The Baldwin Library
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OTHER FIELD AND FLOWER STORIES.
OTHER FIELD AND FLOWER STORIES
AUTHOR OF "MY YOUNG DAYS,"
"LITTLE LIVES," ETC.
WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS.
SEELEY, JACKSON, & HALLIDAY, 54, FLEET STREET,
I.-LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE i
II.-THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE... ... ...... 12
III.-THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS... ...... ... 25
IV.-" GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE" ... 37
V.- THE FIGHT ... ... ... .... ...... 47
VI.-HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES ...... 56
VII.-WHAT'S THE USE ... .. ........ ... 64
VIII.-FORTUNE-TELLING... ... ... ...... ... 72
IX.- IT IS NOT WORTH WHILE ..... ...... 85
X.-COMING OUT ............ .. ... ... 94
XI.-TWINED AND UNTWINED... ...... ... 103
XII.-THE HARVEST FIELD ... ...... ... ... 113
XIII.-WHAT WILL TO-MORROW BRING? ... 123
XIV.-THE WHITE CAMELLIA ... ... ... ... 132
XV.-WISHING ................ ... ... ... 142
XVI.-GOING FARTHER, FARING WORSE ... 153
XVII.-YOUNG MAC .............. ...... ... 165
XVIII.-LITTLE NEDDY... ....... ...... .... 172
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
LITTLE BLUE-EYES... ... ... ... ... ... Frontispiece
THE FIR-CONE ......... ... ... ......... 20
THE DAISIES ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 44
THE FIGHT ........... ... ... ......... ...... 52
THE HEATH-BELLS ............. ....... ... 68
THE MISCHIEVOUS GNATS ...... ...... ...... ... 86
THE NESTLINGS ........... ......... ... ... ... 98
AMONG THE CORN ... ............... ... ... ... 120
THE WATER-LILY ...... ...... .. ....... ...... 126
THE FOXGLOVES ......... .......... ... ... 148
THE FERN ... .............. .............. 158
UNDER THE WAVES ............. ...... ... ... 168
LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE
THE little Blue-eyes had a secret to keep. I
mean those little Blue-eyes on the green
bank which people call Speedwell-those
beautiful little fellows that peep at you so
cunningly as you pass from among the yel-
low buttercups, and the long weeds, and the
twisting brambles underneath the hedge.
They had a secret to keep. You would
never have thought it. You would have
felt sure that they had nothing in the world
to trouble themselves about; but that from
day-dawn to sunset they only had to shine
out, and look pretty, and be as good-tem-
pered as possible. This part of their duty
2 LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE.
they did to perfection certainly, and I fancy
there were very few little flowers that held
up their heads so well, or that kept them-
selves so clean and neat, and so far out of the
dirt. And that, you know, is a duty. If
other people, as well as the little Speedwells,
kept a bright, happy face all the day long,
it would be a good thing indeed. And I
wish next time you go down the lane, you
would just look at them, and see if I am not
telling the truth. I know that if ever I feel
sulky or out of sorts, a peep at the little
Blue-eyes always does me good.
But I was going to tell you about the
secret. Let me begin at the beginning.
Very early in the morning the sun got up,
for it was warm weather, and not the sort
for anybody to stay in bed. The long grass
was waking up, and the buttercups lifting
up their heads to say good morning to their
LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE. 3
great warm friend in the blue sky. The
daisies, too, were winking their little eyes as
if they were only half awake. Then the
Speedwells spread out their soft blue petals,
wondering what this bright day would bring
It was just at that moment that little
Jenny Wren flew out of her snug nest in the
bank, and twittered the secret to them all as
My babies are all out of the shell this
morning, Blue-eyes! Such little darlings
they are; oh, such little darlings. But don't
you tell anybody, Blue-eyes, mind you don't
And then she flew away, dear little Jenny
did, as if she was glad to stretch her wings
after such a long sitting still. And the Blue-
eyes made up their minds that they wouldn't
tell. No, not for anything It would have
4 LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE.
deen very nice just to turn their pretty eyes
round and take a peep at the new babies.
But they must not do that, for they had been
put just in the right place, and it was their
duty to look straight up at the sun, who is
king of almost all the flowers, you know.
So they would not turn round even to look
at their own little charge.
They were very short, young flowers as
yet, nestling among the grass; by and by,
they would grow bigger, and taller, and
bushier, and stretch out farther, but I don't
think they would be so pretty then.
When the sun had got higher up in the
sky, the blackbird came and sang to them,
opening his beautiful yellow beak, and giving
them the sweetest music. It was meant, I
fancy, for his little love; but the Blue-eyes
took it all to themselves, and it didn't matter
much. And when he had done his song,
LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE. 5
he had his breakfast, and they watched him
with a great deal of interest. I think it
must have been as hard for the little flowers
as for you and me to understand the pleasure
of dragging up that long worm, snapping
him in half, and swallowing him down.
They had had their sweet draught of morn-
ing dew, -and that seemed much nicer, and
it made them feel so well and look so fresh!
But then, again, we should not like a break-
fast of morning dew; so, after all, I suppose,
we must leave everyone to his own fancy.
When the blackbird had flown away,
there came a number of little boys down the
lane, all on their way to school, and the
Speedwells watched them as they passed.
I don't think the boys cared much about the
flowers, yet as they came along they peered
into the bank very closely. What were they
looking for ? I don't think our little friends
6 LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE.
would ever have guessed, if one small boy
had not let it out. He was a little red-haired
urchin, with a bright, round face, and eyes
the very image of the little Speedwell.
I'm sure there is a nest in here," he
cried. "I say, you little blue things, isn't
there now? "
But the little Blue-eyes would not tell.
They were very speaking eyes, too; they
seemed to have a world of fun in them, and
a world of happiness beside. But they were
not tell-tale eyes, not they! So the little
boy went away, and Jenny Wren came back
again, and settled down in her nest for a
Then it grew very hot, and the ground
got dry and hard, and the sun stared down
into those little blue-eyed subjects of his, as
if he would put them out of countenance.
And, indeed, he did make them feel rather
LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE. 7
queer, and very much inclined to shrivel up
all round and die. But still they looked up
at him in their little innocent way, and never
believed he could do them any harm. For
he was their hero, you see. And yet, by
and by, they were rather glad, I think, to
see a great cloud come and cover up his face;
and when the nice, cool drops of rain fell,
they were gladder still. I dare say they
thought it was the sun that melted the cloud
for them, for they took a deep draught, and
then they looked up in a very ecstacy of
merry delight, as if they would cry out,
" Oh, thanks, oh, thanks "
It was just then that a poor tired mother
came with her little child, and sat down tc
rest on the cool bank under shelter from the
rain. There was a great oak to shelter her,
but it did not stretch out far enough to steal
the rain-drops from the flowers. The little
8 LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE.
child saw them all covered with the bright
drops, and he reached out his hand for
them. Yes, gather them, Johnny," said
his mother, "they are nice home flowers,
and they tell us we shall 'Speed well' and
get home quick. And that's good news,
Johnny, after all this long day's tramp."
And the boy gathered some of them in
his little hand, and then they went away.
But the Blue-eyes whispered to each other,
as they parted, not to forget the secret.
By and by, when the sun had gone down,
and it was a clear, cool evening, Jenny Wren
flew out again to get a breath of air, before
settling for the night, and again she whis-
pered : "Don't tell, Blue-eyes, don't tell!"
And the Blue-eyes nodded, for there was a
gentle breeze blowing over the bank.
Only five minutes later, and the little
red-haired boy came creeping along the lane.
LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE. 9
This time we know what he was coming
for, and the Speedwells might well keep their
eyes wide open, and ruffle out their green
leaves to cover up all spaces. He had a
pinafore full of stones which he kept throw-
ing, one at a time, into the hedge. If only
I can make the old birds fly out," he said,
"I shall know where to find the nest."
Wasn't it happy that Jenny had just gone
out? Once, his rough, brown hand came
diving in among the flowers, and one of our
little friends was all crushed up, and never
lifted its head any more. But the Blue-eyes
did not tell; in fact, they looked supremely
unconscious. And after peeping and peering
about, at last the little boy went away. And
then back came the mother-bird, chirruping
her thanks. And very tired of their long
day's watching, the Blue-eyes shut them-
selves up and went to sleep.
IO LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE.
I have only told you about one day, but
you will easily fancy the rest; for all the
days are much alike to the happy flowers;
and those bright, sunny hours flew quickly
It was just as the Blue-eyes had grown
tall and straggly, and were beginning to
think of dropping off their soft azure petals
-it was just then that the little wrens flew
out of the nest. It was a happy time for
Jenny; and indeed she might well be thank-
ful, for I could tell you stories of nest-rob-
bing all down that lane that would surprise
you. The wonder is that any little birds
ever live to grow up, but that is neither here
The last thing, when all was done, and
Jenny had seen all her sons out in the world,
and had taken her last look at the empty
nest, just to make sure that nothing was left
LITTLE BLUE-EYES DOWN THE LANE. I I
behind-then she stopped a moment to thank
her friends on the bank.
You never told anybody, Blue-eyes!
That was good of you And now they are
all off, and my mind is easy! Good-night,
little Blue-eyes, good-night "
And then there came a soft evening
breeze, and it blew all the little blue petals
away. They were willing enough to vanish,
those little Blue-eyes, knowing that others
would come after them, and that they should
never be missed. There had been quite a
little family of them, while the nest was full,
and they had kept handing on the secret
from one to another, as some died away and
others were gathered. Now there was no
message to hand on. "But we didn't tell,"
they murmured as they fell; "we never
Good-night, little Blue-eyes, good-night!
THE FIR-.CONE'S MISTAKE.
"Up here, right up here! Was there ever
a jollier little fellow than I am!" cried a little
green Fir-cone, and certainly, if a good posi-
tion is a fine thing, he was about in the rights
of it. For his tree was the topmost tree of the
wood, and his wood went climbing up the
mountain, and was ever so many hundred
feet above the sea. Where the Fir-cone
would have fallen to if some eagle had
picked him off and let him drop, it makes
one dizzy to think. The saucy little green
Fir-cone. It was a kind of perpetual "I'm
the king of the castle" with him from
morning to night, and you know how that
THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE. 13
song provokes one to all kinds of mischief.
Let me tell you a little bit of his way of
talking, and you will see how nice, and de-
lightful, and perfectly delicious it would have
been to have knocked his head off. If only
he had had a head; but as he hadn't, what
could you do?
I'm here, at the very tip-top, above you
all, out of sight of you all, as I may say," he
began, addressing the other Fir-cones. I
can see the white mountains over there with
all the snow upon them, pointed peaks right
up among the stars. I wonder whether they
are higher than I am!"
"To be sure they are," cried a little Cone,
Well, perhaps they are, but I can see
over them, and at all events there are none
of our species there, that is certain; and I
can see down ever so deep. I can look down
14 THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE.
upon you all, little dears. As for the men
and the cattle in the valleys, they are but
specks; I look right past them to the blue
lake, taking it all into my view, its width
and length, its white cliffs on one side, its
little towns and villages, its churches, its vine-
clad hills, the boats on its blue waves, and
the ranges of hills beyond. I can see it all,
and a great deal more; only I like best to
look straight down and see all that lies at
my feet. There's a running stream dashing
over the rocks right down hundreds and
hundreds of feet below me, but I can hardly
stop to notice its voice, it is so much beneath
me. I like better to listen to the music of
the wind in our countless fir-trees, and to feel
that it is all my own. Somebody says that
the fir-trees are the harp of the universe,
playing in harmony to the joys and sorrows of
the world, and I think he was right-I do!"
THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE. 15
Would not Lamartine have been proud if
he had only known of the Fir-cone's appro-
bation! He made a little pause here, for
even boasting is bad sport if nobody will
answer you. So he took to the question
form of speech, hoping to provoke a reply.
Young Acorn, down there," he shouted,
clearing his throat first, "I don't know
whether I can make you hear, but I want to
know if you would not like to change places
Places?" answered the Acorn, catching
at the only word he could hear. Oh, yes,
I know of lots of places! Do you want a,
place? You must be out of place up there,
I am sure. What can you do, run errands?"
Dear me, how stupid !" cried the Fir-
cone; then he shouted contemptuously, "who
taught you to make low jokes, eh ?"
But the Acorn did not hear.
16 THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE.
Beech-nuts !" he shrieked by-and-by,
which of you would like to come and spend
a day with me?"
The wind carried his message this time
and brought back the answer.
The little ones are not to make a noise
up-stairs, the Beech-nuts are busy talk-
This was very provoking, especially as all
the little Fir-cones began to titter. How-
ever, he whistled to hide his vexation, and
then began to sing :
"I can see right over to England,
And out of England into France,
And out of France into Spain,
And over the hills and home again !"
No, you can't," answered a member of
the Alpine Club, who chanced to be resting
under this tree, and who had just had bad
news from home. If you could, I'd change
THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE. 17
places with you. But there is no England to
be seen from where you are, worse luck !"
Hushaby baby on the tree-top," cried
all the little Fir-cones. "We mustn't tell
stories, however high and mighty we
I can't hear you, it's no use talking all
that way down," cried the boaster, feeling
very hot and angry.
"Poor little fellow," murmured a sun-
beam who happened to pass at that moment,
"he's all alone up here in the cold, I must
stay and warm him a bit."
It was not exactly what he wanted at
that moment, yet the little attention was
pleasant to his wounded pride; moreover, it
gave him the chance of asking, though in a
humbler tone :
Can you feel the sun down there ?"
There was no answer.
18 THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE.
Can you feel the sun down there?"
"I say, can you feel the sun down there ?"
"You can't hear when we speak."
"Yet you might be polite."
It had just struck him how awful it would
be if they took him quite at his word, and
never spoke to him any more.
Well, no, thank you, we don't feel the
sun, but it is pleasant in the shade sometimes."
He was anxious to go on talking with that
fear upon him.
Not always, no; but then we shall not
be in the shade when your tree comes down,
It won't ever come down."
I say, it won't ever come down."
Well, of course, you know, being so
THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE. 19
high; but the woodman marked it this
Oh, he didn't !"
"Well, of course, you know, being so
high, but there's the mark. Perhaps one
may be a little too high to see some things.
However, it makes one hoarse to scream,
and besides, you know, you can't hear what
And they wouldn't say another word.
All that night the little green Fir-cone
thought it over, wishing with all his might
that he could see this one thing. After all,
what was the use of being able to look across
mountains, and lakes, and forests if one couldn't
see the marks of ruin on one's own supports ?
But it is the way with some of us. The
cold clouds wrapped round the hill that next
morning, and though the little fellow knew
that he was the first of all the forest Cones to
20 THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE.
catch sight of the first red peep of sunrise,
he was feeling so chilled, and sad, and heart-
achy, that he could not bring himself to an-
nounce the fact.
By and by the friendly sunbeam passed
again with the same kind words:-
"Poor little fellow, he is all alone up here
in the cold. I must stop and warm him a little."
And it stopped and dried up all his tears,
and all the cold, damp chill of terror that had
come over him. Then he fell back into his
"Why, you Sky-lark!" he said to a
mounting bird, don't you wish you were up
here without the trouble of mounting, like me,
Oh, not like you, please, not like you!"
sang the bird; "fancy being all stuck up in
th : clouds here, and no chance of going down
to the nest."
THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE. 21
But you might have your nest up here,"
persevered the Fir-cone, It would be nice."
Oh, thank you, no," said the Lark, "it
would be most unhealthy for the young ones;
besides having a tendency to give them high
What sort of high notions ? I thought
it was your family nature to fly high!"
"Yes, but not to be high to begin
Do you know if the woodman ever
comes as high as this, Sky-lark ?"
He's just coming, your tree is marked,
and he is just coming with his axe."
But they don't cut down trees on the
tops of mountains," said the little Cone, very
Mountains This isn't a mountain, it's
only a hill called a mountain for courtesy.
I'm going ever so much higher to the real
22 THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE.
mountain peaks. You're not half so high up
as you think, for all your boasting !"
Terrible mistake, discovered too late He
was not so high as he thought. He was not
beyond the reach of the woodman! How
he did tremble when he heard the woodman's
Acorn, oh Acorn! won't you change
places!" he shrieked at the top of his voice,
but the Acorn could not hear.
"Brother Cones, oh, brother Cones,
But there came a little tittering laugh,
and that was all the answer he got.
Then he burst into burning tears, for
there came a sharp blow of the axe, which
sent a shiver up to the topmost tip of the
pointed fir tree.
I thought Iwas out of reach of this!" he
sobbed. I thought I was beyond such ruin!"
THE FIR-CONE S MISTAKE. 23
"Thought, thought, you sham !" said a
passing gust of wind; "why did you presume
to think ? why didn't you find out ?"
"Cling tight to me," said the Twig he
was growing on, "if only you cling we shall
not fall far. They won't let the tree fall
into the valley, you know, but backwards on
to the hill. Cling fast."
"I can't, oh, I can't," sobbed the Green
Cone, "I have stretched my neck so that I
am hardly holding on at all, and I have always
looked down upon things."
"Yes, that was the mistake," ran a
whisper through the boughs; and, at that
moment came a crack, a crash, a fall, and the
tall tree was lying back on the hill. But,
with one tremendous shock, the little Cone
was sent bounding through the air, away,
Long afterwards he awoke from long un-
24 THE FIR-CONE'S MISTAKE.
consciousness to find himself on the moss by
the side of the splashing stream.
"Isn't it very bad down here? Aren't
you frightened ?" he asked of a little Fern.
"He that is low need fear no fall," was
the amused answer.
Ah, I made a mistake once," said the
THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS.
YELLOW Berries-beautiful yellow Berries,
they were, showing their shining faces here
and there, in a certain hedge more than
twenty years ago. I think they must have
been very proud of themselves, those orange-
coloured Berries, but I don't know quite,
for I was not there to read their little looks,
and hear their little sayings. But I can
fancy how they looked their best, and shone
their brightest, and rejoiced to think that
they had got their full colour earlier than
the Hips and Haws. For it was early in the
autumn, before the time of heavy dews and
26 THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS.
gossamer-webs, and yellow leaves, and cold
Do you know why it was such a good
thing to get ripe and golden before the Hips
and Haws ? Why, because, of course, in the
early autumn days the birds are not so
hungry; they have still a few songs left in
their portfolio, and are not so greedy and
peckish! But in later days, when the straw-
berries are done long ago, and the cherries
have vanished, and peaches and plums are
things of the past, ah, then the poor Hips
and Haws, and all the hedge-Berries have
their turn; and the sharp beaks pierce and
peck, and pinch, and wound without paying
the smallest attention to those wee, tiny,
plaintive cries, which are the only way the
flowers have of expressing pain. Indeed,
those sounds are so infinitely tiny, that there
are few ears beside mine that ever hear them.
THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS. 27
Some people would persuade us that we are
only fancying them, which people we do not
condescend to answer. But we were talking
about the yellow berries, and I was going to
say how happy it was for them that they
came out yellow so early in the year. I was
going to say so, but I stopped myself, because
I remembered that if it had been but a little
later, those two large brown eyes that caught
sight of them would have been far away in
London. Those two brown eyes, they only
belonged to a child, and yet they were large,
and they had a way of gazing at things that
often surprised people. Well, they caught
sight of the beautiful Berries, and the busy
brain behind them, which had a queer way
of always concocting plans, remembered a
certain small sister at home, and resolved to
do something at once. It was the doom of
those beautiful Berries. The busy little hands
28 THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS.
were stretching up in a twinkling, and though
the Briars cried, Berries, I'll defend you! "
and scratched with all their might; and the
Nettles said, "Berries, we'll avenge you! "
and stung as only Nettles know how-yet for
all that, the little yellow fellows were carried
off in triumph by the two scratched hands.
And I have a sort of impression that those
scratched hands, though they are a great
deal bigger now, would run the risk of worse
things than scratches for the sake of pleasing
that same younger sister.
Poor little round Berries, they went home
in a very resigned state of mind, for they
knew that it is never of any use to grumble;
that, in fact, when you are in the power of
one stronger than yourself, there is nothing
better than to be silent and still. They were
not a bit like those foolish children who pro-
voke rough brothers to teaze them more and
THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS. 29
more by shrieking and screaming the moment
they are touched. They were rather per-
secuted, those little rolypolies, I think. First,
they were torn apart, and pulled off their
stalks, and left to roll over and over on the
table in a helpless way. And then-and oh,
that was far the worst-they were stabbed
through the very heart, and the dagger
twisted round and round, until, when it came
out at last, you could have seen all the secrets
written on their minds-if they had any-as
easily as possible. And a little curly-wurly
snake, of white elastic, came creeping in-
through one, two, three, through all of
them, and wouldn't go out again for any-
thing. But I shouldn't say all of them, for
there were two snakes, and they divided the
Berry-balls between them; and then the
heads and tails of the snakes were tied to-
gether. And their tormentor never thought
30 THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS.
a bit about the heart-ache of each little
yellow fellow. Let us hope they soon forgot
it themselves, and never thought any more
of the hedge, nor of their friends, the Iips
and Haws, nor of their own stalks, nor any-
thing. When we are turned out of our old
life, and old home, the best thing, if we want
to be comfortable, is to forget it, isn't it ? I
am not quite sure, to tell the truth.
At last, they were all packed up in a box,
and they went a long journey in a train,
which is certainly more than we would
advise most Berries to expect, at all events.
I think they were in a box, but they may
have been in a pocket, it does not much
matter, does it?
At the end of the journey came light
again, and then the presentation; and the
Berries who had made up their minds, like a
certain famous man you will know by and
THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS. 31
by, "to be jolly under all circumstances,"
looked bright and shining as ever. There
was a great deal of pleasure between
those two small sisters, in the giving and
receiving, and as the little round balls hung
round the small wrists, they whispered to
each other that "it was nice to be thought
so much of, and to make people so
All that afternoon they shared the play
that went on in that nursery; and in their
way, they laughed and chattered too. When
the happy owner of the bracelets called them
her golden balls, and talked of the wonderful
jeweller who had made them for her, after a
pattern nobody else had ever seen-all pre-
tending, you know-they were as proud as
possible. For they fancied, poor foolish
things, that the work of some famous worker
in gold and jewels must rank higher, and
32 THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS.
be more wonderful than the simple fruit of
the trees and plants.
What have you done with your beauti-
ful Berries, neighbour ?" asked the Haw-
thorn of the Creeper in the hedge.
"They have been stolen from me!"
said the Creeper. "They were of such a
beautiful colour, that they caught the eye of
a little robber. You are happy that you
have your crimson glories yet to come "
I don't know that we have much to
quarrel about," was the answer. My little
red children are eaten by the birds, your
Berries are stolen by human fingers. But
where are they now ? "
"They are away in London, they tell
me, and are likely to be much thought of
there, where it seems there are not many
folks like you and me."
"Much thought of for a little while, and
THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS. 33
then, perhaps, thrown away However, we
need not grumble; we have our day, and that
is all we need ask."
Yes, the yellow Berries had had their
day, even while their friends were talking
For there came a wise elder sister to
where the children were playing, and she
saw the bracelets, and called them a very
ugly name, which settled their fate very
quickly. It is bad enough to be shunned
like poison, or hatedlike poison ; but to be
actually called poison is worse still. And
that was what happened to the bright Berries.
You can fancy how indignant they felt-how
they could have turned and twisted on the
snake that held them, for very shame and
anger. But there was nobody there that
could hear and understand the little plaintive
34 THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS.
"Oh, we would not hurt you! We
wouldn't ever do you any harm The little
birds eat us sometimes, and they never have
bad pains. And least of all would we dream
of hurting you! Oh, don't throw us
Nobody could hear their pleading. They
looked up brightly and beamingly into their
little owner's face, and she looked down at
them, and believed in them with all her
heart. But what was the use of that?
They had been called poison, and they must
be thrown away. There came a great lump
in the child's throat, for she did not like to
part with those beautiful bright things from
the country. But the thing that seemed to
choke her most was what she could not
have put into words. It was just the idea
that there had gone a great deal of love in
the gathering of those Berries, and a great
THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS. 35
deal of thought for her in the threading of
them-and now all was to be wasted. But
I don't think she said much about it. The
bright berries were thrown out into the
London garden, and left there to rot and die.
And yet somehow or other they have had a
much longer life than most Berries, for they
are remembered even now-twenty years and
more after they died, all alone there, away
from their hedge. And the strange choky
feeling that came into the little sister's throat
when they were thrown away, all that long
time ago, is inclined to come back again.
A pert, young robin was hopping about
in that hedge in the snow time, trying to
make some kind of a dessert from the red
haws, all sodden and cold. He had had a
good dinner of crumbs at the farm window,
but he pretended to be anything but content.
"What do you mean by having no
36 THE LITTLE BERRY-BOYS.
Berries this year ?" he said, saucily, to the
They were all stolen from me, if you
please, sir, and taken up to London to be a
plaything to a little girl. But they tell me
she could not keep them."
Sad, very! said Master Robin. "Now
if you ask me, that's what I call a wasted
But I don't think he knew anything about
it, do you ?
"GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE."
" DAISY, dear, it's time you went to sleep,
isn't it ?" said a blade of Grass one evening,
in a very sleepy tone.
The Daisies are such chatterboxes, that
really it is quite a comfort for the Moss, and
the Dandelion-plants, and the Grass on the
lawn, when they say good-night," and shut
their saucy eyes.
"Time to go to sleep," laughed this par-
ticular Daisy, "we have no special time for
going to sleep in our family; you would find
if you walked across the lawn that no two
of us shut our eyes at the same minute. We
38 "GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE.
are of too much use in the world; it wouldn't
do for us all to be asleep at once, except
quite after dark, when you know nothing
ever happens. Why, I can tell you we are
concerned, one way or another, with most
things, and most people too, for the matter
"Are you, Daisy, dear ?" said the Grass,
and nodded sleepily as it spoke, and the
merry little fellow, seeing that it was of no
good at all, laughed and said-
"Well, I see you are bent on it, so here
goes !" and he shut his eye, too, and was off
as sound as a top.
Next morning, of course, he was early
awake, and looking about to see how the
world was going; but, as nothing particular
was happening, he contented himself with
wagging his head, laughing in the sun's very
face, and then singing quietly to himself till
"GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE." 39
it got too hot to sing. By-and-by the
shadows fell across him from the great
trees, and he was taking a quiet, open-eyed
doze, such as flowers like, when he felt two
little soft fingers at his stem, and he was just
picked gently off. They were very soft,
rosy, little fingers, and they did not hurt
him. Indeed, I do not think he minded it
much, even when a sharp pin made a slit in
his stalk, and he found a little brother Daisy
nestling his head up against him.
It's funny," that was all he said; and
when he found himself one of a pretty chain
of Daisies hanging round Baby's neck, he
cooled his merry face against the white
pinafore, and looked very well pleased. Baby
didn't know, for he couldn't hear, and
wouldn't ever have understood the queer
little talk that went on round his neck. A
kind of round game, you know, that was
40 "GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE."
better than "cross questions and crooked
answers," or any of those things that one
always gets so tired of playing.
"Well, I call this rather good fun," said
one little fellow.
"It's ever so much cooler than out there
in the sun," said his neighbour, whose spot in
the grass had been just outside the shade.
"To think what we might have come
to," said one who was rather sentimental.
"My brother lost his head by the
mowing-machine yesterday," said the next,
and so should I have, if I had not bowed
down till my neck nearly broke."
My uncle died an awful death," said
the one on Baby's shoulder; a little witch
got hold of him and pulled him to pieces,
petal by petal, muttering the magic words,
' this year, next year, sometime, never,' over
him till the last."
"GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE." 41
How shocking said his neighbour.
"Well, let us be glad we are where we
are," said the Daisy, who was struggling up
through the strings of the pinafore. And
" Glad we are where we are," was the little
song that ran round and round Baby's neck.
They sang it all the evening while Baby was
having his tea, and afterwards while he was
at play, until at last bed-time came. I don't
think the Daisies had quite settled that it
was bed-time. At all events, the little fel-
low who was caught in Baby's fingers was
very wide awake, and did not quite enjoy the
squeeze he got before Baby was persuaded to
say ta-ta to his pretty chain, and submit
to be undressed. Then they were all laid
down on the nursery table, and talked a little
to each other while the splashing in the bath
was going on.
I'm rather thirsty," said one, I should
42 GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE."
like to be out-of-doors, drinking up the dew
I'm a little faint," said another, and
my stem is getting stiff. I suppose we have
not much longer to live,"
No, we shall go to sleep soon," said the
one whose neck had been twisted by the
little fingers; but we have had a good while
together, and a better time than many
Glad we've been where we've been,"
was the good-night, sleepy song, and then
they all sighed softly, and went to sleep there
on the nursery-table. Somebody said some-
thing about putting them in water to keep
them fresh till the morning, but nobody
In the middle of the night, there was
a great bustle in the nursery. There was
hurrying backwards and forwards, whispers,
"GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE." 43
and louder talking, a pouring out of hot
water, and a great deal of confusion. All of
a sudden a heavy tray was put down on half
the Daisy-chain, and the rest of the Daisies
woke with a start.
I feel all hot and parched up," said a
little Daisy in a weak whisper, "do you
remember the cool dew and the pleasant
"Do you remember the nice cool pina-
fore?" asked another, "perhaps they'll put
us on that again ?"
Perhaps they will. Good-night, I'm
But they didn't; no, little Baby never
wore the Daisy-chain again. Next morn-
ing the nursery was very still and quiet,
and nobody noticed the withered flowers.
They had said good-night and gone to sleep
after their short happy time of it, and they
44 "GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE."
wouldn't wake up any more-not any more
And little Baby, little rosy, merry Baby
had gone to sleep after his short, happy time,
gone to sleep for a long, long while; but
who could say that he would not wake any
more ? For Baby's life was very different to
the Daisy's life, wasn't it ?
Nurse found the chain when she came to
move the tray, and she took it up quickly.
Deary me, now, it's his Daisy-chain,"
she said, "and to think he wore it only yes-
But the little Daisies did not know that
she cried over them, and hid them away with
sundry little treasures in a drawer. Because,
you see, they were fast asleep. They
stayed there, hidden away, for a long, long
But there were other Daisies where they
I I 'd
"GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE." 45
came from, and there are other Daisies all
about in the fields and over the lawn and
under the trees. Dear me, they are as
common on the earth as the stars are in the
skies, or as little children in the houses.
When the winter came they disappeared,
and their place was covered up by the snow,
and people forgot that they had ever been.
But by-and-by the summer came back, and
they were peeping out everywhere. Wher-
ever there was the least bit of sun, there
the Daisies grew, on the open lawn and in
the wide field, and in the churchyard
grass. Aye, in the churchyard grass!
There was a little, small green mound
there that a lady came to visit one day;
and as she stooped down over it, and
murmured sweet words about Baby, the
little Daisies on the tiny grave looked straight
up in her face, not merrily this time, per-
46 GLAD WE ARE WHERE WE ARE."
haps, but, oh, so happily, as if they had
something sweet and bright to sing about
the happy life of little flowers here, and
little Baby, too, in the far away world.
"We might clear away all the Grass
and Daisies, and plant roses and lilies instead;
but I don't think we will," the lady said.
The Daisies make me think of that Daisy-
chain I made him, and they remind me
of him, so bright, and wee, and happy
they look. I am glad they are where they
Yes, that was just the Daisies' own song,
" Glad they are where they are."
And by-and-by the lady added, but
softly to herself, And I'm glad he is where
he is, my little wee flower, in the sweet fields
beyond the river."
And the Daisies looked up and almost
seemed to smile.
IT wasn't a flower, properly speaking; they
called it a weed, but it was not that in the
usual sense of the word-it was a Sea-weed.
And that is just the sort of thing which I
think it would be most delicious to be this
terribly hot weather.
I believe it had a long Latin name, if the
truth were told; but you don't know Latin,
no more do I, so we won't call it by its
name. We will just call it young Sea-weed.
Can you fancy anything half so beautiful as
it was ? Lying in its native pool, cosily rest-
48 THE FIGHT.
ing among the other Sea-weeds, and floating
on the cool, bright water-spread out with
its red, fine branches and twigs, and fibres,
all of the tiniest, fairy-like kind. And it had
plenty to do and plenty to see, fastened as it
was to its home-rock. For there were the
tiny crabs playing at "hide and seek," under-
neath it, just as you do in the shrubbery, you
know. And there were the shrimps making
it a starting-place for their exciting races, or
calling it home," when they had a game
at hare and hounds." And there were the
shell-fish, so tiny that you could hardly see
them, nestling themselves in the thickest
part of it. Indeed, I rather think that if that
young Sea-weed could have told its own
story, it would have had to describe little live
things that lived, and eat, and drank, and
enjoyed themselves all among its branches,
yet too small for any human eye to see them.
THE FIGHT. 49
But I can only tell you what I know; and I
am very sure that I shall not be able to tell
you half the wonders that might be told if
we knew all the secrets of our young Sea-
weed. Let me tell you what I can fancy
happened to it one time when nobody was
It was quite in the middle of the night,
and the tide was low, and the sea ever so far
away, lying under the moon, which was just
going to set behind its bright, sleepy waters.
And it was the crabs' happiest play-time.
Now, don't be surprised, but just think a
minute. You say there was a low tide in the
middle of the day as well as in the middle of
the night, when they might come out on the
sand, or scramble over the rocks without any
great waves to sweep over them. Well, of
course there was, and then there were plenty
of little boys and girls on the rocks, too,
50 THE FIGHT.
ready to catch them with their nets, or pick
them up with their fingers, or knock them
with their spades. Oh, you little goose,
can't you see that the crabs must keep all
their best fun for the night low-tide, when
they have all the room to themselves, and
nobody to disturb them ?
Well, the young Sea-weed was lying
happily enough in the moonshine, stretching
out its arms as far as possible into the cool
water, and drinking in all the nice moisture
at its roots. And then it didn't mind a bit
if the little live creatures came and nibbled at
it. Almost all things, except human things,
are made to be eaten, some alive, some after
they are dead, and they don't grumble, any
of them. No more did the Sea-weed. It
was just lying watching the shrimps at their
games, and letting the tiny creatures suck at
its leaves, or tumble about in its branches,
THE FIGHT. 51
just as they liked; when, all of a sudden,
two large crabs came across the rock in
opposite directions. They had got their
pincers up in the air, and their eyes were
standing half out of their heads, and they
were looking very fierce indeed. Now, of
course, you know, if you are not quite a
goose, that the crabs are the sea-soldiers.
They wear armour, strong and stiff; and
they have sharp weapons which they know
how to use. The worst of it is, that they
are very much given to civil war, which, you
know from your history, is a very bad kind
of war indeed. Only in this case, perhaps,
it may be just as well that the sea-soldiers
should keep down their numbers by fighting
amongst themselves, lest the whole sea-beach
should turn into a military despotism, which,
as of course you know, would never do.
Well, these two crabs had a good cause of
52 THE FIGHT.
quarrel, or thought they had. I believe they
had been passing under a large stone at the
same time, and neither would give way to
the other; and so, of course, as any school-
boy will see, it was a case of honour, and
must be fought out.
And the young Sea-weed laughed at the
prospect. Just to lie still that hot night, and
see other people exciting themselves, was
such very good fun. A limpet, on the rock,
lifted a side of its shell and asked what was
the matter. An anemone, very busy looking
out for its supper, sighed to think of the dis-
turbance, which would frighten away all
passing eatables, and shut itself up to think
about it. And the shrimps took to flight.
" Go it," cried the little crabs, and hid them-
selves, laughing, in our young Sea-weed.
Then both champions stood up on their
hind legs, and looked very fierce, and very
- I -j -- ----
""I F I Q
THE FIGHT. 53
awful, and one said, Now, sir!" and the
other said, "Come on, sir! and the tug of
war began. And the young Sea-weed
laughed-laughed in all its fibres, giggled
from root to tip. Oh, the wicked young Sea-
They fought, and fought, and fought!
As for black eyes and bleeding noses, such
as you boys understand, they are all a trifle
to it. There was a clatter of arms that
awoke the sleeping starfish, and angry words,
not loud, but deep, that made the very jelly-
fish shudder! By-and-by, there was the
horrid crash of a breaking claw, and the
little crabs hid their faces, frightened; but
still the Sea-weed quivered with merriment.
Oh, the wicked young Sea-weed! There
was a pause in the fight-a little breathing
time, you know-and the angry combatants
looked at each other in deadly hate, and then
54 THE FIGHT.
looked at the joints of their armour. I don't
know which was the stronger, nor which was
the braver, nor which was most likely to win.
But when they called for another round, and
rushed in blind fury at each other's eyes,
perhaps the rock was slippery even for crabs
-perhaps the moonlight dazzled their sight;
perhaps- But never mind why it was;
they fell struggling, and fighting, and furious,
right into the midst of the young Sea-weed,
and vanished under the water. And the
young Sea-weed, torn and rent from its roots,
tossed about hither and thither in the terrible
fight the young Sea-weed laughed no
And the moon went down, and it was all
dark, and by-and-by the sea crept over the
stones, and covered them all. The long
hours went by, one by one, and again the
sand came in sight, and the green rocks.
THE FIGHT. 55
And in a certain little pool lay a maimed
and wounded crab, looking sadly enough at
its two legs, far away in the water, and
thinking of its conqueror gone off in triumph.
And the young Sea-weed? Oh, the wicked
young Sea-weed-torn up by the roots, was
gone-gone away on the ocean, nobody
knows where-nobody knows how!
HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES.
I HAVE heard of a man something like my-
self. Something like myself, I say, because
he loved the flowers with that uncommon
kind of love that means sympathy. He put
himself in the place of the flowers, and
fancied to himself what the flowers must feel.
Only I think he rather overdid his fancying,
for he thought that they must be so hurt
when their prettiest bunches were cut off,
that as he went through the wood filling
his hands with blue-bells and primroses, he
thought he heard every plant shrieking after
HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES. 57
him, until the whole place was one chorus
of lamentation. Poor little flowers, it isn't
so bad for them as all that, and yet it must
be rather bad sometimes when careless chil-
dren pick them and throw them down in the
dust to die, instead of giving them a chance
in a glass of water at home.
A sad, sad sigh, I heard from a large
white Convolvulus one day:
I was looking so bright and beautiful,"
she said; I had climbed up to the very top
of the hedge, and it was so nice up there.
And it was only this morning that I spread
out my great white face to take it all in.
Oh, dear, why did that dreadful boy come
and tear me all down, and leave me here
among the Nettles ? Shall I ever get up
No; there isn't a chance for you," sang
the Nettles; but they sang it cheerily. You
58 HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES.
will have to lie here in our laps and rest.
And we'll take the choicest care of you, lady
fair! Don't you know us, Flora's brave
lancers ? Only let the little robber touch
you now, and he shall have more than he
The white beauty thanked them but
faintly, for she was wounded and weak. The
talkative Nettles went on among themselves.
Queer enough there was nobody up
there to protect her ladyship-not one among
all those high-born flowers to give blow for
blow, or do a mischief when needs be!
That's all that comes of being aristocratic,
you see; injured innocence has to look to us
common folks for protection."
Well now, I do declare now," began a
simpering voice over their heads, and look-
ing up the Nettles saw the affected young
guardsman, Nightshade, flaunting his gay
HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES. 59
regimentals over them, and drawling away
in his own fashionable tone. They laughed,
but he went on-
Look here, now, what could you fellows
do for a lady, now? If you were put to it,
now ? A few stings ? Aye, who'd care for
that ? Look at me, now, you know what
I'm good for ? "
Oh, to be sure, to be sure," sneered the
Nettles, if anybody would take the trouble
to eat you, you'd kill them! And very
clever of you, to be sure But suppose they
should not take the trouble ?"
"Well, there now, I'm not so touchy as
you fellows, I confess It isn't handling me
that hurts, it's injuring me. But, come now,
it is no good soldiering to carry your sword
with its point out, come now "
Oh, enough, enough !" cried a Holly-
bough, whose face was all shining with good
60 HOW TO USE ONE S PRICKLES.
humour. No quarrelling, I pray. We've
all got our place in the Queen's court, and
we all know our duty without talking about it."
"I wonder what my duty is ? said a
merry bunch of May.
Why, to look pretty and smell sweet,
my darling," said the Holly-bough.
"I believe I'm one of the poisonous
chaps," called out the Dandelion, in his
hoarse, unrefined tone of voice.
If you are, it's very likely you can give
medicine too, for aught I know," said the
Holly-bough; and he spoke the truth with-
out knowing it, perhaps.
"Well, this lady fair has missed her
vocation, at all events," said the Nettles, as
they tossed the Convolvulus in the wind.
" Look, she'll be dead in no time "
Don't you be rough with her," answered
the Holly-bough; perhaps she has a chance
HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES. 61
yet. And mind, if anybody comes to save her,
don't send them off with your clumsy stings !"
The Nettles laughed, for they were proud
of their spears; but they answered with the
old joke-" We don't sting this month, you
know." But they took the hint for all that.
It was not five minutes after that that a
little girl came past with her big brother. The
little girl noticed the beautiful flower, and
"Oh, I wish I could get that splendid
Convolvulus for my hat; but it's all among
the nasty Nettles."
How hot and uncomfortable the Nettles
"I will get it for you," said the big
brother. And he stretched out his walking-
stick, and lifted the drooping beauty gently
out of her friends' arms. Then he twined it
round and round the broad-brimmed hat.
62 HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES.
"You must make haste home," he said,
and give the poor thing some water."
And all the flowers looked after her,
She won't live long," said the Nettles,
as if they liked to think so.
"But she will see the world, at all events,
and give pleasure into the bargain," said the
Dandelion. Nobody ever dreams of taking
us home with them." He was rather
People don't take me either, now,"
yawned the Nightshade; "it would be at
their peril now."
"People do take me," cried the Holly-
bough, "at least, they will when Ch:istmas
comes. And won't I have fun then, and see
merry faces, and watch grand games, and
hear happy carols, and help to make them
all the happier. And you'll come, too, old
HOW TO USE ONE'S PRICKLES. 63
fellow," he shouted to a Mistletoe in an apple-
tree, not far off. "Ha, ha, we'll have a fine
time of it." And he went on with all his
pleasant thoughts of the future, talking in his
own good-humoured fashion; and all the
"Yet you have got prickly points, and
you can hurt people, too!" said the Nettles,
as if they were a little jealous.
"Yes, so I have, and so has the Rose its
thorns, but that doesn't matter. People
know how to handle us, and we don't hurt it
we can help it."
No; we don't hurt if we can help it,"
sang all the little Roses, all down their thorny
And the Nettles thought it was a good
hint, and made up their minds that they, too,
wouldn't hurt if they could help it.
WHAT'S THE USE?
" WHAT is the use of it all ?" that was the
burden of the long, soft sigh that went up on
the hot, mid-day air from the heather hill.
For the little Heath-cups were very hot-the
sun poured down all his scorching rays upon
them; and the Fir-trees, though they looked
so cool and pretty, were a long way off, and
could not stretch their shadows half far
enough to shield them in the very most trying
time. It is true there was a soft breath of
sea air coming over the cliffs; but the sea,
too, was a long way off, and only gave them
a salt mouthful of air every now and then.
WHAT S THE USE? 65
And the ground was getting very hard and
dry, cracking all over with the heat; and
the grass seemed all dead and gone, it was so
brown. So the little Heath-bells, nodding to
each other in their feverish state, whispered
that at any rate it was healthy weather, just
suited to their peculiar constitutions-trying
to make the best of it, you know, for they
were very hot, and felt as if they were grow-
ing redder in the face every minute. And
it was all very true; nothing could be more
wholesome and robust than the strong, sweet
breath of health, which the sun drew out of
those little fellows. Only what is good for
us is not always pleasant. The Peach might
well exult in his beautiful rosy cheek, and
yet not quite enjoy the long hours inside his
hot blanket, roasting on a hot wall. So the
sigh came over and over again from the little
Heath-bells, What is the use? "
66 WHAT'S THE USE?
And I began to wonder myself what the
use could be, as I listened to the feverish,
restless movement all around me. I thought
of the comfortable life of the heath-plants in
the greenhouse, shaded, and watered, and
aired, and heated, just as every hour's need
arose. And these poor little wild things
seemed to have a hard time of it, all to no
purpose. For what can be the use of a
flower except to live happily and look pretty
all the few days of its life?
To suffer with a purpose may be all very
well; to be roasted alive to no purpose is
quite a different thing! But is there any
suffering to no purpose in this world? Is
there any ?
So I lay on my back, with shaded face,
listening to the distant lark far overhead;
and I wondered if the Heath-bells could
catch the cool music in his song, that always
WHAT'S THE USE? 67
seems like the ripple of flowing water-so
refreshing and nice. Then he turned and
came down. I thought he would surely have
his nest in the long, waving hay, hard by;
and I thought of the coming scythe, and
pitied him. But he made a sudden turn to
one side, and hovered long and lovingly over
the thickest bed of purple heather. And the
fag-end of the song he was singing, the song
that took in every joy of his happy life, his
morning hymn, and his hunting-song, and
his verse to the sun, and his Home, sweet
home,"-the fag end of that song was not in
praise of the golden gorse, but in love of the
beautiful heather which circled his little ones'
cradle. "So warm, so bright, so sweet-
breathed," he called it; and the Heath-bells
looked up at him, and never sighed out,
" What's the use ? "
But he settled down in his nest and was
68 WHAT'S THE USE?
silent; and the terrible sun seemed fiercer
and fiercer, as the noon passed into the after-
noon. There was a great silence all over the
heath-such a great silence that you could
not hear ever a murmur in the Fir-trees, nor
a sigh from the Heath-bells. The gay
butterflies and the dragon-flies seemed to
be the only creatures that had energy to
move; and nothing, you know, will ever
keep them at home, such gad-abouts they
are! "Hot, so hot, and not a breath to
breathe," murmured the Heath-bells, and
then they fell into a drowsy state, and said
By-and-by, there was a little stir-a click
of the latch of a distant cottage-door, a sound
of footsteps coming and then going away. I
did not know what it meant, and I did not
But after a little while I found that there
THI HiEAT H- B LL
wHAT'S THE USE? 69
were new-comers all around me-here and
there, in ones and twos. Little happy,
humming bees, they were-very happy, of
course, and full of eager chat. We are all
coming, pretty Heath-bells," I heard them
say; they have brought out our hive, and
we shall have such fun There is no honey
like yours, pretty Heath-bells; we are all
come to gather it fast. You have the sweets
of all the flowers, and mountain air, and sea-
breezes as well, you rich little fellows And
you are keeping it safe for us, too, and will
let us come and feast to the full! How
long have you waited to feed us, standing up
in the sun on the breezy hill-side, growing
rich every hour to feed us ? How long have
you waited, little Heath-bells ? "
But they never stopped for an answer,
they went in and out, over and under, round
and round; and the bees and the bells under-
70 WHAT'S THE USE ?
stood each other, and fed and feasted happily
and long. I must not tell you all their
secrets, all the confessions of the little purple
boys--all the merry murmurs of the little
brown-coats. Hours passed away while they
were cosing together, giving and taking,
whispering loving words, and nodding funny
nods to each other.
And, meantime, the hot sun was going
down behind the cliff-dipping his glowing
face into the blue, blue sea, and throwing
back great floods of glory all over the sky.
But those floods of glory had nearly faded
out, before the brown bees said "Good-
Snight to the purple bells, and went home
satisfied. And when I looked in the clear,
cool twilight, there was a dew-drop bright,
in each little heath-cup, as if they were sorry
they had ever whispered murmuring words
in the mid-day heat.
WHAT'S THE USE? 71
And I wondered whether any others,
besides the heather-bells, ever said, what's
the use ?" in the burning noontide, and found
it all out at the evening-time!
THE Thistle-down is the flowers' gipsy-
woman, and tells them their fortunes. Did
you know that? I dare say not, for I
sometimes think you wouldn't know any-
thing about the flowers if it was not for me.
Of course, you might know botany, but that
isn't knowing about the flowers, any more
than studying skeletons is making friends.
Think now, all their little ways and their
fancies and their fidgets, what would you
know about them if it was not for me?
And yet people say-they do !-that I don't
care for the sweet things, because I never
gather great bunches and go about with my
hands full. Well, there are some folks
who cannot understand that you love your
friends unless they see you always hand
in hand with them or gazing at their photo-
graphs ; they don't understand hidden sym-
pathies, and, poor things, they probably never
will! They have not the higher nature, you
But I was going to tell you about old
Dame Thistle-down and her fortune-telling.
She was a great favourite with the younger
and gayer flowers, who looked upon her
rare visits as great fun, though their more
sober elders and betters contended that she
was a worthless vagrant, and ought never to
be admitted to a respectable garden. Which
was, I dare say, true; yet, for all that, those
flowers whose happy homes bordered on the
wild common, which was her proper home,
74 FORTUNE TELLING.
thought themselves very fortunate, and were
always on the watch for the wind which was
likely to bring her their way. I was very
much amused one day at her visit to a rocky
garden rather over-crowded with flowers,
most of whom were eager to get a word
And what is to happen to me, mother ?"
asked a fresh young Moss-rose.
"Ye are to have a happy home in a
wine-glass, and to be much minded for
"And little me, granny ?" asked a bit of
Ye, my darlint, ah, there's a sweet love
waiting for ye, and a plenty of kisses."
"'We know all the fine things in store
for us, without any gipsy cunning," said the
gaudy China Asters.
"It's a shower of rain and a ruin that's
waiting for ye, a pitiful death and a shame-
ful burying," said the old thing angrily.
Have you nothing better for me ?" asked
a handsome Fuchsia, somewhat anxiously,
though he disdained to let it be seen.
"A prize at the flower-show, me bonny
boy, but only a second prize."
And what for this beautiful crimson
Geranium, granny ? It's the splendidest of us
The old dame paused, hovering in mid
air, and watching to see if the Geranium
would condescend to ask for himself, but he
looked indifferent. At last she said, with an
air that was infinitely mysterious--
"Early destruction, and a long surviving;
ill-treatment, and a tender cherishing'; a dark
time, and a long one in the midst of a wise
world and a great one; and a year and a day to
unravelit! And I wish ye all a good-morrow."
Then, with that hobbling gait that her
age and the east wind always gave her, she
Well, she has given you a chapter of
contradictions for your share," said the
Fuchsia to the Geranium, "what do you think
it means ?"
"Who knows and who cares ?" answered
the Geranium, with a grand air which effec-
tually silenced all the lesser flowers, who had
just begun to find interpretations of the
mystery. They thought the grand Geranium
meant what he said, and wondered at his
superiority to all small curiosity, little know-
ing, sweet innocents, how he was, in reality,
puzzling his brains for an explanation of the
Of course, you and I know better than to
believe such idle predictions, and we should
never expect them to come true, but then
what is the use of being greater than the
flowers if we are not wiser? So do not
despise our pretty friends if they were too
ready to believe the idle gossip of a light,
wandering Thistle-down. And if what she
said did seem to come true, it was only by
accident, or, perhaps, even she never said it.
It was a beautiful Geranium, you could
never deny that, and many people wondered
to see it in that cottage garden. For the
Geranium never cared to tell people that he
remembered days of grandeur, when he had
been among his equals in a large glass-
house. It had been one of the puzzles of his
puzzling life why he had been brought by
his young master and planted there among
the common flowers. But this at least was a
puzzle which he was to have explained to him
About an hour after Dame Thistle-down
had gone, there came this same young master
in at the little gate, and he uttered a merry
shout as he saw his flower.
"It's quite out, nurse, in its full glory!
Now, then, I am going to bring it in to you
my own self, as I said."
And the next moment the Geranium felt
himself beheaded, and his head knew that it
was to see the inside of that cottage he had
been staring at ever since he was a bud.
The old nurse put on her spectacles to
look at the beauty, and the little boy chattered
I told you I should come and pick it
for you my own self when it was ready, and
now it has come out the very right day; I
could not have picked it before it was quite
out, and to-morrow I shall be ever so far
"Ah! Master Percy, and what will your
old nurse do without you ?"
Let's talk it all over again," said the
little man, settling himself comfortably astride
her lap, with the beautiful Geranium in his
fingers. It was a pity he didn't put it down,
for the talk grew so interesting that he never
thought what he was doing, and he pulled it
about all the time, and whenever he came to
anything that was "a bother or not just as
he wished, one of the beautiful petals got an
awkward twitch, which was not at all good
for its health. At last one came off in
his hand, which made a great pause in the
"Such a beauty of a flower, and I've
spoilt it!" said the boy. "Well, mamma
always says my things ought to be made of
iron. But what is one to do when it's in one
to break things ?"
Upon which followed a loving little lec-
ture, such as dear old nurses can give and be
listened to, unlike other people. But as the
boy could not look her in the face, and must
have something to do with his fingers, the end
of the lecture saw all the bright petals strewed
in her lap.
It wasn't any use keeping it, you know,
when it had lost a leaf," he said, when he
saw the mischief he had done, but it is a
Then a bright idea came across him.
I say, I shall put them into one of your
books, and leave them there to press till I
come back, and you shall show me them
there! Won't that be fun? But I must
find a book you don't read much, because
else they would get turned out very likely."
He was not long doing that, for on the
little table that stood by the wall under the
picture of Percy as a baby, lay a little pile of
old books, one of which was a Latin book
called Virgil, kept in remembrance of Percy's
papa in his schooldays. So in the very
middle of that old book, which had been so
long shut up there, were placed the bloom-
ing live petals of the beautiful Geranium.
Which of the inferior flowers would have
envied his remarkable fortune ? For a
little while he lay and listened to the
chatter of the little master, which came
faintly to him, all smothered up as he
was; and then he heard a sound of many
kisses-and the cottage was all quiet and
And I fancy that, perhaps, it would be
right to say that here ends the story of the
beautiful Geranium. But the life of a
flower is a strange thing, and it would be
hard to say when it is dead. You cer-
tainly could not pull me to pieces like that
and leave any life in me, and yet those
petals certainly were alive long after they
were divided. But at last, when the sap
all dried up in between those dry leaves,
they went to sleep, one by one-to the beau-
tiful flower-sleep, which was never so pretty
as in that ill-treated Geranium. Day after
day went by, all the bright colours were
gone from the flower-beds, and only black
mould was there; and that was covered,
by-and-by, by the snow. But every now
and then, the old nurse would go and
open that old Latin book, and find the
place where the crimson petals lay, each
in its full, bright colour, soft and downy
still. So the Geranium was tenderly cher-
ished; though, perhaps, not for its own sake
The spring came at last with its snow-
drops and crocuses, and then the hot sum-
mer. And the Geranium plant under the
window once more-it had been in the
house all the winter had its bunch of
green buds, which at last turned into fine
But not as fine as he picked," said old
nurse, and she put on her spectacles to
look in the old book; but her eyes grew
dim, for her boy was ill in a foreign land.
When she looked next time, it was with old
hands trembling with joy, for he was coming
It's a year to-day since he left me," she
Next day Dame Thistle-down was telling
fortunes in the garden, and all the flowers
were eager. Did she notice the two heads
at the window, the old head and the young
one, looking into an old Latin. book?
Early destruction, and a long surviving;
ill-treatment, and a tender cherishing; a
dark time and a long one in a wise world
and a great one; and a year and a day to
unravel it! And I wish you all a good-