They did not stay together that day. Part of them flew to the northeast. By and by these came in sight of a big gilded dome.
"I know where we are," said one old robin. "That is Boston State House, and right down there is our old nest!" and down they flew into the Public Gardens. The Boston little men and women can see them there any day, busy about their nests, and merry as birds can be.
Part of the birds flew to the northwest, to the hills and woods and fields. They built their nests in the trees and on the ground. They built them in barns and in chimneys. They hid them in the grass and in the reeds by the brooks; and the little country children know where to find them.
FIRST REWARD OF MERIT.
With bounding step and merry laugh My little girl—five and a half— Held in her hand a picture-card: "See! mamma, see! I've tried so hard; Look and see what the letters spell; 'Tis a reward for doing well. I have been good a whole long week; Not once, mamma, did teacher speak, Or say from recess I must stay, Because in school I'd tried to play. Last week, you know, my card I lost For giving Charlie's book a 'tost,' And speaking out aloud in school; I did not know 'twas 'gainst the rule. Then teacher said, 'Edith come here.' I went right to her, mamma dear, And 'cause I hop-skipped down the aisle, The scholars all began to smile. That week I was so very good, 'Most got a card, and think I should If I'd not hop-skipped down the aisle, And made the other scholars smile. But if I get one once in four, School keeps so long, I'll get lots more."
FOUR LITTLE MICE.
Four little mice lived all alone Where cats had been so long unknown; They ate and slept without a fear That any danger could be near. One sunny day with brush and broom They cleaned their pantry, swept their room, Then made themselves as neat and fine As if invited out to dine. And then not knowing what to do, They looked their cedar closet through And found their gray coats growing thin: So sat them down some yarn to spin, Soon, through a chink to their surprise, A cat looked in with hungry eyes— "Shall I come in and cut your thread?" "Oh, thank you, no!" they trembling said.
"Bow-wow-wow!" was the first thing Winny heard that morning. She opened her eyes and there stood Finnette. Aunt Bertha had brought her as a birthday gift for Winny from Paris.
Finnette was full of pretty tricks. She could stand on her hind legs and dance. She could sing.
"Now, Finnette," Winny's mamma would say, "I will play and you shall sing."
So Finnette would stand on her hind legs and sing such a droll little tune. It sounded like "I love—I love—I love—do you?" Finnette always helped Winny to put her dolls to bed. It was wonderful to see her.
"Bring me Grandma Snowhair's cap, Finnette," Winny would say. And Finnette would trot off and fetch it. She knew the doll's clothes just as well as Winny did.
"Now, Finnette, I will have Glorianna's nightgown," said Winny again, and Finnette would bring it.
When Winny got her dolls in bed, she always sang them to sleep, and then Finnette would sing too. "I love—I love—I love—do you?"
Mamma used to like to peep in and see them. Winny always put her dolls to bed at five o'clock. Finnette always knew when the clock struck five, and off she would run to find Winny.
But one day she couldn't find her. She searched through the house and garden, but Winny was not to be found. So Finnette lay down in the library, and waited. Once she got up and trotted in and looked at the dolls. She barked softly, as though she would say, "Be patient; your mamma will be here soon."
But the little mamma did not come; so Finnette concluded to put the dolls to bed herself. She laid Grandma Snowhair on the floor and then with her teeth and paws she gently drew off her cap and gray silk dress. She put on her nightgown, but she could not button it.
She undressed Glorianna, but she got her nightgown on upside down. She put her legs into the sleeves. She did not try to put on aunt Sukey's nightgown. She just wrapped her up in a blanket.
She tumbled the four small dolls into their beds anyhow. How surprised and pleased and amused Winny was when she came home! There were the dolls fast asleep, and their clothes all piled on a chair; and there sat Finnette watching them. She gave the happiest little "bow-wow," when she saw Winny. She had not been able to eat or to sleep with the care of all those dolls on her mind. Winny hugged and kissed her.
"You dear old darling Finnette," she said. "How sweet you have been to my children. You shall have a silver collar, for you are my best friend." Then Bridget brought Finnette her supper of bread and milk.
ABOUT THE DEER.
"Look! look!" said Ernest, "see the deer! It has got out of the deer park. I did not know deer could run like that!"
The frightened creature was running down Washington street. He darted in and out among the horses and carriages, and people. He leaped over the heads of the children.
Ernest and his mother stopped to look; everybody stopped to look. On and on he ran till he came to the river, then he leaped into the deep water and was drowned. Was it not a pity? The pretty deer that Ernest had fed so often on Boston Common! He almost cried when he thought of it.
How many of you have ever seen deer? In many of the United States they are still found in the woods. They are kept in almost all public parks.
Deer are gentle creatures, and are easily tamed. But I think they are happiest when they are free to roam the woods where they like.
They eat the tender grass in the spring, and sometimes, if they live near farms, they break into the corn and wheat fields.
In the winter they eat the seed vessels of the wild rose, the hawthorn buds, the brambles and leaves. They like acorns, and, in the South, they eat the persimmons. The persimmon is a yellow plum. They feed in the night.
In hot summer days they like to wade into the ponds and rivers, and stand under water, all but their noses.
The young deer are called fawns; they are pretty spotted creatures. The mother keeps them in a quiet place where she thinks the hunters and dogs cannot get them; for men often hunt the wild deer. It is a great pity to kill them for sport, is it not?
The deer hears quickly, and his scent is very keen too. When the hunters are after him, how fleet he is! Sometimes he leaps into the water and swims. Then the dogs lose the scent and cannot follow him. The male deer sheds his horns every year.
When the horns are growing they look as if they were covered with velvet.
Seen me? Of course you have seen me before. I can't count the times I have been at your door. Where do I live? Why, everywhere, here! My name? Well, I own it is rather queer; Some call me "good fellow," or "Fido," or "Tray," But I come just the same, whatever they say. Am I ever lonesome? How can I be When acquaintances everywhere whistle to me? Hungry? That's something I've never yet known, For friendly hands toss me sweet bits or a bone. Cold? Oh, never! for doors everywhere Are opened to shelter my silky brown hair, For I am everybody's dog!
And what do I give for this treatment so kind? I drive home the lost cattle and sheep that I find; With the children and babies I tenderly play, And faithfully keep them from going astray. And many an ill-natured tramp I have sent Away from the game on which he was bent. I can carry a basket or pail just the same As a boy, and better than some I could name. I bark in the night when danger is near, And if I'm in the house no sleeper need fear. What! be your own dog? Do you think 'twould be fair To stay here with you when they all need my care? No; I'll come every day for a minute or two But now I must go for I've so much to do; For I am everybody's dog!
A BIRD'S NEST.
What a wonderful thing a bird's nest is! Even the simplest nests are very wonderful. Some boys and girls collect birds' nests, and that is very well, if you wait till the eggs are hatched, and the birds have flown.
The ground sparrow builds a lovely little nest; and what a curious nest is that of the barn swallow.
How many of you have seen the nest of the Baltimore oriole? She hangs it upon the end of an elm branch, where it swings and dances in the wind.
I have for you this time, the nest of an African bird. This little bird belongs to the class called weavers. If you look at the nest, you will understand why this bird is called a weaver bird.
See how skilfully the nest is woven out of twigs, and grasses, and fibrous roots. There are many kinds of weaver birds, and each kind builds a different nest. Sometime I shall show you another weaver bird's nest.
A RAINY DAY.
It was the day set for the picnic by the lake. Two little white gowns, and the boys' best coats, and the ribbons and the neck-ties, had been joyfully laid out the night before.
But next morning it was not picnic weather. The sky was low and heavy. By nine o'clock there were thick, dense, black clouds.
"I think we might go," said Flossie, "even if it does rain. We go to school, lots o' days, when it rains."
Just then the big black raindrops fell upon the window-panes—"A great pailful in every drop," said Tom.
"I want a picnic," wailed Susie, "and I can't have it."
"You shall have it," said papa; "we will have an indoors picnic, such as my papa used to give me on a rainy day."
He led the way to the library. He took down a huge set of maps, a great portfolio of engravings, and two or three heavy picture books. "We will visit India," said he.
"Hurrah," said Tom. "Tiger hunts, elephant rides, jungles, snake charmers, jolly old idols, and the Parsee merchants."
Tom knew very well what it meant when papa gave his mind up to turning over picture books and talking as he turned.
They did have a good time; and before three o'clock it cleared away, and though it was too late for the picnic they had planned, it was the most perfect picnic weather, and as papa wanted to trim up cedars on the knoll by the lake, they all went down. Papa and mamma played with them for a while like an older brother and sister. They harnessed the children in a "four-horse team," and drove up and down until the "little colts" had had enough of fun and were glad to sit in the arbor and watch papa trim trees.
THE STORY OF A CANE.
Was it a shiny black cane with a gold head? No. I think you never saw a cane like this one. It was made out of a small balm-of-Gilead-tree. It belonged to John Reed. He taught school. He was eighteen years old.
When vacation came, John walked home. It was forty miles, and a pretty long walk. But there were no railroads in those days, and John did not like to ride in a stage-coach.
He thought he could walk more easily with a cane to help him. So he made this cane I am going to tell you about.
When he got home he stuck this cane into the ground in the lane, and then forgot all about it. But the cane was alive! When John stuck it into the ground it began to drink up the water from the soil.
Tiny green leaves sprouted out all over it. John saw it one day. How surprised he was! It grew all summer long. The next year the branches began to grow; and year by year it grew larger and larger till it was fifty years old.
Then John Reed was sixty-eight years old; the little children called him "Grandpa Reed."
They called the great balm-of-Gilead-tree in the lane "Grandpa's cane." They used to like to put their arms about it and look up into the branches. They thought it wonderful that a cane should grow into such a big tree.
Then came the great Civil War. Your mamma or auntie can tell you about it. There were a great many wounded soldiers, and the people used to send bandages and lint for their wounds. Do you know what lint is? It is made of linen cloth. It is soft, like wool.
Grandpa Reed had a little granddaughter Clara. Clara saw the women and girls making lint, and she wanted to make lint too. But aunt Mary said she was not big enough to make lint.
"But I will tell you," said aunt Mary, "where you can find some nice lint;" and she took her out to the great balm-of-Gilead-tree in the lane.
Now you have all seen the soft, white pussy-willows. Well, the pussies are the willow flowers; and the balm-of-Gilead-tree has pussies too. But they are not soft and white; they are brown. They look like brown caterpillars.
After the blossoms wither the seeds come. These seeds are covered with wool like that on the dandelion's ball.
The wind blows this wool from off the trees, and there it was that morning. The ground was white with it.
"There is the lint," said aunt Mary, and she gave Clara a bag to put it in.
It took a great many bits of wool to fill the bag. But Clara was patient, and worked diligently, and when the bag was full, she went with aunt Mary to carry it to the soldiers' camp.
Clara gave it to the surgeon. He said the balm-of-Gilead lint was much better than the linen lint. So "Grandpa's cane" and little Clara helped the sick soldiers to get well again.
MISS LOLLIPOP'S FANCIES.
Down by the seashore Miss Lollipop sat, Dropping the little white shells in her hat; "See!" cried the darling, and shouted with glee, "These pretty things were all waiting for me; Waiting for me!"
Creeping and curving across the gray sand, The wavelets came dancing to kiss the fair land, Wooing with murmurs the flower-gemmed lea; "Ah," cried Miss Pops, "they are whispering to me, Whispering to me!"
Darting and flashing the gay sunbeams flew Down from a heaven of midsummer blue, Smiling and dimpling all over the sea; "There," cried Miss Pops, "they are laughing at me, Laughing at me!"
In the green meadows the tall grass stood fair, Waving and tossing in sweet summer air, Dipping and bending around her white knee; "Look," cried Miss Pops, "it is bowing to me, Bowing to me!"
Over the hills the sweet flower bells rang, High in the tree tops the little birds sang. —Tipsy-top bobolinks bent on a spree; "Hark!" cried Miss Pops. "They are singing to me, Singing to me!"
Deep in the roses the bumblebees flew, Sipping their rations of honey and dew, With jewel-necked humming-birds gorgeous to see; "Now," cried Miss Pops, "they are shining for me, Shining for me!"
Sweet little Happy Heart! Pure little soul! Earth would be robbed of its darkness and dole If with the faith of thy heart I could see How much of God's world is fashioned for me!
Mr. Allen's early apples were almost ripe. They were uncommonly pretty apples—yellow, streaked with red. How tempting they looked! Ripe apples in August are always tempting.
Mr. Allen knew that, so he had put up a sign to warn the boys off. For boys were very apt to help themselves to ripe apples. Somehow they think that taking a few apples is not stealing.
So, as I said, Mr. Allen put up a board with these words on it—"Trespassers prosecuted." That meant, if he caught any boy near his apple-tree, he would carry him off to a justice of the peace, for stealing.
Early one morning Tommy Tilden was walking through the lane. He had just driven the cows to pasture and was coming home. He stopped and looked at the apples. How good they did look, to be sure!
He searched on the ground to see if any had dropped into the lane. But he could not find one. Then he looked at the tree again. "I wish I had one," he thought.
Ah, Tommy, Tommy, the best thing for you to do is to run away as fast as you can!
But Tommy didn't do any such thing. He kept looking at the apples and wishing he had one. Then he thought, "I'll just climb up and look at them."
And now, of course, you can guess what happened. Tommy climbed up, and tried the apples with his thumb to see if they were ripe. Then he reached out to get a fine big one, and the branch broke, and over he went, with the branch, and the sign, and a shower of apples, into Mr. Allen's garden.
The dog ran out barking furiously, and Mr. Allen, who was just eating his breakfast, came out too, and little May Allen, to see what was the matter.
How ashamed Tommy felt! "Trying to steal some of my apples, were you, eh?" said Mr. Allen, and Tommy could not answer a word.
Little May Allen felt very sorry for him. "Can't you give him some apples, papa?" she said.
"No," said Mr. Allen; "if he had come and asked me I would have given him some gladly. But he ought to be ashamed to try to get them in this way. But he can go. I sha'n't punish him."
So Tommy picked up his hat and went home. He told his mother all about it.
"Tommy," she said, "you shouldn't have stood and looked at those apples, and wished for them, when they were not yours. It is always best to run away from temptation."
A BEAR STORY.
When mother was a young girl, she taught school in Illinois. Very few people lived there at that time. The settlements were far apart. The schoolhouse was built of rough logs, and the chinks were filled with clay and straw. Instead of glass windows, they had oiled paper to let in the light.
One night mother staid late at the schoolhouse, to help the girls trim it with evergreens. It was almost dark when she started for home. She walked very fast, as she felt lonely. Her way lay through a thick, tall woods, and the path was narrow.
All at once she saw a big animal in front of her. What was it? A calf? No; it was a big black bear.
Was she afraid? Of course she was afraid. Shouldn't you be afraid if you met a big bear in the woods? She had an umbrella in her hand, and she held the point close to the bear's nose, and opened and shut it as fast as she could. She called him all the bad names she could think of, and he walked off, growling.
He was a brave bear, wasn't he, to be afraid of an umbrella? Mother hurried on, and just as she got to the edge of the woods, out he came again. Then she opened the umbrella at him again, and shouted as loud as she could, and away he went.
Mother was so tired and frightened she almost fainted when she got home. "I don't believe it was a bear; it must have been neighbor Clapp's big heifer," grandma said.
But just as she said it, they heard a loud squeal. They ran to the door, and there was the bear carrying off a pig. He had jumped into the pen and got it.
Aunt Stella seized the dinner horn and blew a loud blast. That was the way they used to call the settlers together when anything was the matter. There was a great rush for grandfather's house, and when the men heard about the bear they said. "We must kill him as soon as possible."
So they had a great hunt for him. They hunted all that night and the next day. They found him, at last, sitting upon the stump of a hollow tree, and they killed him.
What do you think they found in the hollow stump? Three little cubs. The hunters brought the cubs to grandfather's farm, and uncle Stephen kept one of them for a pet.
My little daughter Anna often asks to hear the story of how the "Bear wanted to eat grandma." Last summer I took Anna to the Zoological Garden. There we saw a family of bears.
One old bear was sitting in a tree, with his arms folded.
"Why, how pleasant he looks," said Anna. "I don't believe he would eat anybody."
"No, I don't think he would," I said. "He is tame, and he would rather have a sweet bun to eat than anything else."
ANNA'S BIRTHDAY GIFT.
"Anna, Anna!" shouted Harry. "Come quick, do! O such a!"—But mamma clapped her hand right over his mouth, and he couldn't say another word.
"Pat, pat, pat!" Anna heard a queer sound of feet on the veranda, and in at the open windows trotted just the dearest little Shetland pony all saddled and bridled. Harry was leading it. A card hung from the saddle, and on it was printed, "A birthday gift for my little Anna, from Grandpa."
"There! what do you think of that?" asked Harry.
"I think," said Anna, as soon as she could speak, "that no little girl ever had such a splendid, splendid grandpa as mine!"
"Isn't he, though!" said Harry. "And now I'll get out Boy Blue and we'll ride over and thank him." Boy Blue is Harry's pony.
Do you know where these lovely little Shetland ponies live when they are at home? They live in the northern islands of Great Britain.
RALPH AND THE BUTTERFLIES.
Ralph was walking with papa in the fields, when he saw a red and black butterfly. It was on a thistle.
"I will catch him," said Ralph. So he walked slowly up to the thistle and put out his hand to catch the butterfly. But the butterfly spread his wings and flew up in the air. In a moment he came back and lighted on the thistle again.
Ralph wanted to try to catch him again, but papa said, "The butterfly is eating his dinner."
"Does he eat the thistle?" asked Ralph.
"He eats the honey in the thistle," said papa. "We will sit down and I will show you the honey. Each thistle head has a great many tiny flowers. See, like these!" and papa pulled some of them out. Then he took one of the blossoms between his thumb and finger. He pressed the slender tube till Ralph saw a wee drop of honey at the end. Then Ralph wanted to do the same. So he pressed one after the other of the purple tubes and found a drop of honey in each.
"Does the butterfly squeeze them that way?" asked Ralph.
"No; he has no thumb and finger," said papa.
"How can he get the honey, then?" Ralph asked.
"He finds it with his long sucker, which reaches to the bottom of these slender tubes."
"I wish he would eat this honey, papa, now I have got it all ready for him," said Ralph. "I'll ask him."
So he walked slowly towards the butterfly, holding out the little purple blossoms.
"Here's some honey all squeezed," he said softly; "don't you want it, Butterfly?"
But the butterfly opened and shut his pretty spotted wings and then flew away.
Ralph looked sorry. "Never mind," said papa, "he isn't used to having little boys wait upon him. He likes to get his dinner himself."
Bright the sun! gay the flowers! Gently falls the rain! O the jolly, the blithesome hours, Summer is come again! Eggs in my nest, snails to eat, A whole round world for my home, I sing, I sing, so sweet, so sweet! Summer again is come!
This is the letter a little English boy wrote to his American cousin whom he never had seen. He wrote it on his slate in "print letters," and his sister Bess copied it on paper in "writing letters."
The words were spelled wrong on the slate. He worked four evenings to write it all.
"DEAR COUSIN DICK:
"You thought I would like to write letters because I am old like you—ten years. But I am not a school-boy, like you. I am a home-boy. I think home-boys don't study regular, and learn truly like school-boys. Mother says she will tell your mother in her letter about how I have been sick always.
"I think I would like to be a school-boy, but I wouldn't either. School-boys are mean. If the new boy is lame and shy, they think that is big fun. I do not see how the tricks can be any fun then.
"If I was a school-boy I would not think it was fun to trip a lame boy up. I would not think it fun to see him splash down backward into a pool, and when he soused under and wet his lame back ice-cold, I would not call, 'Cry-baby!'
"But that is what the school-boys did that day I went.
"So I can't write handsome letters. Do you trick new boys the first day they come to your school in America? I have had twelve sore throats since, and I wear a scarf in the house.
"I can knit, and I can mend, and I color pictures. But that is not learning as school-boys learn. Girls are good to me, and there is a school where they are all girls, but I think I would not like to go to it—would you? Write again.
"Your cousin Tom."
Janey had been very sick. She had not left her room for a month. But she was much better. Why, she was really hungry this morning! And here comes mamma with a nice breakfast! She looked at the pleasant room while she ate her toast and drank her milk.
"It isn't such an old, headachy place now," she said. "But please open the windows and let all the sickness out." Then mamma put on the soft red wrapper and knitted slippers that auntie had made for her to wear on this very day. How pleasant it was to lie on the lounge with her own dearest doll Belinda Button, tucked away under the afghan! She could see the children at play through the open window and hear their merry laughter.
"Mamma," she said, "I am so glad to be well. I want to make a present. May I give some things to Bobby's lame sister? Not Belinda: she knows how sick I have been, and would not leave me. But I want to give her my red leather ball, and white rabbit and the picture book cousin George sent me. And mamma, will you buy a new dolly who has no mother, for Nellie?"
Was not that a kind thought of Janey's? and you may be sure Nellie had them.
GOOD OLD ROSE.
Rose is our old dog. Her hair is as curly as dandelion stems. Her tail waves like a great feather duster.
When we say "Good dog," it thumps like grandpa's cane when he walks up-stairs. Now I will tell you why we call her "Good old Rose."
One day papa sent Lily to the store. Lily is six years old. The store is just beyond the railroad track.
"Rose, take care of Lily!" said papa. Rose wagged her tail for "yes, sir!" and off they went. She trotted along by Lily's side. Lily felt very grand to go to the store all alone. She didn't know that Rose was taking care of her.
All at once Rose caught Lily's dress in her teeth. They were just going to cross the track.
"Let me go!" said Lily. But Rose pulled her back hard. Lily looked up and down the track. There was no train in sight. But Rose heard it shake the ground. "You shall let me go!" cried Lily. "Bad Rose!" and she jerked the dress, and tore it out of Rose's teeth, and ran. Then Rose jumped right at Lily and threw her down on the ground, and dragged her back again.
Just that instant the train thundered round the curve. But Lily was safe. How the men in the train cheered! how the ladies waved their handkerchiefs! Rose hadn't any handkerchief, but she waved her tail, and that is all a dog can do.
Wouldn't you pat her big head too, and call her "good old Rose?"
AUNT PATTY'S PETS.
Aunt Patty lives in a little bit of a house. It has only two rooms. In summer it is covered with vines—grapevines, morning glories and flowering beans. It is cosey as a bird's nest and it is brimful of pets.
If you should call on aunt Patty, just as soon as you stepped into the yard, out would fly Gypsy, barking furiously. But he would not bite you. O, no! He only barks to let aunt Patty know you are coming.
Then, when you opened the door, a sharp little voice would say "Good-morning! walk in." That is the gray parrot, Nick. As you walked into the kitchen, Pansy and Pickwick would come up to you and purr, and put up their heads to be rubbed.
In one window you would see two canaries in a cage. In the other would be a cage full of gay little African birds.
If it were winter there would be a cage of big birds. But in summer aunt Patty keeps these big birds in the garden near the woodhouse.
Where did aunt Patty get so many pets? They were given to her. Everybody knows that she likes pets. A sailor cousin once brought her a turtle. It is quite big enough for you to ride on. This turtle lives in the cellar in the winter, and in the garden in the summer.
Somebody sent her a small alligator once, but she did not keep it. She likes pretty pets.
"Do your pets ever quarrel?" I asked aunt Patty once.
"Never," said aunt Patty. "Pansy and Pickwick, and the birds and Gypsy, and Methusaleh are all good friends."
Methusaleh is the turtle.
TOMMY AND THE GANDER.
Tommy sometimes visits his old nurse. Nurse lives in a tiny house and keeps geese. Tommy is afraid of the geese. The gander hisses at him and Tommy does not like that.
One day Nurse went into the goose-house and brought out ten little goslings. Tommy took one of them in his hands. How pretty they were with their pink feet and fluffy white feathers!
"To-morrow, they will go out and eat the tender grass," said Nurse.
"Then I shall catch them," said Tommy.
"The old gander won't let you," said Nurse.
"Pooh! who's afraid?" said Tommy very bravely.
So the next day Tommy tried to catch a gosling. Nurse had gone down cellar and the gander was in the goose-house. But the mother-goose hissed and the gander heard her and flew out of the goose-house after Tommy.
Tommy ran, but the gander caught hold of his clothes and began to beat Tommy's legs with his wings. The old goose screamed, and Tommy ran and screamed, and the gander ran and screamed and whipped. What a noise they made! and Nurse ran up from the cellar to see what the matter was.
Just as Tommy went up the steps the gander bit both his red stockings. Nurse picked Tommy up and shut the door so the gander could not get in. Then she kissed Tommy, and cuddled him, and laughed, and said, "Who's afraid?"
"I am," sobbed Tommy. "And I want that old gander shut up in the barn. He isn't good for anything."
"Oh, yes, he is," said Nurse, "he takes care of the goslings."
The next day Tommy saw something very pretty. He was looking over the gate. He did not dare to go out for fear the gander would bite him again. He heard a gosling cry "peep, peep." The goose and gander heard it too, and ran and looked down into a deep hole.
Tommy used to play this hole was his "well." Tommy saw the gander stretch his long neck down into the hole and lift out a little gosling, and put it carefully on the grass. Then the mother goose was so pleased that she screamed outright.
And Tommy screamed too. "O Nurse, Nurse, that gander is good for something. He lifted a gosling right out of my well. I saw him!"
A NIGHT VISITOR.
We were all sitting in the parlor one evening last summer when in flew a creature through the open window. Bump—bump, he went against the wall and ceiling.
"A bat! a bat!" shrieked aunt Mary, and ran behind the door. Mamma jumped up into a chair and gathered her skirts about her, just as though it were a mouse. Grace and Mabel ran out of the Room, while papa and Frank and Kate chased the bat.
The poor little bat fluttered about, and almost fell into the kerosene lamp chimney. Then he got entangled in the window draperies. You know a bat cannot see by a light any more than an owl can. He finally tumbled behind the sofa where papa caught him.
Mamma then got down from the chair, aunt Mary came out from behind the door, Grace and Mabel ventured in, and we all gathered about and looked at the bat. How he panted!
"Think of being afraid of such a little creature as that," said Kate scornfully.
"But he bites," said Grace. "Doesn't he, papa?"
"I don't think he would bite," said papa. "He's a good deal more frightened than you were."
"What made him fly into the window then?" asked Grace.
"He is out after insects," replied papa. "He was dazzled by the light from the window, and flew towards it, as all half-blind creatures will."
Our little bats, the bats that live in cool countries, do not harm any one. But there is a big bat, called the Vampire bat, that will do a good deal of mischief, if he can get a chance.
The Vampire bat lives in the tropics. It is very comfortable, sleeping out of doors, in the tropics.
A traveller will oftentimes swing his hammock on a tree, and sleep in it all night. But he must be careful, and not sleep too soundly.
For a Vampire bat may find him; and if he does, he will bite the traveller's toe and suck his blood; and when the traveller wakes in the morning, he will feel weak and faint from loss of blood.
A bat does not perch, and tuck his head under his wing, and sleep like a bird. He has some hooks on his wings, and he just hangs himself up by those, and that's the way he sleeps!
THE NIGHT MONKEY.
Isn't this the very queerest creature you ever saw? He looks as though he had a candle in each eye; and just look at his feet! His eyes are round, like the eyes of owls. Like the owl, this monkey can see well only in the night.
These monkeys are called night monkeys. Most other monkeys have long forelegs, but this monkey's forelegs are short.
He is very small; his body is six inches long, his tail is over nine inches.
These little creatures sleep in the daytime, and go out in search of food, and to play in the night. They eat insects, lizards and crabs.
They are greedy creatures. They leap at one bound on their prey. They live in warm countries. They make very nice pets.
Now Baby's asleep, mamma can sew— "Rock-a-by-baby—by-lo, by-lo!" Baby's asleep and Tommy can tell Of the cat that was drown'd in the great big well.
"She had the weest, teentiest toes, And the leastest speck of a blackish nose, With great, great eyes"—"Coo, coo! coo, coo!" Baby's awake—and listening too!
Hurrah for old winter, he's coming at last! The snow flakes are falling so thick and so fast! Hurrah! Hurrah!
My skates I have mended, and painted my sled; Now, boys, you will soon see this chap go ahead! Hurrah! Hurrah!
I've jolly thick mittens, a brand-new fur cap; Now, what does it matter if I get a rap? Hurrah! Hurrah!
I've got such a secret! We've built us a fort! But you must tell no one, 'twould spoil all our sport. Hurrah! Hurrah!
Jack, Clement, and Robbie, are garrison men, And we can defend it against any ten. Hurrah! Hurrah!
We've made heaps of snowballs, each one round and hard, They're hid away safe in the old schoolhouse yard. Hurrah! Hurrah!
Pell-mell through the snow rush the merry boy crowd; While the bare woodlands echo the hearty and loud Hurrah! Hurrah!
MOSES GOES TO A CANDY PARTY.
"No, I won't!" said Moses. He felt pretty cross, for he did hate to have his hair cut.
"Well, then," said his grandma, "you can't go to the candy party."
Moses thought a few moments, and then he jumped up and said, "Well, grandma, cut it, then."
Now grandma wasn't much of a barber. She was apt to cut his hair so it hung in scallops. But this time she wanted to cut it very even, as Moses was going to a party. So she brought out an old wooden bowl that just fitted his head.
Then she cut his hair straight to the edge of the bowl, and when she took the bowl off, there it was beautifully even, and banged right down over his forehead!
Then he put on the trousers and jacket grandma herself had made, and his new shoes, and a blue bow where his collar met, and went off to the party. It was Sally Poole's party and Sally was one of Moses' playmates.
They boiled molasses in a kettle over a fire in the big kitchen fireplace; then they poured it into buttered pans and set them out in the snow for the candy to cool. It was great fun pulling it, and when Moses went home, Sally gave him two sticks and a big braided piece.
"And I think, Moses," she said, "your hair is banged beautiful."
FAN'S CARDS:—A CHRISTMAS HINT.
What do you think I did with all my beautiful Christmas cards?
I had saved ever and ever so many, and Easter and New Year's, and Birthday cards, and a lot of Valentines. I knew I would get more this Christmas, so I thought I would give these away.
Then I thought I would paste them in a scrapbook, or tack them up on the wall instead. Then, I thought I would just keep them in a box forever, and show them to my grandchildren; but, when aunt Nora told me about the sick children at the hospital, then I thought I'd give my cards to them. I just made up my mind I would, and so I did.
Aunt Nora took me to the hospital, and I wore my new red cloak and hat. I think I looked sweet, too. The hospital is pretty big, and we had to go down a long hall and a long pair of stairs. I began to be frightened, 'cause suppose one of the doctors made a mistake and thought I was sick!
So I held aunt Nora's hand tight until we came to a big room where there were lots of beds and poor little sick boys and girls in them. Some more children were playing around, and they were sick too. One of them, a wee little mite, was eating bread and molasses, and her face was all sticky. She wanted to kiss me.
A pretty nurse in a white cap came up and spoke to us, and aunt Nora told her about my cards. She said I might give them round myself.
So I went up to the first cot, and, oh dear! there was such a sick little girl in it. I asked her if she would like a card, and she seemed so delighted that I gave her a beauty, with red and white fringe. Then all the children said, "Gi'me one too, lady! Oh, lady! gi'me one!"
Nobody ever called me "lady" before, but then I am most grown up now. One child there was just as old as I am; only he was a boy, and he had a big iron thing on his leg. When I gave him a card, he said, "Thank you marm, and merry Christmas!"
Then they all waved their cards and cried "Merry Christmas! merry Christmas!" as I went out of the door.
I hope I'll get ever so many cards this Christmas, so I can give them to the hospital children. It's such fun!
One cold day in January Kitty Blake had dined with grandma and was on her way home through the fields. Perhaps you wonder why Kitty should walk in the fields when the snow was so deep. But there was a hard crust on the snow and she could skip along over it without breaking through. It was great fun.
Suddenly she stopped, for there in a slight hollow in the snow lay a tiny bird.
"Poor little birdie, it must have frozen to death," said Kitty softly, and a tear stood in her eye, for she has a tender heart for all little creatures. Then she said "Oh!" and gave a start that sent the tears tumbling over her muff for just that instant, one of the bird's legs twitched and the tears would not stay back.
"P'r'aps it's still alive, after all;" she thought, and she picked it up and tucked it into her muff. Her muff was lined with fur.
She reached home quite breathless, and when she took out the bird and laid it on mamma's lap, it gave one little "Peep!" stood on its legs, and then flew up into the ivy that ran all about the south bay window.
"What made it make b'lieve dead?" asked Kitty.
"It didn't make believe," said mamma. "I think it was dizzy. Birds sometimes are dizzy. But if you had not found it, it would soon have frozen to death."
Kitty named him "The Tramp," and he lived in the bay window with mamma's plants. This bay window was shut off from the rest of the room by glass doors. It was a sunny and fragrant home for the little chickadee, and a lucky bird he was to have it just then.
For on the first day of February it began to snow and snowed three days, and when it cleared there were piles and piles of snow.
Great flocks of birds then came about the house searching for food.
"We must feed them or they will die," said mamma. "The snow is so deep they cannot find food."
So Kitty scattered meal and hemp seed on the snow and tied meaty bones on the lilac and rose bushes, and there wasn't a moment of the day when some blue jay, or snow bird, or chickadee, or robin, was not picking up grain, or pecking at the bones.
"That is the way to have birds in winter!" said Kitty.
The Tramp did not seem to care a fig about his relations till one day in March when a flock of chickadees flew past, and he fluttered against the windows and begged to be let out.
Mamma opened the window and off he flew! Kitty sighed and said, "That is the last of him, I suppose." But it wasn't.
One sunny May day Charley was sitting up in bed. Charley is Kitty's brother. He had been sick and the window was open so he could breathe the soft spring air. Suddenly a bird dropped upon the window sill and began to whistle "Chick-a-dee-dee-dee!" so blithely and cock his head at Charley.
"It's the Tramp!" said Charley; and sure enough it was! After that he came almost every day. If the window was shut they opened it for him. Charley used to hide hemp seed and sugar under the edge of the pillows for the Tramp to find. He always found it. Sometimes he would tie sugar up in a paper and the Tramp would peck at it until he got it out.
He would perch on Charley's shoulder and eat seeds from his mouth.
He wanted to build a nest in an old letter box nailed up against a wall. Ever so many birds, blue birds, wrens and sparrows wanted to build in that box too.
The Tramp was a brave little fellow and a good fighter; but he never would have driven the birds off, if Kitty hadn't helped him.
"I love all the birds," said Kitty, "but the Tramp is my very own bird."
So he and his mate built a nest and raised a family of birds in peace, and now Kitty and Charley call the old letter-box "The Tramp's Home."
THREE ROYAL CHILDREN.
Here is a picture of a little prince and two little princesses who lived about two hundred years ago. They were the children of Charles the First, king of England. I suppose they were very much like the boys and girls of nowadays. They played and studied and had their pets, just as children play and study now.
AN OSTRICH PLUME.
Matty Ellis had a new hat. It was a pretty white hat with a long, curly white plume, and it was very becoming to her.
"Yes, I like it," she said to aunt Sarah. "But Nanny Rich has a hat with two plumes."
"And I can tell you somebody who wears half a dozen or more," replied aunt Sarah, "and that somebody is the ostrich himself."
Aunt Sarah tells Matty a great many interesting things, and she told her about ostriches. She told how they live in hot sandy countries like Africa.
They are so tall and have such long legs they can run as fast as, or faster than, a horse.
They have their nests in a hollow on the ground. The Hottentot likes ostrich eggs to eat. One ostrich egg is as big as sixteen hen's eggs. So it makes a breakfast for a number of people. The Hottentot breaks a hole in the small end of the egg, stirs up the contents with a stick, and then sets it over the fire to cook. The shell is very thick and hard, and the heat of the fire will not break it.
There is somebody else who likes ostrich eggs too, and that somebody is a kind of fox. He comes when the ostrich is away and helps himself. Sometimes the ostrich comes home and finds him at it.
Many other people like to wear ostrich plumes as well as Matty. So there is a large trade in them. The wild ostrich does not supply feathers enough for the market, so ostriches are now raised like turkeys and hens. This business is called "ostrich farming." The ostriches are kept in large yards, and the plumes are taken out every year.
Aunt Sarah told all this to Matty. "And so," said Matty, stroking the long white plume, "this feather has ridden on the back of an ostrich in Africa; I wish it could tell me what it has seen."
WHO KILLED THE GOOSE?
It was the very nicest, whitest goose of the whole flock, and there it was—dead! Who had killed it? was the question. Everybody said it must have been Bose; and why? Because Bose liked to tease the geese. Sometimes he jumped from behind a bush and frightened them. Sometimes when they were standing at their trough eating, he ran at them, just for the fun of seeing them run.
"I don't think he meant to kill it," said the grandpa.
"Very likely not," said the father, "but I must teach him not to run at the geese. Come here, sir," he said to Bose.
Bose felt very badly. He crawled slowly along. He couldn't say, "I didn't do it; please don't whip me," as a little boy or girl can. He could only look up to his master with soft, begging eyes. But little Patsy was looking in at the door. Little Patsy loves Bose dearly; and of all the family Bose best loves Patsy. They are always playing together.
"Oh, please don't whip Bose," cried Patsy. "I don't believe he did it. Nobody saw him do it," and she begged so hard her father said he would only tie Bose up. He would not whip him till he was sure he had killed the goose. That night Patsy cried herself to sleep. It almost broke her heart to think that on the morrow Bose might have to be whipped. Suddenly in the night she heard a queer, soft voice say, "I don't believe he did it. I wouldn't kill a goose." Patsy opened her eyes and found herself in a room full of dogs. The voice came from a wee doggie wrapped in an eider down quilt.
"Very good reason why; you couldn't," barked another little fellow. He had a head that looked as if it were bald, and large soft ears, and he was peeping out of a basket.
"Raw goose, faugh!" said a dainty doggie, who had a blanket pinned carefully around him. "I like my poultry well picked and cooked."
"That's so. So do I," rejoined a fierce scrap of a dog. He wore a collar and little silver locket, and cocked his ears.
"People are always saying dogs do things," said a tousled terrier, whose hair had tumbled over his eyes, so he couldn't see a thing. "The cat ate the cream the other day and cook said I did it. I hate cooks."
A grave-looking dog opened his mouth and spoke. He must have been a lawyer among dogs. Patsy thought he looked like Judge Drake. He spoke slowly. "If Bose had never chased the geese even in play, his master would never have suspected him. A great deal depends on a dog's character. But I don't think he killed the goose."
"I know he didn't," spoke up a big splendid dog. "Bose is a good fellow!" Then all the dogs barked out, "Hear! hear!" so loudly that Patsy awoke. The dogs had vanished; the morning sun was shining. She heard her father call, "Patsy, come and see the fox! We've trapped the rogue. It was he that killed the goose!"
A TEMPERANCE HORSE.
He belongs to a baker. His master went into a restaurant to deliver some pies. I was sitting at a window opposite. He stayed so long in the place that I thought he had forgotten his faithful beast.
After a while he came out carrying a great mug full of foaming beer. There were two other men with him. All their faces were red, and they walked unsteadily, and they were laughing loud, and shouting. Then the baker went up to his beautiful horse, and offered him the beer to drink.
Do you suppose he took it? No, indeed! He gave it one sniff from his smooth, brown nostrils. Then he turned his head away with a jerk so sudden that he knocked the glass, beer and all, upon the pavement. He looked at his master as if to say, "Don't insult me again in that way, sir!"
So his bad master had to pay for both the beer and the glass.
Wise old horse, he was not afraid to give his opinion of beer.
CLARA J. DENTON.
HOW THE WIND BLOWS.
High and low The spring winds blow! They take the kites that the boys have made, And carry them off high into the air; They snatch the little girls' hats away, And toss and tangle their flowing hair.
High and low The summer winds blow! They dance and play with the garden flowers, And bend the grasses and yellow grain; They rock the bird in her hanging nest, And dash the rain on the window-pane.
High and low The autumn winds blow! They frighten the bees and blossoms away, And whirl the dry leaves over the ground; They shake the branches of all the trees, And scatter ripe nuts and apples around.
High and low The winter winds blow! They fill the hollows with drifts of snow, And sweep on the hills a pathway clear; They hurry the children along to school, And whistle a song for the happy New Year.
M. E. N. H.
DIME AND BETTY.
Bow-wow! Who are you? I am only a little dog. My name is Dime. I am not a cross dog. I have been a pet dog all my life. Shall I tell you what I can do? I can sit up and beg. I can shake hands. I can jump over a stick, O yes; and I can run very fast. I can run as fast as Pomp, the baker's dog; and Pomp is a big dog.
I like to run races with Pomp. He never bites a little dog. We like to run after birds. But we never catch any birds. They fly away when we come near. I wonder how the birds fly. Pomp and I cannot fly.
My master has a cow. Her name is Betty. She is a good cow. She gives nice, white milk. I do not care much for milk. I like a bone better. But old Tab, the cat, likes milk. I like to see Tab drink milk. She laps it up very fast.
I drive Betty to pasture every day. John goes with me to shut the gate. John is the boy who milks the cow. I wish I could open and shut that gate. Then John would not go to the pasture. I should like to go all alone. I think it would be fine.
I take good care of Betty. When any one comes near her, I say, "Bow-wow" very sharply.
S. E. SPRAGUE.
SAVED FROM FREEZING TO DEATH.
When Bobby Smart was six years old, he was left to the care of his Uncle James, who lived in the country. His aunt took him to his future home, and at the depot he saw his uncle for the first time.
Bobby was lonely and sad; his uncle often treated him with harshness and even cruelty. The cold winter had come on early. Bobby was the only boy about the farm, and he had to work very hard. His clothing was unfit for the winter weather, and he often suffered from the cold.
Among the duties which this poor boy had to perform was that of tending a flock of sheep. One afternoon, when there were signs of a snow-storm, he was sent to drive the flock to the barn. He started for the field, but his clothes were so thin that he was benumbed by the intense cold. He sat down on a large rock to rest himself. He felt strangely tired and cold. In a little while he began to feel drowsy. Then he thought it was so nice and comfortable that he would stay there awhile. In a very few moments he was asleep, and perhaps dreaming.
Suddenly he was aroused by a tremendous blow which sent him spinning from his perch on the rock to the ground. Looking about him, he saw an old ram near by. The creature looked as though he had been doing mischief, and Bobby was no longer at a loss to know where the blow came from; but he thought the attack was an accident, and in a short time he was again in the land of Nod.
Again the ram very rudely tumbled him over into the snow. He was now wide awake, and provoked at the attack of the beast. He began to search for a stick to chastise his enemy. The ram understood his intention, for he turned upon Bobby as if to finish the poor boy. Bobby was forced to take to his heels, and ran towards home.
The ram chased him, while the rest of the flock followed after their leader. The inmates of the farm-house were surprised to see Bobby rushing towards the house as fast as his little legs would allow him. His hair was streaming in the wind, and he was very much terrified. Close upon him was the old ram, kicking up his heels in his anger. Behind him could be seen a straggling line of sheep doing their best to keep up.
Bobby won the race, however. His uncle came out in time to turn the flock into the barn. It was a long time before Bobby would venture near the ram again.
Bobby knows now that but for the efforts of that old ram in knocking him from his seat on that bitterly cold day he would have been among the angels in a very short time. The sleepy feeling which overcame him would have ended in death.
Bobby declares that the ram knew all the time what ailed him, and that he butted him from the rock on purpose. I cannot explain it, but do know that "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform."
MRS. F. GREENOUGH.
There was only a little piece of garden belonging to Lily's home in the city. In the bright spring days she went out there, and watched to see if any flowers came up. She felt happy when she found the first blades of grass.
The poet sings that "his heart dances with the daffodils." Lily's heart danced, one morning, when she found a dandelion among the grasses in her yard,—a real yellow dandelion, with all its golden petals spread out.
Just then, one of her playmates looked over the fence, and put out her hand.
"Do give it to me," she said. "I sha'n't like you a bit, if you don't: I shall think you are just as stingy—"
"But it's all I have," said Lily; "I can't give it away. I can't. Wait till to-morrow, and there'll be some more out. They're growing. There'll be some all round to-morrow or next week."
"To-morrow! I want it now, to-day," said her friend, "to-day's better than to-morrow."
Lily looked at the child and then at the dandelion. "I suppose it would be mean to keep it," she said, "but it is so lovely—can't you wait?"
"Oh, well, keep it, you stingy girl!"
"Come and pick it yourself, then," said Lily, with tears in her eyes.
The next day, when Lily went into the yard, there were a dozen golden dandelions, like stars in the grass, and a little blue violet was blooming all alone by itself.
MARY N. PRESCOTT.
Where is the honey-bee? Where has the swallow flown? Only the chickadee Chirrups his song alone.
Where is the bobolink, Bubbling with merriment? What was the road, think, The gadding fire-fly went?
Whither flew the little wings Grown in green forest aisles? Where are the pretty things That blossomed miles on miles?
MARY N. PRESCOTT.
A GOAT IN TROUBLE.
A few weeks ago, as I was crossing a railroad track just outside of the city, a little goat stepped before me. With a sad cry, she seemed to ask me to stop. I turned aside to pass on, but she kept brushing against me, until I finally decided to find out what she wanted.
The goat had wandered from her usual browsing place. In crossing the railroad track she had caught her chain on a rail, and could not get away. I stooped down and let her loose. Then she pressed against me as if to thank me, and bounded off quickly to her old pasture.
If we would always listen to the cries of animals in distress, we might do a great deal of good. Just after I had released the goat, a train of cars came rushing along, and she would certainly have been killed if I had not attended to her.
L. B. P.
A NEGRO MELODIST.
It has often been remarked that in the bird world the rule is for the males to have the brilliant plumage, with all the beautiful colors and for the females to be the dowdy ones—a rule which would entail a revolution in fashions, startling and ludicrous, if it were to be introduced for variety among our own kind. Again, gaily-dressed birds have the least pleasing song—the screaming jay bearing an unfavorable comparison with the thrush—and the modestly-attired nightingale having furnished, in all ages, a brilliant example of virtue unadorned. The nightingale, however, leaving before the climate has become objectionable, we must praise its musical accomplishments rather as being those of a distinguished guest, or foreign prima donna, than of an indigenous artist. But we have another bird who is always here, facing winter's blasts in addition to summer's bloom, who in voice stands unrivaled; no competitor approaching any where near him for fluency, richness, and liquid melody of song—to wit, the blackbird.
This negro melodist seldom spares his lungs at all until winter is far advanced into its New Year months; and even amid the bitter mornings of January, his rich, unfaltering notes can sometimes be heard. His coat is a glossy black, always cleanly brushed, and in the case of one family, sometimes called the "Red-wing," with a gorgeous scarlet lapel on either side.
Two little rabbits out in the sun; One gathered food, the other had none. "Time enough yet," his constant refrain; "Summer is still just on the wane."
Listen, my child, while I tell you his fate: He roused him at last, but he roused him too late. Down fell the snow from a pitiless cloud, And gave little rabbit a spotless white shroud.
Two little boys in a school-room were placed; One always perfect, the other disgraced. "Time enough yet for my learning," he said; "I will climb by-and-by, from the foot to the head."
Listen, my darling—their locks are turned gray; One, as a governor, sitteth to-day. The other, a pauper, looks out at the door Of the alms-house, and idles his days as of yore.
Two kinds of people we meet every day; One is at work, the other at play, Living uncared for, dying unknown.— The busiest hive hath ever a drone.
Tell me, my child, if the rabbits have taught, The lesson I longed to impart in your thought. Answer me this, and my story is done, Which of the two will you be, little one?
THE MOUSE WEDDING.
Dick Sly was the smartest mouse in Mousetown. He knew any kind of a new trap that was set to catch him, and he always warned the rest. The houses in Mousetown are called "holes," you know. Next to the hole where Dick lived with his parents was the hole where pretty Nan Spry lived. She could run faster than any mouse in Mousetown; even Dick could not catch her, if she tried to run away from him. At last it was told in Mousetown that Dick and Nan were to be married, and every body said, "What a grand pair they'll make." Judge Mouse, who married them, put on his best gold spectacles, and they were married on a big wedding cake, which some folks called a "cheese." Every one in Mousetown had a bit of it, and declared it to be the best wedding cake they had ever eaten.
SHE HAD NEVER SEEN A TREE.
They took the little London girl, from out the city street, To where the grass was growing green, the birds were singing sweet; And every thing along the road, so filled her with surprise, The look of wonder fixed itself, within her violet eyes.
The breezes ran to welcome her; they kissed her on each cheek, And tried in every way they could, their ecstacy to speak, Inviting her to romp with them, and tumbling up her curls, Expecting she would laugh or scold, like other little girls.
But she didn't—no she didn't; for this crippled little child Had lived within a dingy court, where sunshine never smiled; And for weary, weary days and months, the little one had lain Confined within a narrow room, and on a couch of pain.
The out-door world was strange to her—the broad expanse of sky, The soft, green grass, the pretty flowers, the stream that trickled by; But all at once she saw a sight, that made her hold her breath, And shake and tremble as if she were frightened near to death.
Oh, like some horrid monster, of which the child had dreamed, With nodding head, and waving arms, the angry creature seemed; It threatened her, it mocked at her, with gestures and grimace That made her shrink with terror, from its serpent-like embrace.
They kissed the trembling little one; they held her in their arms, And tried in every way they could to quiet her alarms, And said, "Oh, what a foolish little girl you are, to be So nervous and so terrified, at nothing but a tree!"
They made her go up close to it, and put her arms around The trunk, and see how firmly it was fastened in the ground; They told her all about the roots, that clung down deeper yet, And spoke of other curious things, she never would forget.
Oh, I have heard of many, very many girls and boys Who have to do without the sight, of pretty books and toys— Who have never seen the ocean; but the saddest thought to me Is that any where there lives a child, who never saw a tree.
A FUNNY HORSE.
Knock! Knock! Knock! I've been before this block More than half an hour, I should say; I am standing in the sun, while Miss Lucy lingers on, Talking of the fashions of the day.
It is a trick you know, she taught me long ago, But now I am in earnest, not in play; And the world is very wide, to a horse that isn't tied, I've a mind to go and ask the price of hay.
There's a nail in my shoe that needs fixing too, And I want a drink more than I can say; How I could run, with my dandy harness on! But it's such a mean thing to run away.
Rap! Tap! Tap! That's enough to break a nap— There she comes, and is laughing at the way I brought her to the door, when she wouldn't come before, That's a trick worth playing any day.
MRS. GIMSON'S SUMMER BOARDERS.
It was recess at the school-house at the cross roads, and three country girls gathered round a companion, whose unhappy face showed that something had gone wrong.
"Is this your last day at school, Lucindy?" asked Carrie Hess, a girl of fifteen, and the eldest of the three sisters.
"Yes, this is my last day, thanks to the summer boarders. I can't bear to think of them. I hate them!"
"Will you have to work harder than you do now?" asked Freda, who was next younger to Carrie.
"I don't mind the work so much as I do their impudent airs, and their stuck-up ways. I wont be ordered around, and if Auntie thinks I'm going to be a black slave, she'll find she's mistaken."
Lucindy's face flushed, and she appeared to be greatly in earnest.
"I'd be glad to have them come to our house, they have such nice clothes," said Lena, the youngest and most mischievous.
"Yes, it's very nice, I must say, to go around in old duds, and have a girl that's not a whit better in any way than you, only she's been to a city school and has a rich father, turn up her nose at you, and perhaps make fun of you, with her white dresses and her silk dresses, and her gaiter boots."
"Can't we come to your house any more? Can't we come to play?" asked Carrie.
"Oh, can't we come?" said the other two, almost in a breath.
"No, Auntie told me this morning, that I must tell you and the rest of the girls, that it wouldn't be convenient to have you come, as you have done; you are not stylish enough for Miss Hattie Randolph to associate with, I suppose."
The girls looked really disappointed. Lucindy was a great favorite, and a leader, fearless and successful in all escapades that required originality and coolness, and her company would be sorely missed. Her aunt had indulged her in all the dress and amusement she could afford, and her companions had always been welcome to visit at the house, but now there was a necessity for her services, and play could not be indulged in so often for the rest of the summer, as the household needed the avails, if not the presence of summer boarders.
"Is she older than we?" asked Carrie.
"No, but she's lived all her life in the city, and feels above everybody. She and her brother and her mother will just take possession of our piazza and door-yard, and our swing; and I can wash dishes, and sit on the back door-step, and never see a girl from one month's end to another." Here Lucindy burst out crying.
"It's too bad," said Carrie.
The little Lena, ever fertile in invention, crept near, and putting her arms around Lucindy's neck, whispered:
"We'll come to see you on the sly, and we can go down in the fields and have fun, when your Auntie goes out for an afternoon."
"I wish you would," said Lucindy. "And I'll bring down some cake and pickles, and some honey, and we'll have a pic-nic in spite of Mrs. Randolph!"
This was a solution of the unhappy problem, and it seemed to throw a ray of sunlight slantwise into the gloomy picture of the coming summer.
The progress of the afternoon at the school-house was not marked by any unusual occurrence, and at the close, the little company of schoolmates proceeded together, until they came to the road leading to Lucindy's home. Here they parted, with many professions of everlasting friendship; Lucindy, walking backwards, watched her companions until the turn in the road hid them from view.
Then she sat down upon a bank by the roadside under an old tree. Throwing her slate and books down on the grass, she snatched a few daisies that grew near, and thought of many things of a disquieting nature, pulling the flowers to pieces.
"I feel mad enough to run away!" she thought. "I could earn my living easy enough in the city, and not have to work so hard either. Miss Hunter can't teach me any thing more. I've learned all she knows. It's just too bad not to be able to get more education. I'll just take my own way, if Auntie crowds me too much. I don't care if she don't like it. If my father and mother were alive, she wouldn't be my boss. I can get on in another place with what I know about a good many things.
"But oh, that girl that's coming has so much better times than I. Those lovely city schools! no one can help learning there, they take such pains with you."
She looked down the road upon which the slanting red light of the declining sun was shining, and there she saw a cloud of dust. This road was not a great thoroughfare, and she knew that was the stage, and it probably would bring the undesired summer guests.
She shrank visibly back into the shadow of the tree as it came on, and smoothed out her faded calico dress and pulled her sun-bonnet farther over her face.
The coach came rolling past, and a girl in the back seat directed the attention of a fashionably-dressed lady to herself, she thought, and laughed as though immensely pleased, at the same time pointing at her. A little boy, who sat in the front seat with the driver, and who was playing upon a harmonica, stopped, and looking in her direction, laughed too.
"It's my outlandish sun-bonnet they're making fun of," she thought. "I suppose this is the beginning of it."
Now this ungentle girl was mistaken in her surmise, as she was about many things that caused her unhappiness. What the people in the stage were really interested and amused with were a couple of lambs in the field back of Lucindy, and their playful gyrations were a novel sight to them, and they had come for the very purpose of being pleased with country sights and experiences. Lucindy felt sure these were the summer boarders, and, taking a short cut across the fields, arrived at her aunt's just as the guests were alighting.
Lucindy stood at the back corner of the house, and heard the sprightly talk of Mrs. Randolph and the merry laugh of the daughter, as her aunt bade them welcome, and she knew they were being conducted to the upper rooms that had been prepared with such thoughtful reference to their comfort.
Her aunt came down very soon, and seeing Lucindy, bade her wash her hands and smooth her hair, and put on a white apron, and prepare to get ready the tea. This duty Lucindy had always done, and a little curiosity, mingled with her other feelings, came to her, as to how the boarders would like her aunt's puffy biscuit, and if the cold custard and raspberry jam wouldn't be to their taste. If coffee and fricasseed chicken would not be just the thing after an all-day ride, and remarked to herself: "If they don't like such fare, let them go where they'll get better."
The tea passed off with great good feeling; the new people making a most favorable impression upon her aunt, and impressing Lucindy with the discovery that polite manners were a recommend to strangers, for her aunt made gratified remarks from time to time as she came into the kitchen. Lucindy would not wait upon the table the first evening, a convenient head-ache being the excuse.
Mrs. Gimson was a most kindly disposed person, and endeavored, in every way, to make the time pass pleasantly to her guests; but all she could say in their favor did nothing toward disposing the mind of her niece to regard them with any toleration. She performed the household duties that fell to her with a stolid indifference, or with an openly expressed reluctance, and her aunt bore all kindly, explaining and smoothing away what she could, promising Lucindy that she should have a nice present of money when the guests departed.
Hattie Randolph had not taken any notice of her, never really having seen her, for Lucindy had positively refused to wait upon the table; and had kept herself in the back-ground, thus making her life at home more of a discipline than was necessary. She envied Hattie's graceful ways and refined conversation; and her apparel was a revelation, not of beauty, but of another source of jealous envy to the country girl, for in putting the guests' rooms in order, she examined, critically, the pretty things in the wardrobe.
The city people found so much to interest them in the beauties of the surrounding neighborhood, that they were out nearly all the time, and when the evening came, Mrs. Randolph, with her son and daughter, made a pleasant addition to Mrs. Gimson's parlors, with their graceful talk, and numberless resources of entertainment.
Lucindy, observant and sullen, kept herself informed of all their movements, and was continually having the blush brought to her cheek and the bitterness of comparison to her heart, as she noted the wide difference there was between herself and them. It never once occurred to this foolish girl, that this difference was growing more and more every day, by the fostering of pride and an ignorant stubbornness, which prevented her, utterly, from ever cultivating their envied characteristics.
It was a long time since she had seen any of her playmates from the school, but by an ingenious contrivance, that had been thought out by Lucindy, a tin box had been inserted into an old tree in a fence corner, about midway between her home and the school-house, and in this they deposited their notes to each other.
This was a solace to Lucindy, as all the happenings at the school could be reported, and many a mis-spelled, soiled missive found its way to the eager hands of the absent one. Not less interesting was the news as to the doings of the boarders. Nothing, however trivial, that happened not to accord with Lucindy's notions was overlooked in her setting forth of grievances, and she found ready sympathizers in the Hess girls. Carrie Hess stood under the old tree, one lovely morning, overstaying her time in doing so, as the warning bell had rung at the school-house, reading a note she had taken from the tree post-office. Among other things, it communicated the welcome news, that herself and sisters might come to the pretty knoll behind the house that afternoon, and that Lucindy would take the occasion to make a holiday for herself, as her aunt was going, after dinner, to look up fresh butter and eggs, and would be gone until near tea time.
Mrs. Randolph had hired a team, and with her family would be gone the same length of time, for a ride.
Carrie took a race to school, very much elated at the prospect of enjoying Lucindy's company once more. Recess came, and after eating their very generous lunch, they prepared to quietly put a considerable distance between themselves and the precincts over which Miss Hunter's authority extended. They were "skipping," as they termed it, and as their parents would not know of it, they reveled in the forbidden freedom. They proceeded over fences and across stubble fields, and soon reached the coveted meeting-place. A wide-spreading tree, with a wreath of apples upon it, just turning to a ruddy hue, was almost completely surrounded at its trunk with hazel bushes, but on one side they did not grow; this was away from the house, and toward the wheat field. It was a natural bower, and into this they crept to await the coming of Lucindy.
They were not kept long in suspense, and when she appeared what a hugging and kissing were gone through with!
"Have your boarders gone for their ride?" asked Carrie.
"Yes, and I thought they'd never get off. Old Mrs. Randolph fusses so, you'd think she was going to a party every time she goes to ride. I wonder who she expects to see on a country road?"
"Sure enough. How was the girl dressed, Lu?"
"Oh, she had on a light check silk, and a lovely brown jockey, trimmed with pink satin ribbon rosettes and long ends at the back, and a lovely, wide collar."
"Don't you like her better than her mother?" asked Lena.
"Well, she doesn't put on as many airs as her mother, and she's acted, two or three times, as if she were going to speak to me, but I managed not to let her. I don't want her acquaintance. I don't want any of her coming down to me!"
"I suppose they have nice things, that they've brought with them, in their rooms," said Carrie.
"Yes, Mrs. Randolph has an elegant blue satin pin-cushion, with morning-glories and apple-blossoms painted on it, and a dressing-case with white ivory combs and brushes, and they do your hair up lovely, for I fixed mine in her room yesterday with them." This caused much merriment.
Lucindy proceeded to take from her pocket a pack of children's cards, illuminated with gaily-dressed ladies and gentlemen, and queer-looking figures of all kinds. These caused a sensation; they looked incredulously at Lucindy, as she said:
"These are the things that make them laugh evenings. If we knew how to play them, we could have some of their kind of fun."
They passed them to one another and examined them. They threw them aside presently, and returned to the subject of never-failing interest—the wardrobe of the boarders.
Carrie and Lena intimated more than once, that if they could only see something that city people really considered elegant, they would be satisfied, and forever indebted to Lucindy for the sight.
"Oh, dear, if that will please you so much," said Lucindy, entirely willing to gratify them, "I'll go and get one of Mrs. Randolph's prettiest dresses and show you. It wont take me a minute."
"Oh, do, Lucindy! we're just crazy to see it! She'll never know it," said Carrie, with eagerness.
Lucindy had no scruples whatever in procuring so coveted a pleasure for her dear friends. She ran back to the house and up into Mrs. Randolph's room. She fumbled over the dresses, and thinking it was as well to take out two or three, that they might feast their eyes upon a variety, she piled two silk dresses and an India mull upon her arm, and hurried out.
They dragged considerably upon the dusty path, but this was not noticed, and the wild delight of the girls, when they really had them in their hands, amply repaid Lucindy for any risk, she thought.
They fingered them over, the bead embroideries and lace trimmings, and examined the fashion of each with untiring interest.
"Let's put them on!" said Carrie, "and see how we would look in them."
"We'll look sweetly stylish," said Freda.
"Oh, do let us, Lucindy! Mrs. Randolph wont be back until evening. It'll be such fun!" insisted Carrie.
"All right, let us; I don't care how much fun we have with them, the more the better," returned Lucindy. No sooner said than done; over their clothing they stretched the dresses, and jerked and settled them into the proper set. Shouts of laughter greeted every ridiculous pose and awkward stumble, and certainly nothing could be more provocative of merriment than their appearance. They trailed the dresses over the stubble in mock dignity; they improvised a dance, and went through all the grotesque changes they could invent. Their comments and jokes were most spicy and personal, and in all Lucindy led.
After a good time enjoyed in this way, the fun lost its point and novelty, and they threw the dresses in a heap on the grass, and sat and chatted over the gossip connected with the school at the cross roads. The afternoon was wearing on, and Lucindy thought it time to produce her good things, and taking up the dresses, ran along to the house.
In getting through the bars she dropped the mull overskirt and did not perceive her loss. Gretchen saw it, and running after, brought it back. Lucindy hung the dresses up in their places, certainly not improved by the airing they had had; but chancing to look out of an upper window, she was horrified to see down the road the identical team that Mrs. Randolph had hired, and as true as the world, they were coming home!
She rushed down, and abandoning the lunch, ran as fast as she could to the field, and as she approached, this was the sight that met her gaze:
Gretchen was strutting about with a dock leaf held over her head for a parasol, and trailing the beautiful mull overskirt on the ground, endeavoring to realize the feelings of a fine lady in a trailed dress.
"Gretchen! Gretchen!" screamed Lucindy, as loudly as she dared. "Hide it! hide it! Mrs. Randolph has come home!"
Carrie jumped, and lifting Gretchen from it, secured the skirt, and Lucindy grasped it and rolled it in a small ball and hid it in the hazel bushes. Then they held a hurried consultation, and decided it was best for Lucindy to go back immediately; but, as it was now impossible to restore the skirt to its place in the wardrobe, they urged her to put it in some unfrequented spot, until a favorable opportunity came to get it back. Lucindy now feared her aunt would arrive without warning, and, although loth to part without the long anticipated treat, they walked quickly down the path by the fence toward the road.
"What on the face of the earth will I ever do with this thing?" whispered Lucindy, for the first time betraying fear. "I can't get it back to-night, that's as plain as the nose on your face. Oh, grief! she may inquire after it as soon as I go in! It'll be just like my luck for her to want to wear it to-night. Maybe she expects some one to spend the evening with them, and that's what brought them back so early. Let me see—Auntie will find it if I put it anywhere about the house or barn; I must not be found out in this, because if I am, Auntie wont give me the present she promised. I'll tell you, Carrie, you take it and put it down the hole in the tree, under the tin box. No one has ever found out that place; it will be safe there until I go for it to-morrow."
This was immediately decided upon, and the girls went sulkily home. The skirt was forced down into the tree, and the tin box placed on top, and they trudged slowly homeward.
As Lucindy approached the house, she began to see more and more the serious dilemma in which she was placed, and her face hardened visibly as she thought.
"I'll deny the whole thing if I'm cornered; perhaps Mrs. Randolph will live through the disappointment of not wearing her dress for once. I have to live all the time without such dresses."
Just then she heard her aunt calling her, and she knew that some unlooked-for occasion had brought them home before evening.
"Lucindy, we must hurry up the tea; the folks are going to spend the evening at Judge Brander's. The team is waiting to take them there. Mrs. Randolph saw me in the village, and told me."
Lucindy did not answer, but went in and about her duties as usual. Presently Mrs. Randolph called for Mrs. Gimson to come up stairs, as she wished to speak to her. Lucindy felt that now the discovery had been made, and strengthening her purpose, to deny all, worked on, quietly waiting for developments.
In a few moments, her aunt came down in great excitement, and told her that someone had been in the house, while they were away, and had stolen Mrs. Randolph's elegant India mull overskirt, and had almost ruined her other dresses, as the trimmings were broken and destroyed, and some of them were gone entirely.
"It must have been when I went for water; I noticed that there were two tramps going down the road, a man and woman."
"Oh, Lucindy, you should have locked the door!"
"Why, aunt, I never lock the doors when I go after water. I suppose you'll put the blame of it on me!" Here Lucindy began to cry. "I think you are a very strange woman to leave no one but a girl alone in a house, with such valuable things; it's a wonder the robbers didn't kill me; my coming in frightened them away. I've no doubt they thought it was the hired man," Lucindy continued to cry.
Mrs. Gimson never suspected her niece of such systematic deception. The well was a short distance from the house, and that accounted for the fact that nothing else was missing, as they had not had time, and also that the other dresses had been rudely dragged to get them down.
She believed Lucindy's story. Mrs. Randolph could not account for the plight in which she found her clothing, and bewailed her loss, as being particularly annoying at this juncture.
Nothing more was said, and, after taking tea, they started for the Judge's, leaving Mrs. Gimson in a greatly perturbed state of mind. She knew that this unfortunate thing would get abroad and discourage patrons. Desirable boarders would avoid her house in future.
Lucindy, never uttering a comforting word to her aunt, went up to her room with an air of injured innocence that hurt her aunt quite as much as any thing she had undergone. During the early part of the evening a violent thunder storm came up, and Mrs. Randolph did not return. The next morning it still rained, and there was no excuse for Lucindy's going out, and the dress could not be secured. Mrs. Randolph returned at noon, and informed Mrs. Gimson that she had been invited to visit, for the rest of the summer, at Judge Brander's, and would leave Mrs. Gimson's the next day.
Just as soon as Lucindy could be spared, she ran down to the tree post-office, put a note into the tin box, and returned. This, Carrie Hess got as soon as recess came, and the scheme worked out successfully, as the event proved.
Barry, Hattie's brother, was standing by the shrubbery gate, when a little barefoot boy sidled up, and attracted his attention by his curious behavior—he finally spoke:
"I say, them Hitalyans stuffed yer mother's clothes inter a tree down here; I found it this mornin'."
"What do you mean?" asked Barry, not fully understanding the boy.
"That ere tree, don't yer see?" and the boy pointed to the girls' post-office, that stood out dimly down the road.
"Is it there now?" asked Barry.
"I do'no, I seed it there this mornin'."
"Wait till I go and tell my mother," said Barry, and he ran into the house.
In a moment Mrs. Randolph and Mrs. Gimson were at the gate, but the boy had disappeared. "Go down, Barry, and see if what he says is true," said his mother. He ran off, and returning after a little time, brought the overskirt, rolled up in a soiled bundle, as the rain had soaked it and the decayed wood had stained it.
"Yes, I think it must have been those tramps," said Mrs. Randolph. "They hid it there, expecting to come for the rest of it the next day. They'll be disappointed. I'll be gone."
The boy was Carrie Hess's brother, and the ruse had worked; entirely turning off all suspicion from Lucindy.
Mrs. Gimson lost her summer boarders and Lucindy returned to school. This unprincipled girl, however, learned the hard lesson, in her after life, that ingratitude to benefactors, and unfaithfulness to trust, meet a sure retribution, even if they appear to succeed.