The Candy Country by Louisa M. Alcott
"I shall take mamma's red sun-umbrella, it
is so warm, and none of the children at
school will have one like it," said Lily, one day,
as she went through the hall.
"The wind is very high; I 'm afraid you 'll be
blown away if you carry that big thing," called
Nurse from the window, as the red umbrella
went bobbing down the garden walk with a
small girl under it.
"I wish it would; I always wanted to go up
in a balloon," answered Lily, as she struggled
out of the gate.
She got on very well till she came to the bridge
and stopped to look over the railing at the water
running by so fast, and the turtles sunning
themselves on the rocks. Lily was fond of throwing
stones at them; it was so funny to watch them
tumble, heels over head, splash into the water.
Now, when she saw three big fellows close by,
she stooped for a stone, and just at that minute
a gale of wind nearly took the umbrella out of
her hand. She clutched it fast; and away she
went like a thistle-down, right up in the air,
over river and hill, houses and trees, faster and
faster, till her head spun round, her breath was
all gone, and she had to let go. The dear red
umbrella flew away like a leaf; and Lily fell
down, down, till she went crash into a tree which
grew in such a curious place that she forgot her
fright as she sat looking about her, wondering
what part of the world it could be.
The tree looked as if made of glass or colored
sugar; for she could see through the red
cherries, the green leaves, and the brown branches.
An agreeable smell met her nose; and she said
at once, as any child would, "I smell candy!" She
picked a cherry and ate it. Oh, how good
it was!--all sugar and no stone. The next
discovery was such a delightful one that she nearly
fell off her perch; for by touching her tongue
here and there, she found that the whole tree
was made of candy. Think what fun to sit and
break off twigs of barley sugar, candied cherries,
and leaves that tasted like peppermint and
Lily rocked and ate till she finished the top
of the little tree; then she climbed down and
strolled along, making more surprising and
agreeable discoveries as she went.
What looked like snow under her feet was
white sugar; the rocks were lumps of chocolate,
the flowers of all colors and tastes; and every
sort of fruit grew on these delightful trees. Little
white houses soon appeared; and here lived
the dainty candy-people, all made of the best
sugar, and painted to look like real people.
Dear little men and women, looking as if they
had stepped off of wedding cakes and bonbons,
went about in their gay sugar clothes, laughing
and talking in the sweetest voices. Bits of
babies rocked in open-work cradles, and sugar
boys and girls played with sugar toys in the
most natural way. Carriages rolled along the
jujube streets, drawn by the red and yellow
barley horses we all love so well; cows fed
in the green fields, and sugar birds sang in
Lily listened, and in a moment she
understood what the song said,--
Come, come and eat.
Dear little girls
With yellow curls;
For here you 'll find
Sweets to your mind.
On every tree
Sugar-plums you 'll see;
In every dell
Grows the caramel.
Over every wall
Where our river goes.
Under your feet
Lies sugar sweet;
Over your head
Grow almonds red.
Our lily and rose
Are not for the nose;
Our flowers we pluck
To eat or suck.
And, oh! what bliss
When two friends kiss,
For they honey sip
From lip to lip!
And all you meet,
In house or street,
At work or play,
Sweethearts are they.
So, little dear,
Pray feel no fear:
Go where you will;
Eat, eat your fill.
Here is a feast
From west to east;
And you can say,
Ere you go away,
'At last I stand
In dear Candy-land,
And no more can stuff;
For once I 've enough.'
"That is the most interesting song I ever
heard," said Lily, clapping her sticky hands and
dancing along toward a fine palace of white
cream candy, with pillars of striped peppermint
stick, and a roof of frosting that made it look
like the Milan Cathedral.
"I 'll live here, and eat candy all day long,
with no tiresome school or patchwork to spoil
my fun," said Lily.
So she ran up the chocolate steps into the
pretty rooms, where all the chairs and tables
were of different colored candies, and the beds
of spun sugar. A fountain of lemonade supplied
drink; and floors of ice-cream that never melted
kept people and things from sticking together,
as they would have done had it been warm.
For a long while Lily was quite happy, going
about tasting so many different kinds of
sweeties, talking to the little people, who were
very amiable, and finding out curious things
about them and their country.
The babies were made of plain sugar, but the
grown people had different flavors. The young
ladies were flavored with violet, rose, and
orange; the gentlemen were apt to have cordials
of some sort inside of them, as she found when
she ate one now and then slyly, and got her
tongue bitten by the hot, strong taste as a
punishment. The old people tasted of peppermint,
clove, and such comfortable things, good for
pain; but the old maids had lemon, hoarhound,
flag-root, and all sorts of sour, bitter things
in them, and did not get eaten much. Lily
soon learned to know the characters of her
new friends by a single taste, and some she
never touched but once. The dear babies
melted in her mouth, and the delicately flavored
young ladies she was very fond of. Dr. Ginger
was called to her more than once when so much
candy made her teeth ache, and she found him
a very hot-tempered little man; but he stopped
the pain, so she was glad to see him.
A lime-drop boy and a little pink checker-berry
girl were her favorite playmates; and they
had fine times making mud-pies by scraping
the chocolate rocks and mixing this dust with
honey from the wells near by. These they
could eat; and Lily thought this much better
than throwing away the pies, as she had to do at
home. They had candy-pulls very often, and
made swings of long loops of molasses candy,
and bird's-nests with almond eggs, out of which
came birds who sang sweetly. They played football
with big bull's-eyes, sailed in sugar boats on
lakes of syrup, fished in rivers of molasses, and
rode the barley horses all over the country.
Lily discovered that it never rained, but
snowed white sugar. There was no sun, as it
would have been too hot; but a large yellow
lozenge made a nice moon, and red and white
comfits were the stars.
The people all lived on sugar, and never
quarrelled. No one was ill; and if any got
broken, as sometimes happened with such brittle
creatures, they just stuck the parts together and
were all right again. The way they grew old
was to get thinner and thinner till there was
danger of their vanishing. Then the friends of
the old person put him in a neat coffin, and
carried him to the great golden urn which stood
in their largest temple, always full of a certain
fine syrup; and here he was dipped and dipped
till he was stout and strong again, and went
home to enjoy himself for a long time as good
This was very interesting to Lily, and she
went to many funerals. But the weddings were
better still; for the lovely white brides were
so sweet Lily longed to eat them. The feasts
were delicious; and everybody went in their
best clothes, and danced at the ball till they
got so warm half-a-dozen would stick together
and have to be taken to the ice-cream room
to cool off. Then the little pair would drive
away in a fine carriage with white horses to a
new palace in some other part of the country,
and Lily would have another pleasant place
But by and by, when she had seen everything,
and eaten so much sweet stuff that at last she
longed for plain bread and butter, she began to
get cross, as children always do when they live
on candy; and the little people wished she would
go away, for they were afraid of her. No
wonder, when she would catch up a dear sugar baby
and eat him, or break some respectable old
grandmamma all into bits because she reproved
her for naughty ways. Lily calmly sat down on
the biggest church, crushing it flat, and even
tried to poke the moon out of the sky in a pet
one day. The king ordered her to go home;
but she said, "I won't!" and bit his head off,
crown and all.
Such a wail went up at this awful deed that
she ran away out of the city, fearing some one
would put poison in her candy, since she had
no other food.
"I suppose I shall get somewhere if I keep
walking; and I can't starve, though I hate the
sight of this horrid stuff," she said to herself,
as she hurried over the mountains of Gibraltar
Rock that divided the city of Saccharissa from the
great desert of brown sugar that lay beyond.
Lily marched bravely on for a long time, and
saw at last a great smoke in the sky, smelt a
spicy smell, and felt a hot wind blowing toward her.
"I wonder if there are sugar savages here,
roasting and eating some poor traveller like
me," she said, thinking of Robinson Crusoe and
other wanderers in strange lands.
She crept carefully along till she saw a
settlement of little huts very like mushrooms, for
they were made of cookies set on lumps of
the brown sugar; and queer people, looking as
if made of gingerbread, were working very
busily round several stoves which seemed to
bake at a great rate.
"I'll creep nearer and see what sort of
people they are before I show myself," said Lily,
going into a grove of spice-trees, and sitting
down on a stone which proved to be the plummy
sort of cake we used to call Brighton Rock.
Presently one of the tallest men came striding
toward the trees with a pan, evidently after spice;
and before she could run, he saw Lily.
"Hollo, what do you want?" he asked, staring
at her with his black currant eyes, while he
briskly picked the bark off a cinnamon-tree.
"I'm travelling, and would like to know what
place this is, if you please," answered Lily, very
politely, being a little frightened.
"Cake-land. Where do you come from?"
asked the gingerbread man, in a crisp tone of
"I was blown into the Candy country, and
have been there a long time; but I got tired
of it, and ran away to find something better."
"Sensible child!" and the man smiled till
Lily thought his cheeks would crumble. "You'll
get on better here with us Brownies than with
the lazy Bonbons, who never work and are all
for show. They won't own us, though we are
all related through our grandparents Sugar and
Molasses. We are busy folks; so they turn up
their noses and don't speak when we meet at
parties. Poor creatures, silly and sweet and
unsubstantial! I pity 'em."
"Could I make you a visit? I'd like to see
how you live, and what you do. I 'm sure it
must be interesting," said Lily, picking herself
up after a tumble, having eaten nearly all the
stone, she was so hungry.
"I know you will. Come on! I can talk
while I work." And the funny gingerbread man
trotted off toward his kitchen, full of pans,
rolling-pins, and molasses jugs.
"Sit down. I shall be at leisure as soon as
this batch is baked. There are still some wise
people down below who like gingerbread, and
I have my hands full," he said, dashing about,
stirring, rolling out, and slapping the brown
dough into pans, which he whisked into the
oven and out again so fast that Lily knew there
must be magic about it somewhere.
Every now and then he threw her a delicious
cooky warm from the oven. She liked the
queer fellow, and presently began to talk, being
very curious about this country.
"What is your name, sir?"
Lily thought it a good one; for he was very
quick, and she fancied he could be short and
sharp if he liked.
"Where does all this cake go to?" she asked,
after watching the other kitchens full of workers,
who were all of different kinds of cake, and each
set of cooks made its own sort.
"I 'll show you by and by," answered Snap,
beginning to pile up the heaps of gingerbread
on a little car that ran along a track leading to
some unknown storeroom, Lily thought.
"Don't you get tired of doing this all the time?"
"Yes; but I want to be promoted, and I
never shall be till I 've done my best, and won
the prize here."
"Oh, tell me about it! What is the prize,
and how are you promoted? Is this a cooking-school?"
"Yes; the prize for best gingerbread is a
cake of condensed yeast. That puts a soul
into me, and I begin to rise till I am able
to go over the hills yonder into the blessed
land of bread, and be one of the happy
creatures who are always wholesome, always needed,
and without which the world below would be
in a bad way."
"Bless me! that is the queerest thing I Ve
heard yet. But I don't wonder you want to go;
I 'm tired of sweets myself, and long for a good
piece of bread, though I used to want cake and
candy at home."
"Ah, my dear, you 'll learn a good deal here;
and you are lucky not to have got into the
clutches of Giant Dyspepsia, who always gets
people if they eat too much of such rubbish
and scorn wholesome bread. I leave my ginger
behind when I go, and get white and round and
beautiful, as you will see. The Gingerbread
family have never been as foolish as some of
the other cakes. Wedding is the worst; such
extravagance in the way of wine and spice
and fruit I never saw, and such a mess to
eat when it's done! I don't wonder people
get sick; serves 'em right." And Snap flung
down a pan with such a bang that it made
"Sponge cake is n't bad, is it? Mamma lets
me eat it, but I like frosted pound better," she
said, looking over to the next kitchen, where
piles of that sort of cake were being iced.
"Poor stuff. No substance. Ladies' fingers
will do for babies, but pound has too much
butter ever to be healthy. Let it alone, and eat
cookies or seed-cakes, my dear. Now, come
along; I'm ready." And Snap trundled away
his car-load at a great pace.
Lily ran behind to pick up whatever fell, and
looked about her as she went, for this was
certainly a very queer country. Lakes of eggs all
beaten up, and hot springs of saleratus foamed
here and there ready for use. The earth was
brown sugar or ground spice; and the only fruits
were raisins, dried currants, citron, and lemon
peel. It was a very busy place; for every one
cooked all the time, and never failed and never
seemed tired, though they got so hot that they
only wore sheets of paper for clothes. There
were piles of it to put over the cake, so that it
shouldn't burn; and they made cook's white
caps and aprons of it, and looked very nice. A
large clock made of a flat pancake, with cloves
to mark the hours and two toothpicks for hands,
showed them how long to bake things; and in one
place an ice wall was built round a lake of butter,
which they cut in lumps as they wanted it.
"Here we are. Now, stand away while I
pitch 'em down," said Snap, stopping at last
before a hole in the ground where a
dumbwaiter hung ready, with a name over it.
There were many holes all round, and many
waiters, each with its name; and Lily was
amazed when she read "Weber," "Copeland,"
"Dooling," and others, which she knew very well.
Over Snap's place was the name "Newmarch;"
and Lily said, "Why, that's where mamma gets
her hard gingerbread, and Weber's is where
we go for ice-cream. Do you make cake for them?"
"Yes, but no one knows it. It's one of the
secrets of the trade. We cook for all the
confectioners, and people think the good things
come out of the cellars under their saloons.
Good joke, is n't it?" And Snap laughed till a
crack came in his neck and made him cough.
Lily was so surprised she sat down on a warm
queen's cake that happened to be near, and
watched Snap send down load after load of
gingerbread to be eaten by children, who would
have liked it much better if they had only known
where it came from, as she did.
As she sat, the clatter of many spoons, the
smell of many dinners, and the sound of many
voices calling, "One vanilla, two strawberries,
and a Charlotte Russe," "Three stews, cup
coffee, dry toast," "Roast chicken and apple
without," came up the next hole, which was
"Dear me! it seems as if I was there," said
Lily, longing to hop down, but afraid of the
bump at the other end.
"I 'm done. Come along, I 'll ride you back,"
called Snap, tossing the last cooky after the
dumb-waiter as it went slowly out of sight with
its spicy load.
"I wish you 'd teach me to cook. It looks
great fun, and mamma wants me to learn; only
our cook hates to have me mess round, and
is so cross that I don't like to try at home,"
said Lily, as she went trundling back.
"Better wait till you get to Bread-land, and
learn to make that. It's a great art, and worth
knowing. Don't waste your time on cake,
though plain gingerbread is n't bad to have in
the house. I 'll teach you that in a jiffy, if the
clock does n't strike my hour too soon,"
answered Snap, helping her down.
"Why, of my freedom. I never know when
I 've done my task till I 'm called by the chimes
and go to get my soul," said Snap, turning his
currant eyes anxiously to the clock.
"I hope you will have time." And Lily fell
to work with all her might, after Snap had put
on her a paper apron and a cap like his.
It was not hard; for when she was going to
make a mistake a spark flew out of the fire and
burnt her in time to remind her to look at the
receipt, which was a sheet of gingerbread in
a frame of pie-crust hung up before her, with
the directions written while it was soft and baked
in. The third sheet she made came out of the
oven spicy, light, and brown; and Snap, giving
it one poke, said, "That's all right. Now you
know. Here's your reward."
He handed her a receipt-book made of thin
sheets of sugar-gingerbread held together by
a gelatine binding, with her name stamped on
the back, and each leaf crimped with a
cake-cutter in the most elegant manner.
Lily was charmed with it, but had no time
to read all it contained; for just then the
clock began to strike, and a chime of bells
Go to the head.
Your task is done;
A soul is won.
Take it and go
Where muffins grow,
Where sweet loaves rise
To the very skies,
And biscuits fair
Perfume the air.
Make no delay;
In the sea of flour
Plunge this hour.
Safe in your breast
Let the yeast-cake rest,
Till you rise in joy,
A white bread boy!"
"Ha, ha! I 'm free! I 'm free!" cried Snap,
catching up the silver-covered square that seemed
to fall from heaven; and running to a great white
sea of flour, he went in head first, holding the
yeast-cake clasped to his breast as if his life
depended on it.
Lily watched breathlessly, while a curious
working and bubbling went on, as if Snap was
tumbling about down there like a small
earthquake. The other cake-folk stood round the
shore with her; for it was a great event, and all
were glad that the dear fellow was promoted so
soon. Suddenly a cry was heard, and up rose
a beautiful white figure on the farther side of
the sea. It moved its hand, as if saying "Good-by,"
and ran over the hills so fast they had
only time to see how plump and fair he was,
with a little knob on the top of his head like
"He 's gone to the happy land, and we shall
miss him; but we 'll follow his example and
soon find him again," said a gentle Sponge
cake, with a sigh, as all went back to their work;
while Lily hurried after Snap, eager to see the
new country, which was the best of all.
A delicious odor of fresh bread blew up from
the valley as she stood on the hill-top and looked
down on the peaceful scene below. Fields of
yellow grain waved in the breeze; hop-vines
grew from tree to tree; and many windmills
whirled their white sails as they ground the
different grains into fresh, sweet meal, for the
loaves of bread that built the houses like bricks
and paved the streets, or in many shapes formed
the people, furniture, and animals. A river of
milk flowed through the peaceful land, and
fountains of yeast rose and fell with a pleasant
foam and fizz. The ground was a mixture of
many meals, and the paths were golden Indian,
which gave a very gay look to the scene.
Buckwheat flowers bloomed on their rosy stems, and
tall corn-stalks rustled their leaves in the warm
air that came from the ovens hidden in the
hillsides; for bread needs a slow fire, and an
obliging volcano did the baking here.
"What a lovely place!" cried Lily, feeling
the charm of the homelike landscape, in spite
of the funny plump people moving about.
Two of these figures came running to meet
her as she slowly walked down the yellow path
from the hill. One was a golden boy, with a
beaming face; the other a little girl in a shiny
brown cloak, who looked as if she would taste
very nice. They each put a warm hand into
Lily's, and the boy said,--
"We are glad to see you. Muffin told us you
"Thank you. Who is Muffin?" asked Lily,
feeling as if she had seen both these little people
before, and liked them.
"He was Ginger Snap once, but he's a
Muffin now. We begin in that way, and work
up to the perfect loaf by degrees. My name is
Johnny Cake, and she's Sally Lunn. You know
us; so come on and have a race."
Lily burst out laughing at the idea of playing
with these old friends of hers; and all three ran
away as fast as they could tear, down the hill,
over a bridge, into the middle of the village,
where they stopped, panting, and sat down on
some very soft rolls to rest.
"What do you all do here?" asked Lily, when
she got her breath again.
"We farm, we study, we bake, we brew,
and are as merry as grigs all day long. It's
school-time now, and we must go; will you
come?" said Sally, jumping up as if she
"Our schools are not like yours; we only
study two things,--grain and yeast. I think
you 'll like it. We have yeast to-day, and the
experiments are very jolly," added Johnny,
trotting off to a tall brown tower of rye and Indian
bread, where the school was kept.
Lily never liked to go to school, but she was
ashamed to own it; so she went along with
Sally, and was so amused with all she saw that
she was glad she came. The brown loaf was
hollow, and had no roof; and when she asked
why they used a ruin, Sally told her to wait and
see why they chose strong walls and plenty of
room overhead. All round was a circle of very
small biscuits like cushions, and on these the
Bread-children sat. A square loaf in the
middle was the teacher's desk, and on it lay an
ear of wheat, with several bottles of yeast well
corked up. The teacher was a pleasant, plump
lady from Vienna, very wise, and so famous for
her good bread that she was a Professor of
When all were seated, she began with the
wheat ear, and told them all about it in such an
interesting way that Lily felt as if she had never
known anything about the bread she ate before.
The experiments with the yeast were quite
exciting,--for Fraulein Pretzel showed them how
it would work till it blew the cork out, and
go fizzing up to the sky if it was kept too long;
how it would turn sour or flat, and spoil the
bread if care was not taken to use it just at
the right moment; and how too much would
cause the loaf to rise till there was no substance
The children were very bright; for they were
fed on the best kinds of oatmeal and Graham
bread, with very little white bread or hot cakes
to spoil their young stomachs. Hearty, happy
boys and girls they were, and their yeasty
souls were very lively in them for they danced
and sung, and seemed as bright and gay as
if acidity, heaviness, and mould were quite
Lily was very happy with them, and when
school was done went home with Sally and ate
the best bread and milk for dinner that she ever
tasted. In the afternoon Johnny took her to
the cornfield, and showed her how they kept
the growing ears free from mildew and worms.
Then she went to the bakehouse; and here she
found her old friend Muffin hard at work
making Parker House rolls, for he was such a good
cook he was set to work at once on the lighter
kinds of bread.
"Well, is n't this better than Candy-land or
Saccharissa?" he asked, as he rolled and folded
his bits of dough with a dab of butter tucked inside.
"Ever so much!" cried Lily. "I feel better
already, and mean to learn all I can. Mamma
will be so pleased if I can make good bread
when I go home. She is rather old-fashioned,
and likes me to be a nice housekeeper. I did n't
think bread interesting then, but I do now; and
Johnny's mother is going to teach me to make
Indian cakes to-morrow."
"Glad to hear it. Learn all you can, and tell
other people how to make healthy bodies and
happy souls by eating good plain food. Not
like this, though these rolls are better than cake.
I have to work my way up to the perfect loaf,
you know; and then, oh, then, I 'm a happy thing."
"What happens then? Do you go on to
some other wonderful place?" asked Lily, as
Muffin paused with a smile on his face.
"Yes; I am eaten by some wise, good human
being, and become a part of him or her. That
is immortality and heaven; for I may nourish a
poet and help him sing, or feed a good woman
who makes the world better for being in it, or
be crumbed into the golden porringer of a baby
prince who is to rule a kingdom. Is n't that a
noble way to live, and an end worth working
for?" asked Muffin, in a tone that made Lily
feel as if some sort of fine yeast had got into
her, and was setting her brain to work with new
"Yes, it is. I suppose all common things
are made for that purpose, if we only knew it;
and people should be glad to do anything to
help the world along, even making good bread
in a kitchen," answered Lily, in a sober way that
showed that her little mind was already
digesting the new food it had got.
She stayed in Bread-land a long time, and
enjoyed and learned a great deal that she never
forgot. But at last, when she had made the
perfect loaf, she wanted to go home, that her
mother might see and taste it.
"I 've put a good deal of myself into it, and
I 'd love to think I had given her strength or
pleasure by my work," she said, as she and
Sally stood looking at the handsome loaf.
"You can go whenever you like; just take
the bread in your hands and wish three times,
and you 'll be wherever you say. I 'm sorry to
have you go, but I don't wonder you want to
see your mother. Don't forget what you have
learned, and you will always be glad you came
to us," said Sally, kissing her good-by.
"Where is Muffin? I can't go without seeing
him, my dear old friend," answered Lily,
looking round for him.
"He is here," said Sally, touching the loaf.
"He was ready to go, and chose to pass into
your bread rather than any other; for he said he
loved you and would be glad to help feed so
good a little girl."
"How kind of him! I must be careful to
grow wise and excellent, else he will be
disappointed and have died in vain," said Lily,
touched by his devotion.
Then, bidding them all farewell, she hugged
her loaf close, wished three times to be in her
own home, and like a flash she was there.
Whether her friends believed the wonderful
tale of her adventures I cannot tell; but I know
that she was a nice little housekeeper from that
day, and made such good bread that other girls
came to learn of her. She also grew from a
sickly, fretful child into a fine, strong woman,
because she ate very little cake and candy,
except at Christmas time, when the oldest and
the wisest love to make a short visit to Candyland.