Read THE NIGHTCAP LETTERS of The Little Nightcap Letters. , free online book, by Frances Elizabeth Barrow, on


BELLA’S mother was quite ill; and the doctor said she must go for awhile to the sweet, sunny South — far away from the cold March winds.

Poor little Bella did not want her mother to go.  When she heard of it, she began to cry, and climbed up into her mother’s lap, and kissing her cheek said:  “Stay with Bella, mamma, do please; Bella will take care of you, and make you well.”

“But the doctor says I must go, my darling,” answered her mother.  “If you cry, it will make me worse, because I shall feel so miserable to see you crying; but you mean to be good, don’t you? and when I get to Charleston, I will write you ever so many little letters one after the other, and you must tell papa what to say, and he will write the answers.  Won’t that be nice?  The postman will bring you your letters, and then you must pay him two cents apiece for every one of them, think of that!  Dear me! how much money it will take! do you think you will have money enough?”

“My pasense,” exclaimed Bella; “what a heap of letters!  Oh, how glad I am!  I’ll buy every one, mamma!  I’ll go and count my money now!”

So she ran to her drawer, and took out a little velvet purse.  It looked very fat and heavy.  Then she sat down on the carpet and opened it, and out tumbled ever so many bright pennies into her lap — quite enough to astonish the postman, and make him wish he could sell her six letters at once.  Bella clapped her hands and laughed, and thumped her heels merrily up and down, and made the pennies jingle in her lap so pleasantly, that it seemed as if they were singing a little song.

The thought of the letters was such a comfort to Bella, that she saw her mother’s trunks packed without crying a bit, though a poor little sigh would come out once in a while; but she told Edith, her elder sister, that she meant to behave in the “goodest manner,” and almost to seem glad that her dear mamma was going away, because that would help to make her well.

It would have delighted you to see little Bella “helping.”  She ran all round the room, to find something to put in the trunks.  She tucked a little cake of soap into one corner, and half a dozen hair pins in another; and then hunting in her funny little pocket, she found two gum drops, which her Cousin George had given to her — these she did up in a scrap of paper, and very carefully stowed away under the fold of a pair of stockings.

Well, at last the time came to say “good-bye,” and poor little Bella clung to her mother, and the great sobs would come, and no one could blame her, for her mamma was crying too — and her little Bella’s face was covered with tears as well as kisses.  But this dear mamma had to go — and the steamship went swiftly away with her, and in a little while she could no longer see the great city of New York, where her darling lived.

Bella cried a long time, and did not want to go back into her mamma’s room.  At last she thought she would go.  On the bed was a large paper parcel.  Something was written on the paper, and she called her sister to “read the reading” to her.

“Why! what’s this?” exclaimed Edith. “‘For my little Bella.’  How very strange.”

“Dear me,” cried Bella, giving a jump; “it must be for me — ’spose I look?  I want to look so much.”

“Certainly,” said Edith.  Then the paper was taken off by the little girl’s dimpled fingers, and there was displayed a most beautiful bedstead, with a lovely baby tucked up in it, fast asleep!

I only wish you could have seen the dimples on Bella’s face then! and the sparkles in her eyes!  She softly lifted the baby up — and pop! her blue eyes opened as wide as possible — and she never cried a bit, but just looked at Bella, not the least afraid of being among strangers.

Then Bella laid her gently down, and the good little thing shut her eyes and went fast asleep again.

“My pasense!” said Bella, “I’m apprised!  What a dear baby!  Is it for me?”

“It must be,” said Edith; “but wait, here is a little letter pinned fast to her sleeve.  Let’s see what it says.”

“A letter,” cried Bella; “must I pay two cents for it?” and she ran to get her little velvet purse.

“You will not have to pay for this one, because the baby brought it — it is only the postman that wants two cents.”

So Edith opened the letter, and Bella jumped up and down all the time her sister was reading these loving words: —