You will remember what I said about insulation,—how a tiny hole in the gutta-percha would allow the electricity to escape. On deck there is a small house, which is filled with delicate scientific instruments. As the cable is paid out, it is tested here. If a wire or a nail or a smaller thing is driven through it, and the insulation is spoiled, an instrument called the galvanometer instantly records the fact, and warning is given at all parts of the ship. The man in charge touches a small handle, and an electric bell rings violently in the tank and at the paying-out machinery. At the same time a loud gong is struck, at the sound of which the engines are stopped. Delay might cause much trouble or total failure, as the injured section must be arrested and repaired before it enters the water.
The great steamer went ahead at the rate of five nautical miles an hour, and the cable passed smoothly overboard. Messages were sent to England and answers received. The weather was bright, and all hands were cheerful. On the third day after the "splicing" of the shore-end with the main cable, that part of the ocean was reached where the water suddenly increases in depth from two hundred and ten fathoms to two thousand and fifty. One of the earlier cables broke at this place and was lost forever. The electricians and engineers watched for it with anxious eyes. It was reached and passed. The black cord still traveled through the wheels unbroken, and the test applied by the galvanometer proved the insulation to be perfect. The days wore away without mishap until the evening of July 17, when the sound of the gong filled all hearts with a sickening fear.
The rain was falling in torrents and pattering on the heavy oil-skin clothing of the watchers. The wind blew in chilly gusts, and the sea broke in white crests of foam. A dense and pitchy cloud issued from the smoke-stacks. The vessel advanced in utter darkness. A few lights were moving about, and shadows fell hither and thither as one of the hands carried a lantern along the sloppy deck. The testing-room was occupied by an electrician, who was quietly working with his magical instrument, and the cable could be heard winding over the wheels astern, as the tinkling of a little bell on the "drum" recorded its progress.
The electrician rose from his seat suddenly, and struck the alarum. The next instant each person on board knew that an accident had happened. The engines were stopped and reversed within two minutes. Blue-lights were burned on the paddle-boxes, and showed a knot in the cable as it lay in the trough.
Two remedies seemed possible. One was to cut the cable, and support one end in the water by a buoy until the rest could be unraveled. The other was to unravel the cable without cutting it.
It is a very intricate knot that an old sailor cannot untie, and the old sailors on the "Great Eastern" twisted and untwisted coil after coil until they succeeded in untying this one. The insulation remained perfect, and in a few hours all was right again. The accident caused much ill foreboding, however, as it showed how slight an occurrence might bring the expedition to a disastrous end.
On July 27, after a voyage of fifteen days, the "Great Eastern" finished her work, and her part of the cable was attached to the American shore-end, which had been laid by another vessel. Some of you will remember the rejoicings in the United States over the event. It surpassed all other achievements of the age, and equaled the invention of the telegraph itself.
Thus, after infinite labor and repeated failures, the brave men who undertook the work accomplished it. A year before, their third cable had broken in mid-ocean, and it was now proposed to "grapple" for it. The "Great Eastern" was fitted out with apparatus, which may be likened to an enormous fishing-hook and line, and was sent to the spot where the treasure had been lost. The line was of hemp interwoven with wire. Page 328 shows a section of it. Twice the cable was seized and brought almost to the surface. Twice it slipped from the disappointed fishermen, but the third time it was secured. It was then united with the cable on board, which was "paid out" until the great steamer again reached Newfoundland, and a second telegraph-wire united the two continents.
The scene on board as the black line appeared above water was exciting beyond description. It was first taken to the testing-room, and a signal intended for Valentia was sent over it, to prove whether or not it was perfect throughout its whole length. If it had proved to be imperfect, all the labor spent upon it would have been lost. The electricians waited breathlessly for an answer. The clerk in the signal-house at Valentia was drowsy when their message came, and disbelieved his ears. Many disinterested people, and even some of the promoters of the cable, did not think it possible to recover a wire that had sunk in thousands of fathoms of water. But the clerk in the little station connected with the shore-end of the cable of 1865 suddenly found himself in communication with a vessel situated in the middle of the Atlantic.
The delay aggravated the anxious watchers on the ship, and a second signal was sent. How astonished that simple-minded Irish telegraph-operator was! Five minutes passed, and then the answer came. The chief electrician gave a loud cheer, which was repeated by every man on board, from the captain down to his servant.
There are now four cables in working order, and the cost of messages has been reduced twenty-five per cent. The New York newspapers now contain nearly as much European news as the London newspapers themselves.
THE CANARY THAT TALKED TOO MUCH
BY MARGARET EYTINGE.
Annette's canary-bird's cage, with the canary in it, was brought into the library and hung upon a hook beside the window.
Out popped a mouse from a hole behind the book-case.
"Why, what are you doing here, canary?" she said. "I thought your place was the bay-window in the dining-room."
"So it is—so it is!" beginning with a twitter, answered the canary; "but they said I talked too much!"—ending with a trill.
"Talked!" repeated the mouse, sitting up on her hind-legs and looking earnestly at him. "I thought you only sang!"
"Well, singing and talking mean about the same thing in bird-language," said the canary. "But goodness g-r-r-racious!" he went on, swinging rapidly to and fro in his little swing at the top of his cage, "'t was they that talked so much—my mistress and the doctor's wife, and the doctor's sister—not me. I said scarcely a word, and yet I am called a chatterbox, and punished—before company, too! I feel mad enough to pull out my yellowest feathers, or upset my bath-tub. Now, you look like a sensible little thing, mouse, and I'll tell you all about it—what they said and what I said—and you shall judge if I deserved to be banished.
"The doctor's wife and the doctor's sister called.
"'It's a lovely day!' said they.
"'A lovely, lovely, lovely day!' sang I. 'The sun shines bright—the sky is blue—the grass is green—yes, lovely, lovely, lovely—and I'm happy, happy, happy, and glad, glad, glad!'
"They went right on talking, though I sang my very best, without paying the slightest attention to me; and when I stopped, I caught the words 'So sweet' from my mistress, and then I sang again: 'Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet is the clover—sweet is the rose—sweet the song of the bird—sweet the bird—sweet the clover—sweet the rose—the rose—the clover—the bird—yes, yes, yes—sweet, sweet, sweet!' And as I paused to take breath, I heard some one say, 'What a noise that bird makes! how loudly he sings!' 'How loudly he sings!' repeated I, 'how loudly he sings!—the bird, the bird, the beautiful bird—sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet——' But suddenly my song ended, for my mistress got up, unhooked my cage, saying, 'Canary, you're a chatterbox; you talk too much,' and brought me in here.
"And really, mouse, as you must see, I didn't say more than a dozen or so words. What do you think about it?"
"Well," said the mouse, stroking her whiskers and speaking slowly, "you didn't say much, but it strikes me you talked a great deal."
"Oh!" said the canary, putting his head on one side and looking thoughtfully at her out of his right, bright, black, round eye. But just then the mouse heard an approaching footstep, and, without even saying "good-bye," she hurried away to the hole behind the book-case.
A NIGHT WITH A BEAR.
BY JANE G. AUSTIN.
"Tell you what, Roxie, I wish father and Jake had some of those hot nut-cakes for their dinner; they didn't carry much of anything, and these are proper nice."
Mrs. Beamish set her left hand upon her hip, leaned against the corner of the dresser, and meditatively selected another nut-cake, dough-nut or cruller, as you may call them, from the great brown pan piled up with these dainties, and Roxie, who was curled up in a little heap on the corner of the settle, knitting a blue woolen stocking, looked brightly up and said:
"Let me go and carry them some, Ma. It's just as warm and nice as can be out-of-doors, real springy, and I know the way to the wood lot. I'd just love to go."
"Let's see—ten o'clock," said Mrs. Beamish, putting the last bit of cake into her mouth, and wiping her fingers upon her apron. "It's a matter of four miles there by the bridge, Jake says, though if you cross the ford it takes off a mile or more. You'd better go round by the bridge, anyway."
"Oh no, Ma; that isn't worth while, for Pa said only last night that the ice was strong enough yet to sled over all the wood he'd been cutting," said Roxie, earnestly, for the additional mile rather terrified her.
"Did he? Well, if that's so, it is all right," replied her mother, in a tone of relief, and then she filled a tin pail with nut-cakes, laid a clean, brown napkin over them, and then shut in the cover and set it on the dresser, saying:
"There, they've got cheese with them, and you'll reach camp before they eat their noon lunch. Now, get on your leggin's and thick shoes, and your coat and cap and mittens, and eat some cakes before you start, so as not to take theirs when you get there."
"I wouldn't do that, neither; not if I never had any," replied Roxie, a little resentfully, and then she pulled her squirrel-skin cap well over her ears, tied her pretty scarlet tippet around her neck, and held up her face for a good-bye kiss. The mother gave it with unusual fervor, and said, kindly:
"Good-bye to you, little girl. Take good care of yourself, and come safe home to mother."
"Yes, Ma. But I may wait and come with them, mayn't I? They'll let me ride on old Rob, you know."
"Why, yes, you might as well, I suppose, though I'll be lonesome without you all day, baby. But it would be better for you to ride home, so stay."
It was a lovely day in the latter part of March, and although the ground was covered with snow, and the brooks and rivers were still fast bound in ice, there was something in the air that told of spring,—something that set the sap in the maple-trees mounting through its million little channels toward the buds, already beginning to redden for their blooming, and sent the blood in little Roxie's veins dancing upward too, until it blossomed in her cheeks and lips fairer than in any maple-tree.
"How pleasant it is to be alive!" said the little girl aloud, while a squirrel running up the old oak-tree overhead stopped, and curling his bushy tail a little higher upon his back, chattered the same idea in his own language. Roxie stopped to listen and laugh aloud, at which sound the squirrel frisked away to his hole, and the little girl, singing merrily, went on her way, crossed the river on the ice, and on the other bank stopped and looked wistfully down a side path leading into the denser forest away from her direct road.
"I really believe the checkerberries must have started, it is so springy," she thought; "I've a mind to go down and look in what Jake calls 'Bear-berry Pasture,' though I told him they were not bear-berries, but real checkerberries." So, saying to herself Roxie ran a few steps down the little path, stopped, stood still for a minute, then slowly turned back, saying:
"No, I wont, either, for may be I wouldn't get to the camp with the nut-cakes before noon, and then they would have eaten all their cheese. No, I'll go right on, and not stay there any time at all, but come back and get the checkerberries; besides, mother said she'd be lonesome without me, so I'd better not stay, any way."
So Roxie, flattering herself like many an older person with the fancy that she was giving up her selfish pleasure for that of another, while really she was carrying out her own fancy, went singing on her way, and reached the camp just as her father struck his ax deep into the log where he meant to leave it for an hour, and Jake, her handsome elder brother, took off his cap, pushed the curls back from his heated brow, and shook out the hay and grain before old Rob, whose whinny had already proclaimed dinner-time.
"Why, if here isn't sis with a tin kettle, and I'll be bound some of ma'am's nut-cakes in it!" exclaimed Jake, who had rather mourned at the said cakes not being ready before he left home, and then he caught the little girl up in his arms, kissed her heartily, and put her on Rob's back, whence she slid down, saying gravely:
"Jake, Ma says I'm getting too old for rough play. I'll be twelve years old next June."
"All right, old lady; I'll get you a pair of specs and a new cap or two for a birthday present," laughed Jake, uncovering the tin kettle, while his father said:
"We wont have you an old woman before you're a young one, will we, Tib? Come, sit down by me and have some dinner. You're good to bring us the nut-cakes and get here in such good season."
The three were very happy and merry over their dinner, although Roxie declined to eat anything except out of her own pocket, and the time passed swiftly until Mr. Beamish glanced up at the sun, rose, took his ax out of the cleft in the log, and, swinging it over his head, said:
"Come, Jake, nooning is over. Get to work."
"All right, sir. You can sit still as long as you like, sis, and by and by I'll take you home on Rob."
"I'm going now, Jake," said Roxie, hesitating a little, and finally concluding not to mention the checkerberries, lest her father or brother should object to her going alone into the wilder part of the forest. "Ma said she'd be lonesome," added she hurriedly, and then her cheeks began to burn as if she had really told a lie instead of suggesting one.
"Well, you're a right down good girl to come so far and then to think of Ma instead of yourself, and next day we're working about home I'll give you a good ride to pay for it."
And Jake kissed his little sister tenderly, her father nodded good-bye with some pleasant word of thanks, and Roxie with the empty tin pail in her hand set out upon her homeward journey, a little excitement in her heart as she thought of her contemplated excursion, a little sting in her conscience as she reflected that she had not been quite honest about any part of it.
Did you ever notice, when a little troubled and agitated, how quickly you seemed to pass over the ground, and how speedily you arrived at the point whither you had not fairly decided to go?
It was so with Roxie, and while she was still considering whether after all she would go straight home, she was already at the entrance of the sunny southern glade where lay the patch of bright red berries whose faint, wholesome perfume told of their vicinity even before they could be seen. Throwing herself upon her knees, the little girl pushed aside the glossy dark-green leaves, and with a low cry of delight stooped down and kissed the clusters of fragrant berries as they lay fresh and bright before her.
"O you dear, darling little things!" cried she, "how I love to see you again, and know that all the rest of the pretty things are coming right along!"
Then she began to pluck, and put them sometimes in her mouth, sometimes in her pail, and so long did she linger over her pleasant task that the sun was already in the tops of the pine-trees, when, returning from a little excursion into the woods to get a sprig from a "shad-bush," Roxie halted just within the border of the little glade, and stood for a moment transfixed with horror. Beside the pail she had left brim-full of berries, sat a bear-cub, scooping out the treasure with his paw, and greedily devouring it, apparently quite delighted that some one had saved him the trouble of gathering his favorite berries for himself.
One moment of dumb terror, and then a feeling of anger and reckless courage filled the heart of the woodsman's child, and, darting forward, she made a snatch at her pail, at the same time dealing the young robber a sharp blow over the face and eyes with the branch of shad-bush in her hand, and exclaiming:
"You great, horrid thing! Every single berry is gone now, for I wont eat them after you. So now!"
But, so far from being penitent or frightened, the bear took this interference, and especially the blow, in very bad part, and after a moment of blinking astonishment, he sat up on his haunches, growled a little, showed his teeth, and intimated very plainly that unless that pail of berries was restored at once, there would be trouble for some one. But this was not the first bear-cub that Roxie had seen, and her temper was up as well as the bear's. So, firmly grasping the pail, she began to retreat backward, at first slowly, but as the bear dropped on his feet and seemed inclined to follow her, or rather the pail of berries, she lost courage, and turning, began to run, not caring or noting in what direction, and still mechanically grasping the pail of berries.
Suddenly, through the close crowding pines which had so nearly shut out the daylight, appeared an open space, and Roxie hailed it with delight, for it was the river, and once across the river she felt as if she would be safe. Even in the brief glance she threw around as she burst from the edge of the wood, she saw that here was neither the bridge nor the ford which she had crossed in the morning; a point altogether strange and new to her, and, as she judged, further down the river, since the space from shore to shore was considerably wider. But the bear was close behind, and neither time nor courage for deliberation was at hand, and Roxie, after her moment's pause, sprung forward upon the snowy ice, closely followed by the clumsy little beast.
At that very moment, a mile further up stream, Mr. Beamish and his son Jake were cautiously driving Rob across the frozen ford, and the old man was saying:
"I'm afraid we'll have to go round by the bridge after this, Jake. I shouldn't wonder if the river broke up this very night. See that crack."
"It wouldn't do for Roxie to come over here alone again," said Jake, probing the ice-crack with his stick.
And Roxie,—poor little Roxie,—whom Jake was so glad to think of as safe at home, was at that very moment stepping over a wide crack between two great masses of ice, and staring forlornly about her, for a little way in advance appeared another great gap, and the bear close behind was whimpering with terror as he clung to the edge of the floating mass upon which Roxie had only just leaped, and which he had failed to jump upon. Shaking with cold and fright, the little girl staggered forward across the ice until at its further edge she came upon a narrow, swiftly rolling tide, increasing in width at every moment—the current of the river suddenly set free from its winter's bondage, and rapidly dashing away its chains.
Roxie turned back, but the crack that she had stepped over was already far too wide for her to attempt to repass, and a gentle shaking movement under her feet told that the block on which she stood was already in motion, and that no escape was possible without more strength and courage than a little girl could be expected to possess. The bear had climbed up, and now crouched timidly to the edge of the ice, moaning with fear, and seeming to take so little notice of Roxie that she forgot all her fear of him, and these two, crouching upon the rocking and slippery floor of their strange prison, went floating down the turbulent stream.
The twilight deepened into dark, the stars came out bright and cold, and so far away from human need and woe! Little Roxie ceased her useless tears, and kneeling upon the ice put her hands together and prayed, adding to the petition she had learned at her mother's knee some simple words of her own great need.
A yet more piteous whine from the bear showed his terror as the ice-block gave a sickening whirl, and crawling upon his stomach he crept close up to the little girl, his whole air saying as plainly as words could have spoken:
"Oh, I am so scared, little girl, aren't you? Let us protect each other somehow, or at least, you protect me."
And Roxie, with a strange, light-hearted sense of security and peace replacing her terror and doubt, let the shaggy creature creep close to her side, and nestling down into his thick fur, warmed her freezing fingers against his skin, and with a smile upon her lips went peacefully to sleep.
She was awakened by a tremendous shock, and a struggle, and a fall into the water, and before she could see or know what had happened to her, two strong arms were round her, and she was drawn again upon the ice-cake, and her brother was bending close above her, and he was saying:
"Oh, Roxie! are you hurt?"
"No, Jake, I—I believe not. Why, why, what is it all? Where is this, and—oh, I know. Oh, Jake, Jake, I was so frightened!" And, turning suddenly, she hid her face in her brother's coat and burst into a passion of tears. But Jake, with one hurried embrace and kiss, put her away, saying:
"Wait just a minute, sis, till we finish the bear; father will shoot him."
"No, no, no!" screamed Roxie, her tears dried as if by magic. "Don't kill the bear, father! Jake, don't you touch the bear; he's my friend, and we were both so scared last night, and then I prayed that he wouldn't eat me, and he didn't, and you mustn't hurt him."
"Well, I'm beat now!" remarked Mr. Beamish, as with both hands buried in the coarse hair by which he had dragged the bear to the surface, for it had gone under when the ice-cake had been broken against the jam of logs which had stopped it, he looked up at his little daughter's pale face.
"You and the bear made friends, and said your prayers together, and he can't be hurt, you say?"
"Yes, father. Oh, please don't hurt him!"
"We might take him home and keep him chained up for a sort of a pet, if he will behave decent," suggested Jake, a little doubtfully.
"Well!—I suppose we could," replied the father, very slowly and reluctantly. "He seems peaceable enough now."
"And see how good he is to me," said Roxie, eagerly, as she patted the head of her strange new friend, who blinked amicably in reply. "Oh, Jake, do go and get Rob and the sled, and carry him home, wont you?"
"Why, yes, if father says so, and the critter will let me tie his legs."
The ox-sled was close at hand, for the father and brother had brought it to the river before they began their weary search up and down its banks, not knowing what mournful burden they might have to carry home to the almost frantic mother.
And Bruin, a most intelligent beast, seemed to understand so well that the handling, and ride, were all for his own good, that he bore the humiliation of having his legs tied with considerable equanimity, and in a short time developed so gentle and gentlemanly a character as to become a valued and honored member of the family, remaining with it for about a year, when, wishing, probably, to set up housekeeping on his own account, he quietly snapped his chain one day and walked off into the woods, where he was occasionally seen for several years, generally near the checkerberry patch.
BY CHARLES W. SQUIRES.
I have no doubt that most of the readers of ST. NICHOLAS have heard of the grand old Abbey of Westminster, in London, and that they would be glad to visit this famous historical place. I had often been there in my thoughts and dreams, and had often wished that I might really walk through its quiet aisles and chapels, when, at last, I should make a trip to Europe. And my wish was granted.
It was on a November morning—one of those dark, gloomy mornings, peculiar to London, that I started from my lodgings to walk to the Abbey. As I said before, I had often been there in my imagination, and, as I walked slowly along, I could hardly realize that I was actually about to visit it in person. After a while I came in sight of Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, and then, on my right, I noticed two tall towers, and without the help of my guide-book I knew that they must belong to the Abbey; so I quickened my steps until I had gained the entrance door. What a change I experienced as I stepped from the busy, crowded streets, into this old sepulcher, so celebrated for its relics of the dead! It almost made me shudder, for the interior of the building was dark and gloomy, and I saw many cold, white figures towering high above me. The original Abbey was built many, many years ago, and has been restored from time to time by the succeeding kings and queens of England, until we find it in its present condition, safe and sound, and one of the greatest, if not the greatest object of interest in the city of London.
Westminster Abbey may certainly be called a tomb, for we could spend a whole day in simply counting its monuments. There were so many of these that I hardly knew which to look at first, but I thought it best to follow my own inclinations, and so, instead of procuring a guide (men with long gowns, who take visitors around and point out the objects of greatest interest), I roamed about at my will. The first monument that attracted my attention was the venerable shrine of Edward the Confessor, in the chapel of St. Edward, once the glory of the Abbey, but which has been much defaced by persons who were desirous of obtaining a bit of stone from this famous tomb. In this chapel I saw also the old coronation chairs, in which all the reigning sovereigns of England, since Edward I. have been crowned. They are queer, old-fashioned chairs, made of wood, and not very comfortable, I imagine. The older of the two chairs was built to inclose the stone (which they call Jacob's pillar) brought from Scotland by Edward, and placed in this chapel. Many other interesting tombs are to be seen here, and the floor of the chapel is six hundred and fourteen years old!
I next visited the chapel of Islip, built by the old Abbot of Islip, who dedicated it to St. John the Baptist. One very interesting monument there was to the memory of General Wolfe, who fell, you remember, at the battle of Quebec. His monument is a very beautiful piece of art. It represents him falling into the arms of one of his own soldiers, who is pointing to Glory, which comes in the shape of an angel from the clouds, holding a wreath with which to crown the hero. A Highland sergeant looks sorrowfully on the dying warrior, while two lions sleep at his feet. The inscription reads as follows: "To the memory of James Wolfe, Major-General and Commander-in-Chief of the British land forces on an expedition against Quebec, who, after surmounting, by ability and valor, all obstacles of art and nature, was slain in the moment of victory, on the 13th of September, 1759, the King and Parliament of Great Britain dedicate this monument."
I now walked on to the north transept, and the first monument I noticed was one erected to Sir Robert Peel, the great orator and statesman. I seated myself on an old stone bench to rest, and looking around, saw a magnificent statue of the great William Pitt, who, you may remember, was also a great statesman, and accomplished more for the glory and prosperity of England than any other statesman who ever lived. In this transept there is a beautiful window, which represents our Savior, the twelve apostles, and four evangelists. As I was sitting quietly in this secluded spot, looking up at the window, strains of solemn music reached my ear, which sounded as if they came from one of the gloomy vaults around me. I walked on to discover, if possible, whence this music came, and I saw, in the nave of the Abbey, the Dean of Westminster conducting a service, assisted by his choir boys. I seated myself until the ceremonies were over, and I thought it was a very odd place to hold church—among so many graves.
After the Dean and his choir boys had disappeared I commenced my walk again, and saw many fine old monuments. One of these was in memory of Sir Isaac Newton, and I am sure I need not tell you who he was. Prominent among the monuments in this part of the Abbey is that to Major Andre, the fine young officer who was executed during our Revolutionary War.
I next visited the south transept, better known as the "Poet's Corner," which I think is the most interesting part of Westminster. A hundred, and more, monuments to the memory of great men can be seen here; but I can only tell you of a few of the most important. The one I thought most of is erected to the memory of William Shakspeare, although his bones repose far away, in the little church at Stratford-on-Avon. Then I saw the tombs of David Garrick, the great actor and delineator of Shakspeare's characters; George Frederick Handel, the eminent composer, the author of that beautiful anthem, "I know that my Redeemer liveth;" the great Milton; rare old Ben Jonson; Edmund Spenser, author of the "Faery Queene;" and those of Southey, Dryden, Addison, Gray, Campbell, and other well-known English poets.
Then, among the names of the dead of our own day, I saw those of Dickens, Bulwer, Macaulay, and Dr. Livingstone.
Kings, queens, statesmen, soldiers, clergymen, authors and poets here have equal station. Some may lie under richer tombs than others, but all rest beneath the vaulted roof of Westminster Abbey, the place of highest honor that England can offer her departed sons.
BY SARAH J. PRICHARD.
Crip was having a dismal—a very dismal time of it. Crip was eleven, it was his birthday, and Crip was in disgrace—in a garret.
Wasn't it dreadful?
It happened thus: Crip's father was a shoemaker. The bench where he worked and the little bit of a shop, about eight feet every way, in which he worked, stood on a street leading down to the town dock, and the name of the town we will say was Barkhampstead, on Cape Cod Bay.
Now and then—that is, once or twice in the year—a whaling vessel set sail from the dock, and sometimes, not always, the same vessels returned to the dock.
The going and the coming of a "whaler" made Crip's father, Mr. John Allen, glad. It was his busy season, for when the seamen went, they always wanted stout new boots and shoes, and, when they came, they always needed new coverings on their feet to go home in.
Two years before this dismal time that Crip was having, the ship "Sweet Home" went away, and it had not been spoken or signaled or heard from in any way, since four months from the time it left the dock at Barkhampstead.
The fathers and mothers and wives and little children of the men who went in the "Sweet Home" kept on hoping, and fearing, and feeling terribly bad about everybody on board whom they loved, when, without any warning whatever, right in the midst of a raging snow storm, the "Sweet Home," all covered in ice from mast-head to prow, sailed, stiff and cold, into Barkhampstead harbor.
Oh! wasn't there a great gladness over all the old town then! They rang the meeting-house bell. It was a hoarse, creaking old bell, but there was music in it that time, as it throbbed against the falling snow, and made a most delicious concert of joy and gratitude in every house within a mile and more of the dock.
Mr. John Allen rushed down to the "Sweet Home," as soon as ever it came in. He hadn't anybody on board to care very particularly about, but how he did rub his hands together as he went, letting the snow gather fast on his long beard, as he thought of the thirty or forty pairs of feet that must have shoes!
Crip, you know, was to be eleven the next day, and his mother, in the big red house next door to the little shop, had made him a cake for the day, and, beside, plum-pudding was to be for dinner.
Before Crip's father had gone down to the dock he had said to Crip: "Now, you must stay right here in the shop and not go near the dock, until I come back;" and Crip had said "Yes, sir," although every bit of his throbbing boy body wanted to take itself off to the "Sweet Home."
The snow kept on falling, and it began to grow dark in the little shop. Crip had just lighted a candle, when the shop door opened, and a boy, not much bigger than Crip himself, came in and shut the door behind him.
Crip jumped up from the bench and said:
"You don't know me, Crip Allen," said the boy.
"Who be you?" questioned Crip.
"Don't wonder!" said the other, "for we've all come right out of the jaws of ice and death. I'm Jo Jay."
"Jo Jay,—looking so!" said Crip.
"Never mind! Only give me a pair of shoes—old ones will do—to get home in. It's three miles to go, and it's five months since I've had shoes on my feet. Oh, Crip! we've had a bad time on board, and no cargo to speak of to bring home."
"You wont pay for the shoes?" asked Crip.
"No money," said Jo, thrusting forth a tied-up foot, wrapped in sail-rags. "But, Crip, do hurry! I must get home to mother, if she's alive."
"She's alive—saw her to meeting," said Crip, fumbling in a wooden box to get forth a pair of half-worn shoes he remembered about.
He produced them. Jo Jay seized the shoes eagerly, and, taking off his wrappings, quickly thrust his feet, that had so long been shoeless, into them: and, with a "Bless you, Crip! I'll make it all right some day." hobbled off, making tracks in the snow, just before Crip's father came up from the dock.
Mr. John Allen returned in a despondent mood. There was not oil enough on board the "Sweet Home" to buy shoes for the men.
"Who's been here, Crip? Socks in and shoes out, I see."
"Jo Jay, father."
"Where's the money, Crip?" and Mr. Allen turned his big, searching blue eyes on Crip, and held forth his hand.
"Why, father," said Crip, "he hadn't any, and he wanted to go home. It's three miles, you know, and snowing."
"Crip Allen! Do you know what you've done? You've stolen a pair of shoes."
"Oh, I haven't, father," cried Crip, "and 't was only the old, half-worn shoes that you mended for George Hine, that he couldn't wear."
"Christopher!" thundered forth Mr. Allen, in a voice that made the lad shake in his boots, "go into the house and right upstairs to bed. You have stolen a pair of shoes from your own father. You knew they were not yours to give away."
Poor Crip! Now he couldn't get a sight of the "Sweet Home" to-night, even through the darkness and the snow.
His upper lip began to tremble and give way, but he went into the big red house, up the front staircase to his own room, and, in the cold, crept under the blankets into a big feather bed, and thought of Jo plodding his way home.
About eight of the clock, when Crip was fast asleep, the door opened, somebody walked in, and a hand touched the boy, and left a bit of cake on his pillow; then the hand and the somebody went away, and Crip was left alone until morning. He went down to breakfast when called. His father's face was more stern than it had been the night before. Crip could scarcely swallow the needful food. When breakfast was over, Mr. Allen said:
"Christopher. Go into the garret and stay till I call you. I'll teach you not to take what doesn't belong to you, even to give away."
"Father!" beseechingly said Crip's mother, "it is the boy's birthday."
"Go to the garret!" said Mr. Allen.
Crip went, and he was having the dismal time of it referred to in the beginning of this story. Poor little chap! He stayed up there all the morning, his mother's heart bleeding for him, and his sisters saying in their hearts, "Father's awful cruel." It did seem so, but Mr. Christopher Allen, the nation-known shipping merchant, said, fifty years later, when relating the story to a party of friends on board one of his fine steamships:
"That severe punishment was the greatest kindness my father ever bestowed on my boyhood. Why, a hundred times in my life, when under the power of a great temptation to use money in my hands that did not belong to me, even for the best and highest uses, and when I knew that I could replace it, I have been saved by the power of the stern, hard words, the cold, flashing eyes, and the day in the garret. Yes, yes, father was right. I ought to have taken off my own shoes, and gone without any, to give to Jo Jay. That was his idea of giving."
BY HOWELL FOSTER.
A very respectable Kangaroo Died week before last in Timbuctoo; A remarkable accident happened to him: He was hung head down from a banyan-limb. The Royal Lion made proclamation For a day of fasting and lamentation, Which led to a curious demonstration: The Elephant acted as if he were drunk— He stood on his head, he trod on his trunk; An over-sensitive she-Gorilla Declared that the shock would surely kill her; A frisky, gay and frolicsome Ape Tied up his tail with a yard of crape; The Donkey wiped his eyes with his ears; The Crocodile shed a bucket of tears; The Rhinoceros gored a young Giraffe Who had the very bad taste to laugh; The Hippopotamus puffed and blew, To show his respect for the Kangaroo; And a sad but indignant Chimpanzee Gnawed all the bark from the banyan-tree.
DRIFTED INTO PORT.
BY EDWIN HODDER.
THE BOYS OF BLACKROCK SCHOOL.
Dr. Brier considered himself the principal of Blackrock School, but the boys in that establishment often used to say to each other that Mrs. Brier was really the master.
Not that she intruded into any sphere which did not belong to her, but she took such a deep interest in the school that she had the welfare of every boy at heart, and Dr. Brier was one of those amiable men who never act except in concert with their wives, and he had, moreover, good sense enough to see that oftentimes her judgment was better than his own.
At the time our story opens, the school was in a very flourishing condition. It contained about eighty boys, the tutors were men of unquestionable ability, and so successful had the Doctor been in turning out good scholars that he had applications from various parts of England, in which country our story is located, for the admission of many more boys than he could possibly receive.
Among the institutions of the school was a weekly reception in the Doctor's private drawing-room, when twenty boys at a time were invited to tea, and to spend the evening hours in social enjoyment.
It was a very good thing, for it gave Mrs. Brier an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the boys, and it enabled them to see the Doctor, not in his professional character of principal, but as a kind and gentle host.
At some schools, where a plan of this kind has been adopted, boys have been inclined to look upon it as a great bore, and have dreaded the return of the so-called social evening, when they would have to be, for some hours, in a state of nervous anxiety, lest they should be catechised in a corner, or be betrayed into something that they would be sorry for afterward.
But, with one exception, this was not the case with the Blackrock boys; the Tuesday reception was always a red-letter day with them, and if ever, through misbehavior, an invitation was withheld, it was regarded as one of the severest punishments inflicted in the school.
Several boys were one day standing in a group under the elms which inclosed the play-ground, putting on their jackets to return to the school-room, as the recreation hour was nearly over.
"Who's going to the house on Tuesday?" asked Howard Pemberton.
"I am," said Martin Venables.
"And I," added Alick Fraser.
"And I too, worse luck," said Digby Morton.
"Why worse luck?" asked Martin.
"Oh, it wouldn't do for me to enter into particulars with you," replied Digby, rather testily. "You're the Doctor's nephew, and we all know that we've got to be careful of what we say about the house before you. The wind might carry it around."
Martin turned as red as a poppy, as he flashed up in honest anger that such paltry meanness should be charged on him.
"I tell you what it is, Digby," he said, trying to keep himself cool, "I can stand a joke as well as anybody, but there is no joking about your ill-natured speeches. I tell you now, once for all, that I never did and never shall blow upon any boy in this school. You know as well as I do that the Doctor treats me as a scholar here, and not as a spy or a relative, and if ever you charge me again with tale-bearing, I'll answer you with my fists."
"Good!" cried several voices at once, while some of the small boys who had gathered round seemed delighted at the rebuke administered to Digby, who was by no means a favorite with them.
"And now let's drop it," said Howard, the boy who had asked the question as to the invitations for Tuesday. "If Digby doesn't like the receptions, it's a pity he doesn't stay away. I don't know another boy in the school who would think with him."
"Nor I, and I can't make out why any one should," said Alick; "to my mind they are the jolliest evenings we have."
"Oh yes, I should think they would just suit you" answered Digby, with his accustomed sneer, "but they don't suit me. They are precious slow affairs, and I don't care much for the society of Mrs. B. She pries into the school affairs a sight too much as it is, and——"
What other objections Digby might have advanced will forever remain unknown. He had committed high treason in speaking lightly of a name dear to the heart of every boy there, and a storm of hissing and hooting greeted his unfinished sentence.
He saw that he had trespassed on ground which was too dangerous for him to tread any further, and so, with a defiant "Bah!" he threw his jacket over his shoulder and walked sullenly away.
Many of the boys in Blackrock school would have found a difficulty in stating the exact grounds of their regard for Mrs. Brier. To some of them she was a comparative stranger; they could not trace one direct act in which they were indebted to her. Perhaps the merest commonplaces in conversation had passed between them, and yet they felt there was a something in her presence which threw sunshine around them; they felt that they were thought about, cared for and loved, and in any little scrape into which, boy-like, they might get, they felt satisfied that if the matter only came to her knowledge they would get an impartial judgment on the case, and the best construction that could be put upon their conduct would be sure to be suggested by her. But out of eighty boys it would not be reasonable to suppose that all should share this feeling alike,—we have seen already one exception; yet the disaffected were in a very small minority, and the majority was so overwhelming, and had amongst it all the best acknowledged strength and power of the school, that no one dared to say above his breath one word against Mrs. Brier, if he cared for a whole skin.
While Digby was returning to the school by one road, Howard and Martin strolled leisurely along by another path under the trees.
"I can't understand Digby," said Martin; "he has altered so very much lately that he hardly seems the same fellow he was. Have you noticed that he cuts all his old chums now? What's happened to him?"
"I'm sure I don't know," answered Howard, "but he certainly has altered very much. I wish we could be as friendly as we used to be, but it is months since we have been on really good terms together."
"Two or three years ago we used to be the best of friends," said Martin.
"Yes, but all that has been gradually altering. He seems to have taken a dislike to me. I can't help thinking that Digby has some secret that worries him."
"I shouldn't be surprised if he has," answered Martin; "and it will get him into trouble, whatever it is. He has several times been 'out of bounds' for a long time at a stretch, and if it hadn't been for Alick Fraser and one or two others who have screened him, he would have come to grief. Can you guess at all what is wrong with him?"
"No," replied Howard, hesitatingly; "the only thing I can think of is that his father has told him that when he leaves school in September he is to be articled to a lawyer, and I know he has made up his mind to go to sea. He is crazy about pirates, and whale-hunts, and desolate islands, and all that sort of stuff. And yet, sometimes, if you talk to him about them he shuts you up so very sharply that you feel as if you were prying into his secrets. Perhaps—"
And here Howard stopped.
"Well, perhaps what?" asked Martin.
"I don't know that it is right to talk about a mere notion that may not have any truth in it at all, so let what I say be kept close between us; but I have noticed him bring things home after he has been out of bounds, and carefully put them in his big box, which he always keeps locked, and I have sometimes thought—but mind, it is only a passing thought, so don't let it go any further—that perhaps he has made up his mind to run away to sea!"
"Howard, I have had this same thought in my mind many a time," said Martin, "and I believe the reason why Digby dislikes me so much is because something occurred about a month ago, which I would rather not mention, but it led me to say to him that I hoped he would not be so foolish as to think of throwing up all his prospects in life for the sake of a mania about the sea, and he flashed up so angrily that I was convinced I had touched him on a sore point."
Just then the school-bell rang. There was no time for further talk, and it was not for many days that the subject was renewed.
AN EVENING AT DR. BRIER'S.
Every expected day comes at last,—not always, however, to realize the expectations formed of it: but the evening of the reception in which we are interested bade fair to be a most satisfactory one. The weather was unusually fine, and the Doctor and Mrs. Brier were in such good spirits that some of the visitors made special note of the fact.
I hardly know where to begin in attempting to describe an evening in the House at Blackrock school.
As to stiffness and formality, there was not a vestige of it. The Doctor was a gentleman, every inch of him, and ease is an essential quality of gentlemanly behavior. It is not always an easy thing to be easy, and all the Doctor's pupils were not miniature doctors, but whatever else a boy might not have learned at Blackrock, he certainly had a chance to learn to be gentlemanly.
So conversation flowed freely; the boys were encouraged to indulge in hearty, unrestrained enjoyment, and no one could have heard the buzz of voices and the sounds of merry laughter, or seen the beaming faces, without feeling that all were perfectly at home.
The Doctor was wise in his generation, and he did not invite any of the tutors to meet the boys. He pretty shrewdly guessed that their meetings were quite as frequent as could be desired on either side, but he always invited a few lady friends to join the party.
The Doctor had often been heard to say that while he would not declare that either Greek or Hebrew was absolutely necessary for an ordinary education, he was prepared to assert that no boy was educated unless he knew how to feel at home and to behave with propriety in the society of ladies.
Moreover, the Doctor was a great lover of music. Many of the boys also loved it, and, when ladies were invited, those were generally selected who could contribute to the pleasure of the evening.
Among the guests was one who will meet us again in the course of this story. It was Madeleine Greenwood, the Doctor's niece, and Martin Venables' cousin. I should like to describe her, but I will only say that she was a young and very pretty sunshiny girl, and that everybody who knew her liked her.
After tea, there were portfolios to examine, and books to turn over; there was a bagatelle board in one corner of the room, a little group busy upon some game of guessing in another corner, and another group eagerly arranging specimens in a microscope, while the Doctor seemed to be at each group at once.
"Now, come here," said Mrs. Brier to a little knot of boys who could not find room by the Doctor and his microscope. "I will show you some of my curiosities."
And she produced a little case, containing a curious old watch, set in pearls; a snuff-box which had been in the possession of the family for ages, and a variety of similar treasures. Among them was a miniature painting, on ivory, of exquisite workmanship, and set in a gold frame, which was studded with precious stones. It was as beautiful as it was costly. The portrait was that of a young and lovely girl.
"What a sweet face," said Howard to Martin; "and how marvelously like your cousin, Miss Greenwood!" And with a boyish enthusiasm joined to boyish fun, he turned aside, so that Mrs. Brier should not see him, and pretended to clasp the image to his breast.
"Oh, I have caught you, have I?" said Digby Morton, with his disagreeable sneer, as, turning away from the Doctor's group, he came abruptly upon Howard.
If Alick Fraser, or Martin, or McDonald, or any one of half a dozen boys near him had made this observation, Howard wouldn't have minded the least in the world, but coming from Digby, it made him nervous and confused, especially as it was almost certain Mrs. Brier must have heard it.
"Please let me see it," said Alick, who had only caught a passing glimpse of it. "Surely it must be meant for Miss Greenwood?" he said, after he had duly admired it.
"You are not the first who has thought so," said Mrs. Brier, "but it is really a portrait of her grandmother, taken in her young days. But look at this; I think it will interest you all. It is a curious ivory carving, and is a puzzle which I should like to challenge any one to explain."
And so this uncomfortable episode, the only one that occurred during the evening, passed quietly away.
Music was soon called for, and Madeleine sang a beautiful song of the sea. Then there was a merry glee, and a duet on the piano and violoncello, and the time passed so cheerily that when the trays with refreshments came round, betokening that the time to go was fast approaching, everybody instinctively looked at the clock to make sure that there was not some mistake.
One or two of the boys, as they lay awake that night, trying to recall some of its pleasant hours, little thought that as long as life lasted the incidents of that reception evening would be stamped indelibly upon their memories.
"Now, aunt," said Madeleine, after all the guests had departed, "sit down and rest, and let me collect the things together."
Everybody knows how a drawing-room looks when the company has gone. Music here, drawings there, musical instruments somewhere else, and a certain amount of confusion not apparent before now apparent everywhere.
But Mrs. Brier was one of those who never could sit still while anything had to be done, and she began to arrange the cabinet which held her curiosities, while Madeleine collected the music. They were thus employed when Mrs. Brier suddenly exclaimed, "Oh! Madeleine!"
"What is the matter, aunt?" asked the young girl, running to her.
"Nothing, I hope, but I cannot find the miniature portrait or the old snuff-box which were here."
"Then they must be on one of the tables!" said Madeleine.
"I fear not; I laid everything back in the case myself—at least, I believe I did—before putting it in the cabinet."
A careful search in every probable and improbable place in the room was made, but the missing articles could not be found. The Doctor was hastily called, and inquiries were made of him.
"No, my dear, I have seen nothing of them," he said. "I was busy with the microscopes, and never even saw the things during the evening. Let us look about—we shall soon find them."
Search after search was made, but in vain, and there was but one conclusion at which to arrive,—the miniature and the snuff-box had been taken away.
But by whom? It could not have been by the servants, for they had only entered the room to bring the refreshments. It could not have been by any of the lady guests, for they had not been near the curiosities; being old friends, these had often been shown to them before.
It was, perhaps, the most trying hour that either the Doctor or Mrs. Brier had ever spent. They were not grieved simply because they had lost property, valuable as it was, but their deepest sorrow arose from the fear that honor had been lost in the school.
THE LOST MINIATURE.
The morning came, and the anxiety which the Doctor and Mrs. Brier had felt the night before was not removed but rather increased. What to do for the best was the question preying upon both minds. There was no escape from the conviction that one of the boys, either by accident or with evil intent, had taken the missing articles. If by accident, they would be returned the first thing in the morning, although there would be no excuse for not having returned them on the previous evening as soon as the discovery was made; and if with evil intent who was the culprit?
The Doctor was one of those men who could best bear anxiety out-of-doors. If anything unusual troubled him, no matter what the weather might be, he would pace the garden or wander through the fields, while he thought or prayed himself out of the difficulty.
He was a God-fearing man. I do not mean in the sense in which many apply this term, turning a good old phrase into a cant expression. He believed in God, he believed in the Bible, and he believed in prayer.
So, after he had paced the garden in the early morning, long before any others of the establishment were abroad, he turned into the summer-house, and there, quiet and alone, he prayed for guidance in his difficulty.
When breakfast was over the boys began to away to their several rooms and occupations, but those who had been at the Doctor's on the previous evening were told separately that he wished to speak with them in his library. Each was rather startled on arriving to find others there, and a vague feeling of discomfort prevailed at first. Mrs. Brier was present, and this added to the mystery, as she was rarely seen in the library.
"Now, my boys," said the Doctor, when all had assembled, "I want to take you all into my confidence, and shall be glad, in the interest of all, if what is now said is kept as much as possible to ourselves. The matter about which I have called you together is one that has caused me much anxiety, and I shall be thankful if you can allay my uneasiness. You will remember that last night Mrs. Brier showed you a casket of trinkets and curiosities, amongst them a valuable miniature painting and an antique snuff-box. I am sorry to say that these are missing. Careful and diligent search has been made for them, but they cannot be found. Can any of you throw light on the subject? Is it possible that by accident one of you may have mislaid them, or inadvertently have carried them away?"
Anxious glances were exchanged from one to the other as each answered in the negative. An awkward pause followed.
"And now," said the Doctor, "it is my painful duty to ask you separately whether you know anything whatever about the matter. For the sake of each, and the honor of all, I charge you to tell me truth as in the sight of God. Herbert, do you know anything about it?"
"Marsden, do you?"
"No, sir; nothing whatever. I saw the things and thought I saw Mrs. Brier put them back in the box."
"Do you know anything, McDonald?"
"I do not, sir."
"Do you, Pemberton?"
"Do you, Morton?"
Digby stammered and hesitated. The Doctor repeated his question.
"I know nothing for certain, sir. But I—I think—" and he held to the back of a chair with a very determined clutch as he again hesitated, and began to speak.
"What do you think, man? Speak out," said the Doctor.
"I think I ought to mention a circumstance, but I shall prefer speaking to you alone."
"Does it relate to any one present?"
"Then I must have it told here. But let me first continue my question to each one present."
The question went round, and the answer in each case was in the negative.
"Now, Morton, I must ask you to state what you know of this matter, or rather what you suspect, and I leave it to your good sense to say only that which you think it absolutely necessary for me to know."
There was a dead silence. Every eye was turned toward Digby with intense interest, while he fixed his gaze steadily upon the floor.
"I saw Howard Pemberton putting the miniature in his breast coat-pocket last evening, sir, when we were in your drawing-room. I said to him, 'I've caught you, have I.' He made no reply to me, but turned away, very red in the face—"
"It is false—wickedly false," cried Howard, in a passionate burst of feeling.
"He states it is false," continued Digby, "but I will appeal to Fraser or McDonald, who saw it, or better still, to Martin Venables, who also saw it, and made some remark in apology for him!"
"Do you know of anything else, directly or indirectly, that you think should come to my knowledge?" asked the Doctor.
"Nothing more, sir, except that Pemberton, whose room adjoins mine, seemed to have something on his mind last night, for he was walking about in his room in the middle of the night, and I fancied he got out of the window. This is all I have to say, sir. I said I knew nothing for certain, and I hope I have not done wrong in telling you this much."
And now all eyes turned to Howard Pemberton. He stood speechless. He felt as in a horrible nightmare, and could neither move body nor mind to break the spell. If he could have known that there was not one in the room who believed him to be guilty, he would have easily recovered from the blow; but with his peculiarly nervous temperament, although conscious of perfect innocence in the matter, he felt that the terrible insinuations which had been made against him had separated him from those whom he loved and honored, and he was crushed beneath the weight of implied dishonor.
Happy is the man who has a friend, and Howard had many, but perhaps none greater than Martin Venables. Martin knew the peculiarities of Howard's character better than any one present, and seeing the position in which he was placed he came forward to vindicate him.
"Dr. Brier, there is not a boy in this school, except Digby, who does not love and respect Howard Pemberton. I hate to be a tale-bearer, but I know that for many months he has cherished a great animosity to Howard, and has taken every opportunity of showing it. The story which he has now invented is as clumsy as it is false. It is the worst kind of falsehood, for it has just a shadow of truth in it as regards one part of the story. When Mrs. Brier showed the miniature, it pleased Howard, as it does everybody who sees it. He made a remark to me that it was very much like my cousin, Miss Greenwood, and perhaps you know, sir, that many boys in the school think her very lovely and amiable. Howard thought so too, and when he attempted to put the miniature in his pocket, as Digby untruthfully stated, he merely put it, in fun, to the place where they say the heart is. It was what any of us might have done, and, wise or not wise, we would certainly have meant no harm. But I am quite certain that afterward the portrait passed into the hands of Alick Fraser, and then into Digby's, and after that it was placed in the case by Mrs. Brier. I do not say, sir, that Digby Morton has willfully misrepresented facts for the purpose of getting one who was once his most intimate school friend into trouble, but I say that if Howard Pemberton is untruthful or dishonest, I do not believe an honest boy lives."
The boys were quite excited over Martin's speech—the first set speech he had ever made—and they greeted it with undisguised enthusiasm.
The Doctor seemed to think that somebody ought to say something equivalent to "silence in the court" at this display of sentiment, although in his heart of hearts he would have liked to step forward and pat Martin on the back for his manly defense of his friend. But an interruption was made to the proceedings by a tap at the door.
"Can I speak with Mrs. Brier?" said a servant, putting her head in at the door.
"No, Mrs. Brier is engaged," answered the Doctor, rather sharply for him.
Servants have a knack of knowing what is going on in a house, and this servant seemed to be in the secret which had called the little assembly together, for she would not take the rebuff, but said:
"If you please, sir, I must speak to Mrs. Brier."
So Mrs. Brier left the room for a moment, to return again in company with the servant.
"What is this all about?" asked the Doctor.
"If you please, sir, this morning, in making the bed Mr. Pemberton sleeps in, I noticed the ticking loose, and I put my hand in, as I felt something hard, and I found this snuff-box."
I have read in books about boys who, under some exciting necessity, have started in an instant from boyhood to manhood, just as I have read about people's hair in time of trouble turning from black to white in the course of a night. Howard Pemberton did not spring from boyhood to manhood at this strange discovery, nor did his hair turn white, but the words of the servant had a sudden and powerful influence upon him. In a moment he turned to his accuser and said:
"Digby, there is some vile secret underlying all this, and I don't know what it is. But I declare to you, solemnly, that I am innocent of this charge. If you have spoken against me to-day because you thought you ought to do it, I can't blame you, but if you have done it from any wrong motive, I hope you'll confess it before evil is added to evil."
But Digby merely shrugged his shoulders, and turning to the Doctor, said: "Have you anything more you wish to ask me, sir?"
Dr. Brier was fairly nonplussed. The fog grew denser all around him. Addressing a few words of caution to those who had been summoned to this the strangest meeting that was ever held in Blackrock School, he dismissed the boys, ordering Howard and Digby to be kept in separate rooms until he should arrive at some judgment in the case.
It was all very well for the Doctor to decide to keep the boys in two separate rooms until he should form some judgment on the case, but toward the close of the day, after the most searching inquiries had been instituted, he was no nearer to a final decision than when he started, and he feared they might have to remain where they were until Doomsday, unless he could find out something positive about the matter.
Howard and Digby were missed from their accustomed places in the school, and by the mid-day play-time the secret had oozed out, and great discussions were being held as to the merits of the case. There was not a boy in the school who in his heart believed that Howard was really guilty, although the evidence seemed clearly against him. There was not, on the other hand, one who felt justified in thinking that Digby had willfully accused his friend falsely, and yet there was an uncomfortable suspicion that it might be so.
All the next day inquiries went on, and nothing of importance was the result. The Doctor had seen the prisoners, and talked to each separately; he had taken counsel from those of the boys upon whose judgment he could rely, and in the evening all those who had constituted the preliminary meeting were again called together. The first count in the indictment, namely, that Howard had attempted to pocket the miniature, was discussed and dismissed as a misconstruction of motive. The second charge as to his being about in his room during the night was not so easily got rid of. Howard pleaded that he had gone to sleep as usual, and slept soundly, but that he was aroused by hearing, as he thought, some one in his room. He went to sleep again, and was aroused a second time by the stumbling of some one over a box, as it seemed to him, which was followed by the sudden closing of a door. He got up, went into Digby's room, listened by his bedside, and found he was breathing hard, and then, noticing that his window was not fast, he opened it and looked out. The nightingales were singing, and he sat up for a long time listening to them. Then, as he grew chilly, he closed the window and turned into bed again, and slept till Digby called him. Beyond this he knew nothing.
The Doctor summed up. There was guilt in the heart of one boy at least, but which one there was no evidence at present to show. That the fact of the snuff-box being found in Howard's bed had at first sight looked like circumstantial evidence against him could not be denied, but as the links in the chain had been broken in several places, he considered that the whole had fallen to pieces, and he confessed that he did not believe for a moment, from the facts before him, that Howard was guilty. From his knowledge of Digby he must fully exonerate him from the charge of willfully implicating his friend in the matter, as it seemed evident that he was justified in expressing the suspicions he entertained, considering the circumstances of the case. For the present the matter must be dismissed, but he could not doubt that light would soon shine through the darkness, and the true facts of the case would yet be known. He would still urge that if anything should transpire in the knowledge of any one present that it was important he should know, no selfish motive should induce him to remain silent, while at the same time he would deprecate suspicions of each other, and would remind them that as the law judged those to be innocent who were not proved to be guilty, so it must be in this case. With this the Doctor dismissed the assembly.
* * * * *
So far in our story we have confined ourselves to the characters in whom we are immediately interested, without any reference to their previous history or family connections. But I must pause here to take a glance into two homesteads, a few days after the events just described.
In the breakfast-room at Ashley House Mr. Morton had laid aside his newspaper, and was reading a letter from Dr. Brier. It was the second or third time he had read it, and it seemed to disturb him. Mr. Morton hated to be disturbed in any way. He was a hard man, who walked straight through the world without hesitating or turning to the right hand or to the left. He was a strong-minded man—at least, everybody who got in his way had good reason to think so. But he had a rather weak-minded wife. Poor Mrs. Morton was a flimsy woman, without much stamina, mental or bodily. She stroked her cat, read her novel, lay upon the sofa, or lolled in her carriage, and interested herself in little that was really necessary to a true life. It was in such an atmosphere as this that Ethel Morton lived and Digby had been reared.
Their mother had died when Ethel was a very little baby, and when the new Mrs. Morton came home the children were old enough to feel that they could not hope to find in her what they had lost in their true mamma.
Ethel was a bright, pleasant girl, and, being left very much to herself, she seemed to live in a world of her own. As a child she peopled this world with dolls, and each doll had an individuality, a history, and a set of ideas attached to it, which gave her almost a human companionship in it. Then came the world of fairies and gnomes and elves, amongst whom she held sway as queen, and many a plant and shrub in the garden, and glade in the woodlands, was a part of her fairy-land. And, now that she was nearly seventeen, a new world was dawning upon her; human wants and human sympathies were demanding her thought and care, and every day brought her into contact with those in the villages round about, whose histories were educating her heart into the true ideal of womanhood.
As Mr. Morton finished reading the letter he passed it to his wife, merely remarking:
"You will see Digby has mixed himself up with some disagreeable piece of business in the school. It is time he came home. I shall see Mr. Vickers about him to-day, and write for him to return as soon as this affair has blown over, instead of in September, in order that he may commence his studies in the law at once."
Leaving Mrs. Morton to mourn that her anxieties and responsibilities were to be increased by Digby's return, and Ethel to rejoice in the fact that her brother was coming home to be again her companion, let us now take a glance into a home in the suburbs of London.
It is a humbler home than that we have just visited, and a happier one. The breakfast-room is elegantly furnished, but it is small; the garden is well stocked with flowers, but the whole extent of it is not greater than the lawn at Ashley House.
There are three people round the breakfast-table. Mrs. Pemberton, a handsome woman, dressed in the neatest of black and lavender dresses, and wearing a picturesque widow's-cap. Nellie, her daughter, a girl about nine or ten years old, and Captain Arkwright, a retired naval officer, the brother of Mrs. Pemberton.
There is anxiety on each face, and traces of recent tears mark that of Mrs. Pemberton, as she nervously turns over and over in her hand a long letter from Dr. Brier, and a still longer and more closely written one from Howard.
"It is an extraordinary and distressing affair," she said, "and I am at a loss to know what to do. What would you advise, Charles?"
"I should advise Dr. Brier to choose a lunatic asylum to go to. What a wooden-headed old fellow he must be, to have got the affair into such a mess. Do? I should do nothing. You certainly don't suppose Howard is really concerned in the affair. Not he; that sort of thing isn't in his line. It'll all come right enough by and by, so, don't fidget yourself, my dear," he continued. "There's some vile plot laid against Howard, but if he doesn't come clean out of it with flying colors, call me a simpleton."
That day was spent in letter-writing, and the same post that brought to Digby the intelligence that he was to leave school that term, and commence work with Mr. Vickers, conveyed to Howard the loving sympathy of true hearts, which clung to him through evil report and good report.
(To be continued.)
BY CATHARINE S. BOYD.
"How do you know?" "Who told you so?" These words you often hear; And then it often happens, too, This answer meets your ear: "A little bird has told the tale, And far it spreads o'er hill and dale."
Now let us see if this can be. How can the birds find out so well, And give the news to all? Or, if they know, why need they tell? And which among the feathered tribe Must we to keep our secrets bribe?
The busy crow? As all well know, He sometimes breaks the laws; We shall regret it, when he does, For he will give us cause. Though slyest of the feathered tribe, The crow would scorn to need a bribe;—
Not robin red; he holds his head With such an honest air, And whistles bravely at his work, But has no time to spare. "I mind my own concerns," says he; "They're most important, all may see;"—
Nor birdie blue, so leal and true; He never heeds the weather, But in the latest winter-days His fellows flock together; And then, indeed, glad news they bring Of early buds and blossoming.
Might not each one beneath the sun Of all the race reply, If questioned who should wear the cap, "Oh no! it is not I?" For there are none who, every day, Are busier at work than they.
They chatter too, as others do; But what it is about, The wisest sage in all the earth Might puzzle to make out. But I'm as sure as I can be, They never talk of you or me,
We hear "They say,"—oh, every day! Are they the birds, I wonder, That have such power with words to part The dearest friends asunder? Or must we search the wide world through To bring the culprits full in view?
The birds, we see, though wild and free, Have something else to do; And, reader, don't you think the same Might well be said of you? It really seems to be a shame That they should always bear the blame.
BY MARY H. SEYMOUR.
The ground was covered with snow, and now it had begun raining. There was no prospect of a change in the weather, which made Fred's face rather gloomy as he looked out of the window. Harry was turning over the leaves of a story-book. You could see they were both disappointed that the morning was stormy; for when they came to grandpapa's in the winter, they expected bright days and plenty of fun.
"What shall we do?" said Fred.
"Let's go into the garret!" exclaimed Harry.
This plan evidently suited both of them, for they made a rush toward the door; and the dog, awakening from his nap, entered into the idea, too.
At this moment, Aunt Carrie came into the room. They wished it had been grandmamma, for she never laid the least restriction on their sports, but smiled on every request and allowed them to do exactly as they pleased.
"Now, boys," said Aunt Carrie, "where are you going?"
"Only into the garret, auntie."
"Be sure to leave things exactly as you find them," she replied, with a laugh and a little groan.
"We always do, Aunt Carrie."
Away they went, with Gyp at their heels, and every footstep resounded through the old house until they reached the upper floor.
"It is no wonder that garret is never in order," said Aunt Carrie; "but the children must enjoy themselves."
"Of course, they must, Carrie," replied grandma from the depths of her heart.
First, the boys pulled out a box of old books and papers, and busied themselves reading the queer names and advertisements of old times. Soon they turned from these to a shelf of chemical instruments. Most of them were in perfect order, and they knew they must keep their hands off, for the bulbs and tubes of glass were too delicate to be touched by unskilled fingers.
"Here is an old broken forrometer," exclaimed Harry. "Let's ask grandpa if we can have it."
"You mean thermometer, don't you?" said Fred. "What can we do with that?"
"Don't you see? There is a great deal of quicksilver in this glass ball, and we can play with it. I'll show you how." And away they went downstairs to find their grandfather.
"Grandpa, can we have this?"
Mr. Lenox looked up from his newspaper.
"Let me see it a moment. What do you wish to do with it?"
"We will break it and take out the quicksilver, and then I will show you. Let me ask Ellen for a dish to catch the drops."
"Not quite so fast; wait a moment, Harry," replied Mr. Lenox. "I wish you to notice something about it first. The top of the tube is slightly broken, which makes it of no exact use, for to measure heat or cold the quicksilver must be entirely protected from the air. If you had noticed it when you first came in, you would see that the warmth of the room has caused it to rise in the tube. This is shown by the marks on the plate to which it is fastened. Now, if you hold it close to the stove, the quicksilver will rise still higher. Let it stand outside the window a moment, and it will sink."
By this time the boys were much interested.
"But what makes it do so, grandpa?" they asked.
"Quicksilver is very sensitive to heat and cold. If the weather is warm, or if the room it is in is warm, it expands—swells out—and so rises in the glass tube, as you have seen. The least coolness in the air will cause it to contract, or draw itself into a smaller space; then, of course, it sinks in the tube.
"The barometer is another instrument in which quicksilver is used. It is intended to measure the weight of the air, therefore the quicksilver in it must be exposed to the pressure of the air. Common barometers have it inclosed in a small leather bag at the back of the instrument. This we do not see, but only the tube which is connected with it. When the weather is pleasant, the air, contrary to the general idea, being heavier, presses against this little bag and the quicksilver rises in the tube. When the atmosphere is damp, the pressure being less, the metal sinks."
"Grandpa," said Harry, "when you think of it, isn't quicksilver a funny word?"
"Yes; it was so named by people who lived many hundreds of years ago. They called it living silver also. It is the only metal found in a liquid state; and so many strange changes did it pass through under their experiments, that it seemed to them really a living thing. If they tried to pick it up, it would slip out of their fingers. When thoroughly shaken, it became a fine powder. They boasted that it had the faculty of swallowing any other metal, while powerful heat caused it to disappear entirely. It is now known among metals as mercury. Can you tell me, Fred, some of the metals?"
"Oh yes, sir! There are gold, silver, iron, lead and copper."
"That is right. But, you know, all these are hard; some of them can be chipped with a knife, but they cannot be dipped up in pails, unless they have first been melted. Yet mercury can be frozen so hard that it may be hammered out like lead, and sometimes it takes the form of square crystals. Yet it can be made to boil, and then sends off a colorless vapor."
"Grandpa." said Fred, who had scarcely listened to the last words, "if mercury can be dipped up in pails, it must be very easy to get it. I read somewhere that gold and silver are so mixed in with the rock that it takes a great deal of time and money to separate them."
"That is true; but mercury is not always obtained easily. It forms part of a soft, red rock called cinnabar, composed of mercury and sulphur. The cinnabar is crushed and exposed to heat, when the metal, in the form of vapor, passes into a vessel suited to the purpose, where it is cooled. Then, being reduced to its liquid state, it is pure and fit for use. When men working in the mines heat the rocks, the quicksilver will sometimes roll out in drops as large as a pigeon's egg, and fall on the ground in millions of sparkling globules. Think how very beautiful it must be, the dark red rock glittering on every side with the living silver, while every crack and crevice is filled with it!
"Visitors to the mines of Idria are shown an experiment that I think would interest you boys. In large iron kettles filled with mercury are placed huge stones, and these stones do not sink."
"Why, grandpa! how can that be?"
"Did you ever see wood floating on water?"
"Yes, sir, but that is different."
"But the principle is the same; can you tell me why?"
Both the boys looked puzzled.
"It is only because the wood does not weigh so much as water; neither are the stones as heavy as mercury, therefore they cannot sink."
"I wish we could go into the mines. Can't you take us, sometime, grandpa?" said Harry.
"That is asking rather too much, my child, for quicksilver is not a common metal. There are in the world only four important localities from which it is obtained. These are California, Peru, Austria, and Almaden in Spain. The mines nearest us are in California. I think I shall never go as far as that, but I hope you both may before you reach my age.
"It is a curious story how the mines in Peru were discovered. Cinnabar, when ground very fine, will make a beautiful red paint. The Indians used this to ornament their bodies on grand occasions. This caused the country where they lived to be examined, and the cinnabar was found. The Romans used this paint hundreds of years ago in decorating their images and in painting pictures. It is very highly valued now, and we call it vermilion."
"Fred," continued Mr. Lenox, "you spoke of the difficulty of separating gold and silver from the rock in which they are found. Did you know that our wonderful mercury renders valuable aid in this? The rock that contains the precious metal is crushed fine, sifted and washed until as much as possible of the gold or silver is removed; then it is placed in a vessel with the quicksilver, which seems immediately to absorb it, thus separating it entirely from every particle of sand or rock. If the metal to be cleansed is gold, you will see a pasty mass or amalgam, as it is called, of a yellowish tinge. This is heated, and the mercury flies away, leaving behind it the pure gold."
"How did people learn to do this?" asked Fred.
"They did not learn it all at once. It was only by years of patient effort and frequent failure that they finally succeeded.
"You know there are many gold and silver mines in California," continued grandpa. "Near some of them large mines of quicksilver have been discovered. You can imagine that this caused great rejoicing, for all the quicksilver previously used was sent in ships to this part of the world, which, of course, made it scarce and very expensive. Now, we can send away quantities to other countries after supplying our own wants.
"Notwithstanding that this strange metal renders such service to mankind—for I could tell you of many other useful things it does—it is a deadly poison. Its vapor is so dangerous that persons searching for it often die from breathing the air where it is found. About seventy years ago, the mines in Austria, took fire, and thirteen hundred workmen were poisoned, and many of them died. The water that was used to quench the fire being pumped into the river Idria, all the fish died excepting the eels. Since that time, spiders and rats have deserted the mines.
"Mercury is carried in sheepskin bags and cast-iron bottles. It is so heavy that an ordinary cork would soon be forced out by it, therefore an iron stopper must be screwed in.
"Once, some bags of mercury were stored in the hold of a foreign vessel; unfortunately, a few of the bags were rotten and leaked. Every person on board was poisoned, and every piece of metal connected with the vessel received a silvery coating of mercury."
"It is dreadful! Fred, don't let us touch it," said Harry.
"Don't be frightened yet, Harry. Did you know that mercury is used as a medicine? It is given in very small doses."
"I am sure I shall never take it," exclaimed Fred.
"Perhaps you may have done so already," replied their grandfather, laughing. "Did you ever hear of blue-pill and calomel? They both are preparations of mercury."
Just then the sun shone into the room so brightly that every one turned to the windows. Such a sparkle! The evergreens were covered with shining ice-drops, and the tall trees pointed their glistening branches toward the few clouds that were hurrying over the blue sky.
"I am not sorry it rained, after all," said Fred. "I have enjoyed the morning so much that I forgot the play we were going to have."
Two happy, tired boys went to sleep that night, and the next morning they started for home. They both agreed in thinking they had never enjoyed a more delightful visit at grandpapa's.
THE WOODS IN WINTER
There is scarcely any place so lonely as the depths of the woods in winter. Everything is quiet, cold and solemn. Occasionally a rabbit may go jumping over the snow, and if the woods are really wild woods, we may sometimes get a sight of a deer. Now and then, too, some poor person who has been picking up bits of fallen branches for firewood may be met bending under his load, or pulling it along on a sled. In some parts of the country, wood-cutters and hunters are sometimes seen, but generally there are few persons who care to wander in the woods in winter. The open roads for sleighing, and the firm ice for skating, offer many more inducements to pleasure-seekers.
But young people who do not mind trudging through snow, and walking where they must make their own path-way, may find among the great black trunks of the forest trees, and under the naked branches stretching out overhead, many phases of nature that will be both new and interesting—especially to those whose lives have been spent in cities.
CRUMBS FROM OLDER READING.
BY JULIA E. SARGENT.
Washington Irving has so many things for us, and we have heard so much that is pleasant of him, that a good time with him may be expected; and you would not read far in Irving's books before learning that no one believed in "good times" more than he. The name of his home on the Hudson would tell you that. "Sunnyside" is not the name a gloomy man would choose.
Perhaps you will like best to hear that many of you often stand where Irving stood, and walk the streets he knew so well, for New York City was Irving's birthplace, and there many of the seventy-six years of his life were spent. One of his books is a funny description of his native town in the days of its old Dutch governors. He does not call it Irving's, but "Knickerbocker's History of New York." And as only Irving knew anything of Diedrich Knickerbocker outside this book, we will let him tell you that "the old gentleman died shortly after the publication of his work." Of course, Irving can say what he chooses about Knickerbocker's book, so he gives it as his opinion that, "To tell the truth, it is not a whit better than it should be." But Sir Walter Scott, in a letter to a friend, says of these funny papers of Irving's: "I have been employed these few evenings in reading them aloud to Mrs. S. and two ladies who are our guests, and our sides have been absolutely sore with laughing." All Irving's histories are not "make-believe," and some day you will read Irving's "Life of Columbus," and "Life of Washington," completed just before his death in 1859, without thinking of them as histories. He wrote the "Life of Columbus" in Spain. Can you tell me why that was the best place to write it?
Would you like to know where the boy Irving might often have been seen when he was not devouring the contents of some book of travels? "How wistfully," he wrote, "would I wander about the pier-heads in fine weather? and watch the parting ships, bound to distant climes!"
Not many years after, he wrote from England, "I saw the last blue line of my native land fade away like a cloud in the horizon." He was then in England, where he visited Westminster Abbey, Stratford-on-Avon, and many other grand and famous places. Of these, and much that is neither grand nor famous, he has written in the "Sketch-book," giving this reason for so naming word-paintings: "As it is the fashion for modern tourists to travel pencil in hand and bring home their portfolios filled with sketches, I am disposed to get up a few for the entertainment of my friends." Is it not as good as a picture to hear this man, who had no little ones of his own, tell of "three fine, rosy-cheeked boys," who chanced to be his companions in a stage-coach? This is what he writes:
"They were returning home for the holidays in high glee and promising themselves a world of enjoyment. It was delightful to hear the gigantic plans of the little rogues. * * * They were full of anticipations of the meeting with the family and household, down to the very cat and dog, and of the joy they were to give their little sisters by the presents with which their pockets were crammed; but the meeting to which they seemed to look forward with the greatest impatience was with Bantam, which I found to be a pony." When he had heard what a remarkable animal this pony was said to be, Irving gave his attention to other things until he heard a shout from the little travelers. Let him tell the rest of the story.
"They had been looking out of the coach-windows for the last few miles, recognizing every tree and cottage as they approached home, and now there was a general burst of joy. 'There's John! and there's old Carlo! and there's Bantam!' cried the happy little rogues, clapping their hands. At the end of a lane there was an old, sober-looking servant in livery waiting for them; he was accompanied by a superannuated pointer, and by the redoubtable Bantam, a little old rat of a pony, with a shaggy mane and long, rusty tail, who stood dozing quietly by the roadside, little dreaming of the bustling times that awaited him. Off they set at last, one on the pony, with the dog bounding and barking before him, and the others holding John's hands, both talking at once. * * * We stopped a few moments afterward to water the horses, and on resuming our route a turn of the road brought us in sight of a neat country-seat. I could just distinguish the forms of a lady and two young girls in the portico, and I saw my little comrades with Bantam, Carlo, and old John trooping along the carriage-road. I leaned out of the coach window in hopes of witnessing the happy meeting, but a grove of trees shut it from my sight."
"If ever love, as poets sing, delights to visit a cottage, it must be the cottage of an English peasant," Irving thinks, and goes on to write in his own pleasant fashion of many pleasant things in English country life, saying: "Those who see the Englishman only in town are apt to form an unfavorable opinion of his social character. * * * Wherever he happens to be, he is on the point of going somewhere else; at the moment when he is talking on one subject, his mind is wandering to another; and while he is paying a friendly visit, he is calculating how he shall economize time so as to pay the other visits allotted in the morning."
The "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a genuine ghost story. It is not very startling, but very, very funny, when you know what scared poor Ichabod Crane on his midnight ride that last time he went courting Governor Wouter Van Twiller's only daughter.
You must read for yourselves the famous story of Rip Van Winkle and the nap he took. It is too long for me to give in Irving's words, and "Rip Van Winkle" is just such a story as no one but Irving knows how to tell.
In another of his interesting stories in the "Sketch Book," told, he says, by a queer old traveler to as queer a company gathered in a great inn-kitchen, Irving describes the busy making-ready for a wedding. The bride's father, he says, "had in truth nothing exactly to do."
Do you suppose he was content to do nothing "when all the world was in a hurry?"
This is the way in which he helped: "He worried from top to bottom of the castle with an air of infinite anxiety; he continually called the servants from their work to exhort them to be diligent, and buzzed about every hall and chamber as idly restless and importunate as a blue-bottle fly on a warm summer's day." The book of Irving's that some of you will like best of all is "The Alhambra." The Alhambra is the ancient and romantic palace of the Moors. When he was in Spain, Irving spent many dreamy days amid its ruined splendors, whence the last of the Moors was long since driven into exile. We have good reason to be glad that Irving saw the Alhambra, for this book is what came of it. We shall all want to go where Irving went, after reading what he says of the Alhambra by moonlight. "The garden beneath my window is gently lighted up, the orange and citron trees are tipped with silver, the fountain sparkles in the moonbeams, and even the blush of the rose is faintly visible. * * * The whole edifice reminds one of the enchanted palace of an Arabian tale."