The Fairy Who Came to Our House
T HERE was once a dear little girl who lived in our house. She was quite loving, and sweet and truthful. She would have been a dear, dear little girl, but for one thing—she was a wee bit careless. It was just about little things, you know. Perhaps it might be drying the cups until they shone. Perhaps it might be dusting the undermost places, like the rungs of the chairs and the piano legs. Perhaps it might be giving fresh milk to Taffy, the black pussy-cat. Perhaps it might be leaving the old rag doll out in the weather all night. The old rag doll had rheumatism, and a night out in the dew made it worse. A dear, dear little girl would have remembered these things, but our dear little girl forgot.
One morning she woke very early, but the sun was behind a cloud, and the fog crept into the nursery. She began to forget things before breakfast.
"Oh, where is my red hair ribbon?" she said. "And where is my shoe string?"
After breakfast she wanted to make a little saucer pie with mother in the kitchen. Just as she put it in the oven she thought about her unmade bed upstairs. Before she had half finished the bed she remembered that grandmother was waiting to have her spectacles found. Then the doorbell rang, and she just had to run and see who it was. It was such a short way to the end of the garden she really had to run to the gate and see if next-door Helen were at home.
Ah, the broken shoe string was in the way! The dear little girl tumbled down in the garden path and bumped her poor little nose. And the saucer pie burned black in the oven, the bed was not made, and grandmother had no spectacles.
As she sat up in the garden path, crying two big tears, whom should she see on the stone beside her (there had been no one there before) but a tiny old woman. I think she was just three inches high, and she wore a long red cloak and a little red hood, and she carried a crooked little cane. Her face was as brown and wrinkled as a last fall's oak-leaf. She rapped on the stone with her cane, as she said: "What are you crying about, little girl?"
"Oh," sobbed the dear little girl, "I want to not forget so many things."
"Run right into the house," said the fairy—for she was a fairy. "I am going to help you all day long."
The dear little girl rubbed her eyes. There was no fairy upon the stone—only two wee footprints—so she jumped up and ran into the house.
The first thing she spied was a pair of shiny spectacles under the hall rack. Grandmother was so pleased to have them. As the little girl came downstairs again she heard a squeaky laugh. There was a whisk of a red cloak on the staircase and some one said:
So the little girl ran down to the kitchen and filled the old copper tea-kettle who sat fussing upon the stove, because he was empty. As she put on the cover, whom should she see standing upon the spout but a little figure in a red cloak, and this is what she heard:
Yes, the table did need setting. When it was all done, there was the fairy on the sideboard, twirling around like a Japanese top and saying:
So the little girl flew upstairs to the nursery. She packed the doll's dresses in the trunk. She folded all the hair ribbons in the top drawer, and there was the lost red one at the very bottom.
All day long, the fairy kept reminding her of things to do. After lunch there she was sitting on the edge of mother's darning-basket, looking like a red Dutch cheese, and saying:
Toward evening there she was on the arm of father's easy-chair, saying:
The little girl was very tired by bedtime, but it had been a busy, happy day. She sat in her little chair by the nursery fire, and rocked, and wondered if it could all have been a dream; when—pop—there was the little old woman in the red cloak, dancing upon a red coal, and saying:
So the dear little girl looked in the box on the bureau, and there, inside, was a little gold wishing-ring, and it said on the bow: "From all the family in our house, for a dear, dear little girl who tries to remember."
And the queer little fairy never came again; but that was because she did not need to.