Once upon a time there was a handsome hen who lived like a great lady in the poultry-yard of a rich farmer, surrounded by a numerous family which clucked about her, and none of which clamored more loudly or picked up the corn faster with his beak than a poor little deformed and crippled chicken.
This was precisely the one that the mother loved best. It is the way with all mothers; the weakest and most unsightly are always their favorites. This misshapen creature had but one eye, one wing, and one leg in good condition; it might have been thought that Solomon had executed his memorable sentence on Coquerico, for that was the name of the wretched chicken, and cut him in two with his famous sword.
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I hope you want to know what became of the other boys. They were waiting below to give Wendy time to explain about them; and when they had counted five hundred they went up. They went up by the stair, because they thought this would make a better impression. They stood in a row in front of Mrs. Darling, with their hats off, and wishing they were not wearing their pirate clothes. They said nothing, but their eyes asked her to have them. They ought to have looked at Mr. Darling also, but they forgot about him.
Of course Mrs. Darling said at once that she would have them; but Mr. Darling was curiously depressed, and they saw that he considered six a rather large number.
"I must say, he said to Wendy, "that you don't do things by halves." a grudging remark which the twins thought was pointed at them.
More than five hundred years ago there was a little boy named Dick Whittington, and this is true. His father and mother died when he was too young to work, and so poor little Dick was very badly off. He was quite glad to get the parings of the potatoes to eat and a dry crust of bread now and then, and more than that he did not often get, for the village where he lived was a very poor one and the neighbours were not able to spare him much.
Now the country folk in those days thought that the people of London were all fine ladies and gentlemen, and that there was singing and dancing all the day long, and so rich were they there that even the streets, they said, were paved with gold. Dick used to sit by and listen while all these strange tales of the wealth of London were told, and it made him long to go and live there and have plenty to eat and fine clothes to wear, instead of the rags and hard fare that fell to his lot in the country.
So one day when a great waggon with eight horses stopped on its way through the village, Dick made friends with the waggoner and begged to be taken with him to London. The man felt sorry for poor little Dick when he heard that he had no father or mother to take care of him, and saw how ragged and how badly in need of help he was. So he agreed to take him, and off they set.
There grew a fragrant rose-tree where the brook flows,
With two little tender buds, and one full rose;
When the sun went down to his bed in the west,
The little buds leaned on the rose-mother's breast,
While the bright eyed stars their long watch kept,
And the flowers of the valley in their green cradles slept;
Then silently in odors they communed with each other,
The two little buds on the bosom of their mother.
"sister," said the little one, as she gazed at the sky,
"I wish that the Dew Elves, as they wander lightly by,
The Caliph HAROON-AL-RASCHID, being one day at the chase, met an old man who was planting a walnut-tree.
"What a fool is this old man!" said the Caliph to his suite; "he acts as if he were still a youth, and were to enjoy the fruits of that tree."
As his followers likewise made a jest of the old man, the Caliph approached him, and asked him what age he was.
"Eighty years complete, my lord ; and I am, thank God, still as well as a man of thirty."
There was a king of the olden time who heard a prophecy that the child of his only daughter would destroy him. This daughter was the loveliest princess in the world, and her name was Danae.
Her father loved her well, but when he heard that prophecy, he shut her up all alone in a brazen tower, and let no one come near her except himself, for he thought, "My daughter shall never marry, lest she have a child who brings me doom."
The fair young princess was very lonely in her tower ; all day she had nothing to do but comb her golden hair and spin with her silver distaff, and gaze through barred casements at the hills and woods, where she longed to wander free. The stern King forbade her even to show herself on the roof of the tower by day, but at night she would often go there to weep and bewail her lot under the stars.
There was once a king who had three sons, all remarkably handsome in their persons, and in their tempers brave and noble.
Some wicked courtiers made the king believe that the princes were impatient to wear the crown, and that they were contriving a plot to deprive him of his sceptre and his kingdom.
The king felt he was growing old; but as he found himself as capable of governing as he had ever been, he had no inclination to resign his power; and therefore, that he might pass the rest of his days peaceably, he determined to employ the princes in such a manner, as at once to give each of them the hope of succeeding to the crown, and fill up the time they might otherwise spend in so undutiful a manner.
He sent for them to his cabinet, and after conversing with them kindly, he added: " You must be sensible, my dear children, that my great age prevents me from attending so closely as I have hitherto done to state affairs.
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By three bells that morning they were all stirring their stumps [legs]; for there was a big sea running; and Tootles, the bo'sun, was among them, with a rope's end in his hand and chewing tobacco. They all donned pirate clothes cut off at the knee, shaved smartly, and tumbled up, with the true nautical roll and hitching their trousers.
It need not be said who was the captain. Nibs and John were first and second mate. There was a woman aboard. The rest were tars [sailors] before the mast, and lived in the fo'c'sle. Peter had already lashed himself to the wheel; but he piped all hands and delivered a short address to them; said he hoped they would do their duty like gallant hearties, but that he knew they were the scum of Rio and the Gold Coast, and if they snapped at him he would tear them.
Once upon a time there lived in Hindustan two kings whose countries bordered upon each other; but, as they were rivals in wealth and power, and one was a Hindu rajah and the other a Mohammedan badshah, they were not good friends at all.
In order, however, to escape continual quarrels, the rajah and the badshah had drawn up an agreement, stamped and signed, declaring that if any of their subjects, from the least to the greatest, crossed the boundary between the two kingdoms, he might be seized and punished.
One morning the badshah and his chief wazir, or prime minister, were just about to begin their morning's work over the affairs of the kingdom, and the badshah had taken up a pen and was cutting it to his liking with a sharp knife, when the knife slipped and cut off the tip of his finger.