She had a maid to dress her hair and a maid to bathe her, a maid to serve her at a table and a maid to tie her shoe-strings, and several maids beside And then there was Nurse Holloweg to look after all the maids and see they did their tasks properly.
The child's father spent his days at his office and his evenings at his club; her mother was a leader in society, and therefore fully engaged from morning till night and from night till morn; so that Little Miss Muffet seldom saw her parents and scarce knew them when she did see them.
I have never known by what name she was christened. Perhaps she did not know herself, for everyone had called her "Miss Muffet" since she could remember. The servants spoke of her respectfully as Miss Muffet. Mrs. Muffet would say, at times, "By the way, Nurse, how is Miss Muffet getting along?" And Mr. Muffet, when he met his little daughter by chance on the walk or in the hallway, would stop and look at her gravely and say, "So this is Miss Muffet. Well, how are you feeling, little one?" And then, without heeding her answer, he would walk away.
Perhaps you think that Miss Muffet, surrounded by every luxury and with a dozen servants to wait upon her, was happy and contented; but such was not the case. She wanted to run and romp, but they told her it was unladylike; she wished to play with other children, but none were rich enough to be proper associates for her; she longed to dig in the dirt in the garden, but Nurse Holloweg was shocked at the very thought. So Miss Muffet became sullen and irritable, and scolded everyone about her, and lived a very unhappy life. And her food was too rich and gave her dyspepsia, so that she grew thin and pale and did not sleep well at night.
One afternoon her mother, who happened to be at home for an hour, suddenly thought of her little daughter; so she rang the bell and asked for Nurse Holloweg.
"How is Miss Muffet, Nurse?" enquired the lady.
"Very badly, ma'am," was the reply.
"Badly! What do you mean? Is she ill?"
"She 's far from well, ma'am," answered the Nurse, "and seems to be getting worse every day."
"Well," replied the lady; "you must have the doctor to see her; and do n't forget to let me know what he says. That is all, Nurse."
She turned to her novel again, and the Nurse walked away and sent a servant for the doctor. That great man, when he came, shook his head solemnly and said,
"She must have a change. Take her away into the country as soon as possible."
"And very good advice it was, too," remarked the Nurse to one of the maids; "for I feel as if I needed a change myself."
When she reported the matter to Mrs. Muffet the mother answered,
"Very well; I will see Mr. Muffet and have him write out a cheque."
And so it was that a week later Little Miss Muffet went to the country, or rather to a small town where there was a summer hotel that had been highly recommended to Nurse Holloweg; and with her went the string of maids and a wagon-load of boxes and trunks.
The morning after their arrival the little girl asked to go out upon the lawn.
"Well," replied Nurse Holloweg, "Sarah can take you out for half an hour. But remember you are not to run and get heated, for that will ruin your complexion; and you must not speak to any of the common children you meet, for your mother would object; and you must not get your shoes dusty nor your dress soiled, nor disobey Sarah in any way."
Little Miss Muffet went out in a very angry and sulky mood.
"What 's the use of being in the country," she thought, "if I must act just as I did in the city? I hate Nurse Holloweg, and Sarah, and all the rest of them! and if I dared I 'd just--just run away."
Indeed, a few minutes later, when Sarah had fallen asleep upon a bench under a big shade tree, Miss Muffet decided she would really run away for once in her life, and see how it seemed.
There was a pretty lane near by, running between shady trees far out into the country, and, stealing softly away from Sarah's side, the little girl ran as fast as she could go, and never stopped until she was all out of breath.