Page images

make me a speedge to-night, but I haf de bleasure of to introduce to you my prilliant young chournalistic gompanion, Mr. Eucheene Fielt, who will shpeak in my blace.” When the joke was explained to the audience they were delighted, but it is not on record that Schurz was particularly pleased.

The men for whom Field worked could never be quite certain as to what he would do next. At one time while he was with the Chicago Daily News he felt that he needed and deserved an increase in salary, but he did not ask for it as any one else would have done. He appeared one morning at the office of the chief, in rags, and with four of his children also in rags. All five made pleading gestures, pretended to weep, and fell upon their knees; and finally Field said, in a pathetic voice, “Please, Mr. Stone, can't you see your way to raise my salary?”

After Field had become famous, he used to be bothered constantly by people wanting the facts of his life, and finally, to satisfy them, he wrote a little pamphlet which was supposed to tell all about himself. But it was very different from most “lives” of people. To be sure, it did tell that he was born in Missouri in 1850, and it told what papers he had written for, and what books he had published; but most of it was taken up with facts which Field pretended to think were much more important, and which are certainly more interesting to us. He says, for instance, “My favorite flower is the carnation, and I adore dolls.” “My favorites in fiction are Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, Don Quixote and Pilgrim's Progress.“I should like to own a big astronomical telescope, and a 24-tune music box.”

“I love to read in bed.”. “My favorite color is red.” Of course he wrote these things in fun, but just the same they tell us a great deal about him.

Field used to say that he did not love all children, though that is hard to believe. All children whom he could pet, he said, he loved, and all children who loved fairy tales and myths, and who could play at “seein' things at night.”. He always insisted that he himself believed in ghosts, in witches, and in fairies; and it was this delight in the things that children love that made him able, when he was a busy man, working all day in a big city where men do not spend much time thinking about fairies and such things, to write so charmingly of the “fumfays" and storm-kings of which his poems are full.

He never "wrote down” to children—he always made himself a child first, and then talked to them face to face; and after all, that is the only way to .. write for children and have them like what you write.

Long legs, crooked thighs,
Little head and no eyes.

If you live in a house that has a fireplace, and you have to handle the wood or the coal in the fire, you ought to guess this riddle quickly enough. But if you live where all you have to do is to turn on the steam or the hot water when you are cold, you may need to be told what tongs are.


By EUGENE FIELD M HE sky is dark and the hills are white 1 As the storm-king speeds from the north

to-night; And this is the song the storm-king sings, As over the world his cloak he flings:

"Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep;" He rustles his wings and gruffly sings:

“Sleep, little one, sleep.”

On yonder mountain-side a vine
Clings at the foot of a mother pine;
The tree bends over the trembling thing,
And only the vine can hear her sing:

“Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep; What shall you fear when I am here?

Sleep, little one, sleep.”

The king may sing in his bitter flight,
The pine may croon to the vine to-night,
But the little snowflake at my breast
Liketh the song I sing the best,-

“Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep; Weary thou art, anext my heart;

Sleep, little one, sleep.”


[ocr errors]


HERE once lived a poor maiden, who
was young and fair; but she had lost
her own mother, and her stepmother
did all she could to make her miserable.

When she gave her any work to do she 5 made it as hard and heavy as possible,

so that it was often almost beyond her strength. She exerted herself to do what was required of her, but the wicked woman's envious heart made her always discontented with what the poor girl did—it was never enough to please her. The more diligent she was, and the more she had to do, the less thanks she received. It seemed always to her as if she were carrying a great burden, which made her life sad and miserable.

One day her stepmother said to her, “Here are twelve pounds of feathers for you to sort in three different sizes, and if they are not finished by this evening you may expect a sound thrashing. Do you think you are to waste the whole day in idle


After she had gone the poor maiden seated herself by the table; but the tears rolled down her cheeks, for she knew it was impossible for her to finish such a task by the end of the day. She made an attempt, however; but after she had put several feathers together in little heaps, if she happened to sigh, or clasp her hands in her agony, away flew the feathers, and were so scattered that she had to commence her task anew.

At last she placed her elbows on the table, rested her face in her hands, and cried, “Is there no one on all this earth who will pity me?”

Immediately she heard a soft voice say, “Be comforted, my child; I am come to help you!”

The maiden looked up and saw an old woman standing near her. She took the maiden's hand, and said kindly, "Now tell me what is troubling you.”

She spoke so heartily that the maiden told her all about her unhappy life, and of one burden after another which her stepmother laid upon her, and of the terrible tasks which never would come to an end. “If I do not finish parting these feathers by the evening,” she said, “my stepmother has threatened to beat me; and I know she will keep her word.”

Her tears began to flow as she spoke; but the kind old woman said, “Be at peace, my child, and go and rest awhile; I will finish your work for you.”

So she made her lie down on a bed in the room, and worn out with sorrow the young girl soon fell asleep.

Then the old woman placed herself at the table by the feathers. Ah! how they flew and sorted themselves under the touch of her withered hand! and very soon the whole twelve pounds were finished. When the maiden awoke, there they lay in large snowy heaps, and everything in the room was neat and in order; but the old woman had vanished.

The maiden's heart was full of thankfulness, and she sat still till the evening, when her stepmother came into the room.

She was truly astonished when she found the

« PreviousContinue »