Gateway to the Classics: A Child's Book of Stories by Penrhyn W. Coussens
A Child's Book of Stories by  Penrhyn W. Coussens

Little Totty

A FARMER'S wife who had no children went one day to a fairy, who appeared as an old woman, and begged her to give her a baby. "Even a very tiny one would make me happy," she said. The fairy laughed, and gave her a barley-corn, telling her to put it in a flower-pot, and she would see what would happen. The woman obeyed, and the very next day she saw that a beautiful tulip bud was standing on its tall stalk in the pot. The woman, delighted, kissed the golden leaves; the bud opened, and inside it she found a lovely baby only half as long as a thumb. She called her "Totty."

The woman made a walnut-shell her cradle; the bed was of violets, the coverlet was a rose leaf. As Totty grew bigger her mother seated her on a large tulip leaf floating on water in a plate, and Totty rowed herself from side to side with two oars made of white horse hairs. One night a toad jumped through the bedroom window and saw Totty sleeping. "She will make a lovely wife for my son," she said; so she took up the cradle and carried it to the pond, where she put it on a great lily leaf. Totty cried bitterly when she woke and found herself there, but the toad made her weave rushes for the household linen when she should be married to Tadpole, her son. The fishes in the pond were very sorry for her, so they bit the stem of the leaf through, and it floated down the stream.

Totty tied a white butterfly, that flew down to her, to the leaf with her girdle, and felt very happy, as he drew her leaf along far from the toad and her son. But one day a cockchafer saw her and fell in love with her. He seized her by her waist and flew with her into a tree, but his friends said she was very ugly, and the cockchafer believed them, and told Totty he did not now care for her; but he flew down with her, and left her on a daisy in the wood. Totty lived there all the summer; but when the winter came she was cold and hungry, and she begged the field-mouse to take her in. The mouse was kind to her, but she wanted her to marry the old mole, who often visited her, and Totty did not like to live in the dark, underground home of the great mole. She cried bitterly about it. But the mouse insisted. "Obey me," she said, "or I will bite you. The mole is rich; look at his fur, it is splendid!" Now, during the winter, Totty had found a poor swallow almost dead with cold, and she had taken him some barley-corns, and covered him up warmly, and saved his life; in the spring he had flown off. Summer came and went, and at last the mouse would wait no longer for the marriage; she fixed Totty's wedding-day with the mole, and the poor girl went out of the door to look for the last time at the setting sun, and stood there crying quietly.

By and by she heard "Tweet, tweet" quite near to her, and saw her friend the swallow on a branch close by her. He asked her why she wept, and she told him. "Get on my back," he said, "and I will take you away from the cruel mouse." Totty joyfully did as he told her, and the swallow flew fast away over land and sea, till he put her down on a large white flower like a convolvulus, and she saw standing in it a little man with a gold crown on his head. He was very little bigger than Totty, and was the King of the Flower Fairies. He asked Totty to marry him; she said "Yes" and he made her his Queen.

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