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The Baldwin Library
,l m Unorsity
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2d^ ; -'
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AND OTHER STORIES.
BY TWO AUTHORS.
WILLIAM P. NIMMO.
PRINTED BY JOHN GRIIG AND SON
OUT AT SEA, 7
TRUANT HARRY, 23
VAIN RUTH, 47
SHORT TALES FOR SHORT FOLKS,-
WHAT BEFELL PRIT, 61
PASSIONATE DICK, 75
MAY GRANT'S BEES, 85
TEA IN THE WOODS, 95
LITTLE FUN, o03
DO AS YOU ARE BID, IIl
TIlE MAY QUEEN, 121
OUT AT SEA.
OUT AT SEA.
W p EM and his little sister Kate were
"at play on the beach one sum-
S mer's afternoon. There was a
cave in the rocks, which they called their
house, and in it they kept their stores of
shells and stones. The floor of the cave
was of fine, soft sand, and there were low
rocks which served for seats in it. Here
Jem and Kate passed many hours at play,
both on fine days and wet ones; for, if it
rained, they were safe out of the wet, and
if it did not, there was a nice shade for
them from the sun.
There had been a storm the night before,
10 Ou t at Sea.
'Goodbye, mother!' cried Kate, as she
came out of the cave, pretending to speak
to some one in it; and then she went down
to the water's edge, and walked along, look-
ing out at the sea, and singing to herself.
She came towards the boat, and seemed
not to see it, nor the bear, who was crouching
in it. But, just as she had passed it, out
jumped the bear, with a great growl; and
Kate cried out, '0 mother, mother! save
me!' and ran as fast as she could. But
the bear caught her, and held her fast,
and roared at her; and then he pulled her
to his den, growling gruffly all the way
And Kate cried, 'Oh good bear, please
don't eat a poor little, thin child, like me!
If you will only spare me, I'll be the best
little girl to you that ever was known !'
'What will you do for me?' growled Mr.
'I will clean your house, and cook your
!_____^- ^ ^ i
Out at Sea. II
food, and brush your coat, and tickle your
ears for you,' said Kate. 'Kind bear, do
'As you made a rhyme at the end of
your speech, I will,' said the bear. 'A
rhyme brings good luck, you see.'
'Then I will rhyme, each time!' said
Kate; and this pleased the bear so much,
that he told her she might cook his dinner
Then he lay down at one end of the boat,
and shut his eyes, and Kate pretended to
get his dinner ready. It was so hot, and
Jem was so tired, that he did really go to
sleep; and he slept on, until he was awoke
by a cry from Kate, who had been sitting
in the bottom of the boat, playing with
'0 Jem!' she cried, 'wake up! look! the
boat is loose, and we are on the sea !'
,'Nonsense!' cried Jem, and he jumped
up in a great hurry.
12 Out at Sca.
It was as she said. The boat was floating
on the water. The rope which had tied it
to a little wooden post on the shore had
got loose somehow; and when the tide was
up, the boat rocked on the waves, and went
farther and farther from the land.
'0 what shall we do, Jem!' cried Kate,
'what shall we do!' and she sobbed, and
wept, and wrung her hands.
Jem did not cry, but his face grew quite
white with fear, as the boat still went out
and out with each wave, farther, and more
far away. The sea was rough, and the
little boat bobbed up and down, first on
one side, and then on the other, and the
water splashed up round it, and more than
once splashed in Kate's face, as she sat in
the bottom of the boat. There were no oars,
or Jem would perhaps have tried to row her
back to the shore. What was to be done ?
Jem sat down by Kate, and put his arm
Out at Sea. 3
'Don't cry, dear,' he said. 'God will take
care of us.'
'Do you think He sees us now?' Kate
asked, through her tears.
'Of course He does,' said Jem.
'Then speak to Him, please, Jem,' said
Kate, 'and ask Him to take us back to the
land,-quick! for I am so afraid we shall be
Then Jem knelt down in the boat, and
asked God to look on them, and bring them
safe out of their danger; and Kate dried her
tears, for Jem said he was quite sure that
God heard what he said. He did feel rather
frightened himself, it is true; but he kept up
a brave heart, for little Kate's sake, and he
held her fast to keep her safe, as the boat
tossed up and down.
They went on like this, a long, long time,
and no help came. The children began to
feel hungry, and to want their supper.
They were so far from the land now, that
14 Out at Sca.
their cottage only looked like a speck on
'What will mother say?' whispered Kate
to Jem, after they had been silent for a long
'Yes, indeed!' said Jem. 'Father's out
to-day fishing. If we could only meet his
'O dear, I hope we shall!' said Katie.
'Do you think we shall ?'
'Well, we may,' said Jem. But he did
not feel very sure about it.
'What makes those little white waves, over
there ?' asked Katie presently.
Where?' asked Jem.
Jem looked where she pointed.
'It is a rock, just under the water,' he
said; and his face grew paler. 'The water
breaks upon it, and those little white waves
are called breakers.'
I hope we shall not go near it, then,' said
Kate; lut Jem did not answer, for he saw
Out at Sea. 15
that the current was taking the boat towards
the hidden rocks, and he knew there was
danger, if she should knock up against
them, of their making a hole in her side.
Then the water would rush in, and the
boat would sink; and what could save them
The sun set, and the evening began to
close in. Still the boat tossed up and down,
and there was no help in sight. Kate had
left off crying now; she was quite worn
out with fear and grief. She laid her head
on Jem's shoulder, and closed her eyes.
It seemed to Jem as if the help that he
had prayed for would never come. He
strained his eyes to see, as it grew darker
and darker. They had passed the breakers,
quite close; that was one danger over.
Again he lifted up his heart to God, and
asked Him to send help soon.
What was that he saw, first small, a long
way off, like a large bird upon the water?
16 Out at Sea.
Surely it was a boat, with the moonlight
shining on its white sails, and making them
look like wings! It came nearer and
grew larger: yes, it was a boat. Jem gave
a cry of joy, which startled Kate, who was
'A boat! a boat! Do you see it, Kate?'
he cried eagerly.
'Yes, it is! Oh Jem, let us call and
shout to it!'
They called and shouted with all their
might; and there was a shout at last, in
answer, from the fishing boat. And who
do you think was in that boat ?
The father of Jem and Kate, and Ben,
who had gone out fishing together. You
may think how surprised they were, to
find Jem and Kate alone )n a boat on the
sea so far from home.
'My poor little bairns!' said the father,
as he lifted Kate out of the boat into his
Out at Sea. 17
She clung with both her arms round his
neck, and cried for joy.
Then Ben lifted Jem out, and tied the
empty boat to the other with a rope, to
tow it back. And the father gave the
children some bread and cheese which he
had brought with him; and glad enough
they were to have it, for they were as
hungry as could be.
'However came you out here?' asked
the father, as they went on their way home-
Then Jem told him all about it; and
Ben said, 'Don't you ever get into an
empty boat again, for fun !'
And Jem said, 'I don't think I shall, in a
And Kate cried, 'I never will!'
The poor mother, at home, meanwhile
was in great trouble. She could not think
why her children did not come in. She
went out on the beach, and called, and
18 Out at Sca.
called in vain; and she went to the cave
to seek for them, but they were not there.
Then she went and asked a neighbour to
come and help her to look for them; and
they searched in every place they could
think of. At last the neighbour said, 'What
has become of Ben's boat ?'
Then they both saw that it was gone, and
a fear of what had happened came upon
The poor mother went back to her home
and wept, and her neighbour tried to comfort
her. But while she was trying to do so,
they heard voices on the beach; and Jem's
father cried, 'Here we all are, safe and
sound, thank God !'
Then they ran out, and saw Jem and
Kate, and the father, and Ben.
You may think how great the mother's
joy was, and how she kissed and hugged
her darling children.
As they went upstairs to bed that night,
Out at Sea. 19
Jem said to Kate, 'I told you that God
could see us, and hear what I said. He
made father come and find us.'
How good He is!' said Kate. 'I shall
thank Him, as long as I live, for this!'
.- -- A -- --.: ". i -
S. .Y dear, hasn't your school begun
; 1' yet ? Certainly you have a long
spell at Easter! In my young
days I never had such holidays! '
No, mother,' answered a pretty little boy
of about ten years of age; 'we don't begin
Well, I'm sure there seems to be nothing
but holidays,-one day you go to school, the
next day you don't,-it's hard enough to
scrape the money to pay for it weekly;'
and saying these words, Mrs. Martin re-
entered her cottage.
She was a hard-working woman, and had
24 Truant Harry.
a large family of children, the eldest of
whom was fifteen, and Harry, the boy to
whom she had been speaking, next in age.
Some days she went out charring at the
vicar's house, and the rest of her week
she spent in washing. Her eldest daughter,
a girl of twelve, minded the house and the
three younger ones while her mother was at
work; and a good little housekeeper she was.
Directly her mother went away, which
was about a quarter to eight in the morn-
ing, Agnes dressed the little ones, and left
the baby crowing and playing with his rattle
in the cradle. Then she got the breakfast
ready; for her eldest brother, Jack, came in
from his work at the foundry at eight for
his breakfast, and had to be away again at
half-past; and Henry had to walk a quarter
of a mile and be at school by nine o'clock.
The twins, Bobby and Lucy, who were four
years old, went to an infant school close to
Truant Hanry. 25
On this morning Mrs. Martin had just
set off to her work, and Agnes was busy
seeing about things; but somehow the little
ones were troublesome, baby was cross,
and, worse than all, the fire wouldn't burn.
She was on her knees in front, blowing it
gently with the bellows.
You s'ant have it, I tell you,-you s'ant,'
came from the inner room.
I s'all, you are velly untind!' exclaimed
another little voice. I s'all play with it if
I like, ugly old doll!'
Tisn't ugly,'-slap, slap, sounded from
the room. Then followed a scuffle and a
Agnes dropped the bellows, and ran to
put a stop to the squabbling. She found
Bobby with his face very red, holding the
wooden doll high above his head, and Lucy
trying with all her little might to pull his
arm down, but Bobby, being the strongest,
held it out of her reach.
26 Truant Harry.
Instead of giving them each a good slap,
as some little girls might do, Agnes went
up to the two, and said very gravely,
'Bobby, I'm ashamed of you for teasing
your sister. Give me her doll directly.
How can you be so unkind !'
I only wanted to wash its face, the ugly
old thing, 'cos it was all covered with black;
and then she got into a temper. Take it,
I don't want it,' and he poked it into his
Agnes took it away.
"No,' said she, 'you mustn't have it until
you are good; and Bobby, you must stay
here alone till breakfast is ready;' and taking
Lucy by the hand, she went out of the
bedroom, Lucy with her pinafore up to her
eyes, sobbing loudly because she might not
have her doll.
Agnes let her cry for some time without
taking any notice, but at last, because
she went on so long, she said to her, 'If
Truant Harry. 27
you go on crying, Lucy, and show so
;.much temper, I won't let you have it all
day; so you had better dry your eyes and
come and help me.'
Lucy began to think that perhaps it
would be the best thing she could do; so,
slowly wiping the tears from her cheeks,
she came to her sister, who gave her a
piece of bread to toast; and when breakfast
was ready, both the little ones were good
When it was finished, Agnes washed their
faces and hands, and taking baby in her
arms, off they went to school. Coming
back, she met a girl called Sarah Jenkins,
with her little sister in her arms, and the
two children began to talk.
'I say, Agnes, by and by, may I come
in with Polly and sit with you a bit?
Father has gone to Compton, and mother's
at the Hall about some scrubbing, 'cos the
squire and his lady are coming home; and
28 Truant Har-y.
the day they come, oh Agnes, we shall have
such fun! We children are to gcr up there
to welcome them, and have some tea.
Won't you be glad?'
'Yes,' answered Agnes, 'I daresay it will
be fun. But I shan't be able to go, for
mother is out nearly every day, and I must
look after baby.'
'Oh! bother the baby; can't you put
him with some one for that afternoon? I
mean to put Polly. Fancy giving up the
treat for that!' and Sarah laughed out
'You can do what you like, Sarah,' said
Agnes, getting very red. 'I don't mean to
put my baby with any one; so I shan't go.'
'Oh, you can please yourself. My! what
tantrums you get in!' and Sarah walked
off, leaving her friend to go on her way
Agnes felt very cross. She wanted to go
to the treat. It had been long talked of in
Truant Harry. 29
the village; and the young squire and his
bride were to have the best welcome the
villagers could give them. Poor Agnes !
She often had disappointments, but none
of them had been so hard to bear as this
one. All the children, boys and girls, were
to go up to the Park and to have tea, and
they were to make evergreen arches to go
over the gates. Oh how she wished she
could go! She walked along, dwelling on
her disappointment, and thought how unfor-
tunate she always was, when suddenly a kind
hand was laid on her shoulder, and a voice
said, 'What are you thinking of, my child,
with such a grave face?'
Agnes started violently, and then made a
low curtsey, for it was the vicar, and young
and old loved him dearly. She didn't like
to tell him what her thoughts had been.
But he saw that something was amiss, and
his kind heart couldn't bear to think that
one of his flock, even the smallest, was in
30 Triuant Harry.
trouble. So he said, 'How is your mother
'She is working at the vicarage, and quite
well, thank you, sir.'
'Well, and the little ones ?
'All quite well, sir.'
'That's right! Now tell me, little woman,
what's the matter with you ?'
Her face crimsoned, but she at last
managed to stammer out, 'I was only think-
ing I should like to go to the treat.'
'And why can't you ?'
'Because I must mind baby, as mother
will be out.'
'Oh that's a pity! Can't baby be taken
care of by some one?'
'No, thank you, sir. I don't think mother
would like it. She would be afraid some-
thing might happen to him.'
'Well then, never mind, my child! I
daresay there will soon be another treat,
and then perhaps you will be able to go;
Truant Harry. 31
but, of course, you are glad to help your
mother, when she works so hard for all of
'Yes, sir,' said Agnes slowly.
Mr. Cuthbert saw that she was very much
disappointed, and he felt that she had so
few pleasures it was only natural. Then he
thought what he could do to make up for it
to her. At last he said, 'Would you like to
bring baby and come up to the vicarage to
have a swing on Thursday ?'
Agnes' face brightened wonderfully. It
was almost as nice as the treat. She made
a very low curtsey, and her voice sounded
cheerfully as she thanked him; and she
was still more pleased when he told her
he was sure the cook would give them
'Oh! thank you, sir, so much,' said Agnes.
'I'm sure mother will let us go.'
Mr. Cuthbert smiled at her, and then went
on his way; and Agnes found her work at
32 Truant Harry.
home got on so quickly that day, she
could not think how it was. It was because
she was so happy. She swept the room, put
the potatoes on to boil, rocked her little
brother to sleep, and then sat down to darn
some socks. That she found rather difficult
to do, for her brothers wore them out at the
toes and heels, and so the feet looked little
else but holes; but Mrs. Martin, who was a
very good workwoman, never allowed them
to be 'cobbled,' as many little girls are fond
of doing, and Agnes had to mend them
carefully. She had just finished two pairs,
when her brothers came tearing in for their
dinner. So she placed the potatoes, and
some bread and cheese, on the table, and
Harry was in a troublesome mood. He
said, 'I hate everlasting potatoes, and bread
and cheese. We have that most every day.'
'Well!' answered his sister, 'you know,
Harry, mother can't get us anything else.'
Truant Harry. 33
'No, you grumbler! I never saw such a
fellow,' said Jack. 'Be thankful you've got
any dinner to put into your mouth.'
'Very fine for you to talk,' answered
Harry. 'Mother often gives you a bit of
meat for supper, and I'm sure I want it
quite as much;' and he stuck his fork into
the largest potato he could see in the dish,
and began eating as fast as he could.
Jack took no notice of his impertinence,
except a muttered 'I'll lick you one of
these days, when I've got time, you young
Although the potatoes were so horrid,
Harry managed to eat the largest share of
them, and then, without saying his grace, he
ran out into the street to play hockey with
some other idle lads.
That evening, after Mrs. Martin had come
home from her hard day's work, and was
sitting tired out by her cottage door, the
latch of the garden-gate was unfastened, and
34 Truant Harry.
the schoolmaster, Mr. Matthews, walked up
Good evening, Mrs. Martin,' said he.
'Good evening, sir,' she answered, as she
rose from her seat.
'I came to know why Harry hasn't been
to school. We began again last Wednes-
day. I was afraid he was ill, so came to
'Why, sir!' answered Mrs. Martin, 'he
told me school didn't begin until Monday,
when I asked him. I couldn't think why
the children had such long holidays. But
perhaps he didn't know,' added she, for she
couldn't bear to think her boy had told a lie.
'Will you call him, and ask him the
question ?' said the schoolmaster.
Mrs. Martin hurried into the cottage.
Harry had heard his master's voice, so
thought it wisest to get into bed. His
mother went up to him.
Harry,' said she, 'Mr. Matthews is here to
Truant Hariy. 35
know why you haven't been at school. You
told me it didn't begin until Monday.'
'Well, mother, I didn't know that it did.
Jem Lee said it didn't. I'm sure I knew
nothing about it.' But his voice trembled a
little, for he thought of a thick cane in the
cupboard in his mother's room, and how
when he had been very little he had stolen
a farthing from the table, and bought a
farthing sugar-stick, and when his mother
asked him if he had taken it, he said 'No,'
but she found him out in the untruth, and
had given him a whipping which he had
not forgotten. She thought of that, too, and
feared it was only too likely, as he had told
one untruth, that he would tell another. She
made no answer, but went out of the room
into the porch to Mr. Matthews.
'He says he didn't know, sir. One of the
boys told him school hadn't begun yet.'
'Oh, indeed,' said the master. 'You will
be sure to send him to school on Monday.
36 Truant Harry.
It is a pity he didn't know. Good evening,
'Good evening, sir,' and the master was
But he knew the boy, and guessed that this
was a false excuse, and that Harry preferred
play to school.
The next day was Sunday. All the family,
even the baby, went to church. Jack and
Harry were in the choir, and Mrs. Martin
loved to hear her eldest boy's sweet voice in
the anthem; and on this Sunday it sounded
sweeter than usual. Her eyes filled with
tears as she thought of how good he was to
her, and how hard he had worked since his
father died, to help her to get on. But he
was a very delicate boy, and the neighbours
used to say they thought he would go off,
like his poor father, in a consumption. Even
now the colour on his cheek was very bright
and unnatural, and he had a cough that hurt
him sometimes; yet he never complained,
Truant Ha;.ry. 37
and was his mother's greatest comfort and
After church, she waited for her boys,
and Jack came up to her with his usual
loving smile, and walked home with her;
but as they mounted the hill, he put his
hand in her arm, and rested heavily upon
it. She turned round quickly, and looked
'What is the matter, my darling?' said
'Nothing, mother,' and he laughed. Only
I felt rather tired. Shall we stop a minute ?'
'Why, you are quite out of breath!' she
'It's nothing,' said Jack; but his mother
He seemed tired all day, but was so bright
that she began to think it was only passing
Monday morning came, and Harry was
sent to school. About eleven o'clock he
38 Truant Harry.
came home. His mother was washing in
the back of the cottage.
'Why, Harry, what brings you home so
early ?' she asked when she saw him.
'Oh, mother, Mrs. Matthews is very ill,
so we couldn't do much to-day.'
Poor thing I'm sorry for that. What is
the matter with her ?'
Rheumatic fever, or something-I don't
know;' and tossing down his books, out he
ran to his playfellows.
Mrs. Martin never thought anything more
about it, until the following Thursday when
she was going on an errand for the vicar.
On her way she met the schoolmaster. She
curtseyed, and was passing by, when he
'You have never sent Harry to school,
after all, Mrs. Martin ?'
She looked at him in amazement.
'Why, he has been every day since
Truant Harry. 39
"Indeed he hasn't, Mrs. Martin. He has
not been once this week.'
'Oh! the bad boy!' said his poor mother.
'He told me-' and then she stopped, not
wishing to tell of his untruths, yet making
up her mind to give him a good caning
when he came home from the treat.
He shall go to-morrow, sir, for I'll bring
'Yes, do, Mrs. Martin; for he ought to be
taught how very wrong and deceitful it is
of him to pretend to go to school, and then
to play truant like this. I shall certainly
punish him;' and so saying, he walked
Poor Mrs. Martin! Harry was the only
one of her children who had given her
trouble; but she knew it was better to
punish him than allow him to grow up a
wicked man. Her heart felt very heavy; she
could not bear to think he had told such
untruths, and had been so deceitful.
40 Truant Harry.
Agnes and the baby were quite happy
in the vicar's garden, swinging and playing
with some old dolls the little Miss Cuthberts
had given them because they could not go
to the treat. Baby crowed and laughed, and
Agnes felt too pleased to talk. She could not
help thinking how good and kind it was of
Mr. Cuthbert to let her come; and then she
remembered who it was that had allowed
her to have the disappointment, and had put
it into the kind clergyman's heart to make
up for it. She enjoyed her tea, and went
home feeling thankful and happy.
That evening Jack and Harry came home
late together. Jack was looking very pale
and tired, but with bright red spots burning
on his cheeks, and his brown eyes looking
larger than ever. Mrs. Martin called the
younger children in, and put Bobby and
Lucy to bed. She then told Harry she
wanted him. His guilty conscience began
to trouble him, and still more when he
Truant Harry. 41
heard his mother say to Jack, 'Why, my
darling, how feverish you are!'
'I'm tired, mother dear,' he said shortly,
and went up to bed.
Truth to tell, Harry had been out bird-
nesting all day, and had climbed up a tree
that overhung a deep stream which had a
swift current. As he came down the tree
with the nest in his hand, he slipped and
fell in, and screamed for help. Jack, who was
near, jumped in, and drew him out, but the
exertion had been too much for him; and
what with that and the wetting, he had been
knocked up, and he was unable to play all
day; so no wonder Harry's conscience pricked
him, for he knew it was his fault his brother
was not well.
'You go to bed, Agnes, child,' said Mrs.
Martin; and then she shut the door, and
said to Harry sternly, 'I met Mr. Matthews
to-day, and he told me you had not been to
school all the week.'
42 Truant Harry.
'What have you got to say for yourself?
Nothing ? Yes, I think you had better hold
your tongue, and not tell any more untruths.'
'A sob, and then another, and another.
'Of course I shall cane you. I told you
I would, the last time you told a lie;'
and Mrs. Martin raised the cane, and let
it descend pretty smartly across Harry's
He screamed, and promised he would
never do it again, but Mrs. Martin gave him
two more cuts. As she raised the cane for
another, her hand was stayed, and Jack said,
'Mother, that's enough! please forgive him
'No, Jack, he deserves it, and a good deal
more; and I must do it.'
'Mother, I may never ask you to do any-
thing again for me,' he pleaded.
Something in his tone of voice struck her,
and she looked at him. She felt cold as the
Truant Harry. 43
thought came across her, 'Suppose he should
die!' She said hurriedly,
'This once then, I'll forgive him, but never
again. It will be a long time before I shall
trust or believe him, now.' Then turning to
Harry, she said, 'Go to your bed, sir, and
don't let me hear you making any noise. I
have forgiven you because your brother
Then putting her arm round Jack, she
made him go up to bed. But all that night
she was with him, for he was delirious, and
kept on calling to Harry to come down from
the tree, and then fancied he was drowning.
In the morning he was so weak he
could not move. The doctor came, but shook
his head sorrowfully. He said that Jack
might have lived for years, but he had taken
cold, and his nerves had been much shaken.
He could not give any hope.
Harry's grief was dreadful to see. Mr.
Cuthbert tried to comfort him, but in vain.
44 Truant t-larry.
He seemed broken-hearted, and could not
bear to look at his mother's face of grief.
At the end of the week, Jack died. His
death was very peaceful. He had been
watching the sunset, and as the sun went
down, he put his hands into his mother's, and
said, I shall never see another, mother.'
She would not give way for fear of agitation,
but she could not speak, and her eyes were
full of tears. Jack lay quite still, and slept
after that, and in his sleep his gentle spirit
took its flight.
Harry's repentance was sincere, and he
grew up to be a help and comfort to his
RACE and Ruth were great friends.
They lived in the same street in a
small country town, and used to
join each other on school days, to go to
school. Grace was nine years old, and
Ruth was ten.
Ruth was a vain little girl. She thought a
good deal about her dress and about being
smart; and often when she passed the shops
and saw the gay things hung in the windows,
she would stop and wish for them, and
long to be rich that she might buy them.
There is no harm, of course, in liking bright
and pretty things; but when this leads us
48 Vain Ruth.
on to wish for what God does not see fit to
let us have, it is wrong. And He, Who made
some rich and some poor, knows what is best
There was a fair held in the town in
which Ruth and Grace lived, every three
years; and it was looked forward to by
all the children for a long time before. For
there were all sorts of shows, and swings,
and merry-go-rounds, and wild beasts in
cages, and stalls of toys and sweets; and
there was hardly a child in the place who did
not manage to have its penny or halfpenny
to spend at the fair, in one or the other.
The time tor the fair had come, and there
was a great stir in the quiet little town.
One morning, Grace said to Ruth, as
they went to school together, Will you
come with me to the fair when school is
'Yes,' replied Ruth, 'as soon as I am
Vain Rut4. 49
'What do you mean?' asked Grace.
' You are dressed ;' and she laughed.
'Oh dear, no !' cried Ruth, with a toss of
the head. 'I am not going to the fair like
this, I can tell you I shall put on my best
frock, and my new hat trimmed with green.'
'May you ?' asked Grace, in surprise.
'I shall not ask,' said Ruth. For she
knew quite well what her aunt would say
if she did.
Mrs. Gray, the kind aunt who had taken
care of Ruth ever since she was a baby,
when her mother died, was a poor, hard-
working woman, who did her best to keep
herself and her little niece tidy and com-
fortable. She took a pride in Ruth, and
always sent her to school and church look-
ing nice and neat; but she was obliged to
be very careful, and always charged Ruth
to be the same, for it was but little she
could spare out of her earnings for dress
for either of them. This last Easter, how-
50 Vain Rzuth.
ever, she had laid by enough to buy Ruth
a new hat, and some green ribbon for it;
and great store was set by this hat, which
only came out on fine Sundays, and was
carefully put away again with the Sunday
frock, from one week's end to another.
Well,' said Grace, in answer to Ruth,
'I should like to wear my best, too, you
know; but mother wouldn't hear of such a
thing, so I shall go as I am, and enjoy it
just as much. 'Do you know, Ruth, I have
sixpence to buy things with. Only think !'
Have you, really?' asked Ruth. How
did you get so much ?'
Our Tom came in to see us,' said Grace,
' and gave it to me to spend at the fair.
He works on the farm at the Lea now,
I have fourpence,' said Ruth. 'I have
been saving up ever since Christmas, on
purpose to buy a brooch. There are such
splendid brooches to be had for threepence
Vain Ruth. 51
or fourpence on the stalls. I have set my
heart on a brooch.'
I don't think I care for a brooch so
much,' said Grace. I shall buy lots of
things with my sixpence.'
And so they talked until they got to
It is to be feared that there were a great
many wandering thoughts in school-time that
morning. Most of the children were think-
ing of going to the fair, and what they should
see and buy there; and there were a good
many little stray whispers about it.
When school was over, Ruth ran home as
fast as she could. She knew that her aunt
was out at work,-she had left the key of the
door with Ruth, that she might go in between
schools and have her dinner. This was a
very quick business, and Ruth gobbled down
her bread and cheese faster than usual, for
her mind was full of other things. With
her mouth still full, she ran upstairs and
52 Vain R Iuh.
pulled out from under the bed the box in
which her Sunday frock and hat were. She
put them on, and then peeped in the glass
to see if she looked nice. Very nice, she
thought to herself, admiring the green bow
and ends; and especially so, after she had
tied round her neck a half-dirty bit of pink
ribbon, which one of her school-fellows had
given her. She only wanted a brooch to
make herself complete, she thought, as she
ran down and locked the door after her.
Grace was waiting for her, looking very
dowdy, Ruth said to herself; but so much
the better for her, she thought, for Grace's
old brown straw hat and shabby print
only served to set off her smart dress.
So they walked on together; and though
Grace was dressed in her old things, her
face wore a bright, happy smile, for she
was thinking, not of herself, but of others,
and the pleasure she meant to give them.
The fair was a gay sight. There were
Vain R1utt1. 53
flags stuck up here and there, and stalls
full of toys and trinkets, and coloured glass,
and sweets, and all kinds of wares.
Then there were swings, and boats which
went up in the air, and guns to shoot for
nuts, and shows of all sorts; and there was
"a bear that walked on its hind-paws, led by
"a man, and when he played a tune, the bear
How can they teach it to dance ?' asked
Grace, as she and Ruth looked on.
Aunt says that they beat it till it learns
to do what they want,' said Ruth.
Poor thing! I don't like to look at it,'
said Grace. 'Let us come and buy at the
'Ah, here is just what I want!' said
Ruth. 'A brooch with a fine red stone
in it. See how it shines What is the
'Fourpence,' said the man. And Ruth
bought it, and put it on.
54 Vain Rut/h.
Will you have one ?' said the man to
'No,' said Grace. 'I can't spare four-
pence, I have so much to buy.'
What have you to buy ?' asked Ruth.
'First,' said Grace, I have to get a
trumpet for Ben, and a cake for Jenny;
and I shall buy a halfpenny pipe for
father, and one for Tom; they love their
pipe. Then I want to get a doll, or
some toy, for poor Fanny Marsh. She is
in such terrible pain, and it would amuse
her to have something fresh to play
Do you mean the girl who was burnt,
down in the back lane?' asked Ruth.
'Yes,' replied Grace. 'I go and sit with
her when I can, and should have been with
her now; for she is so dull, you see, lying
in bed all these weeks. But she begged
me not to stay from the fair; so I said I
would bring her home a fairing.'
Vain Ruth. 55
'What a girl you are!' said Ruth.
'Why, you will have nothing left for
Isn't it all for myself?' asked Grace,
smiling. 'Why, mine is the best part! I
shall have the pleasure of giving. That is
much better than having a thing to. one's
self, I think. Just think how pleased they
will all be! Jenny will eat her cake, and
smack her lips ; and Ben will blow his
trumpet, and Tom will give me a kiss for
his pipe, and father will smile and pat my
head ; and poor Fanny will be pleased;
and with sixpence I shall have made them
all happy, and myself too!'
Ruth wished now that she had not spent
all her fourpence on her brooch, but had
thought of some one else, like Grace; but
it was too late.
'Don't you think it is time to go home?'
asked Grace. 'It looks as if it were going
56 Vain Rull/.
'No, no; not yet,' said Ruth. 'I want to
look at the things on the stalls.'
'Well, then, I must go,' said Grace, 'for
father will want his dinner. Good-bye.'
Ruth stayed some time longer in the
fair. As she stood by one of the stalls
where sweets were sold, some treacly stuff
stuck to her dress, and made a great stain
on it, in front. The more she rubbed it,
the worse it grew.
'I will go home,' thought Ruth, 'and
try and wash it out. Oh dear, what would
aunt say if she saw it ?'
As Ruth was on her way home, some
large rain drops began to fall, and in a
few minutes a great storm came on. Ruth
was drenched through by the time she got
in. The green ribbon on her hat was quite
spoilt; the ends were shrivelled, and all in
streaks; it would never be fit to be seen
again. Her nice violet stuff frock was drip-
ping, and spotted all over ; there was nothing
Vain Ruth. 57
for it but to hang it up by the fire to dry.
Of course Ruth's aunt saw it when she came
in, and Ruth had a scolding for her vanity,
which she long remembered. More than
that, Ruth had to wear her spoilt hat and
dress for many a week to come; for, as her
aunt said, no other could be bought for her.
And the end of all was, that when Ruth
came to put on her 'splendid' brooch, the
day after the fair, to go to school, the pin
broke, and the bit of red glass that was in
it fell out; for it was but a sham thing
after all. And then, indeed, Ruth wished
with all her heart that she had done as
-j ^ (
WHAT BEFELL PRIT.
S ,- ELL WRIGHT was a little girl
iof eight years old. One morn-
"-- -' ing she woke up and found that
she was nine years old; for it was her birth-
day. And what else should you think she
On a chair by her bedside there was a
tall thing, covered with a white cloth; and
on this Bell fixed her half-opened eyes, and
thought 'That was not there last night!'
Then she sprang up, and was just about to
pull off the cloth, to see what it could be,
when she heard a soft 'twit, twit!' come
from under it.
62 Short Talcs.
She drew back.
'Oh nurse she cried, 'what can this
be by my bed ? It squeaks !-I am afraid
to touch it.'
Lift up the cloth, and see. It won't
hurt you,' said nurse with a smile.
Bell took hold of one end of the cloth
tenderly, and drew it off. And what do
you think she saw? A dear little canary-
bird in a green cage; and it hopped up
and down, and cried 'twit, twit,' and put
its head on one side, and looked at Bell
out of its eye slyly, as much as to say,
'Who are you, pray ?'
Whose bird is this? and how did it
come here ?' asked Bell of her nurse.
It is your bird, Miss Bell,' said nurse.
Your mama came and put it in here
when you were gone to sleep last night.'
'How nice!' cried Bell. 'A bird of
my own! You sweet, you darling! Twit,
twit, twit!' and she screwed up her lips,
What befell Prit. 63
and tried to make the same pretty chirp-
ing sound that the bird did. The canary
chirped back again, and hopped first up,
and then down, on the perches in its cage.
At last nurse said, 'I think it is time for
you to get up and dress, Miss Bell.'
'Now be good, dear Dick, till I am
dressed,' said Bell, as she sprang out of bed;
for Bell had been taught to do at once
what she was bid. Though I am sorry to
say that sometimes she was forgetful, she
was never wilfully disobedient.
As soon as she was dressed, Bell ran to
her mama's room, to kiss her and thank her
for her kind present. 'Thank you so much,
darling mama!' she cried. 'I have so wished
for a bird of my very own, to feed and to pet.'
I hope you will take great care of it,'
said her mama, 'and feed it every day, for
if you do not, it will die.'
There is no fear of that,' said Bell. 'I
would not let the pet starve, would I ? No,
64 Short Tacls.
no, I should think not, indeed What name
shall I call it, mama ? I thought of all sorts
of names, while nurse was combing my hair.
Love, Pet, Sweet, Chick-oh! and a lot more;
but I could not make up my mind which to
choose. What do you think, mama ? Do
help me; you are so clever.'
How do you like the name of Prit?'
asked Bell's mama.
Oh what a dear little name I like that
very much. Prit! Prit! Prit! See, he hops
about, and seems to know that I am calling
him. Now I must take my precious Prit
and show it to Susan, and to Jane, and to
cook, and to all the world,-all my little
world, I mean,-all in this house.'
Cook will give you a jar of seed, which
you are to keep for feeding it,' said her
mama. 'And there is a small glass dish
which you may have for Prit's bath.'
'Mama, do birds have baths as we do?'
asked Bell, laughing.
What befell Prit. 65
'Yes, indeed they do; and they like it
very much too,' said her mama. 'They
wash their heads, and their tails, and their
wings; and splash, and dip, and shake them-
selves, and have such fun !'
I should like to see that!' said Bell.
'May I go and get the glass dish at once,
as you are not dressed ?'
'Yes, darling,' said her mama. So Bell
ran downstairs to Jane, and asked her for
the glass dish. Then she filled it with water
from her mama's water-jug, and put it in
'Now Prit,' she said, 'come and have
But Prit sat coyly on his perch, and
looked at the dish for a long while, with
his head first on one side and then on the
other, as if he did not know what to make
of it. Then he hopped down on to the edge
of the dish, and dipped his beak in, and
drank a drop or two, and then he looked
66 Short Talcs.
round at Bell as if to ask leave to take a
bath. Next he popped his head into the
water, and shook it; and finding that he
liked this very much, he hopped right in, and
washed, and splashed, and shook his wings,
and sent the drops flying into Bell's face,
and made such a fuss, that Bell laughed,
and clapped her hands with delight. 'What
fun it is to see Prit have a bath !' she cried.
When Bell's mama was dressed, they went
downstairs together, and Bell took Prit, of
course. After breakfast Bell's papa hung
up Prit's cage in the window with a brass
hook and chain, where the cat could not get
at it, but where Bell could reach it easily
when she got on a chair. She could unhook
it, and take it off, when she wanted to feed
it and give it fresh water. She had a jar
of seed, and would let no one feed it but
herself. Every day she took it down, and
when cook had cleaned out the cage, Bell
filed one glass with seed, and one with
What befell Prit. 67
water, and put in the bath for Prit. Then
she played with her bird for a little while,
and in time taught him to be quite tame;
and Prit would hop on her hand, or her
head, and sing a sweet song while Bell
walked about the room; and if he flew
away, as soon as Bell called 'Prit! Prit!'
and chirped to him, he would fly back to
So they were great friends, and Bell used
to say that she should never love anything
half so well as Prit. But, sad to say, Bell
was like many other children in this respect,
that when she had a new toy, or a new
friend, she did not care much for the old one,5.
When Bell had had Prit for a year, she
woke one day and found that she was ten
years old. And what else do you think
she found, this time ?
On the chair by her bed, she again saw
something with a white cloth over it. What
could it be now, she wondered ? It was flat,
68 Short Tales.
and did not squeak or chirp. She looked at
it for half a minute, trying to guess, and then
sprang up and pulled the cloth off quickly.
And what do you think she saw ?
A large wax doll, with wax arms and
legs, and soft, real hair, and blue eyes,
which shut of themselves when she was
laid down. The doll was dressed in a long
white robe, like a baby, with a lace cap on
her head, and a blue sash, and soft blue
knitted socks on her fat waxen toes. You
may just think how delighted Bell was.
Oh nurse!' she cried, 'come and look
here! Can it be for me? What a love!-
what a sweet! I have so longed for a doll,
ever since my dear last one was smashed on
the garden steps. My duck my pet! Can
you be really mine ?' And Bell kissed her
dear new doll, and kissed it, and kissed it,
until her nurse said, 'Take care, Miss Bell;
you will kiss all the colour off your darling's
cheeks, if you go on like that.'
What befell Prit. 69
Bell laughed, and said, 'Then I must kiss
her on the top of her head, for I imust kiss
her somewhere. Make haste, nurse, for I
want to be dressed quickly, that I may go
and thank mama for giving me this lovely
As soon as Bell was dressed, she ran to
her mama with her dear doll.
Oh you dear mama, how good of you
to give me this doll! She is such a sweet!
Just like a real baby; and oh, these wax
arms and legs! I never had such a doll
You must take great care of her,
for she will easily break,' said Bell's
Oh yes, indeed I shall,' said Bell. 'What
name shall I give her? Don't you think
Rose will be a good name ?'
'Yes, I do,' said her mama. 'It is a very
And she is a darling!' cried Bell. 'Oh,
70 Short Tales.
my Rose, my precious child! How I love
you None but a mother can tell how
Bell's mama laughed; but Bell said
gravely, 'I am quite in earnest, mama.'
I daresay,' said her mama. 'I used
to love my doll quite as much as you do,
when I was a little girl. What do you say
to having your cousins Ethel and Fanny to
come to tea with you to-night ?'
'Oh, mama, may I ? How nice! I shall
like to show them my dear new doll! May
we have tea in my little tea-set ? '
Yes,' said her mama. 'You shall have
some cream, and cake, and jam for tea,
'Oh, thank you-thank you! What a
kind, dear mama you are, to think of all
And Bell jumped up and gave her mama
a great hug.
All that day Bell was taken up with
What befell Prit. 71
her new doll, dressing and undressing it,
and putting it to sleep, and waking it up
again, and taking it out to walk. Not once
did she think of poor little Prit. Her
cousins, and two other little girls, Jessie and
Lucy, came to tea; and after tea they had
games,-' Puss in the Corner,' and Blind-
man's Buff,' and all sorts of things ; and
when the games were done, they all went
home, and Bell went to bed. But she did
not remember Prit.
The next day Bell slept late, and got up
late, and was only just in time to learn her
lessons for school. As soon as she came
home from school, she ran to take up her
precious Rose from her bed, and dress her;
and she did not once think of Prit. At one
Bell had her dinner, and then she went out
for a walk, and took her new doll to show
to some of her friends. They begged that
Bell might stay and have tea with them,
and her mama said she might. So Bell
72 Short Tales.
stayed, and showed her doll, and played
with her young friends, and had tea with
them; but she did not once think of Prit.
Poor Prit! For two whole days he had
had no food, and no water; and now he
could not sit up on his perch at all, he
was so weak and faint. He lay on the
floor of the cage; he could hop and sing
no longer. His eye was dim, and his feet
stiff, and his heart had all but ceased to
beat. And so poor Prit lay all through
that night; and when the next morning
came, and Bell for the first time thought
of her bird, she ran to the cage as fast as
she could, when she was dressed.
Ah it was too late Poor Prit lay stiff
and cold on the floor of the cage. His
eyes were shut, and his legs stretched out,
and he would sing no more sweet songs,
and eat no more crumbs out of Bell's hand,
and hop no more on Bell's head; for he
What befell Prit. 73
Bell stood by the cage, and looked at
Prit as he lay there. She could not think
it was true at first. Then when she saw
that it was, she wept with a loud cry, which
brought her mama to the room, for she
feared Bell must be hurt.
When Bell's mama saw Prit lying dead
on the floor of the cage, she said, 'How is
this? What has happened to Prit?'
Then she saw that there was no seed in
the glass, and no water; and she guessed
how it was.
'Oh, Bell,' she said, 'you have let poor
Prit die for want of food! How could you
be so cruel?'
Bell did not speak; she hid her face
Think what pain that poor bird has
been in!' said her mama. 'While you eat
and drank, and played, and amused your-
self, it sat anc' pined for food, till it died.
How long have you left it like this?'
74 Short Tales.
Two days,' said Bell, through her tears.
'Since I had my doll. It took all my
thoughts from Prit.'
Then I must take your doll from you,
to teach you to be more careful,' said her
She took Bell's doll and locked it up;
and Bell did not have it again for three
whole months. But she never forgot about
poor little Prit, and often cried at the
thought of what he had suffered through
MAY GRANT'S BEES.
-'1-f4 AY GRANT went one day to see
her old nurse, who lived in a
small cottage on the side of a
hill near her home. She liked to go there,
for old nurse was so kind, and was always
glad to see her. She found nurse on the
grass plat in front of her house, with a pair
of tongs in one hand and a tin pot in the
other, which she beat with the tongs as she
stood there. May could not think what
nurse made this strange sound for; and she
called out as she ran to the gate, 'Nurse,
Nurse! what are you doing that for?'
'Come here, and you will see,' said nurse.
86 Shiort Tales.
May ran to her on the grass plat, and saw
some way off in the garden what looked like
a cloud of bees. They flew to and fro in the
air, and made such a buzz and a hum, that
May cried, 'What are they doing? Will
they come and sting us ? Oh dear !'
'No, no; keep still, darling,' said nurse.
'They won't come near you. Just watch
and see. They have left their hive, and
want to find a new home. They will go to
a tree, and cling to a bough all in a lump,
by and by.'
But why do you make that noise at
them?' May asked. 'Doesn't it frighten
Folks say they like it, and that it lulls
them, like,' said nurse; 'but I'm sure I don't
know. Still I do it, as all the folks do it.
I don't want to lose my bees. There,
there! look, they are going to sit on that
To sit!' said May.
May Grant's Bees. 87
'Yes, there! the queen-bee alights on
the bough, and then they all cling round
her, and hold on, like a great ball. Don't
you see them ? Now you stay here, Miss
May, while I sweep them into the hive.
They won't trouble you.'
Old nurse ran in and tied some crape on
her face, and put on a pair of thick gloves;
and then she took the steps, and with the
hive in her hand, she climbed up close to
the bough, and held the hive to the bees,
which had all clung, as she said, in a great
black ball, as big as her head, to the tree.
She swept them down into the hive, and
then set a board on the bottom of the hive,
and turned it up. A few bees got out and
flew round, but they did not try to sting
her. Then she took the hive and set it on
the stand where she kept her other bees.
'Now you have got five hives, Nurse,'
said May. You had only four last week.
Do the bees all do that ? How curious!'
88 Short Talcs.
Yes, dear, they do.'
'So then you will have eight hives full,
this year ?'
Yes, I hope so. If I don't lose some of
How can you lose them ?'
Sometimes they go a long way off, to
a wood, it may be, or some distant place
where no one can get at them.'
Ah, I hope none of yours will go away!'
said May. What wise things bees are! I
am sure they must think.'
You may well say that,' said nurse. I
believe so too, when I sit and watch them
at their work, and see all they do.'
Don't they sting you when you sit and
watch them, Nurse ?'
'No, they know me quite well,' said
nurse. 'I sit at the back of the hive, and
look through the glass at them as they
make their cells of wax and store up their
May Grant's Bees. 89
May I see them ?' asked May.
Yes, if you like, dear,' said nurse. And
she put a chair for May at the back of the
hives, and May peeped in through the glass
and watched the bees at work for a long
time. Once or twice some of the bees flew
round her, as if to see what she was doing
there; but she sat quite still, and they did
not sting her.
By and by it was time for her to go home.
As she kissed nurse, nurse said, 'Would you
like to have a hive of bees, Miss May ? If
you do, I will give you that swarm you saw
Oh, thank you, Nurse, yes; I should like
that! Bees of my own! then I shall have
some honey. Thank you so much! When
shall I have them ?'
'In a day or two, when they are quieted
down,' said nurse. 'You see they are in a
great fuss just at first, when they get into
their new house. Hear how they are buz-
90 S/hort Talcs.
zing and humming there, and see what a
state they are in, all about the hive. When
they calm down and go to work, I will bring
them to you.'
Thank you, dear Nurse,' said May; and
then she kissed her kind nurse, and ran
home to tell her aunt, and to ask if she
she might have them, and where they
might be put.
Her aunt said they might be put on the
lawn, and that Dick, the man who worked
for her, should make a wooden shed for the
hive, and thatch it with straw to keep it dry.
May was in high delight at this. By the
time the hive came, the shed was finished.
It was made close to a tree on the lawn,
and here May used to sit and look at her
bees, and watch all the odd things they did.
'How hard they do work!' she said one
day. They don't seem to stop at all, but
in they come with their wax, and put it by,
and off they fly again as soon as that is
May Grant's Bees. 91
done, to get more. I am sure they may
well be called Busy Bees."'
One day she saw a snail just crawling
into the hive. The bees tried to stop it,
but they could not; and in it crawled, and
stuck inside by the door of the hive. There
it stayed, and drew in its horns, and would
not go out or in. So what did the clever
bees do when they saw this, but all come
round the poor snail, and gum him in with
their wax, and made a small cell over him;
and so there he was, built in, and could not
come out again.
One day after that, a wasp got into
the hive, and May saw two bees pull him
out, while one bee stood on his back and
stung him. Then more bees came round
and stung him, and at last he died; and
they dragged his body away, and pushed
it off the edge of the board.
Another day there seemed to be a fight
in the hive; and May watched, and she
92 Short Tales.
saw some large bees dragged out by the
small bees, and stung to death. May ran
to her aunt to beg her to come and see
them; and her aunt said, 'They are the
drones. They will not work, but are lazy
things, and eat up all the food which the
small bees make ; so they are turned out
And May said, 'How strict the bees are!'
You may learn a great deal from these
small things,' said her aunt. It is God
who has made them so wise.'
May took great delight in her bees, and
loved to see them flying from flower to
flower in the garden, getting their honey.
Her aunt had put a large glass on the top
of the hive, and when the bees had stored
their honey in that-for they always begin
at the top first-it was taken away, and
May had the pleasure of seeing some
honey from her own bees on the breakfast-
table. Of course it seemed to her the best
May Grant's Bces. 93
honey she had ever tasted; and she wanted
every one else to think so too.
Next year May's bees swarmed, and old
nurse came and beat her tongs on her tin
pot, and took them for her, as she had
done her own. So then May had two hives,
and thought herself quite rich; and she was
able to give away some of her honey to
her young friends, which pleased her more
than having it for her own use.
TEA IN THE WOODS.
.the sun shone, and the birds
sang, and the bees hummed, and
the flies buzzed, and everywhere the gay
flowers peeped up in the fields and woods.
It was a sort of day which makes all things
The woods at Royston were green and
cool; there were such nice large shady
trees there, and such banks of moss, and
such ferns, and pretty nooks and dells,
that there was no place like it on a hot
96 Short Tales.
So at least thought Jessie and Charlie,
and Maggie and Tom, and the little pet-
ling, Amy, who all lived in the large house
at Royston, and loved above all things to
play in these woods.
It is going to be such a hot day!' said
Jessie to Maggie, as they were dressing.
'Look at the sky! Did you ever see such
a blue ?'
'Just the very day for having tea in the
woods,-early tea!' cried Maggie. 'Let us
beg mama to let us, the first thing when
we go down.'
Ah yes!' cried Petling, as the little
Amy was called; and she clapped her
hands with glee, and then hopped on one
leg all round the room.
Make haste and dress, Maggie,' said
Jessie; 'and then we will run and ask mama.'
Oh my hair, my horrid hair!' cried
Maggie. It is all in a tangle, just because
I want to be quick !'
Tea in the Woods. 97
'No, because you did not comb it out
last night,' said Jessie. There, don't tear
it off your head. Let me help you.'
With kind Jessie's help, Maggie's hair was
soon combed out, and her dressing finished;
and then the two ran downstairs, while
nurse dressed Petling, to knock at their
On the way they met Charlie and Tom
going down into the garden.
Where are you off to ?' asked Tom.
Maggie gave Jessie a pinch, and said,
' Ah, that is a secret!'
Stuff and nonsense !-secrets !' cried
Charlie. 'Come, tell us !'
'No,' said Jessie. 'You shall know by
It's nothing, depend upon it,' said Tom.
'Girl's secrets are always some rubbish.'
We shall see if it is rubbish,' said
Maggie; and then the boys ran down-
98 Short Tales.
The children's mama gave leave for the
tea in the woods; and Jessie begged that
it might be kept a secret from the boys
till it was all ready. Little Petling was told
not to tell, and it was hard work for her
to keep it to herself; but she did manage
to do so. At breakfast Charlie said, 'Look
at Petling see how she is giggling!'
'Something very wonderful must be going
to happen,' said Tom. Eh, Petling ?'
But Petling would not tell, and screwed
up her little mouth, and made every one
'She is afraid the secret will jump out
of her mouth, unless she shuts it up tight,'
Some time after breakfast, when the boys
had gone to bathe, the little girls begged
their mama to come with them and choose
a good place for the tea in the wood. They
found a beautiful one under the shady trees,
with mossy banks on which they could sit,
Tea in the Woods. 99
and a nice flat place where the cloth could
be laid on the grass.
When they came home again, their mama
took them with her to the storeroom, and
found some jam and cake; and she gave the
little girls leave to go into the fruit-garden,
and pick a basketful of strawberries, and
currants, and gooseberries, for the tea.
You cannot tell what a business it was
to lay this tea. All the afternoon Jessie and
Maggie and Petling were busy about it;
and the best part of the fun was the thought
of how they should surprise the boys. But
there was a surprise in store for them as
well. For when it was all ready at four
o'clock, who should come with their mama
into the wood, but their four little cousins,
Rose and Flo, and Basil and James! There
was great delight at this, and a very merry
tea they had; you could hear them laugh
all the way from the wood to the house.
Jessie was tea-maker, and did her part well.
I00oo Sort Talcs.
When tea was done, the children carried in
all the things to the house, and then had a
good game of play in the wood. This wood
was a famous place for hide-and-seek, there
were so many good hiding -places in it.
Petling hid once, and no one could find
her for a long time. The rest all hunted
right and left, and could not think where
she was. They began to think that she must
have run out of the wood, and were going
to give her up, when all at once Charlie
and Flo, who were looking about together
near a clump of tall ferns, saw a tiny boot
sticking out from them, and pounced on it,
and pulled it out, and with it they pulled
out the merry Petling, who screamed with
laughter, and tried to run away. They said
she was the best one of them all to hide.
Then they had a game of Fox, which
was great fun. Charlie was the fox, and
got into a hollow tree, which he called his
hole; and all the rest were geese. They
Tea in thie Woods. 101
put their heads under their wings, and went
to sleep; and then the old fox came out
slily, on the tips of his toes, and tried to
catch one of them; and he pounced on it,
and it screamed, at which all the rest woke
up, and hissed, and ran screaming away;
while the fox carried off the one he had
caught to his hole. Then that one became
fox in turn, and Charlie went among the
When they were tired of this game, they
had 'Follow the Leader;' and a pretty
chase he led them, in and out among the
trees, and up and down the banks and dells
in the wood. They played merrily until the
sun went down; and then their mama called
them to come in, for the dew was falling.
The little cousins said goodbye, and went
home with their nurse; and the last thing
the tired Petling said when she was being
put to bed was, I should like to have tea
in the woods all the days of my life!'
LD BESS was a poor old woman
who lived in a small cottage by
the road-side. She had no one
to live with her, for her children were dead,
and all those she had loved were gone;
and as she used to say, it was very lonely
Old Bess was good and kind, and always
had a bright smile for the boys and girls
who passed by her cottage on their way
from school. They liked to stop and chat
with her as she sat at her wheel in the
There was one little girl called Minnie,
104 Short Tales.
who was very fond of the old woman; and
she would often stay and do what she could
for her, fetch her sticks for her fire, and
fill her kettle at the well, and take the
broom and sweep out her room, and do
many little kind acts, for she felt sorry to
see poor old Bess so lonely.
One day, as Minnie looked in on her
way from school to see how the old woman
was, she saw Bess at the cupboard, with a
loaf of bread in her hand.
'Just see!' she cried, holding it up.
'See what those horrid mice have done!
I cannot keep a thing for them. They
have gnawed a great piece out of my loaf!'
'What a hole!' said Minnie. 'Why,
they have eaten as much as I should eat
'Yes, indeed,' said old Bess. 'They eat
my bread and my cheese, and I don't
know what to do for them.'
'Why don't you have a cat?' asked
Little Fun. 105
Minnie. They would run away fast
I would if I could,' said old Bess. 'But
you see I have none, and I don't know
who would give me one.'
'No more do I,' said Minnie. 'But now
let me make your tea for you before I go.
I like making your tea so much.'
She ran and got some water in the kettle,
and poked up the sticks on the hearth, and
put on a log, and made a blaze; and when
the water boiled, she made a cup of tea for
the old woman. Then she ran home to
her own tea.
Some days after, as she was on her way
to school, Minnie saw some boys standing
by a pond with a bag. She stood still
and looked at them. They took something
out of the bag, and threw it into the pond.
Twice they did this, and then Minnie went
up close to them, wondering what they
Io6 Short Tales.
'What are you throwing in the pond ?
she asked of one of the boys.
'Only some kittens,' he said, and laughed.
'Oh, how cruel!' cried Minnie, much
It must be done,' said the boy. 'We
can't keep them all. We have kept one,
and these three must be drowned. Here
goes!' and as he spoke, he drew another
out of his bag. The poor little frightened
kitten squeaked and clung to his hand, as
he was about to throw it into the pond.
Oh, pray don't!' cried Minnie. 'Give
it to me,-do. I know some one who
would be very glad to have it.'
'There, take it then !' said the boy, giving
it to her. You came just in time.'
Thank you, thank you!' cried Minnie.
'What a dear little kitten!'
Off she set, and ran as fast as she could
to old Bess' cottage with the small grey
kit mewing all the way in her arms.
Little Fun. 107
'There!' she cried, popping it into the
lap of the old woman, who sat spinning at
her door,-' there is a cat for you!'
Then she ran off to school, for she was
afraid of being late.
You may imagine how surprised and
pleased old Bess was. She stroked the
soft little kitten as it lay in her lap, half
dead with fright from being swung about
in the bag and handled by those rough
boys; and soon it lost all fear when it
felt the kind hand caressing it, and put
up its head, and looked about, and purred.
Then old Bess gave it some milk in a
saucer, and the little kitten liked that very
much, and lapped it up so eagerly, that
old Bess thought it could have had no
food for a long time; so she made it some
sops, and the kitten ate them all up, for
it was hungry, and then looked about for
When Minnie came in by and by, she
IoS Short Tales.
found the kitten at play with a bit of
wood which it had got hold of; and she
laughed to see how the kitten pushed it
here with her paw, and then there, and
jumped and leaped at it; and then in the
midst of her play the kitten caught sight
of her own little tail, and ran round and
round after that, until she rolled over and
fell on her back.
'What name shall you give it?' asked
I think you ought to choose its name,
as you found it,' said old Bess.
Then I shall call it Fun,' said Minnie;
'for it is full of fun.' And Fun it was
Now I must tell you what a piece of
mischief Fun did one day.
Old Bess, as you know, used to spin
wool on her spinning wheel; the wool
that comes off the sheep's back, which
is used to make warm stuffs and cloth.