Then she tasted the curds and whey and found them very good.

But while she was eating she chanced to look down at her feet, and there was a great black spider coming straight towards her. The girl had never seen such an enormous and hideous-looking spider before, and she was so frightened that she gave a scream and tipped backward off the tuffet, spilling the curds and whey all over her dress as she did so. This frightened her more than ever, and as soon as she could get upon her feet she scampered away to the farmhouse as fast as she could go, crying bitterly as she ran.

The farmer's wife tried to comfort her, and Miss Muffet, between her sobs, said she had seen "the awfulest, biggest, blackest spider in all the world!"

This made the woman laugh, for she was not afraid of spiders.

Soon after they heard a sound of wheels upon the road and a handsome carriage came dashing up to the gate.

"Has anyone seen a little girl who has run away?" asked Nurse Holloweg, leaning out of the carriage.

"Oh, yes" answered Little Miss Muffet; "here I am, Nurse. And she ran out and jumped into the carriage, for she was very glad to get back again to those who would care for her and not ask her to work making cheeses."

When they were driving back to the town the Nurse said,

"You must promise me, Miss Muffet, never to run away again. You have frightened me nearly into hysterics, and had you been lost your mother would have been quite disappointed."

The little girl was silent for a time; then she answered,

"I will promise not to run away if you will let me play as other children do. But if you do not allow me to run and romp and dig in the ground, I shall keep running away, no matter how many horrid spiders come to frighten me!"

And Nurse Holloweg, who had really been much alarmed at so nearly losing her precious charge, thought it wise to agree to Miss Muffet's terms.

She kept her word, too, and when Little Miss Muffet went back to her home in the city her cheeks were as red as roses and her eyes sparkled with health. And she grew, in time, to be a beautiful young lady, and as healthy and robust as she was beautiful. Seeing which, the doctor put an extra large fee in his bill for advising that the little girl be taken to the country; and Mr. Muffet paid it without a word of protest.

Even after Miss Muffet grew up and was married she never forgot the day that she ran away, nor the curds and whey she ate for her supper, nor the great spider that frightened her away from the tuffet.

Three Wise Men of Gotham

Three Wise Men of Gotham

Three Wise Men of Gotham Went to sea in a bowl. If the bowl had been stronger My tale had been longer.

There lived in the great city of Gotham, over against the north gate, a man who possessed a very wise aspect, but very little else. He was tall and lean, and had a fine large head, bald and smooth upon the top, with a circle of white hair behind the ears. His beard was pure white, and reached to his waist; his eyes were small, dark, and so piercing that they seemed to read your every thought. His eyebrows were very heavy, and as white as his beard. He dressed in a long black mantle with a girdle corded about the middle, and he walked slowly and majestically, and talked no more than he was obliged to.

When this man passed down the street with his stately tread the people all removed their hats and bowed to him with great reverence, saying within themselves,

"He is very wise, this great man; he is a second Socrates."

And soon this was the only name he was called by, and everyone in Gotham knew him as "Socrates."

To be sure this man was not really wise. Had they realized the truth, not one he met but knew more than Socrates; but his venerable appearance certainly betokened great wisdom, and no one appeared to remember that things are seldom what they seem.

Socrates would strut about with bowed head and arms clasped behind him, and think:

"My! how wise these people take me to be. Everyone admires my beautiful beard.

Mother Goose in Prose Page 55

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