Little Curly Locks
|Little Curly Locks (1885)|
I am going to tell you the story of a dear, good little girl, called Curly Locks. Of course that was not her real name; her real name was Alice, but she was called Curly Locks because she had such beautiful hair, which hung down her back in golden ringlets. Some people think that all the good children are in story-books; that there were no real good children. Yes, I have actually heard some grown-up people say this, that all the live children were bad, and all the good ones were in story-books. Now I think that people who believe this, must have been very bad themselves when young, and so have a bad opinion of children generally. Curly Locks was an unusually good child, good enough to write a whole book about. Never shall I forget the first time I ever saw her, for never did I see a prettier picture, no, not in all the art galleries of Europe. She was sitting in a large velvet chair sewing doll-clothes, at the same time singing a sweet song, stopping now
and then to tell dollie to be good and go to sleep, though poor dollie looked as if she was not very comfortable. I have tried to show you in the picture here how she looked, but the picture of a pretty little girl could never be as pretty as the little girl herself.
Curly Locks lived in a very large city and went to a Kindergarten. Do you go to a Kindergarten, little Reader? I hope so, for they are the nicest places in the world for small children. I must tell you about a party that the children had who went to the Kindergarten with Curly Locks. Some kind ladies wished to have a free Kindergarten for little boys and girls who were not able to pay, so it was suggested that there should be a children's fete at one of the ladies' houses who lived a short distance in the country.
To make it more interesting, they concluded that the children should wear fancy costumes.
Well, it was a beautiful sight: so many little people dressed in so many different styles; there were Lords and Ladies, princes and peasants, and all sorts of characters represented; but I will not describe any except that of Curly Locks. She went as the "Mary that had the little Lamb, whose fleece was white as snow." Fortunately a few weeks before the fete came off, her uncle, who lived in the country, sent her for a present the dearest little white lamb. Oh! how Curly Locks loved it, and how delighted she was when her mother told her that she could take it to the party with her.
She had named it Snow Drop, because it looked so pure and white when she first saw it. She had to have it washed for the party though, or she could not have sung "its fleece was white as snow." You can not keep lambs white in large cities very well. Snow Drop was worthy his name though, when dressed for the party—he had a blue ribbon with a tiny silver bell around his neck. I think Curly Locks with her little lamb at her side, was more admired than any other character at the fête, and she enjoyed it all so much—the little children, the green grass, the bright flowers, the music, the ice-cream—oh! it was all a delight to her, and the fresh air brought such a pretty pink color to her cheeks, that Papa said when school was out, she could go and make her kind uncle a visit in the country.
Well, Curly Locks dreamed of the country all that night, and in a few weeks her Mamma and Papa took her to her uncle's. I could not begin to tell you of all the pleasures she had during the time she was there, but I will try and tell what she liked best. She had a cousin near her own age named Harry, and they often went fishing together. There was a creek near the house, and as it was not dangerous, her Mamma was not afraid
for her to go. To be sure there were only small fish in this creek, but they were small children, and could not have caught large fish had there been any. Sometimes when tired of fishing, they would put their rods on the grass, and hunt pretty pebbles and small shells in the sand—this was great fun for Curly Locks—better than fishing, and she carried home with her that Fall several bottles of pretty stones and shells, into which she poured a little clear water, which made them look much brighter.
One of her greatest delights was feeding the pigeons. Her cousin Harry had a great flock of them—most of which were white, but he had all varieties; and fine specimens they were; there were fan-tails, pouters, tumblers, top-knots, and others. If you don't know the meaning of pouters and tumblers, ask your Papa and he will tell you.
Every time Curly Locks went near the barn, which was their home, they would fly down to her, and what a noise they would make! She would take them in her hands and talk to them, and they would talk back, but Curly Locks did not understand pigeon talk, so I cannot tell you what they said, though I have no doubt but that they were thanking her for feeding them.
She was feeding them one morning when Harry came running to her, his face beaming with pleasure: oh! Curly Locks! come! come quickly, Papa is going to take us to the cave and Mamma and Auntie are going too, and they are harnessing the old white horse to the Jersey wagon now, and we are going to take our dinner! Harry stopped for want of breath, when Curly Locks said good-bye to the pigeons and went with all haste back to the house with Harry. There, sure enough, was old whitey and the Jersey standing at the front door all ready, and the two Mammas busy putting up a luncheon. Now, all are ready, and off they go—the two little ones in front, with Uncle and the two Mammas on the back seat. It was a lovely day, just warm enough to be pleasant. After a ride of several miles they reached the cave, which was on the farm of a friend of Uncle's. They first went to the house, where they were warmly welcomed, and invited to take dinner, but for the children's sake they declined, for as Harry said, that would spoil the picnic altogether. Well! said the good-natured farmer, then we will go with you—which they did with their two little girls,—and a nice time they had. The mouth of the cave was quite large and opened into an immense chamber, and all about there were small openings; peeping into these, you could see nothing but darkness. The cave had only been discovered a short time, and was a great mystery to every one. After dinner, Harry proposed that they should play hide and seek in the cave, which was the cause of a great shock to his
parents. He crawled into one of the small openings, and went so far that he could not find the way out, as there were winding passages which seemed to open into large rooms. When he found himself lost, he began to cry with all his might, which reached the others with a faint, sad sound.
His father called in a terribly loud voice for him to stand still, as he might, by trying to get out, get into worse danger, perhaps fall into some water and drown himself. Well, it did not take long for his Papa, with a light, to find him; but it was long enough to frighten them all badly—especially his Mamma, who made Harry promise he would never again play hide and seek in a cave. And that night, when Harry and Curly Locks said their prayers, they thanked God that Harry was safe at home and not lost in a dark and dismal cave.