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THE BABY QUEEN

Annie Hamilton Donnell. Copyright by "The Youth's Companion."

[210] SHE was born, once on a time, in a palace swarming with busy folks—or, anyway, some of them were busy; though, I am sorry to say, a few were very lazy indeed and made the others do all the work.

She was such a queer little baby, lying very still in her little white dress! Her mother was altogether too busy to take care of her and the other babies, for, you see, the baby had a great many sisters and brothers.

If it hadn't been for their many kind nurses, I am afraid they would never have grown up at all. But the nurses watched over them very tenderly and carefully, and fed them on bread and milk all day long.

They never had to wait for something to eat. Their nurses fed them between meals, and at all times, so they grew ever so much faster than real babies do. Why, some of them doubled in size in only half a day! So, you see, their bread and milk agreed with them wonderfully.

I think the nurses must have loved this one special baby I am telling you about more than all the rest. Anyway, they soon began to give her better food than they gave the other babies. She had beautiful, rich "royal jelly" to eat, while the others had only coarse yellow "bread" mixed with a drop of honey.

After all, the queerest thing about this queer little queen was that the thing which made her a queen was the food she ate. It wasn't because she was first heir to the throne, but just and solely because she had "royal jelly" for dinner and the other babies didn't! [211] Who ever heard of any other queen who owed her crown to her dinner?

She had a tiny room all to herself—so did most of the babies, for that matter. It was a cozy little room with six walls, and the door was always open till the baby queen was about nine days old. Then the nurses shut the door tight and locked it, after they had given her a good big meal of "royal jelly."

For twelve long days the baby lived all alone in her little, locked-up room. Nobody came to see her, or took any notice of her.

At first she seemed to enjoy being alone, and never thought of wondering why her nurses didn't bring her any dinner or supper. She was very busy growing and putting on a suit of beautiful new clothes. As the door was kept locked so tightly, nobody could look in to see how the new suit was made, or how the wee baby put it on all by herself.

By and by, when the dress was all donned, the royal baby—though she wasn't much of a baby then—concluded she did not care to live alone any longer, and, besides, she was very hungry.

So she began to turn slowly round and round, and cut a small round hole in her door with her strong little "teeth" —for she had cut all her teeth by that time. When the circle was nearly completed—pop!—the bit of a round door flew open like a lid to a coffeepot! The little queen poked out her head and looked at things with a good deal of wonder.

What do you suppose she thought of it all—the long rows of six-walled rooms, the crowds of busy workers bustling about bringing in new supplies of food and piling them into the rooms, and the lazy loungers, here and there, doing nothing at all?

[212] It must have surprised her, but she was too dignified to let any one know. Indeed, she was a very quiet little lady, and called out only something that sounded like "zeep, zeep, zeep" once in a while.

She popped her head down again and went back to her own little room to rest and think about it all, maybe. After that she peeped out of the door several times and finally boldly walked out. She was too hungry, just then, to wait for ceremony, so she walked about among the little food rooms helping herself.

Nobody objected at all. They all knew that she was a young queen, and a queen may do what she wishes. From that time she was perfectly at home in the busy palace, and began her ruling with quiet dignity.

Haven't you guessed who the little queen was? Why, she is alive this minute, and lives in our backyard! Put on your hat, dear, and we'll go out to the beehive, and I'll introduce you to her Majesty!


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