No, it’s no good your shaking hands and licking me with your
tongue,—I know you can do that;
But sitting up, and giving paws, and kissing, won’t teach you to
spell C A T, Cat.
I wonder, if I let you off lessons, whether I could teach you to pull
the string with your teeth, and fire our new gun?
If I could, you might be the Artillery all to yourself, and it would
be capital fun.
You wag your tail at that, do you? You would like it a great deal
But I can’t bear you to be such a dunce, when you look so wise; and
yet I don’t believe you’ll ever learn a letter.
Aunt Jemima is going to make me a new cocked hat out of the next old
newspaper, for I want to have a review;
But the newspaper after that, Papa Poodle, must be kept to make a
fool’s cap for you.
“In my young days,”
the grandmother said (Nodding her head,
Where cap and curls were as white as snow),
“In my young days, when we used to go
Each little dirty hand in hand,
Like a chain of daisies, a comical band
Of neighbours’ children, seriously straying,
Really and truly going a-Maying,
My mother would bid us linger,
And lifting a slender, straight forefinger,
’Little Kings and Queens of the May,
Listen to me!
If you want to be
Every one of you very good
In that beautiful, beautiful, beautiful wood,
Where the little birds’ heads get so turned with delight,
That some of them sing all night:
Whatever you pluck,
Leave some for good luck;
Picked from the stalk, or pulled up by the root,
From overhead, or from underfoot,
Water-wonders of pond or brook;
Wherever you look,
And whatever you find—
Leave something behind:
Some for the Naiads,
Some for the Dryads,
And a bit for the Nixies, and the Pixies.’”
“After all these years,”
the grandame said,
Lifting her head,
“I think I can hear my mother’s voice
Above all other noise,
Saying, ’Hearken, my child!
There is nothing more destructive and wild,
No wild bull with his horns,
No wild-briar with clutching thorns,
No pig that routs in your garden-bed,
No robber with ruthless tread,
More reckless and rude,
And wasteful of all things lovely and good,
Than a child, with the face of a boy and the ways of a bear,
Who doesn’t care;
Or some little ignorant minx
Who never thinks.
Now I never knew so stupid an elf,
That he couldn’t think and care for himself.
Oh, little sisters and little brothers,
Think for others, and care for others!
And of all that your little fingers find,