THE WISE GIRL (a serbian story), by Katharine Pyle

young girl dancing

There was once a girl who was wiser than the King and all his councilors; there never was anything like it. Her father was so proud of her that he boasted about her cleverness at home and abroad. He could not keep his tongue still about it.

One day he was boasting to one of his neighbors, and he said, “The girl is so clever that not even the King himself could ask her a question she couldn’t answer, or read her a riddle she couldn’t unravel.”

Now it so chanced the King was sitting at a window near by, and he overheard what the girl’s father was saying. The next day he sent for the man to come before him. “I hear you have a daughter who is so clever that no one in the kingdom can equal her; and is that so?” asked the King. Continue reading

THE RED SHOES by Hans Christian Andersen

girl with beautiful shinny red shoes

There was once a little girl who was very pretty and delicate, but in summer she was forced to run about with bare feet, she was so poor, and in winter wear very large wooden shoes, which made her little insteps quite red, and that looked so dangerous!

In the middle of the village lived old Dame Shoemaker; she sat and sewed together, as well as she could, a little pair of shoes out of old red strips of cloth; they were very clumsy, but it was a kind thought. They were meant for the little girl. The little girl was called Karen.

On the very day her mother was buried, Karen received the red shoes, and wore them for the first time. They were certainly not intended for mourning, but she had no others, and with stockingless feet she followed the poor straw coffin in them.

Suddenly a large old carriage drove up, and a large old lady sat in it: she looked at the little girl, felt compassion for her, and then said to the clergyman:

“Here, give me the little girl. I will adopt her!”

And Karen believed all this happened on account of the red shoes, but the old lady thought they were horrible, and they were burnt. But Karen herself was cleanly and nicely dressed; she must learn to read and sew; and people said she was a nice little thing, but the looking-glass said: “Thou art more than nice, thou art beautiful!”

Now the queen once travelled through the land, and she had her little daughter with her. And this little daughter was a princess, and people streamed to the castle, and Karen was there also, and the little princess stood in her fine white dress, in a window, and let herself be stared at; she had neither a train nor a golden crown, but splendid red morocco shoes. They were certainly far handsomer than those Dame Shoemaker had made for little Karen. Nothing in the world can be compared with red shoes.

Now Karen was old enough to be confirmed; she had new clothes and was to have new shoes also. The rich shoemaker in the city took the measure of her little foot. This took place at his house, in his room; where stood large glass-cases, filled with elegant shoes and brilliant boots. All this looked charming, but the old lady could not see well, and so had no pleasure in them. In the midst of the shoes stood a pair of red ones, just like those the princess had worn. How beautiful they were! The shoemaker said also they had been made for the child of a count, but had not fitted.

“That must be patent leather!” said the old lady. “They shine so!”

“Yes, they shine!” said Karen, and they fitted, and were bought, but the old lady knew nothing about their being red, else she would never have allowed Karen to have gone in red shoes to be confirmed. Yet such was the case.

Everybody looked at her feet; and when she stepped through the chancel door on the church pavement, it seemed to her as if the old figures on the tombs, those portraits of old preachers and preachers’ wives, with stiff ruffs, and long black dresses, fixed their eyes on her red shoes. And she thought only of them as the clergyman laid his hand upon her head, and spoke of the holy baptism, of the covenant with God, and how she should be now a matured Christian; and the organ pealed so solemnly; the sweet children’s voices sang, and the old music-directors sang, but Karen only thought of her red shoes.

In the afternoon, the old lady heard from everyone that the shoes had been red, and she said that it was very wrong of Karen, that it was not at all becoming, and that in future Karen should only go in black shoes to church, even when she should be older.

The next Sunday there was the sacrament, and Karen looked at the black shoes, looked at the red ones—looked at them again, and put on the red shoes.

The sun shone gloriously; Karen and the old lady walked along the path through the corn; it was rather dusty there.

At the church door stood an old soldier with a crutch, and with a wonderfully long beard, which was more red than white, and he bowed to the ground, and asked the old lady whether he might dust her shoes. And Karen stretched out her little foot.

“See, what beautiful dancing shoes!” said the soldier. “Sit firm when you dance”; and he put his hand out towards the soles.

And the old lady gave the old soldier alms, and went into the church with Karen.

And all the people in the church looked at Karen’s red shoes, and all the pictures, and as Karen knelt before the altar, and raised the cup to her lips, she only thought of the red shoes, and they seemed to swim in it; and she forgot to sing her psalm, and she forgot to pray, “Our Father in Heaven!”

Now all the people went out of church, and the old lady got into her carriage. Karen raised her foot to get in after her, when the old soldier said,

“Look, what beautiful dancing shoes!”

And Karen could not help dancing a step or two, and when she began her feet continued to dance; it was just as though the shoes had power over them. She danced round the church corner, she could not leave off; the coachman was obliged to run after and catch hold of her, and he lifted her in the carriage, but her feet continued to dance so that she trod on the old lady dreadfully. At length she took the shoes off, and then her legs had peace.

The shoes were placed in a closet at home, but Karen could not avoid looking at them.

Now the old lady was sick, and it was said she could not recover. She must be nursed and waited upon, and there was no one whose duty it was so much as Karen’s. But there was a great ball in the city, to which Karen was invited. She looked at the old lady, who could not recover, she looked at the red shoes, and she thought there could be no sin in it; she put on the red shoes, she might do that also, she thought. But then she went to the ball and began to dance.

When she wanted to dance to the right, the shoes would dance to the left, and when she wanted to dance up the room, the shoes danced back again, down the steps, into the street, and out of the city gate. She danced, and was forced to dance straight out into the gloomy wood.

Then it was suddenly light up among the trees, and she fancied it must be the moon, for there was a face; but it was the old soldier with the red beard; he sat there, nodded his head, and said, “Look, what beautiful dancing shoes!”

Then she was terrified, and wanted to fling off the red shoes, but they clung fast; and she pulled down her stockings, but the shoes seemed to have grown to her feet. And she danced, and must dance, over fields and meadows, in rain and sunshine, by night and day; but at night it was the most fearful.

She danced over the churchyard, but the dead did not dance—they had something better to do than to dance. She wished to seat herself on a poor man’s grave, where the bitter tansy grew; but for her there was neither peace nor rest; and when she danced towards the open church door, she saw an angel standing there. He wore long, white garments; he had wings which reached from his shoulders to the earth; his countenance was severe and grave; and in his hand he held a sword, broad and glittering.

“Dance shalt thou!” said he. “Dance in thy red shoes till thou art pale and cold! Till thy skin shrivels up and thou art a skeleton! Dance shalt thou from door to door, and where proud, vain children dwell, thou shalt knock, that they may hear thee and tremble! Dance shalt thou—!”

“Mercy!” cried Karen. But she did not hear the angel’s reply, for the shoes carried her through the gate into the fields, across roads and bridges, and she must keep ever dancing.

One morning she danced past a door which she well knew. Within sounded a psalm; a coffin, decked with flowers, was borne forth. Then she knew that the old lady was dead, and felt that she was abandoned by all, and condemned by the angel of God.

She danced, and she was forced to dance through the gloomy night. The shoes carried her over stack and stone; she was torn till she bled; she danced over the heath till she came to a little house. Here, she knew, dwelt the executioner; and she tapped with her fingers at the window, and said, “Come out! Come out! I cannot come in, for I am forced to dance!”

And the executioner said, “Thou dost not know who I am, I fancy? I strike bad people’s heads off; and I hear that my axe rings!”

“Don’t strike my head off!” said Karen. “Then I can’t repent of my sins! But strike off my feet in the red shoes!”

And then she confessed her entire sin, and the executioner struck off her feet with the red shoes, but the shoes danced away with the little feet across the field into the deep wood.

And he carved out little wooden feet for her, and crutches, taught her the psalm criminals always sing; and she kissed the hand which had wielded the axe, and went over the heath.

“Now I have suffered enough for the red shoes!” said she. “Now I will go into the church that people may see me!” And she hastened towards the church door: but when she was near it, the red shoes danced before her, and she was terrified, and turned round. The whole week she was unhappy, and wept many bitter tears; but when Sunday returned, she said, “Well, now I have suffered and struggled enough! I really believe I am as good as many a one who sits in the church, and holds her head so high!”

And away she went boldly; but she had not got farther than the churchyard gate before she saw the red shoes dancing before her; and she was frightened, and turned back, and repented of her sin from her heart.

And she went to the parsonage, and begged that they would take her into service; she would be very industrious, she said, and would do everything she could; she did not care about the wages, only she wished to have a home, and be with good people. And the clergyman’s wife was sorry for her and took her into service; and she was industrious and thoughtful. She sat still and listened when the clergyman read the Bible in the evenings. All the children thought a great deal of her; but when they spoke of dress, and grandeur, and beauty, she shook her head.

The following Sunday, when the family was going to church, they asked her whether she would not go with them; but she glanced sorrowfully, with tears in her eyes, at her crutches. The family went to hear the word of God; but she went alone into her little chamber; there was only room for a bed and chair to stand in it; and here she sat down with her Prayer-Book; and whilst she read with a pious mind, the wind bore the strains of the organ towards her, and she raised her tearful countenance, and said, “O God, help me!”

And the sun shone so clearly, and straight before her stood the angel of God in white garments, the same she had seen that night at the church door; but he no longer carried the sharp sword, but in its stead a splendid green spray, full of roses. And he touched the ceiling with the spray, and the ceiling rose so high, and where he had touched it there gleamed a golden star. And he touched the walls, and they widened out, and she saw the organ which was playing; she saw the old pictures of the preachers and the preachers’ wives. The congregation sat in cushioned seats, and sang out of their Prayer-Books. For the church itself had come to the poor girl in her narrow chamber, or else she had come into the church. She sat in the pew with the clergyman’s family, and when they had ended the psalm and looked up, they nodded and said, “It is right that thou art come!”

“It was through mercy!” she said.

And the organ pealed, and the children’s voices in the choir sounded so sweet and soft! The clear sunshine streamed so warmly through the window into the pew where Karen sat! Her heart was so full of sunshine, peace, and joy, that it broke. Her soul flew on the sunshine to God, and there no one asked after the RED SHOES.

SALLIE HICKS’S FOREFINGER by Abbie Phillips Walker

little girl pointing to a cup

Sallie Hicks was a little girl who was good most of the time, but she had one bad habit, and that was caused by her forefinger on her right hand. Sallie’s right-hand forefinger would get into things it should not, and it caused Sallie’s mother a great deal of trouble, and most of Sallie’s punishments were on account of that unruly right-hand-forefinger.

One day Sallie’s mother set a dish of hot jelly on the kitchen table to cool. She told Sallie it was hot and she must not touch it.

But no sooner was her mother out of the kitchen and the cook’s head was turned another way than Sallie Hicks forgot all about her mother’s warning, and the naughty right-hand forefinger went right into the hot jelly.

Oh, how Sallie screamed with pain! And she forgot all about putting the forefinger in her mouth to taste the jelly, it burned her so.

The big tears ran right down Sallie’s pretty pink cheeks, and her mother and grandmother, and cook, too, came running to see what was the matter.

The little forefinger told the story, and it had to be wrapped in some cooling salve and a soft piece of linen.

“I told you that some day you would get that finger burned,” said her mother, “and now because you disobeyed me you must sit in the big chair in the hall until lunch time and not speak to anyone. I want you to think about that naughty finger.”

Sallie’s grandmother passed her in the hall and leaned over and kissed her. “I am sorry that grandmother’s little girl was so naughty,” she said. “Good little girls mind their mothers and they don’t get burnt fingers.”

Sallie watched her grandmother go upstairs and then Sallie looked at the picture hanging on the wall of her great-grandmother.

“I wonder if Grandmother Great ever had to punish grandmother,” thought Sallie. “I wonder if grandmothers were always very good little girls?”

Sallie looked at her Grandfather Great, too, and wondered how it was that, though the Greats were the father and mother of her own dear grandmother, they had nice black hair, all smooth and shiny, while her grandmother and grandfather, too, had white hair.

Sallie looked at the forefinger all wrapped about with the white cloth, and she thought how dreadful it would be to have her finger big and long as it looked now. Then she looked at Grandmother Great again and her eyes seemed to be looking right at that little burnt forefinger.

Sallie put her right hand behind her, but the eyes of Grandmother Great looked right at Sallie.

Sallie winked her eyes and looked again, for she thought her Grandmother Great smiled at her. Sallie looked hard at the picture, and Grandmother Great seemed to shake her head at Sallie.

“Didn’t your little girl ever do anything naughty with her forefinger?” asked Sallie.

Grandmother Great smiled. “I had several little girls once, but they were all good little girls,” said Grandmother Great.

“Always, every bit of the time?” questioned Sallie.

“Yes; I cannot remember now that they ever did anything naughty,” said Grandmother Great. “But you know, dear, it was a long time ago. I had my little girls a very long time ago.”

“Perhaps you forget when it is a long time ago,” said Sallie. “Didn’t your little girls ever put their forefinger in anything just to taste it?”

“Oh dear, yes; I remember now that your grandmother did put her forefinger, the right-hand forefinger it was, too, in the wheel of the wringer once to see what would happen,” said Grandmother Great.

“Did she cry?” asked Sallie.

“Oh dear, yes, poor little girlie; she cried, and I was so frightened I cried, too. Her poor little finger never grew quite as it should at the end,” said Grandmother Great, with a sigh.

“Do mothers cry when little girls get burnt putting their fingers into things they should not?” asked Sallie.

“Of course they do, my dear. Mothers have many a cry over their little girls when they are naughty,” said Grandmother Great.

“I don’t want mother to cry,” said Sallie.

“Of course you don’t, my dear,” said Grandmother Great. “So you will not put your finger in anything again, will you?”

Before Sallie could promise her Grandmother Great she would be a good little girl she heard some one say, “Sallie, Sallie, come to lunch.”

Sallie opened her eyes, for she had been asleep, dreaming all this time, and there stood her mother in the doorway.

“Mother, do mothers forget how naughty their little girls were when they grow up?” asked Sallie.

“I think so,” said her mother. “I hope you will be so good before you grow up that I shall forget how naughty you were this morning.”

“Grandmother Great told me mothers did forget their little girls were naughty ever, after they grew up,” said Sallie.

“You mean your grandmother told you; not Grandmother Great,” said Sallie’s mother. “You never saw Grandmother Great, dear.”

“Well, she told me so just now,” said Sallie, “and she said, too, that grandmother put her finger in the wheel of the wringing machine once, and that she cried because grandmother, who was her little girl then, cried, and was hurt.”

“What is the child talking about?” said Sallie’s mother.

“She has been asleep and dreamed it,” said Sallie’s grandmother, taking Sallie in her arms. “I showed her my forefinger where it was hurt when I was a little girl and told her she must look out for her forefinger or she might get it terribly hurt just as I did.

“Did you think the picture of Grandmother Great spoke to you?” she asked Sallie, holding her close in her arms.

“She did,” said Sallie, “and she said mothers always cried when their little girls are naughty. Oh, mother dear, I don’t want to make you cry, and I won’t put my finger in anything again, truly I won’t!” sobbed Sallie.

“She isn’t half awake yet,” said her grandmother as Sallie’s mother took her in her arms and kissed her.

Sallie kept her promise, even if she did dream about Grandmother Great talking to her, and the right-hand forefinger did not get her into any more trouble.

Sallie Hicks often looks at the portraits in the hall of Grandmother and Grandfather Great, but Grandmother Great never has spoken to her since that day. But Sallie Hicks smiles at her and sometimes the eyes seem to smile back, and Sallie wonders if they really do.

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.”

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!”