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While swatting away at the Greyfriars Bobby issue of The Storybook Home Journal, we came across this delightful rendering of Rudyard Kipling's poem, "I Keep Six Honest Serving-Men," from The Just So Stories, that had been used in the opening of a nearly century-old textbook. We'd like to dedicate it to all those parents worn out with answering the endless questions that a day in the presence of a preschooler can afford. We also wanted to call to the attention of those unfamiliar with his work, as we were until recently, illustrator W.T. Benda, a Polish-born artist and designer, who was as sought after an illustrator as Maxfield Parrish or N.C. Wyeth, and who illustrated Kiplings' verse.
Another coup was the discovery of artist and Scotsman, John McKirdy Duncan, as well as his 1920 painting, "Baba and Billy," which seemed a portrait of the"person small" described in the poem.
Illustration by W. T. Benda, 1902
In case the illustration provided here fails to be clear enough to read, we include the text below:
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!