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Little boy blue.
From Mother Goose in Prose by Frank Baum.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
Still, Little Boy Blue had no intention of sleeping while he was on
duty, and bravely fought against the drowsiness that was creeping over
him. The sun shone very hot that day, and he walked to the shady side
of a big haystack and sat down upon the ground, leaning his back
against the stack.
The cows and sheep were quietly browsing near him, and he watched them
earnestly for a time, listening to the singing of the birds, and the
gentle tinkling of the bells upon the wethers, and the faraway songs
of the reapers that the breeze brought to his ears.
And before he knew it the blue eyes had closed fast, and the golden
head lay back upon the hay, and Little Boy Blue was fast asleep and
dreaming that his mother was well again and had come to the stile to
The sheep strayed near the edge of the meadow and paused, waiting for
the warning sound of the horn. And the breeze carried the fragrance of
the growing corn to the nostrils of the browsing cows and tempted them
nearer and nearer to the forbidden feast. But the silver horn was
silent, and before long the cows were feeding upon the Squire's pet
cornfield and the sheep were enjoying themselves amidst the juicy
grasses of the meadows.
The Squire himself was returning from a long, weary ride over his
farms, and when he came to the cornfield and saw the cows trampling
down the grain and feeding upon the golden stalks he was very angry.
"Little Boy Blue!" he cried; "ho! Little Boy Blue, come blow your
horn!" But there was no reply. He rode on a way and now discovered
that the sheep were deep within the meadows, and that made him more
"Here, Isaac," he said to a farmer's lad who chanced to pass by,
"where is Little Boy Blue?"
"He 's under the haystack, your honor, fast asleep!" replied Isaac
with a grin, for he had passed that way and seen that the boy was
"Will you go and wake him?" asked the Squire; "for he must drive out
the sheep and the cows before they do more damage."
"Not I," replied Isaac, "if I wake him he 'll surely cry, for he is
but a baby, and not fit to mind the sheep. But I myself will drive
them out for your honor," and away he ran to do so, thinking that now
the Squire would give him Little Boy Blue's place, and make him the
shepherd boy, for Isaac had long coveted the position.
The Squire's daughter, hearing the angry tones of her father's voice,
now came out to see what was amiss, and when she heard that Little Boy
Blue had failed in his trust she was deeply grieved, for she had loved
the child for his pretty ways.
The Squire dismounted from his horse and came to where the boy was
"Awake!" said he, shaking him by the shoulder, "and depart from my
lands, for you have betrayed my trust, and let the sheep and the cows
stray into the fields and meadows!"
Little Boy Blue started up at once and rubbed his eyes; and then he
did as Isaac prophesied, and began to weep bitterly, for his heart was
sore that he had failed in his duty to the good Squire and so
forfeited his confidence.
But the Squire's daughter was moved by the child's tears, so she took
him upon her lap and comforted him, asking,
"Why did you sleep, Little Boy Blue, when you should have watched the
cows and the sheep?"
"My mother has broken her leg," answered the boy, between his sobs,
"and I did not sleep all last night, but sat by her bedside nursing
her. And I tried hard not to fall asleep, but could not help myself;
and oh, Squire! I hope you will forgive me this once, for my poor
"Where does your mother live?" asked the Squire, in a kindly tone,
for he had already forgiven Little Boy Blue.
"In the cottage down by the river," answered the child; "and she is
all alone, for there is no one near to help us in our trouble."
"Come," said Mistress Madge, rising to her feet and taking his hand;
"lead us to your home, and we will see if we cannot assist your poor
So the Squire and his daughter and Little Boy Blue all walked down to
the little cottage, and the Squire had a long talk with the poor
widow. And that same day a big basket of dainties was sent to the
cottage, and Mistress Madge bade her own maid go to the widow and
nurse her carefully until she recovered.
So that after all Little Boy Blue did more for his dear mother by
falling asleep than he could had he kept wide awake; for after his
mother was well again the Squire gave them a pretty cottage to live in
very near to the great house itself, and the Squire's daughter was
ever afterward their good friend, and saw that they wanted for no
comforts of life.
And Little Boy Blue did not fall asleep again at his post, but watched
the cows and the sheep faithfully for many years, until he grew up to
manhood and had a farm of his own.
He always said his mother's accident had brought him good luck, but I
think it was rather his own loving heart and his devotion to his
mother that made him friends. For no one is afraid to trust a boy who
loves to serve and care for his mother.