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kind to them, and hope that some day they will wake up, and be ashamed of their nasty, dirty, lazy, stupid life, and try to amend, and become something better once more. For, perhaps, if they do so, then after 379,423 years, nine months, thirteen days, two hours, and twenty-one minutes, if they work very hard and wash very hard all that time, their brains may grow bigger, and their jaws grow smaller, and their tails wither off, and they will turn into water babies again, and perhaps after that into land babies; and after that perhaps into grown men.
Meanwhile, do you learn your lessons, and thank God that you have plenty of cold water to wash in; and wash in it too, like a true Englishman. And then, if my story is not true, something better is; and if I am not quite right, still you will be, as long as you stick to hard work and cold water.
But remember always, as I told you at first, that this is all a fairy tale, and only fun and pretence; and, therefore, you are not to believe a word of it, even if it is true.
By Jeffreys Taylor
A MILKMAID, who poised a full pail on her
procure One hundred good eggs, or fourscore, to be sure.
"Well then,—stop a bit,—it must not be forgotten, Some of these may be broken, and some may be
rotten; But if twenty for accident should be detached, It will leave me just sixty sound eggs to be hatched.
"Well, sixty sound eggs,—no, sound chickens, I
mean: Of these some may die,—we'll suppose seventeen; Seventeen! not so many,—say ten at the most, Which will leave fifty chickens to boil or to roast.
"But then there's their barley; how much will they
need? Why, they take but one grain at a time when they
feed,— So that's a mere trifle; now then, let us see, At a fair market price how much money there'll be.
"Six shillings a pair—five—four—three-and-six— To prevent all mistakes, that low price I will fix;
Now what will that make? fifty chickens, I said,— Fifty times three-and-sixpence—I'll ask Brother Ned,
"Oh, hut stop,—three-and-sixpence a pair I must
sell 'em; Well, a pair is a couple,—now then let us tell 'em; A couple in fifty will go (my poor brain!) Why, just a score times, and five pair will remain.
"Twenty-five pair of fowls—now how tiresome it is That I can't reckon up so much money as this! Well, there's no use in trying, so let's give a
guess,— I'll say twenty pounds, and it can't be no less.
"Twenty pounds, I am certain, will buy me a cow, Thirty geese, and two turkeys,—eight pigs and a
sow; Now if these turn out well, at the end of the year, I shall fill both my pockets with guineas, 'tis clear."
Forgetting her burden, when this she had said,
descended, And so all her schemes for the future were ended.
This moral, I think, may be safely attached,— "Reckon not on your chickens before they are hatched."
This amusing little poem may be made to seem even funnier if we stop to think what an absurd little milkmaid she really was! Let us ask ourselves a few questions:
How many quarts of milk were probably in the pail? How many dozen eggs in a hundred? What is milk worth a quart? What are eggs worth a dozen? Was she carrying enough milk to buy a hundred, or even fourscore, good eggs?
Does a farmer count on having sixty out of eighty eggs hatch successfully? If he has sixty chickens hatched, can he count with certainty on fifty growing big enough to boil or roast?
Is it true that the cost of the grain to feed them is a mere trifle?
How much is an English shilling in our money? Is a dollar and a half a pair too much to expect for good chickens? Is eighty-seven and a half cents too small a price for a pair? Is twenty pounds too much or too little for twenty-five pairs of chickens at three shillings and sixpence per pair?
If she could get twenty pounds for her chickens, could she buy a cow, thirty geese, two turkeys and a sow with a litter of eight pigs for the money?
By Hans Christian Andersen
Note.—The first paragraphs of this story contain an old Danish legend which Hans Christian Andersen uses very skilfully. We can imagine that the story would mean a great deal more to boys of Denmark than it does to us, for they would be a great deal more familiar with the people referred to than we are; but there is so much in the story that is not confined to Denmark, and it is told in such a fascinating way, that even the boys of the United States will find it interesting.
N Denmark there lies a castle named Kronenburgh. It lies close by the Oer Sound, where the ships pass through by hundreds every day—English, Russian, and likewise Prussian ships. And they salute the old castle with cannons —'Boom!' And the castle answers with a 'Boom!' for that's what the cannons say instead of 'Good day' and 'Thank you!' In winter no ships sail there, for the whole sea is covered with ice quite across to the Swedish coast; but it has quite the look of a highroad. There wave the Danish flag and the Swedish flag, and Danes and Swedes say 'Good day' and 'Thank you!' to each other, not with cannons, but with a friendly grasp