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The little man and his little gun.

From Mother Goose in prose by Frank Baum.
Age Rating 4 to 6.

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So they had pork and beans, to the great disappointment of Mr. Jimson, who had expected to eat duck instead; and after dinner the little man lay down to take a nap while his wife went out to tell the neighbors what a great hunter he was. The news spread rapidly through the town, and when the evening paper came out the little man was very angry to see this verse printed in it: There was a little man and he had a little gun, And the bullets were made of lead, lead, lead. He went to the brook and shot a little duck, And the bullet went right through its head, head, head. He carried it home to his good wife Joan, And bade her a fire to make, make, make, While he went to the brook where he shot the little duck, And tried for to shoot the drake, drake, drake. "There 's no use putting it into the paper," exclaimed the little man, much provoked, "and Mr. Brayer, the editor, is probably jealous because he himself cannot shoot a gun. Perhaps people think I cannot shoot a drake, but I 'll show them to-morrow that I can!"

So the next morning he got up early again, and took his gun, and loaded it with bullets made of lead. Then he said to his wife, "What does a drake look like, my love?" "Why," she replied, "it 's much like a duck, only it has a curl on its tail and red on its wing." "All right," he answered, "I 'll bring you home a drake in a short time, and to-day we shall have something better for dinner than pork and beans." When he got to the brook there was nothing in sight, so he sat down on the bank to watch, and again fell fast asleep. Now Johnny Sprigg had missed his little duck, and knew some one had shot it; so he thought this morning he would go the brook and watch for the man who had killed the duck, and make him pay a good price for it. Johnny was a big man, whose head was very bald; therefore he wore a red curly wig to cover his baldness and make him look younger. When he got to the brook he saw no one about, and so he hid in a clump of bushes. After a time the little man woke up, and in looking around for the drake he saw Johnny's red wig sticking out of the top of the bushes.

"That is surely the drake," he thought, "for I can see a curl and something red;" and the next minute "bang!" went the gun, and Johnny Sprigg gave a great yell and jumped out of the bushes. As for his beautiful wig, it was shot right off his head, and fell into the water of the brook a good ten yards away! "What are you trying to do?" he cried, shaking his fist at the little man. "Why, I was only shooting at the drake," replied Jimson; "and I hit it, too, for there it is in the water. "That 's my wig, sir!" said Johnny Sprigg, "and you shall pay for it, or I 'll have the law on you. Are you the man who shot the duck here yesterday morning?" "I am, sir," answered the little man, proud that he had shot something besides a wig. "Well, you shall pay for that also," said Mr. Sprigg; "for it belonged to me, and I 'll have the money or I 'll put you in jail!"

The little man did not want to go to jail, so with a heavy heart he paid for the wig and the duck, and then took his way sorrowfully homeward. He did not tell Joan of his meeting with Mr. Sprigg; he only said he could not find a drake. But she knew all about it when the paper came out, for this is what it said on the front page: There was a little man and he had a little gun, And the bullets were made of lead, lead, lead. He shot Johnny Sprigg through the middle of his wig, And knocked it right off from his head, head, head. The little man was so angry at this, and at the laughter of all the men he met, that he traded his gun off for a lawn-mower, and resolved never to go hunting again. He had the little duck he had shot made into a pie, and he and Joan ate it; but he did not enjoy it very much. "This duck cost me twelve dollars," he said to his loving wife, "for that is the sum Johnny Sprigg made me pay; and it 's a very high price for one little duck--do n't you think so, Joan?"


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