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The Thirteen Jewelled Letters

ONCE upon a time, for apparently no reason, a little girl lost her name, and  no one could tell her where to find it. She asked every one she saw if they knew her name, and each made this strange reply: that there was no telling what wonderful thing one might find, if one searched in the right way.

Well, the little girl determined to search. "For," she said, "I may find a more beautiful name than I had before."

So one day she started out with a basket of lunch­eon, saying that if she did not succeed she would never come back to her beautiful home, for she felt that she was disgraced.

The first person she met was an old woman, walk­ing with a stick.

"What have you in your basket?" asked the old woman.

"Luncheon," replied the little girl.

"What is your name?" asked the old woman.

"I don't know," answered the little girl. Then she burst out crying for shame; for who would not be ashamed at having lost such a thing as a name?

"Tut, tut!" said the old woman. "Give me your basket of luncheon."

The little girl gave it to her, and received not so much thanks as one might expect; but she was hap­pier than she had been since she lost her name.

As she walked on through the woods she became very hungry, and turned back to see if the old woman had left a wee little crust; but all she found was the old woman's stick.

The little girl cried then, for she used to get what she wanted by crying. But this time she did not get what she wanted; and as there was no one to hear her, she stopped, Moreover, she thought, "My luncheon must have helped the old woman to walk without her stick," and that of course made her feel better.

As she got up from the stone where she was sitting, and started to walk away (not knowing what direc­tion to take), something shining on the ground caught her eye.

Now would you believe that she stooped down and picked up a letter "N," formed of the reddest rubies you ever saw?

"Oh!" she exclaimed, jumping up and down, "I have found the first letter!" And with that she started off on a brisk walk, forgetting to wonder what direction to take; forgetting that she was hungry; and only remembering that she had found this beautiful letter, that couldn’t be other than one of the let­ters of the wonderful name.

Soon she met a squirrel, who said, "Have you any nuts?"

"No," she replied, "but I would give them to you if I had, because then I might find another letter of my beautiful name."

"Indeed!" replied the squirrel, whisking his tail saucily, "you would never find another if that's why you would give them to me."

She was about to cry again, but the squirrel whisked out of sight, so she changed her mind and walked on.

"If the saucy little squirrel is telling the truth, I had best mind what he said." With that she fell to wondering whether the next letter would be of pearls, or of sapphires, or of what – when all of a sudden, the squirrel jumped right out at her feet, and star­tled her so that she almost dropped the ruby " "N."

" Give me that pretty blue ribbon on your hair, to line my nest with," he said.

She gave it to him, and walked on, with her hair falling over her eyes. But she was happy, and thought only of how comfortable the squirrel's nest would be, lined with blue ribbon, – just as her own coat was so comfortably lined with blue silk.

She was thinking about that, – not thinking at all about the letter, – when she almost stepped on a bright something at her feet! And there was a letter "S," made of beautiful emeralds.

"Oh!" she said, picking it up. And then she thought: "O dear! How can any name begin with 'NS'? " And she was ready to cry again, but she remembered that crying had not done her any good since she started out; so she walked on, saying to herself, "NS, NS," but couldn't think of any name beginning with "NS."

Now would you believe what a funny thing hap­pened? A little baby monkey came out of the woods, and asked for her cloak. Though she couldn't see what a monkey wanted with her cloak, she took it off and gave it to him, and went on, feeling pretty chilly, I can tell you, for it was not yet summer.

"But if I am chilly, maybe the monkey is too, and maybe he has never had a cloak, because nobody ever gave him one!" and you can easily see that might be true, because people take it for granted that monkeys do not need clothes.

Just then the monkey came running out of the woods with the cloak on. He had a hard time, too, for the cloak was so long that he stumbled over it every other step. He was holding up something in his hand, and shouting, "Wait! Wait!"

She waited until he came up and handed her a let­ter "S," made of lovely, shining pearls.

"Oh!" she said; catching her breath. 

"It's yours," said the monkey.

"That was good of you," said the little girl, "to bring it all that distance, tripping over a long cloak." But she was more puzzled than ever at having another letter "S," for it seemed less likely than before that she would find a name beginning with such queer letters. It could not be pretty, anyway, for it would have such a hissing sound after the "N."

But the monkey scratched his nose (though he couldn't scratch it very well, for the coat sleeve was too long, and covered his funny little hand), and said, "Maybe those are not the first letters of the name."

And that was very likely, only the little girl hadn’t thought of it.

This made her happy, and thanking the monkey; politely, she hurried on; for she was anxious to find the rest of the letters, so she could go back to her  beautiful home, and show her dear mother she had searched in the right way.

Now I couldn't take time to tell you all the ad­ventures this little girl had in the woods: how she  gave away her shoes and stockings; and her pretty little baby ring; and her bonnet; and I don't  know what all; and how many queer creatures she met.

But best of all, she was happy, and when least ex­pecting it, she kept finding letters made of all kinds of beautiful precious stones.

It did seem to be a very long name, however; and after she had found twelve letters, she began to won­der how she would know when she came to the end, and how she was going to spell it (for she only knew words of three letters).

And would you believe it, – she came near missing the last letter! (for the next one was the last). And this is the way it happened:

She saw a bent old man, much more queer-looking than the old woman she first met. He asked her to help him find his spectacles, because he couldn't see well without them.

She didn't cry this time, for she was cured of that; but she thought: "Oh, how will I ever find the rest of my letters, if I turn back?"

The old man, of course, didn’t know about the let­ters. He only said:

"Oh! deary me! How am I ever going to find my specs, if no one will help me?"

That made the little girl feel very badly, so she said:

"I will go back with you," thinking she was go­ing in the wrong direction, even though she was try­ing to help some one.

But this shows that we cannot always tell where we are going to find the things we need. We might as well do what is to be done, and the first thing we know we have what is best for us.

It was this way with the little girl.

She stooped down to pick up something shining, saying, "Here are your specs!"

But it wasn't the specs at all! It was another let­ter "S," made of gorgeous diamonds, all shooting out beautiful rainbow colours.

"Dear me! " said the little girl, in astonishment. 

"Dearie me!" exclaimed the old man.

"But I can't spell such a big word!" cried the little girl.

"I'll spell it for you," said the little old man, lay­ing the letters in a row on the ground.




"Why!" he exclaimed, "that is what I have been looking for all these years," and, never thinking of specs, he spelled out the word better than if he had had two pairs of eyes.

"But for you I wouldn’t have found it!" he said to the little girl.

"But for you I wouldn’t have found it!" said she to him.

The little old man laughed; then suddenly stood up as straight as a sapling saying, "Now I must make up for the years I have been without it." And he started off as briskly as any young man.

The little girl gathered up the sparkling letters, and ran to meet a beautiful lady coming toward her.

"Come home, dear little Marybelle," said the lady, holding out her arms. "I see you have searched in the right way!"

"Oh, Mama!" she cried, "these letters do not spell Marybelle! "

Her mother spelled them out, and they spelled "UNSELFISHNESS!"

You see that has four "S"s in it, but it isn't a hissing word at all. On the contrary, it is a beautiful word.


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