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Title: Artful Anticks
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Artful Anticks


  Artful Anticks

  Oliver Herford


  New York
  The Century Co.

  Copyright, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894,

  Copyright, 1894, by OLIVER HERFORD.


Table of Contents.


  THE AUDACIOUS KITTEN                                               1

  THE ARTFUL ANT                                                     4

  THE GIFTED ANT                                                    10

  SIR RAT. A Comedy                                                 16

  THE DECEITFUL DORMICE                                             22

  NATURE AND ART                                                    24

  THE GEOMETRICAL GIRAFFE                                           25

  THE EARLY OWL                                                     32

  A DARK CAREER                                                     35

  A PACKET OF LETTERS                                               37

  THE NAUGHTY FAY                                                   43

  THE MILLER’S QUEST                                                46

  NELL’S FAIRY TALE                                                 50

  THE UNFORTUNATE GIRAFFE                                           52

  STOCKINGS OR SCALES                                               53

  A RIDDLE                                                          54

  GOOD-BYE                                                          56

  THE PROFESSOR AND THE WHITE VIOLET                                58

  THE FIRST ROSE OF SUMMER                                          60

  THE ELF AND THE DORMOUSE                                          62

  THE CROCODILE                                                     64

  THE FORGETFUL FORGET-ME-NOT                                       69

  THE BIRDS’ FAREWELL                                               72

  THE SPIDER’S TALE                                                 73

  HIGHLY CONNECTED                                                  78

  THE MISER ELF                                                     79

  THE POINT OF VIEW                                                 84

  HEROES                                                            88

  A BELATED VIOLET                                                  89

  THE PARROT AND THE CUCKOO                                         92

  THE ELF AND THE BEE                                               96

  A FABLE                                                           97

  THE FAIRIES’ CONCERT                                              98

  The pictures in “The Point of View” are used by permission of Messrs.
    Harper and Brothers.

Artful Anticks

The Audacious Kitten.


    “Hurray!” cried the kitten, “Hurray!”
      As he merrily set the sails;
    “I sail o’er the ocean to-day
      To look at the Prince of Wales!”

    “O kitten! O kitten!” I cried,
      “Why tempt the angry gales?”
    “I’m going,” the kitten replied,
      “To look at the Prince of Wales!

    “I know what it is to get wet,
       I’ve tumbled full oft into pails
     And nearly been drowned--and yet
       I _must_ look at the Prince of Wales!”

    “O kitten!” I cried, “the Deep
       Is deeper than many pails!”
     Said the kitten,“I shall not sleep
       Till I’ve looked at the Prince of Wales!”

    “O kitten! pause at the brink,
      And think of the sad sea tales.”
    “Ah, yes,” said the kitten, “but think,
      Oh, think of the Prince of Wales!”


    “But, kitten!” I cried, dismayed,
      “If you live through the angry gales
     You _know_ you will be afraid
       To look at the Prince of Wales!”

     Said the kitten, “No such thing!
       Why should he make me wince?
     If ‘_a Cat may look at a King_,’
       A kitten may look at a Prince!”


The Artful Ant.


    Once on a time an artful Ant
      Resolved to give a ball,
    For tho’ in stature she was scant,
      She was not what you’d call
    A shy or bashful little Ant.
      (She was not shy at all.)

    She sent her invitations through
      The forest far and wide,
    To all the Birds and Beasts she knew,
      And many more beside.
    (“You never know what you can do,”
      Said she, “until you’ve tried.”)

    Five score acceptances came in
      Faster than she could read.
    Said she: “Dear me! I’d best begin
      To stir myself indeed!”
    (A pretty pickle she was in,
      With five-score guests to feed!)


     The artful Ant sat up all night,
       A-thinking o’er and o’er,
     How she could make from nothing, quite
       Enough to feed five-score.
     (Between ourselves I think she might
       Have thought of that before.)

     She thought, and thought, and thought all night,
       And all the following day,
     Till suddenly she struck a bright
       Idea, which was--(but stay!
     Just what it was I am not quite
       At liberty to say.)


     Enough, that when the festal day
       Came round, the Ant was seen
     To smile in a peculiar way,
       As if--(but you may glean
     From seeing tragic actors play
       The kind of smile I mean.)

     From here and there and everywhere
       The happy creatures came,
     The Fish alone could not be there.
       (And they were not to blame.
    “They really could not stand the air,
      But thanked her just the same.”)



    The Lion, bowing very low,
      Said to the Ant: “I ne’er
    Since Noah’s Ark remember so
      Delightful an affair.”
    (A pretty compliment, although
      He really wasn’t there.)

    They danced, and danced, and danced, and danced;
      It was a jolly sight!
    They pranced, and pranced, and pranced, and pranced,
      Till it was nearly light!
    And then their thoughts to supper chanced
      To turn. (As well they might!)

    Then said the Ant: “It’s only right
      That supper should begin,
    And if you will be so polite,
      Pray _take each other in_.”
    (The emphasis was very slight,
      But rested on “_Take in_.”)

    They needed not a second call,
      They took the hint. Oh, yes,
    The largest guest “took in” the small,
      The small “took in” the less,
    The less “took in” the least of all.
      (It was a great success!)


    As for the rest--but why spin out
      This narrative of woe?--
    The Lion took them in about
      As fast as they could go.
    (And went home looking very stout,
      And walking very slow.)

    And when the Ant, not long ago,
      Lost to all sense of shame,
    Tried it again, I chance to know
      That not one answer came.
    (Save from the Fish, who “could not go,
      But thanked her all the same.”)




    A gifted ant, who could no more
    Than keep starvation from her door,
    Once cast about that she might find
    An occupation to her mind.

    An ant with active hands and feet
    Can, as a rule, make both ends meet.
    Unhappily, this was not quite
    The case with her of whom I write.

    “Since I am gifted,” she’d explain,
    “I ought to exercise my brain.
     The only thing for me, it’s clear,
     Is a professional career!”



     But no profession could she find,
     Until one day there crossed her mind
     The proverb bidding sluggards gaze
     Upon the ant to learn her ways.

    “The very thing!” she cried. “Hurray!
     I’ll advertise without delay.
     Things are come to a pretty pass,
     If I can’t teach a sluggard class!”

     She set to work without delay,
     And wrote some cards that very day;
     And hung them in the grass--a plan
     To catch the sluggard’s eye. They ran

As follows:


    SLUGGARDS who desire
    An education to acquire
    Will find it well to call to-day
    Upon Professor Ant, B. A.
    HER Sluggard Class, she begs to state,
    Reopens at an early date
    With several vacancies--a chance

    _Terms--In Advance_.

[Illustration: To The Ant]

     She placed at every turn that led
     To her abode, a sign which read,
    “Go to the Ant,” and hung beside
     Her picture, highly magnified.

     Said she, “At least that cannot fail
     To bring a Turtle, Sloth, or Snail,
     A Dormouse, or a Boy, to learn
     Their livelihood (and mine) to earn!

    “I’ll teach them, first of all, to see
     The joyousness of industry;
     And they, to grasp my meaning more,
     Shall gather in my winter store.

    “The Beauty of Abstemiousness
     I’ll next endeavor to impress
     Upon their minds at meals. (N. B.
     That is--if they should board with me.)


    “Then Architecture they shall try
     (My present house is far from dry)--
     In short, all Honest Toil I’ll teach
     (And they shall practise what I preach).”


    Alas, for castles in the air!--
    There’s no delusion anywhere
    Quite so delusive as, I fear,
    Is a professional career.

    So thought the ant last time we met.
    She only has _one_ sluggard yet,
    Who scantly fills her larder shelf--
    It is, I grieve to say, _herself_!


[Illustration: Sir Rat.


_Persons of the Drama._


SCENE: _The barn. A basket in one corner._

    MASTER TOMMY (_looking out of the basket_).
        How very big the world is, after all!
        Compared to it our basket seems quite small,
        We never dreamed, dear Fluffy, till our eyes
        Were opened, that the world was such a size.
        I’d like at once to see it all. Let’s go
        And take a stroll around it.


    FLUFFY.                      No! No! No!
        Mama expressly told us not to stray
        Outside the basket while she was away.
        Something might happen if we disobeyed.

    TOMMY. Oh, you’re a girl--of course you are afraid!

    FLUFFY. Suppose--oh, dear!--suppose we meet a Rat!

    TOMMY. Suppose we do, dear Fluffy, what of that?
        _I_ will protect you with my strong right paw.
        The sight of me would fill a Rat with awe.

    FLUFFY. Would it?

    TOMMY. Of course it would. I’d like to see
        The Rat who’d dare to trifle once with me,
        I do not think he’d live to try it twice!

    FLUFFY. You are so brave! It really would be nice
        To see the world--

    TOMMY. It will be grand. Here goes!
        There, take my paw, and jump. So, mind your toes!

(_Fluffy jumps._)

        Now we are off. Tread softly, Sister dear,
        If we’re not careful all the world may hear.

    FLUFFY (_starting_).
        Oh, dear, what was that noise? I wish we’d stayed--

    TOMMY (_trembling_).
        Be brave, dear Sister,--see, _I’m_ n’-n’-not a’-afraid.
        Whatever happens, do not make a row!



               (_Enter_ SIR RAT.)

SIR RAT.         Aha! what’s this?

    TOMMY.         Help! Murder! Mi-ow-_ow_!

    FLUFFY. Tommy, be calm! _Dear_ Mr. Rat, good day.

    SIR RAT (_jumping up and down_).
        Enough! enough! I did not come to play!

    FLUFFY. _Dear_ Mr. Rat, how beautifully you dance.

    SIR RAT.    You flatter me.

    FLUFFY (_aside_).    It is my only chance.


          (_To_ TOMMY.)

    Run, Tommy! run! and bring dear Father-cat,
    While I remain and flatter Mr. Rat.

(_Exit_ TOMMY, _in haste_.)

                  (_To_ SIR RAT.)

        It’s very plain you learned that step in France.
        I wish, dear Rat, you’d teach _me_ how to dance.

    SIR RAT. I do not often dancing-lessons give;
        But since you haven’t very long to live,
        And you are _so_ polite, this once I’ll try.

    FLUFFY. Thanks! thanks, dear Rat,--one dance before I die.

       (_Polka music. Sir Rat dances and Fluffy applauds._)

    FLUFFY. Bravo! Sir Rat, I never saw before
        Such perfect dancing! Won’t you dance once more?

    SIR RAT. Be done with folly, Kitten! Now at last
        Your time has come. Reflect upon your past!

    FLUFFY. It won’t take long my past life to unfold!
        In sooth, Sir Rat, I’m only nine days old.

    SIR RAT. Peace, Kitten! Hold thy peace!--thy time is past.

                                         (_Springs upon her._)


    FLUFFY. Miow! Miow!


            (_Enter_ MR. _and_ MRS. CAT _and_ TOMMY.)

    MR. CAT.       Aha! Sir Rat, at last
        I have thee; and this barn will soon, I trow,
        Be rid of such a Ruffian Rat as thou!

               (_They fight. Sir Rat falls._)

    MR. CAT (_sheathing his claws_).
        ’Tis well I hastened; had I not, I fear
        We soon had seen the last of Fluffy dear!


    TOMMY. Oh, dear, to think what might have been her fate!

    FLUFFY (_aside_). I learned that Polka step, at any rate.

    MRS. CAT. But luncheon’s waiting. Come into the house.
        Your father caught to-day a fine spring mouse.
        And, children, when I tell you not to stray
        From home, in future do not disobey!



[Illustration: ✙THE END OF SIR RAT✙]

The Deceitful Dormice.


    A sleepy Dormouse who had passed
              The winter in her nest,
            Hearing that spring had come at last,
              Got up at once and dressed,

            And, hastening from her downy house
              To hail the new spring day,
            She ran against another mouse
              That lived across the way.

    The shock was such, at first the two
      Could scarcely speak for lack
    Of breath. Then each cried, “Oh, it’s _you!_!
      Why, when did you get back?”

    “I’ve only just return’d, my dear,”
      The sleepy Dormouse said,
    “From Florida--the winters here,
      You know, affect my head.”

    “Have you, indeed?” exclaimed her friend.
      “I’m glad to see you home.
    I, too, have just returned--I spend
      _My_ winters down in Rome.”

    With many pawshakes then, at last
      They parted--each to say,
    “I wonder where that creature passed
      The winter--anyway!”


Nature and Art.


    Said a lady who wore a swell cape,
    As she viewed a Rhinoceros, agape,
       “To think in this age
        A Beast in a cage
    Is permitted our fashions to ape!”

    Thought the Beast in the cage, “I declare,
    One would think that these Ladies so fair
        Who come to the Zoo
        Have nothing to do
    But copy the things that I wear!”

[Illustration: The Geometrical Giraffe.]

    Professor Pikestaffe, Ph. D.,
      While wandering over land and sea,
      Once on the plains of Timbuctoo
      Met a giraffe.

     “Why, how d’ ye do!”
      Exclaimed the amiable Pikestaffe.
     “I’m really charmed, my dear Giraffe!
      I’ve thought so much of you of late,
      Our meeting seems a stroke of Fate
      Particularly fortunate.
      I long have had upon my mind
      Something concerning you; be kind
      Enough to seat yourself, and pray
      Excuse, if what I have to say
      Seems personal!”


                    “My dear Pikestaffe,
     I shall be charmed,” said the Giraffe,
    “To hear whatever you may say.
     You are too kind; go on, I pray.”

    “Well, then,” said Pikestaffe, “to resume,
     You are aware, sir, I presume,
     That though with your long neck at ease
     You crop the leaves upon the trees,
     Your legs are quite _too_ long, and make
     It difficult for you to slake
     Your thirst--in other words, you’ve found
     Your neck too short to reach the ground.
     Indeed, I’ve often wept to think
     How hard it is for you to drink.


    “To right a wrong we must, of course,
     First try to ascertain the source;
     And in this case we find the cause
     In certain geometric laws,
     Which I will quickly demonstrate
     (How lucky that I brought my slate!).

    “Well, to begin, let line A B
     Be your front legs; then line A C
     (A shorter line) your neck shall be.
     Measured, ’twill only reach so far,
     When bent down toward the ground, as R.


    Then R’s your head stretched down, and shows
    How far the ground lies from your nose--
    Though if the ground lay not at B,
    But R, you’d reach it easily.
    Suppose it then at R to lie,
    And draw for ground line D R I.
    Your head then touches ground at R--
    But now your feet go down too far!
    My compasses then I will lay
    On A and B, and make round A
    A circle crossing line D I
    At two points. Mark them X and Y;


    Then draw from X and Y to A
    Two lines; then it is safe to say
    That line A X and line A Y
    Equal A B, _being radii
    Of the same circle_, as you see
    (According to geometry).
    But since at first we did agree
    A B your length of leg should be,
    These, being equal to A B,
    Are just the same as legs, you see.
    So now on legs A X, A Y.
    You stand upon the ground D I,
    And drink your fill; for, as I said,
    D I is touched by R, your head.



     Thus we have proved--”

           *       *       *       *       *

                     What happened here
     Professor Pikestaffe has no clear
     Impression, but the little row
     Of stars above will serve to show
     What madly reeled before his eyes,
     As he went whirling to the skies.
     Below he heard a mocking laugh,
     That seemed to come from the Giraffe:
    “Go up! go up! You’ve proved enough;
     You’ve proved geometry is stuff!
     You’ve proved, till I am well nigh dead,
     And feel a thumping in my head,
     That I must spread my feet apart
     To take a drink--why, bless your heart!
     I knew that long ere you were born.
     I laugh geometry to scorn.”

           *       *       *       *       *

        Professor Pikestaffe, Ph. D.,
        They say, has dropped geometry--
        It seems he dropped his slate as well,
        Which lies exactly where it fell
        (Also the diagram he drew)
        Upon the plains of Timbuctoo.


[Illustration: The Early Owl]

     An Owl once lived in a hollow tree,
       And he was as wise as wise could be.
     The branch of Learning _he_ didn’t know
       Could scarce on the tree of knowledge grow.
     He knew the tree from branch to root,
       And an Owl like that can afford to hoot.

     And he hooted--until, alas! one day
       He chanced to hear, in a casual way,
     An insignificant little bird
       Make use of a term he had never heard.
     He was flying to bed in the dawning light
       When he heard her singing with all her might,
    “Hurray! hurray for the early worm!”

    “Dear me!” said the Owl, “what a singular term!
     I would look it up if it weren’t so late;
       I must rise at _dusk_ to investigate.
     Early to bed and early to rise
       Makes an Owl healthy and stealthy and wise!”

     So he slept like an honest Owl all day,
       And rose in the early twilight gray,
     And went to work in the dusky light
       To look for the early worm all night.

     He searched the country for miles around,
       But the early worm was not to be found.
     So he went to bed in the dawning light,
       And looked for the “worm” again next night.



    And again and again, and again and again
      He sought and he sought, but all in vain,
    Till he must have looked for a year and a day
      For the early worm, in the twilight gray.

    At last in despair he gave up the search,
      And was heard to remark, as he sat on his perch
    By the side of his nest in the hollow tree,
    “The thing is as plain as night to me--
    Nothing can shake my conviction firm,
      _There’s no such thing as the early worm_.”


[Illustration: _A Dark Career_]

    Call it misfortune, crime, or what
    You will--his presence was a blot
      Where all was bright and fair--
    A blot that told its darksome tale
    And left its mark a blighting trail
      Behind him everywhere.

           *       *       *       *       *

    He stood by the Atlantic’s shore,
      And crossed the azure main,
    And even the sea, so blue before,
      About his wake grew dark and bore
      The semblance of a stain.

    On English soil he scarcely more
      Than paused his breath to gain;
    But on that fair historic shore
    There seemed to gather, as before,
      A darkness in his train.

    Through sunny France, across the line
    To Germany, and up the Rhine
      To Switzerland he came;
    Then o’er the snowy Alpine height,
    To leave a stain as black as night
      On Italy’s fair name.

    From Italy he crossed the blue,
    And hurried on as if he knew
      His journey’s end he neared.
    On Darkest Africa he threw
    A shade of even darker hue,
      Till in the sands of Timbuctoo
        His record disappeared.

       *       *       *       *       *


    Only an inkstand’s overflow,
    O Bumblebee! remains to show
      The source of your mishap;
    But though you’ve flown my ken beyond,
      The foot-notes of your _tour du monde_
        Still decorate my map.


[Illustration: _A Packet of Letters_]





          Dear Miss Goose:
    Accept apologies profuse,
    For the abrupt and hasty way,
    In which I left you yesterday.
    I don’t know how I came to be
    So very rude, but then you see,
    I _was_ just offering my arm,
    When stupid Rover from the farm,
    Appeared so suddenly, and so--
    Well, two is company, you know,
    While three--! Besides, ’twas getting late,
    So I decided not to wait.
    Yet, after all, another day
    Will do as well. What do you say?
    Can you contrive to dine with me
    To-morrow afternoon at three?
    Pray do, and by the hollyhocks
    Meet yours, sincerely,





  THE FARMYARD, Friday afternoon.

    Dear Mr. Fox, it seems so _soon_,
    You almost take my breath away!
    To-morrow? Three?--what _shall_ I say?
    Nothing could charm me more--but, no--
    Alas! I fear I cannot go.
    Don’t think that I _resent_, I pray,
    Your hastiness of yesterday.


    It is not that. But if I went,
    Without my dear Mama’s consent,
    And she should somehow chance to hear,
    She would be _dreadfully_ severe;
    And so, oh, dear! it is no use!

  Believe me,

  _Sadly_ yours,

      P. S.--On second thoughts, dear Fox,
    I’ll meet you by the hollyhocks,
    For if Mama but knew how _kind_
    You are, I’m sure she would not mind,
    To-morrow, then--we’ll meet at _three_;
    Don’t fail to be there. Yours,

  B. G.





    Dear Cousin, just a line
    To ask if you will come to dine
    (Informally, you know) with me
    To-morrow afternoon at three.
    Now don’t refuse, whate’er you do,
    I have a treat in store for you:
    A charming goose (and geese, you know,
    Do not on all the bushes grow!)
    A dream of tenderness in white,
    A case of “hunger at first sight.”
    I know, old boy, you’ll not be deaf
    To _this_ inducement.

  R. F.

    P. S.--Miss Goose agrees to be
    Beside the hollyhocks at three!





                Well, I must say,
    I quite renewed my youth to-day!
    How lucky that I chanced to go,
    Just when I did, beside that row
    Of hollyhocks beyond the gate!
    Lucky for _her_ at any rate;
    For suddenly I heard Miss Goose
    Struggling and crying, “Let me loose!”
    And, from behind the hollyhocks,
    Who should jump out but Mr. Fox!
    (The very same one, by the way,
    I _almost_ caught the other day.)
    Soon as I nabbed him, in his fright,
    He dropped Miss Goose and took to flight.
    Then after him like mad I flew,
    But--what could poor old Rover do?
    I am not what I used to be,
    So I let go, and ran to see
    At once how poor Miss Goose had fared,
    And found her much less hurt than scared
    From having come so near the noose:--
    A sadder and a wiser goose.





              This is just to say
    Why dinner was postponed to-day,--
    The goose had failed us, that was all;
    Excuse, I beg, this hurried scrawl.
    Will write to-morrow to explain--
    Just now my paw is in such pain
    That when I try to write it shocks
    My nerves.

  Yours truly,

      P. S.--I’d thank you if you sent
    A bottle of that liniment
    You spoke of several days ago--
    The kind for “dog-bites,” don’t you know.


[Illustration: The Naughty Fay]

     Once a naughty fay
       Chanced to sprain her wing;
    “At her tricks,” they say--
      “Naughty little thing!”

     Said the little fay
       As she lay in pain,
    “No more tricks I’ll play
       When I’m well again.”


    Time heals everything.
      Can this be our fay,
    She who sprained her wing
      Just the other day?

    Can she be this fair
      Thrifty little thing,
    Sewing up a tear
      In a beetle’s wing?

    Yes,--alas! but oh,
      _Not_ a thrifty elf;
    Of course she has to sew
     What she tore herself!


[Illustration: The Miller’s Quest

(_A Floury Tale._)]

    The Princess’ hair hath golden sheen,
      And her cheek is lily-pale;
    But none may look in her eyes, I ween
      And live to tell the tale.

    From out the south, and eke the north,
      And from the east and west,
    Full many a gallant knight rides forth
      Upon the fatal quest.

    For a cruel spell on the Princess lies
      No mortal can undo
    Till one shall look into her eyes
      And tell their color true.

    And some of them swear her eyes are green,
      And some that they are black,
    And many a knight rides forth, I ween,
      But never a one rides back.


    For a cruel spell on the Princess lies,
      And whoso will may try
    His fate, and look into her eyes;
      But whoso quails must die.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The miller’s son is a dusty youth,
      And dusty curls hath he.
    Quoth he, “I’ll go myself, forsooth,
      And set this Princess free.”

    The miller’s son he hath no spear
      Nor sword nor coat-of-mail,
    But an honest heart that knows not fear--
      Heaven grant he may not fail!

    The miller’s son at the portal knocks,
      At the Princess’ feet he bends,
    And he tosses aside his floury locks
      And a floury cloud ascends.

    The Princess’ face in a mist of white
      Is veiled as with a veil,
    Her eyes are dimmed of their deadly light,
      And the miller doth not quail.


    The Princess’ hair hath golden sheen,
    Her cheek is red, red rose,
    And her eyes?

           *       *       *       *       *

                  Go ask the Prince--
                                      I mean
    The miller’s son--he knows.


Nell’s Fairy-tale.


    The fairy tale was ended, the wicked Queen had fled;
    The Prince had saved the Princess and cut off the monster’s head;
    The people all were joyful, and the Princess and the Prince
    Were married and--so ran the tale--“lived happy ever since.”
    Nell closed the book of fairy tales and mused: “I wonder why
    There are no fairies nowadays? I only wish that I
    Could be a fairy princess like the Princess Goldenhair.”
    Here Nell dropped off to sleep, and then she started in her chair,
    When, of its own accord, the book popped open, and behold!
    Out crept a wee elf-princess all arrayed in cloth of gold;
    She sighed a little tired sigh and then Nell heard her say,
    In a tiny tired little voice, that sounded far away:
    “Oh, dear! how very nice it is for once to get outside.
    You’ve no idea how flat it is, my dear, until you’ve tried,
    To be shut up in a story-book with Dragons, Queens, and Kings,
    And always have to do and say the same old, senseless things;
    You think it would be very fine, but really it’s no joke!
    _I’d_ rather be a girl, like _you_!--”
                                          Then little Nell awoke,
    “Poor Princess Goldenhair,” said she,--“unhappy little elf,
    I’m rather glad, upon the whole, that I am just myself!”


The Unfortunate Giraffe.


    There was once a Giraffe who said, “What
    Do I want with my tea strong or hot?
      For my throat’s such a length,
      The tea loses its strength,
    And is cold ere it reaches the spot.”


Stockings or Scales.

    If I were asked of all things what I most would like to be,
    I’d choose to be a mermaid and live below the sea.
    How nice, instead of walking, to swim around like little whales,
    And to wear, instead of stockings, many shiny pairs of scales,
    Which don’t need changing every time that nurse says they are wet.
    And then to have no shoes that always come untied!--and yet--

    And yet, although it must be nice to swim around in scales,
    To attend a school of porpoises and play at tag with whales,
    To be on friendly speaking terms with jellyfish and eels,
    And never to be sent to bed or told I’m late for meals;
    Still, when I think of Christmas Eve my resolution fails,
    _How could I hang my stockings up if I had only scales?_


[Illustration: A Riddle.]

    They were three robbers; aye,
      And they robbed a red, red rose;
    And they came from out the sky,
      And they went where no man knows.

    One came when the day was young,
      And rent the curtain gray
    Of mist that round her hung,
      And he stole her pearls away;

    One came when the day was old,
      And a sable coat he wore,
    And a belt of dusty gold,
      And he robbed her treasure-store.

    One came when the day was dead,
      And no man saw him pass;
    And he caught her petals red
      And threw them upon the grass.

    Three robbers bold were they,
      And they robbed a red, red rose;
    And they came and went away,
      And whither--
                    no man knows.


[Illustration: Good-bye.

A Woodland Episode.]


_Scene_: The woods. _Time_: Last November.

    MISS BIRD.--Why, Mrs. Chipmunk! how do you do?

    MRS. CHIPMUNK.-- I’m quite well, thanks, Miss Bird; and you?

    MISS B.--I’m sorry to say my health is poor,
            So my doctor has ordered a southern tour.
            _Couldn’t_ you manage to come along?
            It would do you good--

    MRS. C.--             Yes, I’m far from strong,
            And it’s just what I’d most like to do
            If I’d only a pair of wings--

    MISS B.--                            Pooh! Pooh!
            There are trains for people who cannot fly.

    MRS. C.--Yes, but the fares are so dreadfully high!
            So really I mustn’t think of that--

    MISS B.--If only you’d wings like your cousin Bat.

    MRS. C.--_If only!_ but then I haven’t, you see.
            Besides, I’ve rented a hole in a tree,
            On the first-floor branch just four trees west
            Of the oak where you built your last year’s nest.


    MISS B.--A charming neighborhood! just the thing
            For a winter home--

    MRS. C.--          Well, I hope, next spring,
            When you’re here again, you will try to call.

    MISS B.--You are very kind--

    MRS. C.--                   Oh, not at all!

    MISS B.--Good-by, Mrs. Chipmunk.

    MRS. C.--                        Oh, _must_ you fly?
            Then, a pleasant journey!

    MISS B.--                 Good-by!

    MRS. C.--                          _Good_-by!


[Illustration: The Professor and the White Violet]

        Tell me, little violet white,
        If you will be so polite,
        Tell me how it came that you
        Lost your pretty purple hue?
    Were you blanched with sudden fears?
    Were you bleached with fairies’ tears?
    Or was Dame Nature out of blue,
    Violet, when she came to you?


        Tell me, silly mortal, first,
        Ere I satisfy your thirst
        For the truth concerning me--
        Why you are not like a tree?
    Tell me why you move around,
    Trying different kinds of ground,
    With your funny legs and boots
    In the place of proper roots?

        Tell me, mortal, why your head,
        Where green branches ought to spread,
        Is as shiny smooth as glass,
        With just a fringe of frosty grass?
    Tell me--Why, he’s gone away!
    Wonder why he wouldn’t stay?
    Can he be--well, I declare!--
    Sensitive about his hair?


[Illustration: ·The·First·Rose·of·Summer·]


    “Oh, dear! is summer over?”
       I heard a rosebud moan,
     When first her eyes she opened,
       And found she was alone.

    “Oh, why did summer leave me,
       Little me, belated?
     Where are the other roses?
       I think they _might_ have waited!”

     Soon the little rosebud
       Saw to her surprise
     Other roses opening,
       So she dried her eyes.

     Then I heard her laughing
      Gaily in the sun,
    “I thought the summer over;
       Why, it’s only just begun!”


[Illustration: The Elf & the Dormouse]


    Under a toadstool
      Crept a wee Elf,
    Out of the rain
      To shelter himself.

    Under the toadstool,
      Sound asleep,
    Sat a big Dormouse
      All in a heap.

    Trembled the wee Elf,
      Frightened, and yet
    Fearing to fly away
      Lest he get wet.

    To the next shelter--
      Maybe a mile!
    Sudden the wee Elf
      Smiled a wee smile,

    Tugged till the toadstool
      Toppled in two.
    Holding it over him
      Gaily he flew.

    Soon he was safe home
      Dry as could be.
    Soon woke the Dormouse--
      “Good gracious me!

    Where is my toadstool?”
      Loud he lamented.
    --And that’s how umbrellas,
      First were invented.


[Illustration: The Crocodile]


    A crocodile once dropped a line
        To a Fox to invite him to dine;
            But the Fox wrote to say
            _He was dining, that day,_
        _With a Bird friend_, and begged to decline.



     She sent off at once to a Goat.
    “Pray don’t disappoint me,” she wrote;
         But he answered too late,
         _He’d forgotten the date,_
     _Having thoughtlessly eaten her note_.


    The Crocodile thought him ill-bred,
    And invited two Rabbits instead;
        But the Rabbits replied,
        _They were hopelessly tied_
    _By a previous engagement_, and fled.

    Then she wrote in despair to some Eels,
    And begged them to “drop in” to meals;
        But the Eels left their cards
        _With their coldest regards_,
    And took to what went for their heels.


     Cried the Crocodile then, in disgust,
    “My motives they seem to mistrust.
         Their suspicions are base,
         Since they don’t know their place,--
     I suppose if I _must_ starve, I _must_!”


[Illustration: The Forgetful Forgetmenot.]


    Pray tell me, sweet Forget-me-not,
      Oh, kindly tell me where you got
        Your curious name?
          I’m most desirous to be told
            The legend or romance of old
              From whence it came.


    Indeed, good sir, it seems to me,
    If you have books on Botany
        Upon your shelf,
    You’d better far consult those books--
    He learns a thing the best who looks
        It up himself.


    I’ve works on Botany a few,
    But though I’ve searched them through and through,
        Never a word
    Can I discover in the same
    About your interesting name.


    Why, how absurd!


    Quite so! And now what can I do?
    I shall be most obliged if you
        Will make it plain.


    Another time. One moment more,
    And you’ll be drenched!
        It’s going to pour:
        I felt just now no less than four
        Big drops of rain.


    [_Exit_ PROFESSOR.]


    (_Aside_) Indeed, I’d tell him if I knew;
    But it would never, never do
        If I explained
    That, long ago, I quite forgot
    Why I was called Forget-me-not
        (It’s well it rained)!



The Birds’ Farewell.


                    We must bid you good-by,
    For November is here, and it’s time we should fly
    To the South, where we have an engagement to sing,
    But, remember this, dear, we’ll return in the spring.
    And if, while abroad, we hear anything new,
    We’ll learn it, and sing it next summer to you
    In the same little tree on the lawn, if you’ll let us.
    So, good-by, little maiden! Please do not forget us.
    We’re sorry to leave you--too sorry for words,
    And we’ll always remain,
                    Yours sincerely,       “THE BIRDS.”
    P. S.--Please don’t mind if this letter sounds flat,
    And present our respectful regards to your cat.

[Illustration: The Spider’s Tale.]

[Sidenote: The Poet offereth to deliver a Fly from the Spider’s web.]

    “Really, Fly, you ought to know
     Better, surely, than to go
     Into Mr. Spider’s net.
     Luckily _I’m_ here to set
     You free”; but ere I could have stirred,
     Mr. Spider’s voice I heard
     Crying in an angry tone:
    “Better let my lunch alone!

[Sidenote: Even Spiders’ rights must be respected.]

    “One would think, for all _you_ care,
     Spiders could subsist on air.
     Listen to this tale and see
     If you don’t agree with me!”

           *       *       *       *       *

     I sat down without a word,
     Following is the tale I heard:



[Sidenote: The Spider spinneth a yarn to instruct the Poet and divert
him that he may forget about the Fly.]

     A Prince who sought
     His lost Bride, caught
     In the toils of a witch,--woe betide her!--
     When riding one night
     Through a forest, caught sight
       Of a Spi in the web of a Flyder.

     (As perhaps you surmise,
     I have tried to disguise,
       The names, with the best of intention:
     For I make it my plan,
     Whenever I can,
       To avoid any personal mention.)

     Said the Prince to the Spi,
    “Supposing that I
       Should deliver you out of this hatefulness,
     Will you pay me in kind,
     And help me to find
       My Bride?--Can I count on your gratefulness?”

     Said the Spi, “Without doubt,
     If you _will_ let me out
       From the web of the terrible Flyder,
     By all means--oh, yes!
     You shall find your Princess,
       For I will myself be your guider!”


[Sidenote: The Flyder does not see it in the same light as the Prince.]

    One jerk! He was free,
    And his buzzing and glee
      Drove the Prince to the verge of distraction.
    The Flyder, meanwhile,
    Wore a cynical smile,
      And a look of--well--_not_ satisfaction.

    The Prince paid no heed,
    But mounted his steed,
      And started the Princess to find.
    The Spi led the way,
    But little dreamed they
      _That the Flyder had mounted behind_!

    He found her, it’s true,
    And the wicked witch, too,
      Who fled when he up and defied her;
    But while being wed,
    Hanging over her head,
      The Princess caught sight of the Flyder!

[Sidenote: Showing the terrible consequences of meddling with the
domestic affairs of a Flyder.]

    At the terrible sight,
    Her reason took flight,
      Till she was completely bereft of it,
    When she drained a tureen
    Full of cold Paris green,
      And the Prince swallowed all that was left of it!

[Sidenote: Setting forth how a Poet and a Fly were both taken in by a
Spider’s yarn, and how that a diverting tale may speed a good dinner.]

    Listening to the Spider, I
    Quite forgot poor Mr. Fly
    And his pitiable plight
    Till the tale was finished quite,
    Then, alas! too late I knew,
    _Mr. Fly was finished, too_.



Highly Connected.

    “I’m a very little cat,
    I know, and thin at that;
      But cast your eye upon this poster fine--
    The big chap on that ball,
    He’s just a King, that’s all--
      And, by the way, a relative of mine!”

[Illustration: The Miser Elf.]

    There was a little miser elf who had a precious store
    Of silver motes from moonbeams and priceless grains of ore,
    And shiny dust of marigold, and glittering jeweled eyes
    Of burnished stars and spangles from the wings of butterflies,
    And bales of wondrous gossamer and green-gold beetles’ wings,
    And many other marvelous and rare and costly things.
    But, alas! with all his golden dust and jewels rich and rare,
    This little elf was never free from misery and care.


    The wealth that might have conjured up all good things at his beck
    Was just a golden millstone that hung around his neck.
    He never had one moment’s peace, his treasure out of sight,
    Though he buried it for safety in a different place each night;
    Each night the thought of robbers made him close his eyes in vain,
    And just as soon as it was light he’d dig it up again.

    One night (it was a woodland place in which he chanced to bide)--
    As usual he sought a place in which his gold to hide.
    He had not long been seeking before he chanced to see
    A thing he’d never seen before--a curious kind of tree:


    The stem was smooth and straight, and on the top there grew a sort
    Of dome or hat--let’s call it an umbrella-tree, for short.
    “The very place!” exclaimed the elf. “So strange a tree, ’tis clear,
    Is just the thing to mark the spot. I’ll hide my treasure here.”


    No sooner said than done; and then, his treasure buried deep,
    Upon a bed of moss near by he laid him down to sleep.
    For once the elf enjoyed a night from dreams and terrors free;
    And, waking, sought with bounding step his tall umbrella-tree.

    “Ah, here it is!” he cried; and sure enough, before his sight
     It stood. “But what is this?” Another like it to the right!
    “Which can it be?” He rubbed his chin. “What underneath the sun
     Has happened? Why, I could have sworn last night there was but one.
     Which can it be that marks the spot in which my treasure lies?”
     And looking round, another tree of the same shape and size,
     Another and another still met his astonished eyes.

     Then the dreadful truth burst on him, and he stood transfixed with
     In a forest of umbrella-trees all grown up in a night.

           *       *       *       *       *


    When walking in the autumn woods, dear reader, and you pass
    A toadstool lying on its side among the leaves and grass,
    Think of the little miser elf, for ’tis a sign that he
    Still digs for his lost treasure underneath the umbrella-tree.


The Point of View.

     On the top of the world, where there’s lots of snow,
     As all the geographies say,
     A small Eskimo, just to make the time go,
     Was building a Snow Man one day.

     Now it happened by chance that two Polar Bears
     Came strolling along that way:
    “Perhaps it is none of our affairs,
     But what are you making?” said they.

    “A Snow Man, of course,” said the Eskimo;
       The Bears gave a comical stare;
     Said they, “If you _must_ make a person of snow,
       Why on earth don’t you make a Snow Bear?”

     He sat himself down for a moment to think
       Of some suitable sort of reply,
     When a Penguin, two Foxes, a Seal, and a Mink,
       And a Walrus came wandering by.




     They stopped just a casual look to take,
       A casual word to say,
     And each had a trifling suggestion to make
       In a patronizing way.

     The Walrus said, “Really, it isn’t half bad,
       And shows lots of promise, you know;
     Yet I think, for my part, though perhaps it’s a fad,
       A Snow Walrus were more apropos.”

     The Foxes, the Seal, and the Mink were afraid
       They knew little of art, so they said,
     But they thought he would show better taste if he made
       A Fox, Seal, or Mink in its stead.

     The Penguin said nothing, nor listened, but when
       They’d finished, he ventured to say,
    “It doesn’t look _much_ like a Penguin, but then
      Perhaps when completed, it may.”

     They turned then to go; but the Eskimo--
       Alas! he was seen no more;
     The heat of his anger and shame and chagrin
     Had melted the snow where the crust was thin,
       And he’d sunk, so to speak, through the floor.




    I built a castle on the shore,
    And left to guard it three or four
    Lead soldiers of the bravest sort,
    And ordered them to hold the fort
    Till I should come once more.

    But when I came again next day,
    I found the sea had washed away
    My castle built upon the sand.
    Alas! the gallant little band
    Of soldiers, where were they?

    Buried in sand, erect, and square,
    They held the fort with martial air;
    And when I’d said a little speech,
    I dug them out and made them each
    A general then and there.

[Illustration: A Belated Violet]

    Very dark the autumn sky,
            Dark the clouds that hurried by;
          Very rough the autumn breeze
            Shouting rudely to the trees.

          Listening, frightened, pale, and cold,
            Through the withered leaves and mold
          Peer’d a violet all in dread--
           “Where, oh, where is spring?” she said.

          Sighed the trees, “Poor little thing!
            She may call in vain for spring.”
          And the grasses whispered low,
            “We must never let her know.”


    “What’s this whispering?” roared the breeze,
      “Hush! a violet!” sobbed the trees,
    “Thinks it’s spring--poor child, we fear
      She will die if she should hear!”

    Softly stole the wind away,
      Tenderly he murmured, “Stay!”
    To a late thrush on the wing,
      “Stay with her one day and sing!”

    Sang the thrush so sweet and clear
      That the sun came out to hear,
    And, in answer to her song,
      Beamed on violet all day long.

    And the last leaves here and there
      Fluttered with a spring-like air,
    Then the violet raised her head--
      “Spring has come at last!” she said.

    Happy dreams had violet
      All that night--but happier yet,
    When the dawn came dark with snow,
      Violet never woke to know.


[Illustration: The Parrot and the Cuckoo.


SCENE: _The vicinity of the Cuckoo Clock. Cuckoo discovered in the act
of telling three o’clock. Parrot watching from a perch near by._



    CUCKOO: Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

    PARROT: Hark, there she goes!
            To hear her any parrot would suppose
            She owned the earth, conceited little thing,
            She really seems to fancy she can sing,
            Yet, though you’ll scarce believe, that little bird
            Rules the whole blessed household with a word.
            She only has to call “Cuckoo!” and lo!
            The family at once to luncheon go.
            When she screams “Cuckoo!” twice it is the rule
            For all the kids to hurry back to school--
            And when _six_ times they know it is a sign
            That Cuckoo thinks it’s time for them to dine.
            And so it goes through all the livelong day,
            She tells them what to do and they obey.
            But as for me, they treat me like a doll
            And mimic me and call me “Pretty Poll,”
            And ask me several million times a day,
           “Does Polly want a cracker?”--by the way,
            I’ve yet to see that cracker--oh, sometimes
            I gnash my beak, or mutter nursery rhymes
            Or anything! for fear I should let slip
            The wicked words they taught me on the ship,
            Those naughty sailors, when long, long ago
            They brought me from the land where spices grow
            And palm-trees wave, and Cuckoos do not rule
            And tell folks when to bed and when to school
            And when to go to dinner.
                                Never mind!
            _My_ time will come. As that vain bird will find
            Unto her sorrow. Yes, the die is cast!
            Next time the Cuckoo squawks will be her last.


            Next time she tries--

    CUCKOO (_striking four o’clock_): Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

    PARROT: Come, now, have done! we’ve heard enough from you!
            Prepare to die! your little reign is o’er,
            Over this house you’ll tyrannize no more!
            What! won’t you come? then I’ll soon show you how!
            There! stop that racket; heavens, what a row!


(_Smashes the Cuckoo to bits, causing the machinery to run down._)

    Help, stop it, some one!

  (_It stops._)

    Well, upon my word,
    You’re tough for such a very little bird,
    I thought you’d never die! and now, my dear,
    The family will very soon be here,
    And when they see how little’s left of you
    They’ll be so glad they won’t know what to do--
    To think the Cuckoo’s killed and they are free
    To work or play or sleep or take their tea
    Just when they please--and, best of all, how jolly
    To feel they owe it all to “Pretty Polly”!



The Elf and the Bee.


    “Oh, Bumblebee! Bumblebee!
      _Don’t_ fly so near!
    Or you will tumble me
      Over, I fear!”

    “Oh, funny Elf! Funny Elf!
      Don’t be alarmed!
    I’m looking for honey, Elf.
      You sha’n’t be harmed.”

    “Then tarry,
        Oh, tarry, Bee!
      Fill up your sack;
    And carry, oh, carry me
      Home on your back!”


A Fable.

    It was a hungry pussy cat
      Upon Thanksgiving morn,
    And she watched a thankful little mouse
      That ate an ear of corn.

    “If I ate that thankful little mouse,
      How thankful he should be,
    When he has made a meal himself,
      To make a meal for me!

    “Then, with his thanks for having fed
      And his thanks for feeding me--
    With all _his_ thankfulness inside--
      How thankful _I_ shall be!”

    Thus mused the hungry pussy cat
      Upon Thanksgiving Day.
    But the little mouse had overheard,
      And declined (with thanks) to stay.


[Illustration: The Fairies’ Concert.]

    In a fairy forest known
    To the fairy-folk alone,
    Where the grasses meet and spread
    Like a green roof overhead,
    Where the dandelion-tree
    Towers tall as tall can be,
    And the ferns lift up their high
    Fairy ladders to the sky,
    For the elves to climb upon--
    Here are merry goings-on.

    From the forest far and near
    All the fairy-folk are here,
    For to-day there is to be
    Music ’neath the daisy-tree.



    And the creatures of the wood,
    One and all, have been so good
    And obliging as to say,
    They will gladly come and play
    For the elves a serenade,
    In the fairy forest glade.
    All the little birds have come;
    And the bumblebees that hum;
    And the gnats that twang the lute;
    And the frogs that play the flute;
    And the kind of frog whose toots
    Seem to come from out his boots;
    And the great big green and yellow
    Frog that plays upon the ’cello;
    And the katydid, in green,
    Who is oftener heard than seen;
    With the little ladybird
    Who is oftener seen than heard;
    And the cricket, never still
    With his lively legs and trill.
    And, in short, each forest thing
    That can hum, or buzz, or sing,
    Each and all have come to play
    For the little elves to-day.

    Now the crawfish takes the stand
    To conduct the fairy band.
    First there is a moment’s pause,
    Then the leader lifts his claws,
    Waves his wand, and--one, two, three!
    All at once, from gnat and bee,
    Frog, and katydid, and bird



    Such a melody is heard
    That the elves and fairies wee,
    Clapping little hands with glee,
    Make their mushroom seat to sway
    In a very risky way.
    And the creatures in delight
    Play away with all their might,
    Feeling very justly proud
    That the elves applaud so loud.

    Now the sun is getting low,
    And the elves to bed must go
    Ere the sleepy flowers close
    In whose petals they repose;
    For if they were late they might
    Have to stay outside all night.
    So the last good-byes are said;
    Every one goes home to bed;
    And the creatures as they fly
    Play a fairy lullaby,
    Growing faint and fainter still,
    Fainter and more faint, until
    All is silent--and the shade
    Creeps upon the fairy glade.

Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.

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