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Dicky Smiley’s Birthday
by [?]

“In order to be especially beneficial and effective, story-telling should be connected with the events and occurrences of life.”– Froebel.

Dicky Smiley was eight years old when all these things happened that I am going to tell you; eight years old, and as bright as a steel button. It was very funny that his name should be Smiley, for his face was just like a sunbeam, and if he ever cried at all it was only for a minute, and then the smiles would creep out and chase the tear-drops away from the blue sky of his eyes.

Dicky’s mother tried to call him Richard, because it was his papa’s name, but it never would say itself somehow, and even when she did remember, and called him “Richard,” his baby sister Dot would cry, “Mamma, don’t scold Dicky.”

He had once a good, loving papa like yours, when he was a tiny baby in long white clothes; but the dear papa marched away with the blue- coated soldiers one day, and never came back any more to his little children; for he died far, far away from home, on a green battlefield, with many other soldiers. You can think how sad and lonely Dicky’s mamma was, and how she hugged her three babies close in her arms, and said:–

“Darlings, you haven’t any father now, but the dear God will help your mother to take care of you!”

And now she was working hard, so very hard, from morning till night every day to get money to buy bread and milk and clothes for Bess and Dot and Dicky.

But Dicky was a good little fellow and helped his mamma ever so much, pulling out bastings from her needlework, bringing in the kindling and shavings from the shed, and going to the store for her butter and potatoes and eggs. So one morning she said:–

“Dicky, you have been such a help to me this summer, I’d like to give you something to make you very happy. Let us count the money in your bank–you earned it all yourself–and see what we could buy with it. To be sure, Bess wants a waterproof and Dot needs rubbers, but we do want our little boy to have a birthday present.”

“Oh, mamma,” cried he, clapping his hands, “what a happy day it will be! I shall buy that tool-box at the store round the corner! It’s such a beauty, with a little saw, a claw-hammer, a chisel, a screw-driver, and everything a carpenter needs. It costs just a dollar, exactly!”

Then they unscrewed the bank and found ninety-five cents, so that it would take only five cents more to make the dollar. Dicky earned that before he went to bed, by piling up wood for a neighbor; and his mamma changed all the little five and ten cent pieces into two bright half- dollars that chinked together joyfully in his trousers pocket.

The next morning he was up almost at the same time the robins and chimney-swallows flew out of their nests; jumped down the stairs, two at a time, and could scarcely eat his breakfast, such a hurry as he was in to buy the precious tool-box. He opened the front door, danced down the wooden steps, and there on the curb in front of the house stood a little girl, with a torn gingham apron, no shoes, no hat, and her nut-brown curls flying in the wind; worse than all, she was crying as if her heart would break.

“Why, little girl, what’s the matter?” asked Dicky, for he was a kind- hearted boy, and didn’t like to see people cry.

She took down her apron and sobbed:–

“Oh, I’ve lost my darling little brown dog, and I can never get him back!”

“Why, has somebody poisoned him–is he dead?” said Dicky.

She shook her head.

“No, oh no! The pound-man took him away in his cart–my sweet little bit of a dog; he has such a cunning little curly tail, and long, silky ears; he does all kinds of tricks, and they’ll never let me in at home without Bruno.”