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The When I Was A Little Girl
by [?]


“Turn back observantly into your own youth, and awaken, warm, and vivify the eternal youth of your mind.”–FROEBEL.

When I was a little girl my sister and I lived in the country. She was younger than I, and the dearest, fattest little toddlekins of a sister you ever knew. She always wanted to do exactly as I did, so that I had to be very careful and do the right things; for if I had been naughty she would surely have been naughty too, and that would have made me very sad.

As we lived in the country we had none of the things to amuse us that city children have. We couldn’t walk in crowded streets and see people and look in at beautiful shop-windows, or hear the street-organs play and see the monkeys do tricks; we couldn’t go to dancing school, nor to children’s parties, nor to the circus to see the animals.

But we had lovely plays, after all.

In the spring we hunted for mayflowers, and sailed boats in the brooks, and gathered fluffy pussy-willows. We watched the yellow dandelions come, one by one, in the short green grass, and we stood under the maple-trees and watched the sap trickle from their trunks into the great wooden buckets; for that maple sap was to be boiled into maple sugar and syrup, and we liked to think about it. In the summer we went strawberrying and blueberrying, and played “hide and coop” behind the tall yellow haycocks, and rode on the top of the full haycarts. In the fall we went nutting, and pressed red and yellow autumn leaves between the pages of our great Webster’s Dictionary; we gathered apples, and watched the men at work at the cider-presses, and the farmers as they threshed their wheat and husked their corn. And in the winter we made snow men, and slid downhill from morning till night when there was any snow to slide upon, and went sleighing behind our dear old horse Jack, and roasted apples in the ashes of the great open fire.

But one of the things we cared for most was our froggery, and we used to play there for hours together in the long summer days.

Perhaps you don’t know what a froggery is; but you do know what a frog is, and so you can guess that a froggery is a place where frogs live. My little sister and I used at first to catch the frogs and keep them in tin cans filled with water; but when we thought about it we saw that the poor froggies couldn’t enjoy this, and that it was cruel to take them away from their homes and make them live in unfurnished tin houses. So one day I asked my father if he would give us a part of the garden brook for our very own. He laughed, and said, “Yes,” if we wouldn’t carry it away.

Our garden was as large as four or five city blocks, and a beautiful silver-clear brook flowed through it, turning here and there, and here and there breaking into tinkling little waterfalls, and dropping gently into clear, still pools.

It was one of these deep, quiet pools that we chose for our froggery. It was almost hidden on two sides by thick green alder-bushes, so that it was always cool and pleasant there, even on the hottest days.

My father put pieces of fine wire netting into the water on each of the four sides of the pool, and so arranged them that we could slip those on the banks up and down as we pleased. Whenever we went there we always took away the side fences, and sat flat down upon the smooth stones at the edges of the brook and played with the frogs.

Here we used to watch our gay young polliwogs grow into frogs, one leg at a time coming out at each “corner” of their fat wriggling bodies. We kept two great bull-frogs,–splendid bass singers both of them,– that had been stoned by naughty small boys, and left for dead by the roadside. We found them there, bound up their broken legs and bruised backs, and nursed them quite well again in one corner of the froggery that we called the hospital. In another corner was the nursery, and here we kept all the tiniest frogs; though we always let them out once a day to play with the older ones, for fear that they never would learn anything if they were kept entirely to themselves. One of our great bull-frogs grew so strong and well, after being in the hospital for a while, that he jumped over the highest of the wire fences, which was two feet higher than any frog ever was known to jump, so our hired man said,–jumped over and ran away. We called him the “General,” because he was the largest of our frogs and the oldest, we thought. (He hadn’t any gray hairs, but he was very much wrinkled.) We were sorry to lose the General, and couldn’t think why he should run away, when we gave him such good things to eat and tried to make him so happy. My father said that perhaps his home was in a large pond, some distance off, where there were so many hundred frogs that it was quite a gay city life for them, while the froggery was in a quiet brook in our quiet old garden. (If I were a frog, it seems to me I should like such a home better than a great noisy stagnant pond near the road, where I should be frightened to death half a dozen times a day; but there is no accounting for tastes!)