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The Tread Of The Friendly Giants
by [?]

When our Babe he goeth walking in his garden,
Around his tinkling feet the sunbeams play.

It has been my fortune to pass a few days where there lives a dear little boy of less than three. My first knowledge of him every morning is the smothered scuffling through the partition as he reluctantly splashes in his bath. Here, unless he mend his caution, I fear he will never learn to play the porpoise at the Zoo. Then there is a wee tapping at my door. It is a fairy sound as though Mustard-seed were in the hall. Or it might be Pease-blossom rousing up Cobweb in the play, to repel the red-hipped humble-bee. It is so slight a tapping that if I sleep with even one ear inside the covers I will not hear it.

The little lad stands in the dim passage to greet me, fully dressed, to reproach me with my tardiness. He is a mite of a fellow, but he is as wide awake and shiny as though he were a part of the morning and had been wrought delicately out of the dawn’s first ray. Indeed, I choose to fancy that the sun, being off hurriedly on broader business, has made him his agent for the premises. Particularly he assists in this passage at my bedroom door where the sleepy Night, which has not yet caught the summons, still stretches and nods beyond the turn. It is so dark here on a winter’s morning when the nursery door is shut that even an adventuring sunlight, if it chanced to clamber through the window, would blink and falter in the hazard of these turns. But the sun has sent a substitute better than himself: for is there not a shaft of light along the floor? It can hardly fall from the window or anywhere from the outside world.

The little lad stands in the passage demanding that I get up. “Get up, lazybones!” he says. Pretty language to his elders! He speaks soberly, halting on each syllable of the long and difficult word. He is so solemn that the jest is doubled. And now he runs off, jouncing and stiff-legged to his nursery. I hear him dragging his animals from his ark, telling them all that they are lazybones, even his barking dog and roaring lion. Noah, when he saw on that first morning that his ark was grounded on Ararat, did not rouse his beasts so early to leave the ship.

Later I meet the lad at breakfast, locked in his high chair. In these riper hours of day there is less of Cobweb in his composition. He is now every inch a boy. He raps his spoon upon his tray. He hurls food in the general direction of his mouth. If an ear escape the assault it is gunnery beyond the common. He is bibbed against misadventure. This morning he yearns loudly for muffins, which he calls “bums.” He chooses those that are unusually brown with a smudge of the cooking-tin, and these he calls “dirty bums.”

Such is my nephew–a round-cheeked, blue-eyed rogue who takes my thumb in all his fingers when we go walking. His jumpers are slack behind and they wag from side to side in an inexpressibly funny manner, but this I am led to believe springs not from any special genius but is common to all children. It is only recently that he learned to walk, for although he was forward with his teeth and their early sprouting ran in gossip up the street, yet he lagged in locomotion. Previously he advanced most surely on his seat–his slider, as he called it–throwing out his legs and curling them in under so as to draw him after. By this means he attained a fine speed upon a slippery floor, but he chafed upon a carpet. His mother and I agreed that this was quite an unusual method and that it presaged some rare talent for his future, as the scorn of a rattle is said to predict a judge. It was during one of these advances across the kitchen floor where the boards are rough that an accident occurred. As he excitedly put it, with a fitting gesture to the rear, he got a sliver in his slider. But now he goes upon his feet with a waddle like a sailor, and he wags his slider from side to side.