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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.
Dust under the rug.
By MAUD LINDSAY
Start of Story
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.
There was once a mother, who had two little daughters; and, as her
husband was dead and she was very poor, she worked diligently all the
time that they might be well fed and clothed. She was a skilled
worker, and found work to do away from home, but her two little girls
were so good and so helpful that they kept her house as neat and as
bright as a new pin.
One of the little girls was lame, and could not run about the house;
so she sat still in her chair, and sewed, while Minnie, the sister,
washed the dishes, swept the floor, and made the home beautiful.
Their home was on the edge of a great forest; and after their tasks
were finished the little girls would sit at the window and watch the
tall trees as they bent in the wind, until it would seem as though the
trees were real persons, nodding and bending and bowing to each other.
In the spring there were birds, in the summer the wild flowers, in
autumn the bright leaves, and in winter the great drifts of white
snow; so that the whole year was a round of delight to the two happy
children. But one day the dear mother came home ill; and then they
were very sad. It was winter, and there were many things to buy.
Minnie and her little sister sat by the fireside and talked it over,
and at last Minnie said:
"Dear sister, I must go out to find work, before the food comes to an
end." So she kissed her mother, and, wrapping herself up, started from
home. There was a narrow path leading through the forest, and she
determined to follow it until she reached some place where she might
find the work she wanted.
As she hurried on, the shadows grew deeper. The night was coming fast
when she saw before her a very small house, which was a welcome sight.
She made haste to reach it, and to knock at the door.
Nobody came in answer to her knock. When she had tried again and
again, she thought that nobody lived there; and she opened the door
and walked in, meaning to stay all night.
As soon as she stepped into the house, she started back in surprise;
for there before her she saw twelve little beds with the bedclothes
all tumbled, twelve little dirty plates on a very dusty table, and the
floor of the room so dusty that I am sure you could have drawn a
picture on it.
"Dear me!" said the little girl, "this will never do!" And as soon as
she had warmed her hands, she set to work to make the room tidy.
She washed the plates, she made up the beds, she swept the floor, she
straightened the great rug in front of the fireplace, and set the
twelve little chairs in a half-circle around the fire; and, just as
she finished, the door opened and in walked twelve of the queerest
little people she had ever seen. They were just about as tall as a
carpenter's rule, and all wore yellow clothes; and when Minnie saw
this, she knew that they must be the dwarfs who kept the gold in the
heart of the mountain.
"Well!" said the dwarfs, all together, for they always spoke together
and in rhyme,
"Now isn't this a sweet surprise?
We really can't believe our eyes!"
Then they spied Minnie, and cried in great astonishment:
"Who can this be, so fair and mild?
Our helper is a stranger child."
Now when Minnie saw the dwarfs, she came to meet them. "If you
please," she said, "I'm little Minnie Grey; and I'm looking for work
because my dear mother is sick. I came in here when the night drew
Here all the dwarfs laughed, and called out merrily:
"You found our room a sorry sight,
But you have made it clean and bright."
They were such dear funny little dwarfs! After they had thanked Minnie
for her trouble, they took white bread and honey from the closet and
asked her to sup with them.
While they sat at supper, they told her that their fairy housekeeper
had taken a holiday, and their house was not well kept, because she
They sighed when they said this; and after supper, when Minnie washed
the dishes and set them carefully away, they looked at her often and
talked among themselves. When the last plate was in its place they
called Minnie to them and said:
"Dear mortal maiden, will you stay
All through our fairy's holiday?
And if you faithful prove, and good,
We will reward you as we should."
Now Minnie was much pleased, for she liked the kind dwarfs, and wanted
to help them, so she thanked them, and went to bed to dream happy
Next morning she was awake with the chickens, and cooked a nice
breakfast; and after the dwarfs left, she cleaned up the rooms and
mended the dwarfs' clothes. In the evening when the dwarfs came home,
they found a bright fire and a warm supper waiting for them; and every
day Minnie worked faithfully until the last day of the fairy
That morning, as Minnie looked out of the window to watch the dwarfs
go to their work, she saw on one of the window-panes the most
beautiful picture she had ever seen.
A picture of fairy palaces with towers of silver and frosted
pinnacles, so wonderful and beautiful that as she looked at it she
forgot that there was work to be done, until the cuckoo clock on the
mantel struck twelve.
Then she ran in haste to make up the beds, and wash the dishes; but
because she was in a hurry she could not work quickly, and when she
took the broom to sweep the floor it was almost time for the dwarfs to
"I believe," said Minnie aloud, "that I will not sweep under the rug
to-day. After all, it is nothing for dust to be where it can't be
seen." So she hurried to her supper and left the rug unturned.
Before long the dwarfs came home. As the rooms looked just as usual,
nothing was said; and Minnie thought no more of the dust until she
went to bed and the stars peeped through the window.
Then she thought of it, for it seemed to her that she could hear the
"There is the little girl who is so faithful and good"; and Minnie
turned her face to the wall, for a little voice, right in her own
"Dust under the rug! dust under the rug!"
"There is the little girl," cried the stars, "who keeps home as bright
"Dust under the rug! dust under the rug!" said the little voice in
"We see her! we see her!" called all the stars joyfully.
"Dust under the rug! dust under the rug!" said the little voice in
Minnie's heart, and she could bear it no longer. So she sprang out of
bed, and, taking her broom in her hand, she swept the dust away; and
lo! under the rug lay twelve shining gold-pieces, as round and as
bright as the moon.
"Oh! oh! oh!" cried Minnie, in great surprise; and all the little
dwarfs came running to see what was the matter.
Minnie told them all about it; and when she had ended her story, the
dwarfs gathered lovingly round her and said:
"Dear child, the gold is all for you,
For faithful you have proved and true;
But had you left the rug unturned,
A groat was all you would have earned.
Our love goes with the gold we give,
And oh! forget not while you live,
That in the smallest duty done
Lies wealth of joy for everyone."
Minnie thanked the dwarfs for their kindness to her; and early next
morning she hastened home with her golden treasure, which bought many
things for the dear mother and little sister.
She never saw the dwarfs again; but she never forgot their lesson, to
do her work faithfully; and she always swept under the rug.