Sweet-One-Darling And The Moon-Garden by Eugene Field

Story type: Literature

One time Sweet-One-Darling heard her brother, little Our-Golden-Son, talking with the nurse. The nurse was a very wise woman and they called her Good-Old-Soul, because she was so kind to children. Little Our-Golden-Son was very knowing for a little boy only two years old, but there were several things he did not know about and one of these things troubled him a good deal and he went to the wise nurse to find out all about it.

“Tell me, Good-Old-Soul,” said he, “where did I come from?”

Good-Old-Soul thought this a very natural question for little Our-Golden-Son to ask, for he was a precocious boy and was going to be a great man some time.

“I asked your mother that very question the other day,” said Good-Old-Soul, “and what do you think she told me? She told me that the Doctor-Man brought you! She told me that one night she was wishing all to herself that she had a little boy with light golden hair and dark golden eyes. ‘If I had such a little boy,’ said she, ‘I should call him Our-Golden-Son.’ While she was talking this way to herself, rap-tap-rap came a knock at the door. ‘Who is there?’ asked your mother. ‘I am the Doctor-Man,’ said the person outside, ‘and I have brought something for you.’ Then the Doctor-Man came in and he carried a box in one hand. ‘I wonder what can be in the box!’ thought your mother. Now what do you suppose it was?”

“Bananas?” said little Our-Golden-Son.

“No, no,” answered Good-Old-Soul, “it was nothing to eat; it was the cutest, prettiest little baby boy you ever saw! Oh, how glad your mother was, and what made her particularly happy was this: The little baby boy had light golden hair and dark golden eyes! ‘Did you really bring this precious little boy for me?’ asked your mother. ‘Indeed I did,’ said the Doctor-Man, and he lifted the little creature out of the box and laid him very tenderly in your mother’s arms. That ‘s how you came, little Our-Golden-Son, and it was very good of the Doctor-Man to bring you, was n’t it?”

Little Our-Golden-Son was much pleased with this explanation. As for Sweet-One-Darling, she was hardly satisfied with what the nurse had told. So that night when the fairies–the Dream-Fairies–came, she repeated the nurse’s words to them.

“What I want to know,” said Sweet-One-Darling, “is this: Where did the Doctor-Man get little Our-Golden Son? I don’t doubt the truth of what Good-Old-Soul says, but Good-Old-Soul does n’t tell how the Doctor-Man came to have little Our-Golden-Son in the box. How did little Our-Golden-Son happen to be in the box? Where did he come from before he got into the box?”

“That is easy enough to answer,” said Gleam-o’-the-Murk. “We Dream-Fairies know all about it. Before he got into the Doctor-Man’s box little Our-Golden-Son lived in the Moon. That’s where all little babies live before the Doctor-Man brings them.”

“Did I live there before the Doctor-Man brought me?” asked Sweet-One-Darling.

“Of course you did,” said Gleam-o’-the-Murk. “I saw you there a long, long time before the Doctor-Man brought you.”

“But I thought that the Moon was a big, round soda-cracker,” said Sweet-One-Darling.

That made the Dream-Fairies laugh. They assured Sweet-One-Darling that the Moon was not a soda-cracker, but a beautiful round piece of silver way, way up in the sky, and that the stars were little Moons, bearing the same relationship (in point of size) to the old mother Moon that a dime does to a big silver dollar.

“And how big is the Moon?” asked Sweet-One-Darling. “Is it as big as this room?”

“Oh, very, very much bigger,” said the Dream-Fairies.

“I guess it must be as big as a house,” suggested Sweet-One-Darling.

“Bigger than a house,” answered Gleam-o’-the-Murk.

“Oh, my!” exclaimed Sweet-One-Darling, and she began to suspect that the Dream-Fairies were fooling her.

But that night the Dream-Fairies took Sweet-One-Darling with them to the Moon! You don’t believe it, eh? Well, you wait until you ‘ve heard all about it, and then, may be, you not only will believe it, but will want to go there, too.

The Dream-Fairies lifted Sweet-One-Darling carefully out of her cradle; then their wings went “whir-r-r, whir-r-r”–you ‘ve heard a green fly buzzing against a window-pane, have n’t you? That was the kind of whirring noise the Dream-Fairies’ wings made, with the pleasing difference that the Dream-Fairies’ wings produced a soft, soothing music. The cricket under the honeysuckle by the window heard this music and saw the Dream-Fairies carrying Sweet-One-Darling away. “Be sure to bring her back again,” said the cricket, for he was a sociable little fellow and was very fond of little children.

You can depend upon it that Sweet-One-Darling had a delightful time riding through the cool night air in the arms of those Dream-Fairies; it was a good deal like being a bird, only the Dream-Fairies flew very much faster than any bird can fly. As they sped along they told Sweet-One-Darling all about the wonderful things they saw and everything was new to Sweet-One-Darling, for she had never made any journeys before except in the little basket-carriage which Good-Old-Soul, her nurse, propelled every sunny morning up and down the street. Pretty soon they came to a beautiful river, which looked as if it were molten silver; but it was n’t molten silver; it was a river of moonbeams.

“We will take a sail now,” said Gleam-o’-the-Murk. “This river leads straight to the Moon, and it is well worth navigating.”

So they all got into a boat that had a sail made out of ten thousand and ten baby-spiders’ webs, and away they sailed as merrily as you please. Sweet-One-Darling put her feet over the side of the boat and tried to trail them in the river, but the moonbeams tickled her so that she could n’t stand it very long. And what do you think? When she pulled her feet back into the boat she found them covered with dimples. She did n’t know what to make of these phenomena until the Dream-Fairies explained to her that a dimple always remains where a moonbeam tickles a little child. A dimple on the foot is a sure sign that one has been trailing in that beautiful silver river that leads to the Moon.

By and by they got to the Moon. I can’t begin to tell you how large it was; you ‘d not believe me if I did.

“This is very lovely,” said Sweet-One-Darling, “but where are the little babies?”

“Surely you did n’t suppose you ‘d find any babies here!” exclaimed the Dream-Fairies. “Why, in all this bright light the babies would never, never go to sleep! Oh, no; we ‘ll have to look for the babies on the other side of the Moon.”

“Of course we shall,” said Sweet-One-Darling. “I might have guessed as much if I ‘d only stopped to think.”

The Dream-Fairies showed Sweet-One-Darling how to get to the edge of the Moon, and when she had crawled there she held on to the edge very fast and peeped over as cautiously as if she had been a timid little mouse instead of the bravest Sweet-One-Darling in all the world. She was very cautious and quiet, because the Dream-Fairies had told her that she must be very sure not to awaken any of the little babies, for there are no Mothers up there on the other side of the Moon, and if by any chance a little baby is awakened–why, as you would easily suppose, the consequences are exceedingly embarrassing.

“Can you see anything?” asked the Dream-Fairies of Sweet-One-Darling as she clung to the edge of the Moon and peeped over.

“I should say I did!” exclaimed Sweet-One-Darling. “I never supposed there could be so beautiful a place. I see a large, fair garden, filled with shrubbery and flowers; there are fountains and velvety hillocks and silver lakes and embowered nooks. A soft, dim, golden light broods over the quiet spot.”

“Yes, that is the light which shines through the Moon from the bright side; but it is very faint,” said the Dream-Fairies.

“And I see the little babies asleep,” continued Sweet-One-Darling. “They are lying in the embowered nooks, near the fountains, upon the velvety hillocks, amid the flowers, under the trees, and upon the broad leaves of the lilies in the silver lakes. How cunning and plump and sweet they are–I must take some of them back with me!”

If they had not been afraid of waking the babies the Dream-Fairies would have laughed uproariously at this suggestion. Just fancy Sweet-One-Darling, a baby herself, undertaking the care of a lot of other little babies fresh from the garden on the other side of the Moon!

“I wonder how they all came here in this Moon-Garden?” asked Sweet-One-Darling. And the Dream-Fairies told her.

They explained that whenever a mother upon earth asked for a little baby of her own her prayer floated up and up–many leagues up–and was borne to the other side of the Moon, where it fell and rested upon a lily leaf or upon a bank of flowers in that beautiful garden. And resting there the prayer presently grew and grew until it became a cunning little baby! So when the Doctor-Man came with his box the baby was awaiting him, and he had only to carry the precious little thing to the Mother and give her prayer back to her to keep and to love always. There are so very many of these tiny babies in the Moon-Garden that sometimes–he does n’t do it of purpose–but sometimes the Doctor-Man brings the baby to the wrong mother, and that makes the real mother, who prayed for the baby, feel very, very badly.

Well, I actually believe that Sweet-One-Darling would gladly have spent the rest of her life clinging to the edge of the Moon and peeping over at the babies in that beautiful garden. But the Dream-Fairies agreed that this would never do at all. They finally got Sweet-One-Darling away by promising to stop on their journey home to replenish her nursing bottle at the Milky Way, which, as perhaps you know, is a marvellous lacteal ocean in the very midst of the sky. This beverage had so peculiar and so soothing a charm that presently Sweet-One-Darling went sound asleep, and when she woke up–goodness me! it was late in the morning, and her brother, little Our-Golden-Son, was standing by her cradle, wondering why she did n’t wake up to look at his beautiful new toy elephant.

Sweet-One-Darling told Good-Old-Soul and little Our-Golden-Son all about the garden on the other side of the Moon.

“I am sure it is true,” said Good-Old-Soul. “And now that I come to think of it, that is the reason why the Moon always turns her bright side toward our earth! If the other side were turned this way the light of the sun and the noise we make would surely awaken and frighten those poor little babies!”

Little Our-Golden-Son believed the story, too. And if Good-Old-Soul and little Our-Golden-Son believed it, why should n’t you? If it were not true how could I have known all about it and told it to you?

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