Give us another verse."

So Tommy pondered a moment, and then sang again:

"A spider threw its web so high It caught on a moon in a cloudy sky. The moon whirled round, And down to the ground Fell the web, and captured a big blue fly!"

"Why, that is fine!" roared the fat alderman. "You improve as you go on, so give us another verse."

"I don't know any more," said Tommy, "and I am very hungry."

"One more verse," persisted the man, "and then you shall have the bread and butter upon the condition."

So Tommy sang the following verse:

"A big frog lived in a slimy bog, And caught a cold in an awful fog. The cold got worse, The frog got hoarse, Till croaking he scared a polliwog!"

"You are quite a poet," declared the alderman; "and now you shall have the white bread upon one condition."

"What is it?" said Tommy, anxiously.

"That you cut the slice into four parts."

"But I have no knife!" remonstrated the boy.

"But that is the condition," insisted the alderman. "If you want the bread you must cut it."

"Surely you do not expect me to cut the bread without any knife!" said Tommy.

"Why not?" asked the alderman, winking his eye at the company.

"Because it cannot be done. How, let me ask you, sir, could you have married without any wife?"

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the jolly alderman; and he was so pleased with Tommy's apt reply that he gave him the bread at once, and a knife to cut it with.

"Thank you, sir," said Tommy; "now that I have the knife it is easy enough to cut the bread, and I shall now be as happy as you are with your beautiful wife."

The alderman's wife blushed at this, and whispered to her husband. The alderman nodded in reply, and watched Tommy carefully as he ate his supper. When the boy had finished his bread--which he did very quickly, you may be sure,--the man said,

"How would you like to live with me and be my servant?"

Little Tommy Tucker had often longed for just such a place, where he could have three meals each day to eat and a good bed to sleep in at night, so he answered,

"I should like it very much, sir."

So the alderman took Tommy for his servant, and dressed him in a smart livery; and soon the boy showed by his bright ways and obedience that he was worthy any kindness bestowed upon him.

He often carried the alderman's wig when his master attended the town meetings, and the mayor of the city, who was a good man, was much taken with his intelligent face. So one day he said to the alderman,

"I have long wanted to adopt a son, for I have no children of my own; but I have not yet been able to find a boy to suit me. That lad of yours looks bright and intelligent, and he seems a well-behaved boy into the bargain."

"He is all that you say," returned the alderman, "and would be a credit to you should you adopt him."

"But before I adopt a son," continued the mayor, "I intend to satisfy myself that he is both wise and shrewd enough to make good use of my money when I am gone. No fool will serve my purpose; therefore I shall test the boy's wit before I decide."

"That is fair enough," answered the alderman; "but in what way will you test his wit?"

"Bring him to my house to-morrow, and you shall see," said the mayor.

So the next day the alderman, followed by Tommy and a little terrier dog that was a great pet of his master, went to the grand dwelling of the mayor. The mayor also had a little terrier dog, which was very fond of him and followed him wherever he went.

When Tommy and the alderman reached the mayor's house the mayor met them at the door and said:

"Tommy, I am going up the street, and the alderman is going in the opposite direction. I want you to keep our dogs from following us; but you must not do it by holding them."

"Very well, sir," replied Tommy; and as the mayor started one way and the alderman the other, he took out his handkerchief and tied the tails of the two dogs together. Of course each dog started to follow its master; but as they were about the same size and strength, and each pulled in a different direction, the result was that they remained in one place, and could not move either one way or the other.

Mother Goose in Prose Page 38

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