| Mother Stories|
|by Maud Lindsay|
|Seventeen stories ideally suited for kindergarten children who take great interest in lively stories about familiar things, especially those that include rhyme and repetition as these stories do. Within each story is a subtle moral, pleasing to children and not at all obtrusive. Ages 4-7 |
INSIDE THE GARDEN GATE
 GRANDMOTHER'S garden was a beautiful place,—more
beautiful than all the shop windows in the city; for
there was a flower or grass for every color in
the rainbow, with great white lilies, standing up so straight
and tall, to remind you that a whole rainbow of
light was needed to make them so pure and white.
There were pinks and marigolds and princes' feathers, with bachelor's buttons
and Johnny-jump-ups to keep them company. There were gay poppies
and gaudy tulips, and large important peonies and fine Duchess
roses in pink satin dresses.
There were soft velvet pansies and
tall blue flags, and broad ribbon-grasses that the fairies might
have used for sashes; and mint and thyme and balm
 everywhere, to make the garden sweet; so it
was no wonder that every year the garden was full
Nobody noticed these visitors but Grandmother and Lindsay.
Lindsay was a very small boy, and Grandmother was a very old
lady; but they loved the same things, and always watched
for these little visitors, who came in the early spring-time
and stayed all summer with Grandmother.
Early, early in the spring,
when the garden was bursting into bloom in the warm
southern sunshine, Grandmother and Lindsay would sit in the arbor,
where the vines crept over and over in a tangle
of bloom, and listen to a serenade. Music, music everywhere!
Over their heads, behind their backs, the little brown bees
would fly, singing their song:—
"Hum, hum, hum!
Off and away!
To get some
Sweet honey to-day!"
while they found the golden honey cups,
 and filled their pockets with honey to store away in their
waxen boxes at home.
One day, while Grandmother and Lindsay were
watching, a little brown bee flew away with his treasure,
and lighting on a rose, met with a cousin, a
lovely yellow butterfly.
"I think they must be talking to each
other," said Grandmother, softly. "They are cousins, because they belong
to the great insect family, just as your papa and
Uncle Bob and Aunt Emma and Cousin Rachel all belong
to one family,—the Greys; and I think they must be
talking about the honey that they both love so well."
"I wish I could talk to a butterfly," said Lindsay, longingly;
and Grandmother laughed.
"Play that I am a butterfly," she proposed.
"What color shall I be?—a great yellow butterfly, with brown
spots on my wings?"
So Grandmother played that she was a
great yellow butterfly with brown spots on its wings, and
she said to Lindsay:—
SO GRANDMOTHER PLAYED THAT SHE WAS A
GREAT YELLOW BUTTERFLY.
 "Never in the world can you tell,
little boy, what I used to be?"
"A baby butterfly," guessed Lindsay.
Guess again," said the butterfly.
"A flower, perhaps; for you are
so lovely," declared Lindsay, gallantly.
"No, indeed!" answered the butterfly; "I
was a creeping, crawling caterpillar."
"Now, Grandmother, you're joking!" cried Lindsay,
forgetting that Grandmother was a butterfly.
"Not I," said the butterfly.
"I was a crawling, creeping caterpillar, and I fed on
leaves in your Grandmother's garden until I got ready to
spin my nest; and then I wrapped myself up so
well that you would never have known me for a
caterpillar; and when I came out in the Spring I
was a lovely butterfly."
"How beautiful!" said Lindsay. "Grandmother, let us
count the butterflies in your garden." But they never could
do that, though they saw brown and blue and red
and white and yellow ones, and followed them everywhere.
It might have been the very next day that Grandmother took
her knitting to the summer house. At all events it
was very soon; and while she and Lindsay were wondering
when the red rose bush would be in full bloom,
Lindsay saw, close up to the roof, a queer little
house, like a roll of crumpled paper, with a great
many front doors; and, of course, he wanted to know
who lived there.
"You must not knock at any of those
front doors," advised Grandmother, "because Mrs. Wasp lives there, and
might not understand; although if you let her alone she
will not hurt you. Just let me tell you something
So Lindsay listened while Grandmother told the story:—
was a little elf, who lived in the heart of
a bright red rose, just like the roses we have
been talking about.
There were many other elves who lived in
the garden. One, who lived in a lily
 which made
a lovely home; and a poppy elf, who was always
sleepy; but the rose elf liked her own sweet smelling
room, with its crimson curtains, best of all.
Now the rose
elf had a very dear friend, a little girl named
Polly. She could not speak to her, for fairies can
only talk to people like you and me in dreams
and fancies, but she loved Polly very much, and would
lie in her beautiful rose room, and listen to Polly's
singing, till her heart was glad.
One day as she listened
she said to herself, "If I cannot speak to Polly,
I can write her a letter;" and this pleased her
so much that she called over to the lily elf
to ask what she should write it on. "I always
write my letters on rose petals, and get the wind
to take them," said the rose elf. "But I am
afraid Polly would not understand that."
"I will tell you," answered
the lily elf, "what I would do. I would go
right to Mrs. Wasp, and ask her to give me
a piece of paper."
 "But Mrs. Wasp is very cross, I've
heard," said the rose elf timidly.
"Never believe the gossip that
you hear. If Mrs. Wasp does seem to be a
little stingy, I'm sure she has a good heart," replied
the lily elf. So the rose elf took courage, and
flew to Mrs. Wasp's house, where, by good fortune, she
found Mrs. Wasp at home.
"Good morning Mrs. Wasp," called the
little elf, "I've come to see if you will kindly
let me have a sheet of paper to-day."
"Now," said the
wasp, "I have just papered my house with the last
bit of paper I had, but if you can wait,
I will make you a sheet."
Then the rose elf knew
that Mrs. Wasp had a kind heart; and she waited
and watched with a great deal of interest while Mrs.
Wasp set to work. Now, close by her house was
an old bit of dry wood, and Mrs. Wasp sawed
it into fine bits, like thread, with her two sharp
saws that she carries about her. Then she wet these
bits well with some glue from her mouth, and rolled
them into a round ball.
 "Oh, Mrs. Wasp!" cried the rose
elf, "I'm afraid I am putting you to too much
"Don't fret about me," said the wasp; "I'm used to
work." So she spread out the ball, working with all
her might, into a thin sheet of gray paper; and
when it was dry, she gave it to the rose
"Thank you, good Mrs. Wasp," said the elf; and she
flew away to invite the lily elf and the poppy
elf to help her with the letter, for she wanted
it to be as sweet as all the flowers of
When it was finished they read it aloud.
I'm a little elf;
I live within a flow'r;
I love to hear your happy song,
It cheers my ev'ry hour.
That I love you, I'd like to say
To you, before I close,
And please sing sweetly ev'ry day
Your friend within a Rose."
The letter was sent
by a bluebird; and
 the elf was sure that Polly
understood, for that very day she came and stood among
the flowers to sing the very sweetest song she knew.
Out in Grandmother's garden, just as the sun was up,
a very cunning spinner spun a lovely wheel of fine
beautiful threads; and when Grandmother and Lindsay came out, they
spied it fastened up in a rose bush.
The small, cunning
spinner was climbing a silken rope near by with her
eight nimble legs, and looking out at the world with
her eight tiny eyes, when Grandmother saw her and pointed
her out to Lindsay; and Lindsay said:—
"Oh, Mrs. Spider! come
spin me some lace!" which made Grandmother think of a
little story which she had told Lindsay's papa and all
of her little children, when they were lads and lassies,
and this garden of hers had just begun to bloom.
sat down on the steps and told it to Lindsay.
 Once, long, long ago, when the silver moon was shining up
in the sky, and the small golden stars were twinkling,
twinkling, a little fairy with a bundle of dreams went
hurrying home to fairyland.
She looked up at the stars and
moon to see what time it was, for the fairy
queen had bidden her come back before the day dawned.
out in the world it was sleepy time; and the
night wind was singing an old sweet lullaby, and the
mocking bird was singing too, by himself, in the wood.
shall not be late," said the fairy, as she flew
like thistledown through the air or tripped over the heads
of the flowers; but in her haste she flew into
a spider's web, which held her so fast that, although
she struggled again and again, she could not get free.
bundle of dreams fell out of her arms, and lay
on the ground under the rose-bush; and the poor little
fairy burst into tears, for she knew that daylight always
spoiled dreams, and these were very lovely ones.
 Her shining wings
were tangled in the web, her hands were chained, and
her feet were helpless; so she had to lie still
and wait for the day time which, after all, came
As soon as the sun was up, Mrs. Spider
came out of her den; and when she saw the
fairy she was very glad, for she thought she had
caught a new kind of fly.
"If you please, Mrs. Spider,"
cried the fairy quickly, "I am only a little fairy,
and flew into your web last night on my way
home to fairyland."
"A fairy!" said Mrs. Spider crossly, for she
was disappointed; "I suppose you are the one who helps
the flies to get away from me. You see well
"I help them because they are in trouble," answered
the fairy gently.
"So are you, now," snapped the spider, "But
the flies won't help you."
"But perhaps you will," pleaded the
"Perhaps I won't" said the spider, going back into her
house and leaving the little fairy, who felt very sorrowful.
 Her tears fell like dew drops on the spider web, and
the sun shone on them, and made them as bright
as the fairy queen's diamonds.
The fairy began to think of
the queen and the court, and the bundle of dreams;
and she wondered who would do the work if she
never got free. The fairy queen had always trusted her,
and had sent her on many errands.
Once she had been
sent to free a mocking bird that had been shut
in a cage. She remembered how he sang in his
cage, although he was longing for his green tree tops.
smiled through her tears when she thought of this, and
said to herself:—
"I can be singing, too! It is better
Then she began to sing one of her fairy
"Oh! listen well, and I will tell,
Of the land where the fairies dwell;
The lily bells ring clear and sweet,
And grass grows green beneath your feet
In the land where the fairies dwell,
In the land where the fairies dwell."
Now though the fairy did not know it, Mrs.
Spider was very fond of music; and when she heard
the sweet song, she came out to listen. The little
fairy did not see her, so she sang on:—
"Grasshoppers gay, by night and day,
Keep ugly goblins far away
From the land where the fairies dwell,
From the land where the fairies dwell."
Mrs. Spider came a little farther out, while the fairy sang:—
"There's love, sweet love, for one and all—
For love is best for great and small—
In the land where the fairies dwell,
In the land where the fairies dwell."
Just as the fairy
finished the song she looked up, and there was Mrs.
Spider, who had come out in a hurry.
"The flies are
not going to help you," said she, "so I will;"
and she showed the fairy how to break the slender
threads, until she was untangled and could fly away through
 "What can I do for you, dear Mrs. Spider?"
the fairy asked, as she picked up her bundle of
"Sing me a song sometimes," replied Mrs. Spider. But the
fairy did more than that; for soon after she reached
fairyland, the fairy queen needed some fine lace to wear
on her dress at a grand ball.
"Fly into the world,"
she said, "and find me a spinner; and tell her
that when she has spun the lace, she may come
to the ball and sit at the queen's table."
as the fairy heard this, she thought of the spider,
and made haste to find her and tell her the
"Will there be music?" asked the spider.
"The sweetest ever
heard," answered the fairy; and the spider began to spin.
lace was so lovely when it was finished, that the
fairy queen made the spider court spinner; and then the
spider heard the fairies sing every day, and she too
had love in her heart.
A mocking bird sang in
Grandmother's garden. He was king of the garden, and the
rose was queen. Every night when the garden was still,
he serenaded Grandmother; and she would lie awake and listen
to him, for she said he told her all the
glad tidings of the day, and helped her understand the
flower folk and bird folk and insect folk that lived
in her garden.
Lindsay always thought the mocking bird told Grandmother
the wonderful stories she knew, and he wanted to hear
them, too, late in the night time; but he never
could keep awake. So he had to be contented with
the mocking bird in the morning, when he was so
There were orioles and thrushes and bluebirds, big chattering jays,
sleek brown sparrows, and red-capped woodpeckers; but not a bird
in the garden was so gay and sweet and loving
as the mocking bird, who could sing everybody's song and
his own song, too.
 Night after night he sang his own
song in Grandmother's garden. But there came a night when
he did not sing; and though Grandmother and Lindsay listened
all next day, and looked in every tree for him,
he could not be found.
"I'm afraid somebody has caught him
and shut him up in a cage," said Grandmother; and
when Lindsay heard this he was very miserable; for he
knew that somewhere in the garden, there was a nest
and a mother bird waiting.
He and Grandmother talked until bedtime
about it, and early next morning Lindsay asked Grandmother to
let him go to look for the bird.
"Please do, Grandmother,"
he begged. "If somebody has him in a cage I
shall be sure to find him; and I will take
my own silver quarter to buy him back."
So after breakfast
Grandmother kissed him and let him go, and he ran
down the path and out of the garden gate, and
asked at every house on the street:—
"Is there a mocking
bird in a cage here?"
 This made people laugh, but Lindsay
did not care. By and by, he came to a
little house with green blinds; and the little lady who
came to the door did not laugh at all when
she answered his question:—
"No; there are no mocking birds here;
but there are two sweet yellow canaries. Won't you come
in to see them?"
"I will sometime, thank you, if Grandmother
will let me," said Lindsay; "but not to-day; for if
that mocking bird is in a cage, I know he's
in a hurry to get out."
Then he hurried on to
the next house, and the next; but no mocking birds
were to be found. After he had walked a long
way, he began to be afraid that he should have
to go home, when, right before him, in the window
of a little house, he saw a wooden box with
slats across the side; and in the box was a
very miserable mocking bird!
"Hurrah! hurrah!" cried Lindsay, as he ran
up the steps and knocked at the door. A great
big boy came to the window and put his head
out to see what was wanted.
 "Please, please," said Lindsay, dancing
up and down on the doorstep, "I've come to buy
the mocking-bird; and I've a whole silver quarter to give
for it, because I think maybe he is the very
one that sang in Grandmother's garden."
"I don't want to sell
it," answered the boy, with a frown on his face.
had never thought of anything like this, and his face
grew grave; but he went bravely on:—
"Oh! but you will
sell it, maybe. Won't you, please? Because I just know
it wants to get out. You wouldn't like to be
in a cage yourself, you know, if you had been
living in a garden,—'specially my Grandmother's."
"This bird ain't for sale,"
repeated the boy, crossly, frowning still more over the bird-cage.
God didn't make mocking-birds for cages," cried Lindsay, choking a
little. "So it really isn't yours."
"I'd like to know why
it isn't," said the boy. "You'd better get off my
 and go home to your Granny, for I'm not
going to sell my mocking-bird,—not one bit of it;" and
he drew his head back from the window and left
Lindsay out on the doorstep.
Poor little Lindsay! He was not
certain that it was the bird, but he was sure
that mocking-birds were not meant for cages; and he put
the quarter back in his pocket and took out his
handkerchief to wipe away the tears that would fall.
way home he thought of it and sobbed to himself,
and he walked through the garden gate almost into Grandmother's
arms before he saw her, and burst into tears when
she spoke to him.
"Poor little boy!" said Grandmother, when she
had heard all about it; "and poor big boy, who
didn't know how to be kind! Perhaps the mocking-bird will
help him, and, after all, it will be for the
Grandmother was almost crying herself, when a click at the
gate made them both start and then look at each
other; for there, coming up the walk, was a great
 big boy with a torn straw hat, and with a
small wooden box in his hand, which made Lindsay scream
with delight, for in that box was a very miserable-looking
"Guess it is yours," said the, boy, holding the box
in front of him, "for I trapped it out in
the road back of here. I never thought of mocking-birds
being so much account, and I hated to make him
"There now," cried Lindsay, jumping up to get the silver
quarter out of his pocket. "He is just like Mrs.
Wasp, isn't he, Grandmother?" But the boy had gone down
the walk and over the gate without waiting for anything,
although Lindsay ran after him and called.
Lindsay and Grandmother were
so excited that they did not know what to do.
They looked out of the gate after the boy, then
at each other, and then at the bird.
Lindsay ran to
get the hatchet, but he was so excited with joy
that he could not use it, so Grandmother had to
pry up the slats, one by one; and every time
 lifted, Lindsay would jump up and down and
clap his hands, and say, "Oh, Grandmother!"
At last, the very
last slat was raised; and then, in a moment, the
mocking bird flew up, up, up into the maple tree,
and Lindsay and Grandmother kissed each other for joy.
was glad in the garden. The breezes played pranks, and
blew the syringa petals to the ground, and up in
the tallest trees the birds had a concert. Orioles, bluebirds,
and thrushes, chattering jays, sleek brown sparrows, and red-capped woodpeckers,
were all of them singing for Grandmother and Lindsay; but
the sweetest singer was the mocking bird who was singing
everybody's sweet song, and then his own, which was the
sweetest of all.
"I know he is glad," Lindsay said to
Grandmother; "for it is, oh, so beautiful to live inside
your garden gate!"
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