WHAT THE FLOWERS TOLD MARTHA by Abbie Phillips Walker

white rose and a bird

Martha was visiting her grandmother, who lived in the country. At the back of the farmhouse was a very large porch, and in the front of that a garden in which grew all kinds of flowers.

One afternoon, when everyone else was taking a nap, Martha sat on the porch. It was warm and a bee was buzzing around the flowers. Every little while he would fly around Martha’s head.

“I wish I had someone to play with,” thought Martha. “Everybody is asleep and I am lonesome.”

“The flowers want you to come into the garden,” buzzed the bee.

Martha listened, for she could not believe the bee was really speaking to her, but she heard again, “The flowers want you to come into the garden.”

Martha walked down the path to the Rose Bush. “I’ll find out if that bee is telling the truth,” she said.

“I am so glad you came,” said a Rose, and as Martha looked it seemed that she could almost see the face of a little girl in its petals. “I wanted some one to talk to,” said the Rose.

“So did I,” said a Lily.

“We all are glad to see you,” said a Tulip, “for we never have anyone to talk to.”

“I never knew before that you could talk,” said Martha.

“Of course we can,” said the Rose, “but we are tired of telling stories to one another.”

“Oh! can you tell stories?” asked Martha as she seated herself on the ground beside the flowers.

“Yes, indeed!” said the Rose. “I’ll tell mine first.”

“Did you ever hear how the Rose happened to have thorns?” she asked.

Martha said she never did, and the Rose said, “I will tell you.”

“Before I bloomed here I lived in the warm climates, and although you may not think it I also lived in the land where Jack Frost dwells. But I love best the land where the nightingale lives and tells me of his love. One night when he was singing and telling me that my perfume was the sweetest in the garden and my damask cheek the softest, a Thorn Bush which grew near and had tried many times to win him from me began to tell how sweet were his notes and how graceful his form.”

“‘Do come and sing in my bush,’ she said, ‘and let me show you how strong I am. You will be safer in my bush than on the swaying branches of the Rose.’

“But the nightingale would not leave me, and told the Thorn Bush it was far too bold and its sharp points far too treacherous. ‘You are not so fragrant as the Rose,’ he said, ‘and my love is all for her.’

“‘You shall pay for this,’ screamed the Thorn Bush, angrily, ‘and you will find that your beautiful Rose has thorns as well as I.’ But the nightingale only sang lower and more sweetly to me, and we forgot the Thorn Bush in our happiness.

“The cruel Thorn, however, did not forget or forgive, and one day she twined herself around my roots and pressed into my tender stems until she was a part of me. I tried to cry out, but her strength was greater than mine. That night, when the nightingale came to sing his love song, she raised one of her sharp thorns and pierced his foot.

“‘You see your beautiful Rose has hidden thorns,’ she said, ‘and she is no more to be desired than I am.’

“‘I should be a poor lover were I not willing to suffer for the one I love,’ replied the nightingale as he came closer and sang to me even in his pain.

“‘I will always love you,’ he said; ‘I know you are not to blame for the thorns you wear, and that my love for you brought this upon you. I will never leave you.’ And he sang to me all through the night, and in the morning a deep, red Rose bloomed where the nightingale’s bleeding foot had rested, and the Thorn Bush was more angry than ever when she beheld its beauty.

“‘You shall never be free,’ she said to me; ‘every Rose shall wear a thorn.’

“The nightingale still sings to me and never fails to tell me of his undying love.”

“That is a very pretty story,” said Martha as the Rose finished, “and I am glad to know about that Thorn, for I have wondered many times why a flower so beautiful as you had that sharp point under your soft leaves.”

“Martha! Martha!” some one called from the doorway, and Martha jumped up.

“Come back to-morrow and hear my story,” said the Tiger Lily; “and mine,” said the Tulip; “and mine,” called out the Jonquil.

Martha promised that she would and ran toward the house.

The next day as soon as Martha found herself alone she ran into the garden, for she was curious to hear the promised stories.

The Jonquil spoke first. “My story,” it said, with dignity, “will be historical. I am a descendant from the great Narcissus family, and the Narcissus, as you know, is a very beautiful flower; it grows in wild profusion among the stony places along the great Mediterranean and eastward to China. All that you may have heard, but do you know why Narcissus loves to be near the water?”

Martha said she did not.

“I will tell you,” replied the Jonquil. “Ages and ages ago Narcissus was the son of a river god. He was extremely vain of his extraordinary beauty, which he beheld for the first time in the water. He sought out all the pools in the woods and would spend hours gazing at his reflection, and at last he fell in love with his own image.

“Narcissus could neither eat nor sleep, so fascinated did he become with his reflection. He would put his lips near to the water to kiss the lips he saw, and plunge his arms into it to embrace the form he loved, which, of course, fled at his touch, and then returned after a moment to mock him.

“‘Why cannot you love me?’ he would say to the image; ‘the Nymphs have loved me, and I can see love in your eyes’; which, of course, he did, for he did not know he was gazing at his own reflection.

“At last he pined away and died, and in the place of his body was found a beautiful flower, with soft white petals, nodding to its reflection in the water.

“The Daffodils are also my cousins,” the Jonquil explained, “and descend from the beautiful Narcissus.”

“That is a very pretty story,” said Martha, “and the fate of Narcissus should teach all vain people a lesson.”

The Tiger Lily told her story next.

“Mine is not a love story,” she said; “it is about something I saw in far-off China before I bloomed here.

“In that land little girls are not so happy as they are here because the boys are the pride of the family.

“One day a poor beggar who was faint from hunger and thirst lay down close beside where I bloomed. He groaned aloud in his misery, and a little girl who was passing heard him. She came to him and gave him water from a near-by stream and bathed his face. When he was refreshed he asked, ‘Who are you, and how did you happen to be here?’

“‘I am only a miserable daughter on her way to the mission,’ she replied. ‘My father is very poor and can provide only for his sons. If I can reach the mission they will take me in and I shall be taught many things.’

“The beggar only shook his head; he did not believe that a girl was worth even thanking, and that anyone should bother to teach her was past his belief, and so the little girl passed on.

“I am telling you this story,” said the Tiger Lily, “that you may know how much good your pennies do that you drop into the missionary box, for you see by the kind act of that little girl the Chinese girls are worth saving, for they are kind and good and grow up to be a blessing to their country.”

“What became of the beggar?” asked Martha.

“The little girl reached the mission,” the Lily said, “and they sent some one from there to take the beggar away. Very likely the missionaries took care of him.”

“I am glad you told me that story,” said Martha. “I shall try to save more pennies now to send to the little girls in China.”

The Tulip spoke next.

“I am afraid,” she said, “that my story will not be very interesting, but I don’t suppose that many people know that I bloomed long ago in Constantinople, the city of beautiful hills, where the mosques and the tombs and the fountains make a strange picture in the moonlight.

“There the ladies wear queerly draped gowns and their veiled faces leave only their bright eyes exposed.

“Afterward I bloomed in a country where everybody seems happy, and that is the land I love best. The children in that country look like little stuffed dolls in their many petticoats and close-fitting bonnets around their chubby little faces. Their little shoes clatter over the stones, sounding like many horses in the distance. There I was best loved and grew in profusion and beauty around the quaint homes of these quaint-looking people.

“Ah, me, it is a long way from here,” sighed the Tulip, “and I often long to hear the sound of the Zuider Zee as I did once long ago.”

“Why, she has gone to sleep,” said Martha as the Tulip closed and drooped her head, “and I must go in the house. Grandmother will be looking for me.”

“Will you come again?” asked the flowers; “there are many more that have stories to tell.”

“I shall be glad to hear them,” said Martha, “for I had no idea that flowers could tell such interesting stories.”

INQUISITIVE MR. POSSUM by Abbie Phillips Walker

possum near tree illustration

It was Mr. Owl who gave the wood folk the warning by calling out one night, “To whom it may concern!” At least the wood people knew that was what he meant, but anyone else might have thought he just cried “To whoo! To whoo!”

So when all the animals both great and small had gathered around his tree he told them that in his opinion it was to be a very, very hard winter.

That of course meant that they must begin right away to lay up stores for the cold, snowed-in days, and everyone bestirred himself at once to do this.

Even Mrs. Rabbit, who seldom made much preparation for the winter days, began to do up preserves; all the small bunnies were sent out with their baskets to gather corn and beans and beet tops and all sorts of good things. “If we cannot get them green,” said Mrs. Rabbit to her neighbor, Mrs. Squirrel, “we can eat them stewed; but of course we much prefer them in their natural state.”

Mrs. Squirrel, to encourage her neighbor in laying up winter stores, gave her a big basketful of walnuts which Mrs. Rabbit pickled, and some say those were the first walnuts ever pickled.

But this story is not about pickled walnuts; it is about the nice preserves that Mrs. Rabbit put up and the accident that befell Mr. Possum.

Everybody that passed Mrs. Rabbit’s home for many days found it hard to get by her door, for such spicy, nice-smelling odors as came through the open windows made everyone feel hungry.

Mr. Possum was especially interested when he found that Mrs. Rabbit was, among other things, putting up a great deal of canned corn, and he decided that when it was dark he would just take a peek into her pantry window and see how many cans she had.

Right in front of the window was a tree and one limb hung low enough so that Mr. Possum with a little care could easily swing himself from it and reach the pantry window.

Now this might have been safe enough if the limb had been a good one, but it wasn’t, and when Mr. Possum ran along it, before he could even get ready to swing, “crackle, snap,” went the limb and down went Mr. Possum into a barrel of whitewash Mrs. Rabbit had ready to use on her little house.

And that was not the worst of it. When he ran home, so scared he didn’t remember running at all after it was over, Mrs. Possum didn’t know him, but thought he was some terrible white creature come to carry on her children, and slammed the door right in his face.

All night Mr. Possum had to sit outside, the whitewash dripping from his coat, and in the morning, bright and early, all the little Bunnies and Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit, as well, were standing in front of the house, looking at him.

Mrs. Rabbit wanted to know what he meant by carrying off some of her whitewash. “I tracked you right to your own door-yard, so you need not deny it,” she said.

Mr. Possum did not try to deny it, for what was the use. He was all covered in the white stuff? But he did try to tell Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit that it was all an accident, that he was just running along the limb and off it broke and he happened to fall into the whitewash.

Mrs. Possum had found out it was her husband by this time, of course, and she came out to say that what Mrs. Rabbit could think they wanted of her whitewash was more than she could tell.

Mrs. Rabbit wiggled her nose and looked very wise. “Well,” she said, “if that is true, Mr. Possum, that it was all an accident, why, of course, that is all there is to it; but you must admit that it did look suspicious.”

Mr. Possum admitted that it did, and off ran the Rabbit family for home; but it was a long time before Mr. Possum could go abroad again, for the white coat he wore was to be plainly seen in the daytime or at night.

DISCONTENTED DEWDROP by Abbie Phillips Walker

dewdrop flower illustration

One morning a little Dewdrop was resting on the petal of a wild rose that grew beside a river. The sun shining on it made it glisten like a diamond and a lady who was passing stopped to admire its beauty.

“It is the most beautiful thing in the world,” she remarked. “See the colors in that tiny little drop. Isn’t it wonderful?”

“Wonderful,” repeated the Dewdrop when the lady had walked away. “If I were like the river I might be wonderful; it is too bad; here I am sitting here while the river can run on and on and see all the sights. It bubbles and babbles as it goes, and that is worth while. I have never a chance to be wonderful. Oh, if I were only in the river water I might be something.”

Just then a breeze passing heard the little Dewdrop’s wish.

“You shall have your wish, foolish Dewdrop,” she said, blowing gently on the rose, which swayed, and off went the little Dewdrop into the rushing river.

“This is like something, being a part of this river,” said the Dewdrop as it mingled its tiny drop with the running river. “Now I am worth admiring and can see something of the world.”

On and on it ran with the water of the river, but it was no longer a Dewdrop; it was a part of the river.

“I wish I could stop for a minute so some one might admire me,” said the silly little drop, for it thought it could still be seen and was making all the babbling it heard as the river ran along.

But no one admired it, nor did it stop. On went the river to a larger river, and by and by it came to the bay and the Dewdrop went rolling into it with the other water.

“Surely I am greater now than ever and worth admiring,” thought the drop, but it heard no sweet words such as the lady spoke of the little Dewdrop on the rose by the river.

The bay mingled at last with the ocean and little Dewdrop knew at last that it was no longer a thing to be admired for itself alone, but a part of the great ocean. It was completely lost in the vastness of the mighty waters of which it was only a drop.

The breeze went whispering over it, calling, “Little Dewdrop, little Dewdrop, where are you?”

But the drop answered never a word. It did not even hear the gentle voice of the breeze, so loud was the roar of the ocean.

“Come away,” called a loud wind to the gentle breeze; “that is no place for you. I must blow here and make the waves high, and you will never find your little Dewdrop. It has been swallowed long ago by the ocean. Go back to your river and tell the other Dewdrops the fate of their companion.”

The gentle breeze went away and the loud wind swept the ocean, making the waves high and the roar louder and louder. The little Dewdrop was there somewhere in the great whole, but it was lost forever in its longing to become great.

The gentle breeze went back to the river, and as she sighed around the rose where the discontented Dewdrop had rested she heard another drop say:

“Look at the river. Isn’t it big? Here am I only a Dewdrop, so small no one can see me.”

“Ah, that is where you are mistaken, my dainty Dewdrop,” said the gentle breeze. “You can be seen now, but if you were to become a part of the river you would never be seen. You would lose your identity as soon as you mingled with the waters of the river. Be your own sweet self and be content with the part you play in this world. You are helping to make it more beautiful by your own dainty beauty. Do not wish to do what only seems a greater thing.”

And then she told the fate of the discontented Dewdrop that had wished to become great and how at last it was swallowed by its own greatness, and its dainty beauty which had been so admired no longer remained.

“Be content with the small but beautiful part you play in this world,” she told the drop, “and do not long for a greatness which may result in your unhappiness.”

MR. CROW GOES AND TELLS by Abbie Phillips Walker

crow illustration

Mr. Coon and Mr. Possum lived near each other in the woods, and one day they decided to give a supper the first bright moonlight night.

“It will be much easier for us to provide the supper together,” said Mr. Coon, “because we are bachelors and we can help each other.”

But the real reason was that Mr. Coon knew that Mr. Possum had some new tin spoons and all the Coon family love shiny things. He thought he might be able to slip one or two tin spoons into his pocket and never be found out, because there would be so many guests that Mr. Possum would not know which one to suspect when he found it out.

Mr. Possum was delighted to do as Mr. Coon suggested, and they began making out a list of guests to be invited.

Of course there was Mr. Fox and Mr. Squirrel and Jack Rabbit and Mr. Owl, who were all bachelors like themselves; so they decided they would not ask any of the married folks, but call it a bachelor party.

“Old James Crow, who lives in the tree near me, will think he should be invited, too, I suppose,” said Mr. Possum; “but he is such a quarrelsome old fellow I hate to ask him.”

“No, don’t ask him,” said Mr. Coon, thinking of Mr. Possum’s new tin spoons and remembering that the Crow family were very like his own in the matter of liking bright and glittering things. “He will never know we have a party. He goes to bed at sunset, you know.”

So it was decided that old James Crow was not to be invited and that only the bachelors of the wood were to be asked.

A few nights after this the moon shone brightly and over to Mr. Possum’s house they all went.

Now it happened that they began to sing, when they all sat down to the table, that they all were jolly good fellows and something about being single was a life of bliss, and another about poor married man, and they made so much noise that they awoke old James Crow, who was sound asleep in his bed.

“What is that noise?” he said, jumping up and listening; but when he heard it again old Mr. Crow got out of bed and put his head out of the window.

“Oh, we are jolly bachelor boys,” came from Mr. Possum’s house and floated right up to Mr. Crow’s window.

“Something is going on that I do not know about,” said old Mr. Crow, pulling in his head and taking off his night cap. “I must find out what it is. I should say that the noise came from Mr. Possum’s house. I’ll go right down there and see.”

And he did, arriving just as the supper was being put on the table; and while Mr. Crow did not go to the door, he had no trouble at all in looking in through the shutters, for old Mr. Crow was very clever in the art of spying.

There was a big fat turkey, but Mr. Crow did not care about that—that is, he was not crazy about turkey. He could eat it if there was nothing better, but when the big dish of green corn was brought in Mr. Crow began to think he had been slighted and that he should have been asked to the party.

Jack Rabbit stood up in his chair so he would be tall enough to be seen and held up a crisp radish. “Here is to our hosts, Mr. Coon and Mr. Possum,” he said, taking a bite of the radish.

“So,” thought old Mr. Crow, “Mr. Possum is giving this supper and he is a neighbor.”

Then somebody began to sing, “We are the bachelors of the wood; we wouldn’t be married if we could.”

And then Mr. Crow was good and mad. “Giving a bachelor party, are they,” he thought, “and they left me out. I am a bachelor just as much as any of those fellows. I’ll pay them back for slighting me if it takes me a hundred years.”

Just then the ice cream was brought in and Mr. Crow espied the new tin spoons and his eyes shone with longing to have one or two or three or as many as he could get, but how could he get them? If only he could scare them and make them all run he would get them easy enough.

Then an idea came to Mr. Crow and he flew away. “I’ll have those spoons before I sleep again to-night, and get my revenge, too, or my name is not James Crow,” he said, and out of the woods he went.

Mr. Crow flew straight for Mr. Man’s farm, and you know crows can fly very straight, it is said.

When he arrived it was all still; not a sound could he hear but Mr. Dog breathing very hard, but it was Mr. Dog that Mr. Crow wanted, so it was easy to find him by following the noise.

Mr. Crow tapped on the side of Mr. Dog’s house, for his door was open and out bounded Mr. Dog with a growl.

“Hush! don’t make a noise,” said Mr. Crow. “Are you free to run over to the woods? Yes, I see you are,” he said, looking at Mr. Dog’s collar and seeing there was no chain fastened to it.

“Do you want some fun?” he asked Mr. Dog.

Mr. Dog began to jump about and wag his tail. He was always ready for fun, he told Mr. Crow. “But where is it at this time of night?” he asked.

“You come with me,” said Mr. Crow, “and if I do not show you more sport in a minute than you ever had in an hour hunting with Mr. Man, I’ll eat all the spoons.”

“What spoons?” asked Mr. Dog, standing still and dropping his tail. “I don’t want to run after spoons.”

“Oh, I did not mean spoons at all,” said Mr. Crow. “I should have said I would eat my hat, but I promise you there will be fun and plenty of it. Mr. Coon and Mr. Possum are giving a supper in the woods, and their guests are Mr. Squir”—

“Tell me no more; I do not care about the guests. Hurry! Hurry! Where are they?” said Mr. Dog, dancing about so fast that Mr. Crow could not turn quick enough to keep up with him.

“Come along and I will show you,” he said, and off he flew, keeping close to the ground so Mr. Dog could follow him.

The supper was still going on when they arrived; Mr. Crow flew to a tree close by, for he knew Mr. Dog could manage alone now that he had shown him the place.

Mr. Dog did not stop to knock; he bounded in through the window, taking off a shutter as he went.

Out of the back door, out of the front door, and out of the windows went the guests and their hosts, and after them, barking, went Mr. Dog.

“They are jolly fellows, all right, now,” croaked Mr. Crow, as he watched them out of sight, “and now my party begins.”

Mr. Crow went in and took all the spoons from the deserted supper table and carried them off to his house. He hid them under the bed and then he got in and went to sleep.

He did not even bother to go over to see Mr. Dog the next day, so little did he care how the chase came out. He knew Mr. Dog did not catch Mr. Possum or Mr. Coon, because he saw them both the next day; but that was all he knew and all he cared, for those were the two he had in his plan for revenge.

The next day when Mr. Coon was out—and Mr. Crow made sure he was not only away from home but out of the woods—Mr. Crow took all the spoons but one under his wing and went over to Mr. Coon’s house and got in the cellar window.

He went upstairs and put those spoons between Mr. Coon’s feather beds. Mr. Coon had two fat feather beds, always having plenty of feathers on hand as he did.

Then Mr. Crow went over to Mr. Possum’s house and found him sitting in the doorway, looking very sad.

“What is the matter with you, Friend Possum?” asked Mr. Crow in the most friendly tone he could master. “Don’t you feel well?”

“I have lost all my new tin spoons,” said Mr. Possum. “Some one stole them, I am afraid.” He did not want Mr. Crow to know about the party, so he did not tell him any more.

“That is too bad,” said Mr. Crow. “Were they anything like those Mr. Coon has? I saw him cleaning some very handsome ones this morning as I passed his window.”

“I did not know he had any spoons,” said Mr. Possum. “He has never told me he had any tin spoons. Are you sure you saw them?”

“Just as sure as I am that I see you now, Mr. Possum,” said Mr. Crow. “But, of course, they would not have anything to do with your spoons. I was wondering if his were like yours. If they are I could take a look at them, and then if in my travels I saw any like them I would know they were yours and bring them back to you. I am very clever at finding things that are lost.”

Mr. Possum did not seem inclined to say anything, and Mr. Crow went on: “Why don’t you come along with me to Mr. Coon’s house and get him to show us his spoons. I am anxious to help you if I can. I know how I should feel if I lost some handsome tin spoons.”

This seemed to make Mr. Possum interested, so he walked along with Mr. Crow, who was so anxious to get to Mr. Coon’s he could hardly keep from flying. Mr. Coon had just returned when they arrived and was unlocking his door.

“I lost all my new tin spoons last night,” said Mr. Possum. “Mr. Crow said he saw you cleaning some, and if they were like mine he would like to take a look at them and then he might find mine; but I did not know you had any spoons.”

Mr. Crow held his head very high and looked sideways while Mr. Possum was talking, but out of the corner of one eye he could see Mr. Coon, and he saw him turn around and look at him very angrily.

“Mr. Crow said I had some tin spoons?” he said. “He has sharper eyes than I thought and I always knew he had sharp eyes, particularly for bright things, but how he could see spoons in my house is more than I can explain, for I have no spoons.”

“Well, of course I do not wish to cause any trouble,” said Mr. Crow, “but I certainly saw you cleaning tin spoons. Anyway, it will be easy to prove you have no spoons in the house by letting us search, and of course you rather would, Mr. Coon, for that will clear you from suspicion; that is, if we do not find them.”

“Go ahead and look,” said Mr. Coon, opening the door and standing aside for them to enter. “I am glad I did not take one of those spoons,” he thought to himself, for he remembered that he had intended to do so if Mr. Dog had not come in so unexpectedly.

Of course Mr. Crow held back and let Mr. Possum do all the hunting until they came to Mr. Coon’s bedroom, and then he said:

“I have always heard that stolen goods are often hidden between beds. We might look there first.”

Of course they found the spoons, and when Mr. Coon saw them he almost fell over. “Who put them there? I did not,” he said.

“Of course you didn’t,” said Mr. Crow, with a smile that plainly said: “You are a story-teller.”

“There is one spoon missing,” said Mr. Possum, who had been counting the spoons. “I had a dozen and there are only eleven here.”

“He probably ate his breakfast with that one,” said Mr. Crow. “Better give it up, Mr. Coon; we have caught you and there is no use denying it now.”

“Go ahead and find it if you can,” said Mr. Coon. “I did not take those spoons and I do not know where the other spoon is, even if you do, Mr. Crow.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked Mr. Crow, beginning to hop about.

“I mean that you seemed to be pretty sure where those spoons were,” said Mr. Coon, “and if I am not mistaken about the history of your family, they are noted for their love of shining things fully as much as ours.”

“Come along,” said Mr. Crow to Mr. Possum; “we have found your spoons, and that is all I wanted. I cannot bother with this bad fellow, who now wants to make out I took the spoons; but that is always the way with thieves—they blame it on some one else if they can.”

The more Mr. Coon thought about those spoons the more certain he was that Mr. Crow had something to do with their being found in his house; so one night about a week after he went to Mr. Crow’s house and watched.

By and by he saw the light go out, and he thought, after all, he was not to catch Mr. Crow that night; but just as he was going away he saw a tiny flicker of light at another window. Up went Mr. Coon and peeked in.

And what do you think he saw? Mr. Crow sitting at a table eating bread and milk with Mr. Possum’s missing tin spoon.

It did not take Mr. Coon long to run to Mr. Possum’s house and bring him back with him and show him his spoon, and then right through the window they jumped and grabbed Mr. Crow by the nape of his neck. And how they did shake the old thief! They did not stop to talk to him.

“He is not worth the breath we should waste,” said Mr. Coon, “and I feel sure this place is not a place that agrees with Mr. Crow’s health. He will move away, I am sure, where the climate will better agree with him.”

The next day there was a to-let sign on the house where Mr. Crow had once lived, and the bachelors all met that night to discuss the breaking up of the party and to hear about the tin spoons and how they were found.

“And it is my opinion,” said Mr. Coon, “that if some one were to ask Mr. Dog he would tell us that Mr. Crow went and told him about our party.”

“But who will ask Mr. Dog?” asked Jack Rabbit.

No one seemed to be interested enough to ask Mr. Dog, and they never knew for sure whether he told or not, but Mr. Coon always said he did. At any rate, the wood folk were rid of old Mr. Crow, and they were glad of it.

JACK THE PREACHER by Abbie Phillips Walker

small flower and mushroom illustration

One morning in very early springtime the big Evergreen Trees began to talk about the part they took in telling all the woodland flowers that it was spring.

“Why, if we were not here,” said one Evergreen Tree, “who would awake these sleepy springtime flowers to their duty? I should like you to tell me!”

“You speak truly, brother,” said another tree. “We are ever green and need no awakening to our duty; but for us the woods would be a sorry-looking place in the summer. Those lazy crocuses would sleep right on and on!”

“Yes, and the little violets never would dare show their timid little heads,” said another Evergreen Tree, “when the soft winds begin to run through the woods. It is then we call forth to all sleeping flowers and shrubs and bushes: ‘Awake! It is time to get up!’”

“And who would tell the Bee summer was on its way?” said another Tree. “He would never get his work started at all if it were not for us. How lucky the flowers and all the woodland things are that we are here to tell them when to get up!”

So the Evergreens talked and bragged about how they preached Springtime to the woodland folk, and as they talked all the spring flowers awoke and the insects began lazily to stretch their wings, but it was not because of what the big Evergreen Trees were saying; no, it was because they had heard the voice of the little woodland preacher.

And who was he, do you think? Why, no other than Jack-in-the-pulpit, who gives a talk every spring to all the woodland dwellers on just how to bloom and how to buzz and when to do it.

Every night for ever so long before it is time for the crocus or the violet or any early spring flower to bloom, when it is the magic hour the Fairies come running through the woods and touch Jack on his nodding little head under the dry leaves and up he pops and begins to preach.

So when the flowers and bees and things heard the big Evergreen Trees talking they nodded to each other and laughed. “Isn’t it funny to hear them?” said a beautiful yellow crocus. “Those tall trees know nothing about the real truth of things, do they?”

“Fancy thinking they awaken us!” said another flower. “Why, they themselves are asleep. They get so used to winter they stand still all the time, but who is to tell them the truth about our Preacher Jack? The Evergreen Trees never bend or sway to one side or the other far enough to see the beauties of our woodland spring. They only know what the winds tell them.”

“Let them think what they like,” said a little bush of pretty blossoms. “It does not hurt Jack-in-the-pulpit if the Evergreens think they are the preachers of the woods, for all the spring and summer flowers know that Jack has always been our preacher and the Evergreens haven’t any pulpit to preach from. Only they do not know it.”

And so the sleepy old Evergreens thought they were the ones who awakened the flowers and preached to them about their duty, and no one ever told them about little Jack-in-the-pulpit, who always has and always will preach about the spring and summer to all the woodland dwellers.

THE FROGS AND THE FAIRIES by Abbie Phillips Walker

frogs and fairyes race illustration

In a pond in a dell lived a big family of frogs, and one day when the sun was shining all the young bullfrogs came up out of the water and hopped on the bank. “I think it would be good fun to see what is in the dell beside this pond,” said Billy Bull, who was a young and inquisitive frog.

“What do you fellows say to a lark to-night by the light of the moon?”

“We’ll go, we’ll go, Billy Bull,” said all the other young frogs in chorus.

“Better stay home, better stay home,” croaked old Grandfather Bullfrog from his seat on a stump by the edge of the pond.

“Oh, hear old grandfather croaking!” said Billy Bull; “he never went out of this pond in all his days, and what does he know of the dell?”

“Better stay home, better stay home,” croaked Grandfather Frog.

“You can, Grandfather Frog, if you like, but we young frogs are going for a lark tonight, and when we come back we will tell you what is in the dell,” said Billy Bull.

That night when the moon was up and shining through the trees, out of the pond leaped all the young froggies.

“Better stay home, better stay home,” croaked Grandfather Frog from his seat on the stump, but the young froggies only laughed as grandfather’s warning followed them through the dell—”Better stay home, better stay home.”

It happened that the Fairies were holding a party that night, and when Billy Bull and all the other young frogs hopped and leaped into the middle of the dell they saw the bright lights of the fireflies’ lanterns.

“Looks to me like all the fireflies in the world had gathered for us to feast on,” said Billy Bull. “What luck for us.”

Away off they could still hear Grandfather Frog croaking his warning: “Better stay home, better stay home.” But it was no warning to the young froggies; they only saw the fireflies and the feast in store for them.

The froggies had never seen the Fairies before and they thought they, too, were little insects, so, without stopping to think or look closer into the midst of the Fairy revel, in leaped Billy Bull and all his cousins.

But the Fairies were as quick as the frogs, and no sooner had they leaped than up went all the fairy wands, and there stood each frog still and stiff. They were not able to move; they could only stare and listen.

“What are these creatures that dare to disturb us?” asked the Queen.

“Your Majesty, they are frogs,” said a fire-fly, “and I expect they intended to eat us.”

“Eat the lantern bearers of the fairies!” said the Queen. “They shall suffer for this.”

“Off with a toe on each front foot, and then perhaps these frogs will stay at home and not hop about at night. Where do they live?” asked the Queen.

“In the pond at the end of the dell,” said the fireflies.

“Send them home,” said the Queen, “and every time they wander far from their pond they shall lose a toe.”

Down on the foot of the froggies went the fairy wands, and where the frogs had five toes there remained only four on each of their front feet, and then with their wands on the heads of the froggies the fairies turned them around and drove them back to their pond.

“Better stayed home, better stayed home,” croaked their Grandfather Frog as the young froggies leaped sadly into the pond and buried themselves in the mud at the bottom.

And that was the way it is said frogs came to have five toes on each of their hind feet and only four toes on each front foot. If they had listened to their grandfather’s warning they would still have their other toes.

THE FIELD FAIRY by Abbie Phillips Walker

a boy and a cow illustration

Jack and his sister Nina were two little orphans who had to beg from door to door for their food and a place to sleep.

One day a man named Simon told them if they would work for him he would give them a home.

Jack and Nina thought Simon must be a very kind-hearted man to offer them a home, so they worked just as hard as they could to repay him.

But in this they were mistaken, for Simon was a very greedy, hard-hearted man and only offered to take the children that he might get their work for nothing.

Jack did all the chores about the farm and Nina took care of the house, although they were both much too small to do such hard work.

In return Simon gave them a place to sleep on the floor of the attic and very little to eat.

If he had Nina cook meat for his dinner he would sit by the stove and watch that she did not eat any of it, and when he had eaten all the meat he would leave the bones and gristle for poor little Jack and Nina, who were half starved.

One day Simon told Jack he was going to sell the big Brindle Cow to the butcher and that he was to drive her the next day to the town, a few miles away.

Jack and Nina were very fond of Brindle Cow and wept bitterly when they heard this. They begged Simon not to let the butcher have her, but he told them he would not listen to any such silly chatter and for Jack to be off the next morning bright and early.

Nina put her arms around Brindle Cow and cried when Jack was ready to lead her away and watched them down the road; but her tears blinded her so she could not see far, and she went back to get Simon’s breakfast with a sad heart.

When Jack came to the woods he led Brindle Cow to a stream to drink, and while he sat on the bank, waiting, he was surprised to see a Fairy slip out of a lily as it opened.

“I thought you were never coming,” said the little creature.

Jack thought it was to him she was speaking, and while he tried to find his tongue, which clung to his mouth, he was so surprised, Brindle Cow answered.

“We had to wait for daylight, you know,” she said.

“Yes, I know; but the sun will soon be up, and I must get home before that,” said the Fairy. “Now what can I do for you?”

“Save my life! I am on the way to the butcher now,” replied Brindle Cow.

“You told me that day I did not eat the field flower in which you were sleeping that you would help me if ever I was in need of help,” said Brindle Cow.

“Last night I saw one of your sisters and told her my sad plight. The Field Flower Fairy would help me if I could only find her,” I said.

“‘Oh! She will be by the stream in the wood. She sits in a lily until it is time to go home in the morning. I will tell her,’ she said.”

“‘Of course I will help you,” said the Field Fairy. “I will change you into anything you like. What shall it be?”

“There is another thing, good Field Fairy,” said Brindle Cow. “This poor boy will be punished if I am not carried to the butcher and the money he gets carried back to Simon. This boy and his sister have been very kind to me. They never forgot to bring me water and gave me salt many times when their master did not know it. I should not like to get them into trouble, even to save my life.”

“Oh, please do not mind us,” said Jack, who at last was able to speak. “Nina and I will not mind being punished if only you can escape the butcher.”

“I have thought of a plan,” said the Fairy, “that will save you from the butcher, and will not cause your two friends the least harm, either. It is this:

“Instead of changing you into some other shape, why not change your master into a kind and good man?”

“Oh, that would be best of all,” said Jack, “that is, if Brindle Cow does not object to remaining a cow.”

“I would rather be a cow if I can be sure I am going to live,” replied Brindle Cow. “But you can understand, of course, there can be no joy in life for me with that butcher staring me in the face.”

“Well, that is all settled, then,” replied the Fairy, “and though the sun is getting well up I think I can get to your master without letting the old Sun Man see me, for it is cool and shady along the road to the farm. You two wait here and see what happens.”

Jack wondered what the Field Fairy intended to do, but he would not be surprised now at anything, so he began to pick some berries, for he had not had his breakfast, and now Brindle Cow was sure she was not going to the butcher. So she began to eat the sweet grass by the stream.

Jack thought she might speak again and he patted her sides and nose, but the only answer Brindle Cow made was to rub her nose against him and moo.

After a while Jack heard some one calling his name and running down the road. It was Nina. “Oh, I am so glad I have found you!” she said. “Come quickly; something has happened to Simon.”

Jack let Brindle Cow take care of herself and hurried after Nina, wondering what the Fairy had done to Simon.

But it seemed that Simon had brought on his trouble himself by trying to save the wood that morning when Nina told him she needed more wood for the fire. Instead of giving her more wood he had poured on some oil and the flame had blazed up and burnt him.

When Jack and Nina reached the farmhouse Simon was on the floor, groaning with pain.

Forgetting all the unkindness they had received at his hands, Jack and Nina lifted him from the floor and placed him on his bed. Then they did all they could to relieve his sufferings.

Nina bathed his face and hands and Jack bandaged them, and by and by he fell asleep. When he awoke he asked for some gruel, and then he remembered Brindle Cow.

“Poor creature!” said Simon. “I wish I had kept her even if she was getting old; but it is too late now, for, of course, the butcher has her.”

Just then, “Moo, moo!” was heard outside, and for the first time since he left her at the stream Jack thought of Brindle Cow.

“Why, there she is now!” he said. “I did not get to the butcher’s this morning because Nina called me before I had gone beyond the woods.

“I’ll never sell her,” said Simon. “Go out, Jack, and give her a good dinner, and to-night see that she has a nice bed of straw in the barn.”

That day for dinner Simon told Nina to have a good meat stew and that Nina and Jack were to eat all they wanted.

Jack told Nina what had happened at the stream in the woods and asked her if she thought the Fairy had anything to do with the accident that happened to Simon.

“Of course not,” said Nina. “Fairies always do good, not bad things, and, besides, Simon must have been burnt at the very time you saw the Fairy, and I wonder if you really did see a Fairy, after all. Are you sure you did not fall asleep and dream it all?”

Jack was quite sure he did not dream it, but never again did Brindle Cow speak—at least, Jack never heard her if she did.

But when Simon recovered from his burns and was quite well again something did happen, and whether the Field Fairy and Brindle Cow had anything to do with it Jack and Nina never knew.

Simon was a changed man, that was sure. He would not let Nina do the work any more, but sent both of the children to school. He fixed up the house and bought new furniture, and, best of all, he bought nice clothing for Jack and Nina.

“And if you don’t mind,” said Simon to Jack and Nina one day, “I wish you would call me Uncle Simon.”

He even bought a nice horse and pretty willow carriage for the children to drive to school; in fact, everybody thought Simon must have lost his mind, he was so changed.

“It must be the work of the Field Fairy,” said Jack when he and Nina were talking over what the neighbors said about Simon. “She said she would change him into a kind and good man.”

“Perhaps she came and found him burnt and thought she would wait and see what happened to him,” said Nina, “but I think you fell asleep that morning, Jack, while you were waiting for Brindle Cow to drink at the stream.”

“Brindle Cow saw the Fairy. Didn’t you, Brindle?” asked Jack, as Brindle Cow came up to the stone wall where Jack and Nina stood.

Brindle Cow looked over the wall straight at Jack and answered, “Mo-o-o.”

“It does not matter, Jack,” said Nina, with a laugh, as she patted Brindle Cow on the nose. “It has all turned out so well and Uncle Simon could not be kinder or nicer to us now if he were our father. Sometimes I think it is all because when he was so sick and helpless that we were kind to him and did all we could even though he had almost starved us and made us work so hard. I think he is sorry for it and is trying to do all he can now to make up for his unkindness and make us forget it.”

“Perhaps you are right, Nina,” said Jack, “so we will forget it, but I am sure about the Field Fairy, and Brindle Cow knows it is true, for it was the Fairy who saved her from the butcher.”

But all the answer Jack could get from Brindle Cow was “M-o-o-o!”

Christmas with the Baron, by Angelo J. Lewis

I.

Once upon a time—fairy tales always begin with once upon a time—once upon a time there lived in a fine old castle on the Rhine a certain Baron von Schrochslofsleschshoffinger. You will not find it an easy name to pronounce; in fact, the baron never tried it himself but once, and then he was laid up for two days afterwards; so in future we will merely call him “the baron,” for shortness, particularly as he was rather a dumpy man.

After having heard his name, you will not be surprised when I tell you that he was an exceedingly bad character. For a baron, he was considered enormously rich; a hundred and fifty pounds a year would not be thought much in this country; but still it will buy a good deal of sausage, which, with wine grown on the estate, formed the chief sustenance of the baron and his family.

Now, you will hardly believe that, notwithstanding he was the possessor of this princely revenue, the baron was not satisfied, but oppressed and ground down his unfortunate tenants to the very last penny he could possibly squeeze out of them. In all his exactions he was seconded and encouraged by his steward Klootz, an old rascal who took a malicious pleasure in his master’s cruelty, and who chuckled and rubbed his hands with the greatest apparent enjoyment when any of the poor landholders could not pay their rent, or afforded him any opportunity for oppression.

Not content with making the poor tenants pay double value for the land they rented, the baron was in the habit of going round every now and then to their houses and ordering anything he took a fancy to, from a fat pig to a pretty daughter, to be sent up to the castle. The pretty daughter was made parlor-maid, but as she had nothing a year, and to find herself, it wasn’t what would be considered by careful mothers an eligible situation. The fat pig became sausage, of course.

Things went on from bad to worse, till, at the time of our story, between the alternate squeezings of the baron and his steward, the poor tenants had very little left to squeeze out of them. The fat pigs and pretty daughters had nearly all found their way up to the castle, and there was little left to take.

woman-winter-illustrationThe only help the poor fellows had was the baron’s only daughter, Lady Bertha, who always had a kind word, and frequently something more substantial, for them when her father was not in the way.

Now, I’m not going to describe Bertha, for the simple reason that if I did you would imagine that she was the fairy I’m going to tell you about, and she isn’t. However, I don’t mind giving you a few outlines.

In the first place, she was exceedingly tiny,—the nicest girls, the real lovable little pets, always are tiny,—and she had long silken black hair, and a dear, dimpled little face full of love and mischief. Now, then, fill up the outline with the details of the nicest and prettiest girl you know, and you will have a slight idea of her. On second thoughts, I don’t believe you will, for your portrait wouldn’t be half good enough; however, it will be near enough for you.

Well, the baron’s daughter, being all your fancy painted her and a trifle more, was naturally much distressed at the goings-on of her unamiable parent, and tried her best to make amends for her father’s harshness. She generally managed that a good many pounds of the sausage should find their way back to the owners of the original pig; and when the baron tried to squeeze the hand of the pretty parlor-maid, which he occasionally did after dinner, Bertha had only to say, in a tone of mild remonstrance, “Pa!” and he dropped the hand instantly and stared very hard the other way.

Bad as this disreputable old baron was, he had a respect for the goodness and purity of his child. Like the lion tamed by the charm of Una’s innocence, the rough old rascal seemed to lose in her presence half his rudeness, and, though he used awful language to her sometimes (I dare say even Una’s lion roared occasionally), he was more tractable with her than with any other living being. Her presence operated as a moral restraint upon him, which, possibly, was the reason that he never stayed down-stairs after dinner, but always retired to a favorite turret, which, I regret to say, he had got so in the way of doing every afternoon that I believe he would have felt unwell without it.

The hour of the baron’s afternoon symposium was the time selected by Bertha for her errands of charity. Once he was fairly settled down to his second bottle, off went Bertha, with her maid beside her carrying a basket, to bestow a meal on some of the poor tenants, among whom she was always received with blessings.

At first these excursions had been undertaken principally from charitable motives, and Bertha thought herself plentifully repaid in the love and thanks of her grateful pensioners.

Of late, however, another cause had led her to take even stronger interest in her walks, and occasionally to come in with brighter eyes and a rosier cheek than the gratitude of the poor tenants had been wont to produce.

The fact is, some months before the time of our story, Bertha had noticed in her walks a young artist, who seemed to be fated to be invariably sketching points of interest in the road she had to take. There was one particular tree, exactly in the path which led from the castle-gate, which he had sketched from at least four points of view, and Bertha began to wonder what there could be so very particular about it.

At last, just as Carl von Sempach had begun to consider where on earth he could sketch the tree from next, and to ponder seriously upon the feasibility of climbing up into it and taking it from that point of view, a trifling accident occurred which gave him the opportunity of making Bertha’s acquaintance,—which, I don’t mind stating confidentially, was the very thing he had been waiting for.

It so chanced that, on one particular afternoon, the maid, either through awkwardness, or possibly through looking more at the handsome painter than the ground she was walking on, stumbled and fell.

Of course, the basket fell, too, and equally of course, Carl, as a gentleman, could not do less than offer his assistance in picking up the damsel and the dinner.

The acquaintance thus commenced was not suffered to drop; and handsome Carl and our good little Bertha were fairly over head and ears in love, and had begun to have serious thoughts of a cottage in a wood, et cætera, when their felicity was disturbed by their being accidentally met, in one of their walks, by the baron.

Of course the baron, being himself so thorough an aristocrat, had higher views for his daughter than marrying her to a “beggarly artist,” and accordingly he stamped, and swore, and threatened Carl with summary punishment with all sorts of weapons, from heavy boots to blunderbusses, if ever he ventured near the premises again.

This was unpleasant; but I fear it did not quite put a stop to the young people’s interviews, though it made them less frequent and more secret than before.

Now, I am quite aware this was not at all proper, and that no properly regulated young lady would ever have had meetings with a young man her papa didn’t approve of.

But then it is just possible Bertha might not have been a properly regulated young lady. I only know she was a dear little pet, worth twenty model young ladies, and that she loved Carl very dearly.

And then consider what a dreadful old tyrant of a papa she had! My dear girl, it’s not the slightest use your looking so provokingly correct; it’s my deliberate belief that if you had been in her shoes (they’d have been at least three sizes too small for you, but that doesn’t matter) you would have done precisely the same.

Such was the state of things on Christmas eve in the year——Stay! fairy tales never have a year to them, so, on second thoughts, I wouldn’t tell the date if I knew,—but I don’t.

Such was the state of things, however, on the particular 24th of December to which our story refers—only, if anything, rather more so.

The baron had got up in the morning in an exceedingly bad temper; and those about him had felt its effects all through the day.

His two favorite wolf-hounds, Lutzow and Teufel, had received so many kicks from the baron’s heavy boots that they hardly knew at which end their tails were; and even Klootz himself scarcely dared to approach his master.

In the middle of the day two of the principal tenants came to say that they were unprepared with their rent, and to beg for a little delay. The poor fellows represented that their families were starving, and entreated for mercy; but the baron was only too glad that he had at last found so fair an excuse for venting his ill-humor.

He loaded the unhappy defaulters with every abusive epithet he could devise (and being called names in German is no joke, I can tell you); and, lastly, he swore by everything he could think of that, if their rent was not paid on the morrow, themselves and their families should be turned out of doors to sleep on the snow, which was then many inches deep on the ground. They still continued to beg for mercy, till the baron became so exasperated that he determined to put them out of the castle himself. He pursued them for that purpose as far as the outer door, when fresh fuel was added to his anger.

Carl, who, as I have hinted, still managed, notwithstanding the paternal prohibition, to see Bertha occasionally, and had come to wish her a merry Christmas, chanced at this identical moment to be saying good-bye at the door, above which, in accordance with immemorial usage, a huge bush of mistletoe was suspended. What they were doing under it at the moment of the baron’s appearance, I never knew exactly; but his wrath was tremendous!

I regret to say that his language was unparliamentary in the extreme. He swore until he was mauve in the face; and if he had not providentially been seized with a fit of[Pg 15] coughing, and sat down in the coal-scuttle,—mistaking it for a three-legged stool,—it is impossible to say to what lengths his feelings might have carried him.

Carl and Bertha picked him up, rather black behind, but otherwise not much the worse for his accident.

In fact, the diversion of his thoughts seemed to have done him good; for, having sworn a little more, and Carl having left the castle, he appeared rather better.

II.

After enduring so many and various emotions, it is hardly to be wondered at that the baron required some consolation; so, after having changed his trousers, he took himself off to his favorite turret to allay, by copious potations, the irritations of his mind.

Bottle after bottle was emptied, and pipe after pipe was filled and smoked. The fine old Burgundy was gradually getting into the baron’s head; and, altogether, he was beginning to feel more comfortable.

The shades of the winter afternoon had deepened into the evening twilight, made dimmer still by the aromatic clouds that came, with dignified deliberation, from the baron’s lips, and curled and floated up to the carved ceiling of the turret, where they spread themselves into a dim canopy, which every successive cloud brought lower and lower.

The fire, which had been piled up mountain-high earlier in the afternoon, and had flamed and roared to its heart’s content ever since, had now got to that state—the perfection of a fire to a lazy man—when it requires no poking or attention of any kind, but just burns itself hollow, and then tumbles in, and blazes jovially for a little time, and then settles down to a genial glow, and gets hollow, and tumbles in again.

The baron’s fire was just in this delightful da capo condition, most favorable of all to the enjoyment of the dolce far niente.

For a little while it would glow and kindle quietly, making strange faces to itself, and building fantastic castles in the depths of its red recesses, and then the castles would come down with a crash, and the faces disappear, and a bright flame spring up and lick lovingly the sides of the old chimney; and the carved heads of improbable men and impossible women, hewn so deftly round the panels of the old oak wardrobe opposite, in which the baron’s choicest vintages were deposited, were lit up by the flickering light, and seemed to nod and wink at the fire in return, with the familiarity of old acquaintances.

Some such fancy as this was disporting itself in the baron’s brain; and he was gazing at the old oak carving accordingly, and emitting huge volumes of smoke with reflective slowness, when a clatter among the bottles on the table caused him to turn his head to ascertain the cause.

The baron was by no means a nervous man; however, the sight that met his eyes when he turned round did take away his presence of mind a little; and he was obliged to take four distinct puffs before he had sufficiently regained his equilibrium to inquire, “Who the—Pickwick—are you?” (The baron said “Dickens,” but, as that is a naughty word, we will substitute “Pickwick,” which is equally expressive, and not so wrong.) Let me see; where was I? Oh, yes! “Who the Pickwick are you?”

Now, before I allow the baron’s visitor to answer the question, perhaps I had better give a slight description of his personal appearance.

If this was not a true story, I should have liked to have made him a model of manly beauty; but a regard for veracity compels me to confess that he was not what would be generally considered handsome; that is, not in figure, for his face was by no means unpleasing.

His body was, in size and shape, not very unlike a huge plum-pudding, and was clothed in a bright-green, tightly-fitting doublet, with red holly-berries for buttons.

His limbs were long and slender in proportion to his stature, which was not more than three feet or so.

His head was encircled by a crown of holly and mistletoe.

The round red berries sparkled amid his hair which was silver-white, and shone out in cheerful harmony with his rosy, jovial face. And that face! it would have done one good to look at it.

In spite of the silver hair, and an occasional wrinkle beneath the merry, laughing eyes, it seemed brimming over with perpetual youth. The mouth, well garnished with teeth, white and sound, which seemed as if they could do ample justice to holiday cheer, was ever open with a beaming, genial smile, expanding now and then into hearty laughter. Fun and good-fellowship were in every feature.

The owner of the face was, at the moment when the baron first perceived him, comfortably seated upon the top of the large tobacco-jar on the table, nursing his left leg.

The baron’s somewhat abrupt inquiry did not appear to irritate him; on the contrary, he seemed rather amused than otherwise.

“You don’t ask prettily, old gentleman,” he replied; “but I don’t mind telling you, for all that. I’m King Christmas.”

“Eh?” said the baron.

“Ah!” said the goblin. Of course, you have guessed he was a goblin?

“And pray what’s your business here?” said the baron.

“Don’t be crusty with a fellow,” replied the goblin. “I merely looked in to wish you the compliments of the season. Talking of crust, by the way, what sort of a tap is it you’re drinking?” So saying, he took up a flask of the baron’s very best and poured out about half a glass. Having held the glass first on one side and then on the other, winked at it twice, sniffed it, and gone through the remainder of the pantomime in which connoisseurs indulge, he drank it with great deliberation, and smacked his lips scientifically. “Hum! Johannisberg! and not so very bad—for you. But I tell you what it is, baron, you’ll have to bring out better stuff than this when I put my legs on your mahogany.”

“Well, you are a cool fish,” said the baron. “However, you’re rather a joke, so, now you’re here, we may as well enjoy ourselves. Smoke?”

“Not anything you’re likely to offer me!”

“Confound your impudence!” roared the baron, with a horribly complicated oath. “That tobacco is as good as any in all Rhineland.”

“That’s a nasty cough you’ve got, baron. Don’t excite yourself, my dear boy; I dare say you speak according to your lights. I don’t mean Vesuvians, you know, but your opportunities for knowing anything about it. Try a weed out of my case, and I expect you’ll alter your opinion.”

The baron took the proffered case and selected a cigar. Not a word was spoken till it was half consumed, when the baron took it, for the first time, from his lips, and said, gently, with the air of a man communicating an important discovery in the strictest confidence, “Das ist gut!”

“Thought you’d say so,” said the visitor. “And now, as you like the cigar, I should like you to try a thimbleful of what I call wine. I must warn you, though, that it is rather potent, and may produce effects you are not accustomed to.”

“Bother that, if it is as good as the weed,” said the baron; “I haven’t taken my usual quantity by four bottles yet.”

“Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you, that’s all. I don’t think you’ll find it unpleasant, though it is rather strong when you’re not accustomed to it.” So saying, the goblin produced from some mysterious pocket a black, big-bellied bottle, crusted, apparently, with the dust of ages.

It did strike the baron as peculiar, that the bottle, when once produced, appeared nearly as big round as the goblin himself; but he was not the sort of man to stick at trifles, and he pushed forward his glass to be filled just as composedly as if the potion had been shipped and paid duty, in the most commonplace way.

The glass was filled and emptied, but the baron uttered not his opinion. Not in words, at least, but he pushed forward his glass to be filled again in a manner that sufficiently bespoke his approval.

“Aha! you smile!” said the goblin. And it was a positive fact; the baron was smiling; a thing he had not been known to do in the memory of the oldest inhabitant. “That’s the stuff to make your hair curl, isn’t it?”

“I believe you, my b-o-o-oy!” The baron brought out this earnest expression of implicit confidence with true unction. “It warms one here!”

Knowing the character of the man, one would have expected him to put his hand upon his stomach. But he didn’t; he laid it upon his heart.

“The spell begins to operate, I see,” said the goblin. “Have another glass?”

The baron had another glass, and another after that.

The smile on his face expanded into an expression of such geniality that the whole character of his countenance was changed, and his own mother wouldn’t have known him. I doubt myself—inasmuch as she died when he was exactly a year and three months old—whether she would have recognized him under any circumstances; but I merely wish to express that he was changed almost beyond recognition.

“Upon my word,” said the baron, at length, “I feel so light I almost think I could dance a hornpipe. I used to, once, I know. Shall I try?”

“Well, if you ask my advice,” replied the goblin, “I should say, decidedly, don’t. ‘Barkis is willing,’ I dare say, but trousers are weak, and you might split ‘em.”

“Hang it all,” said the baron, “so I might. I didn’t think of that. But still I feel as if I must do something juvenile!”

“Ah! that’s the effect of your change of nature,” said the goblin. “Never mind, I’ll give you plenty to do presently.”

“Change of nature! What do you mean, you old conundrum?” said the baron.

“You’re another,” said the goblin. “But never mind. What I mean is just this. What you are now feeling is the natural consequence of my magic wine, which has changed you into a fairy. That’s what’s the matter, sir.”

“A fairy! me!” exclaimed the baron. “Get out. I’m too fat.”

“Fat! Oh! that’s nothing. We shall put you in regular training, and you’ll soon be slim enough to creep into a lady’s stocking. Not that you’ll be called upon to do anything of the sort; but I’m merely giving you an idea of your future figure.”

“No, no,” said the baron; “me thin! that’s too ridiculous. Why, that’s worse than being a fairy. You don’t mean it, though, do you? I do feel rather peculiar.”

“I do, indeed,” said the visitor. “You don’t dislike it, do you?”

“Well, no, I can’t say I do, entirely. It’s queer, though, I feel so uncommon friendly. I feel as if I should like to shake hands or pat somebody on the back.”

“Ah!” said the goblin, “I know how it is. Rum feeling, when you’re not accustomed to it. But come; finish that glass, for we must be off. We’ve got a precious deal to do before morning, I can tell you. Are you ready?”

“All right,” said the baron. “I’m just in the humor to make a night of it.”

“Come along, then,” said the goblin.

They proceeded for a short time in silence along the corridors of the old castle. They carried no candle, but the baron noticed that everything seemed perfectly light wherever they stood, but relapsed into darkness as soon as they had passed by. The goblin spoke first.

“I say, baron, you’ve been an uncommon old brute in your time, now, haven’t you?”

“H’m,” said the baron, reflectively; “I don’t know. Well, yes, I rather think I have.”

“How jolly miserable you’ve been making those two young people, you old sinner! You know who I mean.”

“Eh, what? You know that, too?” said the baron.

“Know it; of course I do. Why, bless your heart, I know everything, my dear boy. But you have made yourself an old tyrant in that quarter, considerably. Ar’n't you blushing, you hard-hearted old monster?”

“Don’t know, I’m sure,” said the baron, scratching his nose, as if that was where he expected to feel it. “I believe I have treated them badly, though, now I come to think of it.”

At this moment they reached the door of Bertha’s chamber The door opened of itself at their approach.

“Come along,” said the goblin; “you won’t wake her. Now, old flinty-heart, look there.”

The sight that met the baron’s view was one that few fathers could have beheld without affectionate emotion. Under ordinary circumstances, however, the baron would not have felt at all sentimental on the subject, but to-night something made him view things in quite a different light.

I shouldn’t like to make affidavit of the fact, but it’s my positive impression that he sighed.

Now, my dear reader, don’t imagine I’m going to indulge your impertinent curiosity with an elaborate description of the sacred details of a lady’s sleeping apartment. You’re not a fairy, you know, and I don’t see that it can possibly matter to you whether fair Bertha’s dainty little bottines were tidily placed on a chair by her bedside, or thrown carelessly, as they had been taken off, upon the hearth-rug, where her favorite spaniel reposed, warming his nose in his sleep before the last smouldering embers of the decaying fire; or whether her crinoline—but if she did wear a crinoline, what can that possibly matter to you?

All I shall tell you is, that everything looked snug and comfortable; but, somehow, any place got that look when Bertha was in it.

And now a word about the jewel in the casket—pet Bertha herself. Really, I’m at a loss to describe her. How do you look when you’re asleep?—Well, it wasn’t like that; not a bit! Fancy a sweet girl’s face, the cheek faintly flushed with a soft, warm tint, like the blush in the heart of the opening rose, and made brighter by the contrast of the snowy pillow on which it rested; dark silken hair, curling and clustering lovingly over the tiniest of tiny ears, and the softest, whitest neck that ever mortal maiden was blessed with; long silken eyelashes, fringing lids only less beautiful than the dear earnest eyes they cover. Fancy all this, and fancy, too, if you can, the expression of perfect goodness and purity that lit up the sweet features of the slumbering maiden with a beauty almost angelic, and you will see what the baron saw that night. Not quite all, however, for the baron’s vision paused not at the bedside before him, but had passed on from the face of the sleeping maiden to another face as lovely, that of the young wife, Bertha’s mother, who had, years before, taken her angel beauty to the angels.

The goblin spoke to the baron’s thought. “Wonderfully like her, is she not, baron?” The baron slowly inclined his head.

“You made her very happy, didn’t you?”

The tone in which the goblin spoke was harsh and mocking.

“A faithful husband, tender and true! She must have been a happy wife, eh, baron?”

The baron’s head had sunk upon his bosom. Old recollections were thronging into his awakened memory. Solemn vows to love and cherish somewhat strangely kept. Memories of bitter words and savage oaths showered at a quiet and uncomplaining figure, without one word in reply. And, last, the memory of a fit of drunken passion, and a hasty blow struck with a heavy hand. And then of three months of fading away; and last, of her last prayer—for her baby and him.

“A good husband makes a good father, baron. No wonder you are somewhat chary of rashly intrusting to a suitor the happiness of a sweet flower like this. Poor child! it is hard, though, that she must think no more of him she loves so dearly. See! she is weeping even in her dreams. But you have good reasons, no doubt. Young Carl is wild, perhaps, or drinks, or gambles, eh? What! none of these? Perhaps he is wayward and uncertain; and you fear that the honeyed words of courtship might turn to bitter sayings in matrimony. They do, sometimes, eh, baron? By all means guard her from such a fate as that. Poor, tender flower! Or who knows, worse than that, baron! Hard words break no bones, they say, but angry men are quick, and a blow is soon struck, eh?”

The goblin had drawn nearer and nearer, and laid his hand upon the baron’s arm, and the last words were literally hissed into his ears.

The baron’s frame swayed to and fro under the violence of his emotion. At last, with a cry of agony, he dashed his hands upon his forehead. The veins were swollen up like thick cords, and his voice was almost inarticulate in its unnatural hoarseness.

“Tortures! release me! Let me go, let me go and do something to forget the past, or I shall go mad and die!”

He rushed out of the room and paced wildly down the corridor, the goblin following him. At last, as they came near the outer door of the castle, which opened of itself as they reached it, the spirit spoke:

“This way, baron, this way. I told you there was work for us to do before morning, you know.”

“Work!” exclaimed the baron, absently, passing his fingers through his tangled hair; “oh! yes, work! the harder the better; anything to make me forget.”

The two stepped out into the court-yard, and the baron shivered, though, as it seemed, unconsciously, at the breath of the frosty midnight air. The snow lay deep on the ground, and the baron’s heavy boots sank into it with a crisp, crushing sound at every tread.

He was bareheaded, but seemed unconscious of the fact, and tramped on, as if utterly indifferent to anything but his own thoughts. At last, as a blast of the night wind, keener than ordinary, swept over him, he seemed for the first time to feel the chill. His teeth chattered, and he muttered, “Cold, very cold.”

“Ay, baron,” said the goblin, “it is cold even to us, who are healthy and strong, and warmed with wine. Colder still, though, to those who are hungry and half-naked, and have to sleep on the snow.”

“Sleep? snow?” said the baron. “Who sleeps on the snow? Why, I wouldn’t let my dogs be out on such a night as this.”

“Your dogs, no!” said the goblin; “I spoke of meaner animals—your wretched tenants. Did you not order, yesterday, that Wilhelm and Friedrich, if they did not pay their rent to-morrow, should be turned out to sleep on the snow? A snug bed for the little ones, and a nice white coverlet, eh? Ha! ha! twenty florins or so is no great matter, is it? I’m afraid their chance is small; nevertheless, come and see.”

The baron hung his head. A few minutes brought him to the first of the poor dwellings, which they entered noiselessly. The fireless grate, the carpetless floor, the broken window-panes, all gave sufficient testimony to the want and misery of the occupants. In one corner lay sleeping a man, a woman, and three children, and nestling to each other for the warmth which their ragged coverlet could afford. In the man, the baron recognized his tenant Wilhelm, one of those who had been with him to beg for indulgence on the previous day.

The keen features, and bones almost starting through the pallid skin, showed how heavily the hand of hunger had been laid upon all.

The cold night wind moaned and whistled through the many flaws in the ill-glazed, ill-thatched tenement, and rustled over the sleepers, who shivered even in their sleep.

“Ha, baron!” said the goblin, “death is breathing in their faces even now, you see; it is hardly worth while to lay them to sleep in the snow, is it? They would sleep a little sounder, that’s all.”

The baron shuddered, and then, hastily pulling the warm coat from his own shoulders, he spread it over the sleepers.

“Oho!” said the goblin; “bravely done, baron! By all means keep them warm to-night; they enjoy the snow more to-morrow, you know.”

Strange to say, the baron, instead of feeling chilled when he had removed his coat, felt a strange glow of warmth spread from the region of the heart over his entire frame. The goblin’s continual allusions to his former intention, which he had by this time totally relinquished, hurt him, and he said, rather pathetically,—

“Don’t talk of that again, good goblin. I’d rather sleep on the snow myself.”

“Eh! what?” said the goblin; “you don’t mean to say you’re sorry? Then what do you say to making these poor people comfortable?”

“With all my heart,” said the baron, “if we had only anything to do it with.”

“You leave that to me,” said the goblin. “Your brother fairies are not far off, you may be sure.”

As he spoke he clapped his hands thrice, and before the third clap had died away the poor cottage was swarming with tiny figures, whom the baron rightly conjectured to be the fairies themselves.

Now, you may not be aware (the baron was not, until that night) that there are among the fairies trades and professions, just as with ordinary mortals.

However, there they were, each with the accompaniments of his or her particular business, and to it they went manfully. A fairy glazier put in new panes to the shattered windows, fairy carpenters replaced the doors upon their hinges, and fairy painters, with inconceivable celerity, made cupboards and closets as fresh as paint could make them; one fairy housemaid laid and lit a roaring fire, while another dusted and rubbed chairs and tables to a miraculous degree of brightness; a fairy butler uncorked bottles of fairy wine, and a fairy cook laid out a repast of most tempting appearance.

The baron, hearing a tapping above him, cast his eyes upward, and beheld a fairy slater rapidly repairing a hole in the roof; and when he bent them down again they fell on a fairy doctor mixing a cordial for the sleepers. Nay, there was even a fairy parson, who, not having any present employment, contented himself with rubbing his hands and looking pleasant, probably waiting till somebody might want to be christened or married.

Every trade, every profession or occupation appeared, without exception, to be represented; nay, we beg pardon, with one exception only, for the baron used to say, when afterwards relating his experiences to bachelor friends,—

“You may believe me or not, sir, there was every mortal business under the sun, but deil a bit of a lawyer.”

The baron could not long remain inactive. He was rapidly seized with a violent desire to do something to help, which manifested itself in insane attempts to assist everybody at once. At last, after having taken all the skin off his knuckles in attempting to hammer in nails in aid of the carpenter, and then nearly tumbling over a fairy housemaid, whose broom he was offering to carry, he gave it up as a bad job, and stood aside with his friend the goblin.

He was just about to inquire how it was that the poor occupants of the house were not awakened by so much din, when a fairy Sam Slick, who had been examining the cottager’s old clock with a view to a thorough repair, touched some spring within it, and it made the usual purr preparatory to striking. When, lo! and behold, at the very first stroke, cottage, goblin, fairies, and all disappeared into utter darkness, and the baron found himself in his turret-chamber, rubbing his toe, which he had just hit with considerable force against the fender. As he was only in his slippers, the concussion was unpleasant, and the baron rubbed his toe for a good while.

After he had finished with his toe he rubbed his nose, and, finally, with a countenance of deep reflection, scratched the bump of something or other at the top of his head.

The old clock on the stairs was striking three, and the fire had gone out.

The baron reflected for a short time longer, and finally decided that he had better go to bed, which he did accordingly.

III.

The morning dawned upon the very ideal, as far as weather was concerned, of a Christmas-day. A bright winter sun shone out just vividly enough to make everything look genial and pleasant, and yet not with sufficient warmth to mar the pure, unbroken surface of the crisp, white snow, which lay like a never-ending white lawn upon the ground, and glittered in myriad silver flakes upon the leaves of the sturdy evergreens.

I am afraid the baron had not had a very good night; at any rate, I know that he was wide-awake at an hour long before his usual time of rising.

He lay first on one side, and then on the other, and then, by way of variety, turned on his back, with his magenta nose pointing perpendicularly towards the ceiling; but it was all of no use. Do what he would, he couldn’t get to sleep, and at last, not long after daybreak, he tumbled out of bed and proceeded to dress.

Even after he was out of bed his fidgetiness continued. It did not strike him, until after he had got one boot on, that it would be a more natural proceeding to put his stockings on first; after which he caught himself in the act of trying to put his trousers on over his head.

In a word, the baron’s mind was evidently preoccupied; his whole air was that of a man who felt a strong impulse to do something or other, but could not quite make up his mind to it.

At last, however, the good impulse conquered, and this wicked old baron, in the stillness of the calm, bright Christmas morning, went down upon his knees and prayed.

Stiff were his knees and slow his tongue, for neither had done such work for many a long day past; but I have read in the Book of the joy of angels over a repenting sinner.

There needs not much eloquence to pray the publican’s prayer, and who shall say but there was gladness in heaven that Christmas morning?

The baron’s appearance down-stairs at such an early hour occasioned quite a commotion. Nor were the domestics reassured when the baron ordered a bullock to be killed and jointed instantly, and all the available provisions in the larder, including sausage, to be packed up in baskets, with a good store of his own peculiar wine.

One ancient retainer was heard to declare, with much pathos, that he feared master had gone insane.

However, insane or not, they knew the baron must be obeyed, and in an exceedingly short space of time he sallied forth, accompanied by three servants carrying the baskets, and wondering what in the name of fortune their master would do next.

He stopped at the cottage of Wilhelm, which he had visited with the goblin on the previous night. The labors of the fairies did not seem to have produced much lasting benefit, for the appearance of everything around was as wretched as could be.

The poor family thought that the baron had come himself to turn them out of house and home; and the children huddled up timidly to their mother for protection, while the father attempted some words of entreaty for mercy.

The pale, pinched features of the group, and their looks of dread and wretchedness, were too much for the baron.

“Eh! what! what do you mean, confound you? Turn you out? Of course not: I’ve brought you some breakfast. Here! Fritz—Carl; where are the knaves? Now, then, unpack, and don’t be a week about it. Can’t you see the people are hungry, ye villains? Here, lend me the corkscrew.”

This last being a tool the baron was tolerably accustomed to, he had better success than with those of the fairy carpenters; and it was not long before the poor tenants were seated before a roaring fire, and doing justice, with the appetite of starvation, to a substantial breakfast.

The baron felt a queer sensation in his throat at the sight of the poor people’s enjoyment, and had passed the back of his hand twice across his eyes when he thought no one was looking; but his emotion fairly rose to boiling when the poor father, Wilhelm, with tears in his eyes, and about a quarter of a pound of beef in his mouth, sprang up from the table and flung himself at the baron’s knees, invoking blessings on him for his goodness.

“Get up, you audacious scoundrel!” roared the baron. “What the deuce do you mean by such conduct, eh? confound you!”

At this moment the door opened, and in walked Mynheer Klootz, who had heard nothing of the baron’s change of intentions, and who, seeing Wilhelm at the baron’s feet, and hearing the latter speaking, as he thought, in an angry tone, at once jumped to the conclusion that Wilhelm was entreating for longer indulgence. He rushed at the unfortunate man and collared him. “Not if we know it,” exclaimed he; “you’ll have the wolves for bedfellows to-night, I reckon. Come along, my fine fellow.” As he spoke he turned his back towards the baron, with the intention of dragging his victim to the door.

The baron’s little gray eyes twinkled, and his whole frame quivered with suppressed emotion, which, after the lapse of a moment, vented itself in a kick, and such a kick! Not one of your Varsovianna flourishes, but a kick that employed every muscle from hip to toe, and drove the worthy steward up against the door like a ball from a catapult.

Misfortunes never come singly, and so Mynheer Klootz found with regard to the kick, for it was followed, without loss of time, by several dozen others, as like it as possible, from the baron’s heavy boots.

Wounded lions proverbially come badly off, and Fritz and Carl, who had suffered from many an act of petty tyranny on the part of the steward, thought they could not do better than follow their master’s example, which they did to such good purpose, that when the unfortunate Klootz did escape from the cottage at last, I don’t believe he could have had any os sacrum left.

After having executed this little act of poetical justice, the baron and his servants visited the other cottages, in all of which they were received with dread and dismissed with blessings.

Having completed his tour of charity, the baron returned home to breakfast, feeling more really contented than he had done for many a long year. He found Bertha, who had not risen when he started, in a considerable state of anxiety as to what he could possibly have been doing. In answer to her inquiries, he told her, with a roughness he was far from feeling, to “mind her own affairs.”

The gentle eyes filled with tears at the harshness of the reply; perceiving which, the baron was beyond measure distressed, and chucked her under the chin in what was meant to be a very conciliatory manner.

“Eh! what, my pretty, tears? No, surely. Bertha must forgive her old father. I didn’t mean it, you know, my pet; and yet, on second thoughts, yes, I did, too.” Bertha’s face was overcast again. “My little girl thinks she has no business anywhere, eh! Is that it? Well, then, my pet, suppose you make it your business to write a note to young Carl von Sempach, and say I’m afraid I was rather rude to him yesterday, but if he’ll overlook it, and come take a snug family dinner and a slice of the pudding with us to-day——”

“Why, pa, you don’t mean—yes, I do really believe you do——”

The baron’s eyes were winking nineteen to the dozen.

“Why, you dear, dear, dear old pa!” and at the imminent risk of upsetting the breakfast table, Bertha rushed at the baron, and flinging two soft white arms about his neck, kissed him—oh! how she did kiss him! I shouldn’t have thought, myself, she could possibly have had any left for Carl; but I dare say Bertha attended to his interests in that respect somehow.

IV.

Well, Carl came to dinner, and the baron was, not very many years after, promoted to the dignity of a grandpapa, and a very jolly old grandpapa he made.

Is that all you wanted to know? About Klootz? Well, Klootz got over the kicking, but he was dismissed from the baron’s service; and on examination of his accounts it was discovered that he had been in the habit of robbing the baron of nearly a third of his yearly income, which he had to refund; and with the money he was thus compelled to disgorge, the baron built new cottages for his tenants, and new-stocked their farms. Nor was he poorer in the end, for his tenants worked with the energy of gratitude, and he was soon many times richer than when the goblin visited him on that Christmas eve.

And was the goblin ever explained? Certainly not. How dare you have the impertinence to suppose such a thing?

An empty bottle, covered with cobwebs, was found the next morning in the turret-chamber, which the baron at first imagined must be the bottle from which the goblin produced his magic wine; but as it was found, on examination, to be labelled “Old Jamaica Rum,” of course that could not have had anything to do with it. However it was, the baron never thoroughly enjoyed any other wine after it, and as he did not thenceforth get intoxicated, on an average, more than two nights a week, or swear more than eight oaths a day, I think King Christmas may be considered to have thoroughly reformed him.

And he always maintained, to the day of his death, that he was changed into a fairy, and became exceedingly angry if contradicted.

Who doesn’t believe in fairies after this? I only hope King Christmas may make a few more good fairies this year, to brighten the homes of the poor with the light of Christmas charity.

Truly, we need not look far for alms-men. Cold and hunger, disease and death, are around us at all times; but at no time do they press more heavily on the poor than at this jovial Christmas season.

Shall we shut out, in our mirth and jollity, the cry of the hungry poor? or shall we not rather remember, in the midst of our happy family circles, round our well-filled tables and before our blazing fires, that our brothers are starving out in the cold, and that the Christmas song of the angels was “Good-will to men”?

Little One-Eye, Two-Eyes and Three-Eyes by Grimm Brothers

Once upon a time there was a Woman, who had three daughters, the eldest of whom was named One-Eye, because she had but a single eye, and that placed in the middle of her forehead; the second was called Two-Eyes, because she was like other mortals; and the third, Three-Eyes, because she had three eyes, and one of them in the centre of her forehead, like her eldest sister. But, because her second sister had nothing out of the common in her appearance, she was looked down upon by her sisters, and despised by her mother. “You are no better than common folk,” they would say to her; “you do not belong to us”; and then they would push her about, give her coarse clothing, and nothing to eat but their leavings, besides numerous other insults as occasion offered. Continue reading

Rumpelstiltskin by Grimm Brothers

There was once a poor Miller who had a beautiful daughter, and one day, having to go to speak with the King, he said, in order to make himself appear of consequence, that he had a daughter who could spin straw into gold. The King was very fond of gold, and thought to himself, “That is an art which would please me very well”; and so he said to the Miller, “If your daughter is so very clever, bring her to the castle in the morning, and I will put her to the proof.” Continue reading

The Three Little Men in the Wood by Grimm Brothers

Once upon a time there lived a man, whose wife had died; and a woman, also, who had lost her husband: and this man and this woman had each a daughter. These two maidens were friendly with each other, and used to walk together, and one day they came by the widow’s house. Then the widow said to the man’s daughter, “Do you hear, tell your father I wish to marry him, and you shall every morning wash in milk and drink wine, but my daughter shall wash in water and drink water.” Continue reading

Snow-White and Rose-Red by Grimm Brothers

A poor widow once lived in a little cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden, in which were growing two rose trees; one of these bore white roses, and the other red. She had two children, who resembled the rose trees. One was called Snow-White, and the other Rose-Red; and they were as religious and loving, busy and untiring, as any two children ever were. Continue reading