Kitty’s Picnic, and Other Stories

Kitty’s Picnic, and Other Stories

Author:
Anonymous
Author:
Anonymous
Format:
epub
language:
English

%title插图%num
Author: Anonymous
Children’s stories
Children — Conduct of life — Juvenile fiction
Kitty’s Picnic, and Other Stories

KITTY’S PICNIC

And other Stories

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

EDINBURGH & LONDON

OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER

headpiece to Contents

CONTENTS.

Kitty’s Picnic

Ellen’s Letter

That Dear Duck

Little Miss Muffle

A New Red Riding-Hood

Lilla’s Doll Show

Selina and her Doll

tailpiece to Contents

headpiece to Kitty’s Picnic

Kitty’s Picnic.

It was a fine spring morning, and
Kitty sat at the window looking
out at the green fields and the
trees with their young leaves, and
far, far beyond these to some towers
that looked small in the distance,
but when you came close to them
you found that they belonged to a
grand old castle in ruins.

This castle Kitty had long wished
to see, for she had heard so much
about it; and to-day she was
thinking very much about it, for she
knew that there was going to be a
great picnic, to which her cousins
were going, and Kitty wished she
were going also, but she had not
been invited. As she gazed out
of the window she saw several
carriages full of people on their
way to the picnic. Then the tears
came into Kitty’s eyes, and she
dropped the book she was
holding in her hand, and opened the
window so that she might see the
carriages more clearly. They were
going very quickly, and Kitty could
hear the people laughing and
talking as she watched them out of sight.

She gave a great sigh.

‘How much I should like to
go!’ she said, half aloud.

Just then the door opened, and
her Uncle George walked into the room.

‘Why, Uncle George, where have
you come from?’ said Kitty,
jumping up. ‘I thought you were not
coming home till next week.’

‘I came home last night,’ said
Uncle George, ‘but I did not
expect to find you here. I thought
you would be going to the picnic.’

‘I should like to go,’ said Kitty,
‘but I was not invited. I do not
know Mrs. Somers.’

‘Neither do I,’ said Uncle George;
‘but suppose we have a little picnic
of our own, Kitty? I have got my
dog-cart at the door, and there is
room in the castle grounds for a
dozen picnic parties; and we should
not take up much room.’

Kitty clapped her hands.

‘Put on your hat, then, and we
will go,’ said Uncle George. ‘My
little Kitty shall see the castle, and
climb the ruins.’

‘Oh, Uncle George, how good
you are!’ said Kitty, as they drove
along. ‘I never thought I should
be so happy as I am to-day.’

‘But, Kitty,’ said Uncle George
very gravely, ‘I am afraid it can’t
be quite a picnic, for we have
brought nothing to eat with us.
What shall we do?’

‘I shan’t mind,’ said Kitty; ‘but
I am afraid that you will be hungry,
Uncle George.’

Uncle George smiled.

‘Well, we won’t be starved,
Kitty; there is a nice little country
inn close by, where I put up my
horse, and I daresay we shall
manage to get something there.’

And so they did; and Kitty saw
the old castle, and when she drove
home she said it was the happiest
day she had ever spent.

tailpiece to Kitty’s Picnic

headpiece to Ellen’s Letter

Ellen’s Letter.

‘You must be sure to write it all
down, Jessy,’ said Ellen, looking
over her sister’s shoulder: ‘you must
tell how naughty Bob was, and how
he threw your doll on the fire, and all
the wax melted, and that he broke my
doll’s arms and legs, so that I have had
to sew them all over to keep the bran
from running out.’

‘YOU MUST BE SURE TO WRITE IT ALL DOWN.’

‘Yes—and how he trampled on our
gardens, and broke down my rose-bush
and all my pinks. I don’t think I shall
have room for all the things there are to
tell mamma about him. There never
was such a naughty boy! When he
gets one of his tempers he does not seem
to know what he is doing.’

And Ellen leaned down on the table,
and went on writing.

Just then the door opened, and Bob
himself came in. He was a fat, rosy
little boy, and he did not look very
fierce now; indeed, he looked quite
meek and gentle. He came up to
his sisters, and said, ‘Bob is sorry;
he won’t spoil dolls and gardens
again.’

‘Ah! it is too late now, Bob,’ said
Ellen; ‘you have spoiled everything;
and I am telling mamma all about it in
my letter, so she won’t bring you the
baker’s cart and the whip that you
wanted.’

You are a very naughty boy, Bob,’
said Jessy, ‘and I am not going to play
with you again.’

Bob went very red.

‘Take care; he’s going into a temper
again,’ said Ellen, as Bob made a snatch
at the letter she was writing. She held
it out of his reach, and then he gave a
loud scream and began crying with all
his might.

‘I’ll go to nurse!’ he cried, rushing
out of the room, shouting as loud as he
could.

‘He is the worst boy that ever lived!’
said Jessy.

‘Now we’ll get on with the letter,’
said Ellen.

But just then they heard another
scream—which was not Bob—and then
a bumping noise on the stairs.

‘He’s fallen down-stairs. Perhaps
he’s killed,’ said Jessy, turning pale.
And the two girls ran to see what was
the matter.

Yes, Bob, in his passion, did not see
where he was going, and he slipped, and
fell from the top of the stairs to the
bottom.

‘Oh, nurse, is he much hurt?’ cried
Ellen, for nurse and the rest of the
servants were there.

It was a long time before Bob came
to himself.

The doctor was sent for, and he found
that Bob’s arm was broken; and poor
Bob had to suffer a great deal of pain in
having it set.

‘Poor Bob!’ said Ellen to Jessy; ‘we
won’t send our letter to mamma.’

‘No,’ said Jessy; ‘it will be a great
trouble to mamma to find poor Bob so
ill. We will not give her any more
trouble.’ And she tore up the letter.

But another letter was written to
mamma to tell her what had happened,
and she came at once.

Bob was lying quite still, muttering
something to himself, but only loud
enough for Ellen and Jessy to hear the
word ‘Naughty, naughty.’

‘But we did not think you would fall
down-stairs, Bob,’ said Jessy.

Bob looked up at Jessy, and said,
‘No, no; naughty Bob, not naughty Jessy.’

tailpiece to Ellen’s Letter

headpiece to That Dear Duck

That Dear Duck.

es,’ said
Farmer Jones, looking
down at them over the top bar
of the gate,
‘you may come and play in the
field for a bit; only mind, there is
to be no chasing the sheep or hens,
or throwing stones at the ducks,
or it will be the last time you
children get leave to come into my
fields.’

‘We won’t do any mischief, sir,’
said Peggy earnestly, as she tried
to make the bundle she carried sit
upright, and look something like a
baby, instead of cuddling up like a
shapeless lump on her shoulder.

‘Very well, then, in you go.’

The farmer held the gate open
till the five children and two babies
had filed sedately through; then he
dropped the bar into the socket, and
tramped away down the dusty lane.

The sheep were away at the far
side, and did not take the trouble
to glance up at the intruders. The
hens were clucking busily on a piece
of bare ground beyond the barn.
Down in the lowest corner of the
field was a shallow pond, where
a plump mother duck and half a
dozen downy ducklings were sailing
placidly about. They were
new-comers comparatively, and the
children greeted them with shouts of
approval.

‘Why can’t babies swim about
and do things, instead of always
crying and going to sleep?’ asked
Tommy, eyeing his small twin
brothers with great dissatisfaction,
as they sat in a row on a fallen
tree-trunk. ‘I’d rather have young
ducks any day; they’ve twice as
much sense.’

‘See that one eating up my bread
and butter!’ cried Jack; ‘he’s
something like a duck. I wish Farmer
Jones would give him to me.’

‘I’m quite sure he wouldn’t,’ said
Peggy sharply; ‘ducks are
dreadfully dear things: mother’s said so
lots of times.’

Jack didn’t answer; he was
leaning over the tree trunk, throwing
tiny bits of crusts to the duckling,
who was doing his best to choke
himself with them. Soon after, the
duckling came round in front of the
trunk where they were sitting; and
it was the funniest little object, with
its stumpy wings, and a big yellow
bill that opened and shut like a
pair of scissors.

‘IT WAS THE FUNNIEST LITTLE OBJECT.’

There were five more swimming
about beside their mother; there
might be dozens more in the
farmyard, while they had nothing of
their own. A sharp little duck like
that would be as good as a dog
to play with. Jack had watched
it with longing eyes; he was
certain the farmer would never miss
it, if he were to take it home for a
little while—only a little while; he
could easily bring it back again,
and it wouldn’t be one bit the
worse.

The others played on with the
daisies and the butterflies; the
babies sucked their thumbs and
fell asleep in their small nurses’
arms; the little duck forgot his
mother and his brothers and sisters,
and strayed farther and farther
away after the crumbs, till presently
two small brown hands pounced
down, and he found himself a
prisoner.

‘Quack! quack!’ called the
mother duck, missing the wanderer.

‘Quack! quack!’ cried the little duck.

Peggy and Bessy looked round.

‘Why, what are you doing, Jack?
Didn’t Farmer Jones say you
weren’t to tease the ducks?’

‘Who is teasing the ducks?’
demanded Jack, in a tone of injured
innocence. ‘I’m going to take it
home for a bit, and teach it a lot of
tricks.’

‘You’d better leave it alone!’
cried Peggy, in alarm; ‘it would be
stealing.’

‘It would be nothing of the
kind. I’m not going to keep
the duck. Girls haven’t a bit of
sense; they’re just made to go
telling tales.’

‘I don’t ever tell tales,’ returned
Peggy, with dignity. ‘Did I ever
tell who it was left the gate open
when the pigs got in that day?’

‘Well, don’t tell tales this time
either,’ was Jack’s only acknowledgment.
‘We’d better be going now,
before anybody comes.’

Jack was the biggest boy, and
liked his own way. Moreover, he
generally made the rest like it too.
Peggy and Bessy uneasily got up
from their seat, and back the
procession went across the green grass
and daisies, Jack carrying the duck
inside his jacket, where it quacked
loudly, and made the company look
round anxiously, for fear of stray
listeners.

‘What will mother say when she
sees it?’ suggested Tommy, as they
slunk along the lane.

‘Mother is not going to see it,’
returned Jack; ‘it’s going into the
wood-shed. I’ll make it a nice
house there, all to itself—better
than it had at the farm by a long way.’

So instead of going straight into
the house, the party repaired to the
wood-shed at the end of the garden,
where the duck was carefully fenced
in behind some boards, and supplied
with the remainder of the crusts for
supper.

‘He’ll go off to sleep in a bit,’
said Jack, with a sigh of relief.
‘Now we’ll go in; and mind, you’re
not to say anything about it.’

It was easy for Jack to say that,
but it wasn’t by any means so easy
to do it. Every minute or two
somebody would begin to say
something bearing upon the subject, and
break off short in sudden alarm.
Every time there was a moment’s
silence, they would be listening for
faint quacks from the wood-shed,
and somehow it befell that there
came no further opportunity of
visiting the prisoner that evening;
for it was Saturday,—the great
festival of the bath-tub,—and by the
time the whole seven had gone
through the performance, it was too
late for anything but bed.

Never mind; to-morrow would
be Sunday, and Jack promised
himself a lovely time with his dear
cluck. He would slip a piece of
bread into his pocket at breakfast;
there was a noble ditch not very far
off, where nobody ever went, and
he would take it there for a swim.
Jack took a last look through the
curtainless window at the shed roof,
and went to bed brimful of plans
for to-morrow and the duck.

Ah, if that duck had but known
or understood the joys that lay
before him! But he didn’t; he was
only a poor solitary baby duck,
taken away from his mother and his
home, and left all alone in a cold,
strange place, and the night was
very long and very bleak, and his
little body ached with cold and
hunger, and he quacked and quacked
till his throat grew sore, and the
quacks wouldn’t come any longer,
and at last, just as it was beginning
to grow grey morning, he feebly
curled up his yellow toes, and rolled
over on his back—and died!

‘Tommy, come down the garden,
and mind nobody sees you,’ whispered
Jack, after breakfast. ‘We’ll
take that duck to the ditch, and
have some fun. Hurry up!’

The two raced down to the
wood-shed; all was quiet enough
inside. Jack looked round in some
astonishment. ‘He must be fast
asleep yet; I thought he’d have
been quacking like anything for
some food.’

Tommy was peering into the
corner. He got up suddenly with
a startled face.

‘Jack,’ he said solemnly, ‘I do
believe he’s gone and died! See
how he’s lying.’

Jack had him up in his arms in
an instant. He did not know much
about dead ducks, but the first
touch of the little body, that had
been so soft and warm the night
before, sent a cold chill right
through him. He looked down at
it for a minute in speechless dismay,
and then he burst out into a perfect
storm of sobs.

‘Let’s go and tell mother,’ said
Tommy, beginning to cry too; and
off they went.

But even mother could not bring
the little duck back to life. She
quietly put it into a basket, and
told Jack to take it up to Farmer
Jones, and tell him all about his
wrong-doing.

Tommy went with him for company,
and the pair felt exactly as if
they were going to a funeral; and
certainly no funeral they had ever
seen went half so slowly, and with
so many halts and pauses. Sooner
or later, however, they
had to
get there, and Jack had to falter
out his confession as best he
might.

‘It was because it was such a
dear little duck that Jack wanted it,’
explained Tommy valiantly, when
Jack got to the end. ‘We didn’t
mean to hurt it.’

The farmer listened in grim
silence. ‘Perhaps not,’ he said;
‘but I can’t have you in my fields
again: you’ll have to be content
with the lane for the rest of the
summer, so I’m thinking you’ll find
it’s been a dear duck for you more
ways than one.’

‘Mother was quite right,’ said
Jack, as they trudged back down
that dusty lane; ‘ducks
are
dreadfully dear things!’

tailpiece to That Dear Duck

headpiece to Little Miss Muffle

Little Miss Muffle.

Little Miss Muffle was
sitting waiting. She had on
her new winter coat and her new
winter bonnet, and she sat as still
as a mouse.

‘LITTLE MISS MUFFLE WAS SITTING WAITING.’

‘Why is little Miss Muffle so gay,
In her winter coat and bonnet to-day?
Because she is going with mother away
For a drive in a carriage and pair,’

said Uncle George, coming into
the room. He always called his
niece Miss Muffle, though her real
name was Annette.

‘Yes,’ said Miss Muffle, ‘I am
going with my mother, and I shall
not be a bit cold. I am never cold
in the winter; my mother keeps me
so warm.’

‘Yes,’ said Uncle George; ‘your
father and mother are rich, and can
give their little girl all she wants.
I wonder if Miss Muffle would like
to go and see some little girls who
have no warm coats or shoes and
stockings?’

Miss Muffle looked up at Uncle George.

‘I should like to see those little
girls, Uncle George. Will you take
me to see them?’

So Uncle George went in the
carriage with Miss Muffle and her
mother. And as they were driving
along he told the coachman to stop
at some poor cottages near the
road. He lifted Miss Muffle out
of the carriage, and told her mother
they would not be long, if she would
not mind waiting. Uncle George
knocked at the door of the first cottage.

Miss Muffle gave a little shiver,
for there was no fire, and sitting
close together on the floor were
three little children, trying to get
warm under an old shawl of their mother’s.

‘And how are the children
getting on at school?’ said Uncle George.

‘Only Ben has gon

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