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Little Bo Peep.

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So up she took her little crook,
Determined for to find them, and began climbing the hill. When she got to the top there was never a sight of sheep about--only a green valley and another hill beyond. Now really alarmed for the safety of her charge, Bo-Peep hurried into the valley and up the farther hill-side. Panting and tired she reached the summit, and, pausing breathlessly, gazed below her. Quietly feeding upon the rich grass was her truant flock, looking as peaceful and innocent as if it had never strayed away from its gentle shepherdess. Bo-Peep uttered a cry of joy and hurried toward them; but when she came near she stopped in amazement and held up her little hands with a pretty expression of dismay. She had Found them, indeed, but it made her heart bleed, For they 'd left their tails behind them! Nothing was left to each sheep but a wee little stump where a tail should be, and Little Bo-Peep was so heart-broken that she sat down beside them and sobbed bitterly. But after awhile the tiny maid realized that all her tears would not bring back the tails to her lambkins; so she plucked up courage and dried her eyes and arose from the ground just as the old woman hobbled up to her. "So you have found your sheep, dearie," she said, in her cracked voice. "Yes," replied Little Bo-Peep, with difficulty repressing a sob; "but look, mother! They 've all left their tails behind them!"



"Why, so they have!" exclaimed the old woman; and then she began to laugh as if something pleased her. "What do you suppose has become of their tails?" asked the girl. "Oh, some one has probably cut them off. They make nice tippets in winter-time, you know;" and then she patted the child upon her head and walked away down the valley. Bo-Peep was much grieved over the loss that had befallen her dear sheep, and so, driving them before her, she wandered around to see if by any chance she could find the lost tails. But soon the sun began to sink over the hill-tops, and she knew she must take her sheep home before night overtook them. She did not tell her mother of her misfortune, for she feared the old shepherdess would scold her, and Bo-Peep had fully decided to seek for the tails and find them before she related the story of their loss to anyone. Each day for many days after that Little Bo-Peep wandered about the hills seeking the tails of her sheep, and those who met her wondered what had happened to make the sweet little maid so anxious. But there is an end to all troubles, no matter how severe they may seem to be, and

It happened one day, as Bo-Peep did stray
Unto a meadow hard by,
There she espied their tails side by side.
All hung on a tree to dry!



The little shepherdess was overjoyed at this discovery, and, reaching up her crook, she knocked the row of pretty white tails off the tree and gathered them up in her frock. But how to fasten them onto her sheep again was the question, and after pondering the matter for a time she became discouraged, and, thinking she was no better off than before the tails were found, she began to weep and to bewail her misfortune. But amidst her tears she bethought herself of her needle and thread. "Why," she exclaimed, smiling again, "I can sew them on, of course!" Then

She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye
And ran o'er hill and dale, oh.
And tried what she could
As a shepherdess should,
To tack to each sheep its tail, oh.

But the very first sheep she came to refused to allow her to sew on the tail, and ran away from her, and the others did the same, so that finally she was utterly discouraged. She was beginning to cry again, when the same old woman she had before met came hobbling to her side and asked, "What are you doing with my cat tails?" "Your cat tails!" replied Bo-Peep, in surprise; "what do you mean?" "Why, these tails are all cut from white pussycats, and I put them on the tree to dry. What are you doing with them?" "I thought they belonged to my sheep," answered Bo-Peep, sorrowfully; "but if they are really your pussy-cat tails, I must hunt until I find those that belong to my sheep."



"My dear," said the old woman, "I have been deceiving you; you said you knew all about your sheep, and I wanted to teach you a lesson. For, however wise we may be, no one in this world knows all about anything. Sheep do not have long tails--there is only a little stump to answer for a tail. Neither do rabbits have tails, nor bears, nor many other animals. And if you had been observing you would have known all this when I said the sheep would be wagging their tails behind them, and then you would not have passed all those days in searching for what is not to be found. So now, little one, run away home, and try to be more thoughtful in the future. Your sheep will never miss the tails, for they have never had them." And now

Little Bo-Peep no more did weep;
My tale of tails ends here.
Each cat has one,
But sheep have none;
Which, after all, is queer!

       



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