Some time ago, ere we were born or thought of,
There lived a little girl, who liked to roam
Through lonely woods and lanes, unknown, unsought of
Such folk who like to stop and stay at home.
She found out curious things in all her travel
And one of her adventures I will tell:
Once, in a wood she saw a path of gravel,
Which led to a small cottage in a dell.
And, as the door stood open, in walked boldly,
This child, whose name was Silverlocks, I'm told;
There was nobody there to treat her coldly,
No friend to call her back, no nurse to scold.
She found herself within a parlour charming;
And there upon the table there were placed
Three basins, sending up a smell so warming,
That she at once felt hungry, and must taste.
The largest basin first, but hot and biting
The soup was in it, and the second too;
The smallest basin tasted so inviting,
That up she ate it all, with small ado.
And next she saw three chairs, and tried to sit in
The biggest, but it was too hard and high;
The middle one she scarcely seemed to fit in,
But in the smallest chair sat easily;
And rocked herself, her ease and comfort taking,
Singing the pretty songs she knew so well;
When, oh! the little chair cracked loud, and, breaking,
Gave way all suddenly, and down she fell.
"Ah, well," she thought, "there may be beds to lie on
Upstairs; I think I'll go at once and see."
And so there were; she said aloud, "I'll try one,
For I am tired and sleepy as can be."
The biggest bed was not of feathers, surely,
It was so hard; and so she tried the next,
And found it little better; but securely
She slept upon the smallest one, unvext.
The little house belonged to bears, not persons;
The Father Bear, so very rough and large;
The Mother Bear (I have known many worse ones);
And then the little Cub, their only charge.
They had gone for a walk before their dinner;
Returning, Father growled, "Who's touched my soup?"
"Who's touched my soup?" said Mother, with voice thinner;
"But mine," said little Cub, "is finished up!"
They turned to draw their chairs a little nearer;
"Who's sat in my chair?" growled the Father Bear;
"Who's sat in my chair?" said the Mother, clearer;
And squeaked the little Cub, "Who's broken my small chair?"
They rushed upstairs, and Father Bruin, growling,
Cried out, "Who's lain upon my bed?"
"Who's lain on mine?" cried Mother Bruin, howling;
"But some one _lies_ on mine!" the small Bear said.
"We'll kill the child, and eat her for our dinner,"
The Father growled; but said the Mother, "No;
For supper she shall be, and I will skin her."
"No," said the little Cub, "we'll let her go."
So Silverlocks, in sudden terror flying,
Reached home; and when the Nurse the story hears,
She says, "You are in luck, there's no denying,
To get away in safety from THREE BEARS."