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From Mother Goose by Frank Baum.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With dingle bells and cockle shells
And cowslips, all in a row.
High upon a cliff that overlooked the sea was a little white cottage,
in which dwelt a sailor and his wife, with their two strong sons and a
little girl. The sons were also sailors, and had made several voyages
with their father in a pretty ship called the "Skylark." Their names
were Hobart and Robart. The little girl's name was Mary, and she was
very happy indeed when her father and her brothers were at home, for
they petted her and played games with her and loved her very dearly
But when the "Skylark" went to sea, and her mother and herself were
left alone in the little white cottage, the hours were very dull and
tedious, and Mary counted the days until the sailors came home again.
One spring, just as the grasses began to grow green upon the cliff and
the trees were dressing their stiff, barren branches in robes of
delicate foliage, the father and brothers bade good-bye to Mary and
her mother, for they were starting upon a voyage to the Black Sea.
"And how long will you be gone, papa?" asked Mary, who was perched
upon her father's knee, where she could nestle her soft cheek against
his bushy whiskers.
"How long?" he repeated, stroking her curls tenderly as he spoke;
"well, well, my darling, it will be a long time indeed! Do you know
the cowslips that grow in the pastures, Mary?"
"Oh, yes; I watch for them every spring," she answered.
"And do you know the dingle-bells that grow near the edge of the
wood?" he asked again.
"I know them well, papa," replied Mary, "for often I gather their blue
blossoms and put them in a vase upon the table."
"And how about the cockle-shells?"
"Them also I know," said Mary eagerly, for she was glad her father
should find her so well acquainted with the field flowers; "there is
nothing prettier than the big white flowers of the cockle-shells. But
tell me, papa, what have the flowers to do with your coming home?"
"Why, just this, sweetheart," returned the sailor gravely; "all the
time that it takes the cowslips and dingle-bells and cockle-shells to
sprout from the ground, and grow big and strong, and blossom into
flower, and, yes--to wither and die away again--all that time shall
your brothers and I sail the seas. But when the cold winds begin to
blow, and the flowers are gone, then, God willing, we shall come back
to you; and by that time you may have grown wiser and bigger, and I am
sure you will have grown older. So one more kiss, sweetheart, and then
we must go, for our time is up."
The next morning, when Mary and her mother had dried their eyes, which
had been wet with grief at the departure of their loved ones, the
little girl asked earnestly,
"Mamma, may I make a flower-garden?"
"A flower-garden!" repeated her mother in surprise; "why do you wish a
"I want to plant in it the cockle-shells and the cowslips and the
dingle-bells," she answered.
And her mother, who had heard what the sailor had said to his little
girl, knew at once what Mary meant; so she kissed her daughter and
"Yes, Mary, you may have the flower-garden, if you wish. We will dig
a nice little bed just at the side of the house, and you shall plant
your flowers and care for them yourself."
"I think I 'd rather have the flowers at the front of the house," said
"But why?" enquired her mother; "they will be better sheltered at the
"I want them in front," persisted Mary, "for the sun shines stronger
"Very well," answered her mother, "make your garden at the front, if
you will, and I will help you to dig up the ground."
"But I do n't want you to help," said Mary, "for this is to be my own
little flower-garden, and I want to do all the work myself."
Now I must tell you that this little girl, although very sweet in many
ways, had one serious fault. She was inclined to be a bit contrary,
and put her own opinions and ideas before those of her elders. Perhaps
Mary meant no wrong in this; she often thought knew better how to do a
thing than others did; and in such a case she was not only contrary,
but anxious to have her own way.