Pretty Tales


1. Fanny's Birthday

Here is a nice new book! It is mine. Papa has just given it to me, for this is my birth-day, and I am five years old. Oh, how pretty it is! Here are boys and girls at play, like Willie and me; and here is nurse, with baby on her knee.

They will call me a dunce if I do not learn to read well, so I will try my very best; for what is the use of a nice book like this, if I cannot read it? It is not of a bit more use than my wax doll would be to puss.

What, Miss Puss, you hear your own name, do you? and think we are going to have a game of play. On no, puss, no such thing. It will not do for me to mind only play, for mamma says that, if I live, I shall be a woman in time, and there are many things that I must learn before then.

Look, puss, here is my new book. Ah, I see you do not care for books. You like to lie on the warm rug before the fire, and there you sleep away half your time. That may do very well for a puss, but it will not do for me. If I am as idle as you, I shall grow up a dunce, and what would papa say then? No, no, pussy, you may do as you like, but for my part I am not going to be a dunce.

Sometimes I sit upon mamma's knee, and she tells me the story about a young king, who lived many years ago, and who loved the Bible better than any other book in the world, and how God took him to wear a crown of gold in heaven. Or else she talks to me about Jesus, who came down from his glory above to die for us upon the cross. I love to hear about him when he was a baby, and his mother laid him in a manger, for there was no room for him in the inn. Oh! how glad I shall be when I can read these things in books.

Mamma says that when I can read, I shall have books that will teach me about many things which are to be seen in places a long way off, far, far over the sea. About lions and tigers, that live in the woods, and about black boys and girls, like the poor man who came to beg at the door. Willie and I ran away from him, but nurse called us back, and said he would not hurt us; and mamma told us to pity him and be kind to him, if we saw him again. I should like to see the little black boys and girls. Some of them go to school, I am told, but others are never taught anything that is good: I am very sorry for them.

Let me look again at my new book. Papa was very kind to buy it for me, and I will take care of it, that not a leaf may be torn. But I shall lend it to Willie if he asks me, for mamma says we must be kind to each other. I will tell him to take care of it when I lend it to him. Now I will go and show it to nurse, and ask her to put on it a white paper cover to keep it clean. Good bye, pussy, I will leave you to finish your nap, and when I come back again I will have some play with you.