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Children's Story Garden  >  Eavesdropper the Ugly Dwarf

Girl standing in wild undergrowth, casting milkwood seeds to the breeze.

The Children's Story Garden

Eavesdropper the Ugly Dwarf


ONCE there was an ugly old dwarf; though such a little bit of a man, he had the biggest ears you ever saw. He was such a queer-looking fellow that people would not go near him, if they could help it. He lived in a place that was called "Tattlers' Row," in a little old house he called "Keyhole."

This house had but one small window, and he was always either peering through it to see what he could see, or putting one of his big ears against it to hear everything that the people in Tattlers' Row might have to say as they passed by. Then he would run to tell his next-door neighbor, Miss Busybody, what he had heard, and she would hasten to tell what he had told her, and, as it was often something not very nice about some of their neighbors, this would stir up a big quarrel.

Now, these people were not bad-natured or spiteful and they did not wish to quarrel. But they knew, so long as this ugly old dwarf, Eavesdropper, lived there to tell all that he had heard with his big ears to Miss Busybody, there could be no peace. So in many ways they tried to get rid of him; but all to no purpose.

One day a fairy appeared among them, whose name was Good Heart. She said: "I know what mischief Eavesdropper has done among you, and I will tell you how to cure him. Here is a bottle of magic oil. It is the 'Oil of Kindness.' "Watch, and when he is asleep some time ask Miss Busybody to steal softly in and drop some into his ears. Tell her it will be a good joke, for it will make his ears get very small. She is always ready for anything, and she will surely do it, just to make a stir; for she will not know that he can never again bring her any more news. This oil will make his ears so little that he will not be able to hear anything from his window again, and Miss Busybody will have to go somewhere else for her news."

So they did as the good fairy had told them to do; and after Miss Busybody had poured the "Oil of Kindness" into Eavesdropper's ears they got so small you could scarcely see them. He never could hear anything at his window again, and so the people liked him much better after that. Miss Busybody, whose hands had touched the wonderful oil, put her fingers in her mouth, and so she could say nothing more about people that was not good. Then everybody in Tattlers' Row stopped saying things that were not nice about their neighbors, and in a little while the place was so changed that it went by the name of Good-will Valley.

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In The Children's Story Garden. Stories collected by a committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting — Anna Pettit Broomell, Emily Cooper Johnson, Elizabeth W. Collins, Alice Hall Paxson, Annie Hillborn, and Anna D. White. Illustrated by Katharine Richardson Wireman and Eugénie M. Wireman. Published in 1920 by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Notes and links

* Eavesdropper the Ugly Dwarf

By Kate McDowell. Used by permission of The Outlook. [top]