Three Stories for Children

Susan Fenimore Cooper

The Adventures of Cocquelicot (1881)

The Cherry-Colored Purse (1895)

The Wonderful Cookie (1879)

General Introduction

Hugh C. MacDougall  Secretary, James Fenimore Cooper Society

Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894) published (so far as is yet known) three stories especially written for children. Although Susan never married, children were always an important part of her life — she founded and for years directed the Orphan House of the Holy Saviour in Cooperstown, and a memorial window in Cooperstown’s Christ Episcopal Church depicts her surrounded by children.

Susan’s three stories seem rather old-fashioned today in the way in which they address her intended young audience. Nevertheless they have considerable charm, and it is our hope that they may still find children — and grown-ups as well — to appreciate them.

  1. The Adventures of Cocquelicot”, originally published in St. Nicholas Magazine in 1881, is a true story about the Cooper’s family cat “Cocquelicot.” Born as a kitten in Paris, Cocquelicot returned with the family to America in 1833, and after numerous adventures ended up in the family home at Otsego Hall in Cooperstown. The story was illustrated with marvelous silhouette drawings by L. Hopkins, which we have included in this version.
  2. The Cherry-Colored Purse“ is a Christmas story, originally printed in St. Nicholas Magazinein 1895, a year after Susan’s death. Kitty Norton, a little girl from a poor family, has only eleven cents in her purse — but needs to provide eleven Christmas presents for her family and friends. How she accomplishes her self-imposed task rings true today — even though the sorts of gifts she chooses, and what they cost, are from a distant past. The story is set, and was probably written, in the late 1860s.
  3. The Wonderful Cookie,” first published in 1879 and reprinted soon after in an anthology, is based on an historical event in Germany in 1730, which Susan may first have heard about while the Cooper family was living in Dresden in the summer of 1830. All the factual details of the story appear to come, however, from a formal (if highly satiric) history book: Thomas Carlyle’s History of Friedrich II of Prussia, called Frederick the Great (1858) — only Gretel, the little goose-girl who is Susan’s heroine, her family, and her faithful dog Schwänzel, have been made up by the author. We include excerpts from Carlyle’s account as an Appendix to Susan’s story.

For each of the three stories, we have provided a brief background introduction, and use footnotes to identify people and allusions that modern readers might otherwise miss.


(A True Story)

Originally published in St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks,  Vol. VIII, Part II, pp. 942-946 (October 1881), with illustrations by L. Hopkins.


Hugh C. MacDougall

From 1826-1833 the Cooper family lived in Europe — much of the time in Paris. There were five children: Susan (b. 1813), Caroline (b. 1815), Charlotte (b. 1817), Maria Frances (b. 1819), and Paul (b. 1824). The four girls were placed in a French school — sometimes “commuting” from the family’s apartment in the same building. From 1828-1830 the family traveled as a group to Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, returning to Paris in September of 1830. Early in 1831 the family rented an apartment in the Hôtel St. Susanne at 59 Rue St. Dominique, referred to in the story.

On August 16, 1833 the Cooper family left Paris (accompanied by Cocquelicot) on their return journey to America. After a stopover in London, they sailed for home on the sailing vessel Samson, accompanied by several household servants. After a month-long passage, they arrived in New York City on November 5, and rented a townhouse at Carroll Place (4 Bleeker Street) in what is now Greenwich Village. The winter was spent in New York, and in August of 1834 the family traveled to Cooperstown, where James Fenimore Cooper had bought back and was remodeling his father’s old home, Otsego Hall, in the center of the village.

Here Cocquelicot seems to have lived a long and contented life. In his The Story of Cooperstown (1917), Ralph Birdsall writes of Cooper’s ground floor study at Otsego Hall: “No company was permitted in the room while [Cooper] was writing except an Angora cat who was allowed to bound upon the desk without rebuke, or even to perch upon the author’s shoulders. Here the cat settled down contentedly, and with half-shut eyes watched the steady driving of the quill across the paper.”

{942} THE adventures of Cocquelicot, which I am about to relate, are strictly true. Cocquelicot was an Angora cat, belonging to the children of an American family, living in Paris.His mother was a splendid creature in her way. I have never seen such a puss in America; her fur, dark lead-color, and silvery white, was very fine and silky, and must have been several inches long on her breast, back, and feather-like tail. This distinguished cat, called “Gros Minet” belonged to a French family, who very kindly gave one of her kittens to their young American friends.

The kitten was very handsomely marked in stripes, like his illustrious mother, “Gros Minet,” but his fur was not so long and silky. He was a very saucy, playful kitten in his baby days.

In France, school-girls wear long black aprons. completely covering the whole dress; for the first two months of his life this amusing little rogue passed much of his time in the large apron-pocket of one of the American school-girls; his saucy face and bright eyes peeping curiously out at the little world about him. Very early in life, while still in the pocket, he received the name of “Cocquelicot,” an original idea of his young mistress, the name translated meaning “Poppy,” the wild red poppy growing in the wheat-fields of France. The three syllables, and the grand sound, were the charm of this name when applied to so small a creature, and then was he not the flower of kittens? Very soon, however, his name was abridged to “Cocque,” by which title, at a later day, he became known in two hemispheres.

Yes, Cocque became a traveler; dogs follow their masters over the world, but it is seldom that cats move about much. In his pleasant home in the Rue St. Dominique, Cocquelicot led a very happy life; he grew rapidly, becoming more active and {943} more saucy every day, to the great delight of his young friends; and really, partiality aside, his capers were even more graceful and more clever than those of other kittens.

He had a charming French manner. He was much admired by visitors, and some personages of world-wide reputation amused themselves with his gambols. He has been known to turn General Lafayette c1 out of an arm-chair.

Cocquelicot Expresses His Opinion


To a few friends he did not object, but anything like a gathering for company he disliked extremely; on such occasions the guests were no sooner departed than MaÍtre Cocquelicot would march into the center of the room, and stretching himself out at full length, he would look about, with an absurdly important expression pervading his whole person, from the tip of his nose to the end of his long tail, as much as to say, “I resume my rights; I am once more lord of the manor; l’Etat, — c’est moi!

Whenever his young friends appeared, dressed for an evening party, MaÍtre Cocque would scrutinize them in the most critical way, walking around them, sitting down before them, studying intently the details of their costume.

“Why have you changed your fur? It was brown this morning; what is the meaning of this blue or pink fur, these sashes and ribbons? I disapprove of these proceedings!” he seemed to say. And his ears were as sharp as his eyes; he could distinguish sounds which puzzled the rest of the family.

Cocquelicot Feels His Importance


Three or four years of happy cat-life passed away, now in gamboling about the house, now in sleeping on the writing-table of the author of “The Prairie,” or, perchance, perched on his shoulder; now sunning himself in the garden; listening to the nightingales which peopled that park-like region, or possibly looking up at the windows of that illustrious Christian lady, Madame Swetchine, c2 close at hand.

Then came a change. It was decided that the American family should return to their own country. Of course MaÍtre Cocque was to go with them. It was a pleasant summer evening when the party left Paris, in the diligencec3, for Havre. But oh, what a night it was! Cocque was in a perfect frenzy. He had never been in a carriage before. and the wheels were no sooner in motion than he began to dash wildly from one window to the other, frantic to escape.

Then came the steam-boat trip across the Channel, a trial even to human beings, in a miserable boat, pitching among the short waves. Poor Cocque was desperate; he was utterly terrified by the motion and the creaking of the engine. When landed at Southampton, it was little better. Cocque evidently disapproved of England — the fine coach, the excellent roads, the handsome horses, were not at all to his taste.

In London he had a breathing-time. It was necessary to watch him very closely, however; we were told that such a handsome animal would very probably be stolen if seen outside of the house. But if Cocque did not walk in the parks, nor see the Tower and Westminster Abbey, he made some distinguished acquaintances, among others Mr. Campbell, c4 author of “The Pleasures of Hope,” and Mr. Rogers, c5 author of “The Pleasures of Memory.” The children of the American family were all invited to breakfast with Mr. Rogers, but there was no invitation for Cocque!

On the first of October he sailed, with his friends, On the voyage across the ocean — a voyage lasting a month, as it was made in a sailing-vessel. Many were the trials and perils of poor Cocque on that voyage. Sailors hate a cat. The captain cautioned us to keep close watch over puss, as the superstition among the old sailors was so strong that he could not answer for the pet’s safety.

If there was a head-wind, the old tars said it was Cocque’s fault. If there was a calm, that French cat was to blame.

On one occasion the sailors were seated on deck. during a dead calm, engaged in a sewing-circle, mending old sails; they sat Turkish-fashion, with {944} crossed legs, the great heavy sail between them; for thimbles they had thick pieces of iron strapped over the palms of their right-hands, and their needles were a sort of giant darning-needles. Suddenly, Cocque bounded into the middle of the sail! He had escaped from the cabin. The old sailors looked daggers and marline-spikes at him.


“Throw him overboard to the sharks!” muttered a grim old Dane. But before Cocque could be seized he dashed away again, and ran high up into the rigging. There was a regular chase over the spars and among the ropes before he was caught by a young American sailor and restored to his friends.

Cocquelicot Takes an Observation


He had several similar escapes. His life was repeatedly in danger during that long month. Perhaps when Cocque dashed up into the rigging he was looking out for land, sharing the anxiety of his friend the French servant; that worthy man came to the author of “The Pilot” one day, and begged permission to ask a question:

“Will Monsieur be so good as to tell me what we shall see when we come to the end of the world in America and look over?”

At length the voyage came to an end. Cocque reached his home in Carroll Place in safety. The winter passed happily over; but with the summer came a terrible adventure. His friends were going to their old village home, in the Otsego Hills. Of course, Cocque must go with them. The trip to Albany in the steam-boat was uneventful.

The two days’ journey from Albany was to be made by the turnpike road, in an old-fashioned stage-coach, called an Exclusive Extra when engaged for a private party. We set out gaily on a pleasant summer morning, but, alas! the wheels were no sooner in motion, rattling over the Albany pavement, than Cocque became perfectly wild. The weather was extremely warm, — every window had to be left open for air. Cocque made a dash first at one, then at another; but at last, exhausted. he fell asleep. The Exclusive Extra soon reached the Pine Barrens. c6 It was a wooded region, with scarcely a house in sight. Suddenly. at a turn in the road, a wild-looking man, not unlike an Italian beggar, was seen trudging along with a peculiar gait, his toes much turned in.

“Sago!” c7 cried the author of “The Pioneers,” waving his hand to the stranger.

Cocque Leaves the Stage-Coach


“Sago!” replied the dark-faced man on foot.

“Oneida?” inquired the gentleman.

“Oneida,” replied the stranger, in a low, mournful voice.

{945} An Indian! Yes; and this was the first of his race that the young people had ever seen. Great was the excitement. But this movement awakened Cocque. He again became unmanageable, and suddenly, by a violent effort, he dashed through an open window.

There was a general cry. The coach was stopped. We saw him gather himself up, after the leap, and rush into the adjoining wood of close undergrowth. But we searched for him in vain. Not a trace of him could we discover. Half an hour was spent in the search. Then, with really sad hearts, we pursued our journey.

There was no house in sight, to no traveler nor wood-cutter could we mention Cocque’s escape. But ere long we came to a poor little tavern.

In former times, when the father of the family was a lad, there used to be a tavern for every mile of this road between Albany and Lake Otsego. “Sixty miles, and sixty taverns,” as he told us. Canals and railroads had made great changes. Only a few forlorn taverns were still seen. Stopping at the first one, the gentleman wrote a short description of Cocque, and offered a reward if the animal should be restored to its friends. This was some consolation to the young people, who could not bear the idea of giving up a pet that had made part of their life for several years.

The travelers were soon settled in their old village home. But there were no tiding of Cocque. Day after day, week after week, passed away, and there was no news of puss. All hope of seeing him was given up.

On the Way Home


One day, however, six weeks later in the summer, a rough-looking countryman was seen coming from the gate to the front door. He had a bag on his back.

He came into the hall, lowered the great bag, opened it, and — out leaped Cocque! But so thin, so changed, so famished, so wild, that it was piteous to see him. None but his own family could have known him. His first feeling, poor thing, was terror; but how touched we were when we found that he knew us, remembered his name, allowed himself to be caressed, and began to lap the milk we offered him!

{946} Yes, Cocque was restored to us, and became once more a happy cat.

Never believe, my young friends, that cats love places, but not persons. Cocque was soon as affectionate as ever, on ground entirely new, but among his own “relations.”

Those six weeks in the Pine Barrens had been full of peril to him. There had been a report that a regular wild-cat from the Helderberg was to be found in those woods, and young men went out with their guns to hunt him. Cocque had had many narrow escapes. At last he wandered into a barn-yard, where the countryman who brought him to us succeeded in surprising him, and, finding that this was not really a wild beast, he shrewdly guessed that it was the large French cat for which a reward had been offered, and he brought him forty miles, on his back, in a bag!


[by Hugh C. MacDougall]

c1 The Marquis de Lafayette 1757-1834), hero of the American Revolutionary War, became a close friend of and mentor to James Fenimore Cooper during his years in Paris. In 1831-33 the two were closely involved in raising relief funds for Polish political refugees in Paris, and exchanged frequent visits.

c2 Anna Sophie Swetchine (1782-1857) was a noted Russian-French writer who at this time lived near the Coopers at 73 Rue St. Dominique. She entertained fellow-intellectuals at a salon “noted for its social courtesy, intellectual brilliance, and religious feeling.”

c3 A diligencewas a large horse-drawn carriage, often divided into compartments, that provided public inter-city transportation in Europe in the days before railways.

c4 Thomas Campbell (1777-1844) was a once-famous British poet, best known for his book-length philosophical poem The Pleasures of Hope (1799).

c5 Samuel Rogers (1763-1855) was a once-famous British poet, famous for the breakfast gatherings to which he invited artists and writers (such as Cooper) who lived in or were visiting England. He and Cooper became good friends. Rogers is best known for his book-length poem The Pleasures of Memory (1792).

c6 The Pine Barrens are a flat stretch of poor sandy land between Albany and Schenectady. During the early 1800s pthe barrens were inhabited by a group of impoverished Oneida Indians (possibly joined by other minorities) who as American allies during the Revolution had taken refuge in Schenectady, and were afterwards abandoned. For many years this group of Oneidas (sometimes referred to in local histories as “gypsies”) were known, and reviled, as “Yantzies.”

c7 “Sago” was frequently used by James Fenimore Cooper as an Indian “greeting,” and he believed that Cooperstown’s Lake Otsego (The “Glimmerglass”) meant “place of meeting.”


(A True Story)

Originally published in St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks,  Volume XXII, Part I, pp. 245-248 (January 1895).


Hugh C. MacDougall

Though published only posthumously, after Susan Fenimore Cooper’s death in 1894, “The Cherry-Colored Purse,” from internal evidence, must have been written — or at least set — in the late 1860s, just after the Civil War. The descriptions of retail trade included in the tale also seem more appropriate for the 1860s than for the 1890s.

We have no reason to doubt Susan’s assertion that this is a “true story” and that the little heroine, Kitty Norton (though that was not necessarily her real name), was based on a real person, and very possibly on the child of a real minister known to Susan. Genealogical and local historical searching has not, however, identified any likely candidates.

We have used a few footnotes to identify the coins mentioned (which date the setting of the story), and one or two other terms that may not be familiar to modern readers. The unusual punctuation of contractions is as in the original. However old-fashioned the setting, however, little Kitty’s generosity and determination seem timeless.

Story Heading — drawn by Malcolm Fraser

{245} A CHERRY-COLORED purse, not much the worse for wear, had been given to little Kitty Norton, on her eighth birthday, by her grandmama. Wrapped in soft tissue-paper, this great treasure of Kitty’s usually lay in a snug corner of her own particular drawer; but the day before Christmas of last year, the cherry-colored purse was not in its place. Little Kitty herself was seated, Turkish fashion, coiled up on the floor of her bedroom, and before her lay the purse. Kitty had come in from school in a prodigious hurry, with a bright, eager, busy little face; and throwing sack on one chair, hood on another, she made a dash at the old bureau. Yes, Kitty’s bureau was old, and so were the two chairs, and the bedstead, and the funny-looking three-cornered washstand. There was no carpet in Kitty’s bedroom — the floor was painted; so you see this was not at all a fashionable house. But not a bit did Kitty mind that; her father was a wise and good country clergyman, but very poor.

For half a minute Kitty sat on the painted floor perfectly quiet, lost indeed in a very profound calculation. “Let me see,” she said to herself; “I must first count over all the presents I have got to make. I must n’t forget anybody! There’s Grandma, and Papa and Mama — that ‘s three; and sister Bessie, and Mary; then there are the boys, Tom and Willie, and the baby — that will be eight presents. Then Biddy must have a present too - - of course she must! And I must have a real beautiful present for Aunt Lou; and I must have something for Cousin Kate. Yes, that is it — eleven presents in all. Now let me see about the money!” Kitty took up the cherry-colored purse, and gave it an admiring look. One of the steel rings was pushed back, and a piece of money drawn out. It was a nickel cent. p1 Kitty laid it on the floor. “That is the penny Mama gave me for taking care of the baby when Biddy was out.” The little fat fingers went back into the purse again. A larger piece of money came out this time. “Two cents! p2 Yes, Tom gave me those two cents on my birthday. Boys never do make the right kind of presents. But then they are only boys!”

The two cents were laid on the floor, and there was another dive into the treasury. Another cent came to light, not so bright and fresh as the first. It was laid by its companions on the floor. “Yes, that is all right. Four cents. That is all on this side. But there’s silver in the other end of the purse!” exclaimed Kitty, with a very important tone.

The steel rings were moved, and the little fingers went into the silver end of the purse. A piece of silver was brought to light and laid on the floor. “Yes; that is the three-cent piece p3 Auntie gave me for picking strawberries one afternoon. But there is more silver yet.”

Quite true; another tiny silver coin came to light. “This is the three-cent piece Papa gave me at the fair. I told him I’d rather have the money than the slice of cake. I had had one slice of cake; and I did want the money so bad for the little orphan children! I do love the orphans so! But, dear me! I am afraid I can’t possibly spare even a single cent for the poor children now. I’ve ever so many presents to buy — just eleven presents. And let me see — just ten cents on the floor, and I am sure there is one more penny in the purse. {246} Here it is! Eleven cents in all, and eleven presents. — I’m afraid I shall have to spend it all on presents!”

Twisting up her little mouth and wrinkling her little nose, Kitty sat fully half a minute lost in deep and silent thought, looking at the pennies on the floor. The Secretary of the Treasury when studying the finances of the nation could hardly look more solemn. To pay the national debt is indeed a tremendous effort; but to purchase eleven Christmas presents with eleven cents is no trifle either, especially if one wishes to help the orphans too.

“Yes, it will all have to go for the presents. I can’t spare one cent for anything else. I am sorry about the orphans; but at Christmas it would be downright cruel not to give everybody a present. Dear Baby won’t care much, but he shall have his own little present too. And they are all to be surprises! If it was n’t for that, I would talk to Grandma or to sister Mary about it. But nobody is to know anything about my presents. Tom says he peeped through the keyhole and saw all the presents. But he could n’t see mine, for I had n’t bought them. I am going out to buy them now!” and up jumped Kitty, and gathering her money into the cherry-colored purse, she dropped it into her pocket. “I wonder if my pocket will hold all the presents. Yes; the bundles won’t be large. I think they will all go into my pocket. Where’s my list? I had to write it out on my slate. Mama always writes her lists on paper; but I write so big Mama could n’t afford to give me paper enough, so I wrote it on my slate. I can’t take the slate with me into the stores, so I’ll read it over before I go.”

And Kitty took her slate out of the drawer of the old bureau; it was covered with great scrawls which nobody but Kitty herself could have read. She understood it all, however; and having refreshed her memory, she put on sack and hood again, and was soon in the street on her great shopping expedition.

It was a pleasant afternoon, and the streets were full of people, and half the good people seemed buying Christmas presents. It is pleasant to think how many of the men and women and children we meet in the streets in Christmas week are busy on the same happy errand. But I do not believe there was any one in all that town who had eleven presents to make with so very few pennies as Kitty. But Kitty was a clever little business woman. She saw her way, or she thought so, through all difficulties. She felt sure of her eleven presents.

With the cherry-colored purse in her pocket, she went first to a great hardware store. “I must go in here,” said Kitty. And making her way through stoves and plows, — all sorts of great ugly, useful things, — and gliding between some tall, stout ladies and gentlemen who were making purchases, she reached a vacant spot at the counter, and a clerk behind it. “Have you any small copper rings, sir?”

The clerk was an old gentleman with spectacles on, who looked very good-natured. Kitty saw him at church every Sunday.

“Do you want a wedding-ring, my dear?” he said, as he opened a box full of copper rings. Kitty blushed and smiled, but did not answer.

“Perhaps it is only for a female friend?” said the old gentleman again.

“It’s a ring for a holder — a stove-holder,” p4 said Kitty, timidly. “It’s to hang the holder on the brass nail near the stove.”

“A Christmas present, I see. And you’ve worked the holder, and it’s for your mother,” said this funny old gentleman, as he wrapped up the ring in a thin bit of paper and gave it to Kitty.

“Yes, sir,” said Kitty, whose eyes opened with astonishment at the old gentleman’s knowing so well about the holder she had been working so mysteriously.

From the hardware store she crossed the street to a dry-goods shop, saying to herself: “Mama will have a beautiful present, and it only costs me one penny; for I had the worsted and the canvas — Auntie gave me those ever so long ago.”

The dry-goods store was very much crowded indeed. Some little girls, friends of Kitty’s, were there. She had to wait a long while before the clerk could attend to her. But while talking to her little friends, she kept one eye on the counter; and presently, seeing an opening, she took courage and asked for some narrow blue ribbon. A box of ribbons was laid on the {247} counter; she chose a piece of a pretty shade and quite narrow.

“May I have a penny’s worth of this ribbon!” asked Kitty very timidly, and her heart beating with anxiety.

“If you’ll pay for it! ” said the clerk, looking cross, and speaking in a rough, gruff voice.

“Oh, I ‘ve got the penny here,” said Kitty, much relieved; and drawing out the cherry-colored purse, she took out a nickel cent and laid it on the counter.

A little less than a quarter of a yard of the pretty blue ribbon was measured off (it was five cents a yard); and as the clerk rolled it up and handed it to her, he thought to himself, “You ‘re a queer customer”; but he did n’t say so.

“Now,” said Kitty, skipping along, “I’ve got my beautiful present for Grandma too. Aunt Lou says it’s a real beautiful pincushion, though it ‘s not very big; but it is large enough to hang up near the looking-glass, where Grandma always hangs her cushion. It did not cost me anything but the penny for the ribbon. That will make a beautiful bow and loop!”

Presently Kitty came to a book-store. She went in, and found it so crowded she could hardly make her way among all the people. They were buying pictures and books and music, and knickknacks of all kinds. She had to wait some time, but at last her little face appeared above the counter, anxiously turned toward the clerk. Catching his eye, she asked for “some books”; and then, coloring, added, “Some very little books.” It was not Shakspere’s or Milton’s works that Kitty wanted. A small drawer full of very little books was placed before her. And now great was Kitty’s perplexity. She would have liked to buy all the books. They all looked so interesting and inviting, with bright-colored covers and pictures. This present was for her brother Willie, a little boy seven years old, and fond of reading. At last she chose for him a book with a red cover, about birds and beasts.

“Is this one penny or two pennies?” asked Kitty, with some anxiety.

“A penny,” was the fortunate answer. So Kitty handed over her two-cent piece, and had the pleasure of receiving change for her purchase.

“I ‘m sure Willie will like that, because he likes to hear about animals,” said the little sister to herself. “Now I have only eight more presents to buy!” And she went skipping along until she came to a fancy-shop where they sold a little of everything. Here our small friend hoped to make a great many of her purchases. She scarcely knew what to ask for first; but edging her way among a row of ladies and children at the counter, she saw a parcel of worsteds open before her. One skein of pink worsted, a lovely rose-color, and one of sky-blue, were chosen and paid for.

“These are for Aunt Lou and Cousin Kate,” said Kitty to herself, as she laid down two cents and received the worsted from the clerk.

“Will you please show me some marbles?” she said. A box of marbles of all sorts was placed before her, — splendid alleys and bullies p5 — very tempting, indeed; but, alas! those were much too dear. So she asked how many common marbles she could have for a penny. “Five,” was the answer. So she chose five of the best in the whole box, as a present for her brother Tom.

Then she picked out a penny whistle for the baby, a little boy two years old. Her next purchase was a beautiful bodkin, p6 looking quite silvery; and this actually cost only one cent more! It was for her sister Mary. Then in the next moment she bought a large darning-needle for another penny; this was for her good friend Biddy. A handsome black-headed shawl-pin was next purchased for sister Bessie — very cheap, indeed, at a cent; it looked as if it might be worth fully two cents!

By this time the cherry-colored purse was very nearly empty. There was but one cent left. Kitty looked at the tiny coin half regretfully — she had intended it for the little orphans. But then Papa — dear Papa — yes, it must all go for him! Papa’s present was the most important of all. So Kitty asked if they had any penny penholders. p7 Yes; a clean, fresh-looking one was produced. As the clerk was rolling it up, he asked Kitty if she needed a penholder to use in keeping her business accounts. This clerk belonged to Mr. Norton’s {248} congregation, and taught in the Sunday-school; he knew Kitty very well. The little girl laughed, and said the penholder was for Papa. And she laid the little nickel coin on the counter. The young man pushed it back. “Keep it for something else,” he said, smiling.

Kitty looked up, surprised; she was bewildered, The clerk smiled more and more, and pushed the little bit of silver close to Kitty’s hand.

“Is it mine?” she asked. “And the penholder, too?”

Her friend nodded, and turned to another customer. Kitty’s heart gave a bound, and her face flushed all over. “Thank you, sir! ” said Kitty, in a voice that seemed very loud to her. The clerk smiled pleasantly in reply, and Kitty’s eyes fairly sparkled as she dropped the cent into the cherry-colored purse again.

“Oh, the little orphans won’t lose the cent, after all!” she said to herself. And away she ran home as fast as her little feet could carry her.

There was no time to be lost, for the presents were all to be hung on the Christmas tree that evening. She tripped up-stairs.

On the way she met her mother, and said to her, with an air of great mystery:

“Please, Mama, don’t let the children come into my room to disturb me. I am going to label my presents!”

Mama smiled. No one disturbed her. The labels had all been written out the day before on scraps of paper cut from old envelopes which her grandmama had given her. They were all obliged to be very economical and saving in that family, for Mr. Norton’s salary was very small. It took only a little while to wrap the presents up, each with its label pinned on it. The labels were all written in Kitty’s best hand. In a jiffy the ring was sewed on Mama’s holder, and the bow of ribbon on Grandmama’s pin-cushion.

Then, with a joyful heart, Kitty carried the whole eleven presents down to Aunt Lou, who hung them on the tree!

There was not a happier little girl that Christmas eve in all the country than little Kitty Norton. That is saying a great deal; but it is quite true. No doubt good Mr. Peabody p8 felt happy when he gave away his millions to the poor people of London. Everybody who gives from the heart feels happy. But Mr. Peabody, with his millions, was not quite so happy, I fancy, as little Kitty with her eleven cents’ worth.

After tea Mr. Norton took Kitty on his knee, and made her tell him the story of the presents. I heard the story, and I tell it to you, my young friends, because it is true.

There would be little merit in making up a story like this; but as it is true, I think it will give you pleasure. “Yes, it is all true — those eleven presents purchased with the eleven cents, and Kitty shutting herself up to label her presents, and requesting that “the children” might not disturb her — all this is true.

Don’t you think Kitty a dear little soul?


[by Hugh C. MacDougall]

p1 Pennies of copper-nickel, of the same size as present-day pennies, were only issued from 1857 through 1864, replacing the old “large cents” that had previously been used. Beginning in 1865, pennies were again of copper.

p2 Bronze two-cent pieces, twice the size of pennies, were only issued from 1864 through 1873.

p3 Tiny silver three-cent pieces were only issued from 1851 through 1862.

p4 Presumably what we should today call a pot-holder.

p5 An “alley” was a marble made of real marble (“alley” or “ally” = alabaster); a “bully” (usually “bullseye”) was a china marble decorated with concentric rings. Both were more expensive than “common” glass marbles.

p6 A bodkin was a sewing tool with a rounded point and a large slot, for threading tape or ribbon into fabric; often of metal or bone.

p7 A penholder was the handle into which a steel pen point was inserted.

p8 George Peabody (1795-1869) was an American merchant and philanthropist (founder of many American institutions beginning with Peabody), who in later life moved to London and promoted subsidized housing for the poor. During his lifetime he gave over $8,000,000 to charitable causes.


(A True Story)

Originally published in Wide Awake Pleasure Book, Vol. VIII, pp. 348-353 (1879); reprinted in Wonder Stories of History (Boston: D. Lathrop, 1886), pp. 185-190 [from which this text is taken], which was in turn reprinted in Chicago in 1895.


Hugh C. MacDougall

This story is taken from a real event in 1730, when King Frederick Augustus of Saxony (reigned as King/Elector 1694-1733) sought to impress King Frederick William I of Prussia (reigned 1713-1740) with a huge festival, a mock battle, a banquet for 30,000, and what was claimed to be the world’s largest cake (or cookie). The event took place on the banks of the Elbe River, a few miles from the Town of Muhlberg. Susan Fenimore Cooper may have heard the story when the Cooper family was living in Dresden, the capital of the old German Kingdom of Saxony, in 1830.

The details, however, have all been taken from the highly satirical History of Friedrich II of Prussia, called Frederick the Great (London, Chapman and Hall, Six volumes, 1858-65), Volume VII, Chapter III (Camp of Radewitz), by the British historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). Carlyle described the festivities as “one of the sublimist scenic military exhibitions in the history of the world. ... ” Susan Fenimore Cooper, with not a little irony, has looked at the proceedings through the perspective of a little goose-girl living in the area.

Rather than point out the ways in which Susan has adapted the Carlyle account to a story for children, I have transcribed relevant excerpts from it as an Appendix that readers may consult if they wish. We have included (from less than perfect originals) the three illustrations that accompanied the story.

{185} ONCE upon a time, ever so many years ago, there was a little girl whose name was Gretel. This little girl — she was about eleven years old — lived not very far from a fine river called the Elbe, and that river runs through part of Germany. So this little girl was a German. Her father was a soldier who had gone to the wars. Her mother, whose name was Ilse, lived in a small village not far from the river.

Little Gretel herself was a goose-girl. What make you open your eyes so wide, my children? I do not say she was shaped like a goose and covered with feathers. And she was not silly like a goose. She was quite a sensible body. But every morning, at sunrise, little Gretel used to walk away from the hut where her mother lived, in the midst of a flock of about fifty geese. And all day long Gretel staid in the fields with the geese. The hamlet where she lived was very small, only five or six cabins — a hamlet means a small village — and Gretel had the care of all the geese in the place. That is the way they do in some parts of Germany where they have many geese. Every morning the geese are turned out into the fields, and one or two children, or an old woman, take charge of them; they see that the geese do not wander away, that no one steals them, and in the evening they bring them back to the village.

The Little Goose Girl


This is just what Gretel did; she was the goose-girl of the hamlet. Her mother had ten geese of her own, and the rest belonged to the neighbors. It was a funny sight to see Gretel going out with her goose family every morning. Gretel was indeed a funny-looking little body herself. She was short and fat, and had a round, plump, rosy-cheeked, freckled face. On her head was a flat black cap, and her flaxen hair hung in two braids down her back. Her clothes were just like those of a little old woman; a very short black waist high in the neck, without sleeves, and opening in front, while the sleeves of her smock, or shift, were full and long. Her skirt was short and very full, plaited all around her thick waist. Altogether, she was round as a barrel. Shoes and stockings she had none in summer. In winter she wore wooden shoes. She carried in her hand a long stick, a stout twig from a tree, and sometimes, when it was fresh, there were leaves on it. This was very useful in keeping the geese in order. But Gretel was kind-hearted; she did not strike the geese hard. As for the goslings they were great pets. At her back hung a coarse basket which held her dinner — generally a slice of very coarse bread, almost black, and perhaps a bit of cheese or a slice of a thick, raw sausage, which was a rare tidbit.

She had a little old dog too, who helped to keep the geese in order. He had been trained so well that most of the time he was very quiet, but when the geese were unruly and wandered away he would bark and snap at them, and frighten them back to the right ground. He was a black dog, a terrier, and little Gretel called him “Schwänzel”

About sunrise Gretel would come out, with her old basket on her back, stick in hand, and Schwänzel trotting before her. The geese would be on the look-out, qua-a-cking and hissing and fluttering their wings; from one door and another they soon collected in a flock, Gretel sometimes driving, sometimes leading them — or often trudging along in the midst of them, with a great quacking and hissing and fluttering all about her. Their feeding-ground was an open waste common, flat and low, near the river-bank, a marshy place with greenish pools and coarse grasses, in all of which the geese delighted. It was a dull, open, flat country, with few trees. Gretel had found a dry spot, a few feet higher than the marshy ground all around it, and here she had put together a little pile of stones, some of which she had brought quite a distance in her arms. This heap of stones was little Gretel’s throne; here she sat, like a queen, looking over her goose kingdom, and her goose people.

The Little Goose Queen on her Throne


The geese took care of themselves most of the time. There was not much to be done for them. But Gretel was not idle, as she sat there on her heap of stones. Sometimes she was busy spinning. That coarse basket at her back held her spinning. Sometimes it was wool, sometimes coarse flax or hemp that filled her distaff; the distaff she twirled around, and drew the thread through her fingers. That was the old-fashioned way of spinning, and you may now often see girls and women spinning with their hands in the fields of France and Germany, while they are watching the cows, or sheep, or geese. Sometimes Gretel would be knitting; a very coarse yarn it was. When she was tired of spinning or knitting Gretel would gather flowers. The good Lord makes flowers grow for us in the ugliest countries. In that flat, dull, marshy land there were some beautiful blossoms, each {187} in its season. There were violets more sweet than those of our own country — and the pretty forget-me-not and blue lilies and yellow dandelions and many others. Sometimes Gretel would make a wreath and hang it round her neck; or she would put it on her head over the little black cap; sometimes she would make one for her old black dog. And once she made a wreath for a pet gander; but he twisted his long neck and ate up the flowers.

Once in a while Gretel would go visiting. When she sat on her pile of stones she could see many other flocks of geese scattered over the low wet fields. There were no fences; the whole country was open. Thousands of geese were feeding in the low grounds, as far as Gretel could see. Other goose-girls, or old goose-women, were watching them. They mostly kept each on the grounds of her own village, but once in a while they met and had a gossiping talk.

One morning as Gretel sat perched on her throne of stones, with Schwänzel asleep at her feet, the old dog suddenly started up and began to bark fiercely. Along the highway, about half a mile off, came a party of officers and soldiers, now galloping briskly, then stopping awhile, looking sharply over the fields, pointing here and there, and at last galloping down to the river bank very near Gretel and Schwänzel. No wonder Schwänzel barked! The geese flew here and there and everywhere. Happily the soldiers did not stay long. When they had galloped back to the highway again an old goose-woman came trotting up to Gretel and told her what she had heard in her village the night before:

“The King and all his court and his army were coming into the goose-country for a frolic!”

And now the whole goose-country was thrown into commotion! Yes, it was all true. Wonderful things were about to happen. The old gammers and the lasses had enough to chatter about. They were frightened, too, and half out of their senses with wonder and fear. As for the geese, they went on nibbling the green water-plants. quarreling and hissing as usual, and in November they all went into winter quarters about a dirty pool in the village. And all through the autumn the commotion went on increasing. Parties of soldiers came riding over the goose-country, dashing through the villages, scouring over the open fields.

Happily for Gretel it was not war that brought them into the goose-pastures. No; they came to make ready for a grand holiday which their king was going to hold on the banks of the Elbe. The king of that country, whose name was Augustus, lived at Dresden, many miles away. He took it into his head to give a grand entertainment to another king whose name was Frederick William, and who lived at Berlin. He began to make arrangements for his merrymaking about Christmas time. After he had settled his plans, and fixed upon Gretel’s goose-country for the place, he set to work in earnest.

It took him six months before all his fancies about this pleasure-party could be carried out. Soldiers and workmen came by the hundred; they smoothed and worked over all the goose-fields for miles around. You see this king wanted a very large play-ground for his party. The soldiers made roads and paths and a grand parade-ground. Officers came into all the villages and ordered them cleaned. They came to Gretel’s village. It was dirty enough, and so was Gretel’s home. The homes of all those little goose-girls were dirty and comfortless, dark and gloomy. But for all that Gretel was a happy little soul, loving father and mother and Schwänzel and the geese. She was good and pious, and said her little German prayers night and morning, and sang German hymns while she was at work. She had learned to love God, and to keep his commandments, and she had learned to work. She could not read a word, not even her A B C’s. She helped to clean the village now, working out-of-doors like a little man, shovelling the dirt, and driving the donkey.

As for the geese, they were all shut up in a kind of yard about the dirty pool; they were to be fattened for the king to eat.

All the villages for miles around had to be cleaned, and all the geese had to be fattened.

In each of the different villages there was some especial work to be done for the king’s merrymaking. In one a post-office was built. In another were all the butcher’s shops. And in another there was to be a great bakery, where a hundred and sixty bakers could work together. Three fine bridges were built across the broad river Elbe — one of barrels, another of pontoons, and another of rafts. Wooden huts were put up for the army. This king was coming to his merrymaking with thirty thousand soldiers. Then a palace was built where the kings were to feast and {188} sleep; there were bright green walls to the palace, with gilded ornaments. The rooms within were magnificent. The floors were made of wicker-work dyed in brilliant colors, and the furniture was superb — mirrors, porcelain, pictures, musical clocks, and more grand things than I can tell you of.

But I must whisper you a little secret which nobody knows but you and me; the little heap of stones on which Gretel sat was carted away and used for the foundation of the king’s palace, which greatly to Gretel’s interest, was built near her old goose-field!

Near the palace was a beautiful Pavilion, painted and gilded, green and gold, a sort of pleasure-house for the king and his company, where they could look over the whole ground.

Around the palace were beautiful flower-gardens, with walks strewed with yellow sand; men, women and children from the villages worked hard at these gardens, and among others Gretel and Mother Ilse. They drew the yellow sand in small carts to which they were harnessed; sometimes Gretel and her mother would be harnessed together, sometimes Gretel would be harnessed with a donkey, and her mother with a cow! Many at these cartloads of the yellow sand did they draw in this way to strew the king’s paths.

Well, weeks passed by and months passed by. When spring came the goose-fields were changed into fairy-land! So it seemed, at least. And the grand play-ground being ready the kings came to the merry-making. It was in the early days of June when King Augustus and King Frederick William came riding proudly on to the ground, with great firing of cannon and beating of drums, and grand military music. And grand was their following of princes and ladies and generals and ambassadors in a long and brilliant train. The thirty thousand soldiers were there, too. The green and gold palace and pavilion and the silken tents were all crowded with famous people. The sentinels on duty at the palace and pavilion were all dressed like Turks, and one of them was little Gretel’s father. Every day there was some grand parade of soldiers.

One day there was a very furious sham battle on the banks of the river Elbe. The fleet of gay sloops was all rigged with silken sails, green and gold, for this occasion. The next evening there was a display of fireworks, finer than any that had ever been seen before. The grand ship, and all the gay vessels on the Elbe, with their gilded hulls and silken sails, were hung with colored lamps, reflected beautifully in the water. The palace of the kings, the pavilion, and the tents of green and gold, were all ornamented in the same way with clusters and rows of many-colored, starlike lamps.

But, more wonderful still, a grand fairy castle appeared near the bank of the river, as if raised by the wand of an enchanter, every tower, turret, window and door hung with brilliant lights. It looked like the palace of a giant. Two hundred carpenters had been busy for six months preparing the frame of the “Palace of the Genii,” as it was called. And now {189} suddenly it arose on the river bank. There were six thousand yards of painted canvas hanging from the walls like a pictured tapestry. There was one transparent picture six hundred yards long. Think of that! a picture only six hundred yards long. This great transparency, representing Peace, could be seen far away; beneath it was a Latin inscription, each letter of which was taller than a man. Fire-works, rockets, serpents, wheels, were playing, sparkling and flashing about this brilliant Palace of the Genii; the firing of cannon was very grand, and the field music broke in far and near whenever the cannon ceased.

Wonderful indeed was that royal merrymaking on the banks of the Elbe; and it lasted for a month, through all the pleasant June days.

Meanwhile the hundred and sixty bakers were hard at work day and night making good things for the king and his company. One of these bakers was an uncle of little Gretel’s. Of course a great many eggs and a great deal of milk were needed to make all the cake for the court people. Mother Ilse and Gretel were employed by uncle the baker to bring milk and eggs every day. They were busy from morning till night. The milk they brought in great pails, hanging from a yoke about their necks; the eggs they carried in large baskets on their heads. There were more than a hundred old men and women, boys and girls, busy every day bringing milk and eggs to the bakery. Towards the end of June it began to be whispered about that the head baker was planning a surprise for the king, something wonderful in the way of a cake for the royal dessert. It was to be a great secret; nobody knew exactly what this cake was to be, only the whispers said it was to be something wonderful. Little Gretel and Mother Ilse were quite excited about it, and uncle the baker promised them a peep at the cake before it was sent off to the king.

The last day of the merrymaking, the 26ᵗʰ of June, was to be a grand feast for the kings and princes and ladies and all the great people, and for the whole army! When the important day came eighty great oxen were roasted; as for the calves and sheep and lambs and deer and wild boars, and the poultry, they were too many to count. Six fat geese of Gretel’s flock were eaten that day. As for the pastry and confectionery it was all perfect in its way. The hundred cooks, and the hundred and fifty bakers had been busy for a whole week preparing good things for this grand feast.

Early in the morning of the 26ᵗʰ of June, when Gretel brought her basket of eggs, Uncle Hans took her into the bakery and showed her that wonderful cookie!It was in the oven then, and she had only a peep at it; but later in the day she saw it again, and then almost lost her wits at the sight of the wonder.

Well, the feast began. The thirty thousand soldiers sat down to their dinner first, in two long rows. King Augustus and King Frederick William came to see them enjoy their good things; the princes and the ladies and all the grand folks came too. The soldiers threw up their caps and cried “long live the kings!” Those thirty thousand voices made a terrific “HURRAH!” I assure you.

After this the kings and all the great people went to dine in the palace of green and gold.

And now a strange sight was seen; A large tent, covering a sort of triumphal car, drawn by eight horses, appeared on the ground, and came slowly up to the front of the palace of green and gold, where it took up its position. This tent was surrounded by a band of military cadets — a guard of honor. King Augustus was taken by surprise at this visit, for which he was not prepared. All the royal people hastened to see the sight. Suddenly, at a signal from the commander of the guard of honor, the tent disappeared, and what do you suppose came to light from beneath its folds?

The Cookie ! ! !

It was enormous! Much the largest cake ever baked in the world! The largest wedding-cake you ever saw or heard of was but a crumb to it! This cake was about thirteen yards long; it was nearly six yards broad, and nearly a yard in thickness. Think what an oven it must have taken to bake it! Just measure thirteen yards on the garden walk and you can judge of the size of this giant cookie.

The kings and courtiers laughed a great deal at this surprise; the head baker was called up and he said they had to mix the cake by machinery, and to build an oven expressly for it; he said there were twelve barrels of flour in it, and four hogsheads of yeast, and four hogsheads of milk, and four hogsheads of butter, and only five thousand eggs! The cake looked nice and brown, and it was richly ornamented {190} with wreaths of cracknels and gingerbreads hung in festoons around it.

There stood the Wonderful Cookie on its triumphal car, drawn by the eight horses, and surrounded by the guard of honor.

Changed into Fairy-Land!


But the kings and courtiers wanted to taste this strange dish of dessert. How was it to be cut? No lady’s hand, such as usually cuts the cake on festive occasions, could manage this brown monster. A carpenter was ordered to cut into it. He had a huge knife, the handle resting on his shoulder; an officer in uniform stood by and ordered him to cut here and cut there, and many silver dishes were piled up with the choicest bits for the kings and the great people. Then came the turn of the officers. Still the cake was not half eaten. The thirty thousand soldiers were then called to attack it, and they soon made an end of the Cookie, that most wonderful cake that ever was baked!

Little Gretel had climbed up into a tree, not very far from the palace of green and gold, to see all these wonders. And she had a bit of the Wonderful Cookie, too; her father was one of the thirty thousand soldiers who attacked the cake so valiantly, and saved a slice for his little daughter. Schwänzel had a crumb, too, which Gretel gave him.

A few days later kings and courtiers, soldiers and workmen and bakers all disappeared. Palaces, pavilions, silken-tents, the fleet with silken sails, all the green and all the gold had vanished. A month later little Gretel came wandering among the faded flower-beds, over the walks of yellow sand; she was twirling her distaff, and guarding another flock of geese, with old Schwänzel trotting at her side.


Excerpts from Thomas Carlyle, History of Friedrich II of Prussia, called Frederick the Great, Vol. VII, Chapter 3.


The Camp of Muhlberg, called more properly the Camp of Radewitz, towards which Friedrich Wilhelm, with English Hotham and many dignitaries are now gone, was one of the sublimest scenic military exhibitions in the history of the world; leaving all manner of imitation tournaments, modern “tin-tournaments,” out of sight; and perhaps equalling the Field of the Cloth of Gold, or Barbarossa’s Mainz Tournament in ancient times. It lasted for a month, regardless of expense, — June month of the year 1730; — and from far and wide the idle of mankind ran, by the thousand, to see it. ...

The exact size of the Camp of Radewitz I nowhere find measured; but to judge on the map, it must have covered, with its appendages, some ten or twelve square miles of ground. All on the Elbe, right bank of the Elbe; Town of Muhlberg, chief Town of the District, lying some ten miles northwest; then, not much beyond it, Torgau; and then famed Wittenberg, all on the northwest, farther down the River: and on the other side, Meissen with its Potteries not far to the southeast of you, up the River, on the Dresden hand. Nay perhaps many of my readers have seen the place, and not known, in their touring expeditions; which are now blinder than ever, and done by steam, without even eyesight, not to say intelligence. Precisely where the railway from Leipzig to Dresden crosses the Elbe, — there, if you happen to have daylight, is a flat, rather clayey country, dirty-greenish, as if depastured partly by geese; with a big full River Elbe sweeping through it, banks barish for a mile or two; River itself swift, sleek and of flint-color; not unpleasant to behold, thus far on its journey from the Bohemian Giant-Mountains seaward: precisely there, when you have crossed the Bridge, is the south-most corner of August the Strong’s Encampment, — vanished now like the last flock of geese that soiled and nibbled these localities. ...

* * * * *

The ten square miles have been industriously prepared for many months past; shaved, swept by the best engineer science: every village of it thoroughly cleaned, at least; the villages all let lodgings at a Californian rate; in one village, Moritz by name, is the slaughter-house, killing oxen night and day; and the bakehouse, with 160 mealy bakers who never rest: in another village, Strohme, is the playhouse of the region; in another, Glaubitz, the post-office: nothing could excel the arrangements; much superior, I should judge, to those for the Siege of Troy, and other world-great enterprises. Worthy really of admiration, had the business not been zero. Foreign Courts: European Diplomacy at large, wondered much what cunning scheme lay hidden here. No scheme at all, nor purpose on the part of poor August; only that of amusing himself, and astonishing the flunkies of Creation, — regardless of expense. Three temporary Bridges, three besides the regular ferry of the country, cross the Elbe; for the high officers, dames, damosels and lordships of degree, and thousandfold spectators, lodge on both sides of the Elbe: three Bridges, one of pontoons, one of wood-rafts, one of barrels; immensely long, made for the occasion. The whole Saxon Army, 30,000 horse and foot with their artillery, all in beautiful brand-new uniforms and equipments, lies beautifully encamped in tents and wooden huts, near by Zeithayn, its rear to the Elbe. ... Northward of which ... rises, on favorable ground, a high “Pavilion” elaborately built, elaborately painted and gilded, with balcony stages round it; from which the whole ground, and everything done in it, is surveyable to spectators of rank.

Eastward again, or from the Pavilion southeastward, at the right flank of the Army, where again rises a kind of Height, hard by Radewitz, favorable for survey, — there, built of sublime silk tents, or solid well-painted carpentry, the general color of which is bright green, with gilt knobs and gilt gratings all about, is the ... where his Prussian Majesty, and his Polish ditto, with their respective suites, are lodged. Kinglike wholly, in extensive green palaces ready gilt and furnished; such drawing-rooms, such bedrooms, “with floors of dyed wicker-work;” the gilt mirrors, pictures, musical clocks; not even the fine bathing-tubs for his Prussian Majesty have been forgotten. Never did man or flunky see the like. ...

* * * * *

Of the terrific Sham-Battles, conducted by Weissenfels on one side and Wackerbarth on the other; of the charges of cavalry, play of artillery, threatening to end in a very doomsday, round the Pavilion and the Ladies and the Royalties assembled on the balconies there (who always go to dinner safe, when victory has declared itself), I shall say nothing. Nor of that supreme “attack on the intrenchments:” blowing-up of the very Bridges; cavalry posted in the woods; host doing its very uttermost against host, with unheard-of expenditure of gunpowder and learned manoeuvre; in which “the Fleet” (of shallops on the Elbe, rigged mostly in silk) took part, and the Bucentaur with all its cannon. Words fail on such occasions. I will mention only that assiduous King August had arranged everything like the King of Playhouse-Managers; was seen, early in the morning, “driving his own curricle” all about, in vigilant supervision and inspection; crossed the Tub-bridge, or perhaps the Float-bridge (not yet blown up), “in a WURSTWAGEN;” giving himself (what proved well founded) the assurance of success for this great day; — and finally that, on the morrow, there occurred an illumination and display of fire-works, the like of which is probably still a desideratum.

For the Bucentaur and Fleet were all hung with colored lamplets; Headquarters (HAUPT-LAGER) and Army-LAGER ditto ditto; gleaming upwards with their golden light into the silver of the Summer Twilight: — and all this is still nothing to the scene there is across the Elbe, on our southeast corner. You behold that Palace of the Genii; wings, turrets, mainbody, battlements: it is “a gigantic wooden frame, on which two hundred carpenters have been busy for above six months,” ever since Christmas last. Two hundred carpenters; and how many painters I cannot say: but they have smeared “six thousand yards of linen canvas;” which is now nailed up; hung with lamps, begirt with fire-works, no end of rocket-serpents, catherine-wheels; with cannon and field-music, near and far, to correspond; — and is now (evening of the 24ᵗʰ June, 1730) shining to men and gods. Pinnacles, turrets, tablatures, tipt with various fires and emblems, all is there:

Symbolic Painting, six hundred yards of it, glowing with inner light, and legible to the very owls! Arms now piled useless; Pax, with her Appurtenances; Mars resting (in that canvas) on trophies of laurel honorably won: and there is an Inscription, done in lamplets, every letter taller than a man, were you close upon it, “SIC FULTA MANEBIT (Thus supported it will stand),” — the it being either PAX (Peace) or DOMUS (the Genii-Palace itself), as your weak judgment may lead you to interpret delicate allusions. Every letter bigger tban a man: it may be read almost at Wittenberg, I should think; flaming as PICA written on the sky, from the steeple-tops there. THUS SUPPORTED IT WILL STAND; and pious mortals murmur, “Hope so, I am sure!” — and the cannons fire, almost without ceasing; and the field-music, guided by telegraphs, bursts over all the scene, at due moments; and the Catherine-wheels fly hissing; and the Bucentaur and silk Brigantines glide about like living flambeaus; — and in fact you must fancy such a sight. King August, tired to the bone, and seeing all successful, retired about midnight. Friedrich Wilhelm stood till the finale; Saxon Crown-Prince and he, “in a window of the highest house in Promnitz;” our young Fritz and the Margraf of Anspach, they also, in a neighboring window ... stood till the finale: two in the morning, when the very Sun was not far from rising.

Or is not the ultimate closing day perhaps still notabler; a day of universal eating? Debauchee King August had a touch of genuine human good-humor in him; poor devil, and had the best of stomachs. Eighty oxen, fat as Christmas, were slain and roasted, subsidiary viands I do not count; that all the world might have one good dinner. The soldiers, divided into proper sections, had cut trenches, raised flat mounds, laid planks; and so, by trenching and planking, had made at once table and seat, wood well secured on turf. At the end of every table rose a triglyph, two strong wooden posts with lintel; on the lintel stood spiked the ox’s head, ox’s hide hanging beneath it as drapery: and on the two sides of the two posts hung free the four roasted quarters of said ox; from which the common man joyfully helped himself. Three measures of beer he had, and two of wine; — which, unless the measures were miraculously small, we may take to be abundance. Thus they, in two long rows, 30,000 of them by the tale, dine joyfully SUB DIO. The two Majesties and two Crown-Princes rode through the ranks, as dinner went on: “King of Prussia forever!” and caps into the air; — at length they retire to their own HAUPT-QUARTIER, where, themselves dining, they can still see the soldiers dine, or at least drink their three measures and two. Dine, yea dine abundantly: let all mortals have one good dinner! —

Royal dinner is not yet done when a new miracle appears on the field: the largest Cake ever baked by the Sons of Adam. Drawn into the Head-quarter about an hour ago, on a wooden frame with tent over it, by a team of eight horses; tent curtaining it, guarded by Cadets; now the tent is struck and off; — saw mortals ever the like? It is fourteen ells ... long, by six broad; and at the centre half an ell thick. Baked by machinery; how otherwise could peel or roller act on such a Cake? There are five thousand eggs in it; thirty-six bushels (Berlin measure) of sound flour; one tun of milk, one tun of yeast, one ditto of butter; crackers, gingerbread-nuts, for fillet or trimming, run all round. Plainly the Prince of Cakes! A Carpenter with gigantic knife, handle of it resting on his shoulder, — Head of the Board of Works, giving word of command, — enters the Cake by incision; cuts it up by plan, by successive signal from the Board of Works. What high person would not keep for himself, to say nothing of eating, some fraction of such a Nonpareil? There is cut and come again for all. Carpenter advances, by main trench and by side trenches, steadily to word of command.

I mention, as another trait of the poor devil of an August, full of good-humor after all, That he and his Royalties and big Lordships having dined, he gave the still groaning table with all its dishes, to be scrambled f “the janizaries.” Janizaries, Imitation-Turk valetaille; who speedily made clearance, — many a bit of precious Meissen porcelain going far down in society by that means.

Royal dinner done, the Colonel and Officers of every regiment, ranked in high order, with weapons drawn, preceded by their respective bands of music, came marching up the Hill to pay their particular respects to the Majesty of Prussia. Majesty of Prussia promised them his favor, everlasting, as requested; drank a glass of wine to each party (steady, your Majesty!), who all responded by glasses of wine, and threw the glasses aloft with shouts. Sixty pieces of artillery speaking the while, and the bands of music breathing their sweetest; — till it was done, and his Majesty still steady on his feet. He could stand a great deal of wine.

And now — ? Well, the Cake is not done, many cubic yards of cake are still left, and the very corporals can do no more: let the Army scramble! Army whipt it away in no time. And now, alas now — the time IS come for parting. It is ended; all things end. ...