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Little Miss Muffet

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"Little Miss Muffet" is a short story by L. Frank Baum. It is one of the tales in his 1897 collection Mother Goose in Prose.

Summary

She is the daughter of a wealthy banker and a society hostess; she is surrounded by maids and servants, all of whom call her "Miss Muffet." She rarely sees her parents; her nurse, Miss Halloweg, does not let her play with other children, or run and romp, or dig in the dirt. As a result, the girl is sullen and irritable, and very unhappy.

When her health suffers, the family physician advises a trip to the country. Miss Halloweg and her staff take Miss Muffet to a fashionable resort; but one day, when Sarah the maid falls asleep, the girl runs away. She catches a ride on the back of a farmer's cart; the motion lulls her to sleep. The farmer and his wife are surprised to find a well-dressed little girl in their cart when they unload their groceries. Until someone comes to claim her, they keep her on their farm.

And on a farm, everyone must work. Little Miss Muffet learns to help curdle the milk and prepare it for the cheese press. The girl finds that work is fun, at first, but quickly tires; she is relieved when the job is finally done. The farmer's wife gives her a bowl of curds and whey, and lets her eat it under the trees of the orchard. The girl seat herself on a grassy mound, "which is called a tuffet in the country," and eats her curds and whey, which she considers "very good."

But a large black spider comes along and frightens the little girl into spilling her meal. The child runs crying to the farmer's wife, complaining about "the awfulest, biggest, blackest spider in all the world!" The farmer's wife has to laugh is response.

Soon a carriage arrives, bearing Nurse Halloweg searching for Miss Muffet. The clever child promises never to run away again — as long as she can play like other children. Halloweg prudently agrees. From then on, Little Miss Muffet is a happy child, with rosy cheeks and bright eyes; she grows into a young lady "as healthy and robust as she was beautiful."

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