Mrs. (Sophie Amelia) Prosser.

Fables for the young folks online

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An iris whispered, " You ought to know that con-
volvulus, with all her grace and beauty, is not to
be envied, for she fades before the sun is at its
hight; and while we are still adorning the garden,
there is nothing left of her but an unsightly, with-
ered, twisted leaf."

And thus, one after another, the flowers besieged
the fairy: each was the first till the rest told her

"Be a pansy," at last cried out a sprightly little
blossom that was perched on a wall. " Look up here,
fairy; I am never troubled with blight; the snails


do not think me worth robbing ; nobody can call me
stiff ; and as to gentility, my relations, the violets
under the hedges, and my more aristocratic sisters
that are sitting in yon flower-bed, so well dressed and
shaped that I can hardly believe we are of the same
family, are guaranties for my birth."

u Nay," said the fairy, " you are but a weed."

" Don't believe it," said the pansy ; " I am as much
a flower as any of them : ask my cousins excelsior
and the emperor of Russia, in that pansy-bed, if we
are weeds.

" But you have no name," said the fairy.

"Haven't I?" said the pansy. "Go to a poor
man's garden and ask him my name, he'll tell you it
is heart'sease ; and where will you find a better than
that? And why am I called so? Because it's my
character: wherever I go, there I flourish. If the
gardener seeds me, pots me, and pets me, I come out
all velvet and gold, like yonder beauties. If the
wind carries my seed to a wall-top or a rubbish heap,
I do my best and come out in the same colors,
though not so rich and bright. I rejoice alike in


sunshine and shower ; neither drought nor rains will
destroy me. I may hang my head now and then,
but I always come up again. No lot is perfect ; but
that is the nearest to it which has heart'sease to
sweeten it. Take my advice, then, fairy, and be a

"Well, really," said the fairy, "I think I will"


"Miss, miss, how comfortable you are!" said a
flock of sparrows to a canary that hung in a hand-
some gilt cage in a conservatory.

" I hope you are the same," said the canary.

"It is a sharp frost, miss," they said, as they nestled
close to the glass, "and the ground is as hard as iron;
and if you'll believe us, there's nothing to be had for
love or money. We've cleared the hedges ; we've
eaten all Miss Anne's crumbs ; and there isn't a worm
that is kind-hearted enough to show itself, to help us
to a breakfast."


" Well ! " said the canary.

" Yes, miss; it's very well for you, with all that
beautiful seed ; but if you would just let us have a
little, we should take it very kind. It's fine to be
you in that beautiful house among all those fresh
flowers, feasting in plenty."

" Friends," said the canary, " when summer comes,
the soft air, the blue sky, the flowery earth, and fruits
of all kinds, with liberty of wing, and heart to enjoy
them, will be yours. You may well bear the evils of
your lot, the hardships of winter ; nor envy me, who,
though I now have plentiful food and pleasant shel-
ter, shall have no more when you are in the fullness
of delight, and nature strongly pleads within me,
Why am I not equally blessed?"



"THE hunters! the hunters!" cried Drover to
Snarler, the house-dog ; and up they both were in a
moment to the top of a bank, where they had a good
view of them.

" How brave they look in their scarlet coats !" said
Drover, quite excited ; " and what horses they have !
not like our old Dobbin and Cherry ; and those dogs
here they come what a pack ! Well, they are
worth looking at, up to the mark to-day, and no
mistake ! Two four six ; but it's no use trying
to count them. If they're not proud of themselves,
it's a wonder; there they go!" and he turned his
head, and watched them fairly out of sight.

" Now that's a sight worth coming to see ; it has
done me good. I must be off, for it is shepherding-
time. Why, Snarler, my boy, what's the matter?
You don't look as if pleasure had agreed with you,"
he continued, as he noticed the woe-begone face of
his companion.


" I was thinking of the difference of our lots in
life, Drover," replied Snarler. " Why are we to have
nothing but hard fare and hard work, dull days
and no pleasure ? We are as good as others ; and I
think it is very unjust."

" Ah ! " said Drover ; " now you see the opposite
ways we take things. I never thought of such mat-
ters while I was diverting myself with the sight;
but, when you come to consider of it, you and I
should cut comical figures among a pack of hounds.
We are as good in our line ; but then our lines are
different. There must be house-dogs and shepherd-
dogs; and the gentlemen will tell you there must
be hounds. All right : it has fallen to our lot to be
of the plainer sort. Let us be content."

" Oh that I had been a hound ! " rejoined Snarler.
"Didn't you feel the same, Drover, while we were
looking at them?"

"Well, no," said Drover. "I thought nothing
about changing places ; but if I had, why, I should
have felt very well satisfied to- remember that I was
not the fox just then ! "




"CAW! caw! what's the matter, neighbor?" said
one rook to another building in the same tree.

" Matter enough," was the answer. " All my beau-
tiful work, that looked so clever yesterday, destroyed
by the gales that blew last night."

."Caw! caw!" said the first, flying down to survey
the ruin. " I should have been in the same plight,
neighbor, if I had not been so snug in the fork of
yon branch. Yours is a pleasant place truly, if you
are able to keep it."


" But I can not keep it. Three times now has my
labor been in vain. All blown down. Caw! caw!
caw ! "

By this time many builders had gathered around
the desolated nest.

" Friends," said one, sidling along a branch rather
above them, " it is too bad : it is really a pity ! Your
hearts must have ached, as mine did, to see the
ground of the avenue strewed with sticks and twigs
scattered about hi dismal profusion, showing what
the devastations of last night were : it is high time
to put an end to such evils."

" Caw ! caw ! " cried the rooks. " What are we to

"I will tell you," said the orator. "Go to yon
brazen bird on the top of the church-tower. I have
noticed, that, whenever he turns his head to the wil-
lows, our nests are in danger, if they do not abso-
lutely come down. Tell him plainly that if he will
look that way, we will peck his eyes out."

" Caw ! caw ! " said the rooks ; and, rising in a
cluster and wheeling round, they soon settled on the


church-tower. The weathercock was staring hard at
the north-east point, and could not see them till they
had marshaled themselves on the battlements in
front of him. When they had finished their ha-
rangue of complaints, reproaches, and threats, he
creaked out,

"He! he! he! Excuse me, gentlemen; but I
should have given you rooks credit for more wisdom.
Break your bills if you please in pecking out my
eyes. When you have done, you will be in the same
place that you are now. If you could manage to
lay hold of the north-east wind and punish him, you
would gain your end, and I would turn round with
pleasure ; but as that would be a difficult business,
the best advice I call give you is to go back and
build where he can not injure you, or else to stay
building till he has done blowing."



" How provoking ! " said Betty, as she stood with
her long broom in her hand under the parlor win-

" What's the matter ? " said the vicar, looking out
of it.

"Why, sir, these swallows!" said Betty: "four
times this summer I have knocked down their nests ;
they will build under the slates just above ; and they
make me such work, I've no patience with them."

"Four times! Are you sure they have begun
again four times?" said the vicar with interest.

" Sure enough, sir ; they got the start of me, and
finished their nests the first time before I noticed
them; then I knocked them down with the long
rake, by help of the ladder ; but in two days John
came to tell me they had got a good way on with
new ones. I soon finished them ; but if they didn't
begin again that very evening ! and the next morn-
ing I had a good piece to clear away. I thought
that would tire them out, and didn't look for a time ;


but right in the very same place, when I did look,
were the two nests built up to the top. This shall
be the last time, I said ; and I smashed 'em to atoms,
and away flew all the birds, pretty well scared. But
the obstinate, perverse things won't be conquered.
Here they are again, the nests more than half made.
Please, sir, might John have the gun to shoot them?"
u Oh, no, Betty ! " said the vicar, " by no means."
" Then, sir, I can never get rid of them."
" Don't attempt it, Betty," said the vicar, who had
listened with much attention to her complaints.
" Let them dwell in peace, where they have had such
a trial of patience in building. I wish I may preach
as useful a sermon next Sunday as their example has
preached to me to-day."

Betty looked amazed. "Not knock them down,
sir?" she asked in a tone of vexed surprise.

"No; don't touch them. Every time they twitter,
they will remind me of the injunction, 'Faint not.'
They have gained their parish, and are under my
protection; so take away your broom, Betty," said
the vicar, with a smile, as he closed the window.


" Ah ! " said Betty, as she watched his white head
disappearing; "it's all very good, I dare say, but
master hasn't got to clean the windows."

No, master had not ; but he had trying lessons of
patience with a refractory parish full of perverse
hearts, and had often been tempted to cry out in
despair, " It is enough ; I will no longer work here ;
it is not my place."

Joyfully, therefore, did he take the hint from the
swallows, and determined to build on, saying to him-
self, " Perhaps one more season of patient labor, and,
like them, I may gain my parish."


" How unkind ! " murmured a golden crocus as the
flakes of snow fell fast and thick upon it.

" How very unkind ! " said a company of seedlings
that were briskly putting up their little green heads,
which the soft flakes soon covered.

" How unkind ! " said the bronze buds of the lilac.
" How very unkind ! just as we were opening to the


sun, that shone so kindly on us ! " and they com-
plained till the fleecy burden hid them one by one.

And there was a white world. Then came the
stern frost from the north, and the little fountains
were sealed, and the snow over all things shone like
a crystal case, and the bitter east wind raged
fiercely, and all was silence except where its dismal
voice was heard. But it was hushed at last, and the
sun came gently forth, and the soft and genial west
winds blew, and the streamlets were free again, and
the crystal dissolved, and the snow beneath sank
quietly, gradually, into the earth, saying to the com-
plaining buds and blossoms and beginnings of green
things, "Farewell! I sheltered you from the stern
frost, I protected you from the angry blast : my work
so far is done. Now I go down to soften and enrich
the earth, that you may be sustained and refreshed.
When you have drunk in all its blessings, and are re-
joicing in fullness of strength and beauty, remember
me, whom you received with reproaches and endured
with impatience, and acknowledge that he is the
faithful friend that works to a good end."



"TuKN the pack-horse into the field," said the
fanner, "and open the hay-fence for him. I shall
have stiff work for him to-morrow." So he was
turned out, and tethered to the hay-fence, which was
left open that he might go in and out and eat his fill.

A donkey that was in the same field came up to
him, and said humbly, " Is the hay nice, friend ? "

"Friend" said the pack-horse, kicking up his
heels, " what do you mean ? Know your place ! "

"I ask pardon," said the donkey; " but, as the field
is bare, I thought if you'd a mouthful of hay to
spare, a rough bit that wasn't so pleasant, you
might favor me with it."

K Keep your distance ! " said the pack-horse, again
throwing up his heels. "Do you take me for a
donkey like yourself, that you think we are to eat

Next day the pack-horse was taken from the field,
and laden with sacks of wool till his back was ready
to break.


" Friend," he groaned out to the donkey, who had
the curiosity to look through the gate at him as he
went down the road, "couldn't you should you
mind just carrying one of these sacks for me ? "

" Dear sir," answered the donkey, " I hope I know
my place better, after the lecture you gave me yes-
terday, when I wanted a little of your hay. I
wouldn't take the liberty of attempting to share in
your work, and I can assure you I've no greater wish
to be a pack-horse to-day than you had yesterday to
be a donkey."


"MOTHER! mother! what's that?" said a young
duck, as a water-hen swam over the brook, and ran
across the orchard.

" A water-hen," said the old duck.

" Who is she, mother, and where does she come

" I tell you she is a water-hen," said the old duck,


who was engaged on a fine piece of cabbage, and
didn't like to be interrupted.

"Where does she come from, mother? Is she of
any consequence?"

" She comes from her nest by the brook-side, child.
She's not of half the consequence to me that this
piece of cabbage is."

< But, mother, how does she live ? "

u De*ar, dear ! " said the old duck, " as she can, I
suppose. Do let me finish my dinner!"

" Then she has no beautiful house like ours,
mother, built on purpose for her?"

" No," said the duck, with her mouth full.

"And hasn't her dinner laid regularly for her
every day, as we have?"

" No," said the old duck. Upon which the young
duck went up to the water-hen, and addressed her
very superciliously.

" Do you know that this is our orchard ? "

"Is it?" said the water-hen. "Well, I suppose I
may run through it?"

" And that's our brook/'


" Well, I suppose I may swim across it ? " said the

"You're a person of no consequence," said the

" Quite true," said the hen.

"Have you ever seen our house?" said the duck.

u No," said the hen.

" We have dinner put for us regularly every day,"
said the duck. " We are not obliged to hunt for it,
as you are."

"A dinner is but a dinner," said the water-hen,
"whether it's put for you, or whether you get it
for yourself."

" Yes, but don't you see how much more we are
thought of?" said the duck.

" Yes, I do," said the hen ; " and you'll find it out
to your cost some day, when you are on your way to
market, and I am snug by the brook-side. I'd rather
find my own dinner, and have no value set upon me,
than be pampered and petted like you, and served
up at a table at last."



WHAT a commotion there was on the top of the
wall that over-looked the vicarage garden ! All the
birds, from the blackbird to the blue-tit, and even
the little wren, were hopping and running and chirp-
ing and chattering in a state of the highest excite-

"Friend Robert, have you seen it?" said the
blackbird, with gravity, to a redbreast, who, in the
midst of the confusion, was complacently admiring
his legs.

"What's it like, Bob?" said a pert little bunting,
hopping round in front of him.

" Like ! " said the thrush (before the robin could
answer), with a melancholy warble, "horror of hor-
rors ! Let me never behold such a sight again. I
saw it from the apple-trees in the orchard."

" Let us emigrate ; pray let us emigrate," said the
wren, almost in fits.

"There certainly will be no remaining in such a
land of harpies," said the thrush, dismally.


" What are they like ? what are they like ? " rose
the cry on all sides. " Who has seen them nearer
than from the apple-trees? Can no one describe

"Gentlemen," said a sparrow, advancing, "since
no more worthy speaker comes forward, I presume
to address you. I have seen them; and such a
sight ! This morning very early, being well aware
that the vicar sowed his peas yesterday, I called my
family and a friend or two to go with me, and pick
up a few stray ones that might lie on the top. I
have met with difficulties and dangers before now. I
well remember how severely I was agitated by the
vicaress' old bonnet stuck on a stick, till I found out
what it was; and it was some time before I grew
used to the noise the vicar made with his gun, till it
was happily ascertained that he never did any other
harm than break the window with return shots ; but
little did I expect to encounter the horrible guard
with which he has now sought to protect his peas.
From side to side, from corner to corner, across and
across, they stretch, red, blue, yellow, white, black,


every color under the sun. We had scarcely arrived
within sight of them when the wind arose a little ;
and whether it was that they rejoiced in the breeze,
or were making merry at their expected vengeance
upon us, I can't tell you, but they danced up and
down, and turned over and over like"

" Pray don't go on ! " said the wren. " Let us emi-
grate directly."

There was a general feeling in harmony with the
wren's proposition, and the blackbird was on the
point of taking the votes of the assembly, when the
blue-tit (who had no mind to emigrate from his
beloved peas till he was assured of the necessity, and
who somewhat suspected the sparrow's motives in
thus spreading an alarm which would get rid of all
sharers in the feast) inquired whether any one be-
sides the last speaker had seen these ferocious mon-

No one had.

"Pray," said the tit, "did you go quite close to
them ? " The sparrow confessed that he had.

" Did they attempt to bite ? "


The sparrow said he did not stop to see.

" Did you get any peas f " said the blue-tit.

The sparrow, rather discomposed, replied, " Merely
a taste."

" Very good," said the tit. " Friends, I am ready
to head any of your number who will go with me to
survey these monsters; and, if you all decline, I
shall go by myself. If yonder bundle of brown
feathers escaped unhurt, and got ' a taste ' of the
peas too, I don't see what is to hinder us from the
same good fortune."

The robin, the bunting, the chaffinch, several
others, and at last the blackbird, fell in with the pro-
posal ; the wren declaring she would wait in a hole
in the wall till they came back again. They ap-
proached cautiously, and even the blue-tit was at
first startled by some turkeys' feathers suspended on
a thread and dancmg vigorously in the breeze ; but,
his courage returning, he made a bold advance, and
after a close survey of one or two of the red and
blue rags, finding he came to no harm, flew back to
his friends, and said, "All right! the besi>tempered


little creatures in the world." And the whole party
were soon to be seen hopping under and over the
long lines of the once-dreaded enemy, and regaling
themselves on the vicar's peas.

u John ! John ! " cried the vicar, " these scarecrows
are of no use. I verily believe those thieves have
been at the peas, mind you load the gun to-night!"
but it was of no use : very few peas did the vicar
get that summer.


"How insufferable is this rain!" said a delicate
Carnation to her companion: "it has affected my
figure, giving me quite a bend in the back with its
unmannerly large splashing drops."

" Unendurable ! " was the reply, " and no necessity
for it, as we are well watered by the gardener when-
ever we require it. My complexion will be injured ;
and, as to my perfume, it will be washed away."

"I dislike too much water, as is well known, at


any time ;. what, then, can be the reason of this del-

Thus did the Carnations echo and re-echo com-

A roguish little Pansy, who had blossomed in a
crevice of the wall, looked down on them, and said,
" Pardon me, ladies; you, who are supplied with all
you want by the gardener, may not feel the value of
this blessed shower ; but if you grew on the wall as
I do, and had nothing to expect but what came
straight from above, you would not be so unjust to
its worth. For many days back, I looked up at the
clear sky, hoping to see a cloud. My leaves had
withered, and my blossoms curled up, when these
refreshing drops restored life and joy to me."

"Very fine," said the Carnations proudly; "and
are we to suffer, that a weed on the wall may be

" Nay," replied the Pansy ; " all in our turn, good
ladies : the rain does not fall for me alone ; you are
of the few that suffer from the shower, I am of the
thousands who rejoice in it. If you have not the


heart to be glad in the good of so many, even at the
cost of a slight inconvenience, I am sorry for you,
notwithstanding all your privileges, and can not sym-
pathize with your present complaining."


AMONG some jars of wine of various sizes stood one
considerably smaller than the rest, and it was conse-
quently looked down upon with much contempt by
its companions.

" How many are there of us in all ? " asked a
portly jar.

" Fifteen," cried the little one, " as / count."

" As you count ! " returned the offended vessel dis-
dainfully. " You surely don't so count as to number
yourself among us ! "

" And why not ? " asked the little jar stoutly. " I
am quite full, and what more can any of you be ? I
think our respectability lies in making a perfect use
of our capacity, whatever it may be, and not in hav-
ing a large one or a small one. But I can tell you


another thing, the wine that's in me is three times
as precious as that which you contain ; so that a lit-
tle of me is worth a great deal of you. Quantity is
of no consequence in the value of a thing, but qual-
ity has more to do with it still."


" NEVER associate with pigs, my dears," said a duck
to her young brood, as the sow, with her litter of
ten, passed in the road. "Never associate with
them, children : they are such gluttons, and such re-
markably dirty feeders ! "

Well, if that isn't cool ! " said the old sow, who
heard the charge. " How little we know ourselves !
Why, there isn't a mud-pool that you wouldn't de-
light to poke your bill into; and, as to gluttony,
when were you ever known to stop eating, while
there was any thing to eat ? If you want to remem-
ber yourself, then perhaps you won't be so hard
upon others."




" WHAT an idle vagabond you are ! " said a surly-
looking mastiff to a squirrel that was frolicking
about in the trees above him. The squirrel threw a
nutshell at him. "I've been watching you these two
hours," said the mastiff again, "and you've done
nothing but dance and swing and skip, and whisk
that tail of yours about all the time."


" What an idle dog you must be ! " said the squir-
rel, " to sit for two hours watching me play."

" None of your pertness ! I had done all my work
before I came here."

"Oh, oh!" said the squirrel; "well, my work's
never done. I've business up this tree that you
know nothing about."

" Business indeed ! I know of no business that
you have but kicking up your heels, and eating nuts,
and pelting honest folks with the shells."

" Fie ! " said the squirrel, " don't be ill-tempered ; "
and he dropped another nutshell at him.

" To see the difference there is ! " said the mastiff;
" nothing but play and pleasure for you, up in the
green trees, amusing yourself from morning to

" Don't envy me my lot, friend," said the squirrel ;
" for, although I rejoice in the happiness of it, I must
remind you it isn't all joy. Summer doesn't last for
ever ; and what becomes of me, do you think, when
the trees are bare, and the wind howls through the
forest, and the fruits are gone? Remember that


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Online LibraryMrs. (Sophie Amelia) ProsserFables for the young folks → online text (page 3 of 6)