Finger Play Songs & Poems

COUNTING THE FINGERS

This is the thumb, you see;
This finger shakes the tree;
And then this finger comes up;
And this one eats the plums up;
This little one, says he,
“I’ll tell of you, you’ll see!”

That one is the thumb;
And this one wants a plum;
This one says, “Where do they grow?”
This one says, “Come with me—I know.”
But this little one, he says,
“I will not go near the place!
I don’t like such naughty ways.”

Now, I think that through and through
Little Finger’s right—don’t you?

This one fell in the water,
And this one helped him ashore,
And this one put him into bed,
And this one covered him o’er;
And then, in walks this noisy little chap,
And wakes him up once more.

This one walked out into the wood,
And caught a little hare;
And this one took and carried it home,
For he thought it dainty fare;
And this one came and cooked it up
With sauces rich and rare;
And this one laid the table out,
And did the plates prepare;
And this little fellow the keeper told
What the others were doing there.

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AN OLD NORSE FINGER PLAY

Thicken man, build the barn,
Thinner man, spool the yarn,
Longen man, stir the brew,
Gowden man, make a shoe,
Littlen man, all for you!

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BABY’S TOES

Dear little bare feet,
Dimpled and white,
In your long nightgown
Wrapped for the night.

Come, let me count all
Your queer little toes,
Pink as the heart
Of a shell or a rose.

One is a lady
That sits in the sun;
Two is a baby,
And three is a nun.

Four is a lily
With innocent breast;
And five is a birdie
Asleep on her nest.

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BABY’S TOES
by Edith A. Bentley

Five little piggie wiggies
Standing in a row,
We always have to toddle
Where the baby wants to go;
Up-stairs and down-stairs,
Indoors and out,
We’re always close together
And we never fall out.

Chorus:
Father-Pig and Mother-Pig,
And Big-Brother Pig,
And Sister-Pig, and darling little
Baby Piggie-Wig!

Oh, sometimes we are all tied up
In a bag so tight.
This is when the baby goes
“To sleepy-bye” at night.
Then there’s nothing else to do
But cuddle down and rest—
Just as little birdies cuddle
In their little nest.

Chorus:
Father-Pig and Mother-Pig
And Big-Brother Pig,
And Sister-Pig, and darling little
Baby Piggie-Wig!

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THIS IS THE WAY MY FINGERS STAND
(To the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.”)

This is the way my fingers stand,
Fingers stand, fingers stand,
This is the way my fingers stand,
So early in the morning.

This is the way I fold my hand,
Fold my hand, fold my hand,
This is the way I fold my hand,
So early in the morning.

This is the way they dance about,
Dance about, dance about,
This is the way they dance about,
So early in the morning.

This is the way they go to rest,
Go to rest, go to rest,
This is the way they go to rest,
So early in the morning.

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THUMBKIN, POINTER

Thumbkin, Pointer, Middleman big,
Sillyman, Weeman, rig-a-jig-jig.

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NAMING THE FINGERS
by Laura E. Richards

This is little Tommy Thumb,
Round and smooth as any plum.
This is busy Peter Pointer:
Surely he’s a double-jointer.
This is mighty Toby Tall,
He’s the biggest one of all.
This is dainty Reuben Ring:
He’s too fine for anything.
And this little wee one, maybe,
Is the pretty Finger-baby.

All the five we’ve counted now,
Busy fingers in a row.
Every finger knows the way
How to work and how to play;
Yet together work they best,
Each one helping all the rest.

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ROBERT BARNS

Robert Barns, fellow fine,
Can you shoe this horse of mine,
So that I may cut a shine?
Yes, good sir, and that I can,
As well as any other man;
There a nail, and here a prod,
And now, good sir, your horse is shod.

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JACK, BE NIMBLE

Jack, be nimble,
Jack, be quick;

(Jack is one hand walking along on its fore- and middle-fingers.)

Jack, jump over
The candlestick.

(Fist closed; uplifted thumb for candle. Jack jumps over it.)

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TWO LITTLE HANDS

Two little hands so soft and white,
This is the left—this is the right.
Five little fingers stand on each,
So I can hold a plum or a peach.
But if I should grow as old as you
Lots of little things these hands can do.

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PAT A CAKE

Pat a cake, pat a cake, baker’s man.
So I do, master, as fast as I can.
Pat it, and prick it, and mark it with T,
And then it will serve for Tommy and me.

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THE BIRD’S NEST

Here upon the leaves at rest
A little bird has built her nest.
Two tiny eggs within she’s laid,
And many days beside them stayed.
Now she’s happy; listen well!
Two baby birds break through the shell.
Don’t you hear them? “Peep! peep! peep!
We love you, mother. Cheep! cheep! cheep!”

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TWO LITTLE BLACKBIRDS

There were two blackbirds sitting on a hill,
(Little pieces of paper perched on forefingers.)
One named Jack, the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack; fly away, Jill.
(Fingers soar gently in the air.)
Come again, Jack; come again, Jill.
(Fingers fly back.)

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MASTER SMITH

Is Master Smith within? Yes, that he is.
Can he set a shoe? Ay, marry, two.
Here a nail, and there a nail,
Tick—tack—too.

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LITTLE ROBIN REDBREAST

Little Robin Redbreast
Sat upon a rail,
(Right hand extended in shape of a bird is poised
on extended forefinger of left hand.)
Niddle noddle went his head,
And waggle went his tail.
(Little finger of right hand waggles from side to side.)

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GREETING

Good little Mother,
How do you do?
Dear strong “Daddy,”
Glad to see you!
Big tall Brother,
Pleased you are here.
Kind little Sister,
You need not fear,
Glad welcome we’ll give you,
And Babykins, too.
Yes, Babykins,
How do you do?

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A PLAY FOR THE ARMS

Pump, pump, pump,
Water, water, come;
Here a rush, there a gush,
Done, done, done.

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THE LITTLE WINDOW

Look, my dear, at this window clear.
See how the light shines through in here.
If you would always see the light,
Keep your heart’s window clean and bright.

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SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie;
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the King?

The King was in his counting-house,
Counting out his money;
The Queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey;
The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes;
When up came a blackbird
And nipped off her nose.

(At this line somebody’s nose gets nipped.)

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THE PIGEON HOUSE

Now I’m going to open my pigeon-house door.
The pigeons fly out to the light,
Straight to the meadows so pleasant they soar,
And flutter about with delight.
But at evening they’ll all come home at last,
And the door of the house I’ll then shut fast.

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SAID THIS LITTLE FAIRY

Said this little fairy, “I’m as thirsty as can be.”
Said this little fairy, “I’m hungry, too, dear me!”
Said this little fairy, “Who’ll tell us where to go?”
Said this little fairy, “I’m sure that I don’t know.”
Said this little fairy, “Let’s brew some dewdrop tea.”
So they sipped it and ate honey beneath the maple tree.

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A BURROWING GAME

See the little mousie, creeping up the stair,
Looking for a warm nest—there, oh, there!

(Mother’s fingers creep up the body, and finally fumble in baby’s neck.)

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PAT A CAKE

Baby, would you like to make
For yourself a little cake?
Pat it gently, smooth it down.
Baker says: “Now, in to brown;
Bring it here, baby dear,
While the oven fire burns clear.”
“Baker, see, here is my cake;
Bake it well for baby’s sake.”
“In the oven, right deep down,
Here the cake will soon get brown.”

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PUTTING THE FINGERS TO SLEEP

My fingers are so sleepy
It’s time they went to bed,
So first, you Baby Finger
Tuck in your Little Head.

Ringman, come now its your turn,
And then come, Tallman Great;
Now, Pointer Finger, hurry
Because its getting late.

Let’s see if all are snuggled.
No, here’s one more to come,
So come, lie close, little brothers,
Make room for Master Thumb.

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TEN LITTLE SQUIRRELS

Ten little squirrels up in a tree—
(Ten fingers outspread.)

The first two said: “What do I see?”
(Thumbs only.)

The next two said: “A man with a gun.”
(Forefingers only.)

The next two said: “Let’s run, let’s run.”
(Middle fingers only.)

The next two said: “Let’s hide in the shade.”
(Ring fingers only.)

The last two said: “We’re not afraid.”
(Little fingers only.)

Bang! went a gun.
(Clap hands.)

Away they all run.
(All fingers scamper off.)

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MY LITTLE GARDEN

See my little garden,
How I rake it over,
Then I sow the little brown seeds,
And with soft earth cover.
Now the raindrops patter
On the earth so gayly;

See the big round sun smile
On my garden daily.
The little plant is waking;
Down the roots grow creeping;

Up now come the leaflets
Through the brown earth peeping.

Soon the buds will laugh up
Toward the springtime showers;
Soon my buds will open
Into happy flowers.

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THE FAMILY
BY Emilie Poulsson

This is the mother, so busy at home,
Who loves her dear children, whatever may come.

This is the father, so brave and so strong,
Who works for his family all the day long.

This is the brother, who’ll soon be a man,
He helps his good mother as much as he can.

This is the sister, so gentle and mild,
Who plays that the dolly is her little child.

This is the baby, all dimpled and sweet,
How soft his wee hands and his chubby pink feet!

Father, and mother,
and children so dear,

Together you see them,
one family here.

MR. FOX CUTS THE COTTONTAILS by Abbie Phillips Walker

rabbits running in field

Mr. Fox decided that the only way to get all the wood animals to have a good opinion of him was to give a big dinner, for he had somehow got rather a bad name among the animals for being so tricky. So all day long he went about telling all the animals that when it was dark – quite dark – they were to come to his house and dine.

There were the Squirrels and the Coons, the Possums and the Bear family and all the Rabbit family, including Susie Cottontail and her brother Jimmie and many others.

You may be sure that no one ate any dinner that day. They all saved their appetites for Mr. Fox’s night-time feast, for, as Mr. Coon expressed it, “we should be very ungrateful to Mr. Fox if we did not take to his dinner our very best appetites; therefore our stomachs should be empty.”

As soon as it was dark, so that Mr. Dog could not see them, all the animals began to slowly creep toward Mr. Fox’s home.

Mr. Fox let them in one by one and was careful to draw all the shades and stuff the keyhole so the light would not show outside if anything happened that Mr. Dog should be roaming through the woods.

At last all the animals but Jimmie and Susie Cottontail were there, and everyone began to wonder where they could be and what kept them so late.

It happened that Jimmie and Susie Cottontail were not at all sure they would enjoy Mr. Fox’s dinner, and they had run over to the farm on the hill to have a dinner of some garden stuff of which they were fond.

They had stayed longer than they had intended, and when they started for Mr. Fox’s house were not as cautious as they usually were about throwing Mr. Dog off their track.

Just as they were entering the wood who should come bounding after them but Mr. Dog, who had followed them from the farm, and off ran Jimmie and Susie Cottontail looking for a hole in which to hide.

Mr. Fox’s house was the first refuge they came to, and in the door they burst, with Mr. Dog at their heels.

Of course there was no dinner and the party was spoiled, for everybody ran, and Mr. Dog, not knowing which one to chase when he saw so many, went home without having caught anyone.

The next day Mr. Fox was talking with his friend, Mr. Coon. “No one of the animals would have gotten us into such a fix but those Cottontails,” he said.

“In the first place, their ears are so short they never heard quickly like some others of that family, and then those tails—why they can be seen for yards and yards. I should have known better than to ask them.

“And everyone knows they have no sense. The Cottontails run into the first opening they see and never keep on running as their cousins do. I have had my lesson. I shall cut them off my visiting list from now on.”

And that is the reason the Cottontail family are never invited to any dinners that the wood folk give—their trails can be too easily followed by Mr. Dog.

OLD NORTH WIND by Abbie Phillips Walker

nature

Old North Wind lived away up in the North Pole Land in the winter, and there her children, the Icebergs, grew.

Old North Wind was very proud of her huge children, and when the long, cold winter was at an end she said: “My big, strong children, come with me. We will float away from this land where there is no one to see your beauty and go to the seas where the ships are sailing.

“Of course, you all cannot go, but I will take the three big brothers because they are the strongest, and show the old South Wind and the Sun we are stronger and mightier than they.”

So the three largest of the icebergs broke away from their brothers and sailed away with old North Wind, who blew her chilling breath on them as they went along.

“Ah, my beauties,” she said, “I will make you so strong that no breath of harm can come to you, and you shall crush the big ships and make all who see you tremble with fear.”

The Icebergs believed old North Wind, for they had never been away from North Pole Land and did not know anything about the warm South Wind, or how warm and melting Mr. Sun could be.

So they sailed and sailed until they came to the big ocean where the ships had to cross as they went from one land to another.

Old North Wind kept close to her big children, but one day old South Wind saw them.

“Oh, ho!” he said, “there is old North Wind with three of her sons. She is up to some mischief, I’ll be bound; so I will ask Mr. Sun to keep his eye on them.”

“I have been watching them for many days,” said Mr. Sun, “and with all of old North Wind’s cold breath I have warmed her sons more than she knows.”

At last one morning bright and early old North Wind espied a ship sailing right in their path.

“Now, my beauties,” she said, with a shrill laugh, “show your strength and crush the ship that dares to sail in your path. We are the rulers of the sea by right of might and we must show our strength.”

Blowing and shrieking, old North Wind hastened her sons toward the ship, and she was so intent on working destruction that she did not feel the warm breath of old South Wind or the rays of old Mr. Sun.

Suddenly she saw her huge sons shiver, and before she could blow a chilling blast upon them they swayed, and with a plunge sank from sight, and the water closed over them.

Old North Wind howled and blew, but the Sun and old South Wind drove her back toward her North Pole Land until the ship was safe from her wrath.

“You wait,” she shrieked as she ran away from Mr. Sun and old South Wind. “I’ll come again next year with bigger and stronger children and you shall learn who rules the seas.”

“Remember, North Wind,” said old South Wind in soft, gentle tones, “might is not always right, and while you can make much more noise than I can or old man Sun, we can always melt your children; so keep to your North Pole Land if you wish to keep them.”

Old North Wind bustled away with angry shrieks, but she knew full well the power of South Wind and Mr. Sun, but, like many people, she wanted to believe in her own strength and power; and so she roared louder and louder as she blew back to her cold homeland in order to convince herself of her might.

ORIANNA by Abbie Phillips Walker

girl with bow and mushrooms

Bunny White, one night when the Fairies were holding a revel, peeped out of his window to see the frolic, for Bunny and the Fairies were the best of friends because members of Bunny’s family had for ages drawn the carriage of the Queen.

But tonight Bunny saw a stranger in the midst of the Fairy group, tiny like the others, but very differently dressed, and the Fairies were all listening to what she had to say, rather than making merry, as was their custom.

“Who can she be?” thought Bunny White, and, being a very inquisitive creature, he ran out of his house and over to the carriage of the Fairy Queen to ask her about the little stranger.

“Oh, that is our dear Orianna, the Indian Fairy,” answered the Queen, “and only once in a while does she come to visit us”; and then because Bunny White was so interested the Queen told him all about Orianna.

“You see,” said the Queen, “all children are afraid of Indian dreams, so I had to have a Fairy who would make the Indians kind and loving to the ‘Pale Face,’ as the Indians call the white folk.

“Orianna lives near the Indians in a forest, and when you see a tall tree with an opening at the bottom like the door of a wigwam you may be sure that it is one of Orianna’s homes.

“Did you notice her pretty costume?”

Bunny White told the Queen he had not had a very close view of Orianna, so the Queen told him to run over to the Fairies and see the pretty dress she wore.

Orianna wore the dress of an Indian girl, tiny moccasins on her little feet and two tiny black braids, one over each shoulder, but the thing that attracted Bunny White the most was her wings.

They were not at all like those of the other Fairies. Orianna’s wings were feathers of an eagle.

Her wand, too, was different, for instead of a wand she carried a tiny silver bow and arrow, the tip of the arrow being of gold.

Bunny ran back to the Queen and told her he thought Orianna the very prettiest of all the Fairies. “But what is it that shines so on the tip of the arrow?” she asked.

“Oh, that is the love she shoots straight into the hearts of all the Indians,” replied the Queen.

“Orianna flies up through her tree house to the tallest branch and shoots her love-tipped arrow straight into the heart of all Indians, and so you see the children need never be afraid any more of dreaming of Indians, for all Indians are good and Orianna is always on the lookout from the top of one of her homes, and that is the reason she so seldom comes to visit us.”

Just then Orianna came to bid the Queen good night, and Bunny White ran off to his home, but the next morning he was up bright and early to look for the wigwam trees.

But not one did he find, for the Fairies are very clever, and who ever did find the places where they live; but for all that we know, there are Fairies, and now that Orianna is taking care of the Indians no little boy or girl need ever be afraid of Indian dreams, because the Fairy Queen has given them a Fairy.

PUSSY WILLOW’S FURS by Abbie Phillips Walker

flowers and ladybug

Miss Pussy Willow put on her furs one day in March and stepped out into the sunshine; but, while the sun was warm, March’s breath was cold, so she hugged her furs closer about her and sat on a swaying bough.

It was early and Miss Pussy knew it, but what cared she, dressed in her furs; she knew that her silver-gray dress was very much admired, and while she was modest she was not above caring for admiration.

Pussy Willow had no trouble until all the spring and summer flowers arrived in their gayly colored gowns and then, though she did not in the least envy them, she did not like to hear the scornful remarks about her furs, and sometimes she wished that under her fur coat she had a pretty colored gown.

“It is really too bad,” said one Red Flower. “Poor Pussy Willow! I do feel so sorry for her; she wears that fur coat all the year round.”

“You know why, my dear, do you not?” asked a tall Blue Flower growing near.

“I suppose she has no other,” said the Red Flower.

“I think it is because she has on an old dress,” answered tall Blue Flower; “she never takes off that fur coat, you notice, and, of course, these hot days she would if she had a new dress. Don’t you think I am right?”

“I should not wonder if you were,” was the reply, “but let us ask Mr. Poppy what he thinks.”

“Oh, what is the use of asking him. He is asleep half the time. I do believe he never sees our pretty frocks at all,” replied Blue Flower. “Let us ask Miss Thistle; she sees everything and she may have asked Miss Willow before this why she never takes off her coat; you know Thistle cares nothing for the feelings of others.”

Miss Thistle said she did not know, but that she would ask Miss Willow right away, “for why in the world she wears that fur coat all summer I cannot think. She really is the only one around here who does not give attention to her clothes. I think style means more than color,” said Miss Thistle, with a toss of her head.

“I can tell you what you wish to know,” said Lady Bug, alighting on a bush near the gossips.

“Oh, do, dear Lady Bug!” said Blue Flower. “You travel and know the styles. Now don’t you think blue is ever so much better style for summer than any other color?”

“Yes, I do travel,” replied Miss Lady Bug, without replying to Blue Flower’s question, “and I see the styles, as you said, and that is the reason I can tell you the truth about Pussy Willow. She is the only one among you who really is in style.”

“In style with that fur on!” said Thistle, all prickly with anger. “Why, where have you been, Lady Bug? Up to the North Pole?”

“No,” calmly replied Miss Lady Bug. “I have been everywhere that fashionable folks go, and everybody is wearing furs, no matter how hot the weather; and so I tell you again that the only one who is in style is Miss Pussy Willow with her silvery fur.”

Miss Pussy Willow did not let the flowers around her know that she heard what Lady Bug had said, but she felt very happy and no longer did she wish that under her fur she had a dainty colored gown.

She behaved in a modest manner and put on no airs, for did she not know that she was dressed in the latest fashion?

THE WINDFLOWER’S STORY by Abbie Phillips Walker

wildflowers and pansies in the wind

One day a little Windflower growing in a garden heard the Rosebush say to the Pansies, “What a quiet little creature the Windflower is! She seems to be a modest little thing, but she never stays here long enough to get acquainted; so I do not know whether she hides her ignorance by keeping quiet or is a deep thinker.”

“I think she is deep, Miss Rose,” said the Hollyhock, near by. “You know I can see farther than anyone here, and it is my opinion that the Windflower is deep, and I think, too, she has a story.”

“A story!” cried the Pansies, turning up their pretty faces to the Hollyhock. “Oh, how interesting.”

“What do you mean by a story?” asked the Rosebush.

“Oh, I mean she is deep and knows things of which we little dream. There is something between her and the Wind, but I cannot learn her secret.”

Rosebush held up her head, the Pansies turned their little faces around and looked at the modest little Windflower to see if they could read her secret.

“I have no secret the world cannot know,” said the Windflower. “All my family love the Wind; this all the world would know if they knew our history.”

Rosebush and the Pansies and Hollyhock began to question the little Windflower, and this is what she told them:

“Oh, a long, long time ago some beautiful goddess grieved very much over the death of some one she dearly loved, and she created in memory of this friend a beautiful flower which she named Anemone. That is our real name.”

“Oh, how grand is sounds!” said the Rosebush. “Such a big name, too, for such a little flower.”

“Yes, it is big,” replied the little Windflower, “but you see we had nothing at all to do with our name; the Wind fell in love with us and opened our blossoms—that is the way we happened to be named, I am told.”

“Oh, how interesting!” said the Rosebush, beginning to look with envy upon the little Windflower.

“But you are a small family, I think,” said the Rosebush. “I have seen very few of your kind in our garden.”

“No, we are a numerous and beautiful family,” said the Windflower.

“Oh, how conceited she is!” said the Rosebush in a whisper to the Pansies. “Think of calling herself beautiful. For my part, I think her white and purple quite plain-looking.”

But in spite of the low voice of the Rose the little Windflower heard her. “Oh, you are quite mistaken if you think I feel I am beautiful!” she said. “It is of our family I speak; you should see some of my sisters; they are wonderful, purple and so silky they are beautiful.

“And other sisters are a beautiful blue. Oh, I am by far the plainest of our family. But the Wind has no favorites; he takes us all along with him, though, of course, my sisters that grow in mountain pastures go oftener with the Wind than others.”

“Oh, here comes that horrid breeze!” said the Rosebush. “He always spoils everything.” And she gathered her petals closer to her and leaned back among the leaves.

When she opened her petals to look around the garden again the little Windflower was not there.

“Why, where has the Windflower gone?” she asked.

“Oh, you missed it!” said the Pansies, nodding very knowingly. “That breeze came to tell the Windflower that the Wind would be along in a minute. We heard him, so we watched, and in a little while the Wind came and took the Windflower away with him. She went up high right over Hollyhock’s head.”

Hollyhock, who had been gazing about, lowered his head. “She is out of sight,” he told the Rosebush and the Pansies. “The Wind came this morning and whispered to her, but I could not hear what he said; but she opened wide her blossom and nodded.”

“Now, what do you suppose there is between the Windflower and the Wind?” asked Rosebush.

“Just what she told us,” said Hollyhock. “He is in love with the Windflowers.”

“I should prefer a more tender lover,” said Rosebush. “I think him quite rude at times. The way he blows through our garden is far from gentle.”

“Some like strong lovers that can master them,” said Hollyhock, lifting his head and standing very straight.

“I suppose so,” sighed the Rosebush; “but it is just as I have always said. You never can tell about the quiet, modest ones. Think of the little Windflower having such a story and flying away with the Wind. My, my! What a world!”

LITTLE PITCHER-MAN by Abbie Phillips Walker

pitcher

On a pantry shelf there once lived a funny squatty-looking pitcher-man. His cap was brown and that was the top of the pitcher. His coat was yellow and his vest green.

He was round and fat, as well as squatty, and his legs were short. He wore brown trousers (what there was of them) and white stockings and black shoes.

But the face under the cap was what everyone noticed most; it was always laughing. Oh, I forgot to say that his hands held on to his sides as if he feared he would burst with laughing so hard.

One day there came to the pantry to live a new dish, and when it saw the Pitcher-man it asked another dish standing by why the Pitcher-man was always laughing.

“I do not know,” replied the other dish, “but he never does anything but laugh. I have never thought to ask why.”

So the new dish waited until it was all quiet in the pantry at night, and then it asked the Pitcher-man why he laughed all the time.

“Oh dear! I have to laugh every time I think of it,” answered the Pitcher-man. “No one has ever asked me why I laughed before, and I do not know that I can stop long enough to tell you why.”

But all the other dishes gathered about him and begged him to tell his story, and at last he managed to stop laughing and talk.

“It happened ever and ever so long ago,” he said, “one moonlight night when the house was very still.

“Mistress Puss came in through the door and looked about; then she sniffed, for you see on a platter on the shelf was a nice fish for the next day’s dinner.

“Puss walked along to the window, and just before she jumped up on the sill so she could jump on the shelf I saw a mouse run along the shelf where the fish was and jump into a pie that was cut.

“He ran under the crust and began to nibble and, of course, did not see Puss; but when she reached the fish she gave it a pull and the tail hit the pie.

“Oh dear! when I think of it I just have to laugh,” and Pitcher-man again held his sides while he almost burst with laughing.

“Oh, do tell us what happened!” asked the dishes, so interested they could hardly wait to hear the end of the story.

The Pitcher-man wiped his eyes and then went on: “As I said, the tail of the fish hit the pie where the mouse was eating. That, of course, scared him and he jumped out.

“He landed right on Puss’s head and that scared her so she tumbled off the shelf, the fish on top of her.

“Puss never knew what happened. She thought the fish was alive and ran for her life, and the mouse hustled about helter-skelter trying to find the hole in the wall, for his wits were just scared out of his head.

“Oh dear! it was so funny, and the next day when the cook gave the fish-head to Puss she ran out of doors and cook thought she had a fit because no cat was ever known to refuse fish before.

“But I knew what was the matter, and every time I think about it all I just have to laugh. Ha! ha! ha!”

And that is the reason little Pitcher-man is always laughing. He cannot stop, for he always is thinking about what he saw many years ago one moonlight night in the pantry.

MR. FOX’S HOUSEWARMING by Abbie Phillips Walker

a fox and a house

Mr. Fox had been so much disturbed by Mr. Dog and his master that he decided to try living somewhere besides on the ground floor of the woods.

One night he took a look around in the moonlight, and to his delight he discovered the very place for him to live.

It was a house built in the branches of a big tree that some boys very likely had made the year before. “Now with a very little repairing this will be the finest house in the woods,” said Mr. Fox.

So over the hill he ran to Mr. Man’s and brought away all that was needed to make his house comfortable.

He even found an old piece of stovepipe to make his stove draw well, and in a few days Mr. Fox told all his friends of his new home and invited them to a housewarming.

Mr. Coon and Mr. Possum and Mr. Squirrel were not at all upset by finding out that Mr. Fox’s new home was in the big tree, but Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Badger looked very sad and said it was out of the question for them to accept Mr. Fox’s kind invitation, much as they would like to come.

Mr. Fox had borrowed a ladder from Mr. Man, and when Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Badger said they could not come Mr. Fox remembered that he was not much of a climber himself and that if he did not keep that ladder he might have a hard time getting into his home when he was in a hurry.

So he decided that Mr. Man would not need it as much as he would and that it would also make a nice addition to his home.

When he told Mr. Badger and Mr. Rabbit about the ladder they decided to come, and one night when the moon was shining the animals were all to go to Mr. Fox’s house to dinner.

Mr. Fox thought it would be the cheapest way to fill his guests with soup, so he took all the bones that he had collected and put them in a pot on the stove to boil.

Up curled the smoke from his chimney and out through the windows went the nice-smelling odor of soup, and Mr. Dog, who happened to be running through the woods, saw and smelled as well.

He wagged his tail and looked up at the house in the tree; then he whined and scratched the tree, and as he danced about it, with his eyes fixed upon the house all the time, he bumped into the ladder.

“Ah, how fortunate!” he said, and up he went and into Mr. Fox’s house he went, too, and took the cover off the pot.

It did not take him a second to remove the pot from the stove and pour out the soup in the sink and cool those bones, and then such a feast as he had.

He ate until he became sleepy; then he lay down on the floor and went to sleep.

Mr. Dog did not dream that Mr. Fox lived in that house; not that he was afraid of him, but he would have slept with one eye open so that he could catch him if he had known.

Mr. Fox was out roaming over the hill, looking about for a stray turkey or hen, and he did not come home until it was nearly dark.

He ran up the ladder, and without striking a light he went toward the stove to see how his soup was getting on, and stumbled over Mr. Dog. Up jumped Mr. Dog with a gruff bark, and Mr. Fox, not stopping for the ladder, jumped out of the window and almost broke his neck, while Mr. Dog looked after him, barking and yelping in a terrible manner.

Mr. Fox did not stop. He kept on running, and Mr. Dog, thinking of the bones he did not finish, turned away from the window and began to eat. While he was eating the guests for the housewarming began to arrive. Mr. Coon did not need the ladder to help him, or Mr. Possum, either, nor did Mr. Squirrel, but as it was there they felt it would not be polite to enter any other way.

Mr. Possum started up first, and behind him Mr. Coon. Then came Mr. Badger, and Mr. Rabbit behind him, while Mr. Squirrel ran up the side of the ladder.

When they were about halfway up, Mr. Dog, hearing a noise outside, went to the door, and of all the surprised creatures you ever saw, the guests were the most surprised, unless it was Mr. Dog. He forgot to bark for a second, he was so taken back.

Then he recovered and out of the door he went; but he was not used to going down a ladder, and on the first round he slipped and down he went.

The guests started to jump just as Mr. Dog barked, but they were not out of the way when Mr. Dog fell, and down they all tumbled, Mr. Dog, Mr. Possum, Mr. Coon and Mr. Badger.

Mr. Squirrel jumped, too, but he jumped for a limb of the tree and was not in the mix-up. He said it was the funniest sight he ever saw, and he had a fine view from where he sat.

But Mr. Rabbit said he was sure his view of the affair was the best, for, being nearest the bottom of the ladder when the tumble began, he was up and out of the way when they all came down on the ground.

“You could not tell who was who or which from the other,” said Mr. Rabbit, later talking it over with Mr. Squirrel.

It was a long time before Mr. Fox could make the guests believe he had not planned to have Mr. Dog at his house-warming, but when Mr. Squirrel told them that he had seen the bones on the floor and the kettle in the sink they finally forgave Mr. Fox.

He decided the ground floor was the safest for him, after all, and when he was once again settled he gave a feast, and this time Mr. Dog was not there.

THE RAIN ELVES by Abbie Phillips Walker

little elves flying near flowers

The Rain Elf children had been shut up in their houses for ever so long, for it had been hot and the Rain Elves do not like very hot weather. Their mothers, the Rain Clouds, awoke one morning and found the sun was not shining, so they told their children they could drop down and play on the Earth awhile.

“Now, mind you, do not all go. Part of you can go at a time, because there are so many, many millions of you; the poor Earth would be quite overcome if all the Rain Elves went down at once.”

So a few from each family of the Rain Cloud’s children went out the door as their mothers opened it and down they dropped upon the dry Earth.

Oh, the gardens were so glad to see them! The flowers lifted their drooping heads and smiled a glad welcome. “Where have you been?” they asked. “It is so long since you were here we thought you had forgotten us.”

“Oh no, we didn’t forget you!” replied the Rain Elves, “but it has been so hot our mothers would not let us come out. We can stay but a little while, because we have many, many millions of brothers that want to come down to the garden, too; so we will have to go back, and the next shower will bring some of the others.”

The little flowers were grieved when they heard this, for they were so dusty and thirsty they felt they could never get enough of the shining little Elves.

“What shall we do to keep them here?” they whispered among themselves. “If they go back to the clouds, perhaps the others will not come. Oh, if the old Wind Witch would only come along she might help us.”

“She might get us all into trouble also,” said a slender lily. “I think we better trust the Rain Cloud mothers to do what they think best.”

But poor little lily’s words were not noticed and a tall hollyhock was asked to find old Wind Witch and request her to help them keep the Rain Elves all day.

The old Wind Witch laughed with glee when she heard the request, for she saw a chance to work mischief and make it appear she was trying to do good.

“Tell the pretty flowers they shall have the Rain Elves all day, and their brothers, too,” she said to the hollyhock, and off she flew up to the Rain Cloud homes.

She went about the clouds very carefully and gently, for she knew if the Rain Cloud mothers heard her they would call their children home; but by and by she saw her chance, and while the Rain Cloud mothers were busy she softly opened the door of each cloud one by one and beckoned to the Rain Elves.

“Run along quickly,” she said. “Your brothers are having such a fine time they have quite forgotten you; they will not be back today, so run along and be merry with them.”

The little Rain Elves did not stop to think they should wait for their mothers to tell them when to go, they were so eager to get out.

Down they went quite gently at first with a patter, patter, pat, and then they quite lost their heads, thinking of the fun they would have, and down they dropped, splash, splash, splash.

At first the flowers laughed and danced about for joy, for they were getting their leaves and blossoms washed and their thirsty petals satisfied; but in a little while the Rain Elves came so fast and thick the petals dropped off one by one, and then the stems bent under the swift coming of the Elves.

Pretty soon the garden was filled with water so that the grass could not be seen, while old Wind Witch danced about overhead and cackled with delight at the mischief she had done.

“Oh dear! I did not know there were so many of you!” cried a rose as her stem broke and she fell into the water.

“I was afraid of it,” sighed the lily as she fell to the ground. “A few Elves at a time is best. The mother Rain Clouds know.”

Such a commotion as there was in the Rain Cloud homes when the mothers found the doors of their houses open! They hustled about and called for the Rain Elves to come home; but they were so taken up with the fun they were having, spattering and splashing, they did not hear.

By and by old Sun Man saw them, and it did not take him long to throw his hot rays on old Wind Witch and drive her away, and then the Rain Elves felt the Sun Man’s breath and thought of home.

One by one they disappeared. Some hid among the roses and other flowers that were left in the garden, and others were lucky enough to get back to their cloud houses and their mothers, but they left the garden a very sad-looking place.

“Who ever would have thought there were so many of those Rain Elves,” said a bedraggled-looking flower. “I shall never wish for them to stay all day again.”

“The lily was wiser than we thought,” said another. “The Rain Cloud mothers know best what is good for us, and the next time they send a part of their children I think we better be satisfied and not get them all here at once.”

“I think you are right,” sighed the hollyhock from the ground, where he had fallen. “Shall I ever see over the wall again, I wonder. Such a fall as I took none of you can realize.”

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.

REVENGE OF THE FIREFLIES by Abbie Phillips Walker

goblin sitting on a water-lily

The Fireflies and the Goblins had always been good friends, just as they were with the Fairies, until one night when the Goblins held a frolic in the woods and did not invite the Fireflies to come.

It was a bright moonlight night, and the Goblins, who did not think much about anyone or anything if it did not in some way help them, knew they would not need the Fireflies’ lanterns, so they did not bother to send them an invitation.

When the moon was high up in the sky so it shone down on all the trees in the woods, making it almost like daylight, the Goblins came tumbling out of their rocks and began their frolic.

They tumbled and they played such antics in the moonlight that anyone who did not know who they were and had seen them would surely have thought them a lot of crazy little creatures.

Of course, the Fireflies came flying along, and when they saw what was going on they began asking one another if anyone had received an invitation.

“It is plain to be seen why they did not invite us,” said one old Firefly. “They did not need us because the moon is shining.”

“That shows us what their friendship is worth,” said another. “If they need our lights, they invite us; if not, we are forgotten.”

For a few minutes all the Fireflies flashed with anger and then the old Firefly said. “I think we can have revenge if all of you will do as I tell you, and if I am not much mistaken those Goblin fellows will remember us the next time they have a frolic, even if they do not need us.”

All the Fireflies wanted to know what the old Firefly had in his mind, but not a word would he tell them about his plan until they ran about and called together all the Fireflies for miles and miles around.

Of course, it did not take those sprightly little creatures long to fly miles and miles, and pretty soon in one corner of the woods were gathered together thousands of Fireflies.

“My plan is this,” said the old Firefly when they were all there, “the Goblins are to go sailing on the lily pads after the frolic and we will go around to all the rocks and alight on all of them, for that is where they live, and when they return from their sail they will think their homes are on fire.

“Shine as brightly as you can, every one of you, and don’t wink or blink, so the Goblins will not suspect us. They will have a good fright, if nothing else.”

Away went the Fireflies in groups of thousands, and pretty soon all the rocks in the woods were covered; but not until the Goblins returned from their moonlight sail did the Fireflies let their bright lights be seen.

The Goblins stopped every one when they reached the woods, for all the rocks were a blaze of light. “Oh, our homes!” they all cried; “someone has set them on fire. What shall we do?”

Hither and thither like little bees they flew, but it was no use; they could not enter their homes. They were all on fire.

“Where shall we sleep?” they began to ask one another, for they were all very tired after the frolic.

“We can crawl under the leaves,” said one Goblin, “but we dare not sleep, for if the fairies should find us, no knowing what they would do to us with their wands. We will have to stay awake all night, and in the morning if the fire is out we can crawl into our homes, for, of course, the rocks cannot burn.”

“No, but they can be very hot and burn us,” said another. “Oh dear, I wish we had not gone sailing; perhaps we could have saved our homes.”

So under the leaves they crawled, but not a wink of sleep did those Goblins dare take, and when it was ‘most daylight time the Fireflies put out their lights and silently flew away.

When the Goblins went to their rocks they were surprised to find them all cool and not at all hot as they had expected, and one of the Goblins, putting a pointed little finger on the side of his pointed nose said to the others: “I have a thought, and it is this: The Fireflies were not invited to our frolic and I wonder if they alighted on our rocks for revenge?”

“I wonder,” said the others; but they were all so sleepy they could not think, so in they tumbled and were soon fast asleep; but the next time they gave a frolic the very first thing they did was to invite all the Fireflies, and not one did they forget.

WHEN JACK FROST WAS YOUNG by Abbie Phillips Walker

jack frost when he was young

Not that he is old now, for Jack is a snappy, bright fellow, and will never really grow old—that is, in anything but experience. And that is exactly what this story is about, the time when Jack Frost was young in experience and would not listen to his mother, old Madam North Wind.

One morning he awoke and hustled about with a will, and Madam North Wind, who had not yet begun to arise early in the morning, was aroused from her slumbers.

“Whatever are you doing, making such a noise at this time in the morning?” she asked her son.

“It is time I was on my round,” said Jack Frost, in a snappy, sharp tone. “I mean to begin early and not let all the farmers get ahead of me and get their corn and pumpkins and such things in the barn.

“They will have to look out for me, I tell you, mother. I am a sharp, snappy young fellow, and they must know it.”

“You go back to your bed,” said old Madam North Wind. “It is not time for frosts yet. You should not begin your rounds for another two weeks at least.”

“Oh, mother, you are so old-fashioned,” said Jack Frost. “I want to be up and doing. Those farmers think they know everything there is to know about the weather, and I want to show them I am too smart for them. I shall start off to-night.”

“You listen to me if you do not wish to spoil all your beautiful colored pictures, Jack,” said his mother. “I may be old-fashioned, but I know what the beauty of your work is worth, and if you do not wish to lose your reputation as an artist you go back to your bed and wait until I call you.”

But Jack Frost, like many a son, thought his mother was far too old-fashioned; but to keep her from fretting he crept into bed again and kept still until he was sure his mother was asleep.

All day he kept quiet, and when the darkness came he listened to make sure old Madam North Wind was still sleeping before he crept softly out of his bed.

Very quietly he got out his big white coat and cap and then he filled his big white bag with white shiny frost from his mother’s chest.

He filled the bag full and then shook it down and put in more. “I’ll give them a good one to-night,” he said, laughing at the thought of the surprise he would give the farmers.

Then he crept softly past his sleeping mother, and out he went; flying swiftly over hill and dale.

All around he spread the white frost, and when at last he finished his work the old Sun Man, looking over the crest of the hill, was horrified when he looked upon a white world.

“You rascal!” he shouted after Jack Frost’s flying shape. “You are far too early! You have spoiled all your pictures for this year!”

“Old silly, what does he know?” said Jack as he hurried along. “He is just like mother—old-fashioned.”

Jack got softly into bed, and not until his mother called him did he awake again.

“Come,” she said one day, “it is time now for you to be about your work, and your pictures should be gorgeous in their colorings this year. Be careful, my son; scatter your frost to-night lightly, and again to-morrow night. I will go out in the morning and see how things look.”

Jack Frost did not tell his mother he had been out before. He did not need to tell her, for the next morning before old Madam North Wind had gone far she knew what had happened. “They are all spoiled,” she said as she looked over the landscape; “all black and dead before they had a bit of color.”

“Come out and look at your work,” she said, going back for her son. “You thought you knew more about it than your old mother.”

Jack Frost had no idea what old Madam North Wind meant, but he felt sure something was wrong, so he followed his mother very meekly; but when they reached the forest he knew something was wrong indeed.

No bright and beautifully-colored leaves and bushes met his gaze. All were brown and black. “What is the matter with my pictures?” he asked. “I thought they would be very beautiful this year.”

“You stole out before it was time, and you not only surprised the farmers, but you spoiled all your gorgeous pictures and cheated all the people who look for them. There will be none this year because you thought you knew more than I. Go home. There is no work for you, and perhaps you will listen to me next year and not get up until I call you.”

Jack Frost went home a sadder but wiser fellow and the next year he slept and did not put his frosty nose out from under his blanket until old Madam North Wind called him.