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It was evening; yes, dark night, in the forest. The sun had long since gone down; every one had gone to his dwelling; the animals had sought their resting places in the underbrush, and the birds had crept into their nests.
Only the owls, the bats, and the moles remained out. Down by the edge of the marsh — where glowworms, jack-o'-lanterns, and fireflies spread a dim light about the lovers of the night were gathered. "I wonder how it would be if we did not exist!" said the glowworm.
"The sun might as well hide himself forever," the jack-o'-lantern thought. We give much better light. No one gets a pain in the eyes looking at us."
"I agree with you," answered the owl, "the sun shines altogether too strong; I cannot bear him. And then, there is such a disturbance in the woods when he rises! Bullfinches, sparrows, larks-and whatever they all are then begin to bawl with all their might. No; he may just as well stay away." "Neither can I discover of what use that sun is,"
said the firefly. "For that reason, neither I nor any of my family will honor him with our presence; so we leave the instant he appears."
"One could certainly do very well without the sun," said the mole. "Suppose we should frighten him away when he tries to peep over the tree tops in the forest."
"I will do what I can towards it," said the owl; "I will screech as loud as I am able."
"And we three," said the firefly, flitting between the jack-o'-lantern and the glowworm, "we will shine in a way that he has never seen equaled. Then we shall see, fast enough, if he dares mount up as haughtily as usual.”
"My assistance shall not be wanting," said the mole, "especially as I originated the idea. I will throw up such a sand hill that he will never be able to shine over it." And then he began to scratch and dig with all his might, with his front paws.
"We will spread out our wings," said the bat, "so he cannot send a ray down to the earth."
And the bats spread out their wings, the moles dug, the fireflies and the glowworms shone with all their might. High up on a great rock sat the owl and rapped with his crooked bill.
"There will, indeed, be a new order of things here," said he. "Sing now, you gaping birds! Leap, you hares and roes! I wish you joy, you
flowers! I think your rejoicing will be more moderate now."
The sky began to redden in the east, and the color grew stronger and brighter every minute. The three lights strained with all their might; the mole dug; the bat spread out his wings, and the owl screeched continually.
But the sun mounted up and poured a film of gleaming gold over land and water. The small lights at the marsh's edge went out immediately, the mole crept into his hole, the bat and the owl hid themselves in the thickest brush.
But the waves of fresh morning air, the flowers' fragrance, and the birds' exulting voices announced to all the world that the sun had risen!
Little Bridget was a good girl and a pretty one, but she had ideas of her own. She liked to study
her lessons, to mind her mother, and to behave her
self as a little girl should, but she did despise to be washed.
There was something about the very smell of soap and the touch of water which made her shrink and shiver, and she would rather have seen the doctor come to her with a teaspoonful of medicine than to have her Aunt Ann approach with a bowlful of water, a towel, and a great piece of soap.
For a long time little Bridget believed that there was no escape from this terrible daily trial; but one bright morning, when she awoke very early, long before any one else in the house, she thought that it was too bad, when everything else was so happy, -when the birds and butterflies were flying about so gayly in the early sunbeams, and the flowers were all so gay and bright, and smelling so sweet and contented, that she should have to lie there on her little bed until her Aunt Ann came with that horrible soap and towel! She made up her mind! She wouldn't stand it; she would run away. For one morning she would be happy.
So up she jumped, and without stopping to dress herself, ran out among the birds and flowers.
She rambled along by the brook, where the sand felt so nice and soft to her bare feet; she wandered through the woods, where she found blackberries and wild strawberries and beautiful ferns.
And she wandered on and on, among the rocks and
the trees, and over the grass and the flowers, until she sat down by a great tree to rest. Then, without intending anything of the kind, she went fast asleep.
She had not slept more than five minutes, before along came a troop of fairies, and you may be assured that they were astonished enough to see a little girl lying fast asleep on the grass, at that time in the morning.
"Well, I never!" said the largest fairy, who was the Principal One.
"Nor I," said the Next Biggest; "it's little Bridget, and with such a dirty face! Just look! She has been eating blackberries and strawberries — and raspberries, too, for all I know; for you remember, brother, that a face dirtied with raspberries is very much like one dirtied with strawberries."
Very like, indeed, brother," said the Principal One, "and look at her feet! She's been walking in the wet sand!"
"And her hands!" cried the Very Least, "what hands! They're all smeared over with mixtures of things."
"Well," said the Next Biggest, "she is certainly a dirty little girl, but what is to be done?"
"Done?" said the Principal One. "There is only one thing to be done, and that is to wash her. There can be no doubt about that."
All the fairies agreed that nothing could be more