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Produced by Annie R. McGuire



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Tuesday, May 3, 1881. Copyright, 1881, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50 per
Year, in Advance.

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[Illustration: Three Sisters]

A May-Day Story for Girls


"'Across the little covered bridge, and then along the village street
about quarter of a mile.' Do go on, mother."

Pidgie Mullen looked up at her pale mother with a sweet, flushed
eagerness, which brought her a trembling kiss, as Mrs. Mullen answered,
"You know the story better than I do now, dear!"

"Yes," said little invalid Belle from her pillow on the lounge, "and
then you turned up the narrow north road - a very, very shady, cold
road - and went up hill, and up hill, and up hill. Oh, you tell it,
mother, you make it so much nicer!"

So the tired little mother, working hard from day to day for her
fatherless young brood, waited a few moments before lighting the evening
lamp for her sewing, and told the girls for the five-hundredth time the
lovely story of how she used to go "May-flowering" when she was a little
girl. Just as she was closing, a light step was heard on the stairs, and
in came Cherry. Cherry was fifteen, and she took care every day - coming
home at night - of the children of Mrs. Lester, in the big house around
the corner.

"I heard you before I opened the door," she began, laughing, and kissing
her mother. "I knew it was the same old story, and that you had just
about got to the place where you fell into the brook, and the arbutus
went sailing off down stream. I declare I'd enjoy hearing it over again

"Not to-night," said her mother, smiling. "I must go to work now, and
you will have to rub Belle, and give her her medicine, and put her to

The short hour of rest was over, and Mrs. Mullen turned wearily again to
her sewing. Pidgie took up her books and began to study, and Cherry and
Belle went into the little bedroom close by, where Cherry gently
undressed her feeble little sister.

"Oh, Cherry," said Belle, who, though only two years younger than
Cherry, was no taller than ten-year-old Pidgie, and not nearly so
heavy - "oh, Cherry, it seems as though if I could only go up to that
dear little village where mother used to live, and get some May-flowers,
and smell them, and the fresh earth! Oh, Cherry!" - the tears streamed
down the child's thin cheeks - "I wouldn't tell mother for the world, for
I know she would feel so badly; but I'm so very, very tired of the city,
and I seem to grow sicker and sicker."

"It isn't very nice up in the country in this April weather," said
Cherry, cheerfully. "The roads are muddy, and there's lots of rain and
snow. Mother says it's often horrid."

"Only," interrupted Belle, "when there _is_ a pleasant day, it is
perfectly splendid."

"Yes," said Cherry, doubtfully, "but I fancy they don't come more than
once a week or so."

"Oh yes," cried Belle, deprecatingly, "oftener than that."

"It costs nearly four dollars a ticket to go up there, too," continued

"Yes, I know" - Belle spoke a trifle crossly and impatiently, she was so
tired, and so weak, and so seldom "had anything" - "I know I can't go,
but it must smell very sweet up there; and oh! I'd love to go."

"Dear little sister," said Cherry, tucking her in tenderly, and setting
a tumbler of water and a call-bell and the camphor bottle on the little
stand by the bedside, "maybe we'll have things some time." She kissed
Belle softly, and then went back to sit by her mother. Soon her needle
was flying fast too. Cherry was a good girl, and they all depended a
great deal upon her.

"Your story reminds me, mother," said Cherry, as she sewed, "that I saw
some bunches of May-flowers for sale when I was out walking with the
children to-day."

"Did you?" said Mrs. Mullen, in some surprise. "They are very early this

"Yes," said Cherry, absently. "I asked the woman how much they cost, and
she said twenty-five cents, but that they would be ten by a week more."

"I wish that we could pick a few bushels from the great banks of them
that stretch along by the brook that I have told you about."

"Are there so many as that?" Cherry's voice was full of astonishment,
and Pidgie looked up from her book, and began to grow interested.

"Oh yes," said her mother, "and back on the hill there are banks more
that open later."

Cherry thought hard that night until she fell asleep. The next day she
had a long conversation with Mrs. Lester, and at night she had another
one with her mother.

"Dear Cherry," Mrs. Mullen said, as Cherry rose at last to cover the
fire and go to bed, "if you can get the money, and if you feel sure that
you can take the whole charge of Belle and all, why, I'll write up to my
old school-mate, Mrs. Rogers - how I'd love to see her again! - and I'm
sure that she would keep you; but I don't see how you'll ever do it."

But in less than a week after this conversation, such was Cherry's
business-like promptness, a hack came to the door and bore Cherry and
pale little Belle, in whose tired eyes a new light was shining, to the
railroad station; and late in the afternoon they alighted at the door of
the big, old-fashioned mansion in Clearpond, where Mrs. Rogers lived,
and where they were very near the house in which Mrs. Mullen had lived
twenty years before. Alas! the dear grandfather and grandmother and the
uncles and aunts were all dead or scattered now!

Belle had borne the journey wonderfully well. It is amazing how much
happiness will help us to bear!

The secret of all this was that Cherry, as you must have already
suspected, had determined in her own quick, brave little mind, to take
Belle and come up into the country to pick May-flowers!

Early the next morning, having fixed Belle up as well as she could, and
promising to bring her some May-flowers by noon, Cherry set off to see
what she could see.

"Across the little covered bridge," just as her mother had said, "about
a quarter of a mile through the village street, then a sharp turn to the
right, then up the narrow, cold north road."

A steep tug for half a mile. Then into the pastures. Ah! how lovely it
was! Cherry looked off, and saw the river below, and beyond it the
mountain that her mother had so often told her about. The day was one of
those rare sunny ones that Belle had hoped for. The sunlight seemed to
sift through the air in even, kindly measure upon everything. Cherry sat
down upon a big stone, and warmed and rested herself after her long,
cold journey up "the very, very shady road." Then she fell to work:
Alas! alas! she found the green leaves of the arbutus, which she knew
very well, all about - by poking for them under the brown covering of
last year's twigs and foliage - but though there were green buds in
profusion, she found only half a dozen tiny half-opened fragrant

"Well," thought Cherry, bravely, but, after all, with a sinking at
heart, for she feared that the flowers wouldn't open for a week, "it's
better to be too early than too late, and Mrs. Lester has said that I
might stay a month - but I do wish that they were open now."

As she walked down the quiet road she felt very lonesome.

"How nice it would be," she wished, "if Belle would only get well enough
to climb the hill with me!" But Cherry sighed. She feared that dear
little Belle would never get well enough to climb such a hill as that.
Altogether Cherry felt a bit blue. As she neared the pretty village,
however, she remembered the myriads of buds that she had left behind
her, and how happy Belle was, and before she had taken her hat off,
these thoughts, and the sunshine, and the sweet spring smells that were
blowing all about her on the soft spring breezes, had brought a color to
her face and a gayety to her manner that quite overcame little Belle,
waiting with almost pathetic eagerness at the window to welcome her

"I tried to lie down - I really did, Cherry," she said; "but I thought
I'd walk out into Aunty Rogers's garden - she says always call her
_Aunty_ Rogers - and see her daffodils, and I did."

"You did!" cried Cherry, her cup of delight overflowing. "What! after
that journey, and everything? Why, it's splendid! But I'm afraid you've

"Oh no." Belle's happy voice did not sound at all alarming.

"See here," said Cherry, drawing out a spray of arbutus from her basket.
"_Almost_ May-flowers, Belle. Just smell of them." The half-opened
little buds were indeed as fragrant as though they were in their prime.

The sick girl's face flushed. She ran to the lounge, and hid her face in
the pillow.

"Oh, Cherry," she cried, looking up a moment later, tearful but smiling,
"if mamma were only here, I should be perfectly happy!"

Just then Aunty Rogers came in to call them to supper.

"Well, well," she said, pleasantly, "I can't see what folks dew think so
much o' them little May-flowers for. I'm sure my daffies is a great deal
handsomer. But then they be sweet-scented, May-flowers be, and I'm glad
they're here, seeing you like 'em."

That night the little spray was placed in a vase by Belle's camphor
bottle on the table.

"I don't believe I'll want the camphor to-night, Cherry," she said; "the
May-flowers'll be all I'll want. If I wake up in the night, I'll smell
of them." And, at the risk of anticipating my story a little, I must
tell you that the camphor bottle was never put back again.

The next day was a warm and showery one, a hot sun blazing out between
the quiet little rains. Cherry did not go up on the hill at all. In
fact, young and strong as she was, and soundly as she had slept on Aunty
Rogers's plump feather-bed, she was a trifle lame after her unaccustomed
exertions of the day before.

"If it's May-flowers you want," said Aunty Rogers, as she looked out at
the April weather, "this'll fetch 'em quicker'n anything else, an'
there'll be more'n a fortnit of 'em, countin' in them that's back on the
hill. They're dretful late."

It was only five o'clock the next morning when Cherry Mullen stepped
briskly up the "cold north road." She carried with her two big
market-baskets. Aunty Rogers had assured her that if she only looked
"long-side o' them clumps o' laurels that's scattered on the west side,
across from the old Thayer place," she would find plenty of arbutus
after such a day as the one before. So Cherry felt very comfortable in
the bright morning, as she marched along, munching a big slice of bread
and butter with great zeal.

She went home at ten, and though she had to take one market-basket
empty - for she was still a little hasty in her expectations - the other
was quite full of such delicate, fragrant, rose-tinted arbutus as grows
only, I believe, in Clearpond.

Once home, you would have thought that Cherry would have thrown herself
on the lounge to rest, for she was pretty tired; but she did no such
thing. On the contrary, she sat down with a pair of scissors, beside the
mass of pink fragrant blossoms, and industriously culled and clustered
the brightest among them, under the delighted supervision of dear little
Belle, into dozens of sweet little bouquets, each with its sprig of
"running pine," and its bright furbishing of partridge or checker
berries. These she sprinkled, and bringing out from her trunk a
mysterious roll, which Belle had inquired about several times, she cut
off a generous allowance of cotton batting, dampened it, and carefully
surrounding her precious little nosegays with it, she put them into a
box, tied it up, and sent it by the noon train to "Miss Pidgie Mullen."

The train reached the city at four o'clock, and a bright, modest little
girl was at the station to welcome it, and to bear away the box as soon
as the express agent could hand it to her. Cherry had told her just how
to do it.

Then catching a car, she was soon at a certain prominent street, where
she got off. The gentlemen and ladies who were sauntering along this
street presently saw such an array of fresh spring blossoms before them
that very few of them felt that they could resist buying, for ten cents,
a bunch of the lovely things, and by a little after six Pidgie's boxful
was entirely gone.

Then she ran home, and up the narrow, creaking stairs her light step
passed more lightly and joyously than ever.

"I meant to save one for you, mamma," she cried, excitedly; "but a
gentleman came along just as I was starting for home, and he said, 'None
left?' 'Only one.' I told him I was going to take that to my mother.
'Won't this do just as well?' he said, and he held up a silver quarter.
'Oh, it's only ten cents,' I told him. 'But if I take your mother's,' he
said, 'of course I ought to pay more,' and he took the bunch - it was
such a sweet bunch, mamma! - and tossed me the quarter. And just look
here!" and Pidgie emptied her porte-monnaie, full of shining silver
pieces, into her mother's lap.

This kind of life was continued by the Mullens for nearly a month. The
grand event of that month up in the country was the celebration of the
1st of May, a week after Cherry and Belle had arrived there. This
consisted - as the 1st of May was one of the very sunniest and most
delightful that ever was seen - of a kind of picnic, in which Aunty
Rogers and her husband participated, and which was actually attended by
Belle. She was carried up to the pasture in Mr. Rogers's wagon,
scrambled out to the arbutus beds on her own little feet, with Cherry's
help, and finding a seat on a big warm rock beside the little brook, ate
some of Aunty Rogers's nice sandwiches there with a relish which a week
before was quite unknown to her.

Then there was a surprise. Mr. Rogers had built a fire, hung a kettle
over it between some crotched sticks, and was soon stirring with a long
stick a mass of golden-colored liquid, which gave out an odor that
Cherry declared was almost as good as that of her beautiful flowers.
Before long Mr. Rogers conducted her and Belle to a cool, shady place,
just on the edge of the woods, where the sun had spared, as in several
other similar spots, a great solid snow-drift. From this the top was
scraped smoothly away, leaving a shining hard white surface, on which
Aunty Rogers dropped spoonful after spoonful of the clear, fragrant
syrup, which hardened as it touched the snow into delicious maple wax.
The girls had never eaten anything so nice before, and they thought that
they never had enjoyed themselves quite so well as in the sunshine of
that exquisite May-day, picking sweet flowers, watching the swift,
sparkling little brook, and eating the delicious sugar that had been
made only the March before from Mr. Rogers's own maple-trees. Belle said
that she gained a whole pound of flesh that day, and indeed perhaps she
did. She certainly gained several pounds before the time came for them
to go back to the city again.

For that time did really come, just before the May glided into June.
Nearly every day during the delightful four weeks of their happy visit
Cherry had trudged early up to the pasture with her baskets, coming back
in time to make up her sweet bouquets for the noon train, and resting
through the long pleasant afternoons; and every day in the city, when
school was done, a merry, tidy little girl hurried down to the express
office, and back to the busy streets laden with the fresh pink nosegays,
for which the frequenters of those streets soon learned to watch with
interest, and which they bought generously. Indeed, Pidgie's demands,
like Oliver Twist's, for "more," grew so urgent, and her reports of her
profits were so encouraging, that Cherry had to employ one of the
neighbors' boys to go up in the pastures with her every morning during
the last ten days of her stay. But she did not have to get any one to
help her "make them up," for Belle, under the longed-for country air and
sights and sounds, grew able to help her herself, and before she went
home she could do quite the lion's share of that work.




"I wish my mother would never have company. A fellow can't get enough to
eat when people are staring at him."

As I was visiting Frank's mother at the time, I thought this remark was
rather personal. I suppose I blushed. At any rate, Frank at once added,

"Now, Aunt Marjorie, I did not mean you when I said that; I meant
strangers, like ministers, and gentlemen from out West, and young

"Oh," said I, "I am very glad to be an exception, and to be assured that
I do not embarrass you. Really, Frank, it is an unfortunate thing to be
so diffident that you can not take a meal in comfort when guests are at
the table. I suppose you do not enjoy going out to dine yourself?"

"No," he said; "I just hate it."

Perhaps one reason why boys and girls do not feel so comfortable and so
at ease as they might on special occasions at the table is because they
do not take pains to be perfectly polite when there is no one present
but the ordinary home folks. In the first place, we owe it to ourselves
always to look very neat and nice at our own tables. Nobody should
presume to sit down to a meal without making a proper toilet beforehand.
Boys ought to be careful that their hair is brushed, their hands and
faces clean, their nails free from stain and soil, and their collars and
ties in order before they approach the table. A very few moments spent
in this preparation will freshen them up, and give them the outward
appearance of little gentlemen. I hope girls do not need to be cautioned

Then there are some things which good manners render necessary, but
about which every one is not informed. Of course you know that you are
not to eat with your knife. Fifty years ago people frequently ate with
their knives, and it is quite possible that now and then you may see
some old-fashioned person doing so; but it is not customary now, nor is
it safe or convenient. When you send your plate for a second helping, or
when it is about to be removed, you should leave your knife and fork
side by side upon it.

It is not polite to help yourself too generously to butter. Salt should
be placed on the edge of the plate, never on the table-cloth. Do not
drink with a spoon in the cup, and never drain the very last drop. Bread
should be buttered on the plate; and cut a bit at a time, and eaten in
that way. Eating should go on quietly, and not hastily. Nothing is worse
than to make a noise with the mouth while eating, and to swallow food
with noticeable gulps.

Do not think about yourself, and fancy that you are the object of
attraction to your neighbors. Poor Frank's unhappy state of mind was
caused by his thinking too much about himself, as well as by a little
uncertainty as to what were precisely the right things to be done.




He was a sailor old and bold,
And he had sailed the seas
For forty years and more, and bore
The marks of sun and breeze.
And now to stay at home he'd come,
Delighted with the noise,
That others much perplexed and vexed,
Of many girls and boys.
His sisters' children they, and gay
As any elfish throng,
And never tired they grew, 'tis true,
Of briny tale and song;
And this he told one night, by light
Of stars and silver moon,
And chorus all joined in with din,
But not a scrap of tune.


Oh! it was a party in the deep blue sea -
Fishing-Frog and the Whale were the givers -
One bright summer eve, and their funny finny friends
Came in shoals from the oceans and rivers.
The Skate and his wife skated gayly along,
Making all kinds of comical faces,
And the Drum-fish he drummed, and the Skipper he skipped,
And the Porgy and the Shad swam races.
Sing ri-toodle-dum and ri-toodle-dee
For the jolly old party in the deep blue sea,

The Pipe-Fish invited the company to smoke,
The Lobster threw somersaults by dozens,
The Pilot-Fish escorted the Prawns and the Shrimps,
And the Crab clan, their queer-looking cousins;
The Saw-Fish and Sword-Fish of saws and swords bragged,
The Flat-Fish and Gudgeons round them flocking,
And Torpedo and the Eel (the electric) behaved
In a way that was really most shocking.
Sing ri-toodle-dum and ri-toodle-dee
For the merry old party in the deep blue sea,

And they splashed, and they dashed, and they spouted and jumped,
And the Flying-Fish flew - such a wonder
And the Walking-Fish walked with his climbing friend Perch,
And the Sea-Lion roared like young thunder.
But at last, near the morn, the Whale gave a yawn,
An example the Fishing-Frog followed,
And the party was quite over when their months closed again,
For the guests, every one had been swallowed.
Sing ri-toodle-dum and ri-toodle-dee
For the jolly old party in the deep blue sea,



The clock in the castle had just sounded forth the hour of noon. It was
in the little German town of Hausewitz, and the narrow, roughly paved
street that ran in front of the High School was soon filled with
students, all wearing tiny green caps set jauntily on the side of the
head, and seemingly stuck there with mucilage.

"Yes, Albert," one of a pair was saying, as the two strolled off
homeward together, "the time has come to carry out our plan."

"It has," solemnly responded the other, who was rather a
delicate-looking youth with blue eyes and yellow hair. "Now or never;
but which way shall we go?"

"Oh, I'll attend to that later, if you'll only say you're ready whenever
I am;" and Rudolph Schweizer looked down upon his companion (who was a
few inches shorter than himself) with a sort of majestic air that he no
doubt thought eminently befitting the only son of one of the first
lawyers in Hausewitz.

Before Albert could reply, some friends joined them, and the subject was

Now the project about which there was this touch of mystery was no less
a one than that of emigrating to America, in order to escape serving in
the army. The lads had selected the United States as their destination,
because they imagined that there everybody speedily became possessed of
fabulous wealth, as all the tourists from that country who put up for a
night or two at the Golden Grape-vine Hotel seemed to be blessed with an
unlimited supply of money.

They had been cherishing the scheme for months, and from having talked
it over so often it had come to assume to them the proportions of an
event that had almost grown into an actuality.

"Come around this afternoon after school, Albert," called out Rudolph,
as the friends separated at the market-place. And thus, quarter past
four found the two in young Schweizer's room in earnest consultation.

They agreed that the whole enterprise was to be conditional, and that no
risks were to be run; that is, if the boys could find no opening at
Hamburg for them to work their passage on some vessel to New York, they
would return to Hausewitz again, and confess to only going as far as the
sea-port, saying nothing about the grander scheme they had had in view.

"You see," explained Rudolph, "we'll divide our plan into air-tight
compartments, so to speak, such as they have on the steamers: the first
one from here to Hamburg, and the second from there to New York; for if
within two weeks, say, after our arrival out there we are not on a
straight road to making our fortunes, we can close up the other
compartment, and work our way back again. We'll do the thing on
first-class business principles, and not in the old-fashioned
runaway-boy style. Now how much can you give toward the expenses of our
journey to Hamburg? We'd better reckon in dollars, so as to be sure of
how much we'll have left when we get to America. The fare from here,
second class - "

"But why can't we go third class?" interrupted Albert. "We don't expect
to meet any of our friends on the way - or at least it is to be hoped we
sha'n't - and then we'd have so much more to help us along in New York."

"All right, then, we'll reckon on third," replied Rudolph, rather

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, May 3, 1881 → online text (page 1 of 4)