Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jewel-Like Miscellany

In case anyone asks, I would like this bird to grace Nesting Ground Headquarters:

From woodworker Palo Samko.

***

Risa says that when she misses me, she goes into my room and looks at my bookshelves. I'm not sure if this is sweet or sad. I'm going to guess the former, since the latter would indicate that I am constantly gone. In fact, I only leave them once a week for date night.

***

Must draw someone's—anyone's!—attention to the nugget of sweetness that is this colleciton of children's stories from Eleanor Farjeon. It was first published in 1955:


There's a simplicity and a soothing sort of symmetry that makes these stories so lovely. And because YOU are so lovely, I am going to while away the next several minutes typing one out in its entirety. My children audibly SIGHED after this one:

Young Kate

by Eleanor Farjeon


A long time ago old Miss Daw lived in a narrow house on the edge of the town, and Young Kate was her little servant. One day Kate was sent up to clean the attic windows, and as she cleaned them she could see all the meadows that lay outside the town. So when her work was done she said to Miss Daw, 'Mistress, may I go out to the meadows?'

'Oh, no!' said Miss Daw. 'You mustn't go in the meadows.'

'Why not, Mistress?'

'Because you might meet the Green Woman. Shut the gate, and get your mending.'

The next week Kate cleaned the windows again, and as she cleaned them she saw the river that ran in the valley. So when her work was done she said to Miss Daw, 'Mistress, may I go down to the river?'

'Oh, no!' said Miss Daw. 'You must never go down to the river!'

'Why ever not, Mistress?'

'Because you might meet the River King. Bar the door, and polish the brasses.'

The next week when Kate cleaned the attic windows, she saw the woods that grew up the hillside, and after her work was done she went to Miss Daw and said, 'Mistress, may I go up to the woods?'

'Oh, no!' said Miss Daw. 'Don't ever go up to the woods!'

'Oh, Mistress, why not?'

'Because you might meet the Dancing Boy. Draw the blinds, and peel the potatoes.'

Miss Daw sent Kate no more to the attic, and for six years Kate stayed in the house and mended the stockings, and polished the brass, and peeled the potatoes. Then Miss Daw died, and Kate had to find another place.

Her new place was in the town on the other side of the hills, and as Kate had no money to ride, she was obliged to walk. But she did not walk by the road. As soon as she could she went into the fields, and the first thing she saw there was the Green Woman planting flowers.

'Good morning, Young Kate,' said she, 'and where are you going?'

'Over the hill to the town,' said Kate.

'You should have taken the road, if you meant to go quick,' said the Green Woman, 'for I let nobody pass through my meadows who does not stop to plant a flower.'

'I'll do that willingly,' said Kate, and she took the Green Woman's trowel and planted a daisy.

'Thank you' said the Green Woman; ' now pluck what you please.'

Kate plucked a handful of flowers, and the Green Woman said, 'For every flower you plant, you shall always pluck fifty.'

Then Kate went on to the valley where the river ran, and the first thing she saw was the River King in the reeds.

'Good day, Young Kate,' said he, 'and where are you going?'

'Over the hill to the town,' said Kate.

'You should have kept to the road if you're in anything of a hurry,' said the River King, 'for I let nobody pass by my river who does not stop to sing a song.'

'I will gladly,' said Kate, and she sat down in the reeds and sang.

'Thank you,' said the River King; 'now listen to me.'

And he sang song after song, while the evening drew on, and when he had done, he kissed her and said, 'For every song you sing, you shall always hear fifty.'

Then Kate went up the hill to the woods on the top, and the first thing she saw there was the Dancing Boy.

'Good evening, Young Kate,' said he. 'Where are you going?'

'Over the hill to the town,' said Kate.

'You should have kept to the road, if you want to be there before morning,' said the Dancing Boy, 'for I let nobody through my woods who does not stop to dance.'

'I will dance with joy,' said Kate, and she danced her best for him.

'Thank you,' said the Dancing Boy; 'now look at me.'

And he danced for her till the moon came up, and danced all night till the moon went down. When morning came he kissed her and said, 'For every dance you dance, you shall always see fifty.'

Young Kate then went on to the town, where in another little narrow house she became servant to old Miss Drew, who never let her go to the meadows, the woods, or the river, and locked up the house at seven o'clock.

But in the course of time, Young Kate married, and had children and a little servant of her own. And when the day's work was done, she opened the door and said, 'Run along now, children, into the meadows, or down to the river, or up to the hill, for I shouldn't wonder but you'll have the luck to meet the Green Woman there, or the River King, or the Dancing Boy.

And the children and the servant girl would go out, and presently Kate would see them come home again, singing and dancing with their hands full of flowers.


The Little Bookroom is just one of the beautiful hardcover volumes in The New York Review Children's Collection. Swoon.

5 comments:

Gladys said...

oh that was lovely. thanks for the pointer.

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

Now that's a Tellable tale. Thanks for posting about it!

ver said...

Yay! My typing was not in vain. I'm glad you enjoyed...

cornshake said...

ah, that is me sighing as well. so lovely. thanks for posting. now you must tell me what you thought of no country for old men. i myself was thoroughly petrified during 98% of it and so did not enjoy it one bit. it was the stuff of nightmares and i was so stressed out during the movie. :(

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