One morning Boy Blue had tears in his big blue eyes.
He could not find his Snowball.
You will laugh when I tell you who Snowball was.
She was not hard and cold.
She was soft and warm.
Snowball was a pretty, white hen.
She was Boy Blue’s very own, and she would follow him all over the yard.
She would eat grain from his hand, and let him smooth her white feathers.
But now Boy Blue could not find her.
He had looked in the hen-house and all over the yard.
“Have you looked in the barn?” asked his mother.
“Oh, no!” said Boy Blue, “and I saw her coming out of the barn yesterday.”
“So did I,” said his mother. “I think you will find her in the hay.”
Boy Blue climbed up on the hay.
There in a corner he found his Snowball.
When she saw her little friend, she began to scold.
“Why, Snowball, what are you doing here?” said Boy Blue.
“Cluck, cluck,” said Snowball. “Do not come too near.”
“I have some eggs in this nice warm nest.
“Soon I shall have some little chickens for you.
“Oh, oh!” cried Boy Blue, “I must tell Mamma.”
“You must feed Snowball,” said his mother.
“Give her some corn and a drink of water.”
Boy Blue took very good care of his pretty, white Snowball.
He gave her corn and fresh water every morning.
Three weeks seemed to him a long time to wait.
But Snowball did not seem to think so.
One morning Boy Blue went out to feed her, and she would not leave her nest.
“Cluck, cluck!” said she, “I can hear my little chickens.”
Boy Blue kept very still and listened.
“Peep, peep, peep,” he heard.
“Yes, Snowball,” he said, “I can hear your chickens, too.”
All day he was busy helping John build a chicken house.
They built the house in the field near the barn.
“I know Snowball will like this house,” said Boy Blue.
The next morning Snowball let him see her chickens.
“Cluck, clack, cluck!” she said.
“Oh, how pretty they are!” said Boy Blue.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
“You have seven dear little snowballs.”
Snowball was proud of her babies,
Boy Blue put them in his hat.
They were too little to walk.
“Come, Snowball,” he said, “I have a new house for you.”
“Cluck, cluck! This is a good house,” she said.
Snowball and her seven little balls were very happy.
Boy Blue took good care of them, and they grew fast.
When the summer was over, he had eight big white snowballs.
Fourth of July! Fourth of July!
This is the best day for boys in all the year.
Boy Blue liked the Fourth of July.
He liked fire-crackers and torpedoes and fire-balloons.
He liked everything that made a noise.
This was the Fourth of July, but poor little Boy Blue had no fire-crackers.
He could not even blow his horn.
Little Sister was sick, and Mamma had said he must be very quiet.
It did not seem one bit like the Fourth of July.
He was sitting on the steps, whistling and trying not to care.
“Boy Blue,” called his father, “I have something to show you out here.”
The little boy jumped up and ran to the barn as fast as he could.
Perhaps he was going to have some fire-works after all!
He ran into the barn, and what do you think he saw?
There stood a little pony.
He had a glossy brown coat and a white star on his forehead.
“Oh! oh!” cried Boy Blue. “Is this pony for me?”
“Yes, my boy, it is for your very own.”
“What a beautiful pony! What is his name, Papa?”
“I do not know his name.”
“You must name him yourself.”
“‘Star’ would be a good name,—or I might call him ‘Brownie.’
“Oh, I know a good name! I shall call him ‘Fire-cracker.'”
“This is the Fourth of July, you know, and I did want some fire-crackers so much!”
Fire-cracker was a good little pony.
He and his master soon became very fond of each other.
Boy Blue learned to ride on his pony’s back, and he took long rides with his father.
One day he said, “I wish I had a pony cart, then I could take Little Sister to ride.
“Fire-cracker is very strong. I am sure he could draw both of us, if we did not go very fast.”
Papa thought that was a good idea.
The next day he took Boy Blue to town to buy a pony cart.
They went to two or three stores but they could not find one small enough for Fire-cracker to draw.
At last Boy Blue saw one in a window.
It was painted blue and had red wheels.
It had a seat just big enough for Boy Blue and Little Sister.
So Papa and Boy Blue went into the store and bought it.
The next morning Boy Blue took Little Sister for a ride.
Fire-cracker was very careful.
He walked slowly and looked around very often to see the two children.
Perhaps he was thinking, “How fine we all look this morning!
“That is a very pretty carriage, and I like this harness, too.
“My coat shines in the sun and Boy Blue put a red ribbon in my mane.
“How proud he looks, holding the reins!
“I think he likes to take Little Sister for a ride.
“I like to see them both so happy.
“Good-bye, I am going to trot fast now.”