Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

The Little Girl Who Would Not Work

T HERE was once a little girl who loved to play all day out of doors among the flowers and the bees.

Her mother thought she would grow to be an idle little girl if she played so much. "You are old enough to do some work, little daughter," she said. "Even when you are a tiny girl you can learn to be busy."

But the little girl said: "Oh, mother, I do not like to work. Please let me go to the woods and play just a little while before I do my tasks."

So her mother said she might play, but only for a little while.

The child ran out of the house, and across the garden, and down to the woods as fast as her feet could carry her. As she hurried on, a Red Squirrel jumped across her path and the little girl said to him: "Red Squirrel, you don't have to work, do you? You may just play, and eat nuts from morning till night. Isn't that all?"

"Not work!" chattered the Red Squirrel. "Why, I am working now, and I worked all day yesterday, and all of the day before. I have a family living in the old oak tree, and I must store away nuts for the winter. I have no time to stop and play."

Just then a Bee came buzzing by and the little girl said: "Little Bee, do you have any work to do?"

"Work!" buzzed the Bee. "Why, I am always working, gathering sweets and making the honeycomb for you. I have not time for play."

The little girl walked along very slowly, for she was thinking, and she saw an Ant, down in the path, carrying a very large crumb of bread.

"That crumb of bread is too heavy for you, Ant," said the little girl. "Drop it, and come and play with me!"

"I don't care how heavy it is," said the Ant. "I was so glad to find it that I am willing to carry it. Oh, no, I couldn't stop to play. Once some one stepped upon our house and crushed it. We Ants thought we would go and hunt for a ready-made house, but we traveled a very long way, and we were not able to find a house ready made, and we were obliged to come home and build. Oh, we have no time to play," said the Ant, as he started on with his crumb of bread.

So the little girl sat down upon a stone, that she might think better, and she said to herself: "The creatures all have their tasks to do, but I don't believe the flowers work. Do you work, Pink Clover?" she asked of a little flower growing at her feet.

"Oh, yes, I am very busy," said the Pink Clover. "I gather the sunbeams every morning and keep them shut in my petals quite carefully all day long. I drink up all the moisture I can find with my roots, and I grow, and grow, to get ready for the seed time. The flowers must all work," said the Pink Clover.

Then the little girl decided to go home to her mother, and she said: "Mother, the Squirrels and the Bees and the Ants and the Flowers all work. I am the only idle one. I want some work to do."

So her mother brought out a little apron which the child had begun to hem so long ago that she had forgotten all about it; and the little girl worked so faithfully and well that she was not idle any more, but very industrious.

— Anonymous   

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