Young Folks' Treasury: Classic Tales and Old-Fashioned Stories HTML version
By MARIA EDGEWORTH
ADAPTED BY LOUEY CHISHOLM
QUEEN OF THE MAY
Simple Susan lived one hundred years ago. Mr. Price was Susan's father. He rented a small farm
and was always hard at work. No more honest man could be found far or near, and he loved his
little daughter from the bottom of his big heart.
Mrs. Price was Susan's mother. She was a good woman who was always busy cooking, or
cleaning, or sewing. The bread and cakes made by her were better than those made by any one
else in the village. When she was not doing household work, she earned money by taking in
plain needlework. All who knew Mrs. Price liked her and were sorry she was so far from strong.
That no girl had a better mother than Susan, every one agreed.
John and William were Susan's little brothers. They were quite sure that no other boys in all the
world had such a good sister as theirs.
Our story begins on the evening before the first of May. Now one hundred years ago, Mayday
was looked forward to with glee by all English children living in the country. Early that morning
the lads and lasses of the village, gaily decked with flowers, would go merrily singing from
house to house. In their midst would walk the Queen of the May, or sometimes, [pg 258] seated in a
chair twined round with blossom, she would be carried from door to door by her little
companions. With a wreath of their gayest flowers they would crown her their Queen, and for
her would be woven the fairest garlands. After the May carols were sung, cake, coppers, or small
coins would be given to the boys and girls.
To choose their Queen and to arrange their flowers the children would meet on the last day of
April. This they did in the village where Susan lived, and their meeting-place was in a corner of a
field close by a large pink hawthorn. A shady lane ran past one side of the bush. On another side
a sweetbrier hedge separated it from the garden belonging to an attorney.
This attorney was a very cross man, so cross that the village people were always in fear of him.
Although he had hedged and fenced his garden, it sometimes happened that there would stray
into it a pig, or a dog, or a goat, or a goose belonging to a poor neighbor. Then the attorney
would go to the owner of the stray animal and in a harsh voice demand money to pay for the
damage it had done.
Nor did this cruel man let people walk along the paths through his meadows, although they did
no harm. He blocked up the stiles with stones and prickly shrubs, so that not even a gosling could
squeeze under them nor a giant climb over. Even the village children were afraid to fly their kites
near his fields, lest they should get entangled in his trees or fall on his ground.
Mr. Case was the name of this attorney, and he had one son and a daughter called Barbara.