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Patten, William / The Junior Classics — Volume 6 Old-Fashioned Tales
It would have
been an awful journey that night for a strong man. It seemed
incredible that a little girl could have the strength or courage to
accomplish it. There were four miles to traverse in a black, howling
storm, over a pathless road, through forests, with hardly a house by
the way.

When she reached Captain Isaac Lovejoy's house, next to the Meeting
House in the North Precinct of Braintree, stumbling blindly into the
warm, lighted kitchen, the captain and the doctor could hardly believe
their senses. She told the doctor about Thirsey; then she almost
fainted from cold and exhaustion.

Good wife Lovejoy laid her on the settee, and brewed her some hot herb
tea. She almost forgot her own sick little girl, for a few minutes, in
trying to restore this brave child who had come from the South
Precinct in this dreadful storm to save little Thirsey Wales' life.

When Ann came to herself a little, her first question was, if the
doctor were ready to go.

"He's gone," said Mrs. Lovejoy, cheeringly.

Ann felt disappointed. She had thought she was going back with him.
But that would have been impossible. She could not have stood the
journey for the second time that night, even on horseback behind the
doctor, as she had planned.

She drank a second bowlful of herb tea, and went to bed with a hot
stone at her feet, and a great many blankets and coverlids over her.

The next morning, Captain Lovejoy carried her home. He had a rough
wood sled, and she rode on that, on an old quilt; it was easier than
horseback, and she was pretty lame and tired.

Mrs. Dorcas saw her coming and opened the door. When Ann came up on
the stoop, she just threw her arms around her and kissed her.

"You needn't make the candle-wicks," said she. "It's no matter about
them at all. Thirsey's better this morning, an' I guess you saved her

Grandma was fairly bursting with pride and delight in her little gal's
brave feat, now that she saw her safe. She untied the gold beads on
her neck, and fastened them around Ann's. "There," said she, "you may
wear them to school to-day, if you'll be keerful."

That day, with the gold beads by way of celebration, began a new era
in Ann's life. There was no more secret animosity between her and Mrs.
Dorcas. The doctor had come that night in the very nick of time.
Thirsey was almost dying. Her mother was fully convinced that Ann had
saved her life, and she never forgot it. She was a woman of strong
feelings, who never did things by halves, and she not only treated Ann
with kindness, but she seemed to smother her grudge against Grandma
for robbing her of the southwest fire-room.


By Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

Dame Clementina was in her dairy, churning, and her little daughter
Nan was out in the flower-garden. The flower-garden was a little plot
back of the cottage, full of all the sweet, old-fashioned herbs. There
were sweet marjoram, sage, summer savory, lavender, and ever so many
others. Up in one corner, there was a little green bed of dill.

Nan was a dainty, slim little maiden, with yellow, flossy hair in
short curls all over her head. Her eyes were very sweet and round and
blue, and she wore a quaint little snuff-colored gown. It had a very
short full waist, with low neck and puffed sleeves, and the skirt was
straight and narrow and down to her little heels.

She danced around the garden, picking a flower here and there. She was
making a nosegay for her mother. She picked lavender and sweet-william
and pinks, and bunched them up together.

Finally she pulled a little sprig of dill and ran, with that and the
nosegay, to her mother in the dairy.

"Mother dear," said she, "here is a little nosegay for you; and what
was it I overheard you telling Dame Elizabeth about dill last night?"

Dame Clementina stopped churning and took the nosegay. "Thank you,
Sweetheart, it is lovely," said she, "and, as for the dill--it is a
charmed plant, you know, like four-leaved clover."

"Do you put it over the door?" asked Nan.

"Yes. Nobody who is envious or ill-disposed, can enter into the house
if there is a sprig of dill over the door. Then I know another charm
which makes it stronger. If one just writes this verse:

'Alva, aden, winira mir,
Villawissen lingen;
Sanchta, wanchta, attazir,
Hor de mussen wingen'

under the sprig of dill, every one envious, or evil-disposed, who
attempts to enter the house, will have to stop short, just where they
are, and stand there; they cannot move."

"What does the verse mean?" asked Nan, with great eyes.

"That, I do not know. It is written in a foreign language. But it is a
powerful charm."

"O mother, will you write it off for me, if I will bring you a bit of
paper and a pen?"

"Certainly," replied her mother, and wrote it off when Nan brought pen
and paper.

"Now," said she, "you must run off and play again, and not hinder me
any longer, or I shall not get my butter made to-day."

So Nan danced away with the verse, and the sprig of dill, and her
mother went on churning.

She had a beautiful tall stone churn, with the sides all carved with
figures in relief. There were milkmaids and cows as natural as life
all around the churn. The dairy was charming too. The shelves were
carved stone; and the floor had a little silvery rill running right
through the middle of it, with green ferns at the sides. All along the
stone shelves were set pans full of yellow cream, and the pans were
all of solid silver, with a chasing of buttercups and daisies around
the brims.

It was not a common dairy, and Dame Clementina was not a common
dairy-woman. She was very tall and stately, and wore her silver-white
hair braided around her head like a crown, with a high silver comb at
the top. She walked like a queen; indeed she was a noble count's
daughter. In her early youth, she had married a pretty young dairyman,
against her father's wishes; so she had been disinherited. The
dairyman had been so very poor and low down in the world, that the
count felt it his duty to cast off his daughter, lest she should do
discredit to his noble line. There was a much pleasanter, easier way
out of the difficulty, which the count did not see. Indeed, it was a
peculiarity of all his family that they never could see a way out of a
difficulty, high and noble as they were. The count only needed to have
given the poor young dairyman a few acres of his own land, and a few
bags of his own gold, and begged the king, with whom he had great
influence, to knight him, and all the obstacles would have been
removed; the dairyman would have been quite rich and noble enough for
his son-in-law. But he never thought of that, and his daughter was
disinherited. However, he made all the amends to her that he could,
and fitted her out royally for her humble station in life. He caused
this beautiful dairy to be built for her, and gave her the silver
milk-pans, and the carved stone churn.

"My daughter shall not churn in a common wooden churn, or skim the
cream from wooden pans," he had said.

The dairyman had been dead a good many years now, and Dame Clementina
managed the dairy alone. She never saw anything of her father, though
he lived in his castle not far off on a neighboring height. When the
sky was clear, she could see its stone towers against it. She had four
beautiful white cows, and Nan drove them to pasture; they were very

When Dame Clementina had finished churning, she went into the cottage.
As she stepped through the little door with clumps of sweet peas on
each side, she looked up. There was the sprig of dill and the magic
verse she had written under it.

Nan was sitting at the window inside, knitting her stent on a blue
stocking. "Ah, Sweetheart," said her mother, laughing, "you have
little cause to pin the dill and the verse over our door. None is
likely to envy us, or to be ill disposed toward us."

"O mother," said Nan, "I know it, but I thought it would be so nice to
feel sure. O there is Dame Golding coming after some milk. _Do_ you
suppose she will have to stop?"

"What nonsense!" said her mother. They both of them watched Dame
Golding coming. All of a sudden, she stopped short, just outside. She
could go no further. She tried to lift her feet, but could not.

"O mother!" cried Nan, "she has stopped!"

The poor woman began to scream. She was frightened almost to death.
Nan and her mother were not much less frightened, but they did not
know what to do. They ran out, and tried to comfort her, and gave her
some cream to drink; but it did not amount to much. Dame Golding had
secretly envied Dame Clementina for her silver milk-pans. Nan and her
mother knew why their visitor was so suddenly rooted to the spot, of
course, but she did not. She thought her feet were paralyzed, and she
kept begging them to send for her husband.

"Perhaps he can pull her away," said Nan, crying. How she wished she
had never pinned the dill and the verse over the door! So she set off
for Dame Golding's husband. He came running in a great hurry; but when
he had nearly reached his wife, and had his arms reached out to grasp
her, he, too, stopped short. He had envied Dame Clementina for her
beautiful white cows, and there he was fast, also.

He began to groan and scream too. Nan and her mother ran into the
house and shut the door. They could not bear it. "What shall we do, if
any one else comes?" sobbed Nan. "O mother, there is Dame Dorothy
coming! And--yes--O she has stopped too!" Poor Dame Dorothy had envied
Dame Clementina a little for her flower-garden, which was finer than
hers, as she had to join Dame Golding and her husband.

Pretty soon, another woman came, who had looked with envious eyes at
Dame Clementina, because she was a count's daughter; and another, who
had grudged her a fine damask petticoat which she had had before she
was disinherited, and still wore on holidays; and they both had to

Then came three rough-looking men in velvet jackets and slouched hats,
who brought up short at the gate with a great jerk that nearly took
their breath away. They were robbers who were prowling about with a
view to stealing Dame Clementina's silver milk-pans some dark night.

All through the day the people kept coming and stopping. It was
wonderful how many things poor Dame Clementina had to be envied by men
and women, and even children. They envied Nan for her yellow curls or
her blue eyes, or her pretty snuff-colored gown. When the sun set, the
yard in front of Dame Clementina's cottage was full of people. Lastly,
just before dark, the count himself came ambling up on a coal-black
horse. The count was a majestic old man dressed in velvet, with stars
on his breast. His white hair fell in long curls on his shoulders, and
he had a pointed beard. As he came to the gate, he caught a glimpse of
Nan in the door.

"How I wish that little maiden was my child," said he.

And, straightway, he stopped. His horse pawed and trembled when he
lashed him with a jewelled whip to make him go on; but he could not
stir forward one step. Neither could the count dismount from his
saddle; he sat there fuming with rage.

Meanwhile, poor Dame Clementina and little Nan were overcome with
distress. The sight of their yard full of all these weeping people was
dreadful. Neither of them had any idea how to do away with the
trouble, because of their family inability to see their way out of a

When supper time came, Nan went for the cows, and her mother milked
them into her silver milk pails, and strained off the milk into her
silver pans. Then they kindled up a fire and cooked some beautiful
milk porridge for the poor people in the yard, and then carried them
each a bowlful.

It was a beautiful warm moonlight night, and all the winds were sweet
with roses and pinks; so the people could not suffer out of doors; but
the next morning it rained.

"O mother," said Nan, "it is raining, and what will the poor people

Dame Clementina would never have seen her way out of this difficulty,
had not Dame Golding cried out that her bonnet was getting wet, and
she wanted an umbrella.

"Why you must go around to their houses of course, and get their
umbrellas for them," said Dame Clementina, "but first, give ours to
that old man on horseback." She did not know her father, so many years
had passed since she had seen him, and he had altered so.

So Nan carried out their great yellow umbrella to the count, and went
around to the others' houses for their own umbrellas. It was pitiful
enough to see them standing all alone behind the doors. She could not
find three extra ones for the three robbers, and she felt badly about

Somebody suggested, however, that milk pans turned over their heads
would keep the rain off their slouched hats, at least; so she got a
silver milk-pan for an umbrella for each. They made such frantic
efforts to get away then, that they looked like jumping-jacks; but it
was of no use.

Poor Dame Clementina and Nan after they had given more milk porridge
to the people, and done all they could for their comfort, stood
staring disconsolately out of the window at them under their dripping
umbrellas. The yard was fairly green and black and blue and yellow
with umbrellas. They wept at the sight, but they could not think of
any way out of the difficulty. The people themselves might have
suggested one, had they known the real cause; but they did not dare to
tell them how they were responsible for all the trouble; they seemed
so angry.

About noon Nan spied their most particular friend, Dame Elizabeth,
coming. She lived a little way out of the village. Nan saw her
approaching the gate through the rain and mist, with her great blue
umbrella, and her long blue double cape and her poke bonnet; and she
cried out in the greatest dismay: "O mother, mother, there is our dear
Dame Elizabeth coming; she will have to stop too!"

Then they watched her with beating hearts. Dame Elizabeth stared with
astonishment at the people, and stopped to ask them questions. But she
passed quite through their midst, and entered the cottage under the
sprig of dill, and the verse. She did not envy Dame Clementina or Nan,

"Tell me what this means," said she. "Why are all these people
standing in your yard in the rain with umbrellas?"

Then Dame Clementina and Nan told her. "And O what shall we do?" said
they. "Will these people have to stand in our yard forever?"

Dame Elizabeth stared at them. The way out of the difficulty was so
plain to her, that she could not credit its not being plain to them.

"Why," said she, "don't you _take down the sprig of dill and the

"Why, sure enough!" said they in amazement. "Why didn't we think of
that before?"

So Dame Clementina ran out quickly, and pulled down the sprig of dill
and the verse.

Then the way the people hurried out of the yard! They fairly danced
and flourished their heels, old folks and all. They were so delighted
to be able to move, and they wanted to be sure they could move. The
robbers tried to get away unseen with their silver milk-pans, but some
of the people stopped them, and set the pans safely inside the dairy.
All the people, except the count, were so eager to get away, that they
did not stop to inquire into the cause of the trouble then.

Afterward, when they did, they were too much ashamed to say anything
about it.

It was a good lesson to them; they were not quite so envious after
that. Always, on entering any cottage, they would glance at the door,
to see if, perchance, there might be a sprig of dill over it. And, if
there was not, they were reminded to put away any envious feeling they
might have toward the inmates out of their hearts.

As for the count, he had not been so much alarmed as the others, since
he had been to the wars and was braver. Moreover, he felt that his
dignity as a noble had been insulted. So he dismounted and fastened
his horse to the gate, and strode up to the door with his sword
clanking and the plumes on his hat nodding.

"What," he begun; then he stopped short. He had recognized his
daughter in Dame Clementina. She recognized him at the same moment. "O
my dear daughter!" said he. "O my dear father!" said she.

"And this is my little grandchild?" said the count; and he took Nan
upon his knee, and covered her with caresses.

Then the story of the dill and the verse was told. "Yes," said the
count, "I truly was envious of you, Clementina, when I saw Nan."

After a little, he looked at his daughter sorrowfully. "I should
dearly love to take you up to the castle with me, Clementina," said
he, "and let you live there always, and make you and the little child
my heirs. But how can I? You are disinherited, you know?"

"I don't see any way," assented Dame Clementina, sadly.

Dame Elizabeth was still there, and she spoke up to the count with a
curtesy. "Noble sir," said she, "why don't you make another will?"

"Why, sure enough," cried the count with great delight, "why don't I?
I'll have my lawyer up to the castle to-morrow."

He did immediately alter his will, and his daughter was no longer
disinherited. She and Nan went to live at the castle, and were very
rich and happy. Nan learned to play on the harp, and wore
snuff-colored satin gowns. She was called Lady Nan, and she lived a
long time, and everybody loved her. But never, so long as she lived,
did she pin the sprig of dill and the verse over the door again. She
kept them at the very bottom of a little satinwood box--the faded
sprig of dill wrapped round with the bit of paper on which was written
the charm-verse:

"Alva, aden, winira mir,
Villawissen lingen;
Sanchta, wanchta, attazir,
Hor de mussen wingen."


By Mrs. Dinah Mulock Craik

There was once a little Brownie, who lived--where do you think he
lived?--in a coal cellar.

Now a coal cellar may seem a most curious place to choose to live in;
but then a Brownie is a curious creature--a fairy and yet not one of
that sort of fairies who fly about on gossamer wings, and dance in the
moonlight, and so on. He never dances; and as to wings, what use would
they be to him in a coal cellar? He is a sober, stay-at-home,
household elf--nothing much to look at, even if you did see him, which
you are not likely to do--only a little old man, about a foot high,
all dressed in brown, with a brown face and hands, and a brown peaked
cap, just the color of a brown mouse. And, like a mouse, he hides in
corners--especially kitchen corners, and only comes out after dark
when nobody is about, and so sometimes people call him Mr. Nobody.

I said you were not likely to see him. I never did, certainly, and
never knew anybody that did; but still, if you were to go into
Devonshire, you would hear many funny stories about Brownies in
general, and so I may as well tell you the adventures of this
particular Brownie, who belonged to a family there; which family he
had followed from house to house most faithfully, for years and years.

A good many people had heard him--or supposed they had--when there
were extraordinary noises about the house; noises which must have come
from a mouse or a rat--or a Brownie. But nobody had ever seen him
except the children,--the three little boys and three little girls,--who
declared he often came to play with them when they were alone, and was
the nicest companion in the world, though he was such an old
man--hundreds of years old! He was full of fun and mischief, and up to
all sorts of tricks, but he never did anybody any harm unless they
deserved it.

Brownie was supposed to live under one particular coal, in the darkest
corner of the cellar, which was never allowed to be disturbed. Why he
had chosen it nobody knew, and how he lived there nobody knew either,
nor what he lived upon. Except that, ever since the family could
remember, there had always been a bowl of milk put behind the
coal-cellar door for the Brownie's supper. Perhaps he drank it--perhaps
he didn't: anyhow the bowl was always found empty next morning. The
old Cook, who had lived all her life in the family, had never once
forgotten to give Brownie his supper; but at last she died, and a
young Cook came in her stead, who was very apt to forget everything.
She was also both careless and lazy, and disliked taking the trouble
to put a bowl of milk in the same place every night for Mr.

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