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Patten, William / The Junior Classics — Volume 6 Old-Fashioned Tales
Here they might be
safe, and here they stopped to think.

Hunger was their first sensation. One of the dolls drew from her
pocket a pewter gridiron, which she had snatched from the kitchen fire
when they fled, the night before. There were three fish on it, one
red, one yellow, one blue. These they shared, and were satisfied for a
little while. How lovely was the spot, they began to say. How charming
it would be to set up housekeeping among the rushes. It was even
suggested that, from time to time, one of them might return to the
deserted baby-house, and bring from it comfortable furniture--a dish
here, a flat-iron there. But in the midst of their cheerful talk, a
terrible accident!

The Spanish Doll was thirsty, and leaning over the edge of a brook,
she lost her balance, and fell into the water! The exhausted dolls all
rushed to the rescue. All their efforts were vain; but a large
Bull-frog kindly came to help, and lifted the Spanish Doll's head from
the stream, and propped it up against the reeds. But what a state she
was in! The bright color washed from her cheeks, her raven hair all
dimmed, the lustre of her eyes all gone. A fashionable Doll in vain
attempted consolation, suggesting the greater charms of light hair and
rats; in vain did the Large Doll speak of the romance of the
adventure, and call the Bullfrog their Don Quixote; a heavy gloom hung
over all. It was the Spanish Doll that had led them on, that had kept
up their spirits; now hers had failed, and with her feet still in the
water, she leaned her head wearily against the reeds.

Suddenly voices were heard! Steps approached! Each doll rushed to a
hiding place. It was the voice of Angelica Maria herself! Some of the
picnic party had decided to walk down the stream, on their way home,
and Angelica Maria was among them.

The Spanish Doll had drawn a reed across her face, to hide it, but the
Large Doll had not been able to fly quickly enough, and was left in
full view, leaning against a mullein. A blush suffused her cheek. What
was Angelica Maria's surprise!

"Who can have brought my Large Doll here?" she exclaimed. "It must
have been the boys,"--meaning her brothers; "how wicked of them to
leave her out in that shower. And here are the twins, Euphrosyne and
Calliope, all hidden among the bushes, and dear little Eunice! They
look as if they had been in the wars! How could Tom have known we were
coming this way? How naughty of him!"

"Perhaps he meant a little surprise," suggested her uncle. But
Angelica Maria picked up her dolls and fondled them, and were not they
glad of the rest, after that weary march?

All but the Spanish Doll! Why had she not spoken? And would Angelica
Maria have known her Spanish Doll if she had? When the trees were left
all silent again, and the voices had died away, perhaps the Spanish
Doll was sorry she had hidden her face,--that she had not lifted up
her arms. But she was very proud. How could she have borne to be
recognized? For she felt that one of her feet was washed off by the
flowing stream, and her gay yellow and black dress soiled and torn.

The Bull-frog at last succeeded in lifting her to the shore. A kindly
Musk-rat begged her to be his housekeeper; limping, she went into his
soft-lined house, and was grateful even for this humble abode. Often
she thought of the past, and cheered the simple fireside with tales of
adventure, with the grandeur of Life in a Baby-house, and how she
might have been the bride of an Oriole. But was she not missed in the
baby-house? Angelica Maria wept her loss, but her uncle consoled her
by telling her the Spanish Doll must have retired to one of her
castles in Spain. This cheered Angelica Maria, and she busied herself
in fitting new dresses for the poor travel-stained dolls she had left.

So this was the end of the Flight of the Dolls. You can imagine
whether they ever tried it again, or rested satisfied with their
comfortable home. A few days after, Angelica Maria saw a little head
peeping out of a withered fox-glove. It was that of the littlest
China. She was much emaciated, having had nothing to eat but a few
drops of honey brought her by a benevolent Bee. Even these had cloyed.

Years after, when the spout of the wood-house was cleared out, the
boots of a middling-sized Doll were seen. They belonged to the
middling-sized Doll with boots, who had clambered up to the dovecote,
and had lost her balance in the gutter. She had passed a miserable
existence, summer and winter, bewailing her fate, and looking at her
boots.




SOLOMON JOHN GOES FOR APPLES

By Lucretia P. Hale


Solomon John agreed to ride to Farmer Jones's for a basket of apples,
and he decided to go on horseback. The horse was brought round to the
door. Now he had not ridden for a great while; and, though the little
boys were there to help him, he had great trouble in getting on the
horse.

He tried a great many times, but always found himself facing the wrong
way, looking at the horse's tail. They turned the horse's head, first
up the street, then down the street; it made no difference; he always
made some mistake, and found himself sitting the wrong way.

"Well," said he, at last, "I don't know as I care. If the horse has
his head in the right direction, that is the main thing. Sometimes I
ride this way in the cars, because I like it better. I can turn my
head easily enough, to see where we are going." So off he went, and
the little boys said he looked like a circus-rider, and they were much
pleased.

He rode along out of the village, under the elms, very quietly. Pretty
soon he came to a bridge, where the road went across a little stream.
There a road at the side, leading down to the stream, because
sometimes waggoners watered their horses there. Solomon John's horse
turned off, too, to drink of the water.

"Very well," said Solomon John, "I don't blame him for wanting to wet
his feet, and to take a drink, this hot day."

When they reached the middle of the stream, the horse bent over his
head.

"How far his neck comes into his back!" exclaimed Solomon John; and at
that very moment he found he had slid down over the horse's head, and
was sitting on a stone, looking into the horse's face. There were two
frogs, one on each side of him, sitting just as he was, which pleased
Solomon John, so he began to laugh instead of to cry.

But the two frogs jumped into the water.

"It is time for me to go on," said Solomon John. So he gave a jump, as
he had seen the frogs do; and this time he came all right on the
horse's back, facing the way he was going.

"It is a little pleasanter," said he.

The horse wanted to nibble a little of the grass by the side of the
way; but Solomon John remembered what a long neck he had, and would
not let him stop.

At last he reached Farmer Jones, who gave him his basket of apples.

Next he was to go on to a cider-mill, up a little lane by Farmer
Jones's house, to get a jug of cider. But as soon as the horse was
turned into the lane, he began to walk very slowly,--so slowly that
Solomon John thought he would not get there before night. He whistled,
and shouted, and thrust his knees into the horse, but still he would
not go.

"Perhaps the apples are too heavy for him," said he. So he began by
throwing one of the apples out of the basket. It hit the fence by the
side of the road, and that started up the horse, and he went on
merrily.

"That was the trouble," said Solomon John; "that apple was too heavy
for him."

But very soon the horse began to go slower and slower.

So Solomon John thought he would try another apple. This hit a large
rock, and bounded back under the horse's feet, and sent him off at a
great pace. But very soon he fell again into a slow walk.

Solomon John had to try another apple. This time it fell into a pool
of water, and made a great splash, and set the horse out again for a
little while; he soon returned to a slow walk,--so slow that Solomon
John thought it would be to-morrow morning before he got to the
cider-mill.

"It is rather a waste of apples," thought he; "but I can pick them up
as I come back, because the horse will be going home at a quick pace."

So he flung out another apple; that fell among a party of ducks, and
they began to make such a quacking and a waddling, that it frightened
the horse into a quick trot.

So the only way Solomon John could make his horse go was by flinging
his apples, now on one side, now on the other. One time he frightened
a cow, that ran along by the side of the road, while the horse raced
with her. Another time he started up a brood of turkeys, that gobbled
and strutted enough to startle twenty horses. In another place he came
near hitting a boy, who gave such a scream that it sent the horse off
at a furious rate.

And Solomon John got quite excited himself, and he did not stop till
he had thrown away all his apples, and had reached the corner of the
cider-mill.

"Very well," said he, "if the horse is so lazy, he won't mind my
stopping to pick up the apples on the way home. And I am not sure but
I shall prefer walking a little to riding the beast."

The man came out to meet him from the cider-mill, and reached him the
jug. He was just going to take it, when he turned his horse's head
round, and, delighted at the idea of going home, the horse set off at
a full run without waiting for the jug. Solomon John clung to the
reins, and his knees held fast to the horse. He called out "Whoa!
whoa!" but the horse would not stop.

He went galloping on past the boy, who stopped, and flung an apple at
him; past the turkeys, that came and gobbled at him; by the cow, that
turned and ran back in a race with them until her breath gave out; by
the ducks, that came and quacked at him; by an old donkey, that brayed
over the wall at him; by some hens, that ran into the road under the
horse's feet, and clucked at him; by a great rooster, that stood up on
a fence, and crowed at him; by Farmer Jones, who looked out to see
what had become of him; down the village street, and he never stopped
till he had reached the door of the house.

Out came Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin, Agamemnon, Elizabeth Eliza, and the
little boys.

Solomon John got off his horse all out of breath.

"Where is the jug of cider?" asked Mrs. Peterkin.

"It is at the cider-mill," said Solomon John.

"At the mill!" exclaimed Mrs. Peterkin.

"Yes," said Solomon John; "the little boys had better walk out for it;
they will enjoy it; and they had better take a basket; for on the way
they will find plenty of apples, scattered all along on either side of
the lane, and hens, and ducks, and turkeys, and a donkey."

The little boys looked at each other, and went; but they stopped
first, and put on their india-rubber boots.




WILD ROBIN

By Sophie May


In the green valley of the Yarrow, near the castle-keep of Norham,
dwelt an honest sonsy little family, whose only grief was an unhappy
son, named Robin.

Janet, with jimp form, bonnie eyes, and cherry cheeks, was the best of
daughters: the boys, Sandie and Davie, were swift-footed, brave, kind,
and obedient; but Robin, the youngest, had a stormy temper, and, when
his will was crossed, he became as reckless as a reeling hurricane.
Once, in a passion, he drove two of his father's "kye," or cattle,
down a steep hill to their death. He seemed not to care for home or
kindred, and often pierced the tender heart of his mother with sharp
words. When she came at night, and "happed" the bed-clothes carefully
about his form, and then stooped to kiss his nut-brown cheeks, he
turned away with a frown, muttering, "Mither, let me be."

It was a sad case with Wild Robin, who seemed to have neither love nor
conscience.

"My heart is sair," sighed his mother, "wi' greeting over sich a son."

"He hates our auld cottage and our muckle wark," said the poor father.
"Ah, weel! I could a'maist wish the fairies had him for a season, to
teach him better manners."

This the gudeman said heedlessly, little knowing there was any danger
of Robin's being carried away to Elfland. Whether the fairies were at
that instant listening under the eaves, will never be known; but it
chanced, one day, that Wild Robin was sent across the moors to fetch
the kye.

"I'll rin away," thought the boy: "'tis hard indeed if ilka day a
great lad like me must mind the kye. I'll gae aff; and they'll think
me dead."

So he gaed, and he gaed, over round swelling hills, over old
battle-fields, past the roofless ruins of houses whose walls were
crowned with tall climbing grasses, till he came to a crystal sheet of
water, called St. Mary's Loch. Here he paused to take breath. The sky
was dull and lowering; but at his feet were yellow flowers, which
shone, on that gray day, like freaks of sunshine.

He threw himself wearily upon the grass, not heeding that he had
chosen his couch within a little mossy circle known as a "fairy's
ring." Wild Robin knew that the country people would say the fays had
pressed that green circle with their light feet. He had heard all the
Scottish lore of brownies, elves, will-o'-the-wisps, and the strange
water-kelpies, who shriek with eldritch laughter. He had been told
that the queen of the fairies had coveted him from his birth, and
would have stolen him away, only that, just as she was about to seize
him from the cradle, he had _sneezed_; and from that instant the
fairy-spell was over, and she had no more control of him.

Yet, in spite of all these stories, the boy was not afraid; and if he
had been informed that any of the uncanny people were, even now,
haunting his footsteps, he would not have believed it.

"I see," said Wild Robin, "the sun is drawing his night-cap over his
eyes, and dropping asleep. I believe I'll e'en take a nap mysel', and
see what comes o' it."

In two minutes he had forgotten St. Mary's Loch, the hills, the moors,
the yellow flowers. He heard, or fancied he heard, his sister Janet
calling him home.

"And what have ye for supper?" he muttered between his teeth.

"Parritch and milk," answered the lassie gently.

"Parritch and milk! Whist! say nae mair! Lang, lang! may ye wait for
Wild Robin: he'll not gae back for oatmeal parritch!"

Next a sad voice fell on his ear.

"Mither's; and she mourns me dead!" thought he; but it was only the
far-off village-bell, which sounded like the echo of music he had
heard lang syne, but might never hear again.

"D'ye think I'm not alive?" tolled the bell. "I sit all day in my
little wooden temple, brooding over the sins of the parish."

"A brazen lie!" cried Robin.

"Nay, the truth, as I'm a living soul! Wae worth ye, Robin Telfer: ye
think yersel' hardly used. Say, have your brithers softer beds than
yours? Is your ain father served with larger potatoes or creamier
buttermilk? Whose mither sae kind as yours, ungrateful chiel? Gae to
Elfland, Wild Robin; and dool and wae follow ye! dool and wae follow
ye!"

The round yellow sun had dropped behind the hills; the evening breezes
began to blow; and now could be heard the faint trampling of small
hoofs, and the tinkling of tiny bridle-bells: the fairies were
trooping over the ground. First of all rode the queen.

"Her skirt was of the grass-green silk,
Her mantle of the velvet fine;
At ilka tress of her horse's mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine."

But Wild Robin's closed eyes saw nothing; his sleep-sealed ears heard
nothing. The queen of the fairies dismounted, stole up to him, and
laid her soft fingers on his cheeks.

"Here is a little man after my ain heart," said she: "I like his
knitted brow, and the downward curve of his lips. Knights, lift him
gently, set him on a red-roan steed, and waft him away to Fairy-land."

Wild Robin was lifted as gently as a brown leaf borne by the wind; he
rode as softly as if the red-roan steed had been saddled with satin,
and shod with velvet. It even may be that the faint tinkling of the
bridle-bells lulled him into a deeper slumber; for when he awoke it
was morning in Fairy-land.

Robin sprang from his mossy couch, and stared about him. Where was he?
He rubbed his eyes, and looked again. Dreaming, no doubt; but what
meant all these nimble little beings bustling hither and thither in
hot haste? What meant these pearl-bedecked caves, scarcely larger than
swallows' nests? these green canopies, overgrown with moss? He pinched
himself, and gazed again. Countless flowers nodded to him, and seemed,
like himself, on tiptoe with curiosity, he thought. He beckoned one of
the busy, dwarfish little brownies toward him.

"I ken I'm talking in my sleep," said the lad; "but can ye tell me
what dell is this, and how I chanced to be in it?"

The brownie might or might not have heard; but, at any rate, he
deigned no reply, and went on with his task, which was pounding seeds
in a stone mortar.

"Am I Robin Telfer, of the Valley of Yarrow, and yet canna shake aff
my silly dreams?"

"Weel, my lad," quoth the queen of the fairies, giving him a smart tap
with her wand, "stir yersel', and be at work; for naebody idles in
Elf-land."

Bewildered Robin ventured a look at the little queen. By daylight she
seemed somewhat sleepy and tired; and was withal so tiny, that he
might almost have taken her between his thumb and finger, and twirled
her above his head; yet she poised herself before him on a
mullein-stalk and looked every inch a queen.

Robin found her gaze oppressive; for her eyes were hard and cold and
gray, as if they had been little orbs of granite.

"Get ye to work, Wild Robin!"

"What to do?" meekly asked the boy, hungrily glancing at a few kernels
of rye which had rolled out of one of the brownie's mortars.

"Are ye hungry, my laddie? Touch a grain of rye if ye dare! Shell
these dry beans; and if so be ye're starving, eat as many as ye can
boil in an acorn-cup."

With these words she gave the boy a withered bean-pod, and, summoning
a meek little brownie, bade him see that the lad did not over-fill the
acorn-cup, and that he did not so much as peck at a grain of rye.

Then glancing sternly at her prisoner, she withdrew, sweeping after
her the long train of her green robe.

The dull days crept by, and still there seemed no hope that Wild Robin
would ever escape from his beautiful but detested prison. He had no
wings, poor laddie; and he could neither become invisible nor draw
himself through a keyhole bodily.

It is true, he had mortal companions: many chubby babies; many
bright-eyed boys and girls, whose distracted parents were still
seeking them, far and wide, upon the earth. It would almost seem that
the wonders of Fairy-land might make the little prisoners happy. There
were countless treasures to be had for the taking, and the very dust
in the little streets was precious with specks of gold: but the poor
children shivered for the want of a mother's love; they all pined for
the dear home-people.

If a certain task seemed to them particularly irksome, the heartless
queen was sure to find it out, and oblige them to perform it, day
after day. If they disliked any article of food, that, and no other,
were they forced to eat, or starve.

Wild Robin, loathing his withered beans and unsalted broths, longed
intensely for one little breath of fragrant steam from the toothsome
parritch on his father's table, one glance at a roasted potato. He was
homesick for the gentle sister he had neglected, the rough brothers
whose cheeks he had pelted black and blue; and yearned for the very
chinks in the walls, the very thatch on the home-roof.

Gladly would he have given every fairy-flower, at the root of which
clung a lump of gold ore, if he might have had his own coverlet
"happed" about him once more by the gentle hands he had despised.

"Mither," he whispered in his dreams, "my shoon are worn, and my feet
bleed; but I'll soon creep hame, if I can. Keep the parritch warm for
me."

Robin was as strong as a mountain-goat; and his strength was put to
the task of threshing rye, grinding oats and corn, or drawing water
from a brook.

Every night, troops of gay fairies and plodding brownies stole off on
a visit to the upper world, leaving Robin and his companions in
ever-deeper despair.



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