The little house sat on top of the hill all by itself.
It had once been bright and happy, but that was before the family had moved away. There was the mother and father, the two little girls, Jane and Margret and the two little boys, Jimmy and Tom and last of all baby Annie.
They had all been so happy there in the little house. The four children went to school each morning while the mother had stood on the house’s porch with the baby in her arms and waved goodbye to them.
At three o clock every day they would come running down the lane, back home from school. They sat at the table and told about their day. How Jimmy had scraped his knee at recess and how Jane had shared half her sandwich with that poor little girl Betty, who had no mother. Then, they did their homework while munching on the fresh baked cookies that were just out of oven and made the little house smell very good.
When the children were finished with their homework they put their books away and helped mother get dinner. The boys set the table and the girls watched the bread while it baked and stirred up the soup.
The father would come home from work at the same time every day. He would pick up the baby and give her a kiss then stop Mother who was usually in the middle of getting something from the oven and kiss her too.
They would all sit down and Father would bless dinner; finally, it was time to eat. The little house always smelled best at dinner. It smelled of fresh baked bread and roast and potatoes and all manner of delicious things.
When dinner was finished and the children had helped to clean up, Mother and Father sat in the rocking chairs on the front porch talking and watching the children as they played. Sometimes they swung on the old tree swing hanging from the sturdy oak tree beside the house, other times they ran about playing cowboys and Indians and making as much racket as possible, and still other times they might just sit and watch the sunset, each one of them thinking a thousand thoughts.
When it had grown dark Mother called them in and one by one they all had their baths. When the five little children were all clean and ready for bed they sat on the floor in the living room and listened to the story their father read to them each night.
This was the little house’s very favorite time of day. When everything was quite except for Father’s voice reading about little children lost out on the prairie or pirates looking for stolen treasure or even stories of ships out at sea rolling side to side in terrible storms. Sometimes these stories were so thrilling that even the house could feel a shiver up its spine, if it had had a spine.
When the story was over the children were tucked into bed the lights were turned out and everything was asleep until the morning when there was another glorious day.
But that had all changed. One day, Father had come home with a cough, not a very big one, but that night it worsened and he couldn’t go to work the next day. The doctor came and went every day, leaving new medicine each time. Then one morning, everything was quiet and still. The family went out some where and when they came back there were tear marks on their face’s all of them looked very sad and every one of them, even the baby, was wearing black.
The children did not go to school the next day, instead they stayed home and helped their mother pack. It was quite a hustle and bustle that went on in the next few days. One day some men came and helped to move everything into a wagon. All the furniture and boxes full of clothes, dishes, books, and toys.
That night was the last night and the house could feel the sadness. In the morning the four children and their mother holding baby Annie, got into a carriage and drove away leaving the little house behind.
The little house became very sad and lonely. Its windows shattered when one day a boy’s baseball went through it. The paint began to peel off the walls. Shingles flew off the roof and one night there was a terrible storm and a tree limb fell on to the little house’s steps and broke them to pieces.
During that terrible storm the little house thought about the family and how during storms they had always sat by the fire eating popcorn, drinking cider, and telling stories. Oh how the poor little house missed them all.
A man and his wife came and broke open the door of the little house. They did not have a home and so they stayed in the little house, but not for very long.
They tried to light a fire in the wood stove in the kitchen, but a birds nest had been built there and choked up the pipe so that black smoke came billowing out of the oven and into the room.
The man and his wife coughed and coughed and ran out. So the little house was again left alone, but now its walls were very dirty for they were covered inches deep in thick black smoke residue so that you could no longer see the cheery yellow that the father had painted the kitchen so long ago.
Then one day, twenty long years after the poor little house had been abandoned by the family, a carriage pulled into the lane.
A father got out and helped his young wife down who held a little white bundle of a baby boy that was sleeping peacefully. Two rosy cheeked children, a little boy of four and a little girl of two jumped out and ran up the hill.
“O mama, papa, please can we stay? Please?” the children cried. “It is a nice little house,” said Father, “it just needs a bit of work” “and look at that lovely tree there,” said Mother, “it is the perfect spot for a swing.”
The father said, “Well I think that this is a very nice place for our children to grow up at.” and so it was decided that they would stay. The little house was very excited.
As the days went by the father and mother began to clean and fix up the house. New shingles were bought for the roof, men came to paint the little house’s walls, the mother planted flowers all around the house, and the father put up a new swing for the children.
Once again the little house was clean and fresh and now there were again, children playing in the yard, a mother cooking in the kitchen, and a father that read thrilling stories aloud at night by the fire place.
The little house was so very happy, for it was just like old times.
And how happier it would have been if it had known that the kind sweet mother who had come, was the very same little baby Annie that had left with her family so long ago. But neither the little house nor the mother knew this, for Annie was not a baby anymore and she did not remember the little house, though time and again when she was growing up her mother and older brothers and sisters had often told her the stories of the wonderful times they had had in a little house out in the country, long ago.