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China Animals

Source: What Shall We Do Now?: Five Hundred Games And Pastimes

Dolls are, of course, perfectly at home in bed when you are ill, but
there is even more interest in a menagerie. On this subject it would
be difficult to do better than quote from a letter from E. M. R., who
has 590 china animals, mostly in families and all named. She began
this magnificent collection with a family of monkeys.

The mother was called Sally, her eldest son Mungo, the next
Pin-ceri, another, eating a nut, Jock, and the youngest, a
sweet little girl monkey, Ness. I was soon given a family of
three foxes, Reynard, Brushtail, and Whitepad, and from that
time to the present my collection has been growing. I soon
had enough to fill a shelf in a cabinet, and I turned my
doll's-house into a boarding-school for the little animals
with a big pig as headmaster. But when my collection rose to
400 animals, I had too many children to be all boarders at
the school, so some had to be day-scholars, and the
headmaster was changed to a green frog who swam beautifully,
and who was assisted by two swans, a duck, a fish, two
crocodiles, and a seal, who all swam. Another frog taught the
children swimming by tying a piece of string round their
bodies, and dangling them in the water from the edge of a

The animals' abode was now changed, and they were put into a
large cabinet containing six small shelves and one big one.

I called the big shelf a town, and the rest villages. The
town was called Weybridge: the village where the birds lived,
Airsbury; and that where the dogs were, Canistown. The rest
had various other names. At this time an important addition
was made to the collection, for a big lion was given me,
which I immediately created king; then came a queen and four
princesses, and shortly after a crown prince, another prince,
and three more little princesses.

The royal family was allowed a village all to itself, which
was called Kingston, and was given five servants, two nurses,
a footman, a housemaid, and a cook.

As I had now two families of several of the kinds of animals,
I determined that they should be married, so, nominating
Sally's husband rector, I had several weddings. I built a
church with some bricks I had, and formed a procession up the
aisle, to the Wedding March, played on an American organ.

First came the bride and bridegroom, then the best man and
the bridesmaids, and last the children of the animals who
were to be married, two and two. When the ceremony was over,
I marched them all back to their places on the shelf.

I now made eight laws, and copied them out in an
exercise-book, together with the names of all the animals,
the number of men, women, boys, and girls, and the number of
married and single families.

I had had several little separate china animals given me,
belonging to none of my families, so I made a law that if any
family of their kind came to the collection they must adopt
these little orphans.

I also made two acting companies, one of big animals, and one
for the children, with a boar-hound called Sir Philip of
Ravenswood for the manager of the first, and a little black
and white kid, named Tim, for manager of the second, and at
the Christmas of the same year that I formed the two
companies I had two plays, the children acting "Hansel and
Gretel," and the big animals "The Yeomen of the Guard."

Being now unable to get any fresh families of small animals,
I started a collection of big china animals, and soon had
thirty-five, among whom were a Jersey bull and cow, another
brown bull and a brown and white cow, two beautiful horses,
several dogs, two donkeys, and two goats.

These I kept apart from the small animals, in another
cupboard; but I still kept the lion king over them as well,
and gave them two big animals, a bloodhound and a St.
Bernard, as governors over them.

Among the small animals I had a very learned-looking pig
called Orsino, whom I made doctor, while an old bulldog,
Dimboona, to whom I had been obliged to give two wooden legs,
was Prime Minister. I also had a treasurer, a rent collector,
a steward, and an under-steward. I also made a young
boar-hound, called Panther, the son of Sir Philip, keeper of
the stables, which consisted of ninety-two horses which I had

And this brings the narrative of the growth of my china
animal collection up to the present time, when I have 555
small animals and 35 big ones, 590 in all.

Next: Low Tide

Previous: Bed Soldiers

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