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by [?]

Down by the sea lived Ben the fisherman, with his wife, and little son, who was called Dandelion, because he wore yellow pinafores, and had curly, yellow hair, that covered his head with a golden fuzz. A very happy family, for Ben was kind and industrious, Hetty, his wife, a cheerful, busy creature, and Dandelion the jolliest three-year-old baby who ever made sand-pies and paddled on the beach.

But one day a great trouble came to them. Ben and his fellow-fishermen sailed blithely away as usual, and Hetty watched the fleet of white-winged boats out of the bay, thinking how pretty they looked with the sunshine on them; while Dandelion stood clapping his chubby hands, and saying, as he always did, ‘Daddy tummin’ soon.’ But Daddy did not come soon that time; for a great storm arose, and when some of the boats came scudding home at nightfall, Ben’s was not among them. All night the gale raged, and in the morning, Ben’s boat lay empty and broken on the shore. His mates shook their heads when they saw the wreck, and drew their rough hands over their eyes; for Ben was a good seaman, and they knew he never would desert his boat alive. They looked for him far and wide, but could hear nothing of him, and felt sure that he had perished in the storm. They tried to comfort poor Hetty, but she would not be comforted. Her heart seemed broken; and if it had not been for her baby, her neighbours feared that she would have gone to join Ben in his grave under the sea. Dandelion didn’t understand why every one was so sad, and why his father stayed away so long; but he never lost his cheerfulness, never gave up hoping, or stopped saying, with a contented smile, ‘Daddy tummin’ soon.’ The sunshiny little face was Hetty’s only comfort. The sight of the fuzzy yellow head, bobbing round the house, alone made it endurable; and the touch of the loving baby hands kept her from the despair which made her long to end her sorrow in the sea.

People don’t believe in fairies now-a-days; nevertheless, good spirits still exist, and help us in our times of trouble, better even than the little people we used to read about. One of these household spirits is called Love, and it took the shape of Dandelion to comfort poor Hetty. Another is called Labor: a beautiful, happy spirit this is, and it did its part so well that there was little time for bitter thoughts or vain regrets; for Hetty’s spinning-wheel must go, in order to earn bread for Dandelion, whose mouth was always ready for food, like a hungry bird’s. Busily hummed the wheel: and, as it flew, it seemed to catch an echo of the baby’s cheerful song, saying, over and over, ‘Daddy tummin’ soon,’ till Hetty stopped crying as she worked, and listened to the cheerful whirr. ‘Yes, I shall see my good Ben again, if I wait patiently. Baby takes comfort in saying that, and I will, too; though the poor dear will get tired of it soon,’ she said.

But Dandelion didn’t get tired. He firmly believed what he said, and nothing could change his mind. He had been much troubled at seeing the boat laid up on the beach all broken and dismantled, but his little mind couldn’t take in the idea of shipwreck and death; so, after thinking it over, he decided that Daddy was waiting somewhere for a new boat to be sent to bring him home. This idea was so strong that the child gathered together his store of toy-boats,–for he had many, as they were his favourite plaything,–and launched them, one after another, telling them to find his father, and bring him home.

As Dandelion was not allowed to play on the beach, except at low tide, the little boats sailed safely away on the receding waves, and the child was sure that some of them would get safely into the distant port where Daddy was waiting. All the boats were launched at last, all sailed bravely away; but none came back, and little Dandy was much disappointed. He babbled about it to himself; told the peeps and the horse-shoes, the snails and the lobsters, of his trouble; begged the gulls to fly away and find Daddy; and every windy night when the sea dashed on the shore and the shutters rattled, he would want the lamp put in the window, as it used to be when they expected Ben, and tried to make home look cheerful, even before he got there.