W OULD you like to hear a story of a little girl whose name is Millie? Well, she was her mamma's only little girl, and she had no sister or brother, as you all have. Her dear mamma was very poor. They had no kind papa to work for them, and so Millie helped her mamma all she could about the house.
Millie was only a little girl, and could not do very much, and one sad day her mamma took sick from over-work, and the Doctor, who came in to see her said he was afraid she would never get well again.
"What will I do if my mamma dies?" cried poor Millie; "who will love and take care of me then? Oh, she must not die, I will do all I can to help make her well again, and now, let me see, what shall it be, what can I do for her first?"
She sat beside her mamma's bed and thought and thought for a long time. There was her poor mamma, so hot and thirsty, with a burning fever, trying to sleep, and when Millie saw mamma's red cheeks and dry lips, she said to herself, "Something cool and pretty will make her feel better, I am sure; suppose I run out into the cool woods and pick mamma a bouquet of wild flowers, and may be I can find some wild strawberries; they will surely take her fever away."
With these words she got up very softly out of her chair, so as not to wake her mamma, went to the well, got a cool glass of water and placed it beside the bed, then she put on her bonnet, took a basket out of the closet and hurried to the woods.
How quiet it was in the woods, so quiet, only the sweet birds were singing, and the little squirrels chattering, and how bright the flowers looked peeping out from the green leaves among which the sunbeams played merrily. Here she picked a blue violet, and there a buttercup, farther on she found a patch of daisies, until at last she had a lovely bouquet in her hand.
Now, thought, she, I had better look for the strawberries. Her basket was still empty. Farther and farther she went into the woods, but could not find one berry; some little children must have been there in the morning and picked all there were. It was growing late, the trees were casting deep shadows along the path, but Millie did not notice it, she was so busy looking for berries. All at once it was so dark that Millie could not find which way she had come into the woods. What should she do! Stay in the woods all night, and poor mamma sick at home? Then she began to cry, and was afraid of the dark, but when she thought of God, and that he was in the woods, as well as everywhere else, she got quiet and looked for a mossy bank to sleep upon.
Yes, there was one right under the large oak tree, and close by was a pond full of beautiful water-lilies all closed up and asleep. The large green leaves were swimming upon the water and looked like large green mats.
Millie had said her prayer, and was just going to sleep, when she saw a light in the west. It grew brighter and brighter. What could it be? Not a fire, I am sure. When Millie got up and looked among the branches of the trees, she saw it was the bright, silver moon. It looked like a great big head, and made everything so light around, that Millie could see almost everything; even to a little blue-bell which was growing close by, but all the little bells were closed and sound asleep. What was that in the water! It seemed as though a large white lily was floating toward the shore, and really it was coming up to where she sat under the tree, and now it was opening out wider and wider, and what in the world was in the center; really it looked like a tiny elf, and sure enough it was a little fairy with golden hair, snow-white dress like the water-lily trimmed in golden yellow, and on her dear little head, she wore a golden crown.
When the lily got up close to the bank, the little fairy sprang out onto the shore and came tripping up to where Millie was sitting. She went straight up to the blue-bells, but did not see Millie, took them by the stalk and rang them. Oh, how they tinkled, so clear and sweet! Millie had never heard anything so sweet in her life before.
See, what happened! Why, out of every flower and leaf came a lovely little fairy. Fairies with purple and blue dresses came out of the violets; yellow out of the buttercups, little green elfs out of the leaves. How cunning they were and how they skipped up to the fairy queen, and made a bow to her. When they were all around her, she said in a little voice like silver: "Now that our moon is out let us dance and be happy, join in our ring and dance with the moonbeams." Then they all danced and Millie thought it was the loveliest thing she had ever seen, and she kept very quiet and did not move, for she was afraid of frightening them away.
But, O! something came up into her throat and she had to cough and all the little fairies jumped and turned around, and imagine their surprise upon seeing a little girl in the woods after dark.
"My little girl," said the queen fairy, "what are you doing out here? Why are you not in your snug little bed at home?"
"Dear fairy, I came to the woods to look for strawberries for my mamma, who is sick, and stayed so long that it become so dark I could not find my way home again. I am very unhappy, but dear little queen you look sad. What is the matter? I thought fairies were always happy."
"Yes, we might be happy in this lovely wood if we
could only stay here, but alas! the woodmen come with
their axes and chop down the trees, and plough up the
earth which makes all the flowers die and mosses dry up
and then we must leave, and find another home. Will you
kindly help us, and if you see them coming with their
axes, tell them how they take away our homes, and the
little girl, (I know you are a good little girl, and
try to help your mamma), now that the moon is sinking
behind the hills, you had better go to sleep, and
Millie thanked the fairy, who then went to the blue-bells, rang them again, when all the little fairies came up to her; she said, "Now that the moon is sinking we must be away, as a little elf can only dance in the moonbeams. All said good-night to her and jumped into their flowers.
Millie then went to sleep, and slept sound until morning when a little sunbeam shone in her face and woke her up. At first she did not remember where she was, then she thought of the fairies, and what the little queen had promised her.
She jumped up, took her basket, went to the spot, and what do you think she found there? A patch of the largest, reddest strawberries you ever saw. She put some leaves into her basket, picked the berries, one by one, and covered them up with the leaves to keep them fresh and cool.
She found the path, and ran home as fast as she could run. When she reached home, the door was still closed as she had left, so she went in softly, found her mamma waiting and watching for her.
Millie told her mamma all about her trip to the woods, how the queen had told her where she could find something to take to her, and "here it is, dear mamma, in this little basket." Her mamma was delighted with the fine strawberries, ate them and soon got well again.
Every night when Millie and mamma said their prayers, they never forgot to ask God to keep the woodmen from taking away the home of the lovely little fairies.