Abby Morton Diaz.

The Jimmyjohns, and other stories online

. (page 8 of 13)
Online LibraryAbby Morton DiazThe Jimmyjohns, and other stories → online text (page 8 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook




Twas a truth-telling face. " Yes, I ll trust you," said


"Ah, a kiss I must take, if -you trust me ! " quoth he ;
" And, since we re so happily both of a mind,
We ll set off together the priest for to find."


Now hand in hand along they pass,

Tripping it lightly over the grass,

By pleasant ways, through fields of flowers,

By shady lanes, through greenwood bowers.

The bright little leaves they dance in the breeze,

And the birds sing merrily up in the trees.

The maiden smiles as they onward go,

Forgotten now her longing and woe ;

And the good little man he does care for her so !

He cheers the way with his pleasant talk ,

Finds the softest paths where her feet may walk,

Staj s her to rest in the sheltered nook,

Guides her carefully over the brook,

Lifts her tenderly over the stile,

Speaking so cheerity all the while !

And plucks the prettiest wild flowers there

To deck the curls of her golden hair.

Sa} S the joyful maid, u Not a flower that grows

Is so fair for me as the sweet wild rose! "

Thus journeying on by greenwood and dell,
They came at last where the priest- did dweh 1 ,
A jolly fat priest, as I have heard tell ;
A jolly fat priest, all shaven and shorn,
With a long black cassock so jauntily worn.
And this is the priest, &c.

" Good-morrow, Sir Priest ! will you many us two? "
"That I will," said the priest, "if ye re both lovers


But when, little man, shall your wedding-day be? "
" To-morrow, good priest, if } T OU can agree :


At the sweet hour of sunrise, when the new day

Is ros} r and fresh in its morning array,

When flowers are awaking, and birds full of glee,

At the top of the morning, our wedding shall be.

And, since friends we have none, for this wedding of


No guests shall there be, save the birds and the flowers ;
And we ll stand out among them, in sight of them all,
Where the pink- and- white blooms of the apple-tree fall."

" Od zooks ! " cried the priest, " what a wedding we ll

To-morrow, at sunrising, under the tree ! "

Next morning, while sleeping his sweetest sleep,

The priest was aroused from his slumbers deep

By the clarion voice of chanticleer,

Sudden and shrill, from the apple-tree near.

" Wake up, wake up ! " it seemed to say ;

" Wake up, wake up ! there s a wedding to-day ! "

And this is the cock that crowed in the morn,

That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,

That married the man all tattered and torn,

That kissed the maiden all forlorn,

That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,

That tossed the dog, that worried the cat, that caught

the rat that ate the corn that lay in the house that

Jack built.


"(\ MOTHER, lookup! look up in the sky! away,
\J wa y up there ! Oh ! isn t a kite a pretty sight ?
Now it only looks like a speck of something. I wonder
where it comes from."

" Yes, Nannie, I think it is a pretty sight ; and no
doubt the owner of it thinks so too. I wish we could
see him. Let s guess about him: what do you say to
that? Let s play we could follow the string down,
down, down, away down behind yonder hill, till we
come to the boy at the other end."

" Oh, yes, mother ! You guess about him, please."
u I will try, Nannie. Ah, there he is ! I ve found
the little fellow ! He lies in the grass, flat on his
back, paste on his hands, I think, and on his trousers
too. The buttercups are thick about him, bright
yellow buttercups ; but the dandelions are turning

" Why do you shut up your eyes, mother? "

"Because I can guess prettier things with my eyes

shut. The little boy holds fast to his kite-string.

There s a row of lilac-bushes near, and an apple-tree

a beautiful apple-tree all in bloom ; cherry-trees and




pear-trees too, white as snow. I wish we were there,
Nannie. A little brook goes dancing by all so gayly !
Happy little brook, to be dancing so merrily on among
the flowers ! and happy little boy, to be lying there
listening to its song, and smelling the apple-blossoms,
with the south wind blowing over him ! The clover-
tops and the cool green clover-leaves come close to his
cheeks, his round, rosy cheeks; and there s a little
buttercup right imder his chin, seeing for itself whether
he loves butter or not."

4 And does he?"

"Yes, he loves butter. And now he has picked a
dandelion-ball, and is blowing it to see hold fast to
your string, my boy ! to see if his mother wants him.
Three blows."

4 Do they all blow off ?"

" No, not all : a few stay on."

" Then she doesn t want him."

"No, his mother doesn t want him quite yet. He
can lie there a little while longer, and watch his kite,
and smell the flowers, and hear the birds sing. I wish
I were a little boy lying in the grass."

" How lovely is your little guess-boy, mother? "

" Oh ! quite lovely, quite lovely. He has brown wavy
hair, and bright eyes, and a right pleasant, laughing
face. Two cunning pussy-flowers come close down, and
tickle his ear. Be careful, little guess-boy ! don t let
the string slip. That kite is too good to lose. Great
pains you took to make its frame light and smooth and
even ; worked hard with newspapers and paste ; the
tail was a trouble ; the bobs got tangled : but that s all
over now."


" What is your little guess-boy s name, mother? "

" His name? let me think. Ah ! his name is Er
nest. Now Ernest turns his head ; now he smiles ;
now he whistles/

" And what is he whistling for? "

" I think, his dog. Yes, yes ! there he comes, a
noble shaggy fellow, leaping, frisking, bounding. Er
nest calls, Ranger, Ranger, Ranger ! here, Ranger !

" How noble is Ranger, mother? "

"Very noble. Oh! he s a splendid fellow! a
knowing, good-natured fellow. Now he comes bound
ing .on. The boy laughs, and lets Ranger lick his face
all over.

" c Now down! he says, down. Ranger, down,
down, sir ! Good dog : he lies down by Ernest, and
winks his eyes, and snaps at the flies and the bumble

" O mother, l^rhat is your little guess-boy doing to
his kite? It snakes; it pitches: oh, it is falling
down ! blowing away ! "

4 My poor little boy ! Perhaps a bumble-bee star
tled him : it flew right in his eye, I ve no doubt,
and made him let go. How he runs ! Too late, my
boy : your kite is gone, and will never return, never,
never ! "

" Where has it gone, mother? "

Far, far over the woods : now it falls into the
river, and the river will float it away to the sea."

" Can 3 ou sec it go floating along? "

u Yes : it floats along by green banks where willow-
trees are growing."

" Please don t open your eyes yet. Can t you see
some little guess- children coming to pick it out? "


"Perhaps I can. Now it gets tangled in the roots of
a tree ; now on it goes again ; now it stops behind a
rock. Yes, there are some little guess-girls, little frol
icking guess-girls, coming to the bank of the stream."

"Do they see it?"

" Yes ; but they can t reach. Take care, you little
thing with a blue dress ruffled round the bottom ! you
are bending too far over. Ha, ha, ha ! "

" What are you laughing at, mother? "

" Why, there s a little bareheaded one tugging a long
bean-pole. She ll never do any thing with that. Now
they throw stones. One hits ; another hits. There
goes the kite ; and there goes the bean-pole ; and
there dear, dear ! no ; but she did almost tumble in.
On, on floats the kite, on to the sea.

"There s a little boat coming, rowed by two chil
dren. They steer for that odd thing which floats upon
the water. i What is it ? they ask. An oar is reached
out, and a kite-frame picked up, nothing but a frame :
the paper is soaked away."

" And what has become of Ernest, mother? Is he
lying down there now, smelling the blossoms, and hear
ing the brook go? "

" Ah, yes, poor little boy! he has lain down again
among the buttercups ; but I think he is not listening
to the brook, nor smelling the apple-blossoms. I think
he is crying. His head is turned away, and his face
hidden in the grass.

" Now Ranger comes again, but not, as before, leap
ing and bounding ; not frisking, and wagging his lail.
Oh, no ! he looks quite solemn this time. Dogs know
a great deal. Ranger understands that something bad


has happened. He puts his head close down, and tries
to lick the boy s face. Now he gets his nose close
up to Ernest s ear, as if he were whispering some
thing. What is he whispering, I wonder. Poor Er
nest ! he seems very sad ; and no wonder. Any boy
would to lose a kite like that.

"But he jumps up; he smiles, and looks almost
happy. Something good must have been whispered to
him either by Ranger or by his own thoughts."

" What was it, mother? "

"I think it was, Don t cry for lost kites; don t
cry for lost kites ! Run home and make another; run
home and make another I

"And will he?"

" I think so : I think he will. Yes, there he goes !
He runs through the grass, leaps the brook, springs
over the fence, whistling to Ranger all the while. Ran
ger is so glad, he barks and bounds like a crazy dog.

" There s the house; and there s his mother, look
ing out of the window, very glad to see her boy, if
some of the dandelion feathers did stay on. I hope
she ll find some more newspapers for him, and let him
make more paste on her stove."

" O mother ! please let s go take a walk and find the
little guess-boy, and see him make his kite."


ONE day, when uncle Joe could think of no story to
tell, he read to the children one which he had bor
rowed from a friend, and which was entitled " The Little
Beggar-Girl." The story was as follows :

There were once two beggar-children, named Paul
and Nora. Paul was ugly and cross ; but Nora was
so sweet-tempered, that nothing could make her speak
an unkind word. She had beautiful eyes, and her hair
was of a golden brown. These children had no home,
and not a single friend in the world. On pleasant nights
they slept in a market-cart ; but, if it was rainy, they
crept underneath. It was their business to wander
about the cuy, begging whatever they could.

One day Paul found an old basket with the handle
gone. "Now," said he, " we will go into the bone

"And then won t you beat me any more?" said

"Not if you mind me," said Paul, " and beg some
thing nice for me every day. What have you got

Nora showed him some bits of bread and dry cake, a




chicken-bone, and a bunch of grapes, which an old
gentleman had given her because her eyelashes were
like those of his dear little grandchild who had died
years before.

"Why didn t you get more grapes?" said Paul.
" I could eat twenty times as many. Here, you may
have three, and the whole of that chicken-bone."

Nora threw her arms about his neck, and said, " O
Paul, how good it is to have a brother ! If I didn t
have 3 T ou, I shouldn t have an} body."

That night they crept under the cart ; for it was rainy.
But first they covered the ground with some old straw.
" How good it is to have a cart over us," said Nora,
"and straw to sleep on!" But Paul bade her stop
talking ; for he was tired.

After he was asleep, Nora crept out to pay a visit to
her window. She called it her window. It was on the
back-piazza of a nice house. The curtains hung apart
a little, leaving a crack ; and every night she paid a
visit here to watch the undressing and putting to bed
of a little girl.

She could see the laughing face as it peeped through
the long, white night-gown, and the rosy toes as they
came out of thefr stockings. She could see the little
girl s arms holding tight around the mother s neck,
and the mother s arms holding tight her little girl. She
could also both see and hear the kisses ; and, by putting
her ear close to the window, could sometimes catch the
very words of the evening hymn. Nothing seemed to
her half as beautiful as this ; for it was the only singing
of that kind she had ever heard.

But on this particular night she dared not stay long


at the window ; for Paul had said they must start out of
the city by daybreak to look for bones, and had bade her
go to sleep early. She only waited to see the little girl s
hair brushed, and then to see her spat the water about
in the wash-bowl.

After creeping under the cart, where Paul was sleep
ing, she put out her hands to catch the rain-drops, and
washed her face. Molly the rag-picker had given her
an old comb she had found in a dirt-barrel, and a faded
handkerchief. For these she had given a bit of cake.
To be sure, the cake was dry, and required a stone to
break it ; but it contained two plums ; and, when Molly
made the trade, she was thinking of her little lame boy
at home. And so Nora sat up in the straw, and combed
out her pretty hair. It was long (for there was no one
to cut it) , and of a most lovely color. To tell the truth,
there was not a child in all the street whose hair was
half as beautiful.

"I cannot be undressed," she thought, "because I
have no night-clothes ; and I cannot be kissed or sung
to sleep, because I have only Paul. And Paul he
couldn t ; oh, no ! Paul doesn t know the way ; but I
can do this."

And, while thinking such thoughts as these, she
combed out her long hair just as she had seen the little
girl s mother do ; and, by t3~ing thp three-cornered hand
kerchief under her chin, she kept it smooth.

The next morning they set forth at sunrise to search
for bones, swinging the basket between them.

How bright the sun shines ! said Nora : now
our olothes will dry." And, when they were out of the
city, she said, "No matter for shoes now, Paul, the grass
is so soft."


"You are always being pleased about something,"
said Paul. Anybody would think you had every thing
you want."

Nora was still for a moment ; and then she said, "Oh,
no, Paul ! I want one thing a great deal : I think
about^it every night and every day."

What is it ? " said Paul. Can t you beg for one ? "

" No," said she, " I couldn t."

"Why don t you tell? " said Paul, speaking crossly.

" I don t like to say it," said Nora.

" Teh 1 ," said Paul, giving her a push, "or I ll strike

Nora crept up close to him, and whispered, " I want
somebody to call me darling."

"You re a ninny," said Paul: "you don t know
any thing. I ll call you darling. Darling, hold up the

" But that isn t real," said Nora : " you don t know
the right way ; and the darling isn t in your eyes, not
at all. Yesterday I met a little girl, as little as
I. Her shoes were pretty, and a kind lady was walk
ing with her ; and, when they came to a crossing, the
lady said, Come this way, my darling ; and it was in
her eyes. You couldn t learn to say it right, Paul ; for
you are only a brother, and can t speak so softly.
Did we two have a mother ever, Paul?"

" To be sure we did ! said Paul : she used to rock
you in the cradle, and tell me stories. I wasn t but
four then : now I m eight, and most nine."

"Was she like Molly?" asked Nora.

" Not a bit! her face was white, and so were her
hands, jolly white. She used to cry, and sew lace."


Cry ? a mother cry ? What for ?

" Can t say ; hungry, maybe. Sometimes father hit
her. But stop talking, can t } T OU? I want to run down
this hill: catch hold."

As they were walking along the road, at the bottom
of the hill, breathing fast from running so t hard,
they met a wicked-looking man, whose whiskers were
black and very heavy. His nose was long, and hooked
over at the end. He had a short-waisted coat with a
peaked tail. He laughed almost every time he spoke.

When he saw Paul and Nora, he said, " Where are
you going, children? going to take a walk? He,
he, he!"

" To pick up bones," said Paul. "I know a man
that buys them."

" I ll buy your bones," said the man, " and give you
a good price for them. My shop is in this yellow
brick house. Come this evening ; come about eight ;
come to the back-door. Is this your little sister ?

"Yes." said Paul.

" Well, bring your sister. I like your little sister.
He, he, he! Good-morning, and good-luck to you."
Then he patted Nora s head, and went away, laughing,
"He, he, he!"

It was hard work for Nora, walking far out of town,
and climbing fences, looking for bones which had been
thrown out, or hidden by dogs ; and many times they
were driven away by cross servants.

11 It s all your fault," said Paul. " You are always
peeping in at windows. If you don t stop it, I ll strike


" I only want to see what the little girls do," said
Nora. " They go up the steps, and the door shuts;
and then, when I can t see them any more, then
what do they do, Paul?"

"How should I know?" said Paul. "Can t you
stop talking, and give me something to eat? What
have you got ?

Nora showed him all her broken bits, and then untied
the corner of her handkerchief. There were a few pen
nies tied up there, given her by a lady who was pleased
with her pleasant face. " What shall we do with these,
Paul?" said she.

" Well," said Paul, " I think I think I U buy a
cigar. I never had a cigar."

" To be sure ! said Nora : "a boy ought to have
a cigar."

And, while Paul smoked his cigar, she sat upon a
stone near by, watching the smoke. He leaned back
against a tree, puffing away, with his feet crossed high
up on a rock. Nora was so pleased !

" How glad I am I ve got you ! " said she. " If I
didn t have you, I shouldn t have anybody. When I
grow up, maybe I ll be your mother, and give you good

" You re a little fool ! " said Paul. " Stop your talk
now, and go look for more bones. There s no need of
both of us sitting idle."

" Oh, my feet ache so ! " said Nora. But she minded
Paul, and went searching about till he called her to go
back to the city.

The walk back was so tiresome, that Nora almost
dropped down from weariness. " O Paul! " said she,


" my hands are too little ; and they are sore, and my
feet are too. I can t hold on. Oh ! it s going, Paul !
it s going ! "

Paul gave her a blow across the shoulders. There !
said he. " Let that basket go down again, will you?
Hurry up ! Who wants everybody staring? "

Nora s bare feet were bleeding, her arms ached, and
her shoulders smarted where his hand came down.
She was so little ! so very little ! Poor thing ! she did
her best.

Upon reaching the yellow brick house, Paul and Nora
walked directly in at the back-door, as they had been
told. The wicked-looking man came to meet them,
and took them into a room very low in the walls, and
hung round with bird-cages. In these cages were
canary-birds, a great many canary-birds ; also Java
sparrows and mocking-birds. The room smelt strong
of soap. In a door leading to the next apartment there
were two squares of glass set : through this small win
dow they could see a man s face, tipped a little back
wards, which the hand of another man was covering
with soap-foam. By this they knew it must be a bar
ber s shop.

The wicked-looking man took Nora by the hand, and
said, as he placed her in a chair, " All right, my little
lady, he, he, he ! All right, my little beauty ! I want
to cut oif your hair."

"Oh, no! oh, no ! " said Nora; and she covered
her head with both hands.

" Oh, yes ! oh, }~es ! " said the man. " I won t charge
you any thing, not a penny : cheap enough, he, he,


he ! " The wicked-looking man wanted Nora s beau
tiful hair to make up into curls, such as ladies buy.
He came close up with his- shears.

" Oh, I want it, I want it ! " said Nora, beginning to

" Let the man have it, can t you? " said Paul.

" Oh, I can t let him ! I can t, I can t ! " said Nora,

" Why not? what s the use of it? " said Paul.

"Oh ! " said Nora, " because because I like it.
And I have no boots, and no night-clothes, and nobody
to lead me ; and so and so I want it."

"I ll tell you what I ll do," said the man. " I ll
give you something for it. What do 3-011 want most ?
he, he, he ! Think now. Isn t there any thing you
want most ?

"Yes, sir," said Nora; for she remembered what
she had told Paul in the morning.

" Well," said the man, " I thought so. What is it?

" I don t like to speak it," said Nora.

"Don t like to? Why?"

"Because," said Nora, sobbing, "you haven t
it seems like as if you couldn t."

Paul burst out laughing. " She wants somebody to
call her darling," said he.

"To call her what?"

"To call her darling." And then he burst out
laughing again ; and the man raised both hands, and
put up his shoulders, and burst out laughing, and they
both laughed together..

At last the man took a walk round among his bird-


cages, and said, " Come, I ll tell you what I ll do : I ll
give you a bird. If you ll give me your hair, I ll give
you a bird."

c A live one ? asked Nora.

" Yes, a live one. And, besides that, your hair will
grow : then you will have both."

" Will it sing? " asked Nora.

"When he s old enough," said the man. "And
here s a little basket to keep him in. It used to be a
strawberry-basket. "I ll put some wool in it. It looks
like a bird s nest. I ll hang it round your neck with this
long string. There, how do you like that ? he, he, he !"

He hung it around her neck. The bird looked up
into her face with its bright little eyes. Nora put down
her lips, and kissed it. Then she looked up at the man,
and said faintly, " I will."

The man caught up his great shears, and in less than
five minutes Nora s hair la} spread out upon the table.
She turned away from it, weeping.

But Paul pulled her roughly along ; and she soon
dried her tears by saying over to herself, It will
grow ; it will grow. And I have two now, the bird
and Paul. Before I had but one, Paul: now two,
Paul and the bird, the bird and Paul, two."

For a whole week after this, Nora could think of
nothing but her bird. It was lame. The man had
cheated her : he had given her a bird that would not
sell. But Nora loved it all the better for this. She
would sit on the curb-stone, and let it pick crumbs from
her mouth. While she was walking about, the bird
hung from her neck in its little T^asket. Nights, she let
it sleep in her bosom.


Very often, ladies and gentlemen passing along the
street would stop when they saw her feeding her bird.
They seemed to think it a very pretty sight. Or if
people met her walking, the basket hanging around her
neck, with the bird s head peeping out, they would turn
and say, "Now, isn t that cunning? "

But one day, at the end of the week, Paul came from
fighting with some boys : they had beaten him, and
this had made him mad and cross. Nora had begged
nothing very nice that day. He called her lazy, and
came behind, as she was feeding her bird, and knocked
it upon the pavement.

" There ! " said he : " now you will do something."

The bird was killed. Nora caught it to her bosom,
and sobbed out, " O Paul ! my little bird ! O Paul! "
Then she lay down upon the pavement, and cried
aloud. Paul ran off, and presently a policeman came
and ordered her up.

Nora had now lost her only comfort: no, not her
only comfort ; for she could still watch the little girls
walking with beautiful ladies ; and could still listen,
standing upon the back-piazza, to the singing of even
ing hymns. And one day she discovered something
which gave her great joy.

Without knowing that she could, without meaning to
try to sing, she herself sang. At first it was only a
faint, humming noise : but she started with pleasure ;
for it was the very tune in which the lady sang hymns
to her little girl. She tried again, and louder ; then
louder still ; and at last cried out, " O Paul ! it s just
the same ! it s just the same ! I didn t think I could !
How could I, Paul? how did I sing? "


That was a hard summer for Nora. They had to go
every day out of town : and wearisome work it was,
climbing fences, and walking over the rough ways;
and very few pennies did they get.

When winter came, they fared still worse. Nora
begged a few clothes for herself and Paul ; but all they
could get were not enough to prevent them from suffer
ing with cold. On nights when they had not even a penny

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryAbby Morton DiazThe Jimmyjohns, and other stories → online text (page 8 of 13)