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From Mother Goose in Prose by Frank Baum.
Start of Story
Age Rating 6 to 8.
There was a jolly miller
Lived on the river Dee;
He sang and worked from morn till night,
No lark so blithe as he.
And this the burden of his song
Forever seemed to be:
I care for nobody, no! not I,
Since nobody cares for me.
"Cree-e-eekety-cruck-crick! cree-e-eekety-cruck-crick!" sang out the
big wheel of the mill upon the river Dee, for it was old and ricketty
and had worked many years grinding corn for the miller; so from
morning till night it creaked and growled and complained as if
rebelling against the work it must do. And the country people, at work
in the fields far away, would raise their heads when the soft summer
breezes wafted the sound of the wheel to their ears and say,
"The jolly miller is grinding his corn." And again, at the times when
the mill was shut down and no sound of the wheel reached them, they
said to one another,
"The jolly miller has no corn to grind to-day," or, "The miller is
oiling the great wheel." But they would miss the creaking, monotonous
noise, and feel more content when the mill started again and made
music for them as they worked.
But no one came to the mill unless they brought corn to grind, for the
miller was a queer man, and liked to be alone. When people passed by
the mill and saw the miller at his work, they only nodded their heads,
for they knew he would not reply if they spoke to him.
He was not an old man, nor a sour man, nor a bad man; on the contrary
he could be heard singing at his work most of the time. But the words
of his song would alone have kept people away from him, for they were
"I care for nobody, no! not I,
Since nobody cares for me."
He lived all alone in the mill-house, cooking his own meals and making
his own bed, and neither asking nor receiving help from anyone. It is
very certain that if the jolly miller had cared to have friends many
would have visited him, since the country people were sociable enough
in their way; but it was the miller himself who refused to make
friends, and old Farmer Dobson used to say,
"The reason nobody cares for the miller is because he won't let them.
It is the fault of the man himself, not the fault of the people!"
However this may have been, it is true the miller had no friends, and
equally sure that he cared to have none, for it did not make him a bit
Sometimes, indeed, as he sat at evening in the doorway of the mill and
watched the moon rise in the sky, he grew a bit lonely and thoughtful,
and found himself longing for some one to love and cherish, for this
is the nature of all good men. But when he realized how his thoughts
were straying he began to sing again, and he drove away all such
At last a change came over the miller's life. He was standing one
evening beside the river, watching the moonbeams play upon the water,
when something came floating down the stream that attracted his
attention. For a long time he could not tell what it was, but it
looked to him like a big black box; so he got a long pole and reached
it out towards the box and managed to draw it within reach just above
the big wheel. It was fortunate he saved it when he did for in another
moment it would have gone over the wheel and been dashed to pieces far
When the miller had pulled the floating object upon the bank he found
it really was a box, the lid being fastened tight with a strong cord.
So he lifted it carefully and carried it into the mill-house, and then
he placed it upon the floor while he lighted a candle. Then he cut the
cord and opened the box and behold! a little babe lay within it,
sweetly sleeping upon a pillow of down.
The miller was so surprised that he stopped singing and gazed with big
eyes at the beautiful face of the little stranger. And while he gazed
its eyes opened--two beautiful, pleading blue eyes,--and the little
one smiled and stretched out her arms toward him.
"Well, well!" said the miller, "where on earth did you come from?"
The baby did not reply, but she tried to, and made some soft little
noises that sounded like the cooing of a pigeon.
The tiny arms were still stretched upwards, and the miller bent down
and tenderly lifted the child from the box and placed her upon his
knee, and then he began to stroke the soft, silken ringlets that
clustered around her head, and to look upon her wonderingly.
The baby leaned against his breast and fell asleep again, and the
miller became greatly troubled, for he was unused to babies and did
not know how to handle them or care for them. But he sat very still
until the little one awoke, and then, thinking it must be hungry, he
brought some sweet milk and fed her with a spoon. The baby smiled at
him and ate the milk as if it liked it, and then one little dimpled
hand caught hold of the miller's whiskers and pulled sturdily, while
the baby jumped its little body up and down and cooed its delight.
Do you think the miller was angry? Not a bit of it! He smiled back
into the laughing face and let her pull his whiskers as much as she
liked. For his whole heart had gone out to this little waif that he
rescued from the river, and at last the solitary man had found
something to love.