Menella Bute Smedley

Pats of Butter

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Fairies can hide anywhere,
Up and down, and in and out,
'Neath the cushion of a chair,
In a teapot's empty spout;
They can nestle in your hair,
They can creep beneath your chin;
Fairies can hide anywhere,
Up and down, and out and in.

Fairies are so very small,
That I think we cannot be
Ever safe from them at all,
On the earth or on the sea;
For we are so big and tall,
And our eyes so powerful are—
Fairies being very small,
Are beyond our vision far.
Fairies are so full of tricks:
I have heard the farmers say,
They have stolen from the ricks
All the blossoms of the hay;
And with little dabs and pricks
Made the horses plunge and rear,—
Fairies are so full of tricks,
So extremely odd and queer!

In the dairy stood the cream,
Fresher than the snowflake white,
And the butter that a dream
Never churn'd more sweetly bright:
'Neath the moon's delightful beam,
On a summer evening fair,
In the dairy stood the cream,
And a fairy spied it there.
And a fairy spied it,—that
Tells the story, does it not?
They may whip the patient cat,
Who the sweet cream never got.
At the door poor Pussy sat,
Sorrowfully mew'd and purr'd;
But a fairy spied it,—that
Tells the story in a word!

She was hidden by a fly
On the dairy-floor that slept;
When the moon was in the sky,
From beneath its wing she stept.
Greedy creature, brisk and sly,
With a flourish and a hop,
Spurns the carcase of the fly,
Drains the sweet cream ev'ry drop.
Tipsy with the luscious draught,
Little tumbling, reeling thing,
How she coo'd and how she laugh'd,
Toss'd her head and plumed her wing;
But the liquor that she quaff'd
Rapidly revenge can take;
She was tipsy with the draught,
And her head began to ache!

Fairies are cut up so soon,
Such a little makes them mope;
If a gnat sings out of tune,
I have known them give up hope;
I have seen them croak and croon
If a dewdrop touch'd their wings—
Fairies are cut up so soon,
Are such nervous little things!
Where the lovely butter lies,
She betakes her to repose;
Closeth little tipsy eyes,
Cooleth little blushing nose,
Sinking, to her great surprise,
Deeper, deeper in the cup;
Where the lovely butter lies,
Is a fairy swallow'd up!

In the morning Susan comes,
Scolds the most misjudged of cats,
“Flaxen-headed Ploughboy” hums
While she forms the butter pats;
Active fingers, willing thumbs
Knead them into pretty shape.
In the morning Susan comes,—
Captive fairy can't escape.
Happy faces welcome are
Where the pleasant breakfast is:
This is oldest grandpapa,
Youngest little grandchild this;
Children running from afar,
Sons and daughters not a few,
At the table welcome are,—
So is bread and butter too.

Greedy Jim is always rude,
Pokes his hand in every dish;
In his hurry to intrude,
Swallows bones instead of fish;
Swallows bad instead of good;
Snatches meat, but swallows fat,—
Greedy Jim, extremely rude,
Swallows a whole butter-pat!
“Goodness! Jim, don't look so wild!”
“Gracious! Jim, don't scream so shrill!”
“What's the matter with the child?”
“Goodness, gracious! are you ill?”
Father's getting rather riled,
Mother hardly draws her breath,—
“Goodness! Jim, don't look so wild;
Sure you frighten us to death!”

Tumbling down and leaping up,
Twisting limbs in ev'ry shape;
Rolling, grov'lling like a pup,
Mowing, mopping like an ape;
Tasting neither bit nor sup,—
Yelling like an imp in pain;
Tumbling down and leaping up,—
Certainly the boy's insane.
Little have his parents guess'd
Whence the mighty mischief springs;
Men and women, much depress'd,
Recommend a hundred things.
But it's hard, if truth's confess'd,
To find cure or antidote;
For—a fairy in your chest,
Trying to ascend your throat!

All unchanged by day and night,
All unchanged by night and day,
Desperately showing fight,
Conqueror in ev'ry fray.
Eyes are weary of the sight,
Ears are deafen'd by the roar;
All unchanged by day and night,
Till the weeks were number'd four.
Then a mouse, in mere disgust,
(Sensible, though very small,)
Murmur'd it was most unjust
That he could not sleep at all;
Gnaw'd the wainscot into dust,
The apartment enter'd in,
And, in absolute disgust,
Made a spring at Jimmy's chin!

Took possession of his tongue,
Saying, with disdainful squeak,
“Come, my lad, you are but young,
Let your betters act and speak!”
Then his little forelegs flung
Down the throat of Master Jim,
Backing nimbly on his tongue,
Dragg'd the fairy out of him!


MORAL

Butter-pats, to eat alone,
Is a crime the wise forbid;
Naughty children must atone
For their sins, as Jimmy did.
Fairies should drink mountain dew,—
Cream's too dear at any price;
And if danger threatens you,
Always put your trust in mice.

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Menella Bute Smedley