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THIS foreword is written from the Playtime Coun¬try try of our Eastern States, the coast of Maine. Here the little brown rabbit waits confidingly by the road¬side till the human animal is all but abreast of him. The squirrel pelts with broken acorn cups the in¬truder who discovers his favorite red oak. Sea gulls soar overhead so close that one can trace the outline of their slender, fish-like bodies hanging between the outspread curve of wings. Wild roses and thick mats of low-bush blueberries cover the pastured clear¬ings; bunch-berries, scarlet in the deep moss, tuft the shadowy carpet under the red spruce and the balsam fir. It is a land of leisure and of the merry heart.
Such a land I would might unfold about the open fire in the dreaming eyes of every child who hears these little stories told. For there is wisdom found, -- and true content, -- in leisure with the merry heart.
The stories in this book, some very old and un¬changed, some new, and some changed from an older form, grew into their present shape by the process of being told to children many, many times. They were shortened or lengthened, modelled and remodelled, by the conscious or instinctive adaptation of the story-teller to the listener. A few of them took this form long since, and are included here because chil¬dren of many generations have loved to hear them thus, but the greater part are the fruit of my own story-telling years, and, because of their good fortune in the favor of English-speaking children of to-day, have served as model forms for teachers and mothers all over the world.
All of them, with others, are included in one or the other of my two earlier books, "How to Tell Stories to Children" and "Stories to Tell to Children," both of which are used chiefly by persons in some way actively concerned in the education of children, and both of which deal largely with the aims and method of story¬telling as an art.
It is the belief of the publishers, here and in England, that some of the stories ought to be printed separately  from these books on method, for the more ready access of children themselves and those whose interest is of a wholly untechnical sort. This is the more de¬sirable because stories which are especially adapted to be told are equally charming for reading aloud or to one's self. The converse is not true: stories written to be read are rarely suitable for the story-teller's art until they have been skilfully adapted. In other words, those tales which can be and have been told with suc¬cess are in a sense the chosen few; they, of all the world's stories, are most charming to hear or to read.
We, therefore, the publishers and I, have chosen, out of the tested story-telling favorites of the children who made my earlier public, this handful of the very dearest, to give to the children themselves. We hope the mothers and big sisters, and of course the fathers and good uncles and aunts, will like to tell or read these tales to the littler ones. Bu t we also trust that many a studious little head will bend over the pages of this book while the reading child absorbs its stories all for himself, and traces in Mr. Patten Wilson's fas-cinating pictures the adventures of its mimic world. For it is to the children and their home friends that we send it out, with greetings from the Playtime Land to the Playtime spirit, everywhere.

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