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Printed in Bavaria.
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THE STO T SHOT.
'M tired of keeping the Stores," grumbled
Evelyn. "We've sold all the things over
and over again, and I'm -sick of adding up
: six apples and one pear. It is like a French
"But we haven't anything else to sell!"
cried Tim, dumping down the umbrella he carried. "And
what can we do? Shall we play croquet?"
"I hate croquet," growled Evelyn, who did not
manage her mallet well. "Can't you tell me a story'
"I don't know any but -Cinderella and--"
"I'm sick of Cinderella," interrupted Evelyn impa--
tiently; "that's like Nurse. She always tells you
Cinderella, or Red Riding Hood-only she won't let
the wolf eat up Granny, which is silly. I'm sure he did!"
"Oh! I'm sure he didn't," cried Tim, distressed.
"Granny had gone to her marketing. But I wish-I
wish somebody would keep a Story Shop, where we
could buy stories for brown-paper pennies, like we do
when we play at the Stores."
"A Story Shop!". exclaimed Evelyn. "I say, what
a jolly idea! Let's go and ask Mother-or Auntie-she
That was how it began-the Story Shop I mean.
It openedevery afternoon, as soon as lessons were finished,
and lasted till tea-time. Auntie did a roaring trade,
so much so that she had to raise her price for stories
"out of her own head." Those were twopence, but
"Bluebeard" or the "White Cat," or "Beauty and the
Beast" might be had for one penny. And Mother gave
out the pennies according to the marks gained during
"I want a twopenny story this afternoon, please,
Auntie," said Tim one day, displaying two brown-
"Yes-a nice long twopenny story," put in Eyelyn;
"not a scrimpy one, Auntie."
"Very well,", said Auntie, "you shall have good
measure, I promise you. I will just run up to my
room and get a paper that I found'the other day."
"All right, Auntie; don't, be long," said Tim, as he
ran to open the door for her, and then he saw his
Mother with Baby on her back, just going to give her
a pick-a-back up-stairs, as she sometimes did.
"Please let Baby come and listen to Auntie's story,"
,cried Evelyn; "we are going to have a nice twopenny one."
"Would you like to go with them, Baby?" asked
"No; me want piggy-back," she answered.
Just then Auntie came running down-stairs with
some closely written sheets of paper in her hand, and,
once more taking her seat, explained that the story she
was going to read them was written "years and years
ago" when she and their father were quite little children.
Then she began.
Junfie's Dinner arfy.
I' EN Nat takes a thing in his head he is pretty
determined, I can tell you. He is not seven
yet and I am eight past, but he leads me-he does indeed.
I've heard Nurse say so, and it's quite true. Nat's real
name is Stanley-not Nathaniel, like the man in the
Bible. How he came to be "Nat" was that I couldn't
say Stanley, and first I said "Tat," and then somehow it
got to "Nat." My own name's Eleanor, and I'm called
Nell. Nat and Nell go very well together-or Nell and
Nat, as I'm a girl and the eldest too.
Last year we were staying at Auntie Bab's-Bab is
the short for Barbara, and we always call her. Auntie
Bab, because Barbara is so long. Auntie hasn't got any
children, but we like staying with her quite as much as
if she had, for she understands all about us, and all we
like and don't like, just as well as if we belonged to her.
And Uncle Stanley is very kind too. WVe are going to
" ..: s' ion: i si .I ri :! her pick-., .I i
stay there again soon, but last year was the first time.
The worst of it is that when we come home everybody,
will say we're spoilt. Not so much M iin'.i, but Nurse
says it awfully. I think what made her say it the worst
was something that "happened"; it was really something
we did. I do
so wish, and
so does Nat,
S-. that Nurse had
of it, for even
S- now, when it's
d would no all past, and
has a way
I t of shaking it
over us that
we really can't
"' 9 bear.
all it wasn't
anything so very naughty-it wasn t like hurting anybody
or -telling a story. But when Nurse is vexed with us
about anything else she's sure to begin about it, and
every time it sounds worse. That's why I'm going to
write it down-exactly-for when Rosy and Baby grow
older I would not like-most certainly not, and Nat
wouldn't either-for them to be told a story of us as if
we had been really bad villains.
"Do you think we meant to steal the spoons and
forks then?" I said to Nurse, the last time she was going
on about it. And then she said I was impertinent!
She's very good on the whole-Mamma would not
i ; i I
have her for us if she wasn't; but she's got a funny
temper, and she works herself up.
So I made up my mind to write it all out and then
show it to Auntie Bab, who really knows the whole
story. And she's going to correct it, 'specially the
spelling-and then she's going to' write it out for me to
copy in my own writing (it'll take a good while, but I
don't mind), and when it's done she'll make a nice paper
cover for it, with the name outside like a real book.
It was all because of a dinner-party.
SAuntie often had dinner-parties, but that time last
year when we were staying with her she hadn't had any
for a good while. Uncle Stanley's mother had died, and
they were in mourning.
She did not mean to have any while we were there,
for her house is not a very big one, and Mamma had not
sent a maid with us. It was partly because several of
our servants at home had been ill that Auntie offered to
She did spoil us a little, I think. Every day she let
us come into "pudding" at late dinner. It had begun with
dessert, but one day we were waiting outside too soon,
and Uncle caught sight of us, and made us come in, and
after that we always did.
It was lovely; it really was. I don't think there was
anything at Auntie's that we liked quite as much as the
coming into "pudding." It wasn't out of greediness, though
of course we always did get something nice to eat, but it
was the grown-up-ness. The servants were so polite, and
"I've got a secret to tell you."
the table looked so pretty, and everything was so regular.
There was very seldom any one there besides Uncle and
Auntie, though once or twice there was a gentleman, and
once a gentleman and lady, which spoilt it a Z'tle, as of
course we didn't speak much, except one time when an
awfully nice man was there who taught us the most
lovely tricks, with table-napkins and wine-glasses and all
sorts of things. He was really like a-you know what I
mean-men who make you see things that aren't there,
and pull eggs and roses out of your pockets, and all
that-I do hope he will come to Auntie's again when
we are there.
But one day Auntie said to us: "Nat and Nell, my
dears, I cannot invite you to 'pudding' to-morrow for I
am going to have a dinner-party. I should have liked
you to be with me in the drawing-room before dinner,
but on the whole I think it will be better not."
"And mayn't we come in to dessert?" asked Nat.
Auntie shook her head.
'I'm afraid not, dears," she said, "it would be too
late; and then, you see, it's a dinner-party, a regular
Nat didn't say anything, and I don't think I would
have thought any more about the party but for him. He
was very quiet all day; that's his way when he's planning.
But he waited till the next morning before telling me his
secret, and it never came into my head that he was planning.
It was just after breakfast that he made me go into
a quiet corner with him to have a talk.
"Nell," he began, "I've got a secret to tell you.
You'll not tell it?"
That was how he began always, and sometimes I'd
get into scrapes through it. So I considered. After all
I might as well promise, for if I didn't I'd never know.
And it was better I should know.
"No," I said, "I won't tell."
"And you'll join in the plan?"
"I don't know about that," I said. "Not if it's
"It isn't naughty," he said; "it can't do anybody
any harm, and that's all right, isn't it?"
"Well, yes, I suppose so," I said.
"Then listen," he began, and as he went on I
did open my eyes I can tell you.
This was the grand scheme-Nat had made up his
mind that he and I should be at Auntie's dinner-party.
It wasn't to be any dressing up or tricks like that-of
course, we couldn't hatV- dressed up to be like grown-
up people-it was a very simple plan indeed. We were
to hide under the dining-room table-that was all!
Nat had settled it all. It was -a very good thing
we were not to be in the drawing-room before dinner,
wasn't it? Auntie's maid, who generally helped us to
undress, was going to be busy, so we told her that
afternoon that we could manage without her, and she
was quite pleased.
"I'll just look in to see that you are comfortable
in bed," she said, "after the company's gone to dinner."
"All right," said Nat, his eyes sparkling in a queer way,
which meant another plan. That was to make two dummies
in our two beds, which he did as soon as we had said
good-night to Auntie, who was dressing in her room.
"Good night, my pets," she said. "You are very
good, and to-morrow night you shall have an extra
nice dessert, to make up."
We felt rather funny. But we did not mean to eat
anything, so Nat repeated to me that there really couldn't
be any harm in it.
"'We'll just go quietly up-stairs to bed," he said,
"after they've all left the dining-room. We'll watch for
a chance when the servants are out of the room. And
of course we won't touch any of the dessert. Only,
you see, Nell, we shall really know what a dinner-party
Strange to say, all turned out as Nat had arranged-we
watched our opportunity and made our way down-stairs
when everything on the table was ready and the servants
had nothing to do but light the candles. Nat had already
hidden two comfortable hassocks for us, so we crept
in--under, I should say, and settled ourselves well in
the middle, where nobody could see us. For the table-
cloth was very large and hung deeply over the edges.
All the same, my heart did beat pretty fast, I can
tell you, and when the rustling of dresses and the
sound of voices told us that Uncle and Auntie and all
the other ladies and gentlemen were really coming, I
almost felt as if I must scream ott.
But I didn't-I stayed quite still-for one thing,
I knew that if I moved in the least Nat would pinch
me awfully, for he had settled himself so that he could
have a good nip at my leg. And I tried to hear what
all the people were s .in,, but it seemed all a buzz,
and though I would have liked to crawl round, stroking
the ladies' soft shiny dresses and trying to see which
had the prettiest slippers, I aren't, for fear of Nat-
and after a bit it did get rather dull. For I was
hungry, and the beautiful scents of the nice things were
dreadfully tempting, and then it was so hot! I wanted
to do something wild-like pinching somebody, or
squeaking like a dog or a cat-and at last I don't
know what I'd have done, if, all of a sudden, just
when the talking happened to have got rather quieter,
the most awful thing hadn't happened. There came the
loudest snore you can fancy from Nat! He had actually
fallen fast asleep, and I suppose the want of air and
the heat made him snore like that. He really might
have been an ogre!
How I trembled! Then came a sort of waiting
silence. Then-"What can that be?" said Uncle.
"Burglars," said somebody, "burglars hidden under
And then I knew it was all over. I can't bear
to think of it, even now. Everybody-all the men at
least and the bravest of the ladies, though some of
them screamed-stooped down to look under the table.
They pulled Nat out, and he stood there, half asleep
still, and blinking like an owl, with nothing to say for
himself. Oh, how I could have shaken him! I wouldn't
wait to be pulled out-I crept out of myself, and though
I was perfectly shivering with fear, I wouldn't cry.
"Nell," said Auntie, in a tone of reproach, "how
"I don't know, I- don't know," I said wildly. "It
was only for fun. We. wanted to see what a dinner-
party was like."
Then Nat came to his senses, and he's- not a bit
of a coward.
' '"^ < :^- '
N," ~i~ilL~T _
"It was all me," he said; "I made Nell do it.
It was my plan."
Then he looked at me, and I looked at him, and
we ran to each other and hugged each other, and
then-I had to cry.
They were kind. They forgave us, and Auntie sent
us up a little ice-pudding after we were in bed. But
of course we had to bear a lot of talking to the next
day, and Mamma had to be told, and worst of all-some
of Auntie's servants told Nurse !
Of course, we shall never do such a thing again.
But I don't think I shall ever like dinner-parties even
when I'm big. I think they are so stupid, and so hot!
"Is that a good twopenny-worth?" asked Auntie, as
she finished her story.
"Yes, oh, yes," cried the children; but then they
paused and looked at each other a little doubtfully.
"Is that all the custom for to-day?" went on their
Aunt. "Shall I shut up shop?"
Evelyn fidgetted a little, and looked at Tim, and then
at his Aunt; then he blurted out-
"I've only got a halfpenny! But haven't you any
halfpenny stories, Auntie?"
"Auntie, couldn't we have the 'birdie story'? When
you were quite little, you know?" said Tim.
"And I'll pay you the other halfpenny to-morrow,"
"No, no!" replied Auntie. "I only do ready-money
business. But as you have heard the 'birdie story' about
fifty times, I think it ought to be cheap."
"Oh! thank you, Auntie, thank you awfully," the
children cried together. So Auntie began.
Sie l3irdie fiory.
1 iA.'i ~"'/ AB Y and I were playing together
'' '"" : ., in the garden one day. We were
S..', ,' playing-at keeping shop. I was
-_t' -.-..,: the shopkeeper, and Baby had
*' to come to me to buy. Mother had
given us some apples and biscuits to
Splay with, so we found the game a very
nice one, until poor Baby tumbled over
and hurt his dear little arm. Then he said it was a
stupid game' and he didn't want to play any more, so,
after I had missed the place to make it well, we sat
down side by side on the grass and ate up all the
shop-keeping stores, and then began to talk over Mother's
birthday. We hadn't any money to buy her a present,
for Baby was so little that if anyone gave him a penny
he always lost it, because, you see, he hadn't a pocket
to put it in; and though Mother gave me a penny a
week, and I might have saved up, somehow I never
could. Baby and I were always wanting something so badly.
After we talked about Mother's birthday for some
time without being able to think of anything to give
her, Baby suddenly said, "Why, Sissy, we might give
her some flowers. You know Mummy loves flowers,
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and some of the roses on our tree are nearly out,
"You darling Baby," I said, giving him a kiss;
"that's the very thing. We couldn't give Mummy anything
nicer, not even if we bought it with money. Let's go
and look at the tree now."
So off we trotted together.
There were no roses in bloom, but the buds were
all ready to burst, and so we felt almost sure that we
should have a nice bunch of roses for Mother on her
birthday. And so we did.
Now the day before
it arrived, her little
canary, Goldie, flew away.
He was a great pet, and
Mother was very grieved
at losing him; so when.
the next morning, Baby
and I went to gather
the roses and saw a dear
little birdie sitting on
our rosebush, singing a
sweet song, we thought -
how nice it -would be .
if we could catch him
for Mother. We fetched
out Goldie's cage, but
Dicky would not be
persuaded to enter it,
-.nt c r rt c :,
so at last we :a-e it up, and- just cut the .roses and
took them' in to Mother.
She said they were lovely, and then we told her
about the little birdie we had tried to catch for her,
for another pri crlt. -
"I am very glad you were not able to, my drlin;!s,"
she said. "It is -vry cruel to shut up wild birds in cages."
"But, Mummy, Goldie was shut up in a cage."
"Yes, dearie, but Goldie was not a wild bird and
had never known any other home. Would you like me.
to tell you a story about a birdie who nearly died of
grief because he was put into a cage?"
Of course we wanted to hear the story, so Mother
"Once upon a time, a little bird built himself a"
nest in a tall tree, and there he and his little wife
lived, as happy as the day was long. By-and-by, Mrs.
Birdie laid five pretty little eggs and oh! wasn't Mr.
Birdie proud of her? But he was still prouder when
onre day the five eggs cracked and five wee birdies
poked their little heads out and cried, 'Cheep, cheep,
.-vh ii meant, 'How do you do, dear Papa and Mamma?'
"Mr. Birdie was so delighted that he flew .tr:i';lht
loff to the tallest tree he could find, and sang. a 'mIIo -
beautiful in.g than he had ever sung bef:!re. Then he.
il,.- back to his wife and smoothed her feather< u\ th
his bill, which is a bi,,i ie's \av of .ivit-i a loving ki'.-.
'"'Is t-her ar .nt hini I can do foir 'ou, my dear?'
"'Well, I think it is time our darlings had something
to eat,' the mother-bird replied; 'and I am feeling a
little faint myself.'
"Off flew Mr. Birdie, only too pleased to be of
use. He hopped about some time before he could find
anything which looked sufficiently tempting; then he saw
a nice piece of bread ,
just inside a little wire .
house, and in he went *.-,,
to secure it.
"Alas! he was q "
caught, for the wire. .
house was a trap.
Presently the children
who had set the trap
came and took him
home with them, and
put him in a fine cage, '
and gave him seed and
fruit and a little piece
of watercress to eat,
but he would touch
nothing, and only
fluttered his pretty ,
wings against the bars "' l '4' ,
of-the cage and gazed ""'
at them piteously with I '
his bright eyes.
"'He will be all
Slight to-morrow, when he
has grown used to his cage,'
said the children. But to-
morrow came, and still the -
birdie was not happy. How
could he be, when he knew
that his little wife and his
poor wee babies were ,
waiting anxiously for his. ,
return, and perhaps even
starving because there was no one to find food for them?
So when the children came to look at him they found
him lying in a corner of the cage, with his wings out-
spread and his bright eyes dim."
"Oh, Mummy," cried Baby, the tears running down
his. chubby little cheeks, "he wasn't dead, was he? Oh!
please say he wasn't dead."
"No," said Mother, kissing Baby's tears away, "he
wasn't dead; and one of the children had such a tender
little heart, like my Baby. here, that she begged and
begged the others to set
him free; and at last they
S / did, and he flew straight
home to his wife and babies,
'. and very thankful they all
S,..,; were to the: sweet little
,"- maid who had saved poor
Birdie's life, for he would
have died had he been
shut up in the cage nuiclh 1ner. He never ft:rIo.'t her,
and even when the cold winter came, he would ly d:i-nv
and perch on a branch where she could easily see him,
and sing her a song of gratitude and love.
"That's the end of my story," :aid \Mother.; "so nI'l\ run
away and fetch me a \a-e
of water for my roses."
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