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Little boy blue.
From Mother Goose in Prose by Frank Baum.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn.
The sheep 's in the meadow, the cow 's in the corn;
Where 's the little boy that minds the sheep?
He 's under the haystack, fast asleep!
There once lived a poor widow who supported herself and her only son
by gleaning in the fields the stalks of grain that had been missed by
the reapers. Her little cottage was at the foot of a beautiful valley,
upon the edge of the river that wound in and out among the green
hills; and although poor, she was contented with her lot, for her home
was pleasant and her lovely boy was a constant delight to her.
He had big blue eyes, and fair golden curls, and he loved his good
mother very dearly, and was never more pleased than when she allowed
him to help her with her work.
And so the years passed happily away till the boy was eight years old,
but then the widow fell sick, and their little store of money melted
"I do n't know what we shall do for bread," she said, kissing her boy
with tears in her eyes, "for I am not yet strong enough to work, and
we have no money left."
"But I can work," answered the boy; "and I 'm sure if I go to the
Squire up at the Hall he will give me something to do."
At first the widow was reluctant to consent to this, since she loved
to keep her child at her side, but finally, as nothing else could be
done, she decided to let him go to see the Squire.
Being too proud to allow her son to go to the great house in his
ragged clothes, she made him a new suit out of a pretty blue dress she
had herself worn in happier times, and when it was finished and the
boy dressed in it, he looked as pretty as a prince in a fairy tale.
For the bright blue jacket set off his curls to good advantage, and
the color just matched the blue of his eyes. His trousers were blue,
also, and she took the silver buckles from her own shoes and put them
on his, that he might appear the finer. And then she brushed his curls
and placed his big straw hat upon them and sent him away with a kiss
to see the Squire.
It so happened that the great man was walking in his garden with his
daughter Madge that morning, and was feeling in an especially happy
mood, so that when he suddenly looked up and saw a little boy before
him, he said, kindly,
"Well, my child, what can I do for you?"
"If you please, sir," said the boy, bravely, although he was
frightened at meeting the Squire face to face, "I want you to give me
some work to do, so that I can earn money."
"Earn money!" repeated the Squire, "why do you wish to earn money?"
"To buy food for my mother, sir. We are very poor, and since she is
no longer able to work for me I wish to work for her."
"But what can you do?" asked the Squire; "you are too small to work in
"I could earn something, sir, could n't I?"
His tone was so pleading that mistress Madge was unable to resist it,
and even the Squire was touched. The young lady came forward and took
the boy's hand in her own, and pressing back his curls, she kissed his
"You shall be our shepherd," she said, pleasantly, "and keep the sheep
out of the meadows and the cows from getting in to the corn. You know,
father," she continued, turning to the Squire, "it was only yesterday
you said you must get a boy to tend the sheep, and this little boy can
do it nicely."
"Very well," replied the Squire, "it shall be as you say, and if he is
attentive and watchful he will be able to save me a good bit of
trouble and so really earn his money."
Then he turned to the child and said,
"Come to me in the morning, my little man, and I will give you a
silver horn to blow, that you may call the sheep and the cows whenever
they go astray. What is your name?"
"Oh, never mind his name, papa!" broke in the Squire's daughter; "I
shall call him Little Boy Blue, since he is dressed in blue from head
to foot, and his dress but matches his eyes. And you must give him a
good wage, also, for surely no Squire before ever had a prettier
shepherd boy than this."
"Very good," said the Squire, cheerfully, as he pinched his daughter's
rosy cheek; "be watchful, Little Boy Blue, and you shall be well
Then Little Boy Blue thanked them both very sweetly and ran back over
the hill and into the valley where his home lay nestled by the
riverside, to tell the good news to his mother.
The poor widow wept tears of joy when she heard his story, and smiled
when he told her that his name was to be Little Boy Blue. She knew the
Squire was a kind master and would be good to her darling son.
Early the next morning Little Boy Blue was at the Hall, and the
Squire's steward gave him a new silver horn, that glistened brightly
in the sunshine, and a golden cord to fasten it around his neck. And
then he was given charge of the sheep and the cows, and told to keep
them from straying into the meadowlands and the fields of grain.