping its head under the water in search of something to eat. The duck belonged to Johnny Sprigg, who lived a little way down the brook, but the little man did not know this. He thought it was a wild duck, so he stood up and carefully took aim.
"I 'm afraid I can't hit it from here," he thought, "so I 'll just step upon that big stone in the brook, and shoot from there."
So he stepped out upon the stone, and took aim at the duck again, and fired the gun.
The next minute the little man had tumbled head over heels into the water, and he nearly drowned before he could scramble out again; for, not being used to shooting, the gun had kicked, or recoiled, and had knocked him off the round stone where he had been standing.
When he had succeeded in reaching the bank he was overjoyed to see that he had shot the duck, which lay dead upon the water a short distance away. The little man got a long stick, and, reaching it out, drew the dead duck to the bank. Then he started joyfully homeward to show the prize to his wife.
"There, Joan," he said, as he entered the house, "is a nice little duck for our dinner. Do you now think your husband cannot shoot?"
"But there 's only one duck," remarked his wife, "and it 's very small. Can't you go and shoot another? Then we shall have enough for dinner."
"Yes, of course I can shoot another," said the little man, proudly; "you make a fire and get the pot boiling, and I 'll go for another duck."
"You 'd better shoot a drake this time," said Joan, "for drakes are bigger."
She started to make the fire, and the little man took his gun and went to the brook; but not a duck did he see, nor drake neither, and so he was forced to come home without any game.
"There 's no use cooking one duck," said his wife, "so we 'll have pork and beans for dinner and I 'll hang the little duck in the shed. Perhaps you 'll be able to shoot a drake to-morrow, and then we 'll cook them both together."
So they had pork and beans, to the great disappointment of Mr. Jimson, who had expected to eat duck instead; and after dinner the little man lay down to take a nap while his wife went out to tell the neighbors what a great hunter he was.
The news spread rapidly through the town, and when the evening paper came out the little man was very angry to see this verse printed in it:
There was a little man and he had a little gun, And the bullets were made of lead, lead, lead. He went to the brook and shot a little duck, And the bullet went right through its head, head, head.
He carried it home to his good wife Joan, And bade her a fire to make, make, make, While he went to the brook where he shot the little duck, And tried for to shoot the drake, drake, drake.
"There 's no use putting it into the paper," exclaimed the little man, much provoked, "and Mr. Brayer, the editor, is probably jealous because he himself cannot shoot a gun. Perhaps people think I cannot shoot a drake, but I 'll show them to-morrow that I can!"
So the next morning he got up early again, and took his gun, and loaded it with bullets made of lead. Then he said to his wife,
"What does a drake look like, my love?"
"Why," she replied, "it 's much like a duck, only it has a curl on its tail and red on its wing."
"All right," he answered, "I 'll bring you home a drake in a short time, and to-day we shall have something better for dinner than pork and beans."
When he got to the brook there was nothing in sight, so he sat down on the bank to watch, and again fell fast asleep.
Now Johnny Sprigg had missed his little duck, and knew some one had shot it; so he thought this morning he would go the brook and watch for the man who had killed the duck, and make him pay a good price for it. Johnny was a big man, whose head was very bald; therefore he wore a red curly wig to cover his baldness and make him look younger.
When he got to the brook he saw no one about, and so he hid in a clump of bushes. After a time the little man woke up, and in looking around for the drake he saw Johnny's red wig sticking out of the top of the bushes.
"That is surely the drake," he thought, "for I can see a curl and something red;" and the next minute "bang!" went the gun, and Johnny Sprigg gave a great yell and jumped out of the bushes. As for his beautiful wig, it was shot right off his head, and fell into the water of the brook a good ten yards away!
"What are you trying to do?" he cried, shaking his fist at the little man.
"Why, I was only shooting at the drake," replied Jimson; "and I hit it, too, for there it is in the water.
"That 's my wig, sir!" said Johnny Sprigg, "and you shall pay for it, or I 'll have the law on you. Are you the man who shot the duck here yesterday morning?"
"I am, sir," answered the little man, proud that he had shot something besides a wig.
"Well, you shall pay for that also," said Mr. Sprigg; "for it belonged to me, and I 'll have the money or I 'll put you in jail!"
The little man did not want to go to jail, so with a heavy heart he paid for the wig and the duck, and then took his way sorrowfully homeward.
He did not tell Joan of his meeting with Mr. Sprigg; he only said he could not find a drake. But she knew all about it when the paper came out, for this is what it said on the front page:
There was a little man and he had a little gun, And the bullets were made of lead, lead, lead. He shot Johnny Sprigg through the middle of his wig, And knocked it right off from his head, head, head.
The little man was so angry at this, and at the laughter of all the men he met, that he traded his gun off for a lawn-mower, and resolved never to go hunting again.
He had the little duck he had shot made into a pie, and he and Joan ate it; but he did not enjoy it very much.
"This duck cost me twelve dollars," he said to his loving wife, "for that is the sum Johnny Sprigg made me pay; and it 's a very high price for one little duck—do n't you think so, Joan?"
Hickory, Dickory, Dock
Hickory, Dickory, Dock
Hickory, Dickory, Dock! The mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck one, The mouse ran down, Hickory, Dickory, Dock!
Within the hollow wall of an old brick mansion, away up near the roof, there lived a family of mice. It was a snug little home, pleasant and quiet, and as dark as any mouse could desire. Mamma Mouse liked it because, as she said, the draught that came through the rafters made it cool in summer, and they were near enough to the chimney to keep warm in wintertime.
Besides the Mamma Mouse there were three children, named Hickory and Dickory and Dock. There had once been a Papa Mouse as well; but while he was hunting for food one night he saw a nice piece of cheese in a wire box, and attempted to get it. The minute he stuck his head into the box, however, it closed with a snap that nearly cut his head off; and when Mamma Mouse came down to look for him he was quite dead.
Mamma Mouse had to bear her bitter sorrow all alone, for the children were too young at that time to appreciate their loss. She felt that people were cruel to kill a poor mouse for wishing to get food for himself and his family. There is nothing else for a mouse to do but take what he can find, for mice can not earn money, as people do, and they must live in some way.
But Mamma Mouse was a brave mouse, and knew that it was now her duty to find food for her little ones; so she dried her eyes and went bravely to work gnawing through the baseboard that separated the pantry from the wall. It took her some time to do this, for she could only work at night. Mice like to sleep during the day and work at night, when there are no people around to interrupt them, and even the cat is fast asleep. Some mice run about in the daytime, but they are not very wise mice who do this.
At last Mamma Mouse gnawed a hole through the baseboard large enough for her to get through into the pantry, and then her disappointment was great to find the bread jar covered over with a tin pan.
"How thoughtless people are to put things where a hungry mouse cannot get at them," said Mamma Mouse to herself, with a sigh. But just then she espied a barrel of flour standing upon the floor; and that gave her new courage, for she knew she could easily gnaw through that, and the flour would do to eat just as well as the bread.
It was now nearly daylight, so she decided to leave the attack upon the flour barrel until the next night; and gathering up for the children a few crumbs that were scattered about, she ran back into the wall and scrambled up to her nest.
Hickory and Dickory and Dock were very glad to get the crumbs, for they were hungry; and when they had breakfasted they all curled up alongside their mother and slept soundly throughout the day.
"Be good children," said Mamma Mouse the next evening, as she prepared for her journey to the pantry, "and do n't stir out of your nest till I come back. I am in hopes that after tonight we shall not be hungry for a long time, as I shall gnaw a hole at the back of the flour barrel, where it will not be discovered."
She kissed each one of them good-bye and ran down the wall on her errand.
When they were left alone Hickory wanted to go to sleep again, but little Dock was wide awake, and tumbled around so in the nest that his brothers were unable to sleep.
"I wish I could go with mother some night," said Dock, "it 's no fun to stay here all the time."
"She will take us when we are big enough," replied Dickory.
"We are big enough now," declared Dock, "and if I knew my way I would go out into the world and see what it looks like."
"I know a way out," said Hickory, "but mamma wouldn 't like it if we should go without her permission."
"She need n't know anything about it," declared the naughty Dock, "for she will be busy at the flour-barrel all the night. Take us out for a little walk, Hick, if you know the way."
"Yes, do," urged Dickory.
"Well," said Hickory, "I 'd like a little stroll myself; so if you 'll promise to be very careful, and not get into any mischief, I 'll take you through the hole that I have discovered."
So the three little mice started off, with Hickory showing the way, and soon came to a crack in the wall. Hickory stuck his head through, and finding everything quiet, for the family of people that lived in the house were fast asleep, he squeezed through the crack, followed by his two brothers. Their little hearts beat very fast, for they knew if they were discovered they would have to run for their lives; but the house was so still they gained courage, and crept along over a thick carpet until they came to a stairway.
"What shall we do now?" whispered Hickory to his brothers.
"Let 's go down," replied Dock.
So, very carefully, they descended the stairs and reached the hallway of the house, and here they were much surprised by all they saw.
There was a big rack for hats and coats, and an umbrella stand, and two quaintly carved chairs, and, most wonderful of all, a tall clock that stood upon the floor and ticked out the minutes in a grave and solemn voice.
When the little mice first heard the ticking of the clock they were inclined to be frightened, and huddled close together upon the bottom stair.
"What is it?" asked Dickory, in an awed whisper. "I do n't know," replied Hickory, who was himself rather afraid.
"Is it alive?" asked Dock.
"I do n't know," again answered Hickory.
Then, seeing that the clock paid no attention to them, but kept ticking steadily away and seemed to mind its own business, they plucked up courage and began running about.
Presently Dickory uttered a delighted squeal that brought his brothers to his side. There in a corner lay nearly the half of a bun which little May had dropped when nurse carried her upstairs to bed. It was a great discovery for the three mice, and they ate heartily until the last crumb had disappeared.
"This is better than a cupboard or a pantry," said Dock, when they had finished their supper, "and I should n't be surprised if there were plenty more good things around if we only hunt for them."
But they could find nothing more, for all the doors leading into the hall were closed, and at last Dock came to the clock and looked at it curiously.
"It does n't seem to be alive," he thought, "although it does make so much noise. I 'm going behind it to see what I can find."
He found nothing except a hole that led to inside of the clock, and into this he stuck his head. He could hear the ticking plainer than ever now, but looking way up to the top of the clock he saw something shining brightly, and thought it must good to eat if he could only get at it. Without saying anything to his brothers, Dock ran up the sides of the clock until he came to the works, and he was just about to nibble at a glistening wheel, to see what it tasted like, when suddenly "Bang!" went the clock.
It was one o'clock, and the clock had only struck the hour; but the great gong was just beside Dock's ear and the noise nearly deafened the poor little mouse. He gave a scream of terror and ran down the clock as fast as he could go. When he reached the hall he heard his brothers scampering up the stairs, and after them he ran with all his might.
It was only when they were safe in their nest again that they stopped to breathe, and their little hearts beat fast for an hour afterward, so great had been their terror.
When Mamma Mouse came back in the morning, bringing a quantity of nice flour with her for breakfast, they told her of their adventure. She thought they had been punished enough already for their disobedience, so she did not scold them, but only said,
"You see, my dears, your mother knew best when she told you not to stir from the nest. Children sometimes think they know more than their parents, but this adventure should teach you always to obey your mother. The next time you run away you may fare worse than you did last night; remember your poor father's fate."
But Hickory and Dickory and Dock did not run away again.
On the beautiful, undulating hills of Sussex feed many flocks of sheep, which are tended by many shepherds and shepherdesses, and one of these flocks used to be cared for by a poor woman who supported herself and her little girl by this means.
They lived in a small cottage nestled at the foot of one of the hills, and each morning the mother took her crook and started out with her sheep, that they might feed upon the tender, juicy grasses with which the hills abounded. The little girl usually accompanied her mother and sat by her side upon the grassy mounds and watched her care for the ewes and lambs, so that in time she herself grew to be a very proficient shepherdess.
So when the mother became too old and feeble to leave her cottage, Little Bo-Peep (as she was called) decided that she was fully able to manage the flocks herself. She was a little mite of a child, with flowing nut-brown locks and big gray eyes that charmed all who gazed into their innocent depths. She wore a light gray frock, fastened about the waist with a pretty pink sash, and there were white ruffles around her neck and pink ribbons in her hair.
All the shepherds and shepherdesses upon the hills, both young and old, soon came to know Little Bo-Peep very well indeed, and there were many willing hands to aid her if (which was not often) she needed their assistance.
Bo-Peep usually took her sheep to the side of a high hill above the cottage, and allowed them to eat the rich grass while she herself sat upon a mound and, laying aside her crook and her broad straw hat with its pink ribbons, devoted her time to sewing and mending stockings for her aged mother.
One day, while thus occupied, she heard a voice beside her say:
"Good morning, Little Bo-Peep!" and looking up the girl saw a woman standing near her and leaning upon a short stick. She was bent nearly double by weight of many years, her hair was white as snow and her eyes as black as coals. Deep wrinkles seamed her face and hands, while her nose and chin were so pointed that they nearly met. She was not pleasant to look upon, but Bo-Peep had learned to be polite to the aged, so she answered, sweetly,
"Good morning, mother. Can I do anything for you?"
"No, dearie," returned the woman, in a cracked voice, "but I will sit by your side and rest for a time."
The girl made room on the mound beside her, and the stranger sat down and watched in silence the busy fingers sew up the seams of the new frock she was making.
By and by the woman asked,
"Why do you come out here to sew?"
"Because I am a shepherdess," replied the girl.
"But where is your crook?"
"On the grass beside me."
"And where are your sheep?"
Bo-Peep looked up and could not see them.
"They must have strayed over the top of the hill," she said, "and I will go and seek them."
"Do not be in a hurry," croaked the old woman; "they will return presently without your troubling to find them."
"Do you think so?" asked Bo-Peep.
"Of course; do not the sheep know you?"
"Oh, yes; they know me every one."
"And do not you know the sheep?"
"I can call every one by name," said Bo-Peep, confidently; "for though I am so young a shepherdess I am fond of my sheep and know all about them."
The old woman chuckled softly, as if the answer amused her, and replied,
"No one knows all about anything, my dear."
"But I know all about my sheep," protested Little Bo-Peep.
"Do you, indeed? Then you are wiser that most people. And if you know all about them, you also know they will come home of their own accord, and I have no doubt they will all be wagging their tails behind them, as usual."
"Oh," said Little Bo-Peep, in surprise, "do they wag their tails? I never noticed that!"
"Indeed!" exclaimed the old woman, "then you are not very observing for one who knows all about sheep. Perhaps you have never noticed their tails at all."
"No," answered Bo-Peep, thoughtfully, "I do n't know that I ever have."
The woman laughed so hard at this reply that she began to cough, and this made the girl remember that her flock had strayed away.
"I really must go and find my sheep," she said, rising to her feet, "and then I shall be sure to notice their tails, and see if they wag them."
"Sit still, my child," said the old woman, "I am going over the hill-top myself, and I will send the sheep back to you."
So she got upon her feet and began climbing the hill, and the girl heard her saying, as she walked away,
"Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep, And does n't know where to find 'em. But leave 'em alone, and they 'll come home, All wagging their tails behind 'em."
Little Bo-Peep sat still and watched the old woman toil slowly up the hill-side and disappear over the top. By and by she thought, "very soon I shall see the sheep coming back;" but time passed away and still the errant flock failed to make its appearance.
Soon the head of the little shepherdess began to nod, and presently, still thinking of her sheep,
Little Bo-Peep fell fast asleep, And dreamt she heard them bleating; But when she awoke she found it a joke, For still they were a-fleeting.
The girl now became quite anxious, and wondered why the old woman had not driven her flock over the hill. But as it was now time for luncheon she opened her little basket and ate of the bread and cheese and cookies she had brought with her. After she had finished her meal and taken a drink of cool water from a spring near by, she decided she would not wait any longer.
So up she took her little crook, Determined for to find them,
and began climbing the hill.
When she got to the top there was never a sight of sheep about—only a green valley and another hill beyond.
Now really alarmed for the safety of her charge, Bo-Peep hurried into the valley and up the farther hill-side. Panting and tired she reached the summit, and, pausing breathlessly, gazed below her.
Quietly feeding upon the rich grass was her truant flock, looking as peaceful and innocent as if it had never strayed away from its gentle shepherdess.
Bo-Peep uttered a cry of joy and hurried toward them; but when she came near she stopped in amazement and held up her little hands with a pretty expression of dismay. She had
Found them, indeed, but it made her heart bleed, For they 'd left their tails behind them!
Nothing was left to each sheep but a wee little stump where a tail should be, and Little Bo-Peep was so heart-broken that she sat down beside them and sobbed bitterly.
But after awhile the tiny maid realized that all her tears would not bring back the tails to her lambkins; so she plucked up courage and dried her eyes and arose from the ground just as the old woman hobbled up to her.
"So you have found your sheep, dearie," she said, in her cracked voice.
"Yes," replied Little Bo-Peep, with difficulty repressing a sob; "but look, mother! They 've all left their tails behind them!"
"Why, so they have!" exclaimed the old woman; and then she began to laugh as if something pleased her.
"What do you suppose has become of their tails?" asked the girl.
"Oh, some one has probably cut them off. They make nice tippets in winter-time, you know;" and then she patted the child upon her head and walked away down the valley.
Bo-Peep was much grieved over the loss that had befallen her dear sheep, and so, driving them before her, she wandered around to see if by any chance she could find the lost tails.
But soon the sun began to sink over the hill-tops, and she knew she must take her sheep home before night overtook them.
She did not tell her mother of her misfortune, for she feared the old shepherdess would scold her, and Bo-Peep had fully decided to seek for the tails and find them before she related the story of their loss to anyone.
Each day for many days after that Little Bo-Peep wandered about the hills seeking the tails of her sheep, and those who met her wondered what had happened to make the sweet little maid so anxious. But there is an end to all troubles, no matter how severe they may seem to be, and
It happened one day, as Bo-Peep did stray Unto a meadow hard by, There she espied their tails side by side. All hung on a tree to dry!
The little shepherdess was overjoyed at this discovery, and, reaching up her crook, she knocked the row of pretty white tails off the tree and gathered them up in her frock. But how to fasten them onto her sheep again was the question, and after pondering the matter for a time she became discouraged, and, thinking she was no better off than before the tails were found, she began to weep and to bewail her misfortune.
But amidst her tears she bethought herself of her needle and thread.
"Why," she exclaimed, smiling again, "I can sew them on, of course!" Then
She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye And ran o'er hill and dale, oh. And tried what she could As a shepherdess should, To tack to each sheep its tail, oh.
But the very first sheep she came to refused to allow her to sew on the tail, and ran away from her, and the others did the same, so that finally she was utterly discouraged.
She was beginning to cry again, when the same old woman she had before met came hobbling to her side and asked,
"What are you doing with my cat tails?"
"Your cat tails!" replied Bo-Peep, in surprise; "what do you mean?"
"Why, these tails are all cut from white pussycats, and I put them on the tree to dry. What are you doing with them?"
"I thought they belonged to my sheep," answered Bo-Peep, sorrowfully; "but if they are really your pussy-cat tails, I must hunt until I find those that belong to my sheep."
"My dear," said the old woman, "I have been deceiving you; you said you knew all about your sheep, and I wanted to teach you a lesson. For, however wise we may be, no one in this world knows all about anything. Sheep do not have long tails—there is only a little stump to answer for a tail. Neither do rabbits have tails, nor bears, nor many other animals. And if you had been observing you would have known all this when I said the sheep would be wagging their tails behind them, and then you would not have passed all those days in searching for what is not to be found. So now, little one, run away home, and try to be more thoughtful in the future. Your sheep will never miss the tails, for they have never had them."
Little Bo-Peep no more did weep; My tale of tails ends here. Each cat has one, But sheep have none; Which, after all, is queer!
The Story of Tommy Tucker
The Story of Tommy Tucker
Little Tommy Tucker sang for his supper. What did he sing for? white bread and butter. How could he cut it, without any knife? How could he marry, without any wife?
Little Tommy Tucker was a waif of the streets. He never remembered having a father or mother or anyone to care for him, and so he learned to care for himself. He ate whatever he could get, and slept wherever night overtook him—in an old barrel, a cellar, or, when fortune favored him, he paid a penny for a cot in some rude lodging-house.
His life about the streets taught him early how to earn a living by doing odd jobs, and he learned to be sharp in his speech and wise beyond his years.
One morning Tommy crawled out from a box in which he had slept over night, and found that he was hungry. His last meal had consisted of a crust of bread, and he was a growing boy with an appetite.
He had been unable to earn any money for several days, and this morning life looked very gloomy to him. He started out to seek for work or to beg a breakfast; but luck was against him, and he was unsuccessful. By noon he had grown more hungry than before, and stood before a bake-shop for a long time, looking wistfully at the good things behind the window-panes, and wishing with all his heart he had a ha'penny to buy a bun.
And yet it was no new thing for Little Tommy Tucker to be hungry, and he never thought of despairing. He sat down upon a curb-stone, and thought what was best to be done. Then he remembered he had frequently begged a meal at one of the cottages that stood upon the outskirts of the city, and so he turned his steps in that direction.
"I have had neither breakfast nor dinner," he said to himself, "and I must surely find a supper somewhere, or I shall not sleep much to-night. It is no fun to be hungry."
So he walked on until he came to a dwelling-house where a goodly company sat upon a lawn and beneath a veranda. It was a pretty place, and was the home of a fat alderman who had been married that very day.
The alderman was in a merry mood, and seeing Tommy standing without the gate he cried to him,
"Come here, my lad, and sing us a song."
Tommy at once entered the grounds, and came to where the fat alderman was sitting beside his blushing bride.
"Can you sing?" enquired the alderman.
"No," answered Tommy, earnestly, "but I can eat."
"Ho, ho!" laughed the alderman, "that is a very ordinary accomplishment. Anyone can eat."
"If it please you, sir, you are wrong," replied Tommy, "for I have been unable to eat all day."
"And why is that?" asked the alderman.
"Because I have had nothing to put to my mouth. But now that I have met so kind a gentleman, I am sure that I shall have a good supper."
The alderman laughed again at this shrewd answer, and said, "you shall have supper, no doubt; but you must sing a song for the company first, and so earn your food."
Tommy shook his head sadly.
"I do not know any song, sir," he said.
The alderman called a servant and whispered something in his ear. The servant hastened away, and soon returned bearing upon a tray a huge slice of white bread and butter. White bread was a rare treat in those days, as nearly all the people ate black bread baked from rye or barley flour.
"Now," said the alderman, placing the tray beside him, "you shall have this slice of white bread and butter when you have sung us a song, and complied with one condition."
"And what is that condition?" asked Tommy.
"I will tell you when we have heard the song," replied the fat alderman, who had decided to have some amusement at the boy's expense.
Tommy hesitated, but when he glanced at the white bread and butter his mouth watered in spite of himself, and he resolved to compose a song, since he did not know how to sing any other.
So he took off his cap, and standing before the company he sang as follows:
A bumble-bee lit on a hollyhock flower That was wet with the rain of a morning shower. While the honey he sipped His left foot slipped, And he could n't fly again for half an hour!
"Good!" cried the alderman, after the company had kindly applauded Tommy. "I can't say much for the air, nor yet for the words; but it was not so bad as it might have been. Give us another verse."
So Tommy pondered a moment, and then sang again:
"A spider threw its web so high It caught on a moon in a cloudy sky. The moon whirled round, And down to the ground Fell the web, and captured a big blue fly!"
"Why, that is fine!" roared the fat alderman. "You improve as you go on, so give us another verse."
"I don't know any more," said Tommy, "and I am very hungry."
"One more verse," persisted the man, "and then you shall have the bread and butter upon the condition."
So Tommy sang the following verse:
"A big frog lived in a slimy bog, And caught a cold in an awful fog. The cold got worse, The frog got hoarse, Till croaking he scared a polliwog!"
"You are quite a poet," declared the alderman; "and now you shall have the white bread upon one condition."
"What is it?" said Tommy, anxiously.
"That you cut the slice into four parts."
"But I have no knife!" remonstrated the boy.
"But that is the condition," insisted the alderman. "If you want the bread you must cut it."
"Surely you do not expect me to cut the bread without any knife!" said Tommy.
"Why not?" asked the alderman, winking his eye at the company.
"Because it cannot be done. How, let me ask you, sir, could you have married without any wife?"
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the jolly alderman; and he was so pleased with Tommy's apt reply that he gave him the bread at once, and a knife to cut it with.
"Thank you, sir," said Tommy; "now that I have the knife it is easy enough to cut the bread, and I shall now be as happy as you are with your beautiful wife."
The alderman's wife blushed at this, and whispered to her husband. The alderman nodded in reply, and watched Tommy carefully as he ate his supper. When the boy had finished his bread—which he did very quickly, you may be sure,—the man said,
"How would you like to live with me and be my servant?"
Little Tommy Tucker had often longed for just such a place, where he could have three meals each day to eat and a good bed to sleep in at night, so he answered,
"I should like it very much, sir."
So the alderman took Tommy for his servant, and dressed him in a smart livery; and soon the boy showed by his bright ways and obedience that he was worthy any kindness bestowed upon him.
He often carried the alderman's wig when his master attended the town meetings, and the mayor of the city, who was a good man, was much taken with his intelligent face. So one day he said to the alderman,
"I have long wanted to adopt a son, for I have no children of my own; but I have not yet been able to find a boy to suit me. That lad of yours looks bright and intelligent, and he seems a well-behaved boy into the bargain."
"He is all that you say," returned the alderman, "and would be a credit to you should you adopt him."
"But before I adopt a son," continued the mayor, "I intend to satisfy myself that he is both wise and shrewd enough to make good use of my money when I am gone. No fool will serve my purpose; therefore I shall test the boy's wit before I decide."
"That is fair enough," answered the alderman; "but in what way will you test his wit?"
"Bring him to my house to-morrow, and you shall see," said the mayor.
So the next day the alderman, followed by Tommy and a little terrier dog that was a great pet of his master, went to the grand dwelling of the mayor. The mayor also had a little terrier dog, which was very fond of him and followed him wherever he went.
When Tommy and the alderman reached the mayor's house the mayor met them at the door and said:
"Tommy, I am going up the street, and the alderman is going in the opposite direction. I want you to keep our dogs from following us; but you must not do it by holding them."
"Very well, sir," replied Tommy; and as the mayor started one way and the alderman the other, he took out his handkerchief and tied the tails of the two dogs together. Of course each dog started to follow its master; but as they were about the same size and strength, and each pulled in a different direction, the result was that they remained in one place, and could not move either one way or the other.
"That was well done," said the mayor, coming I back again; "but tell me, can you put my cart before my horse and take me to ride?"
"Certainly, sir," replied Tommy; and going to the mayor's stable he put the harness on the nag and then led him head-first into the shafts, instead of backing him into them, as is the usual way. After fastening the shafts to the horse, he mounted upon the animal's back, and away they started, pushing the cart before the horse.
"That was easy," said Tommy. "If your honor will get into the cart I 'll take you to ride." But the mayor did not ride, although he was pleased at Tommy's readiness in solving a difficulty.
After a moment's thought he bade Tommy follow him into the house, where he gave him a cupful of water, saying,
"Let me see you drink up this cup of water."
Tommy hesitated a moment, for he knew the mayor was trying to catch him; then, going to a corner of the room, he set down the cup and stood upon his head in the corner. He now carefully raised the cup to his lips and slowly drank the water until the cup was empty. After this he regained his feet, and, bowing politely to the mayor, he said,
"The water is drunk up, your honor."
"But why did you stand on your head to do it?" enquired the alderman, who had watched the act in astonishment.
"Because otherwise I would have drunk the water down, and not up," replied Tommy.
The mayor was now satisfied that Tommy was shrewd enough to do him honor, so he immediately took him to live in the great house as his adopted son, and he was educated by the best masters the city afforded.
And Tommy Tucker became in after years not only a great, but a good man, and before he died was himself mayor of the city, and was known by the name of Sir Thomas Tucker.
"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where do you go?" "To London, to visit the palace, you know." "Pussy-cat Mew, wily you come back again?" "Oh, yes! I 'll scamper with might and with main!"
Pussy-cat Mew set off on her way, Stepping quite softly and feeling quite gay. Smooth was the road, so she traveled at ease, Warmed by the sunshine and fanned by the breeze.
Over the hills to the valleys below, Through the deep woods where the soft mosses grow, Skirting the fields, with buttercups dotted, Swiftly our venturesome Pussy-cat trotted.
Sharp watch she kept when a village she neared, For boys and their mischief our Pussy-cat feared! Often she crept through the grasses so deep To pass by a dog that was lying asleep.
Once, as she walked through a sweet-clover field, Something beside her affrightedly squealed, And swift from her path there darted away A tiny field-mouse, with a coat of soft gray.
"Nowhere," thought our Pussy, "is chance for a dinner; The one that runs fastest must surely be winner!" So quickly she started the mouse to give chase, And over the clover they ran a great race.
But just when it seemed that Pussy would win, The mouse spied a hole and quickly popped in; And so he escaped, for the hole was so small That Pussy-cat could n't squeeze in it at all.
So, softly she crouched, and with eyes big and round Quite steadily watched that small hole in the ground "This mouse really thinks he 's escaped me," she said, "But I 'll catch him sure if he sticks out his head!"
But while she was watching the poor mouse's plight, A deep growl behind made her jump with affright; She gave a great cry, and then started to run As swift as a bullet that 's shot from a gun!
"Meow! Oh, meow "our poor Puss did say; "Bow-wow!" cried the dog, who was not far away. O'er meadows and ditches they scampered apace, O'er fences and hedges they kept up the race!
Then Pussy-cat Mew saw before her a tree, And knew that a safe place of refuge 't would be; So far up the tree with a bound she did go, And left the big dog to growl down below.
But now, by good fortune, a man came that way, And called to the dog, who was forced to obey; But Puss did not come down the tree till she knew That the man and the dog were far out of view.
Pursuing her way, at nightfall she came To London, a town you know well by name; And wandering 'round in byway and street, A strange Pussy-cat she happened to meet.
"Good evening," said Pussy-cat Mew. "Can you tell In which of these houses the Queen may now dwell? I 'm a stranger in town, and I 'm anxious to see What sort of a person a real Queen may be."
"My friend," said the other, "you really must know It is n't permitted that strangers should go Inside of the palace, unless they 're invited, And stray Pussy-cats are apt to be slighted.
"By good luck, however, I 'm quite well aware Of a way to the palace by means of a stair That never is guarded; so just come with me, And a glimpse of the Queen you shall certainly see."
Puss thanked her new friend, and together they stole To the back of the palace, and crept through a hole In the fence, and quietly came to the stair Which the stranger Pussy-cat promised was there.
"Now here I must leave you," the strange Pussy said, "So do n't be 'fraid-cat, but go straight ahead, And do n't be alarmed if by chance you are seen, For people will think you belong to the Queen."
So Pussy-cat Mew did as she had been told, And walked through the palace with manner so bold She soon reached the room where the Queen sat in state, Surrounded by lords and by ladies so great.
And there in the corner our Pussy sat down, And gazed at the scepter and blinked at the crown, And eyed the Queen's dress, all purple and gold; Which was surely a beautiful sight to behold.
But all of a sudden she started, for there Was a little gray mouse, right under the chair Where her Majesty sat, and Pussy well knew She 'd scream with alarm if the mouse met her view.
So up toward the chair our Pussy-cat stole, But the mouse saw her coming and ran for its hole; But Pussy ran after, and during the race A wonderful, terrible panic took place!
The ladies all jumped on their chairs in alarm, The lords drew their swords to protect them from harm, And the Queen gave a scream and fainted away— A very undignified act, I must say.
And some one cried "Burglars!" and some one cried "Treason!" And some one cried "Murder!" but none knew the reason; And some one cried "Fire! they are burning the house!" And some one cried "Silence! it 's only a mouse!"
But Pussy-cat Mew was so awfully scared By the shouting and screaming, no longer she dared To stay in the room; so without more delay She rushed from the palace and scampered away!
So bristling her fur, and with heart beating fast, She came to the road leading homeward at last. "What business," she thought, "has a poor country cat To visit a city of madmen like that?
"Straight homeward I 'll go, where I am well fed, Where mistress is kind, and soft is my bed; Let other cats travel, if they wish to roam, But as for myself, I shall now stay at home."
And now over hills and valleys she ran, And journeyed as fast as a Pussy-cat can; Till just as the dawn of the day did begin She, safely at home, stole quietly in.
And there was the fire, with the pot boiling on it, And there was the maid, in the blue checkered bonnet And there was the corner where Pussy oft basked, And there was the mistress, who eagerly asked:
"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where have you been?" "I 've been to London, to visit the Queen." "Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, what did you there?" "I frightened a little mouse under her chair!"
How the Beggars Came to Town
How the Beggars Came to Town
Hark, hark, the dogs do bark, The beggars are coming to town: Some in rags, and some in tags, And some in velvet gown.
Very fair and sweet was little Prince Lilimond, and few could resist his soft, pleading voice and gentle blue eyes. And as he stood in the presence of the King, his father, and bent his knee gracefully before His Majesty, the act was so courteous and dignified it would have honored the oldest noble man of the court.
The King was delighted, and for a time sat silently regarding his son and noting every detail of his appearance, from the dark velvet suit with its dainty ruffles and collar to the diamond buckles on the little shoes, and back again to the flowing curls that clustered thick about the bright, childish face.
Well might any father be proud of so manly and beautiful a child, and the King's heart swelled within him as he gazed upon his heir.
"Borland," he said to the tutor, who stood modestly behind the Prince, "you may retire. I wish to sneak privately with his royal highness."
The tutor bowed low and disappeared within the ante-room, and the King continued, kindly,
"Come here, Lilimond, and sit beside me. Methinks you seem over-grave this morning."
"It is my birthday, Your Majesty," replied the Prince, as he slowly obeyed his father and sat beside him upon the rich broidered cushions of the throne. "I am twelve years of age."
"So old!" said the King, smiling into the little face that was raised to his. "And is it the weight of years that makes you sad?"
"No, Your Majesty; I long for the years to pass, that I may become a man, and take my part in the world's affairs. It is the sad condition of my country which troubles me."
"Indeed!" exclaimed the King, casting a keen glance at his son. "Are you becoming interested in politics, then; or is there some grievous breach of court etiquette which has attracted your attention?"
"I know little of politics and less of the court, sire," replied Lilimond; "it is the distress of the people that worries me."
"The people? Of a surety, Prince, you are better posted than am I, since of the people and their affairs I know nothing at all. I have appointed officers to look after their interests, and therefore I have no cause to come into contact with them myself. But what is amiss?"
"They are starving," said the Prince, looking at his father very seriously; "the country is filled with beggars, who appeal for charity, since they are unable otherwise to procure food."
"Starving!" repeated the King; "surely you are misinformed. My Lord Chamberlain told me but this morning the people were loyal and contented, and my Lord of the Treasury reports that all taxes and tithes have been paid, and my coffers are running over."
"Your Lord Chamberlain is wrong, sire," returned the Prince; "my tutor, Borland, and I have talked with many of these beggars the past few days, and we find the tithes and taxes which have enriched you have taken the bread from their wives and children."
"So!" exclaimed the King. "We must examine into this matter." He touched a bell beside him, and when a retainer appeared directed his Chamberlain and his Treasurer to wait upon him at once.
The Prince rested his head upon his hand and waited patiently, but the King was very impatient indeed till the high officers of the court stood before him. Then said the King, addressing his Chamberlain,
"Sir, I am informed my people are murmuring at my injustice. Is it true?"
The officer cast an enquiring glance at the Prince, who met his eyes gravely, before he replied,
"The people always murmur, Your Majesty. They are many, and not all can be content, even when ruled by so wise and just a King. In every land and in every age there are those who rebel against the laws, and the protests of the few are ever heard above the contentment of the many."
"I am told," continued the King, severely, "that my country is overrun with beggars, who suffer for lack of the bread we have taken from them by our taxations. Is this true?"
"There are always beggars, Your Majesty, in every country," replied the Chamberlain, "and it is their custom to blame others for their own misfortunes."
The King thought deeply for a moment; then he turned to the Lord of the Treasury.
"Do we tax the poor?" he demanded.
"All are taxed, sire," returned the Treasurer, who was pale from anxiety, for never before had the King so questioned him, "but from the rich we take much, from the poor very little."
"But a little from the poor man may distress him, while the rich subject would never feel the loss. Why do we tax the poor at all?"
"Because, Your Majesty, should we declare the poor free from taxation all your subjects would at once claim to be poor, and the royal treasury would remain empty. And as none are so rich but there are those richer, how should we, in justice, determine which are the rich and which are the poor?"
Again the King was silent while he pondered upon the words of the Royal Treasurer. Then, with a wave of his hand, he dismissed them, and turned to the Prince, saying,
"You have heard the wise words of my councilors, Prince. What have you to say in reply?"
"If you will pardon me, Your Majesty, I think you are wrong to leave the affairs of the people to others to direct. If you knew them as well as I do, you would distrust the words of your councilors, who naturally fear your anger more than they do that of your subjects."
"If they fear my anger they will be careful to do no injustice to my people. Surely you cannot expect me to attend to levying the taxes myself," continued the King, with growing annoyance. "What are my officers for, but to serve me?"
"They should serve you, it is true," replied the Prince, thoughtfully, "but they should serve the people as well."
"Nonsense!" answered the King; "you are too young as yet to properly understand such matters. And it is a way youth has to imagine it is wiser than age and experience combined. Still, I will investigate the subject further, and see that justice is done the poor."
"In the meantime," said the Prince, "many will starve to death. Can you not assist these poor beggars at once?"
"In what way?" demanded the King.
"By giving them money from your full coffers."
"Nonsense!" again cried the King, this time with real anger; "you have heard what the Chamberlain said: we always have beggars, and none, as yet, have starved to death. Besides, I must use the money for the grand ball and tourney next month, as I have promised the ladies of the court a carnival of unusual magnificence."
The Prince did not reply to this, but remained in silent thought, wondering what he might do to ease the suffering he feared existed on every hand amongst the poor of the kingdom. He had hoped to persuade the King to assist these beggars, but since the interview with the officers of the court he had lost heart and despaired of influencing his royal father in any way.
Suddenly the King spoke.
"Let us dismiss this subject, Lilimond, for it only serves to distress us both, and no good can come of it. You have nearly made me forget it is your birthday. Now listen, my son: I am much pleased with you, and thank God that he has given me such a successor for my crown, for I perceive your mind is as beautiful as your person, and that you will in time be fitted to rule the land with wisdom and justice. Therefore I promise, in honor of your birthday, to grant any desire you may express, provided it lies within my power. Nor will I make any further condition, since I rely upon your judgment to select some gift I may be glad to bestow."
As the King spoke, Lilimond suddenly became impressed with an idea through which he might succor the poor, and therefore he answered,
"Call in the ladies and gentlemen of the court, my father, and before them all will I claim your promise."
"Good!" exclaimed the King, who looked for some amusement in his son's request; and at once he ordered the court to assemble.
The ladies and gentlemen, as they filed into the audience chamber, were astonished to see the Prince seated upon the throne beside his sire, but being too well bred to betray their surprise they only wondered what amusement His Majesty had in store for them.
When all were assembled, the Prince rose to his feet and addressed them.
"His Majesty the King, whose kindness of heart and royal condescension is well known to you all, hath but now promised me, seeing that it is my birthday, to grant any one request that I may prefer. Is it not true, Your Majesty?"
"It is true," answered the King, smiling upon his son, and pleased to see him addressing the court so gravely and with so manly an air; "whatsoever the Prince may ask, that will I freely grant."
"Then, oh sire," said the Prince, kneeling before the throne, "I ask that for the period of one day I may reign as King in your stead, having at my command all kingly power and the obedience of all who owe allegiance to the crown!"
"For a time there was perfect silence in the court, the King growing red with dismay and embarrassment and the courtiers waiting curiously his reply. Lilimond still remained kneeling before the throne, and, as the King looked upon him he realized it would be impossible to break his royal word. And the affair promised him amusement after all, so he quickly decided in what manner to reply.
"Rise, oh Prince," he said, cheerfully, "your request is granted. Upon what day will it please you to reign?"
Lilimond arose to his feet.
"Upon the seventh day from this," he answered.
"So be it," returned the King. Then, turning to the royal herald he added, "Make proclamation throughout the kingdom that on the seventh day from this Prince Lilimond will reign as King from sunrise till sunset. And whoever dares to disobey his commands will be guilty of treason and shall be punished with death!"
The court was then dismissed, all wondering at this marvellous decree, and the Prince returned to his own apartment where his tutor, Borland, anxiously awaited him.
Now this Borland was a man of good heart and much intelligence, but wholly unused to the ways of the world. He had lately noted, with much grief, the number of beggars who solicited alms as he walked out with the Prince, and he had given freely until his purse was empty. Then he talked long and earnestly with the Prince concerning this shocking condition in the kingdom, never dreaming that his own generosity had attracted all the beggars of the city toward him and encouraged them to become more bold than usual.
Thus was the young and tender-hearted Prince brought to a knowledge of all these beggars, and therefore it was that their condition filled him with sadness and induced him to speak so boldly to the King, his father.
When he returned to Borland with the tidings that the King had granted him permission to rule for a day the kingdom, the tutor was overjoyed, and at once they began to plan ways for relieving all the poor of the country in that one day.
For one thing, they dispatched private messengers to every part of the kingdom, bidding them tell each beggar they met to come to the Prince on that one day he should be King and he would relieve their wants, giving a broad gold piece to every poor man or woman who asked.
For the Prince had determined to devote to this purpose the gold that filled the royal coffers; and as for the great ball and tourney the King had planned, why, that could go begging much better than the starving people.
On the night before the day the Prince was to reign there was a great confusion of noise within the city, for beggars from all parts of the kingdom began to arrive, each one filled with joy at the prospect of receiving a piece of gold.
There was a continual tramp, tramp of feet, and a great barking of dogs, as all dogs in those days were trained to bark at every beggar they saw, and now it was difficult to restrain them.
And the beggars came to town singly and by twos and threes, until hundreds were there to await the morrow. Some few were very pitiful to behold, being feeble and infirm from age and disease, dressed in rags and tags, and presenting an appearance of great distress. But there were many more who were seemingly hearty and vigorous; and these were the lazy ones, who, not being willing to work, begged for a livelihood.
And some there were dressed in silken hose and velvet gowns, who, forgetting all shame, and, eager for gold, had been led by the Prince's offer to represent themselves as beggars, that they might add to their wealth without trouble or cost to themselves.
The next morning, when the sun arose upon the eventful day, it found the Prince sitting upon the throne of his father, dressed in a robe of ermine and purple, a crown upon his flowing locks and the King's scepter clasped tightly in his little hand. He was somewhat frightened at the clamor of the crowd without the palace, but Borland, who stood behind him, whispered,
"The more you can succor the greater will be your glory, and you will live in the hearts of your people as the kind Prince who relieved their sufferings. Be of good cheer, Your Majesty, for all is well."
Then did the Prince command the Treasurer to bring before him the royal coffers, and to stand ready to present to each beggar a piece of gold. The Treasurer was very unwilling to do this, but he was under penalty of death if he refused, and so the coffers were brought forth.
"Your Majesty," said the Treasurer, "if each of those who clamor without is to receive a piece of gold, there will not be enough within these coffers to go around. Some will receive and others be denied, since no further store of gold is to be had."
At this news the Prince was both puzzled and alarmed.
"What are we to do?" he asked of the tutor; but Borland was unable to suggest a remedy.
Then said the aged Chamberlain, coming forward, and bowing low before the little King,
"Your Majesty, I think I can assist you in your difficulty. You did but promise a piece of gold to those who are really suffering and in need, but so great is the greed of mankind that many without are in no necessity whatever, but only seek to enrich themselves at your expense. Therefore I propose you examine carefully each case that presents itself, and unless the beggar is in need of alms turn him away empty-handed, as being a fraud and a charlatan."
"Your counsel is wise, oh Chamberlain," replied the Prince, after a moment's thought; "and by turning away the impostors we shall have gold enough for the needy. Therefore bid the guards to admit the beggars one by one."
When the first beggar came before him the Prince asked,
"Are you in need?"
"I am starving, Your Majesty," replied the man, in a whining tone. He was poorly dressed, but seemed strong and well, and the Prince examined him carefully for a moment. Then he answered the fellow, saying,
"Since you are starving, go and sell the gold ring I see you are wearing upon your finger. I can assist only those who are unable to help themselves."
At this the man turned away muttering angrily, and the courtiers murmured their approval of the Prince's wisdom.
The next beggar was dressed in velvet, and the Prince sent him away with a sharp rebuke. But the third was a woman, old and feeble, and she blessed the Prince as she hobbled joyfully away with a broad gold-piece clasped tightly within her withered hand.
The next told so pitiful a story that he also received a gold-piece; but as he turned away the Prince saw that beneath his robe his shoes were fastened with silver buckles, and so he commanded the guards to take away the gold and to punish the man for attempting to deceive his King.
And so many came to him that were found to be unworthy that he finally bade the guards proclaim to all who waited that any who should be found undeserving would be beaten with stripes.
That edict so frightened the imposters that they quickly fled, and only those few who were actually in want dared to present themselves before the King.
And lo! The task that had seemed too great for one day was performed in a few hours, and when all the needy had been provided for but one of the royal coffers had been opened, and that was scarcely empty!
"What think you, Borland?" asked the Prince, anxiously, "have we done aright?"
"I have learned, Your Majesty," answered the tutor, "that there is a great difference between those who beg and those who suffer for lack of bread. For, while all who needed aid were in truth beggars, not all the beggars needed aid; and hereafter I shall only give alms to those I know to be honestly in want."
"It is wisely said, my friend," returned the Prince, "and I feel I was wrong to doubt the wisdom of my father's councilors. Go, Borland, and ask the King if he will graciously attend me here."
The King arrived and bowed smilingly before the Prince whom he had set to reign in his own place, and at once the boy arose and presented his sire with the scepter and crown, saying,
"Forgive me, oh my King, that I presumed to doubt the wisdom of your rule. For, though the sun has not yet set, I feel that I am all unworthy to sit in your place, and so I willingly resign my power to your more skillful hands. And the coffers which I, in my ignorance, had determined to empty for the benefit of those unworthy, are still nearly full, and more than enough remains for the expenses of the carnival. Therefore forgive me, my father, and let me learn wisdom in the future from the justness of your rule."
Thus ended the reign of Prince Lilimond as King, and not till many years later did he again ascend the throne upon the death of his father.
And really there was not much suffering in the kingdom at any time, as it was a prosperous country and well governed; for, if you look for beggars in any land you will find many, but if you look only for the deserving poor there are less, and these all the more worthy of succor.
I wish all those in power were as kind-hearted as little Prince Lilimond, and as ready to help the needy, for then there would be more light hearts in the world, since it is "better to give than to receive."
Tom, the Piper's Son
Tom, the Piper's Son
Tom, Tom, the piper's son, Stole a pig and away he run; The pig was eat and Tom was beat And Tom ran crying down the street.
There was not a worse vagabond in Shrewsbury than old Barney the piper. He never did any work except to play the pipes, and he played so badly that few pennies ever found their way into his pouch. It was whispered around that old Barney was not very honest, but he was so sly and cautious that no one had ever caught him in the act of stealing, although a good many things had been missed after they had fallen into the old man's way.
Barney had one son, named Tom; and they lived all alone in a little hut away at the end of the village street, for Tom's mother had died when he was a baby. You may not suppose that Tom was a very good boy, since he had such a queer father; but neither was he very bad, and the worst fault he had was in obeying his father's wishes when Barney wanted him to steal a chicken for their supper or a pot of potatoes for their breakfast. Tom did not like to steal, but he had no one to teach him to be honest, and so, under his father's guidance, he fell into bad ways.
Tom, Tom, the piper's son, Was hungry when the day begun; He wanted a bun and asked for one, But soon found out that there were none.
"What shall we do?" he asked his father
"Go hungry," replied Barney, "unless you want to take my pipes and play in the village. Perhaps they will give you a penny."
"No," answered Tom, shaking his head; "no one will give me a penny for playing; but Farmer Bowser might give me a penny to stop playing, if I went to his house. He did last week, you know."
"You 'd better try it," said his father; "it 's mighty uncomfortable to be hungry."
So Tom took his father's pipes and walked over the hill to Farmer Bowser's house; for you must know that
Tom, Tom, the piper's son, Learned to play when he was young; But the only tune that he could play Was "Over the hills and far away."
And he played this one tune as badly as his father himself played, so that the people were annoyed when they heard him, and often begged him to stop.
When he came to Farmer Bowser's house, Tom started up the pipes and began to play with all his might. The farmer was in his woodshed, sawing wood, so he did not hear the pipes; and the farmer's wife was deaf, and could not hear them. But a little pig that had strayed around in front of the house heard the noise, and ran away in great fear to the pigsty.
Then, as Tom saw the playing did no good, he thought he would sing also, and therefore he began bawling, at the top of his voice,
"Over the hills, not a great ways off, The woodchuck died with the whooping-cough!"
The farmer had stopped sawing to rest, just then; and when he heard the singing he rushed out of the shed, and chased Tom away with a big stick of wood. The boy went back to his father, and said, sorrowfully, for he was more hungry than before,
"The farmer gave me nothing but a scolding; but there was a very nice pig running around the yard."
"How big was it?" asked Barney.
"Oh, just about big enough to make a nice dinner for you and me."
The piper slowly shook his head; "'T is long since I on pig have fed, And though I feel it 's wrong to steal, Roast pig is very nice," he said.
Tom knew very well what he meant by that, so he laid down the pipes, and went back to the farmer's house.
When he came near he heard the farmer again sawing wood in the woodshed, and so he went softly up to the pig-sty and reached over and grabbed the little pig by the ears. The pig squealed, of course, but the farmer was making so much noise himself that he did not hear it, and in a minute Tom had the pig tucked under his arm and was running back home with it.
The piper was very glad to see the pig, and said to Tom,
"You are a good son, and the pig is very nice and fat. We shall have a dinner fit for a king."
It was not long before the piper had the pig killed and cut into pieces and boiling in the pot. Only the tail was left out, for Tom wanted to make a whistle of it, and as there was plenty to eat besides the tail his father let him have it.
The piper and his son had a fine dinner that day, and so great was their hunger that the little pig was all eaten up at one meal!
Then Barney lay down to sleep, and Tom sat on a bench outside the door and began to make a whistle out of the pig's tail with his pocket-knife.
Now Farmer Bowser, when he had finished sawing the wood, found it was time to feed the pig, so he took a pail of meal and went to the pigsty. But when he came to the sty there was no pig to be seen, and he searched all round the place for a good hour without finding it.
"Piggy, piggy, piggy!" he called, but no piggy came, and then he knew his pig had been stolen. He was very angry, indeed, for the pig was a great pet, and he had wanted to keep it till it grew very big.
So he put on his coat and buckled a strap around his waist, and went down to the village to see if he could find out who had stolen his pig.
Up and down the street he went, and in and out the lanes, but no traces of the pig could he find anywhere. And that was no great wonder, for the pig was eaten by that time and its bones picked clean.
Finally the farmer came to the end of the street where the piper lived in his little hut, and there he saw Tom sitting on a bench and blowing on a whistle made from a pig's tail.