The Ugly Aunt
Long ago there was a little girl whose parents were dead and who had no brothers and sisters. This poor orphan was left all alone without friends to take care of her. She had no relations. Her name was Geraldine. She was very beautiful and she was always anxious to learn and willing to work. This was well for she had to earn her own living.
In that country there was a fine palace where lived a powerful queen. To this palace Geraldine went to get a place as maid to the queen. Now when the queen saw her she loved her for her beauty, and chose her to wait on her, and always be near her. The queen did not mind how poor she was. Geraldine was very happy for she liked to work for the queen and tried to please her.
At last there was trouble. The other maids in the palace of the queen were jealous of Geraldine. They hated her because the queen loved her best and had chosen her to be her favorite. They annoyed her and teased her. They tried to make her angry but she was very patient. Finally they thought how they could injure her. The queen loved to spin. She thought no one could spin as fast or as fine as she. So those wicked maids told the queen that Geraldine had boasted that she could spin a pound of flax all in one day. This was not true but the queen did not know it. She thought Geraldine was very boastful. So she put her in a room all by herself and gave her a spinning wheel and a pound of flax. She bade her show how well she could spin, then left her alone.
Poor Geraldine was very much troubled. Her mother had never taught her how to spin and she was in despair. She sat down and cried for she knew not what to do. Just then the door opened and a queer looking woman came in. She was very old and ugly with a long nose. She asked the maid why she cried and she told her about the flax which she could not spin. Then the old woman told her that she would spin the flax and she should go to bed, if on her wedding day she would call her aunt. Geraldine promised. Then the woman spun the flax very fast and soon finished it all. After that she went away.
In the evening the queen came into the room to see how her maid had got along with her task. She was very much surprised to see that the flax was all spun, and how fine and even the thread was. She embraced Geraldine and kissed her. She said she was very smart to spin so well, and that she should wed her son, the prince.
So there was a grand wedding at the palace and Geraldine became a princess. There was a fine wedding feast and many guests were at the table. While they were eating and laughing the door flew open and a funny old woman came bouncing in. The guests were astonished. The woman curtesied to all and said to the princess, “Good evening, gentle lady.” Geraldine replied, “Good evening, aunt.” The prince was much surprised to hear his bride call this ugly, wrinkled woman her aunt. He made room at the table and politely invited her to sit by him at the feast. While he ate, the prince could not help wondering why this old woman had such a long nose. At last he asked her how her nose happened to be so long. She answered, “It was spinning in my girlhood that made my nose so long.” The prince stared. Then he declared before all his guests that his bride, the beautiful Geraldine, should never spin again, for he did not want her to spoil her beauty, and become ugly with a long nose like her aunt. So Geraldine was never asked to spin again and lived happily with the prince.
The Maid of the Inn
An inn is a house where travellers stop to get their meals and sometimes stay overnight. Many years ago there were many inns in England and many travellers stopped at them to drink and eat. At one of these inns, there was a young girl named Mary. She waited on the guests and brought them whatever they wanted. She was the maid of the inn. She was beautiful and good. She was always cheerful and tried to please everybody. She often prayed to God and she knew he would take care of her. So she was never afraid of the dark. Everybody liked her and many praised her. They knew that she was a true, good girl. By and by she had a lover. His name was Richard. Soon they were to be married. Now Mary’s friends did not like Richard because he was always idle and did not like to work. They thought Mary would be very unhappy if she married him.
Well, one night it was very stormy. The wind blew hard and made the trees creak and groan. There were two guests at the inn. They were sitting by a table, smoking and talking about the weather. They thought it was a terrible night.
A short distance from the inn there was an old ruined abbey. There were many dark empty rooms and dark corners about the ruins. One of the men said he knew no one would dare to go to the old abbey during such a stormy night. The other man said he knew Mary, the maid of the inn, would not be afraid. The first man laughed and said he knew Mary would be frightened by a white cow if she saw one.
Then they called Mary and asked her if she would go alone to the old abbey. She said she would go and that she was not afraid. So it was agreed that she should bring a bunch of elder, which grew in the middle of the ruins to prove that she had been there. Then Mary put on her hood and shawl and started out. The wind blew furiously and soon she shivered with the cold. In a short time she reached the ruins and made her way over the piles of stones and through the dark rooms. The wind roared through the ruins but Mary was not afraid. At last she reached the clump of elder and quickly picked a bunch to take back with her. Just then she was startled by hearing voices nearby. Now she began to be frightened. In a little while the wind ceased to blow hard and she heard footsteps approaching. She trembled with fear but she quickly hid behind a broken column. She peeped from behind her hiding place and saw two men carrying a corpse between them. All at once the wind blew hard again and the hat of one of the men was blown from his head and rolled to Mary’s feet. Mary thought she would surely be discovered and her heart beat fast. The men, however, were very anxious to conceal the dead body which they bore, so the man did not follow his hat and soon they passed on.
When the men had gone Mary seized the hat and ran very fast out of the ruins. She rushed breathless into the inn and fell on the floor. She could not speak because she was so frightened. Presently she noticed the hat which she had brought with her. Then she screamed and fainted away for she recognized her lover, Richard’s hat. She knew, then, that he was a murderer.
Richard was caught, tried in court before a judge, and sentenced to be hanged.
Poor Mary! Her mind became weak and she soon lost her reason. She wandered about the village and never smiled again. Her clothes became ragged and torn but she did not notice them. Everybody felt sorry for her but they could not help her. They could not restore her mind again.
Three Little Ones and the Giants
Three Little Ones lived in a little house tucked away behind the walls of a giant’s castle. The entrance to their house was through a long narrow passage. The giants could not reach them for they could not go through the narrow entrance. Here the Little Ones lived in comfort. They lined their house with fur and made their beds of feather and bits of paper. When they were hungry, they came out of their house through the narrow passage. They ran about the halls of the castle and took the food which the giants neglected. Sometimes the little giants dropped their cake or other food or threw it away. This the Little Ones were very glad to get and carried to their home behind the wall. They grew fat and sleek. They were happy. Often they played and scampered about the Giant’s halls. They became very bold and saucy. It happened some of the little giants saw them, while at play. They chased them, then the Little Ones ran for their lives. The feet of the giants were fearfully large. One huge foot would cover a dozen Little Ones. No wonder they rushed helter-skelter through the narrow passage leading to their home, where they were safe. The giants saw the little passage, but they could not reach the Little Ones.
The Little Ones were so frightened that they stayed at home a long time. They became very hungry. Then they came out to look for food. They saw a pretty little house with food in it. Being very hungry they did not stop to think but ran in and began to nibble the delicious food greedily. All at once there was a click and a snap and the door of the little house snapped shut. The Little Ones pushed against it but it was fast. They ran all about the little house but they could not get out. Their hearts beat fast. They did not know what to do. They walked all about and examined the little house carefully and found that it was really a prison. Iron bars were all over the windows and doors and they could not break them open. They could only wait to see what would happen.
By and by, the Little Ones heard a terrible noise. Several young giants came running up to the little prison. The sound of their feet on the hard ground was like thunder. The Little Ones almost fainted from fright. One of the giants stooped and picked up the prison. He held it upon one hand and looked through the bars at the little prisoners. His great eyes and enormous teeth, when he grinned, were frightful. The other giants crowded around and made a terrible din with their feet and voices. The little prison with its helpless inmates was carried about and exhibited to all the other giants, big and little. All this time the Little Ones were quaking with fear in a corner of their prison.
At last the little prisoners were carried out of the castle to a wide open space surrounded by high walls. Many of the giants crowded in this place. Then the door of the prison was opened just wide enough for one to go out at a time. Then one of the terrified prisoners sprang out among the feet of the terrible giants, hoping to escape, and ran hither and thither, pursued by the frightful monsters. There was no opening in the wall through which to escape and at last the monstrous foot of one of the giants was planted square upon his frail little body. Every bone in his body was broken and his life was crushed out. Again the prison door was opened and another Little One rushed out. His life was also crushed out as was the first one.
The third Little One was doomed to witness the terrible death of his beloved brothers, and knew his turn would come. The giants had no pity. They were powerful. The Little Ones were weak and helpless. When the Little Ones ran with terror and screamed with pain, the heartless giants laughed and danced. The giants again crowded around the prison entertaining the last Little One. “Turn him out, turn him out,” they cried. Then the largest and most terrible ogre of all seized the Little One by the nape of the neck. He held him up as you would a feather. He smiled to see the grinning faces of his tribe upturned to his. Then with a toss he flung the Little One high above their heads. He fell in the midst of the terrible creatures. He sprang this way; he sprang that way in hopes of escaping the awful feet of his pursuers. But alas! his poor little heart failed him and his strength was spent. He rushed blindly into a corner and there was no escape. A dozen stamping feet struck the helpless body and crushed it into a shapeless mass. Thus ended the lives of three innocent Little Ones who unwisely built their house behind the walls of the giants’ castle.
Yellow Hair and Blue Eyes
There was once a little boy whose name was Tommy Fane. He had a little sister who was only four months old. Tommy loved his sister very much, but he would have loved her more if she had had yellow hair and blue eyes. Her hair and eyes were black like Tommy’s. Tommy did not like black hair and black eyes. He thought it would be very nice if he had a sister with yellow hair and blue eyes.
There was a new house across the street from where Tommy lived. One day a family moved into it. While the people were moving things upstairs Tommy walked into the house to look around. The first thing he saw was a cradle. In the cradle lay a lovely baby with yellow hair and blue eyes. When Tommy saw the baby he said, “Oh dear! I wish our baby looked like this.” Then he wondered if his mother would not rather have this baby than her own. He stood admiring the baby awhile, then he lifted it from the cradle. It was so heavy he could hardly carry it. He held it tight and took it home and put it in his sister’s cradle. Then he carried his little sister over to the other house.
In a little while the mother of the yellow-haired baby came to take it upstairs. When she looked into the cradle, she saw it was not her own baby lying there. She was very much frightened and thought somebody had stolen her baby. She took up the baby and ran across the street to tell somebody what had happened. She did not know Tommy’s mother but she walked right into the house forgetting to knock at the door. There she saw Tommy showing his mother the new little sister with yellow hair. The strange lady was very glad to get back her baby and so was Tommy’s mother. Both mothers cried a little at first, but they laughed when Tommy explained to them why he had changed the babies. They did not scold Tommy for they knew he had not meant to do wrong. They were sorry he had made so much trouble.
The dining-room was closed and the curtains drawn down. The chairs were in their accustomed places and the table presented its usual tidy appearance.
Everything was quiet and the clock on the mantel was humming its usual song, “Tick-tock, tick-tock.”
All at once a deep sigh was heard from one corner and all looked in the direction and saw the head chair leaning forward as if in pain and a groan followed the sigh.
“Why, what in the world is the matter?” exclaimed the table, fluttering its white covering in an important manner.
“Matter enough,” replied the chair. “I am sick and weary of this hard, monotonous life.”
“That is what I say,” piped one of the smaller chairs and all the rest echoed its words.
“Ah,” sighed the head chair, “This life is almost unendurable.” “Well,” inquired the table, “what special trials of life have you that others have not, I should like to know?”
“Trials! Yes, trials indeed!” exclaimed the chair. “Am not I and all my kindred constantly sat down upon? Are we not constantly held down and ground under burdens almost beyond our strength. Have not many of us actually broken down with the loads piled upon us. But it is not the burdens alone that we have to bear. We are pushed and kicked about in a manner to bring the blush of shame upon us. It is bad enough to be constantly supporting those creatures who go about on two legs, but when, as it often happens, one of them who weighs two or three hundred pounds, flops down upon us we are nearly crushed with the weight. Is it any wonder we groan audibly and shrink from such trials? If these creatures would only sit still when they are on us it would not be so bad, but when they wiggle about and push back and compel us to stand on two legs, or rock back and forth so we are kept jumping up and down, it fairly racks our frame. It almost breaks our back and makes all our joints crack.”
Here a sigh passed among the chairs as they were thus reminded of the terrible strain they had all been subject to one time or another.
“What burdens can you have?” inquired the head chair still leaning forward. “You are treated with respect. You keep your place in the middle of the room. You are always kept nicely covered up and everything has to move around you and those two-legged creatures bow down to you as in worship. Yours seems to be an easy life indeed.”
“Ah! Listen,” replied the table, “and I will show you what I have to endure.”
“In the first place my cover, which you seem to think so nice, is a burden, for it covers me up so I can hardly breathe. I am often seized by the head and foot and stretched out until I am on the point of breaking in two. Then the maid brings in the roast and places it square on my head and right beside it, she places a huge pile of plates.
“On my foot there is another pile of plates and other dishes, so with these weights I can move neither head nor foot. Besides this a row of plates and dishes are ranged along my sides and piled upon my back and some of them are so hot as to raise huge blisters on my delicate skin. Added to all these my little masters sit about me and jab me in the sides with their forks and spill hot tea and gravy upon me, and I cannot raise the cover to cool the burns. My legs are often kicked and the skin knocked off. Now are not all these worse burdens than you have to bear?”
“No, no,” replied the head chair, “I have not told you all by any means. Sometimes we are thrown down by Sarah, the maid, with such violence that we bump our heads very hard on the floor. And only the other day when the nurse was out at the corner talking to Bobby, the policeman, master Tommy came in and pulled me down upon my knees, tied a leather thong around my ears for reins and then climbed upon my back and beat me with a cane. My ribs were almost broken and my back was terribly scratched. For this I was consoled, however, for when the nurse came in she shook Tommy real hard and took him away to the nursery.”
“Tut, Tut,” said the clock. “All this talk will not help you nor make your burdens lighter. Every one has his work to do and the best way is to be patient and keep pegging away, as I do.”
Saying this, the clock struck six and the chairs and table became very quiet and looked very grave as the dining-room maid came in, let in the sunlight and prepared for tea. She never suspected that a mutiny had almost taken place.
In Cairo there lived a worthy Mohammedan. He was industrious and frugal but extremely poor. He tried his best to support his family in plenty but he never succeeded. At last he began to complain saying, “However I may toil and plan, the wolf is ever howling at my door.” He saw that thieves and rascals always prospered so he began to doubt the justice of Providence. He talked to his wife, Fatama, and grumbling said, “Mohammed is Allah’s prophet, but what has Mohammed done to help boil my kettle, I would like to know. The thieves fare better and I am inclined to follow their business henceforth.”
“Dog of an Arab!” cried his pious wife, “would you steal to better your means, and hasten Allah’s vengeance?” She bade him arouse for shame and cease repining at his fate. She told him he must go to the Bazaar and take with him pen, paper and a book. She said he must sit in a corner, and look grave and solemn. He must read his book and make mystic scrawls upon his paper. He must pretend to be a wise man and learned sheik, then people could flock to him to purchase his advice. The man thought this might be a good plan. So his wife took a hollow pumpkin and placed it upon her husband’s head. It made him look odd and grave. Then she bade him go off to the Bazaar and do as she had told him.
The man obeyed his wife and going to the Bazaar selected a quiet nook. There he sat and pored over his book with many a grimace and mystic look. Soon a customer appeared. It was a peasant in much distress. He said, “Good Father Pumpkin, I have lost my ass. You surely can tell me where to find him.” Now the man was much puzzled. He knew nothing about the ass and he began to scold Fatama for sending him there. At last, in despair, he told the peasant to go to the graveyard for his ass. The peasant went there and found his ass. He was delighted. He returned and paid the sheik well. Father Pumpkin was surprised also, but he was glad. With his money he hastened home. He thought he had a wise wife.
Next morning Father Pumpkin hastened to his post. Many persons had heard of him and each of them had lost something and wanted him to help them find it. One had lost some money, another some silk, and another, a lover. With solemn face the sheik told each one where to find what was lost. All turned out according to his advice. Thus it continued for many days and Father Pumpkin became famous and rich. He was afraid, however, his luck might desert him, so he spoke to Fatama and said, “We are now rich and I shall quit my place in the Bazaar for we can now live without more work.” Just then a messenger from the Sultan arrived. He told the sheik that the Sultan had been robbed of all his costly jewels. He had sent for the sheik to come to the capital and find the robbers. The messenger told Father Pumpkin if he could not find the robbers, he would lose his head. Now the man was very much frightened indeed. He cursed Fatama because she had gotten him into trouble but he could not help it and had to go along with the messenger to the Sultan. The Sultan gave the sheik seven days in which to find the robbers. Father Pumpkin was in sore distress. He was sure he would lose his head. He took seven white beans and decided to swallow one of them at the end of each day. So at sunset he took the first bean, swallowed it and said aloud, “There goes one.” It happened that just then the leader of the band that stole the Sultan’s jewels was passing by. He heard the sheik’s remark and saw the uplifted hand. He was frightened and ran away as fast as he could fly. He told his companions that the cunning sheik had found him out. The next day the robbers sent another man who walked past the sheik. Just then Father Pumpkin swallowed another bean and said, “There goes a second.” The robber fled, amazed. The next night the robbers sent another man. As he walked past the sheik, he saw his hand raised and heard him say, “There goes a third.” Each night the robbers sent a different man and each time the sheik swallowed a bean and said, “There goes another.” So the robbers felt sure Father Pumpkin knew them all. They were in great fear. They took the jewels and went secretly to the sheik. They confessed their guilt. They gave him the jewels and asked him to forgive them. They promised that they would rob no more. Father Pumpkin was very glad to get the jewels. He made the robbers swear by the Koran that they would sin no more. Then he sent for the Sultan and gave him the jewels. The Sultan was delighted to get his jewels again and gave the sheik money and presents. He also promised to give Father Pumpkin whatever favor he might choose. The happy sheik at once requested that a decree be published forbidding any one ever questioning him again of any matter, either great or small. It was done and Father Pumpkin returned home and spent the remainder of his life in peace and plenty.
The Youth and the Northwind
Once upon a time long ago, there was an honest old woman who lived with her son. Her husband was dead and she was old and lame. One day she sent her son to get some flour. The lad got the flour but he was careless and did not hurry home. He put down the flour and ran about to play. While he was loitering, the Northwind came along and stole the flour.
When the lad came back to the place where he had left the flour, he was very sorrowful. The flour was gone and it was all they had. He thought they must starve. He wondered what to do. At last he ran off swiftly to the Northwind’s cave near the distant sea. He demanded the flour. He said they would starve if they did not have it. “I have it not,” the Northwind growled. “But I will give you this tablecloth instead.” It was a magic tablecloth. When it was spread the lad might order any dish and it would appear at once. The boy was much pleased and returned towards home. In the evening he stopped at an inn just half way home. He showed the people what his tablecloth could do. In the night the dishonest landlord stole the magic tablecloth and put another cloth in its place. The next day the boy continued his journey. He reached home in the evening. He told his mother about the wonderful tablecloth. She did not think the cloth would do any good and wanted the flour. The lad told her it was well that the Northwind stole the flour. Then he spread the cloth and called for meat and bread and other things. But it was only a common tablecloth, so nothing came about.
Then the youth was angry and hied himself back to the Northwind’s cave. Said he, “Your tablecloth is of no account. I want my flour again.” The Northwind declared, “I have not your flour but because you have no bread, I will give you this goat instead. You have only to say, ‘Make money, master Billy,’ and it will make all the money you want.” Then the boy was glad. He took the goat and started home again. When he reached the inn, he showed what his wonderful goat could do. It made money for him. Then he went to bed but during the night the landlord stole the goat and put another goat in its place. The next day the lad continued his journey homeward. When he reached home he told his mother that he had a wonderful goat that could make money for them. His mother doubted it and said, “Your silly goat can do no good for hungry people.” Then the lad exclaimed, “Make money, Mister Goat.” But, alas! it was only a common goat and it could do nothing. Then the boy was very angry, because he thought he had been fooled again. He hastened back to the Northwind’s cave and again demanded his flour. The Northwind was cross and said he did not have it. He gave the boy only a cudgel this time. He told him if he said to the stick, “My cudgel hit away,” it would obey him and not stop till he told it to do so. The luckless lad took the cudgel and started home again.
He stopped at the same inn, where he had lodged before. He did not tell what his cudgel could do. He retired and pretended to sleep. By and by the thievish host came in and intended to steal the stick. The boy, who was not asleep, saw him and cried, “Stop, stop. My cudgel hit away.” Then the cudgel hit the man on the head until he cried for mercy. Still the staff kept thumping the host about the head. At last he groaned, “I’ll give you back your cloth and goat. Oh! spare my broken head.” Then the boy told the cudgel to stop and he got his tablecloth and goat again. The next morning he proceeded homeward.
When he reached home he showed his tablecloth and goat to his mother. He showed her what they could do. After that they always had plenty to eat and lots of money. They became rich and the boy married a princess when he became a man. He had money for his friends and a cudgel for his enemies.
Alice was a little girl. She loved bread and butter and ate a good deal of it but she did not eat the crusts. She did not like them because they were hard.
One day a lady told Alice if she ate the crusts, it would make her hair curly. Then she ate all her crusts because she wanted curly hair very much. She thought curls were very pretty. She ate the crusts every day for a long time, but her hair did not curl. She was disappointed. She would not eat any more crusts. One day she ate several slices of bread but she left all the crusts. Her mamma reproved her and asked her why she did not eat the crusts. Alice said, “The lady told me, if I ate the crusts it would make my hair curly. I ate many crusts and my hair did not curl. The lady told me a story. I will not eat any more.” And she did not.
Many years ago a wealthy man named Orsini lived in a beautiful villa near the city of Modena in Italy. Beautiful grounds surrounded his home and costly things filled the house. He had an only child, Ginevra, whose mother died when she was very young. Orsini loved his daughter very much. He watched over her carefully and never let her go away from him. She grew up beautiful, pure, and good.
When she was very young she became a bride. She married Francesco Doria. He was an only son and her playmate from childhood. There were many guests at the wedding. The bride was gay and happy and danced with many. She became tired and in a fit of playfulness, ran away to hide. She ran away from her young husband, laughing and looking back. She hastened to the attic-rooms of the mansion where many old things were kept. In one corner there stood an old, curiously carved, oaken chest. It was very large and strong. Ginevra ran up to this chest and opened it. She sprang inside and closed the lid. Alas, poor Ginevra! There was a spring-lock and as the lid closed, it snapped fast. The beautiful bride was imprisoned forever.
In the large dining hall the wedding guests sat down to the bountiful feast. Here was Orsini and Francesco; Ginevra alone was missing. All expected she would soon return. They waited, then they began to look about anxiously. Still Ginevra did not come. Fear and anxiety filled every heart. Orsini and Francesco searched everywhere for their loved one, but they never saw her again. The guests returned to their homes, sorrowful and sad. Francesco could not live without his bride. He went to the wars and flung his life away in battle. Orsini lived alone. His hair and beard grew long and white. Everyday he wandered sadly about his beautiful grounds and through the broad halls of his home. He seemed to be looking for someone. At last he died and his villa passed to strangers.
Many years had passed until one day some people who lived in Orsini’s villa were in the upper rooms. Here they found many curious things stored away. At last they came to the large carved chest in a dark corner. They wondered what was in it. They moved it out to the light. It was old and worm-eaten. It was easily opened and the people were startled to find a skeleton within it.
Among the bones they found a string of pearls, a wedding ring, and a gold brooch with the name “Ginevra” engraved on it. Then they remembered the story of Ginevra and knew what had become of her.
A Cuban Amazon
An amazon is a female soldier. Long ago there were whole armies of amazons. They made good soldiers and fought and conquered like men.
It is said, in Cuba many women fight with the Cubans against the Spaniards, and some are braver and fight better than the men. These Cuban amazons are colored women. Their limbs are strong and their tongues are sharp. They can use the machete, revolver, rifle or knife as well as the men. Their dress is very simple. Usually it is only one cotton garment without shoes or stockings.
Not long ago in a battle with the Spaniards a woman appeared in the front ranks of the Cubans and fought bravely. She fired her rifle as often and as accurately as the men. She was a tall, fine looking woman. By and by the Cubans began to retreat. They ran away and scattered among the trees and vines. The amazon did not run. She held her ground. She called on the fleeing Cubans to stay and fight like men, but they did not heed her. Then she taunted them and called them cowards. The Spaniards came closer and closer. The woman was alone. She stood with her back against a tree and determined to die, fighting for her country. She shouted, “Long live free Cuba!” She loaded and fired her rifle at the Spaniards as fast as she could, and kept them back. After awhile her gun got out of order. She threw it down and drew her revolver. The Spaniards ran up closer, firing at her as they came. When they were near enough the brave woman cheered again and opened fire with her revolver. She kept on firing until she fell, pierced by several bullets. The enemy rushed upon her. As they did so, the wounded amazon raised herself upon her elbow and fired her last shot at the nearest soldier, killing him instantly. She then sank upon the ground and expired with a faint cheer upon her lips.
This woman was a real heroine and a patriot. She showed that a woman may die bravely for her country as well as a man. She gave the Cubans an example of courage that they might well imitate.
There were four brothers. Said the eldest, “I want to be useful and do some good in the world. I will make bricks for they are useful things, so I will be doing something.”
The second brother would not make bricks. It was too humble. A machine would make them. He would be a bricklayer and become a master bricklayer in time. He thought that was something better than making bricks.
“The master bricklayer is nothing much,” said the third brother. “You will only be counted among common men. I will be an architect and people will think I am smart. That is something.”
The fourth brother turned up his nose at the humble occupations of his elder brothers. He would not be so low. They were only drudges. He would be something grander. He would stand back and watch the others work. He would point out their defects and lack of sense. He would be a critic. Said he, “In every work there is something that is not right. I will find that out and find fault with it. That will be doing something real.”
Time passed. The brothers pursued, each, his chosen course. The fourth brother kept his word and found fault with every one. He did no useful work himself but he was always busy with the work of others. Nothing was done right. He was eloquent. People said of him, “He has a great head but he does nothing.”
The eldest brother was humble but very busy. He made enough bricks to build rows and rows of houses. He fed and clothed his family and had something left for the poor. There were many broken bricks and these were useful too, for he gave them to a poor widow who lived on the bank above the sea. Of them she built her hut and was happy.
The bricklayer employed many artisans and built one house after another until he had built a whole street. This brother lived in a fine house and the working people flattered him. When he died he was forgotten.
The third brother, the architect, lived in the finest house on the street which his brother had built. The street was named after him. When he died he left his name but only in paint on the corners of the street.
The critic outlived them all and he had the last word to say. At last he, too, died and his soul ascended to the gates of Paradise. There he met the soul of the poor widow who had lived by the sea. Said the critic, “What have you done and why are you here?”
Just then the gates of heaven opened and the angel led the poor woman in. To the critic he said, “What dost thou bring? In all thy life thou hast not made as much as a single brick. I can do nothing for thee.”
Then the old dame spoke for him, “For the sake of his brother who gave me the broken bricks, mayst he not be admitted?” Then the angel said, “For the sake of thy brother, whose honest labor seemed most humble to thee, thou mayest have hope of heaven. But thou shalt not be admitted until thou hast done something.”
“I could have said that in finer words,” thought the critic, but he did not find fault aloud. That to him was something.
Uncle Sam is a queer old chap. He is very popular and his picture is often seen in the newspapers. He usually wears a high, old-fashioned beaver hat, a blue, claw-hammer coat with stars on it and red and white striped pants which are too short for him and are held down by straps. He is very tall and slim and wears a long gray goatee. His feet are large and his arms and fingers are very long. Perhaps you have often seen his picture. Uncle Sam is a very rich man. He has large possessions of land, gold and silver mines, and many large buildings and ships. His wife was a Miss Columbia and he has a very large family of children.
Uncle Sam was born about the year 1607 in a strange country and among a strange, savage people. He was a weak, sickly child and his parents were very poor. It was feared he would not live long. At one time he almost perished from disease and neglect. At another time he nearly starved to death. By and by he grew stronger and by the time his infancy was past he was robust and hearty. He was a very bright boy and learned very fast. He was also very independent and was always ready to fight for his rights. He would not let others abuse him. Sometimes he got hurt in his quarrels with his neighbors but he did not seem to mind it very much. When he was a youth he grew very fast, so fast in fact, that his clothes became too small for him. That is why his pantaloons are so short.
When Uncle Sam was quite young he took an eagle for a pet and of which he was very fond. Eagles are long-lived birds and he has his eagle yet. He carries its picture about with him all the time. Its image is stamped in silver and gold. The eagle stamped in gold is worth ten dollars. Uncle Sam often presents the likeness of his eagle to his children and takes great delight in the pleasure it gives them.
Uncle Sam is a cousin of a funny little man, named John Bull. John Bull is short and fast and wears a red coat and top boots. He lives on one side of a large fish pond and Uncle Sam lives on the other side. A long time ago John Bull claimed all the nice farms on both sides of this pond, and Uncle Sam had to pay rent and taxes to him. The land was very wild where Uncle Sam lived. He had to clear the land and build houses. Then these farms became very valuable and John Bull made him pay high rent and more taxes. At last Uncle Sam refused to pay any more rent and taxes. This made John very angry and they had a fight about it. During this fight each of them was knocked down several times. Finally Uncle Sam gave his cousin such a blow between the eyes that he could not fight any longer and he agreed to let him have the farm which he had improved. After this Uncle Sam began to get rich. He bought more land so that, now, he has one of the biggest farms in the world.
John Bull has a pet lion and Uncle Sam used to tease it and make it cross. He would twist its tail, then the lion would roar and disturb John Bull. He did not like it and they often had cross words about it. In 1812 John Bull interfered with some of Uncle Sam’s boys while they were fishing on the pond. He made them get into his boat and help him. This made Uncle Sam very angry and he challenged John Bull to another fight. It was a pretty hard fight and each of them got a bloody nose. When it was over John Bull promised to let the boys alone when they were in their boats on the pond. After this Uncle Sam lived in peace for many years.
Uncle Sam’s next great trouble was with his own children. Some of those who lived on the sunny side of his farm did not like the way he managed his business. They thought they could do better and teach the old gentleman a thing or two. They began to do as they pleased and would not mind him. He determined to make them obey his orders, so he called on his children who lived on the shady side of the farm to help him punish the disobedient boys.
Well there was a big fight because there were so many of them on each side. Many of the boys were hurt very badly but at last the little rebels promised to mind Uncle Sam and be good children again. Since this trouble, Uncle Sam has been very prosperous. He is very proud of his possessions. A few years ago he collected all the wonderful things he could find on his farm and in his work shops and invited all the people in the world to come and see them. He felt pretty big when all those people came to see him. He put on his finest clothes and his pet eagle sat on his shoulder and screamed.