The Terrible Ball
by Mary Mapes Dodge
Give me your ear, good children all,
I'm going to set up a terrible ball ---
A terrible ball that began to grow
From only the least little speckle of snow.
And, to make the lesson pointed and plain,
I'll just remark that life, in the main,
Is, etcet'ra -- you know; and I hope you'll be good
In future to show that you've understood.
Three lovely, little artless boys,
All of them being mothers' joys,
One day decided, in innocent mirth,
To make a snow-ball as big as the earth.
What makes the story more touching still,
The big-eyed school-house on the hill
Was in session, under the cross Miss Stookey,
And these little boys were
Hookey from Stookey, they worked with a will,
And, from making a ball like a tiny pill,
They rolled and rolled, till, no longer small,
'Twas big as Miss Stookey's waterfall.
Then, like a pumpkin fair and round,
They kept it rolling on the ground ---
Bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger,
Bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger!
The boys could hardly push it along,
It grew so mighty stout and strong.
Now, this mammoth ball that began as a pill,
Was made, you must know, on top of a hill;
This hill was so wonderful steep and high,
That even the coasters would pass it by;
And, saving a road by the cattle made,
It sloped right down, at a fearful grade,
To the meadow where stood a cottage red
Where these little children were born and bred.
Halloo! they cried,
let's have some fun,
There's Stookey's pig as sure as a gun!
Hooray! hooray! cried the children three,
Thus giving vent to their youthful glee.
When -- what do you think? -- this ungrateful pill,
That they'd made so big on top of the hill,
With an air that said,
Now, I think I've got 'em!
Resolved to roll all the way to the bottom.
The ball was swift, the ball was big,
Alas for Stookey's innocent pig!
Alas for lovers who walked that way,
They ne'er in their lives forgot the day!
Alas for the learn'd Professor Gath
Who happened to stroll in the snow-ball's path
And alas, alas for those children three,
Who shouted and cheered in their pretty glee!
Rolling, growing, demolishing all,
On and on went the terrible ball;
It left the cattle down on their knees,
It crushed the fences and bent the trees;
Even the hay-stacks went ker-flop.
It wouldn't turn, nor it wouldn't stop,
But still rolled on in steady motion,
Making a bee-line for the ocean!
With laugh and shout and merry hoot,
Those children followed in glad pursuit.
Hooray! hooray! they cried again,
And gave the chase with might and main;
They gave the chase with main and might,
But the terrible ball rolled out of sight.
And now comes the saddest part of all.
(Oh! that cruel, wicked, terrible ball!)
When at last the three little artless boys,
Tired of running and making a noise,
Resolved to go home to their little bed,
Where, oh! where was that cottage red?
Where, oh! where? Ask the terrible ball ---
Never a home had those children small.
Gone, clean gone! with picket and paling ---
And all their joy was turned to wailing!
Hence it is, and so we see
Thus and so, it seems to me,
As I'm sure you'll all agree.
Source:Rhymes And Jingles
Scribner, Armstrong, And Company