Edward Buttoneye and his adventures

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and his


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Pictured by
Hilda Austin
Written by
Cyril F. Austin.

Hilda Austin

Ernest Nister London No 1874 EPDutton&CoNewYork

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And, though he never could explain,
I don't mind telling you
That in that box he had been lain
By those who made him, limb and brain,
And stitched his eyes on, too.
It's odd, you'll think, they joined his toes
And gave him such a head and nose.

But there on the broad countryside
Was he, a homeless lad.
Another might have sat and cried,
But Edward, no. "Whate'er betide,
If work is to be had,
I'll take," thought he, "what Fortune brings
And live in hopes of better things."

A farmhouse stood not far away,
So first there Edward tried,
And was engaged to herd by day
And night the farmer's sheep, which stray,
Whene'er they can, and hide.
And so a paper Edward bought
And sat and watched and read and thought.

<poem>He read through each advertisement To see if he could find A place he thought would suit his bent, In which he could be quite content And cultivate his mind. —He read so hard and thought so deep He quite forgot about the sheep.

But when at last he looked around, His flock could not be seen. He shouted, called, and searched the ground, The sheep were nowhere to be found (They knew that he was green); And when in fear he ventured back, I scarce need say he got the sack.

He went away with many sighs And sight a little dim, But suddenly, to his surprise, A woolly head with shining eyes Peered through the hedge at him. "If you will let me come with you," It said, " I always will be true."

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Our Edward with delight agreed;
"It looks," he thought, "quite tame;
A counsellor and friend I need,
Besides, it may serve as a steed."
And so he asked its name.
"I'm Horace, so they all allege,"
It said, and scrambled through the hedge.

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<poem>So side by side, o'er hill and dale, The gallant heroes strode, And Horace frisked his stumpy tail And joked with every frog and snail And chaffed each slug and toad. But silent Edward longed for fame And by great deeds to make a name.

He also wished he had a hat —The day was very warm— But soon he ceased to think of that, For lo! beside the road there sat Two maids of sweetest charm. 'Twas saucy Sue and modest Moll, Who sported a red parasol.

Then Edward's heart beat high with pride, He drew himself erect And said to Horace, "Quick, now! stride As if you wore Newfoundland hide And follow with respect." But, 'spite of all their dashing air, The maids preserved their glassy stare.

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<poem>A flush o'erspread poor Edward's cheek, He walked on very fast, And Horace followed, very meek. But all at once they heard a shriek From the fair dames they'd passed: —Enraged to see their sunshade red, A wild bull charged with lowered head.

"Ah, here's my chance," brave Edward, cried, And, counting not the cost, He rushed back to the maidens' side; To stop the bull he vainly tried And was most painfully tossed. "Alas!" he thought, "no luck to-day; —But they, at least, have got away."

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Sad Horace hastened to the spot
And rendered him first aid,
Then set off at his quickest trot
For help. Poor Edward groaned a lot:
"Why was I ever made?"
—I'm not surprised he had the hump,
He came down such an awful bump.

And as he sat, there passed him by
Two visions of delight;
Each viewed with fond, maternal eye
And hugged—it made poor Edward sigh—
A golliwoggy fright.
He tried to cry to them out loud,
But nothing came—he felt too proud.

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They walked straight past and soon were gone,
Poor Edward could have cried.
He knew that he belonged to one,
That he would one day be her son,
But he was dumb from pride.
He felt that of the two he'd choose
The one with soft red hair and shoes.

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But Horace soon returned and said
He nowhere help could find;
So Edward mounted him instead
And held on by his charger's head.
(Now wasn't Horace kind?)
They travelled thus o'er hill and plain
Till Edward was quite well again.

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To get a place where he could thrive
Our Edward found was hard,
But soon he was engaged to drive
A railway train, and did contrive
That Horace should be guard.
One day he saw what made him quail
—A sleepy tortoise on the rail!

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He found he hadn't time to stop,
Though manfully he tried,
So biff! and crash! and up and flop!
They went. The tortoise did not hop
But went on, sleepy-eyed.
Poor Edward knew what was in store,
—Of course he got the sack once more.

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The next employment Edward found
Was towing someone's barge.
Their cargo weighed full many a pound,
And as beside the stream they wound
Their burden felt so large
That Horace, every hour or so,
Said, "Are you sure coal doesn't grow?"

But onward still brave Edward strode
And onward trudged his steed;
Though leaden grew their lumpy load
No signs of giving in they showed
Till, all at once, a reed
Upset the barge, the cargo sank
And left them workless on the bank.

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Soon after that they came across
Some races in full swing.
Said Edward, " Horses cannot toss
And you can serve me as a hoss,
—'Twill be the very thing."
So Horace summoned all his strength
And came in first by half a length.

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But Horace felt so very done
And very short of breath
(You see, he was not built to run
So fast), he gasped that even one
More race would be his death.
So Edward mournfully supposed
A jockey's life to him was closed.

To give good Horace perfect rest
They lay awhile at ease.
They found a hammock suited best,
Exchanging quip and merry jest
With frogs and bumble-bees,
And Edward helped stray leaves and twigs
Along the stream with gentle digs.

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When Horace was quite well again
They set out on their way.
One day they heard a distant strain
And, tramping o'er the dusty plain
With music loud and gay,
A brawny-chested regiment
Marched past, on death or glory bent.

The sight so fired brave Edward's soul,
He set off in the rear.
Said he, "The cavalry's our goal,
—A charger is your proper role;"
But Horace shook with fear.
"If we," he thought, "the foe should seek,
I shall be mutton in a week!"

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But when they reached the barrack-yard
And wanted to enlist,
The sergeant called out to the guard
Their measurements, punched Edward hard
And gave his neck a twist.
"You've got no chest at all," said he.
"No good!" thought Edward tearfully.

"It's not my fault I've got no chest,
They should have made it broad,"
He grumbled; but with noble zest
He searched the country east and west
To find some noble lord
Who might excuse his tender age
And take him on to be his page.

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And when at last he did succeed,
While Horace stayed indoors,
He took two poodles on a lead
Out walking every day. Their breed
Was such that on all fours
They utterly disdained to go,
Like Lion, Unicorn and Co.

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They led poor Edward such a dance,
He scarce could hold them in;
They tugged as if their only chance
In life was to get home to France
And join their kith and kin.
At last they got away by force,
And Edward got the sack—of course.

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He wandered on with Horace till
They reached a sheltered spot,
And watched with quite an envious thrill
Two boys who handled with great skill
A trim, fast-sailing yacht.
"O for an opportunity,"
Sighed Edward, "to put out to sea!"

The chance they wanted soon occurred
—The boys went in to tea.
By thoughts of danger undeterred
They boarded, tacked and, in a word,
Were happy as could be.
They did not see the rising cloud
That threatened every spar and shroud.

With all their sails set to the breeze,
They were quite unprepared
To meet the squall. Great tow'ring seas
Tossed them about like shipwrecked peas;
They would most ill have fared
Had not a tortoise saved the twain
—He who derailed the railway train.

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He took them on his brawny back
And swam with them ashore.
"This slight return I owe for lack
Of thought," said he, "when o'er the track
I crawled;—I'd do much more,
But this, at least, will prove to you
How much that sad event I rue."

They thanked him for his kindly deed
And then resumed their march,
But when the time was come to feed
They found they'd nought to meet the need
Except a piece of starch.
Said Edward, "This will never do;
Your wool, old chap, would be like glue."

They had no work, they had no food,
But hungrier they grew.
At last said Horace, "What's the good
Of starving slowly? In the wood
There's game enough for two.
I feel quite faint, so get a gun
And see what you can shoot, my son."

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This was for Edward the last straw,
And so he took a gun;
For Horace he would brave the law,
Whate'er betide. So when he saw
A hare start up and run,
He took fair aim with steady wrist
And fired— but luckily he missed.
A policeman heard the loud report
And hurried to the scene.
He hailed the poachers off to court,
And there their shrift was very short
—The judge's wit was keen:
He sentenced them to prison-shop
And hoped that long in there they'd stop.

Now prison-shop, of course, is where
All dolls, when made, must go
Until some maiden, kind and fair,
Buys them and saves them from despair.
And this is why, you know,
They have such eager, anxious eyes,
As each to catch your notice tries.

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So Edward was marched off to jail
And guarded night and day
Amid a throng of beauties frail,
While Horace, looking somewhat pale,
Scanned all who passed that way,
For both of them hoped she would see
And rescue them from misery.

At last there came a day of joy,
She stopped before the shop,
And with her was a handsome boy;
They viewed with interest each toy
From yacht to humming-top.
(They were, I may remark off-hand,
Penelope and Hildebrand.)

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Cold beads of perspiration stood
On Edward's frantic brow;
He feared lest his own mother should
Not notice him (as if she could
Have missed her own son, now !).
But, scarcely glancing at the rest,
Pen saw at once he was the best.
"O what a pleasant person, look!"
She cried to Hildebrand,
"I must have him by hook or crook!"
—In point of fact 'twas by a hook
Held in the shopman's hand,
Which hoisted Edward by the seat,
A part adapted for the feat.

Now Pen had put her pennies by
To save poor dolls from fate
By buying them, and you should try
To do the same. The Buttoneye
Was marked, "Price two and eight."
'Twas dear, but Pen was quite content
To think her savings so well spent.

The ransom very soon was paid
And Edward, once more free,
Borne off in triumph. Though arrayed
In shabby coat and trousers frayed
And baggy at the knee,
He was more precious to Pen's heart
Than if they'd been quite new and smart.

And faithful Horace, too, was bought
—Pen saw by Edward's eye
No freedom for himself he sought
If his pet lamb's fate should be fraught
With doubt—he'd rather die.
But Horace had to run like mad,
So fast a pace his mistress had.

"I'd go through twice as much for this,"
Thought Edward with a sigh
As he received his hundredth kiss,
And Horace, wrapped in wool and bliss,
Just winked the other eye.
And how they relished, to be sure,
The other dolls' discomfiture!

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"I know the hard times you've been through,"
Said Pen, and kissed them both,
"But nothing now need worry you
For here your life begins anew—"
("Hurray!" fat Horace quoth),
"—And when we seek the country air
I'm sure we'll find adventures there."

And Pen proved quite a prophetess
For, shortly after that,
They met a lovely—well, what?—guess!
What dream of perfect loveliness
D'you think I'm hinting at?
Well, if your Dad is pleased with you,
Perhaps he'll buy you that book[1] too.

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Printed in Bavaria

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.