By the Roadside
"It's time to go to work," said the little brown Dream.
"I'm not ready to go to work," said Marjorie, crossly, turning over and snuggling her head more comfortably into her pillow.
The Dream said nothing. He only sat on the foot-board and swung his feet.
By and by Marjorie turned over again,—and then again,—and then at last she sat up, exclaiming angrily: "I wish you wouldn't bother me! I want to go to sleep."
"Well," said the Dream, "how am I preventing you from sleeping?"
"You said it was time to go to work."
"That was half an hour ago," said the Dream. "I haven't spoken since."
"That doesn't make any difference," said Marjorie. "When you once say a thing that I know is true, it stays with me, and you might as well keep shouting it all the time as to have said it once;—I can't get away from it."
"If it is true, why do you want to get away from it?" asked the Dream.
"Because—" Marjorie hesitated, "—because I'm sleepy," she said petulantly.
"There are ever so many sleepy folks in this world," observed the Dream.
"Then one more can't make much difference," said Marjorie.
"That's what the others think,—and that's why there are so many. Suppose every one thought that!"
Marjorie pondered for a moment,—then she laughed. "Just think what a great big alarm-clock it would take to wake them all up!" she said.
The Dream rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "An alarm-clock is a pretty noisy article," he observed, "and it never says anything; and besides, I don't like its name. But one good, wide-awake person—" he looked directly at Marjorie, "—one good, wide-awake person could waken a very great many people—if he wanted to. But go on to sleep if you choose. I won't bother you."
"I'm not sleepy any more," said Marjorie; "and anyway, I slept only a little while after you spoke."
The Dream nodded. "Only a little while,—just long enough to let your work pass you by."
"My work?" exclaimed Marjorie. "Why, I hadn't anything in particular to do!"
"Every one has something in particular to do," said the Dream, "if he has his hand ready;—but yours wasn't,—it was under your cheek."
"What was the work?" asked Marjorie.
The Dream pointed up the long hill in front of them; and away, almost at the top, she saw a little girl lifting a basket from the roadside, where she had set it while she was resting. It was a large, heavy basket with a handle at each end, and so it was awkward for one to carry alone. Marjorie started forward impulsively; but the Dream did not stir. "Wait," he said, "you cannot catch up with her now, before she reaches the top of the hill; it is only a little way farther."
"But," cried Marjorie, "I can help her then! That basket must be hard to carry, even on level ground."
"She lives at the top of the hill," said the Dream, quietly. "She has no farther to carry it."
Marjorie bit her lip. "And she was right here when you first spoke?"
"Yes," said the Dream, "she was right here."
"But I didn't see her," protested Marjorie.
"You weren't looking for her," said the Dream....