Page images
PDF
EPUB

Flax had ever been able to lift its little blue flowers, and glittered as the white Linen had never been able to glitter. All the written letters turned for a moment quite red, and all the words and thoughts turned to flame.

"Now I'm mounting straight up to the sun," said a voice in the flames; and it was as if a thousand voices said this in unison; and the flames mounted up through the chimney and out at the top, and, more delicate than the flames, invisible to human eyes, little tiny beings floated there, as many as there had been blossoms on the Flax. They were lighter even than the flames from which they were born; and when the flame was extinguished, and nothing remained of the Paper but black ashes, they danced over it once more, and where they touched the black mass the little red sparks appeared. The children came out of school, and the schoolmaster was the last. That was fun! and the children sang over the ashes:

"Snip-snap-snurre,
Bassellurre!

The song is done."

But the little invisible beings all said, "The song is never done, that is the best of all. I know it, and therefore I'm the happiest of all." But the children could neither hear that nor understand it; nor ought they, for children must not know everything.

[graphic]

WW

THE DUEL*

By Eugene Field

THE gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!

The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(J wasn't there: I simply state
What was told vie by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-mow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so.
With bits of gingham and calico.

*From "Love-Songs of Childhood," copyright, 1S04, by Eugene Field: published by Charles Ncrilmer's Sons.

While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do?"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this Way and tumbled that,

Employing every tooth and claw

In the awfullest way you ever saw— And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!

(Don't fancy I exaggerate!

I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat,
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!

But the truth about the cat and pup

Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!

(The old Dutch clock it told me so,

And that is how I came to know.)

THE BALD KNIGHT

A CERTAIN knight, who wore a wig to conceal . baldness, was out hunting one day, when a sudden gust of wind carried away his wig.

His friends all laughed heartily at the odd figure he made, but the old fellow, so far from being put out, laughed heartily also. "Is it any wonder," said he, "that another man's hair will not keep on my head when my own would not stay there?"

[graphic]

ATALANTA'S RACE

Adapted by Anna Mccalkb

J^^^^^j,OST fathers and mothers are almost as glad to have a girl baby born into their homes as a baby boy. But sometimes a king who wants a son to reign after him is very sorry when his first baby is a girl. At any rate, this is what happened in the case of Jasius, a king of Arcadia, in Greece. For a long time he had prayed for a son, and when one day his servants said to him, "You have a little daughter," he was very angry.

If he had looked at the child and had seen how beautiful she was, and what bright black eyes she had, he must have loved her, whether he wanted to or not; but without having seen her, he just cried: "I don't want her. She can never be a king. Take her out on the mountain and let her die."

The baby's mother cried and begged, but the king would have his way, and at last a servant took the pretty baby far from its home and left it on the mountain side.

While the child lay crying from hunger and cold and fright, a big, black bear came along. She sniffed at the child and rolled it over with her paw; but although she was so big and the baby was so little, she never even tried to hurt it. When evening came and the bear went back to her den and to the cubs she had left there, she took the little girl with her, and for a long time the child lived with the bear family in a cave on the mountain side. Her only playmates were the baby bears. She ate berries and nuts and wild honey, as they did, and she grew quite used to being out in all kinds of weather.

At last, one day, some hunters saw the little girl and took her home with them. She was very lonesome, and cried for her bear playmates, but when the hunters made her a little hunting dress and gave her arrows and a bow and a little spear, she forgot to be lonely and became very happy again. She learned to hunt better than any other girl who had ever lived, and she could shoot an arrow or throw a spear just as straight as a big, strong man. After she grew to be a tall and beautiful girl, she took part in many wonderful adventures which would have frightened any other girl to death, and never once was she hurt. One time she helped some of the bravest and strongest men in all Greece to hunt a great boar, with awful tusks, like knives, and fierce, bloodshot eyes and long, stiff, sharp bristles. When the boar was finally killed, its head and its hide were given to the young huntress, because she had been the first to wound it.

One day when King Jasius of Arcadia was sitting on his golden throne, with his golden crown on his head, a tall girl walked into the room and straight up to the throne.

"Who are you, young woman," demanded the king, "and how dare you come into the palace and even to the steps of my throne?"

"My name is Atalanta," answered the girl, "and I am your daughter. If you don't want me here, I can go right back into the forest where I have grown up."

« PreviousContinue »