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song and story "Mistress Mary, quite contrary.'

Vul. I, p. 11.

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PUBLIC LIBRARY

288950B

ASTOR, LENOX AND
TILDEN FOUNDATIONS
R
1944

L

COPYRIGHT 1903

By P. F. COLLIER & SON

INTRODUCTION

M

RS. STARCHY MINUET is a very grand

lady, children, and I know you will be glad to hear what happened to her. She

is tall and stiff like a poker. Her nose is sharp, as sharp as the point of the little trowel you dig up your flower garden with. People say she has blue blood, and I guess she has. Her taper fingers, with their elegant pointed nails, make me think of the handkerchiefs, the week the laundress didn't notice when you slyly emptied the bluing bottle into her rinsing water. And if her face is red sometimes that doesn't come from laughing. I never saw her laugh. If she should hear you giggling now, she would send her maid after you to make you stop. She wears velvet and satin, and walks very straight, and there are diamonds on those taper fingers, and she has her hair done up pompadour. Now I am sure you would know her if you should meet her driving in the park, but for goodness' sake don't say I told you. She might not like it. She is very queer about some things.

For example, she said to me, once upon a time: "I think they ought to stop letting children hear those

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Mother Goose stories. What silly things they are! And so ungrammatical, too. For example, "Tom, Tom, the piper's son, stole a pig and away he run.' Of course it ought to be ‘ran.' But why do you want to have pipers (generally quite common fellows) and pigs and thieves come into your nursery at all? I wish parents would be more sensible."

“Oh, Mrs. Minuet," I put in, “how could your family ever have got their name, if there hadn't been pipers? You dancing people have kept yourselves poor for hundreds of years paying the piper. You weren't supporting a nuisance all that time, were you? And pigs are sweet little things, if they are caught young, as Tom caught his. As for thieves, I've known you to steal a look in the glass now and then, and not be ashamed of it either. Tom had a nice frolic for a while with that pig, of course. He hadn't got big enough to know he must frolic with only his own pigs. If he did wrong he met his just deserts, and punishment ought to put an end to all nagging, as Kipling says it does in the Jungle.”

Mrs. Starchy Minuet turned on me the vials of her wrath. Then she wheeled on one French heel and left me standing alone. “I'll fix her," I said to myself, and I called gently for a Good Fairy who often helps me when I am in need of her. “Take her away,” I said, pointing to Mrs. Minuet's back hair. “She ought to get acquainted with your Mother Goose people. Can't you introduce her?"

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