There was once a poor woman, who did all her own work. She swept the room, cooked the breakfast, washed dishes, made the beds, and had so much to do that she had to work from early in the morning until late at night. She had one little daughter, who loved her mother very dearly, and used often to wish she could help her mother with the work. This good little girl's name was Maggie.
One day Maggie's mamma was peeling potatoes for dinner, and as she peeled them she threw the peelings in a little dish. Maggie was too small to help her mamma peel the potatoes, but she tried to help by throwing the peelings out of the dish into a large wooden bucket. Maggie would watch carefully, and just as soon as her mother filled the dish with potato skins, Maggie would empty it into the wooden bucket. Soon the mother had peeled all the potatoes in the basket, then she said: "Maggie, run to the cellar and bring me two or three potatoes in your apron."
Maggie knew the way to the cellar, so she ran quickly down the steps, picking up her apron in her hands, and holding it tightly so it would be ready to hold the potatoes. Maggie's mamma waited and waited, but Maggie did not come with the potatoes. Then the mamma thought, "Perhaps my poor little girl has fallen down the steps." She ran quickly to the cellar, and what do you think she saw? There was Maggie, sitting quietly in the corner of the cellar on the heap of potatoes. She had something in her arms, which she had wrapped up in her apron, and she was singing softly, as she rocked it to and fro. The mother looked to see what it was the little girl was nursing so tenderly, and she saw that it was a potato, that looked something like a baby.
"Sh! sh! mamma," whispered Maggie, "you will wake up my potato child."
Then the mamma knew why Maggie had staid so long in the cellar—she was putting the potato child to sleep. She told Maggie she must bring the potato child up stairs, and she and Maggie found some old pieces of while cotton and made the potato child a dress. When night came, Maggie wanted to take the potato child to bed with her, but mamma said, "No, no, Maggie, you night roll over on it and break its head;" so she took some straw and made the potato child a bed of its own, and covered it with an apron. Then little Maggie knelt down and said her prayers, kissed her potato baby, kissed her dear mother, and jumped into her own little bed and was soon fast asleep.
The Potato Child
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen