THE TORTOISE AND THE DUCKS

“Take me with you, please,” called a tortoise to a gray duck and a white duck that were flying over.
The ducks heard the tortoise and flew down toward him.
“Do you really wish to go with us?” asked the ducks as they came to the ground near the tortoise.
“I surely do,” replied the tortoise. “Will you please take me?”
“Why, yes, I think we can do so,” said the white duck slowly.
The two ducks talked together in low tones for a few minutes. Then they flew to the woods. They soon brought back a strong twig and dropped it in front of the tortoise.
“Now,” said the ducks, “if we take you off to see the world, you must promise us one thing.”
“What is that?” asked the tortoise. “I will promise almost anything if you will let me go.”
“You must promise not to say one word while you are in the air, NOT ONE WORD,” replied the ducks.
“All right, I promise,” said the tortoise. “Sometimes I do not say a word for a whole day because there is no one to listen to me.”
“Well, take firm hold of the middle of the twig; we are ready to start,” said the gray duck.
“If you value your life, you must hold on tightly,” said the white duck.
The tortoise took hold of the middle of the twig and each duck took hold of one end.
Then they flew up! up! up! while the tortoise swung from the middle of the twig. How he enjoyed it! He had never had such a ride.
They had gone a long way safely when they came to a hayfield. The haymakers looked up and saw the ducks and the tortoise.
“Ho! ho! the tortoise has stolen some wings,” called one of the haymakers.
“What a queer carriage he has!” laughed another in a loud voice.
“I pity his horses,” said another.
This made the tortoise so angry that he cried out, “You…” but no one knows what he was going to say, for he fell to the ground and was killed.

[Footnote: Adapted from The Tortoise and the Geese, in a book of the same name published by Houghton, Mifflin Co.]

CHRISTMAS WISHES. A CAROL, by Juliana Horatia Ewing


  Oh, happy Christmas, full of blessings, come!
      Now bid our discords cease;
      Here give the weary ease;
      Let the long-parted meet again in peace;
      Bring back the far-away;
      Grant us a holiday;
      And by the hopes of Christmas-tide we pray—
  Let love restore the fallen to his Home;
Whilst up and down the snowy streets the Christmas minstrels sing;
And through the frost from countless towers the bells of Christmas ring.

  Ah, Christ! and yet a happier day shall come!
      Then bid our discords cease;
      There give the weary ease;
      Let the long-parted meet again in peace;
      Bring back the far-away;
      Grant us a holiday;
      And by the hopes of Christmas-tide we pray—
  Let love restore the fallen to his Home;
Whilst up and down the golden streets the blessed angels sing,
And evermore the heavenly chimes in heavenly cadence ring.

Hush, Dolly, bye

Hush, Dolly, bye, Dolly, sleep, Dolly, dear,
See what a bed, Dolly, I’ve for you here;
Therefore, to sleep, Dolly! don’t fret and cry;
Lay down your head, Dolly, shut up your eye.

When the bright morn, Dolly, once more has come,
Up gets the sun, and goes forth to roam;
Then shall my dear Dolly soon get up, too;
Then shall be playtime for me and for you.

Now go to sleep, Dolly, good night to you;
You must to bed, Dolly—I’m going too;
Just go to sleep without trouble or pain,
And in the morning I’ll come back again.

The Kitten and the Falling Leaves, by William Wordsworth

See the kitten on the wall,
Sporting with the leaves that fall,
Withered leaves—one—two—and three—
From the lofty elder tree!
Through the calm and frosty air
Of this morning bright and fair,
Eddying round and round they sink
Softly, slowly: one might think
From the motions that are made,
Every little leaf conveyed
Sylph or fairy hither tending,
To this lower world descending,
Each invisible and mute,
In his wavering parachute.
But the kitten, how she starts,
Crouches, stretches, paws and darts!
First at one and then its fellow,
Just as light and just as yellow;
There are many now—now one—
Now they stop and there are none:
What intenseness of desire
In her upward eye of fire!
With a tiger-leap, halfway,
Now she meets the coming prey;
Lets it go as fast and then
Has it in her power again.
Now she works with three or four,
Like an Indian conjuror;
Quick as he in feats of art,
Far beyond in joy of heart.

The Ferry for Sleepy Town

Sway to and fro in the twilight gray;
This is the ferry for Sleepy Town;
It always sails at the end of the day,
Just as the darkness closes down.

Rest little head, on my shoulder, so;
A sleepy kiss is the only fare,
Drifting away from the world, we go,
Baby and I in the rocking-chair.

See where the fire-logs glow and spark,
Glitter the lights of the shadowland,
The raining drops on the window, hark!
Are ripples lapping upon its strand.

There, where the mirror is glancing dim,
A lake lies shimmering, cool and still.
Blossoms are waving above its brim,
Those over there on the window-sill.

Rock slow, more slow in the dusky light,
Silently lower the anchor down;
Dear little passenger, say “Good-night.”
We’ve reached the harbor of Sleepy Town.

The Gentle Dark, by W. Grahame Robertson

So it is over, the long bright Day,
And little Maid Twilight, quiet and meek,
Comes stealing along in her creep-mouse way
Whispering low—for she may not speak—
“The Gentle Dark is coming to play
At a game of Hide and Seek.”

Some babies are cross when she whispers them this,
And some are afraid and begin to cry.
I never can think what they find amiss.
Afraid of the Dark! I wonder why.
The Gentle Dark that falls like a kiss
Down from the sleepy sky.

O Gentle Dark, we know you are kind
By the lingering touch of your cool soft hand;
As over our eyes the veil you bind
We shut them tight at word of command,
You are only playing at Hoodman-Blind,
A game that we understand.

The voice is tender (O little one, hark!),
The eyes are kindly under the hood,
Blow out the candle, leave not a spark,
Trusting your friend as a playmate should.
Hold up your arms to the Gentle Dark,
The Dark that is kind and good.

Johnny shall have a new bonnet

Johnny shall have a new bonnet,
And Johnny shall go to the fair,
And Johnny shall have a new ribbon
To tie up his bonny brown hair.

And here’s a leg for a stocking,
And here is a foot for a shoe,
And he has a kiss for his daddy,
And two for his mammy, I trow.

Do You Like My Cat?

I like my cat, I like him well,
As all the house may see
I like him for himself, and not
Because the cat likes me.

He counts his only work in life,
To flourish and be fat;
And this he does with all his might;—
Of course, I like my cat.

His eyes shine out beneath his brows,
As eyes have rarely shone;
His beauty is the grandest thing
That ever cat put on.

He wears a paw of wondrous bulk,
With secret claws to match,
And puts a charm in all its play,
The pat, the box, the scratch.

I have not heard how cats are made
Within their furry veil,
But rather fancy Tippo’s thoughts
Lie chiefly in his tail.

For while in every other part
His portly person sleeps,
That bushy tail, with steady wave,
A ceaseless vigil keeps.

The Swan and The Drake

Slowly, in majestic silence,
Sailed a Swan upon a lake;
Round about him, never quiet,
Swam a noisy quacking Drake.

“Swan,” exclaimed the latter, halting,
“I can scarcely comprehend
Why I never hear you talking:
Are you really dumb, my friend?”

Said the Swan, by way of answer:
“I have wondered, when you make
Such a shocking, senseless clatter,
Whether you are deaf, Sir Drake!”

Better, like the Swan, remain in
Silence grave and dignified,
Than keep, drake-like, ever prating,
While your listeners deride.

Puppies and Turtoise

A sight most strange and wonderful
Three little puppies saw—
A creature out of shell of horn
Popped out a head and claw.

They jumped and barked, and barked again,
And stared with open eyes;
The sight of such a strange shaped thing
So filled them with surprise.

They wondered at its smooth, brown shell,
Its skin both brown and green;
And thought it was the strangest siht
They ever yet had seen.

They would have tried to bite and scratch
This funny looking thing;
But now they thought it might have hid
A sharp and biting sting.

A Dear Little Granny

I want to be your granny—
Granny, granny dear;
Do you think in glasses
I’m anything like near?

Would you take me for her
If I wore her cap;
Told you pretty stories,
Took you in my lap?

Gave you lots of sweeties,
Cakes and apples too?
That’s the way that grannies,
Dear old grannies do!

Good-Night and Good-Morning

A fair little girl sat careless and free,
Sewing as long as her eyes could see;
Then smoothed her work, and folded it right,
And said “Dear Work! good-night! good-night!”

Such a number of rooks came over her head,
Crying “Caw! Caw!” on their way to bed.
She said, as she watched their curious flight,
“Little black things! good-night! good-night!”

The horses neighed, and the oxen lowed;
The sheeps “Bleat! bleat!” came over the road—
All seeming to say with a quiet delight,
“Good little girl! good-night! good-night!”

The tall pink foxglove bowed his head—
The violets curtsied and went to bed;
And good little Lucy tied up her hair,
And said on her knees her favorite prayer.

And while on her pillow she softly lay,
She knew nothing more till again it was day;
And all things said to the beautiful sun,
“Good-morning! good-morning! our work is begun.”