The Stepping Stones
It had been raining, raining, raining, and Betty had not seen her Aunt Mary for three long days, so as soon as the sun shone bright again, she put her bonnet on and started out to pay her a visit.
Up the hill and down the hill, through the lane where the Japonica hedges grew, by the fields and over the stile—this was the way to Aunt Mary's house, and Betty skipped gaily along till she came to a mud puddle in the lane that stretched across from hedge to hedge.
"Dear me!" said she when she saw this, "I can never get over this mud puddle by myself, and she looked about anxiously for some one to help her. Nobody was in sight but a fat little frog, and he was entirely too fond of mud to sympathize with her. He splashed in and out and all about, and looked as if he was thinking, "What a very strange creature to stand on dry land when she might be in this delightful puddle with me."
Betty sat down on a big gray stone under the hedge and watched him. Hop, jump, splish, splash he went.
"I wish I could jump over," said the little girl, but the mud puddle was too wide for that.
By and by a white duck came along. She belonged to Aunt Mary, and of course she knew Betty at once.
"Quack," she said, as she hurried into the puddle. "Quack, quack," which meant in her language, "Come paddle right in. What are you waiting for?"
"I wish my Uncle Jack would come for me in the wagon," said Betty, when the white duck had gone on to the farmyard, but Uncle Jack was at home and did not dream that Betty was waiting down there in the lane.
Sometimes the lane was full of wagons, but that day the only traveler was a buzzing bee who was in such a hurry to get to Aunt Mary's flower garden that she did not even see Betty, as she flew over the puddle and far away.
"Hum, hum, hum," she sang to herself, and her song was all about honey.
The spider, and the grasshopper, and the cricket who lived in the lane, came out from their homes to look at the little girl, and they talked about her among themselves.
"If I wanted to get over the puddle," said the spider, "I would spin a long thread from the branch of a tree, and swing across."
"I would hop through the hedge, and into the fields myself," said the grasshopper.
"The lane is pleasant here," chirped the cricket. "Why should she go on? I have lived here a long time."
"She will have to go home," croaked the frog, who had come from the puddle to sun himself. "Hear what I say, she can't get over"; and he had just settled himself for a nice little nap when Betty jumped up from her seat in such a hurry that he opened his eyes with a start, to see what was the matter.
"She is going to move the big gray stone," cried all the little watchers.
"She never will do it," said he; but he scarcely had spoken when the stone rolled out of its place and into the puddle just where Betty wanted it to go.
There was another stone in the lane and she did not rest until this too was rolled into the puddle. Then she found a red brick that had been lying under the hedge waiting for somebody to move it for so long a time that not even the cricket could remember when it came there.
"Here's a fine stepping stone," cried she, when she spied it, and she made haste to throw it into the mud, beyond the stones, where it fell with a splash.
"What is she going to do now?" asked the spider, but before the grasshopper or the cricket could say a word, or the frog could croak again, Betty went stepping from stone to stone, across the mud puddle, and safe to the other side.
"That's the best way to get over puddles," she said to herself, and away she ran, down the lane, by the fields, and over the stile to Aunt Mary's.