Mother Goose in Prose by L. Frank Baum
by the author of The Wizard of Oz - Hey Diddle, Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle

Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon!
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran off with the spoon!

Perhaps you think this verse is all nonsense, and that the things it
mentions could never have happened; but they did happen, as you will
understand when I have explained them all to you clearly.

Little Bobby was the only son of a small farmer who lived out of town
upon a country road. Bobby's mother looked after the house and Bobby's
father took care of the farm, and Bobby himself, who was not very big,
helped them both as much as he was able.

It was lonely upon the farm, especially when his father and mother
were both busy at work, but the boy had one way to amuse himself that
served to pass many an hour when he would not otherwise have known
what to do. He was very fond of music, and his father one day brought
him from the town a small fiddle, or violin, which he soon learned to
play upon. I don't suppose he was a very fine musician, but the tunes
he played pleased himself; as well as his father and mother, and
Bobby's fiddle soon became his constant companion.

One day in the warm summer the farmer and his wife determined to drive
to the town to sell their butter and eggs and bring back some
groceries in exchange for them, and while they were gone Bobby was to
be left alone.

"We shall not be back till late in the evening," said his mother, "for
the weather is too warm to drive very fast. But I have left you a dish
of bread and milk for your supper, and you must be a good boy and
amuse yourself with your fiddle until we return."

Bobby promised to be good and look after the house, and then his
father and mother climbed into the wagon and drove away to the town.

The boy was not entirely alone, for there was the big black tabby-cat
lying upon the floor in the kitchen, and the little yellow dog barking
at the wagon as it drove away, and the big moolie-cow lowing in the
pasture down by the brook. Animals are often very good company, and
Bobby did not feel nearly as lonely as he would had there been no
living thing about the house.

Besides he had some work to do in the garden, pulling up the weeds
that grew thick in the carrot-bed, and when the last faint sounds of
the wheels had died away he went into the garden and began his task.

The little dog went too, for dogs love to be with people and to watch
what is going on; and he sat down near Bobby and cocked up his ears
and wagged his tail and seemed to take a great interest in the
weeding. Once in a while he would rush away to chase a butterfly or
bark at a beetle that crawled through the garden, but he always came
back to the boy and kept near his side.

By and by the cat, which found it lonely in the big, empty kitchen,
now that Bobby's mother was gone, came walking into the garden also,
and lay down upon a path in the sunshine and lazily watched the boy at
his work. The dog and the cat were good friends, having lived together
so long that they did not care to fight each other. To be sure Towser,
as the little dog was called, sometimes tried to tease pussy, being
himself very mischievous; but when the cat put out her sharp claws and
showed her teeth, Towser, like a wise little dog, quickly ran away,
and so they managed to get along in a friendly manner.

By the time the carrot-bed was all weeded, the sun was sinking behind
the edge of the forest and the new moon rising in the east, and now
Bobby began to feel hungry and went into the house for his dish of
bread and milk.

"I think I 'll take my supper down to the brook," he said to himself,
"and sit upon the grassy bank while I eat it. And I 'll take my
fiddle, too, and play upon it to pass the time until father and mother
come home."

It was a good idea, for down by the brook it was cool and pleasant; so
Bobby took his fiddle under his arm and carried his dish of bread and
milk down to the bank that sloped to the edge of the brook. It was
rather a steep bank, but Bobby sat upon the edge, and placing his
fiddle beside him, leaned against a tree and began to eat his supper.

The little dog had followed at his heels, and the cat also came slowly
walking after him, and as Bobby ate, they sat one on either side of
him and looked earnestly into his face as if they too were hungry. So
he threw some of the bread to Towser, who grabbed it eagerly and
swallowed it in the twinkling of an eye. And Bobby left some of the
milk in the dish for the cat, also, and she came lazily up and drank
it in a dainty, sober fashion, and licked both the dish and spoon
until no drop of the milk was left.

Then Bobby picked up his fiddle and tuned it and began to play some of
the pretty tunes he knew. And while he played he watched the moon rise
higher and higher until it was reflected in the smooth, still water of
the brook. Indeed, Bobby could not tell which was the plainest to see,
the moon in the sky or the moon in the water. The little dog lay
quietly on one side of him, and the cat softly purred upon the other,
and even the moolie-cow was attracted by the music and wandered near
until she was browsing the grass at the edge of the brook.

After a time, when Bobby had played all the tunes he knew, he laid the
fiddle down beside him, near to where the cat slept, and then he lay
down upon the bank and began to think.

It is very hard to think long upon a dreamy summer night without
falling asleep, and very soon Bobby's eyes closed and he forgot all
about the dog and the cat and the cow and the fiddle, and dreamed he
was Jack the Giant Killer and was just about to slay the biggest giant
in the world.

And while he dreamed, the cat sat up and yawned and stretched herself;
and then began wagging her long tail from side to side and watching
the moon that was reflected in the water.

But the fiddle lay just behind her, and as she moved her tail, she
drew it between the strings of the fiddle, where it caught fast. Then
she gave her tail a jerk and pulled the fiddle against the tree, which
made a loud noise. This frightened the cat greatly, and not knowing
what was the matter with her tail, she started to run as fast as she
could. But still the fiddle clung to her tail, and at every step it
bounded along and made such a noise that she screamed with terror. And
in her fright she ran straight towards the cow, which, seeing a black
streak coming at her, and hearing the racket made by the fiddle,
became also frightened and made such a jump to get out of the way that
she jumped right across the brook, leaping over the very spot where
the moon shone in the water!

Bobby had been awakened by the noise, and opened his eyes in time to
see the cow jump; and at first it seemed to him that she had actually
jumped over the moon in the sky, instead of the one in the brook.

The dog was delighted at the sudden excitement caused by the cat, and
ran barking and dancing along the bank, so that he presently knocked
against the dish, and behold! it slid down the bank, carrying the
spoon with it, and fell with a splash into the water of the brook.

As soon as Bobby recovered from his surprise he ran after the cat,
which had raced to the house, and soon came to where the fiddle lay
upon the ground, it having at last dropped from the cat's tail. He
examined it carefully, and was glad to find it was not hurt, in spite
of its rough usage. And then he had to go across the brook and drive
the cow back over the little bridge, and also to roll up his sleeve
and reach into the water to recover the dish and the spoon.

Then he went back to the house and lighted a lamp, and sat down to
compose a new tune before his father and mother returned.

The cat had recovered from her fright and lay quietly under the stove,
and Towser sat upon the floor panting, with his mouth wide open, and
looking so comical that Bobby thought he was actually laughing at the
whole occurrence.

And these were the words to the tune that Bobby composed that night:

Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon!
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran off with the spoon!


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Mermaid Lullabye

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print a rhyme book
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6 Rhymes Book


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