While she rested and wondered what she could do next, a farmer came along, driving an empty cart.

"I 'll catch on behind," said Miss Muffet, gleefully, "just as I 've seen the boys do in the city. Won't it be fun!"

So she ran and caught on the end of the cart, and actually climbed into it, falling all in a heap upon the straw that lay upon the bottom. But it did n't hurt her at all, and the next minute the farmer whipped up his horses, and they went trotting along the lane, carrying Miss Muffet farther and farther away from hated Nurse Holloweg and the dreadful maids.

She looked around upon the green fields and the waving grain, and drew in deep breaths of the fresh country air, and was happy for almost the first time in her little life. By and by she lay back upon the straw and fell asleep; and the farmer, who did not know she was in his cart, drove on for many miles, until at last he stopped at a small wooden farmhouse, and jumped to the ground.

A woman came to the door to greet him, and he said to her.

"Well, mother, we 're home again, you see."

"So I see," she answered; "but did you bring my groceries?"

"Yes," he replied, as he began to unharness the horses; "they are in the cart."

So she came to the cart and looked within, and saw Miss Muffet, who was still asleep.

"Where did you get the little girl?" asked the farmer's wife, in surprise.

"What little girl?" asked he.

"The one in the cart."

He came to the cart and looked in, and was as surprised as his wife.

"She must have climbed into the cart when I left the town," he said; "but waken her, wife, and we will hear what she has to say."

So the farmer's wife shook the girl by the arm, and Miss Muffet sat up in the cart and rubbed her eyes and wondered where she was.

"How came you in my cart?" asked the farmer.

"I caught on behind, and climbed in," answered the girl.

"What is your name, and where do you live?" enquired the farmer's wife.

"My name is Miss Muffet, and I live in a big city,--but where, I do not know."

And that was all she could tell them, so the woman said at last,

"We must keep her till some one comes to claim her, and she can earn her living by helping me make the cheeses."

"That will be nice," said Miss Muffet, with a laugh, "for Nurse Holloweg never lets me do anything, and I should like to help somebody do something."

So they led her into the house, where the farmer's wife wondered at the fine texture of her dress and admired the golden chain that hung around her neck.

"Some one will surely come for her," the woman said to her husband, "for she is richly dressed and must belong to a family of some importance."

Nevertheless, when they had eaten dinner, for which Little Miss Muffet had a wonderful appetite, the woman took her into the dairy and told her how she could assist her in curdling the milk and preparing it for the cheese-press.

"Why, it 's really fun to work," said the girl, at first, "and I should like to live here always. I do hope Nurse Holloweg will not find me."

After a time, however, she grew weary, and wanted to rest; but the woman had not yet finished her cheese-making, so she bade the girl keep at her tasks.

"It 's time enough to rest when the work is done," she said, "and if you stay with me you must earn your board. No one is allowed to idle in this house."

So Little Miss Muffet, though she felt like crying and was very tired, kept at her work until at length all was finished and the last cheese was in the press.

"Now," said the farmer's wife, "since you have worked so well I shall give you a dish of curds and whey for your supper, and you may go out into the orchard and eat it under the shade of the trees."

Little Miss Muffet had never eaten curds and whey before, and did not know how they tasted; but she was very hungry, so she took the dish and went into the orchard.

She first looked around for a place to sit down, and finally discovered a little grassy mound, which is called a tuffet in the country, and seated herself upon it.

Mother Goose in Prose Page 54

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