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by [?]

Adapted from Ouida.

“We tell too few stories to children, and those we tell are stories whose heroes are automata and stuffed dolls,”–Froebel.

Lolo and Moufflou lived far away from here, in a sunny country called Italy.

Lolo was not as strong as you are, and could never run about and play, for he was lame, poor fellow, and always had to hop along on a little crutch. He was never well enough to go to school, but as his fingers were active and quick he could plait straw matting and make baskets at home. He had four or five rosy, bright little brothers and sisters, but they were all so strong and could play all day so easily that Lolo was not with them much; so Moufflou was his very best friend, and they were together all day long.

Moufflou was a snow-white poodle, with such soft, curly wool that he looked just like a lamb; and the man who gave him to the children, when he was a little puppy, had called him “Moufflon,” which meant sheep in his country.

Lolo’s father had died four years before; but he had a mother, who had to work very hard to keep the children clean and get them enough to eat. He had, too, a big brother Tasso, who worked for a gardener, and every Saturday night brought his wages home to help feed and clothe the little children. Tasso was almost a man now, and in that country as soon as you grow to be a man you have to go away and be a soldier; so Lolo’s mother was troubled all the time for fear that her Tasso would be taken away. If you have money enough, you can always pay some one to go in your place; but Tasso had no money, and neither had the poor mother, so every day she was anxious lest her boy might have to go to the wars.

But Lolo and Moufflon knew nothing of all this, and every day, when Lolo was well enough, they were happy together. They would walk up the streets, or sit on the church, steps, or, if the day was fair, would perhaps go into the country and bring home great bundles of yellow and blue and crimson flowers.

The tumble-down old house in which the family lived was near a tall, gray church. It was a beautiful old church, and all the children loved it, but Lolo most of all. He loved it in the morning, when the people brought in great bunches of white lilies to trim it; and at noon, when it was cool and shady; and at sunset, when the long rays shone through the painted windows and made blue and golden and violet lights on the floor.

One morning Lolo and Moufflou were sitting on the church steps and watching the people, when a gentleman who was passing by stopped to look at the dog.

“That’s a very fine poodle,” he said.

“Indeed he is,” cried Lolo. “But you should see him on Sundays when he is just washed; then he is as white as snow.”

“Can he do any tricks?” asked the gentleman.

“I should say so,” said Lolo, for he had taught the dog all he knew. “He can stand on his hind legs, he can dance, he can speak, he can make a wheelbarrow of himself, and when I put a biscuit on his nose and count one, two, three, he will snap and catch the biscuit.”

The gentleman said he should like to see some of the tricks, and Moufflou was very glad to do them, for no one had ever whipped him or hurt him, and he loved to do what his little master wished. Then the gentleman told Lolo that he had a little boy at home, so weak and so sick that he could not get up from the sofa, and that he would like to have Lolo bring the poodle to show him the next day, so he gave Lolo some money, and told him the name of the hotel where he was staying.