Tag: Bedtime Stories

Bedtime Stories #4

This story has been a favorite of mine since I was young. I imagined the soldier to be so handsome, but I was especially impressed with him because he was able to stand firm and ready for duty no matter what circumstance he was thrown into. Happy Reading!


“The Hardy Tin Soldier” by Hans Christian Andersen

There were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers; they were all brothers, for they had all been born of one old tin spoon. They shouldered their muskets, and looked straight before them; their uniform was red and blue, and very splendid. The first thing they had heard in the world, when the lid was taken off their box, had been the words, “Tin soldiers!” These words were uttered by a little boy, clapping his hands: the soldiers had been given to him, for it was his birthday; and now he put them upon the table. Each soldier was exactly like the rest; but one of them had been cast last of all, and there had not been enough tin to finish him; however, he stood as firmly upon his one leg as the others on their two; and it was just this soldier who became remarkable.

On the table on which they had been placed stood many other playthings, but the toy that attracted most attention was a neat castle of cardboard. Through the little windows one could see straight into the hall. Before the castle some little trees were placed round a little looking-glass, which was to represent a clear lake. Waxen swans floated on this lake, and were mirrored in it. This was all very pretty; but the prettiest of all was a little Lady, who stood at the open door of the castle; she also was cut out of paper, but she had a dress of the clearest gauze, and a little narrow blue ribbon over her shoulders, that looked like a scarf; and in the middle of this ribbon was a shining tinsel rose as big as her whole face. The little Lady stretched out both her arms, for she was a dancer; and then she lifted one leg so high that the Tin Soldier could not see it at all, and thought that, like himself, she had but one leg.

“That would be the wife for me,” thought he, “though she is very grand. She lives in a castle, and I have only a box, and there are five-and-twenty of us in that. It is no place for her. But I must try to make her acquaintance.”

And then he lay down at full length behind a snuffbox which was on the table; there he could easily watch the little dainty Lady, who continued to stand upon one leg without losing her balance.

When evening came, all the other tin soldiers were put into their box, and the people in the house went to bed. Now the toys began to play at “visiting,” and at “war,” and “fiving balls.” The tin soldiers rattled in their box, for they wanted to join, but could not lift the lid. The nutcracker turned somersaults, and the pencil amused itself on the table: there was so much noise that the canary woke up, and began to speak too, and even in verse. The only two who did not stir from their places were the Tin Soldier and the Dancing Lady; she stood straight up on the point of one of her toes, and stretched out both her arms; and he was just as enduring on his one leg; and he never turned his eyes away from her.

Now the clock struck twelve—and, bounce! The lid flew off the snuffbox; but there was no snuff in it, but a little black Goblin: you see, it was a trick.

“Tin Soldier!” said the Goblin, “don’t stare at things that don’t concern you.”

But the Tin Soldier pretended not to hear him.

“Just you wait till to-morrow!” said the Goblin.

But when the morning came, and the children got up, the Tin Soldier was placed in the window; and whether it was the Goblin or the draught that did it, all at once the window flew open, and the Soldier fell head over heels out of the third story. That was a terrible passage! He put his leg straight up, and stuck with helmet downward and his bayonet between the paving-stones.

The servant-maid and the little boy came down directly to look for him, but though they almost trod upon him, they could not see him. If he had cried out “Here I am!” they would have found him; but he did not think it fitting to call out loudly, because he was in the uniform of a soldier.

Now it began to rain; the drops soon fell thicker, and at last came down in a complete stream. When the rain was past, two street boys came by.

“Just look!” said one of them, “there lies a Tin Soldier. He must come out and ride in the boat.”

And they made a boat out of a newspaper, and put the Tin Soldier in the middle of it; and so he sailed down the gutter, and the two boys ran beside him and clapped their hands. How the waves rose in that gutter, and how fast the stream ran! But then it had been a heavy rain. The paper boat rocked up and down, and sometimes turned round so rapidly that the Tin Soldier trembled; but he remained firm, and never changed countenance, and looked straight before him, and shouldered his musket.

All at once the boat went into a long drain which was as dark as his box had been.

“Where am I going now?” he thought. “Yes, yes, that’s the Goblin’s fault. Ah! If only the little Lady sat here with me in the boat, it might be twice as dark for all I should care.”

Suddenly there came a great Water Rat, whose home was under the drain.

“Have you a passport?” said the Rat. “Give me your passport.”

But the Tin Soldier kept silence, and held his musket tighter than ever.

The boat went on, but the Rat came after it. Hu! How he gnashed his teeth, and called out to the bits of straw and wood:

“Hold him! Hold him! He hasn’t paid toll—he hasn’t shown his passport!”

But the stream became stronger and stronger. The Tin Soldier could see the bright daylight where the arch ended; but he heard a roaring noise, which might well frighten a bolder man. Only think—just where the tunnel ended, the drain ran into a great canal; and for him that would have been as dangerous as for us to be carried down a great waterfall.

Now he was already so near it that he could not stop. The boat was carried out, the poor Tin Soldier stiffening himself as much as he could, and no one could say that he moved an eyelid. The boat whirled round three or four times, and was full of water to the very edge—it must sink. The Tin Soldier stood up to his neck in water, and the boat sank deeper and deeper, and the paper was loosened more and more; and now the water closed over his head. Then he thought of the pretty little Dancer, and how he should never see her again. A snatch of song sounded in the Soldier’s ears:

“Farewell, farewell, thou warrior brave,

For this day thou must die!”

And now the paper parted, and the Tin Soldier fell out; but at that moment he was snapped up by a great fish.

Oh, how dark it was in that fish’s body! It was even darker than in the drain tunnel; and then it was very narrow, too. But the Tin Soldier remained unmoved, and lay at full length shouldering his musket.

The fish swam to and fro; he made the   wonderful movements, and then became quite still. At last something flashed through him like lightning. The daylight shone quite clear, and a voice said aloud, “The Tin Soldier!” The fish had been caught, carried to market, bought, and taken into the kitchen, where the cook cut him open with a large knife. He seized the Soldier and carried him into the room, where all were anxious to see the remarkable man who had traveled about in the inside of a fish; but the Tin Soldier was not at all proud. They placed him on the table, and there—no! Where curious things may happen in the world! The Tin Soldier was in the very room in which he had been before! He saw the same children, and the same toys stood on the table; and there was the pretty castle with the graceful little Dancer. She was still balancing herself on one leg, and held the other extended in the air. She was hardy, too. That moved the Tin Soldier; he was very nearly weeping tin tears, but that would not have been proper. He looked at her, but they said nothing to each other.

Then one of the little boys took the Tin Soldier and flung him into the stove. He gave no reason for doing this. It must have been the fault of the Goblin in the snuffbox.

The Tin Soldier stood there quite illuminated, and felt a heat that was terrible; but whether this heat proceeded from the real fire or from love he did not know. The colors had quite gone off from him; but whether that had happened on the journey, or had been caused by grief, no one could say. He looked at the little Lady, she looked at him, and he felt that he was melting; but he still stood firm, shouldering his musket.

Then suddenly the door flew open, and the draught of air caught the Dancer, and she flew like a sylph just into the stove to the Tin Soldier, and flashed up in a flame, and then was gone. Then the Tin Soldier melted down into a lump; and when the servant-maid took the ashes out the next day, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart. But of the Dancer nothing remained but the tinsel rose, and that was burned as black as a coal.





Bedtime Stories No. 3


Once upon a time there lived in a forest a woodcutter and his family, a wife and seven children.  These seven children were all boys, and the oldest of them was only 10, while the youngest was seven.  As the woodcutter was very poor, his children were a great burden to him, for not one of them could do anything to earn a living.

To make it worse, the youngest boy was a puny little fellow who hardly ever spoke a word, and who was thought very stupid by his brothers and even by his parents.  Really, this silence with a mark of his good sense, but his father and mother could think of him as only silly and good for nothing, and they were sure he would turn out a fool.

This will play was not only very delicate; he was extremely small, for when he was born he was scarcely bigger than your thumb, and so they called him little Hop-o’-my-thumb.

Naturally, everything that went wrong in the house was blamed upon this little boy, and he became the drudge of everybody.  Nevertheless, he was much sharper and wiser than all his brothers, and while they were chattering away he kept a still tongue up but in his head, but listened intently all the time.

At last there came a year when little rain fell and the fields produced and it that much less than ever before, and the woodcutter grew poorer and poorer until it was almost impossible to get food for himself and his wife.  One evening when the children had gone to bed, the woodcutter sat down by the fire with his wife and to talk the matter over.

“I do not know what I can do,” he said. “We have had nothing but bread and potatoes for a long time, and now they are both gone. I cannot bear to see the boys starve before my eyes, so I think we must take them out into the woods to-morrow and lose them there. We can do this very easily, for while they are playing about we can slip away without being seen.”

“O husband! You surely can never consent to the death of your own children. I cannot believe that you mean it. I never will agree to such a thing.”

“Well,” said the father, with a breaking heart, “it is either do that or all starve here together; and perhaps if we take them out into the woods and leave them the Lord will provide for them.”

It was a long time before the wife would consent to this, for she was the children’s mother and loved them all; but finally, weeping as though her heart would break, she gave her consent and went sobbing to bed.

Now when his parents began to talk about this matter, little Hop-o’-my-thumb had not yet gone to sleep; and hearing his mother weeping, he crept softly away from the bed where he slept with his brothers, and hid himself under his father’s chair that he might listen closely to every word they spoke. When they went off to bed he crept back into his warm place and spent the rest of the night thinking of what he had heard.

Next morning as soon as it began to grow light he got out of bed and went to a brook that flowed near the house, where he filled his pockets with small white pebbles, and then ran back to the house.

Not long after this the father called the children about him and set out for the woods. When they came to a very dense place in the forest, the father and mother left the boys to gather twigs and tie them in bundles while they went a little farther into the woods. The trees grew so thick that when they were a few yards away from the children they could not be seen, and so it was not at all difficult for them to leave the children without being discovered.

Little Hop-o’-my-thumb had said nothing to any of the boys about what he knew, but he had taken good pains to drop his white pebbles in the path over which they had come, so that he knew very well he could find his way home again.

After a while the boys grew tired of their work and began to look about for their parents. When they could find them nowhere, they began to cry loudly, and Hop-o’-my-thumb let them cry on till they were weary. Then he said, “never mind, my lads. Do not be afraid. Father and mother have left us here, but you follow me and I will lead you back home again.”

This cheered them mightily, and they set off through the woods, following their little brother as confidently as though he were ten times his size. The white pebbles showed the way, and it was not so very long before they came to their cabin. At first they did not dare to go in, but stood by the door listening to what their parents were talking about.

Now it happened that while they were gone a rich man in the village had sent them two sovereigns that he had owed them for some time but had forgotten to pay. They were delighted with the money, and the husband’s first thought was of something to eat, so he sent his wife out to the butcher’s to buy meat.

Driven by the pain of her hunger, and forgetting for a time that her children were not at home, she bought two or three times as much meat as was needed for herself and her husband. While she was returning to the house she remembered what had happened to the children, and by the time she opened the door she was weeping bitterly.

“What is the matter? Haven’t we money enough and food enough now?” asked her husband.

“Alas, yes,” she replied. “We have food enough, but where are our poor children? How they would feast on what we shall have left! It is all your fault; it is just as I told you over and over again, that we should repent the hour we left them to starve in the forest. Oh mercy, perhaps they have already been eaten by hungry wolves! I told you how it would be, I told you how it would be!”

At last the woodcutter grew very angry with his wife, for she would not cease her reproaches.

“If you don’t hold your tongue I will give you a good beating,” he said, although in his heart he was just as sorry as she was that the children were not there. The woodcutter was like many another husband: he knew that his wife was right, but he did not like to be told so.

The threat quieted her somewhat, but every few minutes she would cry out, “Alas, alas, what has become of my dear children!”

One time she said it so loud that the boys, who were clustered around the door, heard her, and they cried out, “Here we are, mother; here we are.”

She flew like lightning to let them in and kissed them all as fast as she could.

“Oh you rogues! How glad I am to see you. Why, Peter, you are all dirt. Let me wash your face. Bobby, you have torn your coat; I must mend it right away.”

This Bobby was next to the youngest, and as he had red hair like his mother’s, he was always her favorite. After a little washing and brushing, but before any mending was done, the boys sat down at the table and ate as heartily as though they were grown men. Talking and eating at the same time, they all together told how frightened they had been in the woods, and how Hop-o’-my-thumb had led them safely home.

It was a happy evening, and the joy of the family lasted until the money was exhausted and they found themselves near starving again.

By degrees the parents came again to think of leaving the children in the woods, and this time they intended to take them farther away; but no matter how slyly they talked about it, Hop-o’-my-thumb was always listening and laying plans for escaping as he had done before.

At last one night the parents agreed to take their children away the very next morning.

As soon as it was light, Hop-o’-my-thumb was up again in order to get out and pick up some more white pebbles, but when he reached the door he found it was locked and bolted, so he was unable to get out at all. He was much puzzled as to what to do until it become time for breakfast and he was given his share of the last loaf of bread. Then he thought that he might drop the crumbs on the way and mark it as well as with the white pebbles. So instead of eating his bread he slyly dropped it into his pocket, and on the way he scattered the crumbs as he had intended.

This time they were taken much farther into the woods and left as before, but Hop-‘o-my-thumb was not disturbed, for he knew how to find his way. When the time came, however, for him to lead his weeping brothers home, he could not find a trace of his bread crumbs. The birds had eaten them all.

Then, indeed, were the children in great distress. They wandered about, but only buried themselves deeper in the forest. When night came a great wind arose and frightened them terribly. On all sides it seemed as though they could hear the hungry wolves howling on their way to eat them. The boys did not dare to speak, or even to turn their heads. Rain began to fall, and soon they were wet to the skin. With almost every step they slipped and fell to the ground and got so covered with mud that they could hardly move their hands, and the little ones were continually crying to their big brothers to help them on.

When they were nearly worn out, Hop-o’-my-thumb told them to wait while he climbed to the top of a tree to see if he could discover anything. After he had looked about on all sides, and was nearly discouraged, he at last saw a little gleam of light like that from a candle, but it was very far away beyond the edge of the forest. However, when he climbed down to the ground and tried to go toward the light he could not see it and became more confused even than before. Yet he happened to choose the right direction, and the children walked on as fast as they could.

Finally they came out of the woods and saw the light ahead of them. As they ran toward it, however, it would disappear now and then when they sent into a little hollow, and each time they thought it had disappeared forever. Nevertheless, they did at last reach the house, and Hop-o’-my-thumb knocked loudly for admission.

The door was quickly opened by a nice-looking woman, who said to them, “What do you want here?”

Hop-o’-my-thumb replied, “We are poor children who have been lost in the forest, and we beg of you for sweet charity’s sake to give us something to eat and a place to sleep.”

As the lady looked at them she saw that they had very sweet faces, and she at once became interested in them.

“Alas, poor little ones,” she said, with tears in her eyes; “from what place have you come, and why do you come here? Do you not know this is the house of an Ogre, who eats little children?”

“Alas, madam,” answered Hop-o’-my-thumb, trembling all over as did his brothers, “what shall we do? If you do not give us shelter, the wolves will certainly eat us before morning. We would rather be eaten by the Ogre than by the wolves. But perhaps when he sees us he will take pity on us and let us go.”

The lady, who was the Ogre’s wife, thought she might conceal them in the house, so she brought them in and made them sit by the fire, where a whole sheep was roasting for the Ogre’s supper. Just as they were nicely warmed and had eaten the lunch the kind lady gave them, they heard four loud double knocks at the door. The woman caught the children up hastily and hid them under the bed, for she knew it was the Ogre returning. Then she opened the door and let her wicked husband into the house.

“Is supper ready, and is the wine drawn?” said the Ogre.

“Yes; everything is ready; sit down,” answered his wife.

You and I would not have thought supper was ready, for the mutton was not half cooked, but it suited the Ogre a great deal better than if it had been well done.

After he had eaten heartily he began to sniff about and said, “I think I smell fresh meat.”

“It must be the calf which I have just been dressing,” said his wife.

“No, I am sure I smell fresh meat,” said the Ogre. “You are concealing something from me.”

With these words he jumped from the table and went straight to the bed, where he found the seven little boys almost dead with terror.

“Is this the way you deceive me, you wicked woman?” said the Ogre. “I do not know what keeps me from eating you, too. But these boys will come very handy just now, for three other Ogres are coming to visit me in a day or two.”

Then one after another he dragged the little boys out from under the bed and set them on the table before him. Each boy knelt, folded his hands devoutly and prayed the Ogre to pardon them and let them go. But they were dealing with the fiercest and most wicked of all the Ogres, and he was deaf to their prayers.

As he felt their little limbs he said to his wife, “What delicate morsels these will make fried, if you can prepare a decent sauce for them.”

After devouring them with his eyes for a few moments he went to the cupboard and brought out his great knife, which he began to sharpen briskly on a stone which he held in his left hand.

As soon as the edge of the knife was fine enough to suit him he caught Peter, the eldest, by the arm and was about to slay him, when his wife called out, “Why do you begin killing them at this time of night? Why don’t you wait till to-morrow?”

“Be quiet,” said the Ogre; “I know what I am about. They will be much more tender if I kill them to-night.”

“But you have so much more meat on hand that they will spoil before you can get to them. Here are a calf, a sheep and half a pig all ready for cooking.”

“Well, perhaps you are right,” said the Ogre. “Feed them well and put them to bed, for I do not want them to get thin and poor.”

This pleased the good woman thoroughly, and she brought them a fine meal, which, however, they were all too frightened to eat.

The Ogre sat so long by the fire, drinking hard and thinking of the choice morsels he would have for his friends, that he quite forgot to count the cups he drank. So, early in the evening his wits were quite befuddled, and he had to go to bed long before his usual time.

Now there were also in the house the seven daughters of the Ogre, all very young and not very far from the age of Hop-o’-my-thumb and his brothers. These young Ogresses had fair complexions, because they lived on nearly raw meat, as did their father; but their eyes were little and gray and sunk quite deep in their heads. Their noses were hooked, and their wide mouths were filled with teeth that stood far apart from one another. The Ogresses enjoyed biting other children, but they were not so very bad, although it was certain that they would in time become as wicked as their father.

Before the boys came in they had been put together in one wide bed, each wearing a little golden crown. In the same room was another bed of about the same size, into which the lady put the seven little boys before she went to her own room. Hop-o’-my-thumb, who had been thinking very seriously all evening, had noticed the Ogresses with the golden crowns on their heads, and the more he thought about their terrible father the more decided he became that the Ogre would wake up in the night, change his mind, and kill the children before morning.

After much hard thinking he hit upon a plan which worked very well. Untying all the nightcaps from the heads of the brothers, and from his own, he went to the bed of the little Ogresses, took their crowns off gently and tied the nightcaps on in their places. Then he returned to his own bed and put a crown on the head of each of his brothers and one upon his own.

Everything happened just as Hop-o’-my-thumb expected. About midnight the Ogre waked up and repented that he had been so kind to the boys. “I will just see what the little brats are about and put them out of the way now while I am in the mood,” he said.

Taking his big knife he went into the room, which was quite dark, and came to the bed of the little boys. Just as he was about to strike the first one he happened to think that it was best to be certain, and putting out his hand he felt the gold crowns on the heads of the boys.

“Aha,” he said; “what a narrow escape from a terrible mistake! I had almost killed one of my own daughters.”

When he reached the bed of the girls he felt the coarse nightcaps on their heads, and without more ado he cut the throats of every one of them. After this bloody deed he went back to his bed and slept soundly till morning.

As soon as Hop-o’-my-thumb heard him snoring, he quietly awoke his brothers, made them all dress themselves, and together they stole down into the garden and jumped over the wall. All the rest of the night they ran as hard as they could, not knowing where they were going, but very much determined to get as far away from the Ogre as possible.

In the morning the Ogre said to his wife, “Come now, go and dress the young rogues I saw last night and bring them down to me.”

She was much surprised and pleased to hear the Ogre speak so, for she had little idea how he meant to have the boys dressed. Putting on her clothes and hastening up stairs, she was amazed to find her seven daughters lying in the bloody sheets with their throats cut from ear to ear. Overcome with horror at the sight, she fell to the floor and lay in a dead faint.

The Ogre waited for a while, and when his wife did not return he thought she was too slow with her work and went upstairs to find her. His astonishment was as great as hers at the fearful sight that lay before him.

“What have I done!” he cried. “How could I have slain my own daughters? But those little wretches shall pay for this, and without delay.”

He revived his wife by throwing a bucket of water in her face, and then called loudly for his seven-league boots.

“I will follow those boys to the ends of the earth, and bring them back,” said he.

He wasted no time in starting out, and rushed about first in one direction and then in another, until finally he came to the road where the boys were hurrying along not more than one hundred paces from their father’s house.

They had seen him coming with his long steps from mountain to mountain, and Hop-o’-my-thumb, seeing a hollow rock near where they were, hid himself and his brothers, while he watched carefully to see what became of the Ogre.

The Ogre himself was by this time tired from his exertions, and finally sat down upon the very rock under which Hop-o’-my-thumb and his brothers were concealed. The morning was warm, and the Ogre soon dropped off to sleep.

As soon as Hop-o’-my-thumb heard him snoring he crawled out from under the rock, drew his brothers out one by one and sent them on to his father’s house. When they were well on their way, Hop-o’-my-thumb crept very softly up to the Ogre, and drawing off the seven-league boots, put them on himself. You may think that these would not fit Hop-o’-my-thumb very well, but you must remember that they were fairy boots and fitted exactly to any feet that were put into them.

With the seven-league boots on his feet, Hop-o’-my-thumb was able to go very quickly to the Ogre’s house, where he rapped again at the door.

When the Ogress appeared he said to her, “Your husband, the Ogre, is in great trouble. He has been captured by a band of robbers, who say they will slay him at once unless you send to them all the gold and silver that he has in his chests. I was near when he was captured, and hoping that you would send him help quickly, he put his seven-league boots on me and asked me to deliver the message.”

Seeing the boots on Hop-o’-my-thumb, the Ogress suspected nothing, but gathered together all the Ogre’s gold and silver and gave it to Hop-o’-my-thumb, who sped away to his home, where he found his family united and happy. By the aid of the Ogre’s money they were able to live the rest of their lives in great comfort, and never again did any one say or think that Hop-o’-my-thumb was weak or stupid. Instead, they treated him as though he, and not his father, was the head of the family.

As for the Ogre, he did not awaken till late in the evening, and then without his boots he was almost helpless. As he was fat and unwieldy, he could scarcely walk without assistance, so he lay back upon the rock and soon fell asleep again. While he was in this condition robbers really did come, and setting upon him they beat him to death, which was surely no more than he deserved.







Bedtime Stories #2

The Shepherd Boy and the Wolves

In summer time the shepherds used to drive their sheep out into the mountains some distance away from their homes, where the grass was green and tender and the sheep fattened rapidly.

But there was always some danger in this, for the wolves hid in the mountains and often came down and carried off the little lambs, and even killed the old sheep themselves. So the shepherds never thought it was safe to leave the flocks alone, and some young lad was always chosen to watch them during the day, while the shepherds worked on the little fields they cultivated near at hand. It wasn’t a hard task for the boy unless the wolves came in sight, and then he was so near that by calling loudly he could bring the shepherds to his aid.

One lad they sent out to do this work was a mischievous little chap, who thought it would be great sport to bring the shepherds about him even if no wolf was in sight. Accordingly, he ran up the side of a high rock, shouting at the top of his voice “Wolf! Wolf!” and swinging his arms wildly about.

The shepherds saw and heard him and came running to the spot, where they found nothing but the lively boy, laughing merrily. They reproved him for his mischief and went back to their work.

In a few days they had forgotten all about his prank, and when they saw him again upon the rock, swinging his arms and calling “Wolf! Wolf!” they ran a second time, with their hoes and spades in their hands to beat off the attack. Once more they found that the sheep were perfectly safe, and that no wolves were in sight, and the boy laughed noisily at their surprise. This time they were very angry and scolded the boy roundly for his deception.

More days passed, and nothing happened; but then, as the boy was lying idly in the warm sun, he saw the sheep huddle together in alarm and finally scamper off over the hill with wolves in close pursuit.

Frightened almost out of his wits at the very real danger, the boy climbed again upon the rock, shrieking “Wolf! Wolf!” at the top of his voice, waving his hands, stamping, and swinging his hat as though his very life depended on it.

The shepherds looked up and saw the boy, but returned to their work. They had been twice fooled and were not going to risk the chance again. No matter how loudly the boy called or how much he wept, they continued with their work, paying no further attention to what the lad said, even when he ran to them and assured them that he was telling the truth.

When the sheep did not return that night, the shepherds went out to find them, but though they hunted long and earnestly, they could discover nothing but torn and bleeding bodies, for every sheep had been killed.

Naturally they laid all the blame on the shoulders of the boy.

Good night boys and girls!

Happy Reading!

Story taken from Journeys Through Bookland, Volume I, 5th Edition

Bedtime Stories #1

Nursery Rhymes

Rock-a-bye, baby, in the tree top:

When the winds blows, the cradle will rock;

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall;

Down will come baby, cradle and all.

One-ery, two-ery, ickery ann,

Fillacy, fallacy, Nicholas Zann,

Queevy, Quavy, Irish navy,

Stingalum, stangalum, buck.

Juvenile Literature

The Dog and His Shadow

A big dog carrying a big piece of meat in his mouth was one day crossing a river on a narrow bridge. Chancing to look into the water, he saw his own image reflected there, but thought it was another dog with a bigger piece of meat. He opened his mouth to grab the other’s piece of meat and lost his own in the river.

Moral: People who try to get what their neighbors possess often lose their own things.

Tom Thumb

When Arthur was king of Great Britain, and his brave knights were seeking adventures in all parts of his kingdom, the greatest magician was Merlin, of whose deeds you may read a great many tales.

At one time, when this great enchanter was on a long journey, he became very tired and turned in at the cottage of a plowman, whose wife, with great kindness, gave him a couch on which to rest and treated him to a meal of rich milk and fine brown bread. The cottage was neat and well furnished, and the plowman seemed in good circumstances, but Merlin noticed that the wife wore a very sorrowful expression and seemed to find no enjoyment in anything she did. When Merlin met the plowman he saw that the farmer was as sad as his wife. Surprised at this in such people, he asked them the cause of their troubles.

The poor woman, with tears in her eyes, said, “There is but one thing we need to make us perfectly happy. You see we have no children, and the house is very lonely. Why, if I could have one boy, even if he were no bigger than his father’s thumb. I should be the happiest creature in the world.”

The idea pleased Merlin greatly, and after he left the plowman’s home he called the queen of the fairies to his assistance.

“I know,” he said, “a plowman’s wife who says she would be the happiest woman in the world if she had a son only the size of its father’s thumb. Cannot you help her?”

The fairy queen laughed at the idea of so small a man, and said, “Well, send word to the plowman’s wife that her wish shall be granted.”

Not long afterward the plowman’s wife did indeed have a little son, who was strong and healthy in every respect but not larger than her husband’s thumb; and strange to say, no matter how much he ate or how well he took care of himself, he never grew any larger.

The queen of the fairies came to see the little fellow very soon after he was born and gave him the name of Tom Thumb. At the same time she called several of her servants from fairyland, and together the made for Tom a wonderful suit of clothes. His hat was made of an oak leaf; his shirt from a spider’s web; his doublet of thistledown; his stockings of apple rind, and his shoes from the skin of a mouse nicely tanned with the hair inside.

Although Tom was not bigger than a man’s thumb, yet he was a bright-eyed, sharp-witted little fellow who became very cunning and sly as he grew older; and as he was a great favorite with his mother she never corrected him very severely, and some of his pranks were quite troublesome. He liked to play the games that other boys played, and even joined with them, but he was so little and mischievous that none of the boys liked him very well. Sometimes he would find his way into their lunch pails and steal their food, or even get into their pockets and take out their marbles and playthings. Some of his pranks, however, turned out as badly for himself as for the people he played them on, and a number of times he got into very serious danger.

One day while his mother was making pudding. Tom stood on the edge of the bowl to watch her. As he turned away to get some more flour to stir into the bowl, Tom fell in, and his mother, never missing him, stirred him up in the dough and put him in the pot to boil. When the water began to get hot, Tom jumped about madly, scattering the dough so that his mother thought the pudding was bewitched, and gave it to a tinker who passed by just at that time.

The tinker put the pudding into his bag and went on his way. After a while Tom got his head out of the dough, cleaned the batter from his mouth, and shouted as loud as he could, “Hello, Jack the tinker.”

The man was so frightened at the voice from the pudding that he tossed it hastily over a hedge into a field, where it was broken into a dozen pieces by its fall. This released Tom, who ran home to his mother. She was glad to see him, although it made her no little work to clean the dough and plums from his clothing.

Once Tom fell into the milk and was nearly drowned. Again, he fell over the edge of the salt box which hung on the wall, and could not get out until his mother heard his cries and lifted him down. It was not long after Tom fell into the saltcellar that his mother took him out into the field with her while she milked the cows. Fearing that he would be blown away by the wind, she tied him to a thistle with a piece of string. There Tom sat singing merrily while his mother did the milking.

When a big bumblebee came buzzing along Tom cried out, “Give me some of your honey.”

“I am sorry, but I cannot. I need it for my little ones at home,” replied the bee.

Next a beautiful butterfly came near Tom, and the little fellow called out, “Mrs. Butterfly, will you five me a ride on your back some day?”

But the butterfly went quickly away, saying over her shoulder, “I do not dare to have you on my back. You would brush the tiny scarlet and gold feathers from my wings.”

After a while a little field mouse came and blinked ut that Tom with his sharp little eyes.

Tom said, “May I come and rest in your house some day, Mr. Mouse?”

But the mouse ran away, and as he ran he said something which Tom could not understand, but which was, “If I should take you to my house I am afraid you would show the cats the way to it.”

The next animal that came along was an enormous cow, who savagely pulled up the thistle to which Tom was tied and gathered him in with it. Tom was terribly frightened by the big white teeth, the great red tongue and the yawning throat of the cow.

He shouted out at the very top of his shrill little voice, “Mother, mother.”

His mother heard and answered, “Where are you, Tom? Where are you, Tom?”

“Here, mother. I am in the red cow’s mouth,” said Tom.

Now his mother was frightened surely enough; but Tom kicked and scratched and bit the cow’s throat so savagely that she was glad to throw him out of her mouth again. His mother picked him up in a hurry, put him in her apron and ran back to the house, where she was a long time cleaning him up and changing his clothes.

Another day, when Tom was helping drive the cattle home, a raven caught him up with some kernels of corn and flew with him to the top of a giant’s great castle, where he left him. Very soon the giant, walking about on the terrace of his castle, saw Tom, and would quickly have eaten him; but Tom scratched and bit the giant’s tongue till the great fellow spit him out of his mouth, over the terrace and into the sea.

While Tom was struggling in the water a large fish came along and swallowed the little man in a jiffy. Tom was not big enough to satisfy the hunger of the fish, who almost immediately seized the bait of a fisherman, and was soon landed in the boat. The fish was so large and fine that it seemed git only for a king, and the fisherman took it as a present to King Arthur, who sent it to the kitchen to be cooked. You may imagine the surprise of the cook when she cut open the fish and found Tom alive and kicking within.

Of course so wonderful a prize was sent at once to the king, who with all his court was very much delighted with the little man. For a long time Tom Thumb was a favorite dwarf at the court, and amused the king and all his followers by merry pranks. The king used to take Tom hunting, and if a shower came up or the sun grew too hot he would drop Tom into his waistcoat pocket, where the tiny man slept till it was pleasant again.

Tom became such a favorite with the king that the latter dressed him up in rich clothes and sent him to pay a visit to his parents, telling him that he might have as much money as he could carry. Tom found a little purse, put into it as much as he could lift, shouldered his little bag and started on his journey. After traveling two days and nights and being almost worn out with the huge weight of silver on his back, he arrived at his father’s house. His parents were overjoyed to see him. Tom could scarcely wait to tell them about the money he had.

“O mother,” he said, “I have brought you a fortune. The king gave me all the money I could carry to bring home to you, and here it is.”

Then Tom opened the purse, and there rolled out upon the floor–a silver three-cent piece! The farmer and his wife were amazed at such a sum of money.

When Tom’s visit was over, his mother took him up, set him on the palm of her hand, and then with a strong puff of her breath blew him back to the king’s court, where everybody was glad to see him again.

King Arthur made Tom a knight, gave him elegant suits of clothes and a fine mouse to ride as a horse, and many are the stories told of Tom’s wonderful deeds.

We have no time to read more of them now, but they were so wonderful that people heard about them all over the world. All very naturally wished that Tom had lived in their own country. After a while they began to think that he did live among them; and now if you should go to Europe you would hear the German children, the French children, the Danish children and all the others telling and reading stories about Tom Thumb. But always the German children read and tell about a German Tom Thumb; the French children, about a French Tom Thumb, and so on; but we are going to believe that Tom Thumb really lived in England in the merry days of King Arthur.

Good night and may you all dream sweet dreams.

All stories taken from Journeys through Bookland, Volume I, Fifth Edition