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By R. G. Anderson.
Illustrations in colour By Dorothy Hope Smith.

16 Illustrated Bed-time Stories for Children

 

Marmaduke was sitting on the fence. He wasn’t thinking of anything in particular, just looking around. Jehosophat called to him from the barnyard,–

 

“Come’n an’ play ‘I spy.'”

 

But Marmaduke only grumbled,–

 

“Don’t want to.”

 

“Well, let’s play ‘Cross Tag’ then,” Jehosophat suggested.

 

“Don’t want to,” repeated his brother again, not very politely.

 

Jehosophat thought for a moment, then he suggested something worth-while:

 

“I’ll tell you what, let’s play ‘Duck-on-the-Rock.'”

 

Now as every boy in the world–at least in America–knows, that is a wonderful game, but Marmaduke only said very crossly,–

 

“I don’t want to play any of your ol’ games.” Now when Marmaduke acted that way there must have been something the matter. Perhaps he had gobbled down his oatmeal too fast–in great big gulps–when he should have let the Thirty White Horses “champ, champ, champ,” all those oats. They were cooked oats, but then the Thirty White Horses, unlike Teddy and Hal and ole Methusaleh, prefer cooked oats to raw.

 

Perhaps he had eaten a green apple. Sometimes he did that, and the tart juice puckered his mouth all up, and–what was worse–puckered his stomach all up, too.

 

Any way, he felt tired and out-of-sorts; tired of his toys, tired of all the games, even such nice ones as “Duck-on-the-rock” and “Red Rover.”

 

There was nothing to do but sit on the fence.

 

Still, the world looked pretty nice from up there. It always looked more interesting from a high place, and sometimes it gave you an excited feeling. Of course, the big elm was a better perch, or the roof of the barn, and Marmaduke often wondered what it would be like to see the world from a big balloon, but the fence was good enough. It curved up over a little hill, and he could see lots of the world from there.

 

He looked over towards the West, where the Sun marched into his barn every night. Fatty Hamm declared that the Sun kept a garage behind that hill, but Marmaduke insisted it was a barn, for he liked horses best, and the Sun must drive horses. There was a real hill there, not little like the one where he sat on the fence, but a big one, ‘most as big as a mountain, Marmaduke thought. Sometimes it was green, and sometimes grey or blue, and once or twice he had seen it almost as purple as a pansy.

 

But it was Fall now, and the hill had turned brown. Over it he could see little figures moving. He looked at them very carefully, with one eye shut to see them the better. Then he decided that the bigger ones were men on horses, the little ones dogs. They all looked tiny because they were so far away.

 

As they came nearer and the sun shone on them, he was pretty sure the men had red coats. Could they be soldiers?

 

Just then the Toyman came by, with coils of wire and clippers in his hand. He was on his way to mend the fence in the North Pasture.

 

“‘Llo Toyman!” said Marmaduke. “Howdy, little fellow!” replied the Toyman, “what are you doing there? Settin’ on the top of the world and enjoyin’ yourself?”

 

“I was wondering what those men over there were doing.” And the boy waved his hand towards the little black figures on the hill.

 

“Why, that’s the hunt,” explained the Toyman. “The rich folks, having nothing better to do, are killin’ time.”

 

Marmaduke was puzzled.

 

“Are they really hunting Time?” he asked. “I thought maybe they were hunting lions or tigers.”

 

“No, not today,” the Toyman responded, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but they’re only after Reddy.”

 

“Reddy Toms?” the little boy exclaimed. “Why, whatever did he do?

 

Now Reddy Toms was a boy in his own class, and you could always tell him a long way off because his head was covered with red hair as thick as a thatched roof, and his face was spotted all over, like a snake’s, with freckles.

 

However, the Toyman said it was all a mistake.

 

“No, not that tad,” he explained, “it’s Reddy Fox they’re after.”

 

“What!” exclaimed Marmaduke. “Does it take all those big men to hunt one little fox?”

 

“It seems so, son,” the Toyman returned, “but that’s the way of the world.”

 

“Well, I think it’s mean,” insisted Marmaduke. “Those men are nothing’ but–but–dumbbells!”

 

The Toyman threw back his head and laughed. That was a new expression to him, but it was a perfectly good one. You see, the big boys in school used it when they thought anyone was particularly stupid or mean. But the Toyman must have understood it anyway, for he went on,–

 

“That’s my sentiments exactly. I don’t suppose they mean to be cruel, but they don’t give little Reddy half a chance–and he’s so small! Now if it was lions or tigers, as you suggest, why, that would be different.”

 

“You bet it would!” Marmaduke replied. “I just wish it was.” Now, of course, he should have said “were,” as the teacher in the Red Schoolhouse was forever telling him, but a little boy can’t always remember correct English when a hunt is coming so close.

 

“Just set tight, boy, and you’ll see their red coats soon.”

 

And, waving his clippers, the Toyman went on his way to the North Pasture.

 

But Marmaduke didn’t need any advice. He had spotted those red coats already. They were much nearer now, for they rode very fast. Already the horses were leaping the fence of the Miller Farm, and the dogs were crisscrossing over the field, making lots of letter W’s as they ran–hundreds of them, Marmaduke was sure. And they followed something–something so small he could hardly see what it was. But he guessed it must be Reddy.

 

So many fences they leaped, and so many stone walls! Now they were near the Brook, and yes, he could see the red coats, very bright and plain now.

 

And then he spied Reddy. His coat wasn’t as gay as those the men wore. Theirs were bright like cherries, and his was the color of chestnuts. It seemed such a shame to want his poor little coat when the men had such nice ones themselves. “Cracky!” he exclaimed. One of the “ole hunters” had fallen in the Brook. And Marmaduke hoped that red coat would get soaked and soaked and run like the stockings Mother had bought from the pedlar. And he hoped that “ole hunter” would get wet to the skin, and shiver and shiver, and have to call in the doctor who’d prescribe the very worst medicine there was in the world. It would serve that “ole hunter” right if he’d almost die. But Marmaduke hoped the poor horse wouldn’t break his leg. It wasn’t the horses’ fault they were chasing Reddy.

 

Now the hunters were lost in Jake Miller’s Woods. All he could see were patches of red, here and there, in the bushes, but he heard the deep voices of the dogs, all the time, calling and calling.

 

Then all-of-a-sudden something happened. And Marmaduke liked all-of-a-sudden things to happen–they were so exciting.

 

A little streak of fur, with tail flying behind like a long pretty hat brush, galloped across the Apgar field, then the very field where Marmaduke sat, perched on the fence.

 

The dogs were right after Reddy, running hard, too, but they were two fields farther back. Reddy, you see, had fooled them in that wood, and he had gotten a good headstart.

 

My, how Reddy was running!

 

Marmaduke stood up on the fence and shouted:

 

He shouted so hard, and waved his hands so excitedly that he tumbled off his perch, and lay still for a second. He was frightened, too, but he forgot all about the bump on his forehead, and picked himself up, and ran after Reddy across the field towards the barnyard, which, fortunately, was just on the other side.

 

“Ooooooohhhhh!”–a very deep “Oooooohhhh!” came from behind him from the throats of the dogs. They were only one field away now, and it sounded as if they were pretty mad.

Marmaduke stood on the fence and shouted - Hooray Go it, Reddy
Marmaduke stood on the fence and shouted – Hooray! Go it, Reddy!

But Reddy had reached the corner of the field where the blackberry bushes lined the fence. Now usually Reddy would have looked all around those bushes until he found an opening; then he would have stepped daintily through it. But he didn’t do that today, oh no! You see his family has a great reputation for wisdom, and Reddy must have been just as wise as the man in Mother Goose, for he neither stopped nor stayed, but jumped right in those brambles and managed somehow to get through the rails of the fence to the other side. He left part of his pretty red coat in the briars. However, that was better than leaving it all to those dogs who were howling not far behind.

 

And now the Little Fox found himself near the barn and flew towards it so fast that his legs fairly twinkled as he ran.

 

The Foolish White Geese were taking their morning waddle, and Reddy ran plump into them. Now there was nothing that he liked better to eat than nice fat goose. Still, he didn’t wait, but left them beating their wings and stretching their long necks to hiss, hiss, hiss, as they scattered in all directions. I guess Reddy wished his legs were as long as their necks.

 

Now in the old days when rich folks lived in castles and robber knights quarreled and fought every day of the week, there were always places of sanctuary, where any man could be safe from harm. That is just what Reddy saw in front of him, a place of sanctuary for himself.

 

It was funny, but it had been prepared by little Wienerwurst. And Wienerwurst was really Reddy’s enemy, for all dogs like to chase foxes whenever they get the chance. It was a little hole, just the right size for Wienerwurst, just the right size for Reddy. The little yellow doggie wasn’t there now. He had dug it that morning to catch the big rat hiding somewhere below the floor of the barn. He had started to build a tunnel under the wall, and had been a long time working at it when Mother Green came from the house. She carried a fine large bone, with lots of meat left on it, too. And, of course, when the little dog smelled that bone and meat, much as he liked rats, he just had to leave his work at the tunnel and run straight for the bone, leaving the hole waiting for Reddy.

 

Straight into it Reddy ran, just as Marmaduke and the big dogs reached the fence and the blackberry bushes, all at the same time. Now Marmaduke could have cried because the hunter dogs would reach the hole before he could get there and cover it up, and they would reach down into that hole and drag Reddy out by his pretty red coat and eat him all up.

 

But when he stuck his head through the rail he saw help coming. Jehosophat was there and he had heard those bad dogs and seen them, too, coming on with their big mouths open and their tongues hanging out as if they wanted to swallow Reddy down in one gulp. And Jehosophat could see the redcoats on the horses not far away. They had reached the big oak in the field and were coming on very fast.

 

He looked around. There was the very thing. A nice, broad cover of an egg-crate. It would fit exactly. So, quick as a wink, Jehosophat picked it up and clapped it over the hole. Then he looked around again. It wasn’t quite safe yet. But there was the big rock which they used for “Duck-on-the-rock.” The very thing! It was almost more than he could manage, that rock, but he pulled and he tugged, and he tugged and he pulled, ’til he had it safe on the crate-cover over the hole–and Reddy was saved!

 

It was just in time, too, for the dogs had come barking and yelping and bellowing, and now all they could do was to sniff, sniff, sniff around that hole.

 

Then over the fence into the barnyard jumped the horses; and Marmaduke came running up; and the Toyman rushed over from the field; and Father came out of the barn; and Mother flew out of the house; and Rover and Brownie and Wienerwurst raced from the pond, each one to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

 

What they did see was the two boys standing guard in front of the hole to protect little Reddy, and the big hunter dogs jumping up on them with their paws and growling most terribly. It was a wonder that the boys weren’t frightened enough to run away, but they didn’t. They just stood their ground. Still, they were glad enough to see Father and the Toyman close by.

 

And now one of the men in redcoats had dismounted from his horse, and Marmaduke called to him,–

 

“You shan’t touch Reddy, you shan’t!”

 

He was half crying, too, not for himself, but for Reddy.

 

The man was taking off his cap. He was very polite, and he bowed to Mother.

 

“We’ll pay for all damages, Madam, but let us have the brush.”

 

The boys thought that was funny, calling their mother “madam,” when everybody in the neighborhood called her “Mis’ Green.” And what did he want a brush for? To brush his fine cap and red coat or his shiny boots? Or to wipe up Reddy out of his hole? However, the Toyman was whispering:

 

“He means Reddy’s tail. That’s what hunters call the brush.”

 

When Marmaduke heard that, he grabbed tight hold of the Toyman’s hand on one side and of his father’s on the other, and shouted:

 

“Don’t let them get Reddy!”

 

But Father was talking to the man. He called him “Mr. Seymour-Frelinghuysen,” and both the boys wondered if all people with fine horses and shiny boots and red coats had to have long, funny-sounding names like that.

 

“It’s all right about the damages, Mr. Seymour-Frelinghuysen,” Father was saying, “but I guess we won’t give up the fox today.”

 

And Father smiled down at Marmaduke, and oh, wasn’t that little boy relieved and happy, and his brother, too! As for the Toyman, he had a funny twinkle in his eyes.

 

Of course, there was a lot of grumbling on the part of the redcoats, and a lot of barking and growling from the big hunter dogs, but the men had to get on their horses and call off their dogs and ride away. “I guess they knew they were in the wrong,” said Jehosophat, after they had tied up Rover and Brownie and Wienerwurst, and taken the stone and board away from Reddy’s hole.

 

Then they looked in the hole-but no Reddy!

 

Meanwhile the Toyman had gone into the barn.

 

“Come here!” he shouted.

 

So they ran in, and there, in the corner, hidden under the hay was Reddy, all muddy from the brook and torn from the briars. His eyes looked very bright, but they looked pitiful too.

 

The Toyman put out his hand and stroked his fur. At first Reddy showed his teeth and snapped at the Toyman just like a baby wolf. But that hand came towards him so quietly, and the voice sounded so gentle, that Reddy lay still. You see, the Toyman somehow understood how to treat foxes and all kinds of animals just as well as he did boys, little or big.

 

“What doesn’t that man know?” Mother had said once, and right she was, too.

 

It took some time to train Reddy, for, although he was very small, he was very wild. However, the Toyman managed to tame him. Perhaps it was because the Little Lost Fox was wounded and sore and hurt all over. Anyway, he seemed to appreciate what the Toyman did for him, for all he was a little wild child of the fields and the forests.

 

They built him a house, all for himself, and a fence of wire. It was great fun to see him poking his sharp nose through the holes and stepping around so daintily on his pretty little feet.

 

He always had such a wise look. In fact, he was too wise altogether, for one day he was gone, through some little hole he had dug under his fence.–And they never saw him again–at least, they haven’t to this day.

 

At first the three children felt very sad about this, but when the Toyman explained it, they saw how everything was all right.

 

“You see,” the Toyman said, “he’s happier in the woods and fields than being cooped up here.”

 

Marmaduke thought about that for a moment.

 

“Anyway,” he began, “anyway,—-”

 

“Yes?” said Mother, trying to help him out.

 

“Anyway, I’m glad we saved him from the ole redcoats,” he finished.

 

And maybe Reddy will visit them again someday. Stranger things than that have happened. So, who knows…..?

HPSS-Front-Cover

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From: Half-Past Seven Stories by R. G. Anderson. Illustrations in colour By Dorothy Hope Smith.

ISBN: 9788828315827

CLICK HERE to download this story – https://bit.ly/2UFbXPn

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Keywords/Tabs: fairy tales, folklore, myths, legends, children’s stories, children’s stories, bygone era, fairydom, fairy land, classic stories, children’s bedtime stories, happy place, happiness, top of the morning, little lost fox, big bobsled, jolly roger, pirate, blue croaker,  bright agate, little gray mig, old woman, lives on the canal, two o’ cat, fairy lamp, animals, birthday party, dr. philemon pipp,  patient, medicine man, jehosophat, forgot, piece, ole man, pumpkin, Norway spruce, door, open, hole, ran, runs,  to china, peppermint pagoda, took, take, city, Jehosophat, Marmaduke, and Hepzebiah, Green, old, uncles, aunts, White House, Green Blinds, Side of the Road, fishing, pond, swim, Toyman, Methusaleh, playmates, friends, feathers, fur, Monday morning, Thursday noon,  Saturday night, lessons, lights, fireflies, twinkle, Father, Mother

THERE was once upon a time a young girl named Japonel, the daughter of a wood-cutter, and of all things that lived by the woodside, she was the most fair.

Her hair in its net was like a snared sunbeam, and her face like a spring over which roses leaned down and birds hung fluttering to drink—such being the in-dwelling presence of her eyes and her laughing lips and her cheeks.

Whenever she crossed the threshold of her home, the birds and the flowers began calling to her, “Look up, Japonel! Look down, Japonel!” for the sight of the sweet face they loved so much. The squirrel called over its bough, “Look up, Japonel!” and the rabbit from between the roots, “Japonel, look down!” And Japonel, as she went, looked up and looked down, and laughed, thinking what a sweet-sounding place the world was.

Her mother, looking at her from day to day, became afraid: she said to the wood-cutter, “Our child is too fair; she will get no good of it.”

But her husband answered, “Good wife, why should it trouble you? What is there in these quiet parts that can harm her? Keep her only from the pond in the wood, lest the pond-witch see her and become envious.”

“Do not go near water, or you may fall in!” said her mother one day as she saw Japonel bending down to look at her face in a rain-puddle by the road.

Japonel laughed softly. “O silly little mother, how can I fall into a puddle that is not large enough for my two feet to stand in?”

But the mother thought to herself, when Japonel grows older and finds the pond in the wood, she will go there to look at her face, unless she has something better to see it in at home. So from the next pedlar who came that way she bought a little mirror and gave it to Japonel, that in it she might see her face with its spring-like beauty, and so have no cause to go near the pond in the wood. The lovely girl, who had never seen a mirror in her life, took the rounded glass in her hand and gazed for a long time without speaking, wondering more and more at her own loveliness. Then she went softly away with it into her own chamber, and wishing to find a name for a thing she loved so much, she called it, “Stream’s eye,” and hung it on the wall beside her bed.

In the days that followed, the door of her chamber would be often shut, and her face seldom seen save of herself alone. And “Look up, Japonel! Look down, Japonel!” was a sound she no longer cared to hear as she went through the woods; for the memory of “Stream’s eye” was like a dream that clung to her, and floated in soft ripples on her face.

She grew tall like an aspen, and more fair, but pale. Her mother said, “Woe is me, for now I have made her vain through showing her her great beauty.” And to Japonel herself she said, “Oh, my beautiful, my bright darling, though I have made thee vain, I pray thee to punish me not. Do not go near the pond in the wood to look in it, or an evil thing will happen to thee.” And Japonel smiled dreamily amid half-thoughts, and kissing her mother, “Dear mother,” she said, “does ‘Stream’s eye’ tell me everything of my beauty, or am I in other eyes still fairer?” Then her mother answered sadly, “Nay, but I trust the open Eye of God finds in thee a better beauty than thy mirror can tell thee of.”

Japonel, when she heard that answer, went away till she came to the pond in the wood. It lay down in a deep hollow, and drank light out of a clear sky, which, through a circle of dark boughs, ever looked down on it. “Perhaps,” she said to herself, “it is here that God will open His Eye and show me how much fairer I am than even ‘Stream’s eye’ can tell me.” But she thought once of her mother’s words, and went by.

Then she turned again, “It is only that my mother fears lest I become vain. What harm can come if I do look once? it will be in my way home.” So she crept nearer and nearer to the pond, saying to herself, “To see myself once as fair as God sees me cannot be wrong. Surely that will not make me more vain.” And when she came through the last trees, and stood near the brink, she saw before her a little old woman, dressed in green, kneeling by the water and looking in.

“There at least,” she said to herself, “is one who looks in without any harm happening to her. I wonder what it is she sees that she stays there so still.” And coming a little nearer, “Good dame,” called Japonel, “what is it you have found there, that you gaze at so hard?” And the old woman, without moving or looking up, answered, “My own face; but a hundred times younger and fairer, as it was in my youth.”

Then thought Japonel, “How should I look now, who am fair and in the full bloom of my youth? It is because my mother fears lest I shall become vain that she warned me.” So she came quickly and knelt down by the old woman and looked in. And even as she caught sight of her face gazing up, pale and tremulous (“Quick, go away!” its lips seemed to be saying), the old woman slid down from the bank and caught hold of her reflection with green, weed-like arms, and drew it away into the pool’s still depths below. Beneath Japonel’s face lay nothing now but blank dark water, and far away in, a faint face gazed back beseeching, and its lips moved with an imprisoned prayer that might not make itself heard. Only three bubbles rose to the surface, and broke into three separate sighs like the shadow of her own name. Then the pond-witch stirred the mud, and all trace of that lost image went out, and Japonel was left alone.

She rose, expecting to see nothing, to be blind; but the woods were there, night shadows were gathering to their tryst under the boughs, and brighter stars had begun blotting the semi-brightness of the sky. All the way home she went feebly, not yet resolved of the evil that had come upon her. She stole quietly to her own little room in the fading light, and took down “Stream’s eye” from the wall. Then she fell forward upon the bed, for all the surface of her glass was grown blank: never could she hope to look upon her own face again.

The next morning she hung her head low, for she feared all her beauty was flown from her, till she heard her father say, “Wife, each day it seems to me our Japonel grows more fair.” And her mother answered, sighing, “She is too fair, I know.”

Then Japonel set out once more for the pond in the wood. As she went the birds and the flowers sang to her, “Look up, Japonel; look down, Japonel!” but Japonel went on, giving them no heed. She came to the water’s side, and leaning over, saw far down in a tangle of green weeds a face that looked back to hers, faint and blurred by the shimmering movement of the water. Then, weeping, she wrung her hands and cried:

“Ah! sweet face of Japonel,
Beauty and grace of Japonel,
Image and eyes of Japonel,
‘Come back!’ sighs Japonel.”

 

And bubble by bubble a faint answer was returned that broke like a sob on the water’s surface:

“I am the face of Japonel,
The beauty and grace of Japonel;
Here under a spell, Japonel,
I dwell, Japonel.”

 

All day Japonel cried so, and was so answered. Now and again, green weeds would come skimming to the surface, and seem to listen to her reproach, and then once more sink down to their bed in the pond’s depths, and lie almost still, waving long slimy fingers through the mud.

The next day Japonel came again, and cried as before:

“Ah! sweet face of Japonel,
Beauty and grace of Japonel,
Image and eyes of Japonel,
‘Come back!’ cries Japonel.”

 

And her shadow in the water made answer:

“I am the face of Japonel,
The beauty and grace of Japonel;
Here under a spell, Japonel,
I dwell, Japonel.”

Now as she sat and sorrowed she noticed that whenever a bird flew over the pond it dropped something out of its mouth into the water, and looking she saw millet-seeds lying everywhere among the weeds of its surface; one by one they were being sucked under by the pond-witch.

Japonel stayed so long by the side of the pond, that on her way home it had fallen quite dark while she was still in the middle of the wood. Then all at once she heard a bird with loud voice cry out of the darkness, “Look up, Japonel!” The cry was so sudden and so strange, coming at that place and that hour, that all through her grief she heard it, and stopped to look up. Again in the darkness she heard the bird cry, “Why do you weep, Japonel?” Japonel said, “Because the pond-witch has carried away my beautiful reflection in the water, so that I can see my own face no more.”

Then the bird said, “Why have you not done as the birds do? She is greedy; so they throw in millet-seeds, and then she does not steal the reflection of their wings when they pass over.” And Japonel answered, “Because I did not know that, therefore I am to-day the most miserable of things living.” Then said the bird, “Come to-morrow, and you shall be the happiest.”

So the next day Japonel went and sat by the pond in the wood, waiting to be made the happiest, as the bird had promised her. All day long great flocks of birds went to and fro, and the pond became covered with seeds. Japonel looked; “Why, they are poppy-seeds!” she cried. (Now poppy-seeds when they are eaten make people sleep.) Just as the sun was setting all the birds began suddenly to cry in chorus, “Look down, Japonel! Japonel, look down!” And there, on the pond’s surface, lay an old woman dressed in green, fast asleep, with all the folds of her dress and the wrinkles of her face full of poppy-seeds.

Then Japonel ran fast to the pond’s edge and looked down. Slowly from the depth rose the pale beautiful reflection of herself, untying itself from the thin green weeds, and drifting towards the bank. It looked up with tremulous greeting, half sadness, half pleasure, seeming so glad after that long separation to return to its sweet mistress. So as it came and settled below her own face in the water, Japonel stooped down over it and kissed it.

Then she sprang back from the brink and ran home, fast, fast in the fading light. And there, when she looked in her mirror, was once more the beautiful face she loved, a little blue and wan from its long imprisonment under water. And so it ever remained, beautiful, but wan, to remind her of the sorrow that had come upon her when, loving this too well, she had not loved enough to listen to the cry of the birds: “Look up, Japonel!” and, “Japonel, look down!”

——————-

An excerpt from : Moonshine and Clover

ISBN: 9781909302259

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/moonshine-and-clover_p23626220.htm

Moonshine and Clover

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