Among all her toys, Magali had a little doll that looked a little like her, because they both had brown pigtails. She took her to bed at night, along with her little white stuffed sheep.
That night, our friend woke up from her dreams because she heard crying. She first thought of her baby brother, Julien, who slept in the next room. But it was her little doll that was sobbing.
"Don't cry," Magali whispered. "Why are you sad?"
But the doll continued crying. Our friend turned her over and hugged her close. She talked to her, tried to comfort her, but the doll wouldn't stop crying ...
"How do Mommy and Daddy comfort the baby when he cries?" the girl asked herself. "I know. They change him. They put another diaper on him."
Magali got up, took her doll, undressed her, and put a little piece of cloth on the table to serve as a diaper. She put the doll's clothes back on but she kept crying.
Our friend thought some more.
"What else do Mommy and Daddy do with Julien? Ah, yes! They rock him in their arms."
In bare feet and dressed in her pink nightgown with little ribbons, Magali took her doll and sat on the edge of her bed. She gently rocked her in her arms.
But she still cried ...
"Let me think of what to do ... " whispered the girl. "Mommy and Daddy take turns giving my little brother something to drink, a bottle when he cries."
Magali got up and took her doll with her. Very quietly, she brought her downstairs and they went into the kitchen. There, she took one of Julian's bottles, unscrewed the nipple and poured a little milk in the bottle. Then she put the nipple back on and gave it to her doll.
But the doll didn't drink anything and kept crying ...
"What else is there to do?" our friend said to herself in wonder. "Put a soother in her mouth?"
Magali went up the stairs and went into the room where her brother Julien was sleeping. She took a small soother from the changing table and placed it against her doll's mouth. But she still cried ...
Our friend quietly snuck out of her brother's room and into her own.
"How do Mommy or Daddy calm Julien? Ah, yes! They sing him a lullaby."
So she sang to her doll.
"Hush, little baby, don't you cry, I'm going to sing you a lullaby. It's sleepy time now, hush and go to sleep ..."
But the doll kept crying ...
Magali was at a loss for what to do. How could she comfort her doll?
Do you know what she could have done, you who are listening to this story? Do you have an idea?
As she went out of her room, she saw her little cat, Polipilou. She called her three times,
"Polipilou, Polipilou, Polipilou! Yes, what about you? Look, my doll is crying. I am out of ideas about what to do to console her."
"No idea," the cat answered. "I've never had a baby. You should ask your parents."
Our friend didn't want to wake them up for a crying doll.
"If you don't want to wake your parents up, let's go over to the farm.
There'll be a lot of mommy and daddy animals over there. We can ask them."
"Good idea," Magali said, smiling.
Our friend went back to her room. She took off her pink nightgown with its little ribbons. She put on her red overalls and red sneakers. Then she put her doll under her arm and, with her little black and white cat, they headed out towards the farm, a quarter of a mile away.
The girl was a bit nervous to be out at night, but she was too worried about her crying doll to be really scared. The light from the streetlights calmed her. The sky shimmered softly and peacefully with the light from the stars.
She entered the farmyard and opened the stable door. She approached a mare and asked her:
"Pretty Mare. How do you reassure your children when they cry?"
The mare told her,
"When my foals are sad, I run with them in the field to calm them. It makes them happy and they stop crying."
"Thank you," Magali said, happily.
So Magali ran in the farmyard under the stars and moonlight, with her doll in her arms. But the doll cried the whole time ...
Our friend went into the barn. She walked up to a cow that had two small calves sleeping next to her.
"Hello Cow, what do you do to comfort your little calves when they cry? Please tell me your secret."
"Me," replied the cow, "what I do is I lick them. They really like it and they slowly doze off ..."
"Thank you," Magali said.
Our friend sat down on the straw in a corner of the barn and started licking her doll. But she cried without stop ...
So, through a small door, she slipped into the pigsty. The stench was terrible. She saw a large sow feeding her piglets.
"How do you take care of your piglets so they don't cry?" begged Magali. "I don't know how to console my doll."
"It's easy," replied the big sow. "I feed them. Then they quiet down."
The little girl looked on sadly.
"I can't feed my doll. I'm not a mother yet. I've tried with a bottle at home but it didn't work."
She left the pigsty.
She stopped in front of the hutches. There she saw dozens of rabbits.
She went up to one of them.
"How do you get your kittens to go to sleep? How do you get them to quiet down?"
"Oh, it's quite simple," explained the doe. "I teach them to jump. It takes their minds off it. Then they don't think about crying any longer."
"Thanks," our friend said, smiling.
There, under the stars, she walked into the farmyard and, with her doll in her arms, she jumped up and down. No one saw a little girl in overalls and red sneakers jumping under the light of the moon. But the doll kept crying ...
"Let's go to the pond," suggested Magali's little cat, who'd been with her the whole time. "There we can talk to other parents."
In the middle of the pond, there were several ducks paddling. There, among the reeds and water lilies, a duck was sitting on her eggs.
"Duck, Mama Duck," called our friend. "How do you console your little ducklings when they're sad?"
"Easy," said the mother duck. "I sit on my darling ducklings. I slide them right underneath me. In this way, I protect them from the wind and the cold and the rain. So they're warm and happy."
"Thank you, Mama Duck," Magali said, smiling.
She slipped her doll into the front pocket of her overalls, like a mommy kangaroo. She cradled her with the palm of her hand as she sat at the edge of the pond.
But the doll cried without pause ...
The girl heard frogs croaking. She approached them quietly.
"Little frogs, how do you keep your babies, the little tadpoles, from crying?"
"We sing to them," replied the mother frog. "This is why our songs fill the summer nights. You can probably hear us from your room at night, here by the pond."
Magali thought back to earlier, when she had sung a song to her little doll and the doll had kept on crying. She tried once again, a nice, soft lullaby. But it made no difference. The doll kept crying ...
A dragonfly landed near the girl.
"Dragonfly, dragonfly! Tell me, when your little nymphs don't sleep, what do you do?"
"I teach them to dance," whispered the dragonfly. "We waltz over the surface of the water."
Magali knew she couldn't dance over the surface of the water with her doll. But she could dance by the pond. Then she turned like a spinning top with her doll in her arms, cradled in the light of the moon until she was dizzy.
And still her doll cried ...
Our friend wanted to go home. She had tried everything.
"We've forgotten about the sheep," exclaimed the little cat. "We have to ask them. Come on, let's go ask some ewes with lambs."
"Good idea, but this is the last we ask!"
The little girl found the sheepfold and entered it. Several sheep approached her.
"What do you do Mother Ewes," she said, stroking them, "what do you do with your little lambs so that they don't cry? How do you console them?"
"We do as all mothers and fathers do who care for their babies," said the sheep.
"What's that?" Magali asked.
"You should know," the sheep bleated. "We give them kisses. We hug them."
"I hadn't thought of that," exclaimed our friend.
She thanked the sheep and left the sheepfold. Then, in the shadow of the gate, near the lantern that shook in the night breeze, she kissed her doll. And, at that very moment, the doll stopped crying and started laughing. It worked!
Magali returned home. She went up to her room, undressed, put her nightgown back on, and went to bed. She put her doll next to her and looked at her. When she crossed her eyes, her doll started to laugh.
She kissed her three times.
Maybe she's still laughing now ...
Translation : Andrew Gordon Middleton