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From MotherGoose in Prose by Frank Baum.
Start of Story
Age Rating 6 to 8.
"I don't know any more," said Tommy, "and I am very hungry."
"One more verse," persisted the man, "and then you shall have the
bread and butter upon the condition."
So Tommy sang the following verse:
"A big frog lived in a slimy bog,
And caught a cold in an awful fog.
The cold got worse,
The frog got hoarse,
Till croaking he scared a polliwog!"
"You are quite a poet," declared the alderman; "and now you shall have
the white bread upon one condition."
"What is it?" said Tommy, anxiously.
"That you cut the slice into four parts."
"But I have no knife!" remonstrated the boy.
"But that is the condition," insisted the alderman. "If you want the
bread you must cut it."
"Surely you do not expect me to cut the bread without any knife!" said
"Why not?" asked the alderman, winking his eye at the company.
"Because it cannot be done. How, let me ask you, sir, could you have
married without any wife?"
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the jolly alderman; and he was so pleased with
Tommy's apt reply that he gave him the bread at once, and a knife to
cut it with.
"Thank you, sir," said Tommy; "now that I have the knife it is easy
enough to cut the bread, and I shall now be as happy as you are with
your beautiful wife."
The alderman's wife blushed at this, and whispered to her husband.
The alderman nodded in reply, and watched Tommy carefully as he ate
his supper. When the boy had finished his bread--which he did very
quickly, you may be sure,--the man said,
"How would you like to live with me and be my servant?"
Little Tommy Tucker had often longed for just such a place, where he
could have three meals each day to eat and a good bed to sleep in at
night, so he answered,
"I should like it very much, sir."
So the alderman took Tommy for his servant, and dressed him in a smart
livery; and soon the boy showed by his bright ways and obedience that
he was worthy any kindness bestowed upon him.
He often carried the alderman's wig when his master attended the town
meetings, and the mayor of the city, who was a good man, was much
taken with his intelligent face. So one day he said to the alderman,
"I have long wanted to adopt a son, for I have no children of my own;
but I have not yet been able to find a boy to suit me. That lad of
yours looks bright and intelligent, and he seems a well-behaved boy
into the bargain."
"He is all that you say," returned the alderman, "and would be a
credit to you should you adopt him."
"But before I adopt a son," continued the mayor, "I intend to satisfy
myself that he is both wise and shrewd enough to make good use of my
money when I am gone. No fool will serve my purpose; therefore I shall
test the boy's wit before I decide."
"That is fair enough," answered the alderman; "but in what way will
you test his wit?"
"Bring him to my house to-morrow, and you shall see," said the mayor.
So the next day the alderman, followed by Tommy and a little terrier
dog that was a great pet of his master, went to the grand dwelling of
the mayor. The mayor also had a little terrier dog, which was very
fond of him and followed him wherever he went.
When Tommy and the alderman reached the mayor's house the mayor met
them at the door and said:
"Tommy, I am going up the street, and the alderman is going in the
opposite direction. I want you to keep our dogs from following us; but
you must not do it by holding them."
"Very well, sir," replied Tommy; and as the mayor started one way and
the alderman the other, he took out his handkerchief and tied the
tails of the two dogs together. Of course each dog started to follow
its master; but as they were about the same size and strength, and
each pulled in a different direction, the result was that they
remained in one place, and could not move either one way or the other.
"That was well done," said the mayor, coming I back again; "but tell
me, can you put my cart before my horse and take me to ride?"
"Certainly, sir," replied Tommy; and going to the mayor's stable he
put the harness on the nag and then led him head-first into the
shafts, instead of backing him into them, as is the usual way. After
fastening the shafts to the horse, he mounted upon the animal's back,
and away they started, pushing the cart before the horse.
"That was easy," said Tommy. "If your honor will get into the cart I
'll take you to ride." But the mayor did not ride, although he was
pleased at Tommy's readiness in solving a difficulty.
After a moment's thought he bade Tommy follow him into the house,
where he gave him a cupful of water, saying,
"Let me see you drink up this cup of water."
Tommy hesitated a moment, for he knew the mayor was trying to catch
him; then, going to a corner of the room, he set down the cup and
stood upon his head in the corner. He now carefully raised the cup to
his lips and slowly drank the water until the cup was empty. After
this he regained his feet, and, bowing politely to the mayor, he said,
"The water is drunk up, your honor."
"But why did you stand on your head to do it?" enquired the alderman,
who had watched the act in astonishment.
"Because otherwise I would have drunk the water down, and not up,"
The mayor was now satisfied that Tommy was shrewd enough to do him
honor, so he immediately took him to live in the great house as his
adopted son, and he was educated by the best masters the city
And Tommy Tucker became in after years not only a great, but a good
man, and before he died was himself mayor of the city, and was known
by the name of Sir Thomas Tucker.