Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

How Sugardolly Ran Away

T HE old peddler awoke in the morning, and he found the house very, very still. No cock in the garden crowed, and no little dwarf Nutcracker was about, rattling nuts. And Sugardolly sat in a corner and cried all day long, nor would she be comforted by all the sweets in the garden, because Nutcracker had gone away.

The old peddler took Sugardolly upon his knee, and got down the sugar bowl for her to eat from, but she still cried. For many, many days she sat in the chimney corner, and grew more and more thin.

At last the white hen, who had a nest beneath the front stairs, took pity on Sugardolly, and told her that Nutcracker had gone away on the cock's back.

"Oh, take me away, too," cried poor little Sugardolly. So the white hen, with Sugardolly on her back, early one morning flew over the garden wall and across the meadows to find Nutcracker.

At first they were not sure which way to go. No one had seen Nutcracker and the cock. But one day they found one of the cock's red tail feathers by the roadside, and a bit farther on they came to another, and then, when they had entered a deep, deep wood, they came to the cock himself, strutting proudly about, and gathering hazel nuts.

"Where, oh, where is my dear Nutcracker?" asked Sugardolly of the cock.

"That I do not know," said the cock. "He climbed a great tree, and that was the last I saw of him."

And when the white hen saw the cock, she decided to go no farther; so Sugardolly went on by herself to hunt for Nutcracker. The woods were very dark when it came night, but Sugardolly carried a bright glowworm for a lantern. In the morning she was asked to breakfast by some bees, who fed her all the honey she could eat.

"Have you seen Nutcracker, a little dwarf in a red soldier's jacket?" she asked of the bees.

Oh, yes, the bees had seen Nutcracker, but it had been many days before that he had passed by.

"Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz,

Over grasses and flowers,

Nutcracker has gone

Through the wood's green bowers,"

hummed the bees, so Sugardolly hurried on. She called to the birds as she went, "Have you seen my Nutcracker, a little dwarf with thin legs, and a very wide mouth?" And the birds sang back to Sugardolly:—

"Pick, pick, pick, pick,

Be quick, be quick,

Yonder Nutcracker springs,

And rustles and rushes

Through the green bushes,

Be quick, be quick."

Sugardolly did hear a rustling, but when she crept beneath the bushes to see, she found only a squirrel who chattered and threw shells in her face.

Poor little Sugardolly! She called to the bluebells:—

"Little bell flowers so blue,

Did Nutcracker pass you?"

But the wind shook the bluebells, and they answered not a word.

Sugardolly would have cried then, if she had not come, all at once, upon the fairy palace of the Queen Rosebush. The palace was made of green leaves with thorns at the corners to keep out the crickets, and there came a sound of music and singing from inside.

"Is it a party?" asked Sugardolly of a gold bug.

"It is a party," said the gold bug. "I will take you in with me."

So Sugardolly went inside the palace with the gold bug and she saw the Queen in a rose silk dress and a veil of spider's net, sitting upon the throne, and the young princesses in red and green puffed dresses sitting beside her.

The birds were the orchestra. Outside a wandering shepherd with his flock had stopped to listen to the music, and the sheep had lost some of their wool on the sharp thorns. So the birds who were not playing in the orchestra were gathering the bits of white wool for their nests, and every one seemed very busy and very happy.

"You may spend the night with us," said Queen Rosebush graciously.

So Sugardolly slept in a pink rosebud all night, and breakfasted from ambrosia in the morning, and thanked the Queen for her kindness and started once more to look for Nutcracker.

As she went on her way through the forest, she came to a singing brook, and she sat down beside it to rest. And she listened, for the brook was singing to her as it flowed along its pebbles:—

"From mountains I come,

Where the dwarfs have their home.

In the cave whence I spring,

Nutcracker is King.

To him swiftly flee;

His queen thou shalt be."

"I shall find my Nutcracker! I shall find my Nutcracker!" said Sugardolly, jumping up. She ran and ran by the edge of the brook far, far along, as far as the brook flowed, calling, "Nutcracker, Nutcracker," but no Nutcracker answered.

At last she came to the place where the brook started from a deep cave, and as she called, "Nutcracker," the rocks answered back, "Nutcracker,"  and that was all—no little dwarf came out.

So Sugardolly sat down on the rocks, very much discouraged, and tired, and after a while she fell fast asleep.

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