Friday, March 2, 2018

Mary Had A Little Lamb

       Mary had one little lamb. Mary's father had a hundred little lambs. Mary's lamb could not stay in the house with her all of the time; it stayed out in the meadow, with the other little lambs and sheep, most of the time. When Mary went to look at all the lambs playing together, she could not tell surely which was her own until she called, "Pet, Pet!" As soon as she spoke, her lamb would come bounding toward her, and would go with her wherever she ,went. When she had to go home to go to bed, she would shut the gate between her and her lamb, and then kiss the lamb's woolly head through the bars, telling him, "Good night; be sure to be awake when I go to school in the morning." A part of Mary's path to school was beside the meadow, and the lamb always went as far as he could with her; when she turned the corner so he could go no further, he always put his head through the fence for Mary to give him a good-by hug and a kiss, and as long as he could see her he would cry "baa, baa"; but when she was quite out of sight, he would go to play with the other lambs, no doubt thinking that a hundred lambs were almost as good playfellows as one little girl.
       One day all the sheep were taken from the meadow and driven down the road past the schoolhouse, the lambs being left alone. Mary was afraid something might happen to her lamb, left with so many frisky little creatures without a mother-sheep to tell them not to turn heels over head. Mary's father had told her she might bring her lamb down past the schoolhouse at noon and see what they were doing with the old sheep; so Mary let the lamb follow her to school in the morning, though her father did not mean she should do so. It really was no harm, and I am sorry "it made the children laugh and play," so that the teacher had to turn the lamb out of doors. But just as soon as school closed, Mary ran out, and hugging the woolly little lamb, said, "You dear, patient little Pet! now we will take a walk"; and away they went down the road toward the river. Very soon they heard all sorts of baas, big, coarse baas, pretty, soft baas, and coarse and soft baas all mingled together. (Children can easily produce the sound.)
       It was a strange sight that Mary and Pet saw. Some men were carrying the sheep into the water and were washing their warm woolly coats in the clear, cool river. Mary asked her father if she might wash her lamb, and her father said she might wash his face and see how he liked that. Mary took off her shoes and stockings and waded into the water. Mary's lamb splashed in after her, and when his face had been neatly washed, Mary's father said the day was so warm that she might wash all of her lamb's wool. What fun they had! The lamb enjoyed it quite as much as Mary did. Mary was afraid the dust would get into the damp wool and make her lamb look more untidy than if he had not been washed, so she took off her apron, and putting the lamb's fore-legs through the sleeves, started home ; but the lamb would not stir a step while dressed in that way, and Mary took the sleeves off his legs and tied them in a pretty bow-knot under his chin; this seemed to please him much better, for he now trotted briskly ahead of her a part of the way home. I wish you had been at that schoolhouse when Mary and her lamb went past; the teacher and all the children were eating their luncheon out under the trees, and they laughed as you or I would laugh, to see a lamb dressed in a girl's apron.
       When all the old sheep had been in the sunny meadow a few days after their bath in the river, their thick coats of wool had become quite dry, and they were taken to the barn, where the farmers cut off their wool every summer. Mary and her lamb went too. Mary said her lamb ought to be taught to keep very quiet while being sheared, and her father said the best-behaved lambs always made the best sheep; so Mary taught her lamb to keep its feet quite still while she played that she cut its wool all off to make herself a dress. Some of the wool from a mother-sheep was made into a ball for Mary to hang round Pet's neck so she could tell him from the other lambs, and Mary had a dress, a hood, a pair of mittens, and some stockings made from the wool that was cut from the sheep's backs that day. Mary took a pair of scissors and clipped a tiny lock of wool from Pet's back, and tying it with a blue ribbon, put it in a box marked : "Pet's first wool; washed and cut off by Mary."

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