Short Stories and Poems for Children



The Ghost

Peter once saw two ags of nuts lying in a garden-house. “This is lucky,” thought he to himself; and determined to steal them. As it was now daylight, when such tricks are not so easily played, he waited till night, the time for evil deeds; though wicked people forget that the eye of God is on them in the dark as well as in the light.

Ghost2 from not thinking of this, or else stifling all good thoughts, stepped into the garden, and entering the house, he lifted one of the bags and ran off with it. By and by, when the moon shone out a little, he saw, as he thought, another person at his side, carrying another sack. The figure was large and black; and his guilty conscience made him think it was a ghost. So he ran and ran, as a ad conscience lends wings to the feet; but the black figure still kept up with him. Breathless, and half dead with fright, Peter reached home, having dropped the bag of nuts y the way. But it was soon found that the black figure which he took for a ghost was only his own shadow on the wall.
Peter stole no more.



The Man-eater

Going through a very dark wood, two little boys of the town once lost themselves, and were obliged to put up all night at a very shabby alehouse, which they saw there. During the night they heard someone talking loud in the next room; and wishing to hear what was said, they listened very close at the partition, and heard a man say, “Get ready the great kitchen-pot to-morrow; for I intend to kill the two little rogues that came from the town yesterday, and will have them boiled.” The poor children, hearing this, were dreadfully frightened; for they thought the man was speaking of them, and used to kill and eat people. They resolved, therefore, to make their escape by jumping out at the window; but in coming to the ground they hurt their feet, so that they could hardly walk. They found also the courtyard-gate locked and bolted, so that they could not get out, and were glad to creep into a little house among the pigs, where they passed the night in a state of the greatest fright. Next morning the landlord opened the door with a knife in his hand, whicMeanEater2h he was sharpening, calling out, at the same time, “Come along, you little rogues; this is the last hour you have to live.” The children, hearing this, cried out most piteously, falling on their knees and begging to have their lives spared. The landlord was astonished to find the children in such a place, and asked why they took him for such a monster; and then they told him how they had listened, and what they had heard. “Foolish children!” said the man, “I was not speaking about you, but about the two pigs, which I bought in the town yesterday and which I am going to kill. Learn in the future not to listen at keyholes and partitions, and never forget the lines which say,
“The prying keyhole-listener’s sure to hear something to fill him with shame or fear.”



The Birds

There was once a pretty village which was quite surrounded with various fruit-trees. In the springtime all the trees were covered with blossoms, which gave out the most delicious perfume; and their branches, as well as the neighbouring hedges, were thronged with singing-birds who made their nests there, and filled the air with their songs. In the autumn the trees were quite loaded with apples, pears, and other fruits. Now some bad boys began to rob the birds of their nests; and so the poor birds by degrees left a place where they were so ill treated, and they were no longer heard singing so beautifully, and the place became quite sad and gloomy. Hurtful insects, too, which the birds used to devour, became very numerous, and ate up the leaves and the blossoms of the trees, that looked quite are and naked, as if it were winter. And now the wicked children, that used to get such plenty of fine fruit, could have no more; for the trees were quite stripped of their former abundance.
“Ordain’d by Heaven the laws of nature stand;
Do not disturb them, then, with impious hand.”

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